I have been seeing a lot of talk in queer mom land about when and how people talk to their kids about their donor. I feel behind because we haven’t. Whoops.
We have open and honest conversations with Gus but we follow his lead and this isn’t something he has shown much interest in. He knows he grew in my uterus. On some level he knows he was born in our living room (Lesley happily showed him where). We have Zak’s Safari, a book about a donor conceived kid with lesbian moms. When we tried to read it to him he got bored and asked for a different book. He asked me while we were on vacation how he got in my uterus but we were in the car with my mom who was already shocked that he knows the word “uterus” so I changed the subject and hoped he would ask again when we were alone. He hasn’t.
I’m of the belief that big conversations should be somewhat child led and right now my child isn’t leading me into those conversations. He is young, on the cusp of three, and I imagine in the next year those will come up a bit more. I think about this not only with him having a donor but also conversations about racism and homophobia. I don’t think he is quite ready for the conversations but I will not shy away from big topics when brought up.
It’s hard because I recognize that some of that, especially not talking about racism, is a privilege we have. I know that is not the case for everyone. But I want him to be young and innocent a bit longer. I work hard to expose him to all types of family and racial diversity however I can. We talk openly I just don’t start conversations about these bigger topics.
A women I know has a fb group for parents who are activists. It is small and I was in it for a while but recently left. She was posting articles about how to talk to your kids about gay people. It made me so sad that we are something that other people need to “talk to” their kids about. Why are people not just teaching their kids to be kind and loving human beings? I know that it needs to go beyond that. I know that you can’t just teach your kid to be nice and have it stop there but right now it feels like a pretty good start.
We went on an almost three week trip to see our families. Here is a ten thing summary list about that experience:
1) if you have not read this do so now: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/m-blazoned/vacation-or-trip-a-helpful-guide-for-parents_b_7789310.html
2)It’s interesting to see how different grandparents react to Gus. They all love him but you can tell toddler age is not everyone’s favorite.
3) 3 our of 4 of our parents complimented our parenting and talked about how great Gus was. Even when he was upset about something everyone was amazed at how not bad it was which is nice because often to us it feels really bad.
4) Gus got to spend time with his cousins he adores and it was really sweet.
5) We talked a lot about moving home during this trip. In the end we realized it is just not realistic. I think it would be really hard to go from a very accepting and liberal place to one that is not so much. The town our moms live in is perfect in so many ways. It is a small beach town. In the next town over a church has a display of tons of tiny crosses for aborted fetuses.
6) We saw our friends who came out here for a terrible time at christmas. We didn’t stay with them and as such our visit was super pleasant. It has made me be more committed to continuing our friendship on different terms.
7) Gus did great traveling and has an intense love of airplanes. This is good since I plan on taking him on three airplane needed trips next year.
8) There were some really rough parts of our trip, particularly with one of our parents. Said parent is mad at us that we do not make Gus hug people and that we asked said parent to please not call him names. Said parent thinks we are rude and believes that as his grandparent they have a right to do and say what they want to him. We disagree. This is beyond complicated. Said parent has been planning on moving closer to us and we are now not sure that is happening or if we want it to happen. We don’t really know how to move forward. We have not spoken since we last saw this parent a week ago. I know this part of my update is especially vague but I am hoping that said parent might come around and realize that they are totally inappropriate and then we can move forward. They is extremely unlikely and at this time there might be a counselor involved to figure out how to set boundaries with toxic family members.
9) The last weekend of our trip we spent being hosted by midwestmammas who has been my best internet friend for years and it totally solidified that if we lived in the same place we’d be best real life friends. Hanging out with people you know on the internet is awkward. Crashing at their house for the weekend is probably adds a level of intensity. But they were as perfect as I thought.
10) We met one of Gus’ donor siblings too! I should probably write a whole post about that, eh?
Here are a bunch of trip pictures in random order:
It’s sunny and 90 degrees outside. This is dangerous for me.
Nothing makes me want to adult less than summer. I want to drink beers outside and read books in parks and spend money and abandon responsibilities. I want to be young and carefree. This has been hard since having a kid and now as I enter my third summer of parenting I find myself yearning for a bit less structure and a bit more freedom.
I struggle so much to balance me as a person and me as a mom and I am feeling it bad now. Lesley and I met this time of year 11 years ago. All of our early relationship memories and in the sun and on warm nights and involve fireworks and beaches and the joy that comes with long days. I want time together with her. We are lucky in that we are going to visit our parents so will get a few small moments but no where where we can be fully relaxed and our true selves. We talked about going to a concert at the zoo but we would have to take Gus with us which sounds less romantic.
I need more time. I need time to get my work done and get my other responsibilities done and have time to be free. But I am starting to really feel how badly we are struggling without help. I wish we could have some time together. I know how much good it would do for our relationship. And I know we can’t have it.
There are ways that this parenting thing gets so much easier and there are ways where it feels like freedom is so close but you can’t touch it. Last night I crept into Gus’ room to shut the window and looked at his tiny face and missed all of the moments that passed throughout the day where we were not together. Today I wish that I had just a little time to not have that responsibility.
I’m giving you a ten things post because I feel like I have a lot to say and nothing to say all at once. I also feel a bit disconnected from the blogging world and want to write more. Here you go:
1) I really should be working right now. I don’t know how to switch my motivation switch on but I need to figure it out. I struggle with this all the time but it is getting a bit absurd. I need to figure out some sort of system to keep me focused.
2) My MIL sold her house. When asked what she plans to do next she joked that she would come live in a tiny house in our yard. That is not happening. She will not live with us. I don’t feel the need to discuss how much that is not happening because it is so much not happening. But she might move closer which means we would have family closer than 3,000 miles. That’s complicated but also nice.
3) Gus is getting his last tooth. He has also been a major pain the last few days so hopefully those two are connected.
4) We went camping and on a 5 mile hike this weekend. Toddler’s can’t hike five miles – in case you did not know.
5) I bought myself new rainbow chaco sandals that should arrive today. I’m not sure I have ever been so excited about anything.
6) Gus is pretty cool. He knows things and has some great reasoning skills. Last night we took the dog on a walk and Gus wanted to bring something to carry. This is normal. It is normally a hockey stick, golf club, or baseball mitt. We shot all those down. The next hope was his stuffed fox. Lesley told him the walk was for our bodies only. He claimed that fox had a body. Lesley corrected him and said human and dog bodies only. He excitedly yelled, “Okay!” and ran to his room and grabbed his stuffed dog. He won.
7) His imagination is off the charts lately. He has decided he is a bunny. He puts on pretend hockey equipment and pretends to skate. On walks he pretends throws balls. It’s all sweet and strange and makes everything take forever.
8) I am taking him to the big city pride parade on Sunday. Lesley can’t go and gets the whole day at home alone. (She has a work thing that afternoon.) I am jealous.
9) I am going out of town for a two night/three day conference in October. I am both excited and sad.
10) I joined a Step Bet through my fitbit. It is a different app but everyone pays in $40 and you have to get a certain number of steps to get your $40 back. If anyone doesn’t make it their money is split between those who do. I’m determined to make it but it means last night I paced around our house while watching OITNB.
Kid pictures? Kid pictures.
It’s been a week.
Two Thursdays ago Gus got Norovirus. It involved him waking up at 2:30 am, vomiting regularly until 8:30 am, and us both taking half a day off work. Norovirus is nasty but swift. It gets you hard but you are back to the races the next day.
When I work up and vomited on Tuesday I knew what was going on. I sent my family off without me and made a bed on the couch. I felt terrible and ended up asking Lesley to come home early because I am the worst at being sick. She came home and gave me liquids and saltines (which I promptly returned) and sewed while I napped. Around 3:30 I called her to help me to the bathroom. I had to pee but felt weak. She helped me to the bathroom but worried I was going to throw up left to just let me be miserable. I came to on the floor a couple minutes later.
I’m not sure happened. I’m not sure if I peed. Lesley heard the thud and came running in to find me (naked, clearly) on the ground between the toilet and vanity, My body laid over Gus’ tiny ikea potty. She called to me and I was unresponsive. She left to grab her phone to call 911 and when she returned I was calling for her telling her I was stuck and needed help. She helped getting off the floor and to the couch where I realized I had terrible pain in my neck and arms. Terrible. Like the worst pain I have ever felt and I had a baby on my living room floor. She asked me what she should do a few times and then called our friend who is a nurse. Our friend heard what happened and heard me screaming and told her to call an ambulance.
The ambulance came and asked me a lot of questions. I went to the hospital with them in a neck brace. (Lesley did help me get shorts on before they came. The paramedic asked if I wanted to put a shirt on and I yelled “I can’t fucking move!” – I got a hospital gown.) Our friend had suggested the ambulance because I was in so much pain and would have waited for hours in the waiting room. When I got to the hospital my blood pressure was 70/40. They started giving me IV fluids and waited for a CT scan. The CT scan showed nothing majorly wrong and 5 hours later – after two rounds of anti nausea meds, pain killers, and three bags of fluid – I went home.
I stayed home from work Wednesday and Thursday and tried to go Friday but made it 3 hours. My arms have still be in a ton of pain and my neck still hurts.
Yesterday when Lesley picked Gus up from school we learned he has pink eye.
We were planning to go see friends in the big city this weekend and we didn’t. I’m bummed about this – we love them and really wanted to see them. Between my pain and the pink eye we just couldn’t.
Instead we got up and bought Gus $40 worth of tank tops at Target because he loves tank tops. We took him to the after hours doc (just viral) and went to Lowe’s (I know, we should have just stayed home with pink eye. We suck at that. We touched minimal things). While he napped Lesley mowed the lawn and I cleaned some tires for our next project. We played outside all afternoon and I took him around the block on his scooter and minimally whisper screamed/threatened him for just sitting on it in other people’s driveways. Lesley made dinner while Gus and I did puzzles and I am relaxing while she sews thousands of cloth diaper wipes.
I’m sad about what we could not do and am a bit overwhelmed by what still needs to be done. But a pot roast is in the crock pot for tomorrow and I get a back rub before bed.
This isn’t how I wanted it to go but it feels nice to slow down.
I don’t have many long term friendships. I was an awkward kid and din’t make friends easily. I had friends in high school that for various reasons I am not friends with anymore. Nothing majorly bad but a variety of things – I told a good friend her boyfriend was cheating on her when we were 17 and she ended our friendship, when I started dating my first girlfriend we weren’t out and it made it hard to maintain friendships in the high school to college transition, and my first girlfriend and I were introduced by my high school best friend – when we broke up their friendship continued and ours fizzled out.
I have friends from college/college age but few of those are easy. One of my closest friends with college I had an intense love affair with and while we are on good terms we are not close. My best friend from college aged that I kept for a long time came to visit over Christmas and I decided I fully hate her wife and can’t be around their family dynamic. I don’t miss it much but it was a long friendship and I feel bad but it is what it is.
I tend to make close friendships that last for a few years and then explode. There are various reasons but it really comes down to my personality. I try not to be one of those people who says things like, “I don’t know why drama follows me”. I know why – I am sometimes hard to deal with. I am direct and firm in my opinions and loud. At some point I say something and someone can’t deal. It’s hard for me to understand because 90% of the time these things would not be a big deal if people knew how to communicate their problems but no one teaches life skills so here I am.
This isn’t to say I don’t have friends but that I have few very close friendships. My two closest friends I don’t talk to enough and live in New York and Vancouver. Most of my other close people are internet folks so it’s just different.
I am okay with this but it is odd to see people who have been friends for a long time. People who are in their childhood best friend’s wedding. A lot of my high school friends are like that and it is mind boggling to me.
This has been on my mind a lot when thinking about friends for Gus. I worry that because I suck at maintaining friendships that I am doing him a disservice. I talked about this recently but I feel like an outcast in mom world. In middle school I wondered if everyone was hanging out without me but now thanks to facebook and instagram I know they are. We don’t get invited to things and I struggle to put in the effort when it feels one sided.
I’m actually pretty okay with it. I relish my family time and enjoy our unit of three. I like adventuring and being together without having to worry about other people’s schedules. We do have some parent friends we hang out with regularly and it can be tiring. It’s harder to parent Gus when other kids are around. I genuinely do not like a lot of people. I don’t have the energy (I am fully the friendship maintainer in our relationship).
But while it is not the end of the world to me (although sometimes it really sucks) I wonder if I am doing Gus a disservice. I wonder if I should try to be a more acceptable lady and play the game better. If I shouldn’t go on about political issues or being gay or whatever weird shit I end up going on about. If I should work harder to maintain friendships even though I am exhausted. I wonder if my personality flaws will affect his quality of life because I don’t have a built in group for him. I worry about this more since he is an only child.
I don’t know the answer. I feel like I try with people and it goes no where. I feel like I don’t actually care. But I also want to give my kid everything and it’s hard that I may not be able to give him this.
Sometimes it is hard to get inspired for blog posts. When those times come I normally end up getting frustrated about something and coming here to release it into the universe. It’s great to let it go but is not always a clear picture of my life.
I come here today to tell you about the good. You know what? There is so much good.
A few years ago a friend told me that she would list her toddler as her best friend if people wouldn’t think she weird. I get it. I truly enjoy my child. He is fun and creative and has started getting more into imaginary things (like talking to and showing us imaginary worms). He’s caring and loving and sure, he’s not perfect but he’s pretty great.
This is one of the reasons I have struggles connecting with other moms. In mom groups big and small, locally and nationally, I see so many moms frustrated with their kids. I see a lot of name calling and “why is your kid crying” threads and stuff that I just can’t really get down with. I know kids are frustrating and I know that moms need a place to let off steam. I know that they love their kids. But I really don’t have much to add to those conversations.
The other common theme is partner bashing. A dear friend told me years ago that she stopped talking about her frustrations with her partner with other people. I thought that was a bit extreme but I get it. When I have semi publicly expressed frustrations with Lesley in the past people will pile on and validate my feelings. And you know what? Those feelings are valid. But when I get internet folks to validate them it just fuels my fire instead of discussing them with her. My take away from “mom groups” is that I am extremely fortunate. I have an equal partnership with someone I love is who an amazing and engaged parent of our child. Day to day there will always be little things but the big picture is good.
I feel so content with where we are. I’d have a 2.5 year old forever. I feel like the classes we took when Gus was an infant, was one, and a few months ago really shaped who we are as parents. My expectations are realistic and I have some coping mechanisms to deal. Everything isn’t perfect 100% of the time but I never feel the need to call my kid an asshole either so there’s that.
I asked a friend a while ago if she felt awkward about how much she loves her daughter. She 100% understood what I meant. So much of mom bonding is around complaining that I just don’t know how to operate in that world. It’s why I don’t attend “Mom’s Night Out” events. I appreciate the purpose of complaining and know that everyone needs some solidarity – I 100% get it and don’t begrudge how people live their lives (even though this sounds so sanctimonious) I just realized I was happier when I stopped venting my frustrations to the world wide web.
There are moments of every day that are trying. There are moments of every day I wish I could do over. There are moments of every day when I am at the end of my rope. But the days are amazing. When I look at the big picture I give most a 9/10.
I think we have a balance that is often hard but childcare is a savior for me. I think he learns a lot, we learn a lot, and we have some space. I used to think of childcare as something we needed but now think that we are fortunate to have it. That’s not saying every kid/family needs it but it contributes a lot to the well being of my family.
I read through this post and thought about deleting it because I don’t want people to think I am a jerk who judges their feelings (I see so many of you in various mom corners). I’m not though – I’m leaving it because the conversation I had with my friend about the awkwardness of internet parenting. I’m leaving it to let you all know it’s okay to think you are totally rocking this thing. So here are kid pictures to end it:
I hear all the time that kids need a sibling and I look at some adult sibling relationships and think that is very true.
Then you have my sister.
My sister is 4 years older than me and lives an 8 hour drive away. A roundtrip plane ticket costs less than $250. Since Gus was born she has seen him twice: once when we took him there she he was five months and then when we were both at my moms at the same time when he was ten months.
My sister and I have never been close yet we don’t have a particularly bad relationship. We talk every couple of months and she vaguely mentions visiting but doss not follow through. She has a job making six figures and is required to work seven days A MONTH.
A few years ago she was in a bad relationship and called me constantly. We talked for 2 hours 3+ days a week. She’d call at 1am. She’d call in the middle of the work day. When she ended the relationship the calls stopped. Now she only calls it she is having problems with her new boyfriend. We talked about two months ago and they were going to take a break. I haven’t heard from her since so I am guessing that did not happen.
If you saw her in public she’d talk about how important family is to her but when she calls she doesnt ask about Gus. When we last talked my young, single cousin was coming to visit for a week and she suggested we come too. For a week. With a 2.5 year old. With a week’s notice. To wine country on my cousin’s spring break.
Part of me doesn’t care but she is so close and has every opportunity to have a relationship with Gus. I don’t know what else I can do really. But tonight a fiend of mine posted pictures of her new baby with friend’s sister who left her two kids for a week to fly across the county and meet her niece and I’m so mad.
This is a whine.
Parenting feels like middle school.
I’m part of a group that has rotating weekly playdates (if you are also part of that group you know I love you. You can skip this whole thing of you want). When I was first added to the group it was great and we went to playdates and hosted them and had fun.
At this point there is maybe 1-2 playdates a month. Sometimes we can go and sometimes we can’t. But everyone hangs out outside of the playdates. I see their pictures on instagram and facebook with other kids from the group. Sometimes one on one and sometimes a group of them. Honestly, I feel like we’re just not cool enough to be invited.
A lot of things play into this. A lot of the moms are stay at home moms and get together during the day. A lot of moms are on baby 2 or close to it. I have an abrasive personality.
I know we should make more effort with friends but honesty most interaction we have with other people is initiated by us. And I do all the social arranging so it’s initiated by me. Between work and swim lessons and life it’s hard to do it all.
We are going out of town a weekend in May, three weekends in June, and then for 2.5 weeks. I can’t wait – I feel like I just need to get out of this town. My family can have a great time on our own.
Once you know how it feels to be a 12 year old girl I don’t think it ever goes away.
Before Gus arrived on the scene Lesley and I loved grocery shopping. We’d spend an evening going through cookbooks and magazines to make a menu and list and then spend a Saturday afternoon dancing through the aisles of the grocery store. They play the best music, we were never in a hurry, and we always had a good time.
A toddler makes that more complicated. The store we do most of our shopping at has free fruit for kids and we take more than our share. We often divide and conquer and I often end up in the check out lane alone with my car cart while Lesley and Gus take a walk around. It’s more of a chore and less fun for everyone.
I’ve looked at alternative ways to buy groceries. Our store has a curbside pick up for $5 which seems like a great option. We also have a local co-op buying club where I could order most things online and just grab my order at a warehouse. There are things about both of these options that seem quite appealing – it would be great to have one less thing to do!
I was thinking about these today and then thinking about picking produce. We buy a lot of bananas and I like them with just a little green so I know the first one will be okay and they won’t get overripe too fast. I like to squeeze avocados and figure out the ripeness I need for the meals planned. I like to browse the discount meats and stock our freezer with marked down stuff. I like to see what’s on sale and splurge on something and remember to buy something I love. I love the experience of grocery shopping too much to give it up.
It made me think about the mundane and how I want that in Gus’ life. I remember my mom sitting at the dining room table, balancing her checkbook by hand. I can still picture the inside of my parent’s dry cleaner. I spent mornings sitting in my mom’s office next to her classroom before walking to school and afternoons waiting to be the last person picked up in our school parking lot. My childhood had everything we needed and then some – vacations, gifts, name brand clothes – but also had mundane.
So much of our life is about Gus. We do activities he will like and go places he can handle. As he gets older that balance will shift some but for now it is what’s needed. Grocery shopping is one place I can mix in the mundane. It’s hard and rushed and more hectic than it was before the kid but one day he’ll remember how his moms embarrassed him by dancing through the aisles.