Barely Afloat

I am pretty sure there is little else I can put on my shoulders right now, on my metaphoric plate of life. Literally, one more thing may cause me to topple over and explode – turn to dust, ash, disintegrate. And at this point, maybe that would be better.

In the last few months, I have developed what my therapist is calling Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. If you don’t know what that means, it means I am reluctant to leave my house – which is affecting my work attendance. By not attending work, affects our finances, as the only person making steady income to support our bills. Which means, we are very very behind on every bill we owe, including rent. A contributor to the reluctance to go to work is Kim’s health has been on the fritz lately, and I know I have discussed it here before.

She was having trouble walking, stumbling around, losing function in both her legs and her arms. She was becoming clumsy, dropping everything, the grip in her hands were gone. She was finding it difficult to see, focus on anything in her vision. She couldn’t hold our kid. She couldn’t help take care of her and it made me nervous to leave the house and leave the two of them without proper support.

It was starting to scare the shit out of me. Every doctor we went to see sent us to a new doctor, racking up more and more debt that we don’t have money for. When we Googled it, which remind me again, not to do that, I know – I know – we found that all the symptoms really pointed to something neurological, Multiple Sclerosis to be exact.

However, what we found out instead was Kim had developed Lithium poisoning. And Lithium poisoning is no joke. It can mess up a ton of things in the body and affects the body much like other neurological disorders.

We found out that due to her bipolar medication, Lithium, in three months, her kidney function was cut in half. She was being poisoned by the medication that was supposed to help her. This contributed to the symptoms that we originally were concerned may have been multiple sclerosis. The neurologist had her Lithium levels checked and they were well beyond a safe range and the psychiatrist took her off the medication for a bit.

So, while, currently we are seeing some improvement since she has been taken off it, she is still experiencing some of the symptoms on a smaller scale – like her hands still shake, but she is at least able to sign her name somewhat legible now. And, we are happy to know that she doesn’t have MS, but instead she was being poisoned.

**Which I know sounds terrible, perhaps even the same kind of terrible, but at least it’s been caught and likely reversible! I am trying to look on the bright side here!**

After the last three months of craziness with Kim’s health and my concern for leaving her alone with Punky, I wasn’t going to work and was focusing on taking care of things at home. What does that mean? It means we are so far behind in our bills and finances that we have to move out of our apartment and go live with Kim’s mom in their basement. Yes. We will be basement dwellers with a two year old. I’m so very not pleased about this, mostly because I feel like such a damn failure as a person, a partner, and a mother.

I’m 30 years old and we are going to pack all our things and go live with her parents. It continues to sadden me. I am so grateful that we have this option and we aren’t instead on the street somewhere, but it’s really a very humbling experience to know you can’t support your family or your kid the way you want to. I am still very grateful to have the support of her family around us right now when things are so out of whack mentally and physically with both of us. We both decided to break at the same time!

I’m also disappointed in myself that I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity for so long that I broke our finances and was no longer able to be counted on to be a provider for our family. So while this is not the most ideal situation I would want us to be in, we will have more support from Kim’s parents while she is on the mend from her ordeal medically and I will be feeling more confident in leaving them alone – so that I can go back to work and start making money again.

Luckily for us, and one of the prouder moments of my last few months, Miss Punky isn’t the wiser of what’s going on. Its always my concern that she will never knew the struggles we go through – not like I did when I was growing up.

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Instead she doesn’t know what’s going on, but she’s still going to school, which we have had trouble paying the tuition on, but I just can’t let it go, yet. And she’s making friends and her teachers say she has really come out of her shell a lot! How in the world do I take that away from her!?

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She’s interacting, exploring and overall thriving in her toddler-age and that is something I am most excited about. So even though we have some troubles right now, the bright light of our life is always Punky, even when she’s driving me nuts – with whining and tantrums – a little hug or cuddle and my heart is unburdened a little and my spirit is uplifted just a bit more.

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We are in the process of packing up our belongings and finding a storage place to keep them for maybe 6 months or so, hopefully by then we will be back on our feet and house hunting. Rental houses, but house hunting nonetheless. I really don’t want to live in an apartment again. I would love to have Punky living in a house with a yard, where she can grow and thrive and play. And … maybe get that puppy she’s been asking for, thanks to her Mama’s suggestions!

So, while we are not really on the path I would like to be on for our future, it will only be for a small bit, a little while and in the end, the goal is to be better than we were to start with. Hopefully. Here’s to a big hope. So while this post may be full of what I feel like is overwhelming depression, we are wading in a pool of uncertainty, I’m not even sure where to begin – the future is in sight, the goal for better things is in our minds, but it sure does feel like a long way away!

Maybe Miss Punky will keep our spirits light by learning to play the piano! Or … just banging on the keys of the piano she discovered at Papaw’s house.

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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.

A Creative Mind Need An Outlet During Toddler Terrorist Attacks

I am very sure that I have more ideas in my head than I can possibly get out right now. If you have been reading for a while, you know I have a full time job as a customer service representative in a PBM Call Center. In my free time and usually in the evening and weekends, I also run an Etsy shop for printable invitations and decorations. I have been designing for the shop for almost a year with a great vision of making sure that parents-to-be like Kim and I had a resource to share our joy as much as straight couples.

I’ve always had some two mom invitations for baby showers, but for some reason I never thought about pregnancy announcements! Today, in a stroke of creativity, I came up with some pretty cute pregnancy announcements for the LGBT community. I only share this on my blog, because I know there are a lot of two mom households who are trying to conceive and it you are one of them, check out the link to my shop on the sidebar for discounts to blog readers.

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Click to go to shop listing

I also would love to have any suggestions or extra awesome creative ideas from the readers of this blog. I’m hoping to grow my shop to be more than a hobby. Someday, maybe it can be something more of a job, since my full time day job is getting me down lately. Just in general, it’s not challenging me and I feel pretty damn stale right now. At least this shop, my second job, my second baby – allows me to get the challenges and the creative juices flowing – the goal I have been desperately trying to get out of my day.

I just wish I could make a living on it.

I find it adorable when my daughter watches me work, from my work station on the couch from my laptop in the living room.

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In Punky news, she’s been what I like to lovingly refer to as a “Tiny Toddler Terrorist”. Literally, she’s been acting really weird. One minute she’s fine and the next minute she’s screeching for no reason at all. It’s messing with my sensibilities. Seriously. I can’t figure out what the problem is. Usually, I lay her down for a nap and she goes to sleep and it makes me think that she just wanted to lay down. She’s totally mobile, so I don’t know why she can’t just lay her little self down on her own. She climbs in and out of the bed all day, but she has to have Mommy lay her down in it to sleep.

It’s really the strangest thing ever.

She gets frustrated easily and when she gets mad about something she can’t do or can’t get to work right, she throws herself on the floor and bangs her head on the floor. There’s concrete under there, and I’m positive it hurts, though she looks at me LIKE I SLAMMED HER HEAD into the floor. For real?

All I can do is stare at her in disbelief sometimes.

She’s really so cute in public and for that I should be grateful, since frankly – most toddlers spend most of their energy being cranky and ridiculous in front of other people. It’s like an embarrassment factor that’s built in on toddlers. But, get her home and she’s a ball of “NO” and screams and throwing things around. She’s kicked the cat more times than I’m willing to admit and I have tried both time out and smacking her booty.

Neither seems to make a difference.

It seems like now is the time for the terrible twos and they have come 2 months early. She’s pretty much doing everything early. Teething, talking, colors, eating, weaning. Literally, she’s just doing everything early and I’d be ok with it, if she wasn’t being a royal pain in my ass.

And then there are cute moments, like this when she cuddles with the giant sock monkey her godparents got her.

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