When everyone else was reading “Green Eggs and Ham,” I was reading “Molly’s Family.”
It was a children’s book about a little girl named Molly who was bullied at school by a boy named Tommy who told her she couldn’t have a “mommy and a mama.”
I guess he never heard of assisted reproductive technology or second-parent adoption. Stupid Tommy.
In middle school, kids in my class would yell “that’s so gay” to anyone who did something which they deemed to be weird or stupid. If they noticed that I was in the vicinity when they said this, they would form a small huddle with whoever was closest to them, hunch over slightly, as if doing so would suddenly make them invisible, and they’d whisper, “Shhh, Sammy’s right there.”
They acted like I was the gay police, armed and ready to arrest them for using the word “gay” improperly in a sentence.
Unfortunately, wearing a badge was against my middle school’s dress code.
The kids in middle school would say I was a lesbian because my parents were. I understand now that these things they said weren’t true, but back then I didn’t get it.
I didn’t understand why some kids had a dad and I didn’t. I didn’t understand why my baby book was filled with scribbles crossing out the words “Mommy and Daddy” for “Mommy and Mommy Donna.”
It confused me that no one else in art class was making two cards for Mother’s Day.
I know all of this sounds a bit traumatic for a child to experience, but my moms were able to turn these instances into teachable moments.
They told us how some kids have mommies who like men, but I have mommies who do not. They told us why having two mommies is so much better than having just one, and that we must forgive these other kids because they just don’t know how cool our two mommies are.
They taught us not to take the things these other kids said personally and not to be afraid to stand up to them when they crossed the line.
My moms taught me to be strong and independent because they had to be.
I didn’t have a dad to teach me how to throw a baseball, so my mom Donna taught me. She also taught me how to cook, ride a bike, mow the lawn and argue with car salesmen to get the best price.
My other mom Shannon taught me how to use a drill, send a formal email, drive stick shift and walk in heels. She took me to school every day and dropped me off at all my sports practices. She took me prom dress shopping every year and sat for hours as I tried on dozens of dresses.
I grew up hearing this misconception that having gay parents meant you’d end up “damaged” or you’d miss out on things, but that’s not true. Despite what everyone said, my childhood really was just like everyone else’s, minus a dad and plus another mom, and maybe plus a few more gay adults and drag queens than other kids knew.
Maybe it was a little different, but different isn’t a bad thing.
My childhood, my parents, my family: as different as they were, they made me into the person I am today.
I don’t rely on others to fix my problems because my moms never did. I’m not afraid to be who I am because my moms never were.
I work two jobs to save money for tuition and traveling because my moms taught me that if I want something, I have to earn it. Most importantly, I don’t judge people because of who they are, what they look like or where they came from because I know what that feels like.
Because of my moms, I really am a better person— a little weirder and probably more open than I should be with sharing details about my life, but better nonetheless.
In the wise words of my parents, having two mommies really is so much better than having just one.