On This … Our Wedding Day.

Which was not to be.

We didn’t get married. We didn’t call to check on the status. Instead, I drove home from my parents’ house 3 hours away with a carsick toddler who had to pee (potty training) every five minutes down the highway.

By the time we got home, I had stopped at no less than 4 gas stations and hauled a toddler and her portable potty chair ring into their bathroom. Sometimes she went, sometimes, she had already gone. Thank goodness for pull-ups on long car rides.

I also got to clean up puke on the side of the highway. Lots and lots of puke. So much puke that I had to change my kid, wipe down the seat, and then put her back in it. Puke in the hair, puke on the hands, puke on her most favorite blanket. But, once she was done puking and all cleaned up, she was better. Feeling better enough to keep watching her movie.

Mommy was tired. Worn out and tired.

We had a nice visit with my family though. Lots of nice times and sweet moments. And it took my mind off the fact that we weren’t getting married. I got to spend time with people I love and people who were equally as disappointed that we weren’t getting married.

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It’s nice to have supportive family who love us so much. I really is. Of course, there are some well wishers and people who really do mean well – but let’s just say the one thing not to say to console a person who CAN’T GET MARRIED is to tell them that marriage is just a piece of paper.

Or that we don’t need a piece of paper to know how much we love each other.

That’s not the point. The love isn’t the point. This marriage, this paper that so many straight couples (who I love dearly and I know meant no disrespect) take for granted gives so many rights and privileges that we don’t have.

So, actually – yes. WE do need that piece of paper. To make our lives complete and legal and as equal in the eyes of the law, we do need that paper.

In order for Kim to make medical decisions on my behalf without the hassle of courts and lawyers and still the possibility of a judge declaring its not legal. We do need that paper.

In order for us to be equal parents to our daughter, make decisions in all aspects of her life – financial, education, medical – we do need that paper.

I think people forget, or they are just not aware of the many rights that you are afforded when you get married. It’s not about declaring your love to someone, we’ve been doing that for 11 years. Now, it’s about the same rights. The same standard of care we should be getting from our government in the form of taxes, spousal benefits, and guardianship of our daughter.

Its the legal aspect that means the most.

So do I need a piece of paper to tell the world I love the woman I have been with for the last 11 years? No. That’s a given.

I know the phrase “Its just a piece of paper” is one given out of love and consolation. One that is supposed to make us feel better.

Unfortunately. It only means that there are still people in the world, people who love and support us, who don’t fully understand the ramifications of our being unable to marry.

It’s not about religious beliefs. It’s not about love. It’s not about some ceremony or tradition. Its not about procreation or even raising a kid in the ‘right family.’

You can read about what it’s really about: It’s about the rights we don’t have.

It will come and I think that’s what is so frustrating. This delay is just a delay. An unnecessary waste of energy, time, and emotional heartbreak. In the end, what is another month, really? What has changed? Not much.

Other than the idea that we should have been getting married today. And we didn’t.

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A Monster is Visiting Our House

With being a parent comes the fun and exciting world of “How the hell do you react to that?” moments. I’m having  a few of those lately. I mean, there’s no magical handbook to parenting that comes with your kid. It doesn’t come flying out with the placenta to say, “Here’s how to raise this kid.” and has the perfect guide to every possible situation you will encounter. If it did, I would need to read up on the chapter of “When a Monster Visits Your Toddler.”

Yesterday was a very looooooooong day. And it started as my only day off in the week. And ended with me falling asleep at 7PM, before Punky’s bedtime and getting no cuddle time at bedtime. SAD DAY.

Let’s start at the beginning.

This cute face showed up at the top of the basement steps at 6:30AM yesterday.

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I had fallen asleep around 3-3:30AM after working til midnight. I was shocked and a little disoriented to find her standing at the top of the steps. This picture is actually from a few days ago, at the top of the living room steps, but its the same effect, without the ARMFUL of babies.

According to Grammy, she came down stairs, crying from her room, about how she had a monster in her room and she was afraid. Of course, Grammy tried to comfort her and she was having none of it. Instead, she promptly went down the stairs and found our room in the basement.

She just broke my heart with her little cries of fear and she climbed into my bed and cuddled. “Mommy I cried.” “Mommy I afraid.” “Mommy there a monster in my room.”

Now, I’m a believer of all things, this includes things like ghosts and other assorted things. Yes, for a woman who’s not a religious believer, I do believe there are things that kids may or may not be able to see that we can’t see. So, while I know that monsters are a normal part of a kid’s developing brain, and it was likely just a nightmare.

To Punky, its a real thing.

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To confuse the matter, I’ve noticed in our efforts to help calm her and keep her our ever so presently sweet baby girl, we are all in the house, suggesting different things to her. Giving her many ideas about the monsters that does or doesn’t live in her room. Sometimes we tell her that there are no such thing as monsters. Sometimes we tell her that there are no monsters at this particular house. Sometimes tell her the monster just wants to be her friend. Sometimes telling her that it was a bad dream. At some points we tell her its nothing. In the end, to a two year old, I can’t imagine all the conflicting information is easy to process for her little brain.

And I struggle with what to say at all. I don’t want to discount her fears. I don’t want to tell her she’s wrong. Because to her, its was a very real experience. It was something that very much happened to her. And she was pretty darn vocal about it. I didn’t even know she knew what “being afraid” meant. I didn’t know she knew what that word was. She continues to astonish me with her language skills and the way she expresses herself.

I want her to know that its okay – that she is safe and no one is going to let anything bad happen to her. In the end, the goal for me – is not to discount her experience or if imagination is at work here, to discourage that type of creativity (albeit scary to her at the moment.)

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Its not our job to tell her what is real and what isn’t real. To her this was a very real experience. And I would never want her to think I didn’t believe her. I would like to think I could help her think through the process of determining for herself what it is this monster represents or this monster is to her. What it really means. Because – as a Mommy, I don’t know if I believe one way or another that there is a monster hanging out in her room. I’m undecided. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean its not a real thing to her.

So, I am struggling with the complex nature of the situation, and at such a rapid pace. While she was sitting on my bed, cuddling with me, telling me about the monster in her room, dried tears on her cheeks, I felt helpless. Like I was failing somehow as her mother in that moment, because what do you say? How do you respond? How do you keep her innocent and sweet and so very much content in that moment?

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I want to convey that she is safe. I want her to know that she is loved. I want her to know she can come to me when she is scared, upset, angry. I don’t want to discount her feelings. I don’t want to minimize the very real fear she had in that moment.

And perhaps not all parents think this hard about how the reaction to a real or imaginary monster, a dream or a nightmare, a spirit or a shadow is going to effect their child’s life. I do.

Its the type of parent I am. I want her to think about it, I want her to deduce her own conclusions. I want her to know I will follow her down the path she is on and we can seek the knowledge together. On all sorts of things. This monster included.

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For the time being. I am not discouraging the idea that monsters are real. I am very much open to the possibility that it is something she experienced. Dream or no dream, shadow of a stray toy on the floor or  a creak she heard in the house – it was  real to her. I don’t have the answers.

What I do have is a new identity. An identity as Mommy. And in my little girl’s eyes that means all things will be better with Mommy’s hugs and kisses. And I will always stand by that identity. The more she grows, the more I grow in that role and the more I fall down in the moment, but pick myself up after the fact. The initial response to this monster in her room was not executed as flawlessly as I would have liked. Most things aren’t when it comes to this mothering thing.

But, I feel comfortable in my decision to instead expose her to what is a possible alternative. Monsters may  or may not be around, but she is safe and there is nothing that will harm her, not while I’m around. Not while her Mama’s around.

Because in the end, I want her to be creative. I want her to use that imagination of hers and sometimes creativity and imagination can be scary. I forget that she’s two sometimes  and that doesn’t discount that she is still growing and learning. Her concept of things are still being shaped. I want her to shape them for herself. I want her to be the person she is and think about the world from her own unique perspective.

And hopefully, since last night, she went to bed with no problems. NO need to search the room for monsters I am told (remember, I passed out before bedtime) and no real issues. When she wakes up, I suppose we will see if this was just a passing thing for the day or something we will be encountering more often. I hope for the first one, so that she can go back to building mountains with her Kinetic Sand and riding her trike around the driveway in peace and monster free!

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Have you had to address this monster in the closet yet? Have you been looking under your kids’ beds for things that go bump in the night? I’m all ears on how you handle it. I am am still trying to figure out my own strategy!

Father’s Day In Preschool When There’s No Dad

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Father’s Day is Sunday. I read about how other people handled Father’s Day in their own lesbian homes and everyone is a little different. Some people are celebrating their day by giving Father’s Day to their partner, while they have Mother’s Day. Or others who don’t celebrate at all. Or some who explain what it is, but just that other people celebrate. And then there are some like our family.

We celebrate the men in Punky’s life. It’s lovingly referred to as “Papa/Uncle Day” and its a super special time. It really does keep in our minds how lucky Punky is. How loved she is and how many male role models she has in her life.

And then there are days like yesterday that squash the ideas and my happy little bubble.

I picked up Punky from school and she had painted a tie picture for Father’s Day. When her teacher handed it to me, I smiled and said thank you. It was super cute and when I picked Punky up in my arms and asked what she made she replied with:

“I made it for Daddy.”

Insert stomach drop here. Heart sinking feeling. Disappointment washed over me.

“Can we give it to Papa, sweetie? You don’t have a Daddy, but you do have a Papa!” I suggested an alternative and tried my best to curb my anger at the tone of my voice.

This whole thing had put me in an awkward position. I was having to vocally tell my two year old she doesn’t have a Daddy. And why? Because all day, or at least while they were painting, the teachers (who know she has two moms) were repeating over and over, what I am sure they thought was a simple and non-offensive phrase, “Let’s make a present for Daddy.” 

I am absolutely sure this shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is to me. I am extra sensitive right now – I have noticed, with all the stress of Kim’s health and how that has effected us in regards to childcare, finances and just daily life – I’m pretty snappy.

I didn’t bring it up to her teacher at the time and I probably won’t, because by the time she goes back to school, Father’s Day will be over and it won’t matter. It will be a whole year before we have to deal (wishful thinking here) with the whole Daddy thing again. The only reason we are dealing with it right now is because of the holiday that is coming up.

Kim tried to get me to logically see that this wasn’t an issue. It’s Father’s Day. They didn’t think about. Blah Blah Blah. But, its not just Punky who doesn’t have a father. I mean there are plenty of kids who don’t have dads in their lives. They have deadbeat dads, actual dead dads, or any number of other types of families. I just felt like they should have been more vigilant in their wording.

We have a specific way we refer to her donor, and it’s not Daddy. She’s only met her donor once, before she could actually remember meeting him. She doesn’t know what it means to have a donor, she’s fucking two. But, the last thing I want to have to do – is try and explain to a two year old what a Daddy is and why she doesn’t have one and other people do.

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Its probably just because I’m in a funk, and its effecting me more than I should let it. More than it really needs to. But, the last thing I ever want Punky to feel is “left out” – especially on a holiday that the freaking whole nation celebrates in some way. Which is why we came up with Papa/Uncle Day. It’s her way to giving presents still and celebrating the holiday without having to discuss “Father’s Day”.

So, I guess for now, its not as big a deal as I wanted to make it and I am not going to freak out on the teacher. But, it does remind me that our family is different and it also reminded me that people don’t really take into consideration that my child may need different things when it comes to holidays.

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There are a ton of Christian people who ask why atheists get so ‘uptight’ about their religion being taught in public schools or religion being brought up outside of the church. It’s the same concept as what I’m talking about in regards to Father’s Day.

Not everyone celebrates the same. Not everyone believes the same. And while, I have no problem with my daughter being exposed to other things and I’m not asking that Father’s Day be banned from school – I am asking that we take into consideration that one phrase or one belief is not depicted as the only way or the RIGHT way to say the phrase or believe the belief.

When I heard her say “I made for Daddy.” it was a definitive phrase, like there was no one else that tie painting could be for. Like she wasn’t given any other choices. But she has other choices. So, instead of narrowing the field and bringing on just one word in regards to the holiday, expose kids to differences, let them explore and learn different ways to celebrate, include everyone’s beliefs and everyone’s version of the holiday.

So, just like religion being introduced to my kid. I am not upset that she was exposed to “Daddy”. I am upset she wasn’t given another option to consider. Just the same for church. I don’t care if you talk to my kid about Jesus or God. I don’t care if she’s exposed to it, I want her to be able to explore on her own – but I also want her to be given the choice to explore more than just the one choice and be told it’s the only choice there is.

Because in the end, there’s just not one right way in any subject, its all perception and circumstances. She needs to be able to make up her own mind. And, yes, she’s only 2 so this is a little deep and a little heavy for me to be thinking about – but damnit, it really bothered me.

Now, I need to figure out a better way to head this off before it becomes an issue when she’s older, when it may actually effect her in a real negative way.