Sunday, May 20, 2012


They say that the best way to solve a weed problem is to get them by their roots. Really dig down deep, and pull them up where they start. And then do some "preventative maintenance" and install a good weed barrier.

Rinse. Repeat.

It’s a cinch when it’s rained the night before- mostly. They generally come up pretty easy- except for those insidious broad leafed ones that spread like wildfire, and whose roots are like an aspen grove. And it’s even more of a pain when your front yard is rock, and the weeds grow in between. But you still try to get em. And those that come up instantly are very very satisfying.

But those with the deep roots are a pain, and no matter how hard you pull, dig and will them out of the ground, they just stay stuck. And sometimes it’s hot. And sometimes you’re just tired. And sometimes there's a really good Lifetime movie beckoning.

So you take the easy way out and lop them off. As close to the roots as possible and enough so they are hidden by the neighbors. But you know full well that they will come back with a vengeance.
It's good for now. And those weeds won't kill you. You also know that it's going to be harder when they come back again.  You've calculated the risks and know the consequences.

It's the same with kids.

Sometimes those lessons that you try to instill are as easy as wet soil and a good yank. Brush your teeth, put your shoes in your closet, choose your own clothes, three books and bed, be kind to others. And you know full well when you're being played... no, those puppy dog eyes won't get you an extra dessert... no, that whine is not your ticket to an extra cartoon... yes, I know that dance is hilarious, but you still can't play with the I Phone… and ouch, that pinch in protest is still not getting you out of taking a bath.

But sometimes it’s just harder to get at the roots. That obvious conning to get more free time. That sneaking of the extra several M&M’s. That raging tantrum accompanied with flying objects and “you’re not my mommy anymore.” That sobbing devastation at the refusal to read yet another book.

You know that not tackling the behavior right now will result in it being more difficult the next time.

But still you cave.

You give the extra time, knowing you’ll be late. You pretend you didn’t see the candy lifting. You crack open one (or two) more books. And you reward the sobbing with cuddles and hugs.

You promise (again) to be stronger next time. To conscientiously install that protective barrier and finally stop the spread… on another day.

Besides, it’s hot, and I'm tired, and there's a really good Lifetime movie on.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Coming out straight.

We tried... we really did.

I've heard it said many times... and the science is clear... gay parents breed gay kids. Perfect! We would raise a little baby dyke just like her mommies.

Before she was born, we painted her room in gender neutral colors (sea and sand), purchased mostly yellow and blue clothing, pledged a not-so-silent vow against Barbie, and looked forward to raising our little girl in our image.

We had plans... big plans. We would indoctrinate her immediately. We would surround her in the subversive gay culture, give her early exposure to Glee, shop at J.C. Penny's, unabashedly hawk Thin Mints, and fill her head with the music of the Indigo Girls, Michelle Malone and K.D. Lang.

Hell, we were even hoping that, one day, we would be able to walk her down the aisle into the waiting arms of her girlfriend, and send her off into the sunset in a U-Haul with a toaster oven and a tool belt.

Plus, she had both the genetic and the nurture thing going for her, right? 

But I'm afraid we've failed. Despite our best efforts, we think she is headed down the wrong path.

She's only five... but she has all the signs... her favorite drawings are of fairies and brides, she has a ton of Barbies, insists on a pink room with princesses, loves to shop for shoes, and (gasp) has a huge blushing crush on a boy in her school.

Oh, we still try to encourage her options. Shopping one day, she stopped dead in her tracks in front of a wedding gown display: "Mommy- that is the most beautiful dress I ever saw! I want to wear that in my wedding!"

"That is beautiful, honey," I urge. "You can wear that dress in any kind of wedding you want! You know, you can marry whomever you love, a boy or a girl."

And, with that incredulous, indignant glare, she responds: "I already told you Mommy, I am marrying a boy... now stop talking about it!"

We can still hope. But despite our best efforts, we're pretty sure that she's straight.

I guess we've known all along.

A mother always knows.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A free-er feeling Mother's Day.

Today is Mother's Day. And for many reasons, today feels different. Today is the day that I decided to scatter my mother's ashes... she passed away over a year ago. Today is my first Mother's Day in my new(er) house... without my daughter, who is at her other parent's house. And today is the first Mother's Day where my life is the topic of a national conversation on equality.

I am a mom, who is parenting an amazing, brilliant little girl with another mom (get the title now?). And this is my story of that journey into and through motherhood.

My partner and I had been together for about five or six years when we seriously began to have the conversation about having children. The plan was simple. She would have a child, and then a couple of years later, so would I. It does sound so simple, right? Seems like the natural progression of things... committed relationship, stable jobs, start a family...

And we jumped in with both feet. Began exploring donors, and setting up appointments with doctors, and... well, just dove. It was all very exciting...a time filled with possibilities and happiness.    

The simplicity wore off, and was replaced by just plain hard. Really hard. Infertility treatments, multiple miscarriages, surgeries, and finally (three years later) the realization that my partner had no problem getting pregnant, she just was finding a pregnancy difficult to maintain. Without much conversation (a decision that we both will always regret), we decided that she would stop trying and I would begin to try to conceive. And I eventually did... and we had our daughter.

From a lesbian parenting perspective, we did everything "right" prior to her arrival. We signed medical and financial powers of attorney, ensured that our beneficiaries were each other, co-owned property, and even petitioned a judge to have each of our names listed on our daughter's birth certificate. We anointed ourselves "mommy" (that's me) and "mama," read (okay, skimmed) parenting books, and had spectacular baby showers thrown by amazing friends. We had discussions about the importance of speaking Spanish in the home, (mostly) organic foods, having male influences in her life, and the roles of our respective biological families. It was decided that I would stay home for at least three months, and then we would have a nanny until she went to kindergarten when she was five.

And, in retrospect, I still think that we mostly held true to our intentions. Our little girl will be entering first grade next year. Mama speaks as much Spanish to her as possible. We have wonderfully supportive friends (both male and female... gay and straight). She spends as much time as practical with both sides of the family. She is a happy, healthy, smart little girl with a great sense of humor, dance moves to envy, and good friends embroiled in lots of five-year-old drama. She is the center of our lives and neither mama nor I would change any of the joy that she has brought into our lives.

But there was lots that we didn't talk about as we prepared for, and embarked on this journey of parenting. We didn't talk about the still present grief over my partner's original attempts at becoming pregnant. We didn't' talk about what our roles would be as parents (in heterosexual relationships, that part is generally assumed). We didn't talk about co-sleeping, or the length of breastfeeding, or weather or not to use the whole cry-it-out method. We didn't have a back up plan when the first nanny decided to go back to school (followed by the second who did the same, followed by the third who got pregnant). We didn't talk about the impact of losing and changing jobs, or losing parents, or just the plain old boring duties of maintaining a household.

But mostly, we didn't talk about the people that we were and who we were becoming in these new roles as parents... as mothers... and as partners. 

And in the end, those things that we didn't talk about were those things that eventually (and very sadly) broke us up. We are good people, and good parents, and we will always love each other. And we will always do what is best for our daughter. But now we have shared nights and weekends, and separate houses, and parenting agreements. And now life is just more complicated as each of us figures out how to move forward... as parents... as mothers.

It's really just that simple, isn't it? Relationships begin with wonderful dreams and good intentions... dreams of good careers and great friends... dreams of growing old with the one person that you love... dreams of raising a family. And sometimes life works out in just that way. And sometimes it doesn't.

And as the nation and my state watches and speculates and judges about what it means to be a family, and who it's okay to love, I can't help but wonder... all things being equal... is my journey really so different?

Happy Mother's Day.