another telling

We have been letting our news trickle out all over the place this week. We told our friend and mentor from our old university, and she plans to tell our whole former department at a meeting today (with our permission, of course). It is nice to  have people know, and yet we’re still a little uncomfortable with sharing this secret we’ve held so close to us.

There are a few people close to us whom we have yet to tell: my grandparents. On my step-dad’s side, we have his parents who know J and I are a couple and despite their right-wing leanings are very sweet and loving toward us.  They seem to understand our relationship just fine, so telling them won’t be overly difficult.

The difficult one is going to be my maternal grandmother. She is 87. Now, Grandma is very accepting. She’s a life-long liberal who grew up on dairy farms in Colorado. I have always been very close to her, in part because I am the granddaughter most like her and in part because I grew up in a house on her property, just a two-minute walk away. She has always understood me, but she hasn’t ever quite understood the nature of my relationship with J. She doesn’t understand gayness. That is not to say she hasn’t welcomed my wife into the family with open arms. She calls her a granddaughter, and really does love her, but I’m not officially out to  her. I’ve never actually had a conversation with her about it. I have been open in my affection toward J at family functions, and my grandmother always asks where she is when I come to visit on my own, so she does see us as a pair. I just think she sees us in that old west, two women living together, “companion” sort of light.

At my brother’s wedding, my cousin (also a lesbian) informed me that she came out to my grandmother. She had been struggling for years in much the same way I had, knowing it would be difficult for my grandmother to even comprehend, and it turns out that it was. My grandmother initially thought, when my cousin told her, that this meant she wanted to be a man. This was clearly not the case, but this is what she understood gayness to be based on media. Finally, as my cousin was discussing wanting to marry her partner because she had fallen in love with her soul, her heart–not her gender–my grandmother started to get it. And then she asked, “So do T and J want to get married too?” My cousin made this click for her. She finally is growing to understand.

But now I have to tell her about the pregnancy, and I’m not sure how that is going to go. She doesn’t hear well, so I’m  going to write her a letter (we tend to write to one another on occasion anyway). I don’t want to confuse her, and I don’t want her to worry that I’m some sort of floozy, but I do want her to know about her next great-grandchild and that J and I will be raising this child together. I think in some ways I’m working myself up about this more than I need to, but this is going to be a little challenging to say the least. I’ll be writing and sending the letter this weekend. I plan to tell her I had the help of a doctor, even though I didn’t. I just think it would be easier to understand than telling her that we ordered sperm off of the internet and J inseminated me. I think she would read that about as easily as a foreign language. Honestly, this is going to be one of the greater writing challenges of my life. I welcome it, just as I know she will welcome this child, but right now I’m feeling just a little timid.



Filed under family, telling, the P word

10 responses to “another telling

  1. I have a similar situation with my grandma. K has been around for the past 9 years and we’ve never talked about it with my grandma. I don’t know what she thinks, but I honestly don’t want to. She’s very nice and loving to me now and I don’t want to ruin that. I don’t feel the need to open the mind of an old lady – just let her live in peace. So I just told her, in a letter like you are doing, “I’m pregnant. K and I are going to be mommies.” She sent me a note that said “Good luck on your venture.” I’m not sure what that means, but it wasn’t negative. Then we had a baby shower (in the invitation is said it was for K and I both) and she came and brought presents. I asked how she felt about another great-grandchild and she said ‘Keep them coming.’ I don’t know if she knows where this baby came from and frankly I don’t care. She’s happy to have another great-grandchild, she treats K and I with warmth, everyone’s happy, and I will leave it that way. Good luck to you and I hope it all works out how you like it.

  2. reproducinggenius

    Thank you so much for sharing that, BabyMama. I do think that once a person hits a certain age, more great-grandchildren are just welcome no matter where they come from. I feel quite encouraged after reading your experience!

  3. Holly always felt that her granny didn’t know about her sexuality until the day came when her granny flew back to Missouri. Before she left, her granny gave me a hug and said, “you take care of my granddaughter.” I told Holly about it and she realized that her granny knew more than she thought. I think your grandmother will be very happy about this. I agree that telling her it was doctor assisted might be easier for her to understand. Good Luck! I can’t wait to hear more.

  4. tbean

    I haven’t done this particular telling yet (obviously) but I went through a very similar thing with my grandparents (all four of whom are alive…I am so so lucky, I know) when S. and I got married. S and I had been together a little over 4 years and my grandparents were starting to get to the ‘we kinda know but nobody will outright say anything or talk about it’ phase. I was terrified to tell them about the wedding and thereby officially come out. I have to say though, it went far better than I could have predicted. Three of the four of them came to the wedding. The fourth wasn’t comfortable, but even he is not mean or hostile to us or to S. The other 3 are amazing. They love S. like their own and always tell her that and call her a granddaughter. It has been beyond my wildest dreams and expectations.

    I agree that in the letter it may be best to just say you sought a “doctor’s help” and used a donor. Most people (let alone 87 year old people) have so little clue about any of this. I told a friend recently that we now had a known donor and that friend had NO idea you could just inseminate at home without a doc. present. So, yes, if you don’t want her to wonder (or G-d Forbid, think you slept with some guy) I think your approach to mention a doctor is the right one.

    I’m betting her response will be pretty fantastic. It’s damn hard not to e excited about a new baby. 🙂

    • reproducinggenius

      I love all of these stories, ladies. It’s a different sort of coming out we encounter when we are talking about the older generations, and yet so many of them really are much more open minded than we give them credit for. I wonder if it’s a grandchild thing–that they just can’t help but love us because that’s what they’ve always done, and that’s what they know how to do best.

      I so appreciate the encouragement from each of you, and I will be certain to update as soon as I hear back from her.

  5. Lyn

    We told my grandparents officially before Gail and I got married, and at the time, it really wasn’t pretty. But now, even though they pretty much disapprove of our relationship completely, they absolutely love Leigh to bits, and they are not even genetically linked to her at all (which often does really matter to extended families, no matter how much we demonstrate our parenthood in other ways. I do think the adoption helped them really get it). We don’t see them much, but have gotten one or two visits, and they absolutely count her among their great-grandchildren and treat her very sweetly. Your grandma sounds like she has a head start on that for sure. You two will be fine.

  6. poppycat

    Hey T,

    I think your grandmother will do just fine with it and I think your plan is the best way for you to help her understand. My grandparents didn’t miss a beat when I came out and later too when I told my grandmothers (my grandfathers have since passed)we are trying to have a baby. I have to say they had far less trouble with it than my aunts and uncles did; thank god for the roaring twenties.

    Enjoy the rest of your tellings! How fun to finally be able to let the cat out of the bag!

  7. I think a letter sounds like a great idea, but it sounds to me like you are going to be happy with her response. H told her grandmother that we are pregnant. (I think she wrote a post on it) Her response was so so good. I think as others have said, most people will just be happy to hear that they are getting a great grand child. I wish you lots of luck with it.

  8. A while ago, when we first got our BFP, I wrote about my grandfather’s reaction on the phone when I told him- in one breath, he said “congratulations how’d that happen?” lol. So I explained in a nutshell and that was good enough for him (of course, he had attended the wedding two years prior). Usually the g-parents are so excited about the g-children, they get over it. I’m sure your granny knows more than you think. I hope her reaction is supportive.

  9. CD

    i love hearing others’ grandparents coming-out stories. we too were just sort of “together” until married, when everyone finally “acknowledged” our relationship. it ended up being more scary to tell my grandparents about the wedding than the pregnancy, though. even my grandfather took a vague interest in the ultrasound pictures i showed him. i’ve definitely learned that our grandparents are accepting beyond expectations, most of the time, and that once that baby comes, they don’t really care about all that anyway-they just want to hold the baby – no matter where it came from!

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