Notebooks. Folders. Markers. Pencils. All the glue sticks. It's time to get ready to go back to school. A new year. A new teacher. A new set of forms that say "mother" and "father" to be crossed out and corrected. Another year of the parents in the class assuming that Michelle, my wife, is our daughter's (only) mom and I, the gender-neutrally named Casey, must be the dad when they see our names on the class parent list.
"Mommy, why does my teacher only say one of my last names? Does that make Mama feel bad?"
It's a new school year for this two-mom family. Another year of coming out to the other parents. Another year of explaining that "yes, we can be a two-mom family" to the curious children on the playground. Yes, little one, we are both the real moms.
Our daughter is starting kindergarten this year. And though we live in the sometimes progressive city of Boston, we still have issues. Every single year. Thankfully, it gets easier as time goes on. Most families know at least one other same-sex parented family by now. Our friends joke that it's less common to be straight than gay around here, and sometimes that does feel true, especially while waiting in line at the vegan sandwich shop.
But still, preparing our daughter for kindergarten involves more than buying glue sticks and new public-school-uniform knee socks. Getting ready for a new year means another round of reminding her what the word gay means. We talk about bullying. We tell her that it's never OK for other kids to call her names because her family is different, just as she is never allowed to make another child feel bad for being different. Differences are to be celebrated at home and at school. We talk about how babies are made and talk about donors and adoption and mothers and fathers and grandparents and all the ways families can be created. We talk about her hyphenated last name and how two of her friends at school also have hyphenated names and why we chose that for her.
Her backpack is labeled and packed. She knows her story. She's ready to be different in some ways and just a regular kindergarten kid in all the other ways. She's ready to learn how to read and how to spell her last name. Now we just have to find a way to come to terms with the fact that our little one is big kid and off to kindergarten.
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