Tag Archives: queer parenting

Birthdays

Little boy with third birthday crown covering his face, wearing payphone costume

M at his 3rd Birthday Party. He is dressed as a Payphone and, yes, it is awesome.

Today, my baby turned three.  With all the fanfare and over indulgence fitting such an age, he turned three.  Three.  THREE.  Whew.  I said it.  It feels like we have crawled here and, simultaneously, taken a bullet train.  When M was first born, I remember someone saying that the first six months creep by and the first six years fly.  I have visions of my boy at eighteen and can already feel time moving too quickly.

It is amazing to look back at all it took to create M.  Deciding who would carry him.  Choosing his donor.  Losing the first pregnancy so that M could come to us.  And now, here we are.  Together we have made it to three.

He is funny as hell, which I am counting on to help us all survive this next year of his life.  It seems that most toddlers have some sort of rapid-cycling emotional disorder.  One minute he will be laughing and having a great time and the next he is hiding his face under that table because the waitress tried to sing him Happy Birthday.  Over the next year, I will probably write a lot about this disparity.  I will also write a lot about the funny things he says.  Mainly because funny things are more…fun.

Tonight, on his first day of three, I bring to you installment one:
The M Chronicles
“Mama? On the weekend, can we call Lady Gaga and see if she wants to come over to play?  I think she would be really nice to me.”
“Uh…I don’t think she would be able to, Buddy.”
“Well, could we call her and see if I can go to her house?”
“We can’t really call her, Buddy.”
“Why not?”
“Well…we don’t know her.”
“I’m disappointed.  I really wanted to hang out with her.”

If any of you know Lady Gaga and can get her the message, I’d appreciate it.

-Betsy

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Don’t You…Forget About Me

Hello everyone.  ‘Tis me.  Betsy.  You may have thought I have forgotten about you all due to the silence emanating from my computer.  Alas, no.  I have not forgotten about you.  Life has been crazy of late.  Here is a quick run down:  My dear S has developed a lovely reaction to fertility treatments.  This translated to two weeks in bed, anti-nausea pills, lots of Gatorade and squash soup.  In the middle of that, M was sick.  Thanksgiving (my favorite holiday) came and went.  Hannukah started, continued and finally ended.  I lost my wallet then found it days later.  My phone died so I couldn’t complain to anyone b/c I am so reliant on my phone I have no numbers stored in my head.  AND M’s birthday party was yesterday.  (My mom saved the day by making all the food except for cupcakes.)

I have been on parenting/house/dog duty 99% of the time for 14 days and I am just exhausted.  Things are looking up (thus a few minutes alone in a room with the door shut to write).  I wanted to share a few highlights from these last days because, even when life is hard, there is much to be happy about and grateful for.

1)  The ups and downs of having one bathroom:  So, M likes me to bathe with him, which I also adore.  In the middle of S being super sick, she ended up puking into the toilet while we were in the tub…about ten inches away.  M covered his ears (having only heard a cat vomit previously) and asked Ima to stop.  A few minutes later, when S had picked herself up off the floor and made it back to bed, M turns to me, “When Ima throws-up, she sounds like a peacock.”

2)  In preparation for his birthday party, M helped me make cupcakes.  We made chocolate and strawberry, as he requested.  After they were done baking, he decided that he should keep all the chocolate ones and just give his guests strawberry because he “doesn’t really like it”.  Mind you, when he said this, he had just finished licking the beaters and had strawberry icing all over his face.

3)  In order to get my workouts in, M had to come with me b/c I couldn’t leave him home with S.  He sits in the corner with the iPad and watched a movie while a group of people sweat and move on the other side of the gym.  After watching for a while on Friday, he decided he wanted to do some exercise.  We went out to the parking lot where he learned how to do jumping jacks, push-ups and high-knees.  A sight to behold.

I am sure there are more highlights that have gotten lost in the fog that is my sleep-deprived, desperately-in-need-of-alone-time brain.  Hope to be back soon.

-Betsy

I Will Survive (or Not)

I have a really brilliant friend named Phoebe who has mentioned several times how easy a two-year old is compared to a three-year old.  She recalled barely making it some days, feeling like her head might pop off.  I can remember listening to her stories and feeling so grateful for my super mellow boy.

We are just about three weeks away from three and now I get it.  Earlier today, bag of chocolate coinsI thought I was going to lose it.  I made a big mistake yesterday.  While in Trader Joe’s, I told M he could have some chocolate.  We came upon some awesome little chocolates coins.  Perfect!  He could just have one or two a day.  All would be well in the world.  But I got the opposite.  My sweet, mellow boy turned into a monster.  When denied a fourth or fifth coin (I had already caved), he started screaming and demanding chocolate.  “NOW!” my precious boy hurled my way through the tears and life-threatening pain of the chocolate being put too high on a shelf for him to reach.

This wasn’t the first time the terrific threes have made an appearance.  By the end of most days, I am beyond grateful for the safety of my bed.  Tucked under the covers with the lights off, I don’t have to negotiate with anyone.  S knows not to talk to me while I unwind from the hours of “Stop giving the dog food from your plate” or “If you ask me about the chocolates one more time, I am putting them in the trash”.

My plan all along has been to home school M.  Tonight, I am not so sure. Tonight, I am thinking that full-time school out of the home might be the only way to survive the next year.  I decided that every time I feel like screaming at the beautiful little person who is developmentally appropriately infuriating, I will do push-ups instead.  I hypothesis that I will look like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger by the time December 2014 rolls around.  People will cross the street when they see me coming, not sure what to make of my guns.  Little will they know that all they see is a year’s worth of forced patience.  In the meantime, I have been sneaking those damn chocolate coins, trying to dwindle his stash so we can have to over and done with.  I figure he will never remember how many he had and if he does, I can always blame S.  May the wrath be with her.

-Betsy

Whistling in the Dark

My son is obsessed with things that light up the night: glow sticks, solar powered lights, headlamps.  Tonight, he decided that he would don his headlamp in order to play in the dark.  He then proceeded to turn a bookshelf we are about to get rid of into “bunk beds” for his stuffed friends.  He brought out blankets for each one and tucked them in.  It is amazing to watch how his mind is developing.  The empathy he shows is astounding.

little boy with headlamp putting dolls on shelves of bookselfThis has been a tough week in our house.  Besides my dad’s stroke, M was sick with a fever for several days.  We are also ass deep in the joy that is IVF.  That is part of why I haven’t written much this week.  When life gets hard, I retreat.  IVF is hard.  There are twists and turns and unexpected phone calls that can make or break one’s day or hopes.

It was our choice to pursue IVF.  After the last miscarriage, we were down to two vials of sperm from the same donor as M.  The fear of running out became much more of a reality.  IVF, theoretically, will give us many more chances to have another child who shares the same biology as M.  I don’t know why this is important to me, but it is.  There is already this man (the donor) we don’t know in our lives.  The thought of choosing another donor and bringing another stranger into the fold is nauseating.  It feels too complicated.

So we chose IVF.  We chose to spend a tremendous amount of money out-of-pocket (well, we took out a loan) for this one chance at creating the family we envision.  And I am scared.  I am scared it won’t work.  I am scared that we won’t have that table full of our children and their families at Thanksgiving 2043.  M is enough.  Having him is enough, I tell myself over and over again.  Though, sometimes the love I have for him is so much, I know that I have to share it with another child or it will swallow us all whole.

M learned to whistle this week.  Really whistle.  I don’t think I learned that until I was twenty.  I learn so much from him everyday.  The joy that pours out of him is infectious.  So tonight, when I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed by all of the what ifs, I have decided to take a cue from my boy.  I am going to put on his headlamp and spend some time whistling in the dark.  I think that will help.

-Betsy

book shelf with one doll laying on each shelf

Guest Blogger: Jen Daigle-Matos

Agua y Amor

When Ita asked for water the first time, she said “agua”, which is Spanish for “water”. She loves to eat rice and beans, and the first time she danced, it was to a song by Puerto Rican salsero, Marc Anthony (Jennifer Lopez’s ex-husband). She loves in Spanish, too. She has learned to squeeze her moms with eyes shut tight, baby-feet-in-sandsaying “tanto!” which means “so much”. She has my cousin’s sense of humor, my sister’s movements, my grandmother’s pensiveness, my mom’s watchful eye, and my sense of joy.

Biologically, she is not ours.

My wife (her birth mother) and her donor are White. I had to adopt her and jump through scary legal hoops to establish what everyone knew—this is my baby. My baby. Born White and culturally Puerto Rican, she’s a little White girl with the grit in her gut and glint in her eye of a Latina. Some folks can’t see our connection. This summer one man asked, “So are you her nanny?” Other folks, the folks who know that love is thicker than blood, know biology isn’t the only connection love creates. My aunt looked at Ita, looked at us and noted “but neither of you have blue eyes.” The staff at my doctor’s office whispered me over and said “Jen! She looks just like you!” I reminded them that this was a biological impossibility.

A biological impossibility.

C and I plan on taking Ita to Puerto Rico someday. We tell her all about the food she’ll eat, the sounds she’ll hear, and the agua she’ll swim in. We tell her about the friendly Puerto Ricans, her people, the ones she’ll meet and we know she’ll love the island. We know this because she is as warm as the Puerto Rican sun, and when her toes touch the sand, she will be home.

-Jen

Soon

S has this thing she does with M.  She asks him how long she can keep him and he typically says, “26.”  He decided that when he is 26, he will move to his own house on “the big road”.  His friends (A and M, brother and sister) will move in with him and he will have us over for breakfast.  A couple of weeks ago, we got an answer other than ’26’.  When S asked how long she can keep him, “‘Til you are 26?” she asked.
“No,” he said.
“Why not?”
“Because I am going to die soon.”

(Insert heart hitting the floor here.)

This has stayed with me since, coming from behind and slapping the back of my head every now and then.  When I remember his words, my chest tightens and I lose my breath, praying that he is just working through things in his head and that he doesn’t actually know something we don’t.

2013 has been a shitty year.  M has learned a lot this year.  Maybe too much.  I try to chalk his statement up to that.  We lost a pregnancy he was invested in. My mom’s best friend died and he came with me to her memorial service.  He doesn’t know it, but my dad had a minor stroke today.

He has seen a lot this year.  I wonder if our decision to be completely honest with him has exposed him to too much, too soon.  I don’t know what the alternative is.  I can’t lie to him, but I want to protect him.  Where is the middle ground?  I just don’t know.

What I do know is that life is short and shit happens.  No matter how much I try to protect him or prepare for the ‘what ifs’, I just can’t shelter him from all hurt.  No matter how much I want to.  And that sucks. I guess that is all part of the letting go that happens the moment a child is born.  From that first moment we let someone else hold him to my last breath, I have been and will be giving him the world and to the world.

I think that is my life’s work.  The letting go and the moving on.  Maybe that is everyone’s life work.  Maybe it is holding on too tight that holds us all back, our children included.  Just maybe.

-Betsy

Guest Blogger: Charlotte Capogna-Amias

So This is Happening

It’s upon us: our three-and-a-half year old daughter only wants to wear dresses or skirts (it is a tiresome battle to get her to agree to wear a pair of pants; even on very cold days), everything she likes is pink, she looks in the full-length mirror in our bedroom after she gets dressed (she picks out her own outfits) to “see how she looks”… the list goes on.  SIGH.drawings of girls in frilly dresses

We have tried to be good gender non-conforming, queer parents.  I swear we have.  Partly, as a fellow parent at our daughter’s preschool rightly put it, “we are victims of our hand-me-downs” which resemble a pile of sherbet when dumped out of the trash bag upon receiving them.  Don’t get me wrong- I am super appreciative of those hand-me-downs, despite their hues; they have saved us hundreds of dollars since our daughter was born.  And the reality is that unless you can afford ultra-pricey clothes from brands like Tea, Baby Gap and Mini Boden, you’re getting gender-conforming garb.

Lately, our daughter has been talking in this high-pitched voice, to the point where she talks normal and then catches herself and says, “I mean…” and continues in the high-pitched din.  Did I say, “sigh” yet?  I think I’ll take another: SIGH.

Ok, so let me be clear about something if you don’t already know this about me: I’m pretty darn femme-y.  I wear make-up most days, simply because I like it when lightly (and sometimes not so lightly) applied… I mostly where dresses or skirts to work, I take a long time styling my hair.  These things are all true.  And I know my daughter watches me do these things, quite likely taking some mental notes.  My spouse, her bio mom, is a soft butch.  She showers, slaps some concrete-like product in her short hair and is ready within five minutes.  I just want my daughter to understand that there are options, and seeing how the tide moves, perhaps particularly for little children around gender, these last few months have been slightly frightening.  I mean take this recent incident (albeit slightly comical):  I have been exploring some different progressive spiritual communities in the area where we live and there are these two places- a Congregationalist church and Quaker meeting- where we have mostly ventured as a family.  I was debating one morning about whether to go to Quaker meeting or the church and my daughter quickly said, “To meeting please!”  So I’m all thinking she likes it there, it’s more her scene, COOL.  Well, while I was foolishly thinking she got some spiritual enlightenment from the Quaker’s calming silence, in fact, it was the play high-heeled shoe collection in the playroom that had her goat.  The Quakers had a verifiable colony in those dress-up bins and my daughter couldn’t have been more pleased.  Hell, a drag queen would have been pleased.

I mean, I get it.  She sees this stuff everywhere.  She takes note of who holds power and lore in the occasional books she comes upon with fairies and princesses.  She doesn’t watch TV, we don’t buy books like that, but it’s out there.  There’s actually more upsetting things about race and looks that bother me on an even deeper level that are surfacing (our daughter’s biracial).  I don’t want to get into that in this particular post, but let’s just say: this stuff is deep.

– Charlotte