Heaven holds a sense of wonder….











{August 28, 2010}   Echoes of a time past

I wish I was more handy with a sketchpad and watercolors than I am. I’d love to paint this afternoon…

We’re in a creek bed, almost completely dry except for a few foot-deep pockets. Rocks and stones piled up everywhere keep the mud from sticking to our shoes. Roots jut out of the walls as the tree branches, bedecked in their emerald glory, filter the light of the sun on its way down to us; mottled splashes of light intermingle with the stones and puddles.

Just in front of me, a huge rock plunks into the foot-deep puddle, splashing me and my two children. On the ledge above us to my left, our rottweiler rests, panting and grinning, watching in curiosity. Down below, in a patch of mud immediately next to me, an earthworm lies, exhausted after the children’s explorations and exhortations. “Can we take him home? Please, he likes me!” On my right, my daughter stirs the pool with a two-foot-long stick, telling me she’s making chicken noodle soup. She tosses in the “ingredients” – small rocks and pebbles – casually, like she’s done this a hundred times before. She chatters to herself and anyone who will listen about the task at hand. Further to the right, a little ways down and around, my son sits on a rock, perched lightly, cooly tossing large rocks in and admiring their loud plunks and fountain-like splashes.

He looks so big today. He’s not the baby I remember holding in my arms a short while ago. His deep rusty hair glows in the sunlight, almost seems to draw the light towards him. He’s been talking about a mohawk when fall comes, but for the time being, he’s got a beautiful shag any little skater kid would be proud of. He’s wearing long grey bell-bottoms that wrap themselves around his flip-flopped feet. Maybe they’re just a little too long, but he wears them well. An oversized pink t-shirt proclaiming in big block letters, “Live and Let Live,” cooly drapes itself over his shoulders, complimenting his hair nicely. His new Harry Potter backpack hangs out behind him; forgotten, but not neglected. He looks so mature, so casual and at ease with life.

At ease with life…. this life I gave him? The life that his father and I made for him, made so many mistakes with? How can he be so secure, so calm and confident, and so young? He’s five, but he carries himself like he’s ten….

And his little sister, so much like him and so different. She, too, carries the same confidence and sense of being a little wise beyond her years. Not so sure she has the same sense of security, ease with the world; she’s very demanding of comfort and reassurance. She’s also three, I feel better knowing that she still feels like she needs me. But today, she’s confident and relaxed. She’s making chicken noodle soup, and nothing else matters – not even the mud making its way onto her overalls, normally a cause for alarm. Even now that we’re home an hour later, she hasn’t insisted on changing her clothes. When asked if she wanted a bath, she replied she would take one tonight, before bed. This is the girl who has to change her clothes if she gets a drop of ketchup or a little water on them. Now, she’s content to pretend she’s a cat and lie on the couch, purring.

When I suggested to their father that we meet at this particular park to do the hand-off, I had no idea what was to come. I expected that we would be at the playground, the kids would frolic and caper while Dad and I discussed their week and talked about the parenting plan. Failing that, I expected the kiddos to ask to watch the kids at the skate park, something that fascinates both of them (though I’m not sure which of them will be the first to actually get on a skateboard). When I arrived, there they all were, sitting in the bleachers, watching the skaters go by. One guy fell off his board, and my son loudly groaned, “Oh, MAN! Wipeout!” A few minutes later, another guy wiped out, and my daughter empathized vehemently: “OUCH! Mom, did you see that?”

It didn’t take long before the kids became restless; an adventure to the creek behind us was in order. Little girl led the way with her dad, I followed with the dog, and Big Red followed us with the stroller. Next thing I knew, their dad had jumped down into the creek bed (no small feat, I found out later), and was helping the kids in. I stayed behind with the dog (who, fearless as he is otherwise, is afraid of heights), while they wandered a few feet down to explore. When they came back, their dad climbed out while they commenced to throwing rocks; we finally had a chance to talk about the week’s events.

My son fell into the river standing on a rock at the edge and nearly lost his flip-flop. Obviously he’s fine, and so are his flip-flops. Dad was right there next to him to catch him. I’m relieved. My daughter… wandered away from the house and crossed a somewhat busy intersection, and was about to cross a definitely busy intersection before her dad caught up to her. She was going to Dolphin Island. Hey, she told her dad where she was going, and he told her ok… he just didn’t realize she wasn’t playing pretend like she does all the time these days.

Where is Dolphin Island anyway? We live in Kansas….

The whole idea of meeting in a park to hand off the kids to one another started because we needed to touch base with one another about the week’s developments in regard to the children. Dropping off and taking off was not working. There was no communication. So we agreed to meet in neutral territory.

This is the second week we’ve done this. I’m noticing additional benefits. Dad wasn’t there long, but it was long enough. The kids know it’s safe for them to have fun with Dad when Mom’s around; they see us talking when they are playing, and they visibly relax. It makes the transition from Dad’s house to Mom’s house much easier. The discipline issues I used to have when they came home from there are not nearly as prevalent. So far.

Walking home from the creek, my son took responsibility for his sister. Since I had the dog, Big Red buckled her up in her stroller and pushed her the whole way home. On the home stretch, he grabbed my hand and put it on the stroller handle with his, and said, “Hold hands with me, Mom.”

For all I know, that may be the last time he ever does that. He’s 5 going on 10, after all.

I was smart. I kept my mouth shut and did as I was told.

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My last post came off as, well… defensive.

I didn’t really answer any questions.  I feel a need to justify my choices, even when there’s no one out there to justify it to.  Even when I know that I’ve made the right choices, or done the best I could, I have this desire to garner approval from unknown entities that may or may not actually exist outside of my head.

I guess I desire that approval from within, as well.

It’s been said by some wiser than myself that it is not important to understand the things one does, so much as it is to understand that one has done them.  In that vein, there’s no sense in dwelling on the past and trying to understand “mistakes” one’s made, if one knows that pattern has existed and it’s time to do something different.

Nowhere to go but forward, right?

I had actually meant to address and embrace the truth in all those hurtful things that were said.   Because in every lie, there is a kernel of truth.  The image of an oyster and a grain of sand comes to mind.  A tiny speck of sand somehow finds its way into an oyster’s shell, which I imagine, might be a bit uncomfortable to the oyster.  But the oyster remains passive, doesn’t struggle against it (because, really, what means has it to do so?), and over time, the oyster sheds enough of itself to coat the sand and grow a pearl.

When others say hurtful things, regardless of the truth in those things, I want to turn their words into pearls.  Over time, my inner goodness will overpower the discomfort and pain those words can cause.

All that aside, I have a task at hand.  I am to explore the question: “Why did I wait so long to actively work on the divorce?”

Having said that understanding why and how the past happened isn’t as important as understanding and accepting that the past did happen, it’s a valid question that she asked, and she deserves the best answer I can give her.

I’ve taken my time to think about it because I don’t want to give an incomplete answer.

Was it because I was still in love with him, or attached to our life together?  No, oh nononono no.  I was so relieved when we broke up, and even more so when he moved out.  I’d been living a lie for years, and hadn’t known it.  He had bored me since before our first year was up, there was no challenge there, and for some reason, I refused to see it for a long time.

Actually, I was chicken shit.

I saw it in the last few years.  But didn’t do anything about it.  Confrontation of any sort gives me the runs.  I get panicky, fight-or-flight sets in.

In this situation, I think I did my part to make the marriage as unbearable as possible so that I wouldn’t have to be the one to call it off – or if I was the one, it would only be the logical conclusion.

Then once it was over, and I’d said the words, “I want a divorce,” why didn’t it follow that I jumped on that paperwork and filed immediately, instead of stalling?

What happened?

I pointed to the kids, and said, “They need their father.”  I pointed to myself and said, “I don’t need a lawyer.”  I refused to believe he was still capable of manipulating me.

First, it was money.  “I can’t afford a divorce.”  Then she said, “If you really want this, you’ll find a way to make it happen, and fast.”  I couldn’t argue the truth in that.

At first, I thought we could do it ourselves.  I bought a packet for $35 at Office Depot complete with a CD-Rom and how-to manual.  Filled out everything pertaining to me in the first week of having it, and gave him his share.  We agreed to meet once every two weeks to discuss the parenting plan and get everything notarized and filed.  Once every two weeks because it was clear that agreeing on the parenting plan was a daunting task.

After a month and a half, I realized I really couldn’t do it without outside help.  He could “understand my point of view” regarding what I feel the children need, but he couldn’t do it because, in his words, if he didn’t have the kids at least half the time, he would have to pay child support and he couldn’t afford that, and if he had them more, he wouldn’t be able to work because he couldn’t afford child care.

I stalled again.  This time because I was so uncomfortable with the struggle at hand and tired of struggling and I just didn’t want to face it.

I’m like a turtle.  I move slowly, and when I feel endangered, I pull my head and limbs into my shell.

This time, though, my best friend was having trouble with her ex-husband and the way he was treating their children, and she got fed up with him.  I took inspiration from her, and decided to grow a backbone myself.  I’d made up my mind to tell him what the arrangements were going to be, because I know what’s best for my kids, and I can point out how this arrangement is hurting them.  And then Pickle and my mom, while both admiring my nerve, suggested that I go ahead and get a lawyer lined up first, before telling him, just to be safe.

I called Legal Aid and got accepted, and got the paperwork.  I filled out most of the paperwork in the first few days, and only had  a few financial details to fill in before notarizing.

Then tax time came, and I decided to wait until the tax return came before filing it.  And I cleaned the house and accidentally threw the paperwork away.

It was about 3 weeks before I called the lawyer for new paperwork, because I was working during his office hours.  Why I didn’t think to leave a message in his off-hours, I don’t know.  Pickle thinks that, subconsciously, I was stalling again.

Once I called though, the paperwork arrived that week, and I had it all filled out, notarized, and turned in less than a week later.  Now, I’m waiting on the lawyer to file with the courts.  It’s in motion.

From the first DIY divorce packet in December to now, it’s been five months.  Pickle and I had been together for six months in December.  Her question, “If you were legitimately broken up with him before I came along, if that relationship was really over, why did it take you six months to start the whole process, and why has it taken you five months since that point to actually file the paperwork?” gives me pause.

I understand the first six months.  I was in a spirally, twisty place with no perspective.  Completely ungrounded, unbalanced.  I had no business being in a new relationship, and I knew it.  However, things happened as they did, and I didn’t have the strength or confidence to change it.  In retrospect, it may have been better or easier for Pickle if I had said, “Whoa, I’ve got baggage I need to sort through.  Let’s wait until my divorce is final, let’s just be friends for now, love each other from a distance.”  Heaven knows it would have afforded me the space (and motivation) to work on my shit.

Shoulda coulda woulda.  I don’t believe in regrets.  If anyone were to find themselves in the position I found myself, I now know what kind of advice I’d give, if asked.  But I don’t believe in regrets, and I do believe that things happen as they’re meant to, even if there are multiple paths one can take.

She and I had a lot of hurdles to jump.  We have a stronger relationship now for it.

But the last part of the question – why did it take me five months to get established at Point A?  Life happens and I’m a scatterbrain and blahdeblah… none of that helps me to be accountable for myself.

Filing wasn’t hard at all.  Once I got it done, I was amazed at how easy it was.  I’m known to make things harder for myself, a form of sabotage – when things are good, I have to go and complicate them.

I’ve known from a very early age that when life is going well, and everything is as it should be, I get very uncomfortable.  It’s like… something is going to go wrong eventually, so, subconsciously, why not just make something go wrong so that, at least, I know when it’s going to happen and how, and I’m the one in control.  I fear being out of control.  It’s probably my biggest fear, next to creatures with stingers.  But that one, I’m learning to conquer – and it’s related.  Bees and wasps, to me, are extremely unpredictable creatures, but I’m learning to watch them, to be able to predict their next move – and to be ok with it when I’m wrong and they land on me.

I want to be ok with it when life is good and things happen and it’s not my doing.

Even when it’s not my doing, I somehow find a way to make it my fault.  I know how to be sorry.  I know how to fix things that I’ve broken.  I don’t quite get plugging away through adverse conditions that I didn’t create.   If I don’t have myself to blame, I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know how to hold someone else accountable (well, on paper, I do, but practically speaking is a whole different matter).

Self-sabotage.  I think that’s what it is.  How much does she love me?  Do I even deserve her love?  Putting her emotions and psychological health through the wringer because, somehow, I don’t think I’m worthy.  And then… if she leaves me… it’s because I did something wrong.  And because I don’t deserve her, I knew it was coming all along.

Oh I know it’s horse crap.

I know she’s perfect for me, and we belong together.  I know this, my logical brain is very smart, and it tells that broken little girl inside me just how silly she’s being on a regular basis.

But even still, she’s still there, and she deserves her recognition, too.  That broken little girl.  And the more I’m aware that she’s working on me, the more I see how her patterns are affecting me and the choices I make, the more I can find ways to hold her and calm her and show her she’s worthy of love – from within and out

The other day, I had a dream.  I was riding an escalator up and passed an advertisement that I’d seen a few times already, earlier in the dream.  The ad featured a polar bear exhibit at the local zoo, and had the tagline, “Do Polar Bears Need Hugs?”

I woke in the morning with the strong feeling that my subconscious was trying to sell me on something.  I googled the question and got wonderful pictures of polar bears playing with each other and with other animals, hugging.  Heartwarming stuff.

I asked friends, what do you think?

The answers I got varied and really the concept that resonated with me most was this: No matter how strong one is, everyone needs a hug sometimes.  That is what keeps us strong.  One of my tasks right now may be simply to acknowledge a challenge, acknowledge that the source of that challenge may need some love, and move forward.  It may not be for me to give that love, but the simple task of recognizing the need for compassion or affection may be all it takes for me to go on.

That broken little girl in me needs a hug.  She tries so hard to be strong, and feels so bad when she’s not.

My Pickle needs all the hugs she can get.  I’ve put her through hell and back just to prove she loves me, and not even been aware.

This divorce needs compassion and love.  I may not be the one to give it, but I won’t stand in the way of it.  It’s a process of growth and change, and it’s fraught with challenges.

I’m on the escalator and moving up.

Life is good. Pickle loves me, I love me, our kids are amazing, and we’re all growing so fast.



I’m not sleeping so well these days.

I go between lumbering about in zombie-mode and shutting down completely, trying to keep all my pieces together.

It seems I only write when things are not so well. When things are good, I don’t have anything to puzzle out, so writing is the farthest thing from my mind. I want to milk the good times for all they’re worth.

I don’t even know where to begin this time. It started on Monday, when she had a bad dream that involved me cuddling naked with my ex on a couch, right in front of her, and looking at her like, “So, what’s the big deal?”

Neither of us takes our dreams lightly. We believe our dreams carry messages from our subconscious, answers to our deepest questions in a sort of code form.

She feels like she’s been taking a backseat to him all this time. She feels, at times, like our whole relationship has been built on a lie. She wants to know what I haven’t told her about the nature of my relationship with him, why he felt the need to hang on for so long. She wants to know why, if in my mind, the door is shut and bolted, have I been dragging my feet on getting the divorce done.

She’s asking so many hard questions, questions I don’t have ready answers to. I need to think, and I’m a thinker-out-louder, and I don’t have anyone to think out loud with besides her, and oh, that is a recipe for disaster. I do have the answers, but they’re buried under a bunch of garbage and baggage and things that don’t matter, and I have to uncover them.

I’ve been accused by more than a few people of inconsistency in answers of an emotional/psychological nature. It’s not because I’m throwing out answers until I get the one that seems to be what they want to hear, as some people have charged me with doing. It’s because it takes awhile for me to get at the root, to sort through the pile of dog crap and dead leaves that covers the root. I protect my heart by being excessively open – if I tell everyone everything, no one can hurt me – about everything in my life except emotions. I play them off. Depending on how safe I feel, I express myself passionately and vivaciously, or I play my feelings down, avoid burdening those close to me. When I do that, I cover my injured spirit with a bandage of sorts, a little piece of scrap cloth or rubbish. And then I leave it alone, until I can’t ignore it anymore.

And then there’s just so much piled on top of it, that thinking in my head is incoherent and confusing, and writing isn’t a whole lot better, except that once I lance that festering wound, I can examine the contents of what was inside visually, and try to sort it out from there.

My close friends number two. I used to have a lot more. I’m the kind of person who has a hard time making close friends, but once I do, it’s for life. But a lot of my friends turned away from me when I separated from my ex. For the most part, I’ve made my peace with that and am moving forward, making new friendships. I’ve been given a new perspective on what really matters, and I enjoy that. One part of growing up that makes so much sense: experience leads to wisdom, and I don’t have to make the same choices I made in the past because those lessons have been learned.

A week ago, I would have said I had three close friends. Two days ago, the one who has been the most supportive of me throughout the relationship with my ex and the separation from him, had a little too much to drink and vomited words all over my partner that ended up angering her and bringing me to my knees in pain and frustration.

I think I have a handle on things, I’m ready for the next challenge to come my way, I’m going to be the calm in the storm, I’m going to be ok… and another one bites the dust.

Let’s call her Cupcake. This friend of mine. Cupcake helped nurture my children when they were very, very small. She was the only one, aside from me, who could soothe my daughter to sleep – even her father couldn’t. She was the one who came over, and when she saw the pigsty of house we lived in, helped get the kids down for a nap so we could clean together, or would take them out on day trips so I could work on tidying up all day, with no interruptions. She never judged me, never made me feel inferior for not being able to keep up. I can’t count the number of times she sat me down, though, for a heart-to-heart, to tell me she thought I deserved more than my ex was giving me. He could be a more involved dad, she’d say, he could help around the house. How can I help you? she’d ask. How can we work together to give you what you deserve?

When that relationship was over, she was my silent sounding board, only saying what needed to be said, only asking the questions that helped to give me focus. She vowed not to take sides between the two of us; the only side she’d take was that of the children’s.

Sometimes she would complain that she had offered childcare for him so that he could go and do other things, but he wouldn’t return her calls. He never liked her – because she told it like it was and didn’t sugar-coat things for him. And, while she knew that, she still wanted an active part in the lives of the children, and tried to reach out to him to facilitate that, and he ignored her attempts. At first, anyway.

Now, suddenly, she’s drunk and has my girl pent up in a corner, and feels the need to tell her all about how happy he is to have the chance to stay home with the kids full-time when he has them, how I robbed him of that chance because I had to stay home and care for them. She said he was working 50-60 hours a week so that I could sit around on my ass and do nothing. She told her that, when he and I still lived together, I was going out so often and getting drunk so often I couldn’t deal with the kids. That he didn’t want kids but he had to make me stop blowing lines, so he agreed to talk about having a baby if I would stop. She said so many things that were the opposite of everything she’d ever said to me in the past, she said so many things that angered my girl, and my girl came home and said horrible things to me and called me a liar, and I broke.

I can’t be the calm in the storm when the waves are crashing down on me. I can’t be the lifeboat when I’m coming apart at the seams.

Pickle was angry because Cupcake had told her things I never had.

“I never told you those things because they didn’t happen!”

Pickle was angry because she was trapped in a corner having to listen to things she had no desire to hear, on the same day she had a dream that reinforced her fear that I’m going to hurt her and I’ll never get closure from him.

She was angry because everything Cupcake told her had a little ring of truth to it, and with all the emotional upset, she couldn’t narrow it down for herself, and it was all too much.

He never did want kids – that’s true. But he also didn’t know about the coke until after B.R. was over a year old. We got pregnant by accident. Plain and simple. I didn’t manipulate him, and he didn’t make any promises contingent on me being a good girl.

I originally never wanted to be a stay-at-home parent. When my son was a baby, I went back to work when he was two months old. I was nursing him, and he was an avid nurser. He nursed for comfort as much as sustenance, and for whatever reason, he needed a lot of it. So I had to work in the early hours of morning, while he still slept. I usually got home about an hour after he woke up. Sometimes he would take a bottle of expressed milk from his dad, but usually, he was waiting for me. Anytime B.R. cried, his dad would hand him to me and say, “He’s hungry, feed him.” He didn’t try any other tactics until B.R. was considerably older and easier to distract. He worked 35-40 hours a week. Housekeeping and cooking were still my responsibilities. Like many new moms, I was lucky to get a shower to myself for 5 minutes. I would hop in the shower, B.R. would cry, and less than 5 minutes later – regardless of the fact that I had just nursed the baby – his dad would come in and tell me he was sure he needed to nurse again.

With that exhaustion, and finding out that the woman I worked for was forging my time card and shorting my hours, it just seemed like a better idea to stay home for a while.

I did start looking for work again, when he was a little over a year old. And then I found out I was pregnant again. I wrestled with the idea of going back to work. I wanted to, and at the same time, my second pregnancy took a lot out of me from the start. We were also moving, and once I started showing, I worried no one would hire me because I was pregnant. Silly things, and yes, truth be told, the idea of going to work and not being with my little guy saddened me. His dad offered to change his work schedule so that we wouldn’t need childcare and one of us would always be home, and honestly, though I never told him, I was nervous about the prospect of leaving B.R. in his care that long.

I’ll admit it. I have control issues. And part of the reason that my kids don’t have a solid foundation with their father is my fault. I could have made it easier for him to be active in their lives from the start. That said, I did make it easier after my daughter was born. I gave him opportunities to be home with the kids more, one-on-one time with them.

He called himself a babysitter.

He never worked 50-60 hours a week. He was lucky if he worked 40. And I never sat around on my ass and did nothing. We didn’t have a T.V. to entertain the kids – I was their entertainment. I spent my days doing messy projects with them, taking them places, working in the garden with them. When they went to the neighbor’s house to play, sometimes I would read, but more often than not, I spent the time cleaning house. And he’d come home, snooze on the couch til dinner was ready, serve himself first. He’d help pick up dirty dishes, and then at bedtime, read to the kids. Then I’d go in and snuggle them, and he’d go watch T.V., and usually be asleep before 9pm.

I had my own room. The silence of the house was oppressive, and I’ve only recently begun to learn how to entertain myself when the kids aren’t up or nearby. I felt lonely, empty, and restless. Many nights, yes, I did go out. But I didn’t often drink – certainly not to excess – and I usually managed to come home in time to get enough sleep to be a good mother to my babies. I was, however, deeply depressed. The only thing that could get me out of bed was the children, because they were the only part of my life at the time that felt right. I was miserable, and it showed – but I was never in a place where I “couldn’t handle the kids”. If anything, I was in a place where I couldn’t handle the charade we were living in which I was essentially a single mom with outside income – we were living the 1950’s nuclear family nightmare, and I couldn’t keep up appearances anymore.

So the relationship ended. I was a mess. That relationship had been a facade for years, and I couldn’t figure out what I was fronting for, what had been underneath that imagery I’d put up for so long. I felt terrible for hurting him and lying to him, but I was thrilled not to be beholden to him anymore. Even though I still was.

I made him step up and be a dad when he didn’t care and the kids didn’t want him. I made him share custody with me. And now I’m kicking myself because he now has an investment in it that isn’t about the kids, but about keeping up appearances. He has a statement to make about how guys can be good parents, about how gender roles don’t have limit one’s ability to be a good parent. It’s not about being there for the kids, it’s about showing them and the world that it’s possible. It’s a tough distinction to make… but it’s like the difference between Edison inventing the lightbulb and drawing a diagram that shows it can be done, and even going so far as to build it – but never turning on the switch.

Later, I’ll continue my musings in part 2 to attempt to answer the question, “Why did I wait so long to work on the divorce?”



{April 11, 2010}   Pint-sized Pride

This entry was originally written for Oh Messy Life, a radical parenting blog I contribute to.

Oh, messy life, indeed.

Last week was Pride Week in my hometown. Put aside, for the time being, the fact that I’ve never understood the need to celebrate Pride in April, when it’s traditionally celebrated in June most other places. I know the college town atmosphere pervades everything, including common sense. This isn’t about that.

Put aside, too, that the whole thing is (sorry, friends, I love you dearly…) kind of a joke. A bunch of 21-23 year-old kids hollering and waving rainbows does not Pride make. And some of the chants sound like they might as well be yelling, “We must, we must, we must increase our bust!” (Actually, wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of my friends were actually saying that).

I don’t mean to harsh on it – I do love the Pride march, it has its own little place in a cobwebby corner of my heart, a corner that’s been neglected in these cynical, jaded times. This year, I’m a little bitter, and it has nothing to do with Pride itself. The week’s events just happened to be the unfortunate stage.

I am a lesbian. But first, and foremost, I’m a mom. I’m a lot of other things too, but for the intents and purposes of this brain-spew, we’ll stick mostly with those two labels. Normally, I keep labels for jars, but now and then, they help clarify matters a bit. So.

I am a lesbian, and I’m a mom. I have two beautiful kids, who are too young to have any sort of clue about sexuality or sexual identity whatsoever – As It Should Be. Three and five. Their world consists of dinosaurs and rainbows and beetles and ghost stories. I’d like to keep it that way as long as possible.

Now, being a mom who is also a lesbian, there are certain realities I have to face. One is that, no matter how normal a life I make for my children, they will one day realize that having two moms is something slightly out of the ordinary. Whether they realize it on their own or (goddess forbid) peers pick on them for it and bring it to their attention thusly, I want them to be ready. Many years ago, when B.R. was still less than a year old, I scored a freebie: a book titled How Would You Feel If Your Dad Was Gay? It’s a cute book, complete with bad ’90’s haircuts and all. It’s a story of a brother and sister whose dad is gay, and word gets out at school. The aftermath is chaotic, and affects a boy whose mom is a lesbian. It’s generally a book for older kids, but my kids like “big kid” books, and my daughter was the one to pick it out. Given the timing of her choice, and my inclination to squeeze the potential to answer their life questions out of every possible opportunity, it seemed like a good idea.

The kids were all ears. Asking tons of questions – and answering them too. I asked B.R. what he would do if someone gave him a hard time about having two moms. Without missing a beat, he quipped, “Tell them they’re a lunatic.” While he was at his dad’s a couple of days later, he called me, “Hey mom, what’s that thing when two people who love each other can’t get married? You know, the one we read about the other night?”

“You mean like when a man loves another man?” I asked.

“Yeah, but the woman version of that. What do you call that?”

“Oh, that’s a lesbian,” I answered. Next moment, I heard his sweet voice announce to a room full of adults, “My mom is a lesbian!” And then he said his thanks and goodbyes – my job was done.

To me, that’s what it means to celebrate Pride with kids. Emphasize the normalcy of it all. It’s just another way to love. They don’t need to know about the conflict and the hate and fear just yet. They’re little. Let them follow beetles around and chase rainbows. (Interesting that I keep coming back to rainbows)

The day after we read the book – which I had intended and expected to be their only real exposure to Pride for the week (though I apparently should have known better) – they went to their father’s house. They had a very busy week, apparently participating in a lot of Pride Week events on campus. I got to hear all about it from my friends. Stories moms don’t like to hear, about their baby wandering around looking for his parent, repeatedly, in a very grown-up setting. And I don’t want to think about how close they came to the Phelps family – I’m just glad B.R.’s reading is still limited.

The week was hard. I had to pay attention to my breath, and only my breath, to get through it. The closer Saturday came, the bigger the knot in my stomach grew.

Saturday was the day of the march. He had plans to march with the kids. I had a terrible feeling about this.

Before I go any further – for those of you who don’t know me, I calls it like I sees it. Sometimes I come across as rude and tactless, and those who are inclined to will call me a bitch. I don’t mind. I am what I am, and it is what it is.

So I had a terrible feeling. Why? Why wouldn’t I want my kids to go parading downtown with a bunch of fags and dykes, shouting, “Ten percent is not enough, RECRUIT, RECRUIT, RECRUIT!”? Because they’re three and five, and that world is not theirs. Yet. It may never even be. The choice should be left up to them.

Their dad… I don’t know how he identifies. And it wouldn’t be very radical of me to decide for him how he should identify. But this much I do know. For whatever reasons, it feels to me like he’s making a mockery of my way of life with the way he presents himself. He dresses the way he does because he wants to make a statement about patriarchy and oppression – not because he feels more himself in those clothes. He takes the kids to Pride events to “show our support”, not to revel in the sense of unity it’s supposed to promote.

I don’t want my kids to feel like MY way of life is being forced on them by myself or by anyone else. And I’m struggling, because there’s a part of me that wants to tell him, “This is MINE. Go find your own lifestyle.”

These feelings were only reinforced when B.R. told us he didn’t like the march because it was boring. And when he shared his feelings with his pop, he was told, “We’re here to show our support. We’re staying.”

I was always told, as an activist, that support is only effective if it’s not forced. If we respect our limitations, then we can make the most of what support we can offer.

I don’t even know who he thought he was trying to make the kids support. I hope to high hell he wasn’t trying to show his support of their lesbian mom – or that they would even infer that. I get enough support from them when they call me up to ask for a definition of a word they read just the other day, or when they tell me they love me, and even love my girlfriend, too.

They’re three and five. They can support me by scrounging for pine cones and jumping in puddles and chasing rainbows. They can support me by reminding me that we’re a family, just like any other.

They can be proud of me for being their mom. Nothing else about me matters to them.

They’re three and five.



{April 4, 2010}   In this season of growth…

Now that she’s working less and spending more time at home, I’m finding it harder and harder to keep up with the writing.

I’m totally smitten by her. Much to her chagrin, I’m sure, I’m like a lost little puppy dog at her heels. Which is probably why she felt for so long she never got any time to herself.

That used to be a good thing. But deceptively so. It’s a co-dependent thing. We lose our sense of self-identification when we don’t have time to ourselves.

She came to me in a time when many of my friends abandoned me, when I had to pack my things and move out of the home I’d lived in for three years – the only real home my kids had ever known. She came to me when my life was unsettled, and she settled me. She was security embodied.

We decided early on, for some reason unknown to both of us, that we were It. This relationship was going to work, no matter what.

I have never been in a relationship I’ve wanted to work so hard at, or had to work so hard at, as I have at times in this one. I have never cared so much about another individual’s well-being that I’ve pushed myself beyond my own comfort – beyond what I thought possible for me – to Grow.

Sadly, even my children, until relatively recently, didn’t push me as hard as she does. Children adapt to their environments. We adults should adapt to them – at least more so than I did for a long time.

We’ll be celebrating our first anniversary in one month. It’s bittersweet. We’ve made it this far, through a hellish year, and that’s something to celebrate. But I’m also still technically married to my ex. I’ve put off the divorce stuff – had a number of excuses.

We tried the DIY divorce, but I wasted months on trying to get him to agree with me on what the kids need. He disagrees. Finally, a couple of months ago, I realized that outside help was needed, and I just can’t do it on my own anymore. Then I went to the initial intake appointment with Legal Aid and they accepted my case and gave me paperwork. I filled it out immediately – and then lost it. Probably threw it out by accident. I’ve been meaning to call and have them send me new paperwork, but I’ve been working during office hours for the last three weeks.

Excuses.

I don’t know why I put it off. I don’t want to be married to him anymore. I don’t really want this hanging over my head. I know that I can’t even think about marrying her or raising babies with her until it’s all over with. She can’t even properly consider herself a step-parent to my kids because, until it’s all said and done, there’s still uncertainty as to where she stands.

I want it all to be done. I want it to fix itself. I want someone else to make it go away. I fix other people’s problems. I avoid my own like the plague.

She makes me face my own reality. It’s why we’ve made it this far, it’s why I’ve grown so much.

I wish I could give her something more than Pearl Jam tickets and a long-coveted book for our anniversary. Tomorrow being Monday, I will call the lawyer before I go to work, and get the new paperwork sent to me. First chance I get, I’ll get it notarized. With any luck, the ball will be rolling before the month is over, and maybe that’s something.

I’d originally set a goal to be divorced before the end of June. I’d still like to try to make that happen. A lot depends on him and how cooperative he is. But the delays on my end are done.

I want to give her some security, settle her like she did for me.



{March 7, 2010}   All that she wants…

Pardon me for being so blunt.

I am a raging hormone machine. It can’t be helped. I want sex, and lots of it. Try as I do to distract myself, to spend my time pursuing other activities, my mind keeps wandering to sexy thoughts of my Sweet Pickle and the way she makes me feel.

I’ve noticed a bit of baby lust, too.

Has my biological clock begun ticking again?

I often find myself daydreaming of nursing babes again, holding little squirming bundles of smooth skin and plump cheeks. Looking deeply into big blue eyes, feeling the grip of a tiny palm with tiny fingers wrapped around my own mama-sized digits.

I think it has.

I’m about to turn 29 this month. I’m not old. I have, easily, another ten years of baby-having in me. The caveat, however, is that if I am to get pregnant, the only way Pickle and I can agree on making it happen, is if I essentially carry her child. In a sense, surrogacy.

She’s a bit older than me. Scientifically speaking, her ovaries are on the blink. If this were to work, we’d have to freeze them now.

We don’t have the money for that. Adoption would be more practical.

And, though my uterus is hollerin’ at me, “Now, Mama, now!!!” I know that, in all practicality, for sanity’s sake, I will not have any more babies of my own for another two years at least.

It’s hard to resist the call of the female reproductive system. I succumbed four years when I conceived my daughter. If I had the maturity then, the foresight I have now, I would have waited longer.

No regrets, though. None whatsoever. I have two beautiful children. Had I done things differently, the way I possibly “should” have done them, they wouldn’t exist, at least, not as they are.

Then again, if the me that I am now had been calling the shots five years ago – even ten years ago, when I met my children’s father, she would have said, “You know, I like you. You’re a good guy. I don’t really see lifetime potential with you, being that you have a penis and penises kind of scare me and I’m more of a t’n’a kind of girl, but you’ve got good genetics. I’d like to have your genetic offspring. No need to feel obligated to be an active father.” I bet he would have gone for it, too. He never really wanted to be a dad. I sucked him into it with my grandiose vision of the life I wanted: settled down at 18 with six kids and a zoo’s worth of pets.

The me I am now knows I could have had that without him, and probably would be much closer to that vision without him. But I wouldn’t have learned as much about myself had I gone that route.

So the me I am now is content to wait two years for another round of babies. She just wishes the hormones would quit throwing their fit in the meantime.



{March 7, 2010}   The writing on the wall

I’ve decided it’s time to buckle down on the writing that’s kept me sane for so long. I am going to commit a certain chunk of my day to writing efforts on a daily basis.

Beyond this blog, I’m also going to start submitting my words to various magazines. Being paid is a nice perk, and it does help me justify the amount of “free time” I have to dedicate to this passion of mine, but really, I feel like my story shared would actually help people. No one needs to know it’s me – just that they’re not the alone in their respective journeys.

I used to write and edit for an awesome, now-defunct, body- and sex-positive feminist e-rag, nearly a decade ago. I wrote for them for nearly two years. As time passes and I age and gain perspective, I miss writing more and more.

My kids are becoming increasingly autonomous, growing up, needing me less. I have questions only I can answer for myself, and putting words down is the therapy that works best for me. Others share those questions in their own lives, and sometimes a key word or two can make all the difference.

My mother once told me when I was a child, she’d always envisioned me as a writer – specifically a writer of children’s books, but a writer in any regard. When, as an adult, I followed other pursuits, she felt I wasn’t being true to myself.

I don’t want to be a novelist. For the most part, fiction is not my strong point, though when properly moved, I can churn out a poignant and relevant short story. Poetry… I love poetry. I don’t have enough confidence that my pretty words are pretty to anyone else – I have a very distinct voice, and seldom come across anyone with one similar. This is supposed to be a good thing, though it leaves me feeling very vulnerable and exposed. I’ll post it in my blogs, I’ll put it up when I can hide behind a binary-code curtain, and I might even publish a zine. Ask me to put it in a real book with real publishers, and I quail. Children’s stories? Sure, I’d love to write them. I tell my kids stories all the time. But I think I’ll wait till I’m a grandmother to do that. It seems more fitting to my personality.

I’ve always preferred to write on the subjects that explore the deeper questions of the psyche, the hows and whys of human nature. Subjects of a philosophical, psychological, spiritual, and even socio-political nature are the ones that pull me under, so I churn the words like water and create sea foam and tidal waves out of a seemingly placid pool.

So that’s where I’ve been. Writing for magazines. Telling my story as a lesbian mom. I’ll share it with you when I find out about publication.



et cetera