Brought my sons to the barber for the first time. Up to now it’s been me pinning Jackson to floor attempting to do a fade up the side of his head. Usually it all ends up shaved off because he moves so much and screams and cries.
I’ve had my sister do it, but I still have to hold him down, and he still screams. My wife and I talked and we thought he’d be better behaved in an actual barbershop. With men. Because like it or not that boy is drawn to men.
Figures he got stuck with two Moms. Declan could care less. About his hair being cut, men, women, etc. That makes him sound like the easy child. He’s not.
So I went to a barbershop in a town nearby. It was walk in only and I called ahead to make sure they were good with twin toddlers. We walked in and there were two rather large and bulky barbers and a shop full of men either getting cut or waiting for their turn.
The owner turned on the big screen mounted up on a wall and went to Starz. Of course Declan saw Frozen and said “Elsa Mama!” The barber laughed and we settled on Toy Story 3. Clearly Frozen was too girly for the manly barbershop.
As we sat and waited I took in our surroundings. American flag. Normal. Sign saying “Here we say Merry Christmas, we stand for the Anthem, etc.” and then I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. We were not on safe ground.
Americana and patriotic stuff is fine. Right winged signs about being Christian with no understanding of white privilege and the whole kneeling for Anthem situation…yeah I was guessing lesbians wouldn’t be welcomed.
It was my wife’s birthday. She wasn’t there with us though. She was working.
The boys are super empathic. I was trying to act normal but looking back I realize I was being more talkative and overly friendly. Sharing that I am a nurse.
I like to win people over before my boys start talking about their two mom’s. The barber was an EMT married to a nurse. Score. Then the birthday was mentioned. My boys were super excited to celebrate my wife’s birthday that night.
They talked all about Mommy’s birthday. The barber’s both said “Happy Birthday” to me. Because that’s what cis-het-males do. They assume every one is like them.
I didn’t correct them. And though I know the boys understood everything. For the first time in their little lives they didn’t correct them either. They just listened as I was wished Happy Birthday. They always correct people.
“She not Mommy. She Mama!” is a phrase I hear daily. “We have TWO Mommy’s” is another one.
But they didn’t this time. Writing this I have tears brimming in my eyes.
I didn’t feel anything at the time except anxiety. Fear. But I had a smile plastered on my face and was chatting. I never chat. Declan looked at me when I said “Thanks” to them as they wished me a Happy Birthday. But for once in their three and a half years of talk talk talk they did not correct them.
The barbers brought up the birthday at least three times. Each time acting as though it were mine. I never corrected them and neither did the boys.
They are too young to have an actual discussion about what happened in there. They were both just proud of themselves for sitting still and not crying. But they knew.
Somewhere in their little brains they knew. Mama is scared and we are not going to talk about Mommy.
I will never know if the barber’s are supporters of #45. I will never know if they are accepting of two mom families. I likely won’t go back even though they treated the boys wonderfully.
I should have been excited and happy to be getting their hair cut for the first time. But I was scared. I felt distinctly unwelcome and that I had to hide who my family is in order to remain safe.
I may have been wrong. But when I walked to my car there was a truck with a confederate flag hanging off the sides.
A liberal left swinging person may have noticed the signs hanging on the walls. They may have thought a quick thought about not discussing politics. But if they were heterosexual/cisgender/white that’s likely all that would have gone through their head.
For a minority woman who is not heterosexual every worst case scenario went through my head. From simply being kicked out to being harassed or assaulted.
I felt the instinct to befriend them so that if the boys did let on that we were a two mom family they might like me by that point and not be too harsh. My kids, for possibly the first time, noticed that I was distinctly uncomfortable. And didn’t discuss Mommy at all.
This is not the future I want for them. Yet in our current climate this is my family’s reality. Check your privilege. Because you have it if you are cis and heterosexual.
And if you own a business…I’m cool with the whole Republican dogma being your political system.
I’m not cool with homophobia and intolerance. So maybe throw up an equality sticker next to your American flag so I can relax. And so my children can know their Mama is relaxed. That this place is safe. That we can be ourselves here. Because to feel distinctly unsafe…that is called walking in the shoes of a minority in a country where we are devalued and discriminated against on the regular.