My 3-year-old twin boys and I are camped out on the terminal floor at the Denver airport, halfway through a five-hour flight delay and surrounded by plastic planes, action figures, and lollipop wrappers. Soon another set of young boys is lured to our sticky little campsite by the tinny, baritone catchphrases coming from a Buzz Lightyear toy.
“Twins?” their mom asks, after the four boys negotiate the rules of engagement (the newbies could play with Buzz but not Spidey). “Mine, too,” she confirms. With common ground established, we begin sharing the complaints of our kind (“I have to buy two of everything!”). As our kids play superheroes, I'm introduced to her husband, who shares the same strong Boston accent of his wife. We're all chatting amiably when my wife, Emily, returns from checking on our flight status. “You guys sisters?” the mom asks.
And here is the moment I hate: the Explaining of the Situation (EOTS). Most of the time, the EOTS is not a big deal at all, but then again, we live in New York City. Not just New York City, but a liberal enclave in Brooklyn called Park Slope, where, depending on the time of day at the local playground, same-sex parents just might outnumber straight ones. I recognize, though, that not everyone is down with two women or two men raising kids together, so there's the chance this family might quietly pack up their stuff and build their own campsite somewhere else upon the EOTS. Will our impromptu party suddenly become unbearably awkward?
“No, we're not sisters,” I say, as I have hundreds of times before (Emily and I do look somewhat similar). “We're partners.”
My new friend brightens and says, “Oh, who carried?” Who carried?! After I tell her that it was me who carried, we swap birth stories. Her husband leans over to tell Emily that he gained 25 pounds worth of sympathy weight. “Did you have the same problem?” he asks.
Clearly, the only person there with any judgments or preconceived notions was me. I shouldn't have been surprised. In the five years that Em and I have been married (no, it's not legal), and in the three and a half years since we had the boys, that's pretty much the way it's gone. We've received nothing but love, support, or, surprisingly, plain old indifference from friends, family, and strangers. That apathy says a lot about how much a part of the social fabric we have become. Truth be told, we're neither sensational nor worth remarking upon. We're just the New Normal.