Sitting in the kitchen of her Aldan home, Ruby Marable talked about her responsibilities, including running online custom-embroidery shop Sew Regal and serving as the national president of lesbian sorority Beta Phi Omega.
“Beta is my busiest role. Well, no. This is my busiest role now,” Marable said, pointing out her daughter, Bev, who was watching Nick Jr. shows in the living room. “What am I talking about?”
Marable started sharing stories about attending Temple University — where she met the woman whose last name she took, Rolanda Marable. Moments before, Bev asked for bread, but Marable told her to wait a few minutes so she could finish our conversation.
This changed when Bev began climbing on a chair in the kitchen.
“Get down,” Marable quietly asked her 2-year-old daughter before pausing. “Maybe I should get you the bread.”
As Marable took out a dinner roll and put it on a paper plate, she began talking about working at Temple after graduation.
“While working there, I knew I needed a change of pace,” Marable said. “I also wanted to plan for a family and I knew I wanted to be home for the first few years.”
Marable said she and her wife are looking at schools for Bev, as she put a handful of shredded cheese next to the roll on a plate. After handing over the plate, Bev quietly said, “Thank you.”
Marable’s multi-tasking continued several times throughout PGN’s interview. The stay-at-home mom said the biggest misconception about parents in her position is that “they don’t do anything, or that they have time to do everything.”
“That is not the case,” she said.
“The day goes so quickly and there’s a lot to do,” Marable added. “I couldn’t just take my eyes off of her.”
Bev joined in the conversation to show her mom a basketball.
“Mommy, football,” she said.
“Football?” Marable said. “It’s a basketball.”
“Basketball,” Bev said before walking back into the living room.
“She’s telling you all of the keywords that she knows,” Marable told PGN.
Despite the minor interruption, Marable jumps right back into the conversation about the misconceptions of stay-at-home parents.
“I think a day in the office is a lot simpler,” Marable said. “Some days are low-key. Some days she doesn’t take a nap. Sometimes, she looks like she’s going down for a nap and then she says ‘Psych’ and then she just keeps going.”
While Marable occasionally made jokes about being a stay-at-home parent, she also finds joy in the role.
“I didn’t want to give those special moments to a daycare,” she said. “I wanted to see it for myself. That’s why I planned to work from home and just do what I can to stay home.”
Bev was born March 28, 2015, via a sperm donor. Marable previously tried to get pregnant six times, miscarrying on two of those occasions.
Marable told PGN about her history, which included meeting her wife as a Temple student in 2004 and then marrying her on Nov. 7, 2011. As she talked, Marable gave Bev a small container of M&Ms.
“That’ll distract her for about five minutes,” Marable said with a laugh.
Marable receives help from a sitter twice a week while she tends to the needs of her embroidery business. At Sew Regal, Marable makes clothing for fraternities and sororities. As her business grew, Bev also grew. This impacted Marable’s ability to meet the demands of the business.
“When she was an infant, I used to work with her in the room but as soon as she became more mobile, I said, ‘Nope, no more.’”
Marable works out of her basement to fulfill online orders and to make clothing. On days when the sitter calls out, she may work in the evenings, sometimes until about 3 a.m.
“I think by spring, I’ll need to be working four to five days a week consistently to meet my demands so I will have to put her [in daycare],” she said.
However, Marable said she also finds fun time for herself as well. She recalled a recent trip to New York, where she showed Rolanda around her hometown. Additionally, they recently hosted a “Gay-becue,” an outdoor barbecue for their LGBT friends.
Bev entered the room, exclaiming a word that was unclear.
“What?” Marable asked.
Bev stated the word again.
“Some words, I still don’t get,” Marable noted with a laugh.
“What did you say?” Marable addressed Bev.
“Flowers,” Bev said, pointing to a bag of cheese on the kitchen counter.
“Flowers? Those are cheese,” Marable said.
After Bev went back to the living room, Marable continued talking about the family’s barbecue, which 50 people attended. Parenthood prevents them from hosting events too often, but they still find time for themselves.
“Sometimes when Rolanda gets home, I’ll say, ‘I’ll be back’ and I’ll go walk in Target or the mall to shop,” Marable said. “I’ll make a plan with a friend or, if it has to be Bev and I, I’ll schedule a play date with another friend who has a child. That’s ‘me time’ too because then the kids can play together, and I get some adult talk. Sometimes you need adult talk. The first six to nine months, there was none. It was baby world and it was great but you miss it. You need some adult time.”
During this conversation, Bev entered the kitchen to say she was thirsty.
Marable poured some water into a small plastic cup.
“What do you say?” Marable asked Bev.
“Thank you,” she answered.
Finding some “adult time” has not been the only obstacle for the Marables. While the fertility clinic they chose was very accommodating to lesbian parents, most of their issues came after Bev’s birth.
“One close family member on [Rolanda’s] side decided he didn’t know how to explain to his own sons that [Bev] has two moms,” Marable said. “So he [said], ‘There’s nothing wrong with you guys but when you come around, can it just be Ruby [as the mother of] the baby because these kids [are] starting to ask questions and I’m raising them to know two men can’t be together?”
Marable said Rolanda has disowned this family member.
Marable said her grandparents started to treat her differently after she and Rolanda got engaged. She said she weaned away from them but her father will occasionally bring Bev to visit them. Marable noted her grandparents are “sweet” with Bev.
“I’m so allergic to homophobic situations,” she said. “We’re very lucky to have people in our lives who really celebrate us and we celebrate them. We lucked out. Me being in a lesbian sorority, I have an overwhelming amount of support.”
However, she noted that it’s still “heartbreaking” during family events when everyone is in the same setting. She said that while the respective adults don’t interact with each other, the kids will still play together.
“I’m like, ‘This is weird,’” Marable said. “We’re trying to figure out how to navigate that. Clearly, this is a two-year-old issue. It’s new. So we’re just not sure how we’re going to ultimately navigate with it.”
Bev entered the kitchen to give Marable a retail tag she found on the floor.
“Thank you,” Marable said.
Bev ran off.
“Our goal is to shield Bev,” Marable said. “I want her to grow up in an environment where she knows she’s not at a disadvantage because she has two moms.”
To Bev, Marable is “Mommy” and Rolanda is “Mama.” However, Marable said Bev does not seem to know that her family setup is “different” from others. To help her daughter realize that she is not the only one with LGBT parents, Marable said she likes to read children’s books to her.
“I like ‘A Tale of Two Mommies’ because it starts off with children asking a child, ‘Well then who does this for you?’ And the child explains, ‘Well Mommy does this and Mama does that if I need it. I still get everything you get. It’s just our family makeup is different.’”
Bev held a TV remote against her ear, attempting to talk into it.
“That’s a remote, not a phone,” Marable said.
These silly moments are among the things that Marable enjoys as a parent. Other moments include “seeing her happy; watching her grow; [and] hearing new words, sentences.”
“When she gives us a hug, it’s the best thing ever,” Marable said. “She’ll randomly give you a hug and a kiss. It’s very sweet.”
Toward the end of the afternoon, Bev started making owl sounds and requested her Mommy and this PGN reporter join in.
“That’s what kids have you do,” Marable laughed. “It’s a whole different world. We used to ‘party’ and then we traveled a lot. Rolanda used to work for an airline. We traveled so much. And now this is exactly what I want to be doing.”