Monthly Archives: April 2013

Pissed Off

Ok, queers.  Get your shit together.  Here is a story that really makes me mad:  Back in 2005, after things had gone south in their relationship, two women in North Carolina went to court over who should receive custody of the child they conceived together.  This child was being raised jointly by both mothers.  The non-gestational mother was granted a second-parent adoption (back before it became illegal as a result of this court case).  When the gestational parent decided that she was more well suited to mother the child, she took the non-gestational mother to court saying that she never should have been granted a second-parent adoption in the first place.  The case went to the NC Supreme Court which sided for the gestational mother, negating the non-gestational mother’s adoption of the child.  She was granted joint custody with limited rights to see the child.  Whoopie.  WHY DO WE DO THIS TO EACH OTHER?

I know several cases involving lesbians where one gave birth to their child[ren] and once the relationship dissolves, the gestational mother decides she is more of a mother than the other.  BULLSHIT.  I have heard bonding used as a reason for this.  Sure, a baby may bond with its gestational mother first, especially if breast-feeding is involved.  But there is SO much more to parenting than breast-feeding.  What about caring for the breast-feeding mother? Changing diapers? Feeding the adults? Cleaning the house? Rocking? Shushing? Walking? Shared sleep deprivation?  I could go on.

Gestational mothers pulling this shit makes me really angry.  Not only do I feel angry for what they are doing to the non-gestational parent, but I feel angry for what they do to the queer movement.  Recognition of our families is vital for our children to grow up feeling seen and respected.  When they pull this, gestational mothers are saying, “I am really the mother.  Not her.”  Fuck you very much.

My kid didn’t come out of my vagina and he hasn’t ever suckled at my breast, but I am his real mother too.  100%.  Try to prove different.

-Betsy

Farmers Market 101

images-1M. and I took an excursion this afternoon in search of plants for around our house.  We spent a couple hours perusing the many vendors, petting baby goats and having some nice quality time away from the house.  In the midst  of all of these luscious plants was a food stand.  M. wanted a snack so we ordered and hung around for a little while.  The people who ran the stand were quite friendly and, since it wasn’t crowded today, they kind of sat around and chatted with us while M ate.  I noticed they had accents from somewhere up north and they informed me they are from Philly.  Internally, I breathed a sign of relief hoping this meant they would be more accepting than the stereotype of someone from rural North Carolina.  Up until then, there was a little voice in the back of my head hoping they didn’t ask about M’s father and set us all up for an awkward conversation.  I HATE that I still have this internal dialogue.  But it is my reality.  I expect people to be mean and judgmental as a self-protective measure.  Most of the time, people aren’t like that (as least outwardly) so I end up being surprised, which is a lot better than being unprepared.  There were no awkward moments with these kind people.  They didn’t ask any personal questions.  M ate and we were on our way.  Maybe one day that internal dialogue will be gone. Today, it is still there.  Not as loud as it once was, but whispering just loud enough to be heard.

-Betsy

So This Is It

I was outside on a gloriously sunny, if not a bit chilly for my liking, spring day this past Sunday, pushing my little girl on her swing.  As I watched her small body bob up and down on the blue and red plastic cradle, I took in the scene.  I felt content, and for that I was grateful.  It was methodical and relaxing to watch the rise and fall of her figure against the brilliant sky and zooming grass.  Later we walked by the garden and chatted easily about where to till the earth for her children’s garden I had promised her this year.  It was so nice to have her be old enough (three) that we could have a full conversation.  The Children’s Garden would be a small plot for her (and her friend who was moving into the downstairs unit this summer and was nearly the same age) to do with it whatever they liked.  I vowed to not push my own notions of beauty onto that little rectangle- letting her pick out a plant each week that stroke her fancy at the local farmer’s market.  I would zip my usually controlling gardener lips.  I mused about how we could paint a sign in the coming weekend to stake into that ground announcing to visitors her special corner of our yard. 

I think why I share all this is that I had several very meta moments while these simple acts were unfolding- I was viewing myself going through motions of parenting I had envisioned before I was a parent, and here it was, upon me.  I have had this unnerving feeling since I started this whole parenting gig that I should be doing something more with my life.  Don’t get me wrong- I love that little bugger more than I could have ever imagined… she is so much to me.  I also greatly respect people who parent full-time.  Still, I was grappling with this whole identity business because suddenly my life felt extra simple.  I worked, I parented, I had a humble social life, and I wrote a bit when I could keep my eyelids peeled into the evening hour.  And then I did it all over again.  I used to be a part of various political activist groups, take a painting class, be in a writing group, garden avidly, have a much more raucous social life, travel more regularly, and much of that had halted with such a sudden swiftness when she had arrived that it took my breath away a bit.  I hoped to get back to those things as she got a little older, but I wasn’t doing most of them right now and I hadn’t been doing them for the past three years.  But what I think I realized on that Sunday morning in our yard with just my daughter is that this is what I had envisioned happening.  In my mind, when I thought about the early years of raising a child, I thought of spending a lot of that time focused on being a parent.  I actually thought I’d work part-time so that I’d even be parenting more than I currently am.  When we hadn’t been able to do that financially, my slice of parenting got ever thinner.  In my mind it wasn’t “just” being a parent; it was being a parent.  That felt like a lofty enough task and I had felt satiated by taking on that humble job for a number of years.  I wanted to do artistic and political activities, travel, and more, but with my child.  So there I was, plotting out a plot, if you will, and I was remembering that.  Right, this is ok, remember, this is what you wanted.  This is what you’re doing now.  It’s ok.  Maybe I think too much.  That morning, I was appreciative to have a lapse of contentment for however long it lasted.

– Charlotte

And..what do you do?

Baggage

I always find this question disconcerting.  I internally stumble a little while I grasp for the words to define me: artist, writer, therapist, mama, jill-of-more-than-one-trade.  I was at a gathering for queer parents the other day and this question came up.  When I ask about a person, I try to choose my words carefully: “How do you spend your days?”  The usual answer is about what they do for a living and not who they are or what feeds their soul.

I am still trying to tease this all out and to not lose some of my self-worth to my lack of a paycheck.  I love what I do.  I am raising a stellar human being who will go on to raise other stellar humans who will continue our legacy.  Even still, I cringe a little when I tell people I am a stay-at-home mom.  I even fumble over the words, “Oh, I …stay home with him.”  What I should be saying is, “I am so lucky to get to spend my time with this amazing person just being his mom.”  And I do feel lucky.  I do.  Sometimes, though, the old baggage gets flung open and I feel like I should be doing more.

I have heard a million people talk about “having it all” in life.  Meaning, career and family.  For me, I think having it all means the family part.  One day maybe I will publish a NY Times bestseller.  Or maybe not.  Either way, my life will still be full today and tomorrow.  Now if only my baggage can get the memo…

-Betsy

Sunshine

Today I am grateful for the promise of sunshine.  Though I didn’t see any today, I know there is some coming tomorrow.  As I write this, I am listening to the events unfolding in Boston and it is all so sad.  My sadness is for the victims of the bombings and their families, but my sadness is also for the family of the young men who are suspected of perpetrating this act.  Truthfully, my sadness is also for these two men.   It is all just so sad.

So, tonight I am grateful that the sun will come out tomorrow and that the mark of this week will fade, at least for me.  I know that sounds so selfish.  I am ok with being selfish tonight.  Sometimes that is what gets us through.

-Betsy

Co-Parenting

Today I am grateful for my spouse, S.  This afternoon was one of those where, for no good reason, my tolerance for toddlerhood was at a minimum.  The hours of negotiations had worn me down and I was just done by about 4:00 p.m.  That was about 15 minutes before my chiropractor appointment where my child decided to stack all the child-size plastic chairs in front of the door so that exiting patrons had to traverse some sort of Sesame St. minefield.  M really is an easy kid, I just couldn’t hang today.

I am grateful for S because in her, I have a true partner.  I knew that I could come home, open the front door, say “I’m done” and she would pick right up where I left off.  I called on the way home from the chiropractor and asked S to chop some veggies for dinner.  This is not something I normally do because she is basically inept at all things culinary.  (Sorry, babe.  It is just the truth.) I walked through the door to water boiling for pasta, chopped veggies and a willing smile.  Not only did she want to be with M because she missed him all day, but she also wanted to give me a break.

I am grateful for feeling like I am totally in this with someone else.  Not just someone else, but with S.  I don’t know how single parents do it.  I think I would implode.  I am grateful for having a partner in the true sense of the word.

-Betsy

In Reality

Today I am grateful for reality television shows.  The world is a fucked-up place.  Bad things happen.  So I turn to reality t.v., which is, in reality, not reality.  And that is what I like about it. I like the competition shows, especially Survivor and The Amazing Race.  I like that people put their ordinary lives on hold for these incredible, contrived scenarios that include great adventure and possibly eating really gross things.

At the end of a long day, after toddlerness has drained every last morsel of energy, I can settle down with my on-screen friends and a glass of wine and forget that some people suck.  On these shows, there is a predictable formula that I find comfort in.  There will be interpersonal tension, someone will be the scapegoat, there will be triumph.  I like this rhythm.  It is like watching a waterfall, water hits the same rocks every time.

So today, I am grateful for a t.v. show that helps me forget.

-Betsy