Sunday, October 7, 2012

Becoming a parent part 2 : realizing nothing else matters

The following occurred after F was 2.5 months old. Quite a jump time wise from my last post but who said I had to think in logical order right?

Every year at the beginning of January, I get second Christmas in the form of the SXSW festival confirmed bands list. I spend the weeks and days leading up to it checking and re-checking to see if it's come out earlier and reading the rumored lists. After it comes out, I skim through list quickly first to flag any known loves and then spend the next two months listening and rating bands from "I wouldn't even see for free" to "Get there at 10am, stake out a space at the stage front and wait till the play at 6pm". I scope out every free show listing and spend several days making schedules and contingency plans. I take the whole week off from work, which happens to coincide with the week S gets off (imagine that, free taxi) and spend Wed - Sunday chasing musicians.

You could say I'm a little obsessed. I say I saw Bon Iver for free in a small club years before he won that Grammy. Tomato, tomat-oe.

This year, we knew I would have to reign it in a little given that F would only be 2.5 months old but I thought that would just mean I'd go to stuff earlier in the day and be home mid-afternoon. With my epic planning, I could make that work and just see my top tiered bands.

And then. I found out Gossip was playing a rooftop show. Everything else didn't matter. In the world of me, there are 3 bands that I consider the holy trinity. Two of them no longer exist (Sleater-Kinney, Le Tigre), the Gossip is the third. I've been in love with them since I was 17, blasting out "swing low" in my car. If there's any one famous person in the world that I want to spend time with, its Beth Ditto. To say I was excited, would be an understatement. I was sick over it. So excited and worried I wouldn't get there or worse I'd show up and they wouldn't let me in. I've been that kid crying in public before after being told no (damn you Bookpeople Tori Amos signing), I didn't want to do that again.

I replanned so I'd only be gone one full day for shows and then would only see the Gossip the next day. It was set.

I went down for the first day. The bands had good energy, the crowds were just the right mix of not overwhelmingly too many people but still enough people that you don't feel stupid standing there watching a band with 5 other people. There weren't any gangs of young college girls standing in front of me with their phones recording every show. I was excited to see the headliner.

And yet, I left early.

I didn't give a damn. It meant nothing. All I wanted was to be at home with that kid, playing on the living room floor.

I still had every intention of going to the Gossip the next day. I was getting up early, doing some yard work and then heading down there. Sarah was disappointed she couldn't go with me (the one and only time shes every disappointed to not see a band with me, trust me) but had given me the go ahead anyways.

It got later. and later. and later. I was sick with dread of missing the show. I was sick over the thought of leaving my family at home. I was paralyzed, entranced by watching myself tell Sarah I wasn't going. A massive shift in the seismic plates of who I thought I was happened right before her eyes.

It didn't matter. They'll be here again. Or they won't.

For the next few weeks, I couldn't listen to them. I avoided Facebook in case any of my friends went and posted anything about it later. I didn't google it. I was disappointed in not having seen them.

I could have been there. I could have been front stage center. It would have been epic.

But yet not disappointed in the decision I made. As amazing as it might have been, spending an hour with my son was way more important and fulfilling. It was the most important lesson I've learned about being being and becoming a parent.

Someday, I'll just take him with me :)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Getting to Parenthood

There was never any question of whether or not S and I would have children.The real question was, once we began seriously dating, would I be able to reach the same point? Kids had never been a given for me.

Lots of things like traveling, going to see live shows and *gasp* spending my money on things for me all sounded way better then being a parent. Plus, there's all that pesky baggage that comes along with growing up queer in a less then hospitable small town environment.

So how in the world did I end up here?

My next few posts will be all about getting to parenthood. But there's got to be a first step somewhere.

Looking back, it took several iterations of life for me to reach parenthood. It's not a straight path but instead a series of seemingly unconnected events that, upon further investigation, are found to be utterly necessary for you to have progressed from point A to point B.

At first, I thought it all started sometime shortly after beginning with S, but contrary to my own popular belief, the first event which could possibly signify my own wants changing gears occurred several years earlier.

When I left for college, my grandparents purchased me a car. A Pontiac Sunfire which, as I got older I fondly referred to as the death trap (it's true check out their safety ratings). After a few years, I found myself in the position of being able to purchase a new vehicle and I seized the opportunity with gusto.

Such choices! I didn't have an extraordinary budget but I did have enough to spend a solid 6 months looking at different options. What did 22 year old just about to graduate from college me choose? A fun SUV? A V6 2 door convertible? Or even just a sporty 2 door coupe?

Nope. I picked a used 4 door sedan. The quintessential boring but practical choice. A top of the line V6 Honda Accord with one previous owner who filled out the maintenance records in the manual. (Thanks for writing down the stereo code Bob!).

It had tons of space for schlepping....well only myself around, leather seats for any messes my friends made in the back, extremely high safety ratings and it could feasible last me a decade and still look good. And the stereo system was awesome.

It was my first "adult" decision, even though it was book-ended by a whole host of awful decisions. And in the back of my mind when I made it, I totally thought "huh, this thing has hooks to put in a car seat. that might be convenient later".

I still have it. It's great for schlepping the family around, I don't worry about anything spilling, I've paid it off and have only done minor maintenance. It still looks good and it's perfect for where I'm at now in life. Imagine that.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Itchy Fingers?

No, it's not a medical condition.  My dad loved to travel.  My mom always described him as getting itchy feet when he was ready to get moving.  My mother did not like travel, they compromised by traveling all over the country in an Airstream.  He got to see new places, she got to take her home with her (like a snail). I am like my mother.  I do not get itchy feet.  

I get itchy fingers.  I have recently been overwhelmed by the urge to craft and create.  I'm finally getting enough sleep that I don't collapse into a TV induced coma after getting Felix to bed.  I spent months without any desire to create (I guess creating a human satisfied my crafting needs for a while), but now my fingers absolutely itch with the need to make stuff.  

Sadly, I only have about 1 free hour each day and that's really time I should be cleaning up the kitchen or making lunches for the next day.  To avoid cluttering the house (and my brain) with a bunch of half finished projects I am instituting a new craft rule:  I must totally complete a project - or deem it a failure - before acquiring the materials for and starting a new project.  I tend to get excited and ahead of myself so this is hard for me.  But necessary considering how little time I have.  

My current project is our downstairs half bath.  It's a tiny, sad, undecorated room.  But never fear, I have big plans! 

  1. Create canvas art a la: Southern Belle *Done. Didn't turn out exactly the way I wanted, but it will work.
  2. Fun new trashcan. 
  3. Chevron the walls (yes, I just turned chevron into a verb) using this method: Offbeat Home
  4. Paint and install already owned Ikea mirror glossy white to match the white cabinet above the toilet and to provide a little shelf storage.
  5. Change light fixture.
  6. Switch hardware to something a little less builder grade.  Probably Ikea.
  7. Add a natural fiber rug for warmth (still on the fence about this one)
Worst Mood Board Ever.  Made in Paint.

Since I know all the non-existent readers of this young blog will wait with bated breath to see how my bathroom turns out, I will post projects as I complete them.  Starting with the art and probably a few embarrassing before pictures of the bathroom in question.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Jesus, I mean Felix

Felix's very first Christmas looked like this:
Bah Humbug!

He was born at 2:59am on Christmas morning.  

My due date was December 17th and our midwives told us repeatedly that the average length of pregnancy for a first time mom was 41 weeks, 1 day.  December 17th, 18th, 19th...that's right 25th.  Being a 2-mom family, we totally could have prevented this.  We were all prepared for several IUIs, surely our very first wouldn't result in a pregnancy.  Unless it means our kiddo will get stuck with a Christmas birthday.  My whole pregnancy people gave me grief about his inevitable birthday and all I could say was that it wasn't supposed to work! 

Of course I recognize how lucky we are.  After following so many blogs in the years gearing up to our journey and watching so many moms go through heartbreaking fertility problems, I was preparing myself for the worst.  Compared to the alternative, having a baby with a Christmas birthday is hardly a problem. 

But it is.  I don't want him to spend his life feeling like his birthday has been skipped.  D and I have spent months brainstorming the best way to handle Felix's birthdays in the future.  

  • Half birthday celebration?
  • 2nd Parent Adoption celebration?
  • Birthday ON Christmas?
  • Birthday a couple weeks before Christmas?
  • Birthday after Christmas?
So many options.  This is the stuff kids end up in therapy for..."I had to share my birthday with the entire world!" Currently celebrating with a party a couple weekends before Christmas and one special birthday present amidst the Christmas presents on Christmas day is the winner.  

What would you do if you had a Christmas baby?  How would you make their birthday special?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Moms don't get sick leave

For the first time since Felix was born, D got sick.  We've both had colds but nothing that took us truly out of commission.  She missed work (which never happens) and the only time I saw her leave the couch was to move to the bed.  I have never before experience such fear of getting sick myself.  Since I work with kids I have a pretty tough immune system, but the thought of contracting her stomach bug was terrifying.  Felix doesn't understand "mommy's sick" and I can only imagine the havoc it would wreak on my milk supply.  I have wiped down every imaginable surface with Chlorox wipes and Lysoled every door knob and faucet. 
Cheese toast, kidney beans and strawberries
D and I have always made a fantastic team and the day-to-day with Felix seem to be no exception.  Nothing made that more obvious than having her quarantined to the couch watching bad TV while I did everything. For the last 2 days I have had a 100 21lb side kick attached to my hip. We ate dinner alone, I did bath and put the Felix to bed before washing his diapers and packing his lunch for the next day.  
At least the dog was well fed
This morning Felix had to got to play on the bathroom floor while I showered and got dressed.  It's truly amazing how much noise that chatter phone makes when drug back and forth across the tile floor.  As much as we've encouraged his mobility lately I was incredibly grateful that his only modes of transportation include rolling slowly across the room and scootching even more slowly on his belly.  He can get up and walk when D is feeling better!  
Note the teary eyes - I was taking a picture instead of pickinghimuprightnow
We gave up on breakfast and left the house early so we could stop at my favorite coffee shop for where we shared a bagel.  Rumor has it D is feeling much better so maybe I'll have a little help sanitizing the entire house.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Every single day

Eight months into parenting and I finally feel like I might be coming out of the shell shock that is "having an infant". We're sleeping more (thanks to crying it out). We've hit our routine stride (and come to terms with the fact that the kitchen will be perpetually filled with tiny dirty dishes) We've found ways to still spend time with each other (and not always just by browsing the Internet together) In short, life has become incredibly normal. And yet, everyday I still get struck with that same awe I felt the moment I picked him up for the first time. It's not every minute of every day anymore, it doesn't keep me awake at night anymore but it's most definitely still there. Everyone says it will be awesome. No one tells you just how awesome every single day will be.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Adding to the clamor

This past week, we celebrated Felix crossing the 8 month mark. To say it's been a wild, amazing, crazy, enlightening, beautiful, trialing journey is an understatement. We've learned so much and feel as if we've lived several lifetimes over the course of the past year.

At the start of our journey, I searched out fellow "non-bio mom's" and new parents in similar situations. I subscribed to blogs, joined a message board and checked out the handful of books written from the "other mother/non-bio/lesbian dad" standpoint.

I then watched as my lovely wife checked out book after book on pregnancy and birth, as she laughed and joined in on The Bump's forums and followed along with several other "two moms" blogs who were expecting around the same time. She quickly found a community, both in the hetero and queer arenas.

I, on the other hand, felt like I could hear my voice echo on any of the non-bio forums and never quite connected with any of the "standard" non-bio books I picked up. They were great for "here's my story" resources but I couldn't help thinking HOLY BEJESUS I'M HAVING A KID IN LESS THAN 9 MONTHS! I need something to tell me what I'm supposed to be doing to prepare NOW.

I kept digging for a resource that was at least gender neutral, if not queer slanted. With the surge in "cool dad" resources and a gazillion gaybies happening just in my own social group, I couldn't believe there wasn't something more out there. After a couple of weeks, I gave up hope, bought "Dad's Pregnant Too" and mentally crossed out the Dads/Dudes/"He"/Guys. It ended up being a wonderful resource, quick, engaging, amusing read with tons of tips but I couldn't shake the feeling that I wanted something that was just for me.

This isn't to say there aren't books and resources out there, there's a small handful of standbys and new stuff comes out every day. I just want MORE. I want forums and journals and inclusive books, I want baby books I can buy without placing a special order, I want gift baskets with options for all family types, I want onesies that say Sweet like Mom, Handsome like Momma. I want ALL of it.

This..well this isn't all of it. This isn't even most of it. This is a start. Another hand raised up, another pen to paper, another voice added to the clamor.


I am an incredibly lucky mom.  

Daycare is a reality for lots of families.  It's not necessarily a bad reality.  I've worked with small children for 15+ years and I'm a huge advocate of high quality care.  But it is time apart for families. These families drop their kiddos off at 8:30am and pick them up at 5:30pm just to take them home and put them to bed.  Felix is no different, however I get to come with him.  I am the director of the program he attends.  Being able to see him every day is worth the low pay and every single dirty diaper I've changed over my last 15 years.
Felix's first week of school, 2 months old
At 8.5 months old, our day at school typically looks like this:
8:30am - arrive at school.  Unpack diapers, put away lunch, fill out daily sheet.  Then I sit on the floor with him and play for a few minutes before heading off to work.  
10:30am - Felix nurses and goes down for a nap.
noon-ish - Felix gets up and eats his lunch.  I usually come visit for a little while on my lunch break.
2:30pm - Felix nurses and goes down for his second nap.
5:30pm - I collect Felix's diapers, lunch container and daily sheet and we head home. 

Of course, as he gets older and goodbyes get more stressful I'll get to spend less time with him, but I'll still get to spy! And since he started at 2 months old, we've had over 6 months of this wonderful arrangement.  He is also able to nurse and I never have to pump (yay!).  I don't take this arrangement for granted for a second.  I know that I am an incredibly lucky mom. 

Felix today practicing pulling up, 8.5 months old

Monday, September 3, 2012

So it Begins

Whoa. Ok, so girl meets girl, girls buy a house, get married, buy sperm, get pregnant, have a baby.  Now what?  It's an old story with a twist that's becoming more and more common.  Join us, we're forging our family.