Thursday, May 31, 2012

Family

Family is a complicated word, to me. Depending on what I'm saying, it can be my mom and stepdad and I, or the three of us plus their four kids, or the kids and them. It can also be my dad and stepmom. Or them plus my three brothers. And two sisters-in-law. And two nephews and a niece. It could be V's parents, brother, and sister-in-law. It could be V and I with our kitties. It could even be Patrick and Lilly's family.

Usually, which definition I mean depends on whom I'm talking to. I expect them to figure it out. Even so, I frequently find myself clarifying - "We went to visit my family last weekend, I mean, my dad and stepmom, and we saw my brothers..." It is, to say the least, obnoxious.

My parents separated when I was two; the only idea of family that I remember is this disjointed, non-overlapping one. When I was younger, I swore I would never get divorced. I didn't want my kid to have to deal with shuttling between houses, or overhearing arguments, or feeling like she was the only reason her parents couldn't just move on with their separate lives. On top of that idea, I wanted my child to have a "normal" family.

Granted, two moms wasn't exactly what I was planning. Any semblance of normal is pretty much out the window. But right now, more than anything, I want our baby to be able to say "this is my family," and have it mean us. Always. No explaining, no clarifying, no shifting definition.

I want to provide a family. I want to raise a child, or more, in a family. It won't be the family of my younger imaginings, but it will have what I so desperately wanted: stability and security. It's been mentioned before that LGBT parents are so dedicated because they have to work so hard to have kids. It's true. I was a complete accident; my mother supposedly cried on her bed with the pregnancy test. Sure, she fell in love with me at birth (she hastily added), but it doesn't change the beginning.

Our child will be yearned for, beloved, and welcomed into our family with tears of joy.

This post is part of the 7th annual Blogging for LGBT Families Day. To read everyone else's thoughts, visit Mombian.

Play

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm pretty hands-off at the playground. I think kids, especially my two, can generally manage for themselves. When it comes to the ideas of free range parenting, I have to backpedal some: I don't live in an area where I'd be comfortable letting my child wander, and, besides, they're only three and a half.

However, I'm not going to hold their hands through life, and the easiest application of this is the playground. Sometimes it really bugs them, too. They want me standing under the ladder as they climb it; they want my hands holding theirs while they cross the bridge. But in my book, if you can't do it by yourself, you're not big enough, and you shouldn't be doing it.

In a way, it actually requires more trust in the kids: trust that they'll recognize when something is beyond their capability. It means that when Patrick got stuck on the twirly thing at the playground yesterday, and Lilly came running to get me, I helped him get unstuck and then told him I was going back to sit down. He pouted, for a long time, about the fact that I wouldn't help him do it again.

The playground also has a climbing wall, sort of. It's more like a red tower with little steps and handholds, plenty wide enough for a foot turned sideways. Last summer, the kids learned how to climb it. Yesterday, I watched them both scale to the top, and then look down. I stifled the urge to tell them not to do that: it was unlikely that they would fall, given how tightly they were holding on, and, really, they aren't allowed to look over a "precipice"?

Lilly decided to climb back down. She put a foot on the little step near the top, and paused. She considered. She pulled her foot back up; she put it back down. She tried to twist. She stood at the top, turned around, and put her foot down backwards. She moved the other one down. She slid her hand from the bar at the top to a handhold. She made her way all the way down, climbing down as if a ladder. As soon as she reached the bottom, I went over to tell her how awesome it was that she figured out a way to get down.

A few minutes earlier, she'd been having trouble getting up. I was sitting about fifteen feet away, half paying attention to her. There were, of course, a bunch of moms clustered around the playset itself. Lilly made it up about three feet, and then fell. Flat on her bottom. Clean fall, with a little bounce thanks to the springy ground.

One of the moms darted toward her. She didn't quite reach her, but she was ready - and she was looking around for someone to care. Lilly looked over to where I knew she was; I smiled and waved. She got up, looked up at the tower, and climbed it perfectly.

Over a year ago, I wrote about the playground mentality of caretakers looking out for all the kids. I love it still. I love that that mom was aware that a child had fallen. Much as I knew she didn't need to go help Lilly, I appreciate the community: when we all look out for each other's kids, all children are freer to explore all of the world. Even if, for right now, that world is just a playground.

For a shorter and more eloquent take on this same idea of free-range playgrounds, check out Helicopter Parenting Just Isn't My Style.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Free

I've realized something unusual about myself, when the twins and I are at a playground. I generally find myself a shady bench or table, pull out a crossword book, and absorb myself. I'll glance up to see the kids, every now and then, but I just let them do their thing. It's easier with twins, too; they definitely interact with each other a ton.

In much the same way that "feminism is the radical idea that women are equal to men" (attributed to Rebecca West, among others), free range parenting is the radical idea that children aren't idiots. It's realizing that they need to learn through experience. It's not a term I'd heard until recently; in fact, when I first heard about it, I was flatly against it. The idea of not knowing where my kids are? Terrifying.

But wait. I started having childhood flashbacks to following my brothers into the woods, not coming out until my stepmom rang the giant cast iron bell inherited from her grandmother's farm. I remembered the whole neighborhood, ages fifteen and under, dividing up into teams for flashlight capture the flag in the summer. I remember walking to the bookstore half a mile away, in my early teens, and telling my mom I'd be back in a few hours.

Maybe this idea isn't so radical after all. The more I think about my childhood (which really wasn't that long ago!), the more it seems I - and everyone else my age - was "free-ranged."

Thanks to this article by Libby Anne for making me think through this again. I'm interested to see how it affects my future child-rearing ideas!

I'll come back to the twins and I at the playground tomorrow, and write about the Incident that got this stuck in my brain. Though it really wasn't big enough to warrant a capital I.

Join

I'm not sure what I'll write yet, but in some form or another, I'll be participating. I only heard about this last year (and barely had time to throw up a few sentences), but I loved reading all the entries. Sometimes that reminder of community is all we need.


Blogging for LGBT Families
(because I'm not cool enough to know how to link images)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Comfort

V is so much more comfortable with my family now. It's a different dynamic from the last few visits, and I love how much more relaxed we all are. I can go to the bathroom without anxiety for leaving her alone!

Plus, my cousin, whom we stayed with last night, is awesome.
This is being a really good trip.
I am so glad.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Radio

Radio silence.
V and I are traveling over the long weekend, and won't be back until late on Monday. Expect not to hear from me.
Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Times

There's a teeny photo, from behind, of V and I, in the Styles section of today's New York Times. Our photographer contacted us a couple weeks ago, saying that she'd been contacted to see if the paper could use some of her pictures. While all three of us had grandiose visions of a spread paired with an inspirational article on love, we'll take a small picture headlining a fashion piece. It means there's still room to go up.

Seriously, though, "fame" - though totally not connected to our names - is bizarre. Our picture is in the NYT. The flickr album of our wedding has almost 30,000 views. Tumblr keeps spitting out new pictures, each with over a thousand likes, comments, and reposts. What's a girl to think?

I'll give you a hint: it goes to my head, a little bit. I've never wanted to be traditionally famous, but there's a high that comes from seeing your image so adored. It's a high that I want again and again. It's dangerous.

So, does the BBC want to do a special on us, yet?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Someone

I have no idea if I'll be with Patrick and Lilly beyond the end of next school year. When V graduates, we could be headed out of state or overseas; that prospect is really exciting.

My "problem" is that they don't start kindergarten until the 2014-2015 school year.

This fall, they'll be in preschool three afternoons per week. I'm so excited to watch them grow and have all those new experiences. Then there will be another year of preschool after that.

What if I'm not the one who is around for it? What if someone else suddenly starts taking care of my kids? I know their parents have first rights; that's never far from my mind, and I would never want to threaten that. But after that, they're my kids. I'm not even putting quotes around 'my' at the moment, either.

Kindergarten, in my head, is a natural stopping point for me. Given their dad's work schedule, they may not even have in-home care, once they're in school all day. But for the year in between now and then? There will definitely be someone. And what on earth do I do, if that someone isn't me?

That's enough to make me cry. Thinking about the kids asking about me (because they would), about somebody strange trying to understand their silly phrases and beginning-stage whines, knowing someone else is making them breakfast and lunch and giggling when they put apples in their yogurt.

I tend to worry about the future. A lot. But rarely practical worries: no, it's this sort. It's the fact that I will burst into tears if I think too long about someone else in my role. The fact that they'll go on growing up without me.

They don't love you like I love you...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Time

I have been informed by V that it is time to write again.  Which is interesting, since all I want to do is eat frozen mini eclairs and do crossword puzzles.  I just made her a "to-do" list that, unfortunately, doesn't contain anything I can do for her.  Though the washer is about to stop; guess I'll be stuck hanging clothes up soon.  I don't mind too much.

Really?  It just beeped.  Well, now I feel like writing a blog post!  But it'll have to wait.  Wet clothing calls.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hugs

Patrick and Lilly left on a quick weekend trip today. I got ginormous hugs from them as I buckled them into their carseats; Lilly asked me three different times today if I was coming to the hotel with them. I honestly love how much those kids love me.

Just now, their mom emailed me to ask for email addresses for the teacher of their class tomorrow, or if I'd drop her a line to let her know we won't be there. My response: "Did it Tuesday." I absolutely love feeling ahead of the game. It's such a high.

Now V and I get to spend tomorrow together! Off to the zoo, where soft serve and baby animals will happen, and then maybe 10,000 Villages and a few other stores just for the fun of it. Then a photoshoot (4 year old twins!), meeting another hopeful client, not staying up too late, a Saturday morning photoshoot (12 people, 4 generations!), babysitting separate places Saturday night, and six hours of dance recital rehearsal on Sunday for the company V works for. It's going to be quite a weekend!

In other news, I feel damn hot on the scooter. Especially in a dress and heeled boots like I am today. Oh my Lisbet, how I love thee.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pause

I don't know why I've felt so busy lately. It seems like there are always a thousand things on my mind, to do or sort out or take care of. We had to make an emergency trip to the Apple store last night, because V's computer spent yesterday spazzing, so now we're on one computer. We'll get hers back in a couple days...but still. I want to spend the entire time she's in class being online simply because I can, and won't be able to once she's home. Separation anxiety much?

Been playing lots of Pretty Pretty Princess with the kids lately. It's the Sleeping Beauty edition, and when you land on Maleficent you have to take her, and you can't win if you have her. Every time it happens, one or both of the kids will go "Oh, NO, you have the mean witch!" It's cute. Also, Patrick never wants to take the jewelry back off. The family went to the outlets last weekend, and apparently stopped into Claire's, where each kids picked out a new set of hair stuff. Lilly picked butterflies. Patrick picked bows with sparkles.

Writing about life calms me down. I feel less anxious. Less stressed. In a strange twist of fate, we're going up to visit my parents over Memorial Day weekend, and two weekends later, V's parents are coming to visit us. We're both looking forward to both trips, though, which says a lot. Also means we have a lot to get done in the house.

We've had a groundhog living out back, and now there are three babies. I'll try to get pictures up soon (once we find the memory card reader); it's adorable watching these miniature, fluffier groundhogs sniff around the lawn while mommy and/or daddy (we've seen two adults now) keeps watch.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nursing

Patrick, upon seeing the most recent cover for Time magazine, which is garnering all the attention:
"Why is someone biting her boobie?"
Clearly, he is not an extended-breastfeeding child.
We had a talk about mommy milk and the sheep and lambs we've seen lately at school.

Also, they entertained themselves with washcloths, plastic dishes, and two bowls of water for an hour tonight, pleasantly, without any arguing or doing anything crazy.  It was wonderful.  I told them that they could strip, Patrick tried to get Lilly to keep her underwear on (she didn't), then ended up taking everything off too.  Two naked kids, lots of small dishes, and sopping wet washcloths. And then we dried everything off and carried the towels down to the dryer!  Wonderful, peaceful way to spend an evening.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Quiver

In case you hadn't noticed, I added two new blogs over to the right.  Both Love, Joy, Feminism and Permission to Live talk about life after leaving the Quiverfull/Christian Patriarchy movements.  Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism has a good brief overview of what that means:

"My family was highly involved in the Christian Right, and I was homeschooled through high school and taught that dating was “practice for divorce” and that courtship was the godly alternative."

The blogs are a fascinating read, regardless of background, but even more so for me.  I wasn't raised in an explicitly Quiverfull house, but there were definitely some similar elements.  I was homeschooled from 3rd grade until high school graduation.  I was raised with the "practice for divorce" line.  While college was a given (something which is frequently not the case for Quiverfull daughters), it was also understood that I would marry an equally religious man, and there definitely would be "no ding-a-ling before the ring-ring" as an old youth pastor phrased it.

Where my family differed was in children.  I'm my dad's only biological child; when he married my stepmom, she'd already had three boys and couldn't have any more kids.  Chores tended to fall to me inside, the boys outside, but the gender roles weren't nearly as proscribed as in other families.

Still, so many of the names that Melissa and Libby Anne reference are familiar.  Sovereign Grace.  Beautiful Girlhood.  Patriarchy, for crying out loud.  (And when your dad's a pastor, it's all complicated.)

Anyway, go poke around over there.  It's fascinating stuff...and I'm so glad they're free.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Recap

Today did get better.  I took lots of headache and allergy medicine, and the kids were in great moods all day.  May is Zoo Babies month at our zoo, so we saw a baby camel (which I've never seen!) and three baby bat-eared foxes (adorable), among other things.  Lilly never threw a tantrum; Patrick threw a small one, but he'd just walked all around the zoo and I'm sure was getting worn out.  I picked him up, explained that I bet he was tired, and could he rethink the tantrum?  He calmed himself down pretty quickly.  So nice.

Then I came home and slept for two solid hours.  I didn't know I needed it - wait, yes, I did - and it was the sort of heavy, unbroken sleep I haven't been getting at night.  Then discovered this soup while perusing my blogroll, and realized to my surprise that I actually had all the ingredients.  Well, except chicken, which never stops me, celery, which I don't mind omitting, and curry powder, which I improved with some cumin, paprika, chili powder, pepper, garlic powder, and cinnamon.  It was so exceptionally yummy!  I made about a third of the recipe (I was constrained by the amount of chicken stock I had in the freezer), and will definitely be making more.  I think V was just happy that I actually cooked something.

See, don't you love when I discover new blogs?  An awesome trans story, and a delicious soup!

Today

As I said on Facebook, "Today's headache and general funk brought to you by 60% of NC voters."

I always have a very visceral reaction to family or political "statements" about gay marriage.  They shoot straight to my gut, and the feeling that everyone hates us gets overwhelming.  I had it last night; I didn't manage to sleep it off.

So now, a splitting headache and a depression about life.  And we're supposed to go to the zoo.  I don't wanna go to the zoo.  But when the kids' mom suggested it on Monday, I bumped it to Wednesday due to weather.  (Those are our two days with no classes or anything, so we can make all-day trips.)  We'll see if it happens today...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Own

I have no words of my own today.  I'm too busy reading one of the most dramatic, gripping, heartwrenching, and heartwarming stories I have in a long time.

If you have a bit of time, I highly recommend you go read Unwrapping the Onion.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Overload

My poor, amazing wife.  See, I'm not all that talented.  I can keep things organized: papers, numbers, due dates.  But I can't make stuff.  I'm not artsy.

V, on the other hand, is.  She's also working on graduating.  So tonight, she started a new class for May term; tomorrow, she starts another one.  She'll be in Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday evening classes until early June, when she'll start another, slightly less intense round.

Photography is also going swimmingly.  We had a shoot with a 9 month old yesterday; I ended up entertaining his two and a half year old sister for most of it.  She was adorable.  But, now V needs to edit those pictures, and then we have two shoots this coming weekend.  At least one is a for-a-friend shoot, so no time crunch to get pictures to them.

Unfortunately, V is also still teaching dance until the end of this month.  There's a big recital, and after that, she's done.  But that's still two days per week of teaching, and lots of outside mental time.  And she frequently watches Kali one or two morning a week, still.

And now someone just ordered one of her dictionary bouquets (which I've mentioned) from Etsy.  Yay for the sale, but really?  As if May wasn't already going to be the craziest month we've had in a long time.  And by "we" I mean "she," because, as I said, I can't do any of this creative-y stuff.

Poor, talented wifey.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Less obvious

V and I did a spur of the moment clean through a bunch of magazines/books/papers/pictures, and then again up in the craft room, so we do actually have a big giveaway bag again: two coats, two duffel bags, multiple frames, three tote bags, a stack of magazines, a decorative tray, a picture or two, and...more stuff that I can't remember.

I think that probably makes up for the past few days.

Obvious

(Obviously that whole give-one-thing-away-per-day thing isn't happening right now.  The end of V's semester really wasn't the smartest thing.  I'll try again later.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Answer

Dear the hundreds of idiotic motorcycle riders who zoom around here without helmets,

Obviously, you're not doing anything illegal (damn this state), but really.  Are you stupid?  Let's say screw your safety, since you clearly don't care about it, but please, please, please, think of the children.

I'm so tired of hearing, from the backseat of the van, "Why that guy not have his helmet on?"  You see, I'm raising children who wear their helmet when they ride their bikes.  You, on your big, noisy bike, should be even smarter.  But no.

"Well, lovey, he just doesn't make good choices."

"Why not?"

Damned if I know.  Can you enlighten me, couple with their hair blowing in the 60mph wind?

Sincerely,
Lina

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adele

The kids love Adele.  They always ask to hear Rumour Has It; obviously I can't control the radio, so I finally burned a cd and took it over.  Now they ask for Rolling in the Deep.  Patrick is very determined to know the names of all the songs, and always goes "what's this one called?" at each new track.

Track 3 - "Turning Tables," I said.
"That's not good."
"What's not good?"
"Turning tables.  They might break in half."
(With effort, I managed to keep the van on the road and not laugh so much they asked questions.)

He also hums the "ooo" background on Rumour Has It, which he calls "rumor has it ooo."  I love it.