One week ago today, I turned 36. I used to LOVE my birthday. It was the one day I didn’t have to do the dishes or take out the trash and I got to eat all my favorite foods. As of last week, however, birthdays are losing their luster.
Now, birthdays are about the quick passage of time. This is something I have always struggled with, especially since becoming a parent. There is magic in the day-to-day. Amazing growth and learning happens constantly. Yet, when I look back over the last 2.75 years, I can only remember snippets. I have to look back at this blog or look in the journal I keep for my boy to remember more.
I want to remember it all, to soak in the sweetness of this little person (especially before adolescence makes an appearance). Tonight, we were in a car with three college students. M had picked out some silly bands to give to them and spent the better part of our twenty-minute car ride doling them out. He made sure everyone had several in different colors and shapes. When we dropped them off at their dorms and the car was empty except for us, he said with big eyes, “Where did they go? I have more presents for they.”
Besides being so cute I could eat him, I learn from these moments and from my son. I learn about selfless giving. I learn about finding joy around every corner. I learn about connection and communion. I learn about myself and who I want to be through him.
Now that my birthday has passed and I have spent a few days settling into this downhill slide to 40, I am trying to be wide open to all of the possibilities. I have a tattoo on my left forearm that is a reminder of this. It is called the spiral of potential energy. To me, it is a reminder that within each moment lies an opportunity for transformation if I am just open to it. Tonight, I am open.
I made a decision the moment I looked into my son’s eyes to never lie to him. We talk about where meat comes from and what it means to die. We don’t do Santa Claus and won’t do the Tooth Fairy. I know that may sound harsh. That’s just the way it is. (Don’t worry: He finds magic in lots of other places!)
What I haven’t decided is if making-up stories counts as lying? I think not? Here is the situation: A few nights ago we three were deep into battle over flossing and brushing M’s teeth. He was yelping and covering his mouth with both hands anytime one of us came near. Exhausted, we watched as M darted for the door only to find S’s foot holding it closed. He didn’t notice her foot and just kept tugging at the door, getting frustrated and then, finally, giving up.
At that moment, it dawned on me (maybe on S…but let’s pretend it was me for the sake of the story): Here is a golden opportunity to change to game. So, I/we told him that the door had a magic spell on it and wouldn’t open until he flossed, brushed and said the magic words, ‘hocus, pocus, open the door-us’.
Can you guess what happened next? You are right! It fucking worked! Four nights running, we have not battled over his oral hygiene. There have been no battle of wills. If it looks like one is coming down the pike, we just invoke the magic spell and ta-da!
I realize that this story may have us crossing very close to lying territory. That part I am not so keen on. The lack of battles? Well, that I love.
Posted in General Parenting, Toddlerhood
Tagged lesbian, lesbian parenting, lgbt, lgbt parenting, non-bio, non-bio mom, non-gestational, queer, queer parenting, toddler boy, toddler teeth brushing battles, toddlerhood, toddlers
As my son was falling asleep tonight, green bouncy ball in one hand, he started whispering something to me. There was just enough light in the room for me to recognize the white of his teeth as he smiled. “jaja-jo” was what I heard. I asked him to repeat. It came across the same. “Once more?” I asked knowing I was now pulling him farther from sleep. “Cujo,” he said loudly with a bigger smile.
“That’s what you call our dog. Why do you call him that?”
“I’ll tell you when you are bigger.”
Their tiny brains are amazing. He sits there watching the light disappear outside his windows, running through the events of the day. Eyes wide open, his breathing deepens as he remembers walks or play dates or, perhaps, when I needed a few minutes alone and gently escorted him to his room for my ten kid-free minutes.
Despite this being my least favorite time of year (humidity+heat=VERY unhappy Betsy), we have been rather busy. New adventures, new friends. All of these new things and he thinks about ‘Cujo’ right before he falls asleep. While their brains are amazing, they are also quite strange.
Posted in Toddlerhood
Tagged lesbian, lesbian parenting, lgbt, lgbt parenting, non-bio, non-bio mom, non-gestational, non-gestational mother, queer, queer parenting, things toddlers say, toddler, toddlerhood, toddlers
Today has been a whopper of a day. My sleep-deprived child woke up with fire coming out of his eyes, a steaming dragon. Since 5:30 a.m., that child has been with us. My sweet, compliant, snuggly boy has gone into hiding.
Could there have been a better night to try a new approach to sleep training? I think the answer is yes, but we did it anyway. We have allowed ourselves to become his sleep crutch. He is a pain in the ass (chatting, singing, whispering, asking questions) for a LONG time. Regardless of what we tell him, he flip-flops sides of his bed about twelve times, requesting a blanket adjustment and that his water cup be relocated to the new side. He wants his back patted and his hand held. And we, in desperation for some quiet at the end of a long day, have acquiesced. I know we are responsible for digging the hole that we once again find ourselves in. Regardless, it sucks.
It sucks to hear him crying for companionship. It sucks to hear him sad about these changes. It sucks that he isn’t one of those kids who came out of the womb asleep. It just sucks.
PS. If your kid is a good sleeper and can put himself to sleep unaided, please don’t comment on this post. If you do, I will hunt you down and make my crazy-ass shih tzu move in to your house. And, trust me, you don’t want that.
Tonight, M insisted on a hard-boiled egg for dessert. He was given the choice of fruit or cereal with almond milk. He chose a hard-boiled egg. Not only did he choose an egg, but he also insisted he peel the egg himself. I pictured this before I acquiesced: huge chunks of egg going to waste along with the shell, pieces of shell everywhere, early evening chaos. But what transpired instead was a bit of a monumental moment. My son peeled an egg. My 2 1/2-year old peeled an entire egg by himself. He got all the pieces of shell in the sink and rinsed the egg off before eating it. Then it hit me (like it does from time to time). There will come a time when he leaves us and peels all his own eggs. I watched him working tonight and thought about the adult he will grow into. I thought about how his hands will be bigger than mine and how he will probably have to bend down to give me a hug (his donor was like, 6’2″). I pictured him standing at his own sink teaching his son how to peel an egg.
Time is passing rather quickly. The milestones are coming daily. I read an article on the Brain, Child website today: http://www.brainchildmag.com/2013/07/disappearing-act/. The first line, “The cruelest truth of parenting: If you do it right, they leave.” That hit me in my gut. I had to close my computer for a while before I could finish the essay.
I guess that is a harsh reality that I need another 16+ years to prepare for. I will need to experience the angst of teenagers in order to appreciate the quiet when he is gone. I will need him to stay out past curfew or tell me he hates me or whatever else it is we did as teenagers that made our parents a little less morose when we left home. I know I will miss the smell of his skin. That is for sure.
When he was a tiny baby, we would put shirts we had worn in his crib so that he could smell us while he slept. I think I will have to sneak one of his out of his stuff before he drives away and tuck it neatly under my pillow.
Posted in General Parenting
Tagged kids growing up, kids leaving home, lesbian, lesbian parenting, lgbt, lgbt parenting, non-bio, non-bio mom, non-gestational, queer, queer parenting, raising toddler, toddlerhood, toddlers
When someone pisses me off, it is my natural inclination to gather as much space between us and to not talk to them until I am not angry anymore. Being in a relationship of 16+ years, I learned along the way to sometimes make allowances, especially if your partner gets clingy when you are mad at her. Still, I like to run away and hide.
Since M was born, I have fought against that part of my nature. I want to be able to show M that you can talk about your feelings and that you don’t have to run away from a confrontation. Tonight, however, really tested me. M told me he doesn’t love me. He followed that up with telling me I should go live in another house. It wasn’t just once, but several times over the period of an hour. I told him he was hurting my feelings and that it wasn’t nice to say that to me. He didn’t care. He decided he loves Ima and not me.
I understand that he is a kid with very little reasoning ability, but the stay-at-home mom part of me was pretty furious about this statement. If it wasn’t for me, my kid would be naked and so full of carbs (S can make toast and cereal) and his sheets would never be changed. This is not ragging on S. She does lots of things to make our family work, but she doesn’t do those things.
I think it is really only when you become a parent that you truly appreciate the people who raised you. They didn’t always get it right, as we won’t. We will probably tell our kids they can’t go to a concert or date that guy or ride a bike without a helmet. There will be days when our kids can’t stand us and we, them. But when the day comes that they are able to truly appreciate all that we have done for them, that will be a marvelous day.
Until then, I will continue to bathe and feed and clothe my child, regardless of where he tells me I should live. I will try to not run away and will try to understand his developmental stage. But when he goes to bed, like tonight, I might take some of the sting of his comments away with a big glass of wine or some chocolate, even if I have to run to the store to get it.
Posted in Preference for Gestational Mother, stay at home parent, Toddlerhood
Tagged lesbian, lesbian parenting, lgbt, lgbt parenting, non-bio, non-bio mom, non-gestational, preference for bio-mom, preference for gestational mom, primary caregiver, queer, queer parenting, raising toddler, stay-at-home mom, toddler rejection, toddlerhood, toddlers
We have tried very hard since my son was born to get him to attach to a transitional object. We hoped it would be Babo’s Bird, an Ugly Doll. We bought five knowing that we were so smart to have extra’s on hand for the eventuality of one being lost. We would have 4 more! So smart!
Well, M has never had any interest in Babo’s Bird. Now, we have four sitting on the shelf and one at the bottom of the stuffed animal bag. We tried a tiny stuffed cat, an enormous sock monkey, a squishy pillow. Nothing. Then, last year, he decided he loved Gerald the giraffe. Gerald became his nighttime buddy. He would snuggle with that long neck tucked under his little arm and they would sleep face-to-face. All of a sudden a few weeks ago, Gerald got kicked to the curb. M didn’t want Gerald anywhere near him. He was flying solo at bedtime. “M doesn’t want any friends in his bed,” he would proclaim.
Ok. No problem. Then, he started sleeping with his metal kazoo at nap time. I thought that it was kind of cute, albeit a little odd. But TONIGHT takes the cake. Tonight, he fell asleep holding his travel toothbrush cover (see photo above). Not sure how this came about, but there it was tucked firmly in his hand until he fell asleep and it fell to the floor.
The whole point of this post, you might be right to assume, is to point out that children are strange little creatures with funny habits and odd proclivities. I think that is why we love them. They experience a freedom to be who they are that most of us can’t quite remember. If we could only figure out a way to help them hold onto that…
Posted in General Parenting, Toddlerhood
Tagged children are weird, lesbian, lesbian parenting, lgbt, lgbt parenting, non-bio, non-bio mom, non-gestational, queer, queer parenting, raising toddler, toddler, toddlerhood, toddlers