Parenthood is a very gendered thing. The word "mother" alone evokes images of femininity. But what about those folks who are somewhere between mother and father? Those of us who are the queer butches, lesbian dads, or "other mothers"?
My partner and I have been together for 14 years, during which we have raised three daughters from a previous relationship of hers. We now have the great honor of grandparenthood. This is even more absurd because of our age difference, I'm 33 with a 21, 19, and 18 year old. We have a three year old granddaughter, and another one on the way. During these years, I have been approached, stared at, questioned, and sometimes ignored.
As a butch parent, you need to be prepared for what potentially awaits you. Here are a few examples of what you might run into in a world of gendered parenting:
Picking up sick kids from school usually means a trip to the anxiety inducing principals office. When they ask you what your relationship to the student is you have the choice between saying "stepmother,"which is socially acceptable but might mislead them into thinking that you're their fathers wife, or "their mother's partner," which is almost always followed by a loss of eye contact and expedient service. This also sometimes applies to doctors visits.
The Market & Other Shopping Experiences
Whatever you decide for the children to call you will inevitably be yelled or possibly screamed in the middle of a department or grocery store. Prepare for this scenario. In my case, my three year old granddaughter calls me "Mop," which is a mispronunciation of the combination of Mamaw and Papaw. Most people assume that she is actually calling me "Mom," and I only get the usual questioning looks. Also, while they are young you will have no other identity so make sure it's something you like being called for at least 3-5 years. For example, while taking the grandbaby to her Gymboree class, the teacher asked her who came with her today to which she replied "Mop", and I'm pretty sure she suppressed the word "duh."
There will always be some sort of extra curricular activity that you will attend. I actually went and bought a mini-van which comes in handy when they tell their little friends (whom to which they introduce you as "my mom's girlfriend") that you can give them a ride.
At concerts there is usually a time period of around a half hour after the show where you're forced to wait while your child runs amok or collects their things. It's during this time that you're expected to commingle with other parents. Getting to know at least one other parent comes in handy, because it's that same parent you will be waiting with until your child's career at that particular school ends.
These are just a few scenarios where your title will be questioned. Prepare for random strangers to approach you and ask what adoption agency you used (especially if you are very masculine looking and a different ethnicity than your child), and also to tell you that your child has one of your facial features (especially if you didn't actually carry the child).
In the end what really matters is that you support your child in spite of it all, not what you chose to be called.