Family / Kids / Parenting

What Marriage Equality May Never Fix

Great Wolf Lodge. Three words that have the power to strike fear in the heart of any parent, if they’ve ever seen or heard tell of it. Great Wolf Lodge is a giant waterpark with huge, snaking slides, forts, wave pools, and lagoons, among other aquatopia, plus glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, bowling, build-a-wolf, ice-cream themed, kid-sized nail salon and all-you-can-eat buffets made up entirely of fried items you would find on any kids menu. Like Disneyworld, it’s crack for children.

Unlike Disneyworld, however, Great Wolf Lodge is entirely indoors and self-contained. It’s a bit like taking the entire population of the Magic Kingdom, shoving everyone inside a 79,000-square-foot building and keeping them in there for days. Hundreds of children (and parents), of varying ages, sizes, temperaments, abilities, medication levels, all living under one roof for some predetermined period, eating fried food and ice cream ‘til they puke, slamming into one another on long ride lines and whining until their parents kill them, or each other.

I’m not sure why I told my girls that we might go to Great Wolf Lodge for the weekend. I assume I was having a weak moment after a particularly snuggly hug or following ingestion of an especially large tumbler of vodka. At the time, it seemed like a good thing to do with them whilst Mommy #2 was in the Far East on business. Whatever the reason for my flip suggestion, once the words were uttered, there was no reneging. They were immediately aquiver with anticipation and counting the minutes until we loaded the van and headed to Scotrun, PA (which, to me, will never look like anything but scrotum on my GPS).

I was expecting to hate it. Certainly, I was told I would hate it. Frankly, it sounds like something worth hating.

But I did not. I actually had a decent time. It’s pricey, to be sure, but if you do just the one night, you get almost two full days to enjoy the facilities because your meter starts at 1pm on the day you arrive and you can hang all the next day. Our suite, one of the basic choices, had a tent-styled alcove for the kids, with a bunk bed and television. The young staff seems to have been well-trained in the misery of parenthood-on-vacation, because all around me were blessed looks of pity. Best of all, there was a full bar in the waterpark—with imported beer on tap and an array of top-shelf liquor—which opened at 11am. (To be fair, that was really noon, daylight savings time.)

My only moment of discomfort (other than my four-year-old throwing a complete tantrum when I said we could not stay for the disco party in the lobby at 9:30pm) was at our mommy-daughter pedicures at the Scooops Spa, a salon featuring seating shaped like banana splits and kid-sized hot pink spa robes.

Since I was on my own with the kids, I was not out. There was no way to know I was one of two moms and, no doubt, our pedicurists—lovely, young Pennsylvanians—assumed Father was off somewhere riding the 52-foot Hydro Plunge or, perhaps, accompanying a young son on a more masculine adventure, like Magiquest, befitting the heteronormativity oozing at Great Wolf Lodge.


Sitting there on the banana split bench, my four-year-old whispered to me in her 200-decible fashion, “Tell them where our other mom is.” Her pedicurist looked up. Other mom? I could hear her thinking. What’s an “other mom”?

“Oh, their other mom is in Hong Kong on business,” I said, smiling broadly.

“Oh, how nice,” she said, and went back to filing my four-year-olds tiny toenails.

I surveyed my own pedicurist, a very cute woman in her late 20s who did not pick up her head at the mention of our multiple-mom situation. The level of mono-dialogue I had in my head in the next 15 seconds was pretty astonishing.

Why is she not reacting? I asked myself. Does she have a problem with my kids having two moms? Who does she think she is?

She probably doesn’t give a shit, I said.

She does. I can tell by the way she’s cutting my cuticles right now. She doesn’t want to work on lesbian feet. If she has a problem working on my gay feet, I can tell her what to do with her nail file.

You’re overreacting. For all we know, she has a gay sister. Or she is gay and isn’t reacting because there’s nothing to react to.

I think she hates gay people. She’s horrified right now. What if she calls me a dyke in front of my children?

Then you’ll handle it.

Doesn’t she know I’m legally married in New Jersey?

What difference does that make? We’re in Pennsylvania. They don’t even recognize domestic partners. PS, you need to pay attention. She just asked you how old your daughters are.


 In hindsight, I’m fairly certain neither of our pedicurists had any issue with our two-mom status. They’ve probably seen plenty of queer feet in their day. But what that did highlight for me is that, however wonderful the change in New Jersey law this past month legalizing same-sex marriage, it won’t wipe clean the internalized shame and homophobia that took so many years to solidify.

I’m thrilled we have legal status in our state now. But we still don’t have it nationwide. And even when we do—and we will—it won’t repair the damage of being an outlaw, being less than, being cast out for decades. My generation will have to heal itself, forgive the world its ignorance, if only for our own sakes, and move past the pain. And we will wonder in amazement as we witness the children of the next generation pondering in great confusion how this could have ever been an issue in the first place.

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  1. Oh, those internal voices of fear, worry, danger, unwelcomeness. This is a little-talked about stressor. Great post.

  2. Best post ever! And I’m not sure where to start, so how about with a cliche: The only people that we can really ever hope to change is ourselves, if we’re that lucky. I find self-acceptance extremely tricky especially in situations like this, because I can’t tell if I’m reading a situation or projecting onto it. I was reading a post the other day about “coming out” and one commenter said that she just walks around in the world assuming everyone knows that she is gay and that it’s no big deal. I hope to grow up to be like her someday. I’m pretty sure she was 19.

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