Category Archives: Gratitude

A Hunting We Will Go

il_fullxfull.244918128One of the advantages of living on a college campus is that the opportunities for exploring with a toddler are pretty much endless.  This is especially true on our campus.

Now that summer is in full swing, M and I have a favorite activity.  We pack some water and a berry bucket and we go hunting.  We will spend several hours walking in the woods, along the river, through gardens in search of the ripest blueberries, blackberries and in desperate search for the last remaining strawberries.  While we hunt, we sing songs and talk about our adventures.

Today, after our bucket was full, we made our way to the cabin in the garden and spent some time enjoying our berries from the comfort of an old porch swing.  We then walked up to the weekly garden market and listened to someone play an African instrument, a ngoni.

On days like today, my gratitude spills over.  On the really tough days, when toddlerhood rears its ugly head, I try to remember days like today and hope I was able to save a little of that gratitude in a safe place for just such an occasion.  On days like today, I am reminded that this really is all there is.

-Betsy

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DOMA Privilege

Last week the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.  This historic move will grant same-sex couples in states where queer marriage is legal federal recognition.  Couples like me and my spouse in the liberal state of Massachusetts, for example.  We should jump for joy, right?  We can now file our taxes jointly and glean the same financial benefits straight, married couples do.  We can get on the same health insurance and not be slapped with a hefty fee (likely around $2000-3000 for our family) come tax time because of being a same-sex couple and getting fined the discriminatory “imputed income” fee.  We can have the peace of mind knowing that our family is recognized not just in our teeny-tiny, east coast state, but on a federal level too.  Partly, we did celebrate, it’s a big deal, it’s progress.  But it is only that- progress- and not a full swing to something fully just and liberatory.

And that brings me to my dear friend, fellow blogster, and non-gestational mama, Betsy.  She’s awesome, right?  Her family is awesome, right?  We love them.  They are clearly raising their little guy with care, integrity, and love.  COOL.  Besides sharing a blog, Betsy and I also share several things in common amongst our families and I’m not just talking about the obvious ones like how we both are queer or how we’re non-gestational, non-bio mothers.  We share small, but strange, coincidences that I think are a mystical sign of our connection, like the fact that we have many family dates in common (as in, dates on the calendar): anniversaries that overlap with birthdays, etc.  But even more central to this post, we share the fact that we both were married in Massachusetts to our dear sweeties, we both had our children and filed for second-parent adoption in Massachusetts, but have most of our family living in western North Carolina.  Betsy and her family moved there soon after their son was born to be closer to them- totally understandable.  My parents are lucky if they see my daughter two times a year- something that I know pains both us and them even though we cherish the time we do have together.  We have chosen not to move there for a number of reasons, but I do feel sad thinking about how my parents and my sister and her family, won’t get regular connection with my daughter and our family.  It’s a sacrifice.  Here’s the thing though:  remember what I started talking about… DOMA?  Families in North Carolina, including my dear friend Betsy’s, won’t get to benefit from DOMA being stricken down because NC never did recognize or grant same-sex marriages.  And although Betsy and her spouse are all set with “second-parent adoption” (hate that term) rights for Betsy since they filed in MA before they moved, couples who have their child/ren in NC and stay there can’t file for second-parent adoption rights so that the non-gestational parent is protected because NC is one of the few states in the nation that doesn’t allow for same-sex second parent adoption.

So while we were all parading around Facebook with gleeful posts, singing in the streets, and hugging each other after the Supreme Court’s decision, these families, sadly, were still in the exact same position they were before (or at least things are murky for them in this regard).  It’s important to recognize this because I can already see how it could be easy to stop here; to say we’re about to cross through the finish line of this race towards queer liberation, but we’re not.  And of course there’s the reality that even if marriage were granted to all same-sex couples, regardless of where they lived, that there are still so many other hurdles to be overcome for queers.  Marriage equality was never where our fight stopped.

Tonight, a week past DOMA, I am recognizing the privilege that I have as a queer person living in Massachusetts.  I have so many privileges- race, class, ability, and more- but I also have this privilege now.

– Charlotte

Two Mamas

images-4Yesterday at the playground I could tell M was working something out.  He would look at the family next to us, three kids and their dad, then smile a little.  I didn’t think much of it.  He was more than content on the tire swing, so we just kept swinging.  After a few minutes went by, he looked at me, smiled and said, “Their daddy is pushing them.  That’s funny.”
“Why is that funny?”
“Just funny.  M doesn’t have a daddy.  M has two mamas.  A Mama and an Ima,” as he threw back his head and laughed a big open mouth laugh as he continued to spin around while he flew back and forth.

The other day, my mom told me that a friend of hers asked what we are going to tell M about not having a father.  She apparently said it like “that poor thing”.  We have always been honest with M about having two moms and not having a dad.  Of course we will explain what a donor is one day, but M is being raised to know that there are all kinds of families.  His Ima has one dad and no mom.  I have a mom and a dad.  He has friends with one mom, a mom and a dad, two moms, two dads.  We surround ourselves with loving people from a variety of contexts.  So, to my mother’s friend, we tell him he has two moms who love him more than anything.  Seems to me, he’s gotten the message.

-Betsy

Graduation Day

I live on a college campus, which has been abuzz with the energy that can only precede graduation.  I Love ceremony like this.  I always cry, no use trying to hold back.  People look at me during some rite of passage, tears streaming down my face from behind my sunglasses, wondering what is wrong.  My sheer inability to control my emotions is something I have come to love about who I am.  It is just part of me.

Graduation is tomorrow morning.  It is expected to be a glorious morning, sunny skies and mild temperatures (to make up for the polyester bags the graduates must wear).  I will take my son and another little friend to hear the pomp and circumstance of it all.  And…I will cry.  I will watch all the parents and elderly grandparents file in, knowing that for some it was a challenge to get here: financial, physical, emotional.  I will cry when students walk by with their dogs or their new babies.  I will cry when a younger brother or sister runs up to hold the hand of their graduate.  I will cry in anticipation of the day when my child experiences such an achievement.  I will cry for the letting go I know I will have to do one day.  I will cry for how hard life will be for my boy some days and for all the joy I know he will taste.  I may even be crying now.

Tomorrow, I will arrive with pockets full of tissues and cheese sticks to keep to boys distracted from my waterworks.  But if they see me, I will tell them that sometimes, my heart is so full of love that it spills out my eyes.

-Betsy

PS.  My mom sent me a link to part of a graduation speech by David Foster Wallace.  Thought you might find it interesting: http://www.upworthy.com/the-earth-shatteringly-amazing-speech-that-ll-change-the-way-you-think-about-adulthood-4?g=3&c=upw10

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

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