And these are the Days of Our Lives…..

I feel like we are constantly in some wackadoodle damn soap opera. The roller coaster of our life just never had a moment to slow down and stop. There are never any breaks along the way, it’s just UP and DOWN. UP and DOWN.

Jeez, life, throw me a damn bone.

I’m super frustrated right now because Kim and I got Punky all dressed up and paraded her around the court house in Kansas to get our application for a marriage license. Literally, just last week, this was a done deal and we found out about it on Wednesday. We were excited, we were so relieved. It wasn’t Missouri, but just the few days prior, Missouri did rule that they would recognize gay marriages performed legally in states that do allow that sort of thing.

So, why not, we said?

We only live 30 minutes away from the court house doing it and we could go up there before I went to work the very next day. So, Thursday, we got ready, we all three got up super early. This was a momentous occasion and one we called all our parents about and pumped up our Facebook friends and family with this adorable video from Punky!

It was pouring down rain when we got in the car, by the time we got on the highway, I couldn’t even really see the cars in front of us. The rain was sheets of water, buckets being dumped on our car. Kim looked at me and said, “You must really want to do this.” And if anyone knows me, I don’t drive in the best conditions, let alone these types of conditions, unless I want to get somewhere. I held it together and kept my cool.

Punky got to press the walk button on the crosswalk and go through the metal detector, all while charming the pants off anybody we passed with her ridiculously adorable pea coat and umbrella.

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We finally found our way to the marriage license window and got the application; after swearing to god that our statements were all true. We got the application and they hadn’t even had time to change the pronouns on the application yet, it’s that new. So we had to cross out groom and we had to change he to she. Normally, this kind of thing might bug me, but not at that moment. I didn’t care. I just wanted to do it right.

11 years we have waited. 11 years we have been patiently watching and silently hoping that we will be married in our own state, or at least close. (Kansas is literally right around the corner from us!)  Who cares if the forms are updated. That time will come. I just wanted it to be right.

We signed some stuff, took our application and went home to wait the three day waiting period for Kansas marriage licenses.

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We were going to make a trip back there on Tuesday. We were going to get married and get our marriage license on Tuesday. The long wait for marriage (and tax benefits and rights and equality) was finally over.

Until tonight.

When we read that the Kansas State Attorney General petitioned a block on all gay marriage licenses. There will be a hearing. Sometime in November. And yes, I know – we will get married eventually. With the way the momentum of gay marriage is sweeping the country – it’s going to happen.

But.

It won’t be Tuesday.

And we are all pretty bummed about it.

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And in other news, we are going to visit my family tomorrow – so that will likely brighten my spirits a bit.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

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Think Before You Speak – Questions That Erk Me

In honor of Mombian’s 9th annual Blogging for LGBTQ Families, I am writing up a post I have been meaning to write for some time now. As always, my goal of this blog is not only to document our lives and the growing up of our Punky Monster, but also to get the point across that we are just like everyone else.

Yes. We are atheists.

Yes. We are lesbians.

And Yes. Our daughter is still healthy, loved, and nurtured.

So, I wanted to pick apart the questions I get asked pretty regularly. I’m an open book. I have always been an open book.

**See Unconventional Conception if you don’t believe me! I tell that story – in person, without hesitation to anyone who might be curious enough to get into the gritty details of our conception story. (You’d be surprised how many people want to know the details and then regret it when they learn them!)**

Which means that I answer cordially pretty much any question about our family, our parenting styles, our religion, or our lives in general without much hesitation. That doesn’t mean I don’t get annoyed by the frequent questions that are bordering on over the line, I may not voice it, but perhaps, there might be some tact that people could exercise before asking these types of questions.

1. Who’s Mom?

Look, I try real hard not to make this awkward. It always ends up poorly. The very definition of ‘lesbian mom’ means the kid has TWO moms. I also attempt to really think about the fact that its probably really intended to be “Who carried your daughter?” which may be a valid question, it’s still presumptuous that the mom who carried Punky is her “real mother”, which is not the case.

No matter the law, no matter the tradition or the ideals of the world around us, we are always both her mothers.

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2. Does She Look Like Her Dad?

Well, again, I will define “lesbian mom”. Two moms. No dad. I mean, I know there are plenty of lesbian moms and families with two moms that do have contact with their donors. The donors are called all sorts of things, including Dad or Father in some family dynamics.

But, we really shouldn’t assume that. For my own family, we have contact with our daughter’s donor. He is and always will be a very special man in our life. We aren’t super close, in that we visit or hang out regularly, we don’t even talk on the phone or text message in regular intervals, but he will always have given us a gift we can’t ever thank him enough for.

He is still … not her dad. To most people it seems harmless, it seems like its no biggie, a slip up, not offensive. But … it is offensive. To my partner, to my daughter. It overshadows the very definition of my daughter’s family dynamic. The family she knows.

He’s wasn’t there holding my legs as I was pushing her out of a small hole. He wasn’t up with her at 3AM singing a made up lullaby in those first few weeks, so I could get a little sleep. He’s not catching her as she jumps without warning towards his arms. That’s Kim. And much more.

Basically, while it may seem harmless, it confuses my kid and I anticipate it will confuse her more as she starts to understand that some kids have dads and she doesn’t. When she really notices that she her family is different from others. Do me a favor. Its already going to be a weird conversation for me to have with my kid, don’t confuse her more.

(And if you ask anyone, she really does look just like me. I got myself pregnant is the joke around our family and friends!)

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3. Aren’t You Worried About Her Not Having A Father Around?

You know, I had a dad around. I still have a dad around. I love him to pieces, but he hasn’t always been the stand up dad that traditional June Cleavers are married to. Frankly, my dad has helped mess me up and I’m still in therapy working through the issues I have because of actions, a result of emotional distress in my childhood from having a father.

Do I think having a father is a bad thing? No.

But, do I think Punky absolutely has to have a father? Absolutely not.

We have discussed it before – Punky has more role models than a little girl could possibly had! She has one hell of a godfather in her life, who loves her to bits, like his own kid I would surmise. He is already planning on taking her hunting (which I will probably fight when the time comes), fishing, and teaching her how to do things with cars.

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I have no doubt my brothers will teach her all about comic books, video games, badass underground, never discovered local bands, and how to take the perfect picture of her poop (yes, that’s a thing).

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Kim’s brother is sure to bring a culture of motorcycles, tattoos and fast cars.

I know her grandpas have a wealth of knowledge in work ethic, humor and silliness, and overall doting and caring for her.

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And all the men in her life are sure to teach her how a man is supposed to treat a lady and she will be able to raise any man she dates to the standards they set in her eyes for her future mate. And should she, (personally, I hope not) be a lesbian, she will learn how to treat a lady right as well.

4.  Isn’t Punky Confused About What To Call You?

Okay, so this is a valid question. However, there is a much tactful way to ask it. Perhaps something like, “What does she call you? What does she call her other mother?” I have been asked, “Who’s Mama, Who’s Mommy?” That’s also acceptable. Some lesbian families have all sorts of different ways we help our kids distinguish between two moms.

We decided to sort of guide her in the process of picking a name, but not choosing the name for either of us. She just settled into Mommy for me and Mama for Kim. Both of which we are thrilled with. She’s not confused, because she doesn’t know anything other than having two moms and calling us what she calls us.

Its normal to her, no confusion – thanks for asking!

5. Isn’t It A Concern That She Will Be Teased Growing Up?

This is a very good thing to be concerned about. I don’t know if all lesbian or gay parents are worried about this. I know I was. I still am. I have been concerned – sometimes that we actively thought to have a child, in a world where having gay parents, being gay in general isn’t completely accepted (check out the states still banning gay marriage, HELLO MISSOURI.)

And then I remember that there are several states striking down the bans on gay marriage and it means that acceptance and tolerance is coming around. I put into perspective that Punky is only 2, she’s in preschool, where kids don’t care if she has two moms, her teachers are incredibly supportive and all my mommy friends want to meet Kim and if she wasn’t agoraphobic, they would with no issues.

So in the end, by the time she is school, real school, my hope is that kids will be taught about love and acceptance. That their kids will taught by parents the different ways to make a family, the different kinds of parents and family dynamics out there.

I am getting less worried and more optimistic. This question is a well meaning question, but it can be seen as presumptuous. It could be interpreted by some that you think I’m selfish for ‘daring to bring a child into an intolerant world, just to get bullied.’ I’m sure that’s not the intent, but it sure can be misconstrued.

**

These are my five pet peeve questions. I will always answer them, and they aren’t altogether offensive. But when I answer them everyone is then made to feel awkward. I’m uncomfortable, the person asking is uncomfortable because they made some ill-conceived, usually well intentioned faux pas.

So in the end, I’m more annoyed by the uncomfortable air around the question and the answers and the awkwardness that ensues around the whole thing.

Think before you speak, think about how your words may be interpreted. I won’t ever say out loud that your questions are offensive, stupid, or hurtful – but rest assured, I’m probably thinking it.

Hello … Are We Sure This Is My Life?

So, its that time again. I just can’t even believe our kid is coming up on the 2 year old mark. I mean, seriously. I carried her inside of me for nearly a year and now we have had her in our lives for damn near 2 years.

Does this feeling of disbelief ever go away? I mean, I’m still astonished that we have a kid. I’m still astonished every day that I wake up and go into her room and find her there. I still sometimes feel like I’m living in a dream world, waiting to wake up from this life where we have been together for almost 11 years (through mental illness, a plethora of moves, and a baby carriage) and we have a child against all odds.

It never would have been possible for us to get pregnant the way most lesbian couples get pregnant. We aren’t the ‘saving’ kind and frankly, we are very not thrifty with our money. We live paycheck to paycheck – even now, so going through any sort of fertility treatments, like another great blog buddy posted her medication costs and I damn near fell out of my chair. Buying up sperm at a sperm bank would never have been an option for us.

The first time we looked into the sperm banks online, we were seriously considering it, but when it came time to really step into the financials of it all, we knew, it wasn’t in the cards, realistically. In fact, I think Kim and I were pretty resolved to never having kids of our own.

I think that’s why my astonishment still lingers. I know that it’s tough for the gals and couples out there who are struggling with their baby making journey and my heart breaks for all of them with each new BFN. But, I am so very thankful for the turn of events that happened so unexpectedly in our life.

No, we didn’t conceive in the conventional lesbian way, not even the ‘turkey baster’ way. I’m not ashamed to say that we went the cheap and some would call it “easy” way. I don’t think we called it easy at the time. Emotionally and physically the whole thing was draining. However, lucky for us, it didn’t take long and we had a baby in the belly. Thank goodness, I don’t think we would have been strong enough to make it more than 1 cycle.

I really can’t thank our donor enough for all that he helped us accomplish with the goodness and selflessness of his heart. Literally, I’m going to be forever grateful to that man for giving us a piece of himself and asking NOTHING in return.

My point is, holy shit, we have a two year old and I still look at her in complete and utter awe. I don’t know if that is a normal feeling for all moms, I’m not sure if this is something extraordinary I am feeling. But, I keep waiting for the feeling to wear off. I keep expecting that one day I will come to grips with the fact that I have a tiny mini-me running around our apartment.

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So, speaking of our nearly 2 year old, it’s that time again. It’s time to start planning a birthday party. I am what I guess you would call a “Pinterest Mom”. I never really noticed that this was a negative term until I read about it in another blog buddy‘s post a few days ago. In the end, I figure anyone who thinks it’s negative is simply jealous.

I also read an article on Babble about giving up the extravagant parties and have low-key affairs for our kids. Well, that’s all well and good, but not going to happen. The first birthday party, the Dr. Seuss Extravaganza, was mostly for me, people asked why we would want to have such a large party for  one year old who wouldn’t remember it.

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You have a point. However,  I’m not ashamed to admit that the party was purely for me. I wanted to celebrate her first year with a bang. I wanted to make sure everyone could celebrate her with us. I wanted to always remember the first birthday of our only baby girl. Our miracle baby, whom we didn’t think would have ever existed. So, yes. We had a giant party in her honor and no, she won’t remember.

So, why then, would I want to put myself through another giant party for my two year old? I have two sets of family members on my side of the family, Kim has two sets of family members on her side. If we didn’t have the money or the willpower to save for sperm, we sure as hell don’t have the money to save for four different birthday parties.

Instead, we suck it up and make one very large event. It’s just easier! It will likely be the way of her life for many years to come until celebrating with her aunts and uncles and grandparents become a thing of the past and we transition into the slumber parties and spa days for her birthdays.

I’m going to milk those days as long as I can. So, we have decided on a cars theme this year. Punky is all about her cars right now. She’s loving the cars and the trucks and drives them all over our apartment for hours.

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So, it only makes sense that we would make it a big to-do. So, I am sending out ‘car’ invitations with ‘pit crew’ VIP passes. My goal is to make a few wearable cardboard box cars for kids to race around in out of diaper boxes, if I can muster the creativity and the talent!

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I can’t decide between a dress similar to this one:

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Or this one:

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But I’m leaning towards the tutu just because I am likely going to be making her dress myself and my sewing skills may not be sophisticated enough for the first one, even though I think it may be more Punky’s style. We will have to see!

Anyway, the great birthday bash preparation has begun for the All Out Cars Event for Punky’s second birthday. Do I think it’s over ambitious? Yes. Do I think it’s ridiculous? Yes. Ask me if I care? I don’t! My kid will always have the best of everything. She will have all the things I didn’t have (that’s a post for another day) and she will grow up knowing she was loved and cherished by her mothers no matter what may come.

Period. Whether she’s down for it all the time or not. We will likely smother her in our love.

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When she looks back on her childhood, I want her to smile. I want her to remember the good things she did, the fun she had and the joy she had being a CHILD. I don’t want her to grow up too fast, I don’t want her to be surrounded by things she doesn’t need to know yet. I will keep her small and happy for as long as possible. If I have my way, she will never have a sad day in her childhood, ever. At least not on my watch.

So will her party be excessive? Absolutely. Does it mean I’m probably spoiling her? Yea, most likely… She’s still the nicest, sweetest, kindest little toddler on the block. I think a little happiness in a kid’s life is A-Ok and I’m more than willing to provide it for her!

If you wanna follow all my preparations, you can check it out on Pinterest, where I pin pretty much obsessively. Check out my board.

Hey Parents, Let’s Stop Parenting With Fear

I’m not sure I will ever understand the idea of parenting with fear. The media and the ‘research’ out there is geared towards fear and scaring the shit out of new moms and dads. We are in a constant state of fear when it comes to our kids. Making sure they are eating right, sleeping right, playing right, talking right, walking right, freaking blinking right. Or if you are a Whovian, you teach that kid not to blink at all.

Where is the line drawn?

In the end, does it really matter what the research says? No two kids are the same. No two techniques work for the same child nor for the same family. Why then, are we letting ourselves get all worked up about what the media says is the right way to parent? Why are we up in arms if the mother next to us isn’t doing the same thing we are.

Are there great benefits to breastfeeding? Absolutely! However, there are some women who can’t breastfeed and frankly, formula feeding your baby is just fine. They get the same nutrients, the same nurturing from a bottle as they do the breast.  I did both. I breastfed and yet, my baby didn’t latch properly – ever. It was never something we were really in sync with, Punky and I. So, I pumped. I hated it, but I pumped because I felt like I was obligated to, because I wasn’t a good mother if I didn’t give my child breast milk.

You know what I learned? Punky loved me either way. Punky just wanted milk and her Mommy. She didn’t necessarily need the two together from the same body. She was perfectly content to have formula as well, when I made the decision to stop pumping, because my breasts were getting mastitis from not being able to pump regularly when I went back to work. Punky didn’t mind. AND, frankly, I’m sure she would rather her Mommy feel better and not be in constant pain that drink breast milk.

Is it possible that crying it out can be stressful for a baby’s little brain? Absolutely! However, there are women who need to sleep in order to be better for their child. I was one of those women. I let my baby cry it out. I did in fact sleep train my baby. You know what the results were? One night of Mommy and baby crying it out and then …. a very happy, well adjusted toddler, who takes naps like a champ and doesn’t have a problem sleeping through the night from 8:30 PM until 10 AM.

It’s absolutely bullshit to sit there and say that ‘research’ says that crying it out has adverse effects on EVERY child. I refuse to believe that. Do I think excessive crying can be stressful for a baby? Yes. I do, but in the same token, we all know it’s more stressful for Mommies. The argument “If you hear your child crying and it doesn’t pull at you like a heartache, there’s something wrong with you” is accurate. However, it really pisses me off when people assume that I’m a heartless mother because I let my child cry it out for 1 night. Let’s get something straight right now, I read the research for both sides and let me tell you something, both sides blow each other out of the water. In the end, the conclusion in, it doesn’t matter if you use the sleep train method, the crying out method, the rocking method. Use what works for YOUR kid and stop assuming things about people you know nothing about.

Is organic the purest way to eat? That’s what we hear. It is likely better than fast food, well, duh, of course it is. However, if organic seller were really concerned with our health, they would make their foods more affordable. Period. What’s really the difference between organic apples and regular old apples? I’m not sure, I simply don’t know. I’m not afraid to admit that. The major difference I see is the price tag. So, in the end of the day, Punky can have the apples that have the same look and taste at a fraction of the cost. There’s no way I think it’s appropriate to tell my daughter that she has to rape her wallet just to eat an apple. If you can afford organic, I think that’s awesome, but let’s not forget that most of America is struggling to make ends meet. They don’t need to be made to feel bad that they can’t give their child the ‘right’ fruits and veggies.

In regards to the fast food debate, Punky gets fast food. We eat fast food in this house. A chicken nugget is not going to kill anyone. Is it likely not as healthy as some carrot sticks, yes, that’s right, it’s not the healthiest food out there to give your kid. However, after a very long day at work, shockingly some parents work, we don’t have time or energy to cook a full meal and still have time to spend time with our kid. So, would I rather sacrifice a few carrot sticks for precious time with my daughter? You bet I would. At the end of the day, don’t let someone make you feel bad for the food choices you give your child. Organic, regular, fast food, is your kid getting fed? Yes. Are they healthy weight? Yes. Then who gives a damn what others think!

Can it be a reality that spanking your child can hurt? Yes, you better believe it. I know from personal experience that a good spanking can sting like hell. However, are there really adverse effects to a little smack on the hand or diapered rear? I guess it depends on the child, doesn’t it? There’s a great big difference between spanking and beating your child. I will be the first to say that I don’t think spanking should be used as a scare tactic for controlling children. However, there are some times when a child needs more than a shake of the finger and a raised voice to get their attention.

I’m not advocating one way or another, because we do both timeout and smacks on the hand around here. If Punky is getting into something she’s not supposed to be, after a resounding “No.” if she doesn’t listen, it’s possible she will get a smack on her hand to show her that it’s unacceptable to touch whatever her fingers are reaching for. If she is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the living room, I remove her from the situation and place her in an area where she can’t get attention for her behavior. Let’s just remember that a spanking doesn’t mean you are beating your child. We should all know the difference, seriously.

I could go on and on about the things we parents let others dictate is right or wrong. What we allow the media to drive fear into us. TV or no TV? Front facing carseats or not? Cutting their hair or not? Gender stereotypes, gender roles, and much much more.

What’s the moral of my story here?

Kids don’t come with a manual, parenting doesn’t come with a training class.  Stop stressing yourself out. Stop stressing your kid out. Shit, stop stressing ME out.

Do what’s right for you. Do what’s right for your child. We have enough going on in our lives now, too much in fact, to allow someone who isn’t living in our home to dictate how we raise our children. Do you love your kid? Do you show your kid you love them? Are they fed, dressed, bathed, and healthy? Do your children have a roof over their heads and parents who love them? If so, forget the fear tactics and the ‘rules’. Do what’s best for your kid and stop judging others for a choice that may or may not be the same as yours.

Happy parenting, you all!

Punky Monster is Getting Too Big, Too Fast!

So, Punky is becoming a little person. She is still not saying a whole lot of ‘whole’ words – in fact, I’m pretty sure she thinks she’s a horse. NAY. However, she is independent and pretty darn strong-willed. She knows what she wants and wants it when she wants it. Basically, she’s a toddler that wants things.

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I have heard about the terrible twos, but she’s not even quite a year and a half yet. But, true to form, this kid is all me and I am very certain my mom cursed me to have a child 10X worse than I ever was. So, Punky is starting the attitude early.

But, she she’s sweet. She’s just so darn sweet.

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I have been yearning for the moments when she will stop being so busy and sit with me. When she will just cuddle on the couch with me and watch Bubble Guppies. Or sit in my lap and dance to the Fresh Beat Band. That time has come. She snuggles now and periodically hangs out ‘near’ me for moments at a time. She’s not content to be sitting for long, before she’s tip toed across the living room another activity that strikes her fancy.

She is mimicking more and that’s promising. As soon as I can communicate the potty concept, we are going to work on getting that diaper done. We live in a small apartment and don’t have a washer and dryer. We can pay to wash clothes, which is fine, but well, it’s expensive. So, while I could do the conventional ways of putting panties on her and letting it go, I just don’t have the laundry patience for all that right now.

Punky’s hair is getting LONG. So long, in fact, that people have suggested that I get it cut. That just breaks my heart. I don’t want to do it. So, I am torn. Her hair is all in her eyes and that makes me feel guilty. But, the back of her hair is so cute with curls started and I am afraid to cut off those lovely locks. So, if I cut the bangs and not the back, she will be rockin’ a not so awesome baby mullet. Not really my idea of a good parenting choice.

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In true Punky fashion, she hates when I touch her hair, so those cute little pigtails I have been able to get into her hair? Well, it’s a battle and a pain in the ass to sit through, for both of us. Lots of squealing and hollering … not just from the toddler. So, we have come up with a small compromise.

Barrettes.

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They look adorable and it keeps her bangs out of her eyes. It’s still a battle, but only for a moment and then as long as I distract her, she forgets there’s something in her hair and she doesn’t touch them. Unless something or someone reminds her they are in there.

So, she’s still climbing and she’s still eating like a champ. I just think it’s awesome how much she is growing and it still astonishes me that we have a toddler.

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Now, if we can check eating with utensils and potty training off the list. But, I am not rushing things. I want her to stay just as small as she is now, without the attitude! 😉

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. I know I am. And, now I really need to get ready to attend a Harry Potter themed wedding. This should be awesome!

Rachael

Why I Joined A Mom’s Group With Social Anxiety

First of all, thanks to all the wonderful readers who had something to comment about on my last post. I appreciate all the kind words and encouragement. I definitely appreciate the stories you shared as well, it made me realize that in this vast web of internet, there are people out there who have been through what I have or at least can relate.

So, I joined a mom’s group on Facebook in our local community with the main motivation of meeting new mom friends. I don’t really have many friends in general, in fact, I have ONE friend that I work with and we hang out outside of work. She’s Punky’s godmother and she and her husband, Punky’s godfather are freaking awesome.

But they don’t have kids. They don’t really understand that it’s acceptable for a mom to talk about poop all day. They don’t get that it’s super cute when my kid says “No” to the side table drawer she’s not supposed to touch, because that’s the word she associates with the side table. She’s heard the word too much in relation to that darn thing! I’m quite sure she thinks that’s what you call a side table a “NO!”

I love them bunches and they love Punky. It’s just not the same when you don’t have ‘mom’ friends. This is why I sought out a mom’s group. Actually, I didn’t really seek it out, it sort of fell in my lap. I met a girl at Gymboree, who I swear just has to be my twin in so many ways – personality wise. She gave me a card for this group and invited me to join.

I wasn’t going to. I actually backed out of the first meetup with the moms. I made up some excuse for not being able to go. Then I kicked myself for it. I know I have to socialize with other people – I have to be able to show Punky how to socialize. I have to teach her that it’s ok to meet new people. I definitely wouldn’t wish the anxiety of social situations on anyone, especially my daughter.

So, I spent some time on the Facebook group, participating in discussions and learning about these ladies. I learned that we all parent differently, but in the end, I like to think that’s a great little friendship we have all developed. We don’t have to parent the same way, we don’t have to like the same things, we don’t have to believe in the same things. We can still support each other as moms and we can still have fun together and let our kids have fun together.

The rest of the post is pretty picture intense, since we have been on a lot of little play dates. My favorite so far was the concert at the park. Punky got right up there with the big kids and I was so out of breath chasing that kid around we had to leave early! She just danced her little heart out, she had free reign to toddle all over the place.

We go to the park every Tuesday, unless it rains of course, and she gets to play with a little girl that I will nickname Cheeky for the sake of this blog. She’s quite the little ham. We had a new mom and her sons join us last week and it looks like we are scheduled to have another mom join us at the park next week. I’m slowly getting out of my funk and I am making myself get ou there for Punky and for myself!

Waiting for the show to start.

Waiting for the show to start.

So we got to the park about 30 minutes early. That gave her time to eat dinner on the make-shift picnic blanket and hang out with Mommy before the show. I really expected her to just sit there and listen to the music.

Boy, was I wrong!

Rockin' Rob is talking with a puppet?! What?!

Rockin’ Rob is talking with a puppet?! What?!

That Rockin’ Rob show is awesome. My kid is the one shorter than most of the others and she’s headed towards the puppet in the blue and white tank and shorts!

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I was able to stop her from assaulting and probably stealing the puppet. But, at one point she made a beeline straight for the drums. I was absolutely sure she would embarrass me in front of the entire town sitting on the grass behind me! I was already chasing her squirrely butt all over the place!

I tried to give her space to do what she wanted, it’s a concert for kids after all and she is a kid. I also didn’t want to lose her in the crowd, she’s shorter than I thought! The last thing I needed was to try and explain to K just why I didn’t come home with the toddler I left with!

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Awkward attempt at social interaction.

So, K stays at home with Punky, so we are fortunate to have a stay-at-home Mama. It’s not easy by any means, and maybe someday I will get into the reasons why and how we are able to do that. But, that’s for another post. The reason I bring it up, is because Punky doesn’t go to daycare and isn’t really exposed to other kids her age. Well, other kids period.

I have begun to notice, that’s she’s not sure how to act around them. This last picture is her attempt to greet the other child. She walked right up to this little girl, whom we don’t know and have never met and proceeded to smack her a few times. It was more like “petting” and she was giggling, so I knew she wasn’t doing it maliciously, this was her way of saying Hello.

The little girl was not amused.

Needless to say, I removed Punky from the girl’s personal bubble and we went on dancing away.

In the end, I realized that I am going to be ok. I am going to teach my daughter better habits than I have. I can only hope that anxiety is not genetic, and in some ways she is probably predisposed to have some sort of mental illness – it runs in both sides of her genes. However, it’s all how you nurture a child as well and whether or not you help flip that switch.

So far, Punky and I are bonding over these play dates and these experiences, so in the end, it’s a great thing and I am so glad that I decided to do it. The more I get out, the more I meet new people, the less awkward I feel and the less anxious I am.

This weekend is a pool party for one of Punky’s cousins who is turning 1 and the baby shower we planned for a friend had to be postponed as she is currently in the hospital being induced due to some high blood pressure complications. So, as soon as we have the fantastic mustache and bowtie baby shower, I will be sure to post pictures of the awesomeness I helped to create!

Anyway, have a good weekend everyone! I have a few bloggers I follow and a couple ladies I know in person –  who are in the TTC cycles, so sending you lots of positive vibes and sticky notions. I am sending well wishes to those pregnant mommies who are getting ready to pop and those who have just recently started your sleepless nights, good luck to you as well! Babies and pregnancy all around me and I am loving every bit of it!

The Lament of a Working Mommy

To Punky, in the wee hours of the morning, 

I find myself getting ready for work and I get to peek in on you for just a short moment. I brush my fingers through your hair and I tell you to give Mommy just a few minutes and I will get your bottle. 

While I fill the bottle in the kitchen, I can hear your soft cries, while you lay in your bed in the dark. I smile to myself, because one day you will know what it means when I say, “Give me a minute.” 

Every morning I return to your bedroom, the same way as yesterday, and you smile up at me though sleepy tears and we start the day with the same routine as days gone by. 

Clean butt and a warm belly full of milk and off to bed again you go. I kiss your cheeks and whisper “I love you” before I lay you back down and cover you up. I find myself looking down on you, just one last time before I have to close the door and leave for the day.

All day long, I think of you. I tell stories about you. You are the mascot of my team at work. They all look forward to new stories and pictures, OR, they simply indulge my new mommy ways of pushing you on people.

I count the minutes until I get to come home. 8-5 is way too long, before I finally get to drive home and eat dinner with you. Those 8 hours when I don’t know what you are doing. When I can’t see your little face. When you can’t drive me crazy and make me frustrated. 

At work I wonder what you are doing. I wonder if you are thinking of me. Do you worry that Mommy won’t come home? Do you look for me? I wonder what you think of during the day. What new things you are learning. What fun things you are doing.

I wonder what I miss.

Parenting with Social Anxiety

We are officially a Gymboree mommy and baby. We went to open gym yesterday and Punky had more fun. She was able to crawl around and cruise on all the different ramps and mats. She was able to get out of her shell and play. I just let her explore the gym and she one minute I am talking to another mom and the next, I look back and Punky is WALKING.

She just took off. I was so surprised. She didn’t get very far before she fell over, but I cheered for her and told her out great it was and she just smiled and crawled back to where she started.

This struck up a few conversations with some of the other moms in the gym.

This is where things got sticky, in my head. I have a self-diagnosed social anxiety, a quirk really. I haven’t been officially diagnosed, but I know myself well enough to know that when I am in a public situation, with people I don’t know, I start to panic. My heart starts to race and I start to clam up. I do take a small dose of anxiety medication, but really I don’t see a therapist for it. It’s just something that I live with and deal with.

However, in that moment, I had to reason with myself that I had already taken myself out of my house, to go somewhere other than work or Walmart. I went to a social situation and I brought Punky with me. If I was already here, and it was the second time, that I just needed to relax and let Punky have fun. Let myself have fun.

So we started talking. Usually, once I get to know people, I am pretty much alright. I just have to get to that point. I have to get out of my house and I have to make myself not to make excuses or re-schedule the events. When I learned about Gymboree, I made an effort to go because I wanted to allow Punky the opportunity to socialize. So, that’s the first step.

I have paid the fee and set up a commitment for the the next two months to attend 1 class a week. I reason with myself that I can’t waste my money with reschedules and excuses that don’t really exist.

Once we started talking, one of the moms invited me to their mommy group. They have play dates and mommy date nights, nights out. I was flattered that this woman was inviting me, and she seemed nice enough for sure!  The problem is me.

We are not the most conventional of parents. We are parenting without religion, we are parenting without gender roles, we are parenting as a lesbian couple. I don’t know these women well enough to know if they would be alright with these things. I don’t want to be the whispered about mom either. I mean, I am sure these women are nice and in the back of my mind, I know my fears are irrational.

I don’t really have mommy friends outside of work. I think it would be awesome. I want, so badly, to get out of my shell and do this. Not just for Punky, but for myself. I have taken the first step and asked to join the Facebook group. I will try and get to know these women in a Gymboree and Facebook atmosphere.

I don’t know these women and they don’t know me. Maybe once I feel them out in a public setting, I might get around to stepping out and actually meeting them at their houses or in a more intimate setting.

Like everything else, this is something I hope to work on this year. I want to get out and do things. I want to take Punky places, I want her to experience things and I don’t want my anxiety to limit the things she is able to do!

A New Kind of Coming Out

I have in the last few months, implied that I was Agnostic. Never have I said it out loud to anyone that I may come in contact with.  Family and friends may have gotten the hint, or they may not have. Unlike coming out as a lesbian, this was not something I could just show up with a partner on my arm and it was obvious.

Being Agnostic is something you have to announce. Well, it’s not really anyone else’s business, but there’s not a handshake (that I am aware of) or a pin to affix to my lapel to say, “I’m Agnostic.”

It’s also not something that I just want to bring up in polite conversation. I tend to steer clear of the topics of politics, religion and sex when I am talking to family or people at work. Some of my close friends know the truth about my doubts. They know that I am still searching for answers that I am not sure of.

While I didn’t grow up in a religious home, my parents and grandparents are indeed religiously affiliated. They are like most of society that I come in contact with. That’s okay. I don’t shun the religious. I don’t judge them. As I hope they don’t judge me.

So, here I am, bringing my religious beliefs, or lack thereof and doubts out in the open. I am having a new kind of coming out. It’s both exciting and scary at the same time. Last time I came out, my family was torn apart. My father didn’t speak to me for six years, and while this has been rectified, it’s not something that is easily forgotten.

This blog is my new life. My attempt to raise a morally conscious, kind-hearted child.  My navigation of religion and parenting and how to do it without damaging my kid. My partner and I are raising our daughter without religion.

When I said that to someone recently they remarked that I was going to allow my ‘prejudice’ to influence my daughter’s beliefs. This struck me as incredibly worrisome. My main goal is not to influence my daughter’s choices. I want her to be who she wants to be. I have come to realize I don’t know how to do that without indoctrinating her one way or another.

The comment really struck a cord with me. It made me re-think my parenting strategy. My partner and I have thought this through and we have discussed the fact that neither of us really believe in the teachings of the church. We both feel that the church has brought heartache to our lives growing up and has left us both feeling ashamed and evil.

My goal in raising my child is not to teach her that religion is evil. Or that religion is bad. I have no desire to tell her one way or another that God is real. I want her to respect other people’s beliefs. I want her to explore other people’s beliefs. I want her to expand her knowledge and be curious. I want her to question everything.

I want my role in her life to be open communication. About anything. This doesn’t include just religion. It means sexuality, relationships, education, self-esteem, everything! I want my child to come to me and ask me questions. I want to have discussions with her. I want to be honest with her and say, “I don’t know the answers. I can’t give you the answers.”

My partner and I are very different in our beliefs. Atheist and Agnostic are very different. However, we both understand the benefits of letting our daughter learn on her own. Explore on our own.

So, to those who love us and those who know us: We love you all, no matter your religious affiliation or not. Regardless of your beliefs and your political lean. No matter your relationship status, your gender, or your lifestyle.

I plan to help our daughter love people equally and accept people with an open mind and heart. I know my partner and I are both interested in raising our kid without religion, but that doesn’t mean without morals, boundaries, and love.

Confession: I’m Raising My Kid Without Religion

ag·nos·tic  

/agˈnästik/

Noun

A person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena.

Not to be confused with an Atheist. They are definitely two different things. I’m very irritable when it comes to labels, but in order to define the way in which my mind thinks, this is the only way I can really describe it.

Believe it or not, I just came to this realization not very long ago. I have been pushing the boundaries of my beliefs for a few years now, but as of just a few months ago, I have realized that I am indeed, simply agnostic.

Let’s back up a long time ago, to my childhood. I was raised in a semi-non-religious household. My parents were more interested in extra-curriculars to really have interest in God and religion and all that comes with it. As a baby, I was baptized in a Methodist church and would frequently visit the Methodist church with my maternal grandparents. Though, to this day, I still don’t really know what they believe and I don’t know what they taught me.

When my parents divorced and then re-married, I was introduced to a non-denominational church. Looking back on it, it was really more of a ‘modern Pentecostalism’ church. Live band, lots of awesome singing and music, speaking in tongues, and being filled up with the holy spirit.

I totally dug it. I also believed things about the world, that I would now find to be appalling. In fact, I am still ashamed of myself for feeling and thinking the way I did in those years. I would proclaim that sex before marriage was a sin and you would go to Hell. I had been known to make statements about how being gay was sinful and disgusting. (At the time, I knew not even one gay person)

I would stand in my pew and sing my heart out, during my early and late teens, and I would praise God for the graces he gave me. Which really, looking back wasn’t much. For the anonymity of my family and those that I was shaped by, I will not go into details, but I was a damaged child searching for answers. Searching for a place to belong. I was a kid searching for something or someone to accept me and take care of me for a change.

I moved out of my mother’s house when I was 17, finishing my senior year of high school away from my immediate family and still religion followed me. I found a church behind our house and I thought, “This is what God wanted. He placed me in this house and I found my way here, for a reason.” I attended the youth group and was part of many skits and plays that fostered the idea that if you didn’t believe in God and you didn’t believe in the Bible you were going to Hell and there was just no hope for you.

When I graduated high school, I went on to college. From there, I tried to find and seek out a religious group for which I could belong. I found none that were as inclusive and as welcoming as I did when I was growing up. I believe, now, that it was because in college, people are more open minded. People don’t feel as though you are black or white.

I met my first real gay friend and before I knew she was gay, I told her that I thought gay people would go to Hell. She came out to me shortly after and that was the moment when I changed my entire view on things. I also realized, I was gay. Though, again, I don’t really care for labels and in the grand scheme of things, who knows what I may or may not be.

I met my partner of 10 years while I was attending that same college and she is my first and only partner of the same sex gender. We have been together for 10 years, we have a beautiful baby girl who will be a year old in less than a month. So, in a sense, for label-sake, I am a lesbian. However, only because I couldn’t imagine being with anyone but my partner. Not because she is a woman, but because she is the person I was meant to be with. Should we, which is very unlikely, split, I am not sure which gender I may or may not find company with.

Anyway, once I found my partner, who is an atheist, I started to question what I really believed. My entire religious upbringing was very cut and dry. If you were gay, you went to Hell and God didn’t love you. Well, that’s a bummer. I had been loyal to Him. I had gathered Him followers. My father got out of jail and turned ‘jailhouse Christian’, so when I came out, he shunned me for 6 years. Why? The deacons of the church told him that if he allowed me into his house, I would corrupt his children, my younger siblings, and his entire family would go to Hell for ‘condoning my sins.’

This was another breaking point in religion for me. So, now, not only does the religious community tell me that if I’m gay (because I love a woman) I am going to Hell, but my dad (my only male figure and hero) agrees and has shut me out of his life (though has since come around and we have a great relationship, the damage to religious ideals is done.)

So, where does that leave me?

Well, today, I start this blog to discover what that means. I am not really sure myself. I have scoured the internet and communities to find like minded individuals like me. People who want to parent their child without religion, without forcing their ideals on their children.

How do you do that? I am not sure.

I want to arm my daughter with all the knowledge she would need to have an intellectual religious conversation. I want her to have answers when she is asked questions about her beliefs. I want her to be able to make her own decisions about what she believes.

I know, I know, she’s not even one yet and already this idea of religion plagues me. Religion has come to my life in times when I needed it most and made me feel amazing, but it taught me some very ugly things. I feel as though I was indoctrinated as a child and I don’t fully know what I believe anymore.

There are days when I feel like my questions about my beliefs will just send me straight to Hell. My thoughts on not raising my child in the church or discussing God and religion with my child will condemn us both to Hell. Then there are days, when I just feel like that’s ridiculous. That religion is only a form of scare tactics to keep people in line and fear is a great motivator for making people do the things you want them to do, or believe the things you want them to believe.

Where do I stand on this? I’m still not sure. I know that I doubt the belief in God and the teachings of the church enough to question it. I know that means I am in a sense, Agnostic. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I KNOW that God does or does not exist, but do believe, there’s a possibility that my entire childhood is a lie.

I don’t want that for my kid. I don’t want her to live in fear of her every move. I don’t want her to feel judged for every mistake. I don’t want my daughter to be told how to feel, groomed how to think.

So where does this journey lead?

Hopefully, where I want it to lead. A child who grows up knowing she can be who she wants to be, believe what she wants to believe. A child who is taught to love everyone and accept people for who they are. A child who doesn’t need God or the teachings of the church to define her or dictate her decisions in life.