If you thought I was going to write a post that flowed well, you were wrong.
I went to see my former counselor yesterday. I saw her years ago and love her and it was comforting to walk into her office and apologetically cry for 45 minutes. She remembered me in a real way – she knew where I used to work which was nice because when she said, “Oh now that I see you I remember you!” I thought, “Yeah, right.”
It’s hard to pinpoint when things got hard. I think they have been for a while but I kept setting deadlines where I thought they would get better and they just didn’t. She said a lot of good stuff that was true and helpful and I know on some level but struggle to listen to. She gave me some homework. I’ll go back next week.
The whole experience leading up to this has got me thinking about how hard motherhood is. How all consuming it is and my great counselor put it best: It’s a black hole. It is work that will never be done. There are few ways you know you are doing a good job and mainly you are just trying to get through the day. There is so much joy and so much struggle and how do you manage that?
One thing that has really stood out to me lately is friendships. I have a group of mom friends that I can never really break into. They have a group of friends and I watch. A few weeks ago I had drinks with one of my friends and she mentioned that she really like this other mom. When I saw the look on her face I realized what mine must of looked like and I had to explain. The other mom is a wonderful person. One of the most wonderful people you will ever meet. But I watched this mom build friendships that I couldn’t when I went back to work. I watched her make friends with people I wanted to be friends with and do all the stuff I wanted to do. I barely know her yet for some reason she represents this major loss in my life. The loss of the mom community.
As Gus gets older I am trying to figure out how to navigate these waters. I want more meaningful connections for me and less superficial friendships. Right now I feel I mainly have the later. I’ve worked on stepping back quite a bit and detaching from the mom friend group and hopefully I can find a way to build connections other places to completely leave. It’s a weird crossroad when your place for social connection is also the place that is making you the most miserable. I suppose that’s a good conversation for the next counseling visit, eh?
Edie Windsor died yesterday. If you are a lesbian or queer or friends with me on facebook you probably know this. I hope you all know who she is. I am weirdly taking this super hard because I am thinking about all the ways this woman I don’t know changed my life.
I’ve never been big on marriage yet I am married. We needed the rights that came from it even if we did not need to institution to define our relationship. These days I operate in a mainly straight world and I see how straight people value it’s weight. I use wife in the straight world while usually stick to partner in lesbian land. I see it’s weight and value there. The other night I was out with a friend and told her a story about earlier in mine and Lesley’s relationship. She asked if we were dating or married at that time. I had no clue where we were at in our three kinds of commitment life and it didn’t occur to her that at the time of the story we had never lived in a state where we could legally get married.
I see the weight it has for others and the ways it benefits us. Ensuring both of our rights to our child and our health care, mainly. I see how the shift in public support has changed my life. I see how already straight people have forgotten that these are new rights.
I think about how life was before Edie fought. I think about how things were 15 years ago when I started coming out. I know she is a symbol of a big change that was long happening but losing her is a profound loss. This woman I don’t know who changed my life.
I joined a gym. This is something I said I would never do and I feel like a trader to myself because of it. I am not a gym person nor do I want to be a gym person.
In all fairness it’s not quite a gym- it’s the YMCA. That feels better but still kind of like a sell out. They have cheap childcare and discounts on swim lessons for the kid and whelp, we are doing it.
I’ve gained weight and eh, that is what it is but I joined a gym because of my mental health. I feel constantly stressed. I can’t focus. I have no energy. These things lead me to believe that I need to change something and maybe increasing my output will help. Gus does swim lessons at the Y two days a week so I will do something one of those days and then hopefully two more. My goal is an hour of physical activity three days a week and to see if it helps mental clarity.
I feel so awkward about this. After joining today we walked around for a minute. There are machines I have no idea how to use (nor do I ever want to really…) and people there and it just feels so overwhelming. This is all so far out of my comfort zone. They do offer you a meeting with a trainer of some sort but that kind of sounds like my hell. So I will pick on thing at a time and try to get comfortable.
So that’s that. And I am telling you, dear corner of the internet, because while I don’t intend to ever be someone who posts gym selfies or other fucking bullshit this is so far outside of my comfort zone and causes me so much anxiety BUT I already have so much anxiety so I am hoping making things uncomfortable for a few weeks makes things better. Here goes nothing. (except not here goes right now. I joined the gym. I have no idea when I will go to said gym.)
If you have been a follower for a while you most likely know that I have a boy who loves skirts. He wants to grow his hair long so he can have two ponytails like his friend (a girl). He wears skirts to school often and when the girls get their hair brushed at school he gets in line. When not in skirts he is in leggings. No one has told him yet that certain things are for girls.
I know it’s coming. I know someone is going to tell him and I think it might be the thing I have dreaded most in my entire life. So far he gets most comments about his hair. People’s suggestions of him cutting it. About once a month we ask if he wants it cut and every time he says no. He talks about how his hair is growing and getting longer. He likes it, even if it is in his eyes. We help try to keep it out of his face but ultimately it is his hair and his face.
When we first got him a skirt I set it aside with dress up things. He loved it and wanted to wear it places so that is what he did. He wore it and we bought more and that was a thing for a while until it wasn’t. Recently it became a thing ago. I put any skirt we had for him (and bought one more) in his bin of school clothes. He ears them whenever he wants. I don’t know if it was a conscious choice on my part to put the with school clothes over regular clothes (school clothes are less public) but it is where he tends to wear them the most anyway.
Last week I told the owner and lead teacher of his daycare how I was impressed that he hadn’t picked up on boy/girl messenging yet. All the daycare staff is nice but I don’t think of many of them as being particularly progressive. I told her because I am impressed but also a subtle way to tell her to not allow it. So far it isn’t a thing there and often when he has a skirt on other kids want to wear it. I told L this morning that I was surprised he hasn’t picked up on the fact he is the only boy there who sometimes wears skirts.
I often wonder if I am still limiting his options. I don’t buy him dresses (he has worn one though) and I just bought him dress up clothes and did not buy specific “girl” ones (in all fairness they sucked). Should I be diversifying his clothes more? I don’t know. It kind of surprises me that he in the only boy in our friend group ever in a skirt. Maybe we jumped the gun in having it be an option? I’m not sure. I wish he saw more boys in skirts as it would help when someone does tell him awful stuff. There are so many things about this that stress me out but exactly 0 of those things are about my son’s choices.
I’m not sure when this will end and if it will. His interest ebbs and flows and my guess is we don’t have much longer. For right now I love that my kid is happy, confident, and adorable.
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.