What She Sees
When my daughter looks at me, she doesn’t see a tomboy. She sees her Mama.
I read a column the other day written by a butch lesbian who is a stay-at-home mom with a baby daughter. She wrote that she was concerned and fearful about how her daughter would perceive her manly appearance, as the girl got a little older.
I’m not into labels, but if I had to put an “LGBT tag” on myself then I would say that I am more tomboy than butch. Still, I get a lot of double-looks whenever I walk into a public restroom. I’ve been mistaken for a boy numerous times in my life, dating as far back as 10 years old. I was told more than once, “This is the ladies’ room.” And on one particularly humorous occasion, an elderly neighbor called me “sonny” and asked me when my “mother” (she was referring to my fiancé at the time) would be home.
So, yeah—I’m a tomboy. I’ve got a handsome baby face, and I like to dress in baggy clothes and wear baseball hats. My hair is also very short and I primarily wear men’s clothing. Until I read that column, I hadn’t thought much about how the way I dressed or looked would affect my daughter. The only thing I was remotely concerned about was being a same-sex parent, and how that would shape her life.
I sat with the column for a minute or two. Then carried on with my day. Coincidentally enough, my daughter said something later on that made me think about it again—but differently this time. She said, “Mama. Do you know that sometimes girls have long hair and sometimes they have short hair? And sometimes boys have long hair and sometimes they have short hair?”
I said, “You’re exactly right. I’m a girl and I have short hair. Could you imagine me with long hair?”
Maggie shook her head and laughed. “No way! You’re Mama.”
I’m Mama. Me—with my short hair, baggy clothes and baseball caps.
When Maggie looks at me, she doesn’t see a tomboy. She doesn’t see a label. She doesn’t see a puzzle where two separate genders maybe don’t perfectly fit. She sees something else. She sees her Mama, the same Mama she has known since she was born. She sees me dress the same way I have always dressed. She sees me wear my hair the same way I have always worn my hair. And she doesn’t think twice about it. I could be a purple-skinned person with blue hair who only wears tutus and she’d still think of me as Mama.
The most insightful thing I’ve learned since becoming a parent is that children function on a completely unbiased and innocent level. So am I worried at all about what Maggie is going to think about my appearance, as she gets older?
Apparently, she’s already got it figured out. Now if I put on a dress? Thatwould certainlycause some confusion.