Guest Post: Holiday Edition

Kids aren’t always little angels who teach us the meaning of family and commitment. Sometimes they are just weird, disgusting people.
This post is a submission by a guest author. To submit your own guest post, click here.

Sometimes, our kids are brilliant and profound; they say things that really make us stop and think; things that make us beam with pride and joy.  However, more often than not, they say things that are absolutely ridiculous, cause us to (try to) stifle our laughter, and/or wonder what planet they actually hail from (because it sure as heck can’t be this one).

Living in house with a 5 year old and an 8 year old, I find myself often speechless, my mind completely at a loss, trying to understand what is happening right now.

The things these kids say, seriously. WTF:

“Remember in my bedroom at my old house, when we used to have sleepovers, and we’d pretend we were fish and cut each other up? Wanna play that?”

Well, now I don’t know that we should go to this Chinese buffet so much as maybe I should turn the car around and we should go to therapy… Pretending to be fish, that’s cool, I’m a Nemo fan myself, but fileting one another? Now that’s taken a macabre turn.  I’m grossly curious at the same time as to just how this game is played. Wait, I don’t want to know. Yes, I do. No, I don’t. Well, kinda… I don’t even know how to ask a follow-up question. Go, be fish, my children, for tomorrow we have sushi.

“I forgot to put underwear on this morning.  My butt’s been naked all day. Wanna see?”

*pulls down pants in front yard*

Well, now the neighbors have seen your alabaster kid-bum and probably are wondering what kind of circus I run over here…Oh, you know, my kid just mooning the neighborhood on a random Tuesday night. No big deal, right? Modesty, what’s that all about?  I hope they don’t call the cops. Maybe I should bring them brownies tomorrow and try to explain our kids are just weird… And, just how does one “forget” to put underwear on? The teenage years are going to be horrible. Oh shit, just thinking about it… Drink, please!

“If I give the dog a booger will she eat it? I mean, she eats her own poop. It has to taste better, right?”

Well, I mean, this is kind of profound, right? It’s most certainly it’s logical. She does eat her own poop, and I guess I’d venture anything tastes better than that, but, it still raises a few questions for me:  What’s the thought process here? How do you even arrive at this question? Do you have a booger right now?  (If you do, please don’t eat it.)  I don’t even know how to answer this question.  Why are kids so gross? Is this even normal?

“How about we were too pretty so the bad guys let us out?”

“Yeah! But first they cut off all of our hair!”

“OK! Don’t eat the sparkles!”

What. The. Crap. I have no idea what game this children are playing. Anti-reality, obviously.  Maybe I should have majored in child psychology.  Is my daughter going to think her looks get her out of troublesome situations?  I really hope they don’t actually have scissors… I’m completely at a loss here.  Why can’t we eat the sparkles? Sparkles are usually so tasty… Wait, maybe the sparkles are some dastardly drug and if we eat them… oh, wait I’m not playing this game.

And they wonder why parents are crazy? Have you heard the stuff children say? If you haven’t, you’re welcome to come spend a Saturday with these two…

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Guest Post: Maintaining Self-Identity as a Parent

Our guest post this week comes from Fab Mama, writing about identity, visibility, and family. Interested in submitting your own guest post? Click here!


Once I became a parent my identity was forever changed.  When people ask me about myself one of the first things I say is that I am a mom (to the most amazing toddler on the planet).  I am also a partner, a teacher, a cis-gender woman, a former dancer (who still itches to move), a quiet artist (who is probably a closeted crafter), a baker, and so many other things.  But for the first year of Fab Baby’s life, my complex identity dissolved into one primary role: motherhood.  I nursed Fab Baby around the clock, stayed home during the day to care for her, washed her diapers, cleaned up her spit-up, held her as she napped, and co-slept with her.   The line between my end and her beginning was blurred; we were some kind of symbiotic being, breathing and pulsating together.

But, as we rounded the bend on Fab Baby’s first birthday I began to see that my “momminess” was showing.  I had a frumpy haircut, carried more post-baby weight than I felt comfortable with, wore a “mom” coat because my more fashionable coats still didn’t fit, and felt overall uninspired.

So, here we are 16 months into parenthood and I am just now regaining some of my former parts.  I’m going to the gym more regularly, I got some clothes that I feel good in, I got a part-time job out of the house, my partner and I schedule more time for me to be alone and do things that fuel me, and I got a better haircut.  I have realized that while being a mom is important, I don’t want that to be the only (or even most important) way that I define myself.

I imagine most first-time parents, especially stay-at-home and nursing parents, can relate to this temporary loss of identity.

In addition to temporarily misplacing my identity in mommyland, I also struggle with finding a way to self-identify in the context of my new family.  I have always struggled to find the right label for my sexual orientation.  When I dated a woman it was easy to say things like, “My girlfriend…” or “My partner, she…” and people knew I wasn’t straight without my needing to come up with a label for myself.  Now being the partner of a transgender man I am often misread as a straight lady.  This is even more so the case now that we have a child; people hear that I have a baby and a partner/husband, and assume that we are just your average got-knocked-up-the-old-fashion-way hetero couple.  This perception couldn’t be further from the truth.  I am proud to be a member of the LGBTQ community (even if my identity doesn’t fall under one of those labels).  Sometimes when I’m in a room full of straight-appearing folks I want to scream at the top of my lungs, “I’m not just like you! I’m different!”

But then, how do I talk about myself?  I can’t casually mention my same-gendered partner to out myself.  Sure I can use “partner” instead of “husband” when talking with people, but lots of hip folks – gay, straight, or otherwise—use this term now.  I could also reveal that I am married to a trans guy, but I hate that one of the only ways I can think of to self-identify involves outing my partner.  This is unfair to him, as he should be the one who gets to decide who is privy to that information, and it’s unfair to me.  It makes me feel less than a whole person and that I don’t have my own unique identity without my partner.

How do I talk about my family open and honestly without sharing information that isn’t mine to share?  How do I self-identify if my identity is wrapped up in other people?  I suppose the larger question, for people of all family compositions, gender identities, and sexual orientations, is: how do you maintain a sense of self within the context of a family?

Guest Post: We Start and End with Family

This post is a submission by a guest author. To submit your own guest post, click here.

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.” – Anthony Brandt

Five and a half years ago when my daughter came into the world, she was born into a family that loved her; she had a mama and an Ima who couldn’t wait to watch her grow up.

Fast forward five and a half years; a lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same.  E’s mama and I are no longer together, though we are wickedly awesome at this co-parenting thing (at least I think). E has grown up and is now a headstrong kindergartener with more energy than all the grown-ups I know combined. E’s mama and I have stayed close and we both have amazing partners. I’m proud of us all for the way we work together to give E what’s best and truly care for one another; our family has expanded in ways I never knew were possible.

That doesn’t mean it’s always easy…

No matter how much we might wish otherwise, no parent can be there to witness and share in every moment of their child’s life.  A child grows up and goes off into the world with increasing independence; you expect to miss (and later hear about in great dramatic detail) a scraped knee or a bruised feeling that happened at school, this or that, here or there.  Any parent is (at least semi) prepared for that.

What you’re not prepared for is what happens when you read about your kid on someone else’s blog.  Or at least I wasn’t when I read about my daughter on this blog.  A simple recounting of 5-year old ridiculousness over some wet bed sheets by Ethan (Mama’s boyfriend).    My first thought was “oh yeah, I can totally see E doing that!” Followed quickly by, “As her Ima, I should have been the one to deal with that level of ridiculousness.”  Hello, Parental Guilt.

At times like this, as a parent, I feel bad. Am I missing out on parts of my daughter’s life? She has another whole part of her life that only includes me in the peripheral co-parenting sense and sometimes that’s a really strange feeling to have.  There’s this nagging sense of guilt that sneaks up every once in a while because I couldn’t give my daughter that poetic “normal” happy family; both parents happily together under one roof. And then I promptly remember that “normal” is overrated. Our new normal, it works for us.  E has a family that loves her; she has a mama and an Ethan, and an Ima and a Lisa (and a Nathan) who can’t wait to watch her grow up.

In the end, it’s a different life, and a different family for E than what we had intended when she was born, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t wonderful all the same.

Guest Post: Raising My Fabulous Child

Iʼm Matthias, and Iʼm a single dad to two small tornadoes. My life is crazy on a good day and Iʼm learning and loving every moment of it. (This post is a submission by a guest author. To submit your own guest post, click here.)

 

ThumperStyle

It hurts to have this much style.

Thumper and I were at the movies, heading toward the concessions counter. Thumper was skipping along as usual and another moviegoer smiled and commented: “What a happy girl.” Then she took another look, taking in the pink outfit and short haircut and changed her mind; “…boy,” she corrected herself. Then looking to me perhaps for clarification, she revised further: “…person.” This is one of my favorite examples of life with my gender-playful child.

Iʼm a trans guy, and a dad for almost five years now. Iʼve always talked about my trans identity with my kids, Thumper (almost five) and Monster (two and a half). I started explaining it by saying I used to be a girl when I was little. And that was it. I mean, all sorts of things change. Change is something that kids are learning about all the time. How snow melts into water, how water freezes into ice, how seeds grow into plants. Whatʼs one more? To kids who have never had gender norms imposed on them, girls growing up to be men is just one more possibility in a whole world of changing things.

Despite my best efforts, my children categorize things as “girl” or “boy” things. However, they freely choose between those options. Thumper has been largely choosing girl clothing for a little over a year, since he was three. He went through this awful phase of not wanting to wear any clothes at all–which is fine and good except it was late fall, I didnʼt have a car, and we walked everywhere. I had to get him to put something on so I could get him to school and get to work. After a few mornings of loading him naked into a sleeping bag and buckling him in the stroller for this lovely 30-some degree walk, I was at witʼs end. It was around this time that someone gave us a bag of dress-up clothes, including princess dresses. It was indeed magical, the switch from daily wrestling matches to get my kid into clothes to him being excited to put on a dress to wear to school.

Over a year later, Thumper still prefers dresses, skirts, anything pink or sparkly. Iʼm happy to be a parent who celebrates my fancy kid. Iʼm glad that I have experiences that I can share with him, and that he feels comfortable talking to me about things like gender. There are quite a few resources out there for parents of trans or gender-exploring children, but I havenʼt found any specifically for queer parents. I have moments of feeling scared about what life might be like for him as he starts school, but Iʼm more excited to share in this abundance of gender with my kid!

So, queer parents, how do we encourage our children to think creatively about gender?

Guest Post: Super Sperm!

This post is a submission by a guest author who wishes to remain anonymous. To submit your own guest post, click here.

My partner and I are shopping for sperm. With all the sperm available out there in the world, you would think this would be easy. Cismen unload that stuff in frenzied sessions all year long. They literally throw sperm away all the time. But when we asked our good friend for a bit of his sperm so that we could try to have a baby, he said no.

I’ve never felt that my body was lacking something the way that I feel it right now. In the past, if I wasn’t able to change something about my body with available options presented to me, I could make peace with that. Somehow, this feels different. This would not be an “accident” baby. This baby is well thought out; names meticulously considered, lists compiled of anti-racist baby books, theories on how to talk to our child about trans stuff, should we make baby food or buy baby food?*, what happens if I get bored or isolated as a stay at home father?, how much screen time should they have, etc. You get the point. This kid is well planned for…..now we just need the kid.

We approached Kyle with compassion and neutrality. We did not beg for his sperm, nor did we make it overly emotional. He felt honored that we asked, but he quickly said no. He wanted his own children in the future, and felt that having a child who was “sort of” his would mess up something, emotionally, for his future kid. We respected his choice, of course. But that left us with the real problem of sperm. We do not know any other cismen that we feel comfortable being a known donor to our child. That simple “no”, however we love and respect Kyle, just cost us a minimum of $1,000 worth of: anonymous vials of sperm, trips to the doctor, and any insemination costs not covered by insurance – then multiplied by however many times needed to get pregnant. What an expensive rejection!

I went through several days of depression while I sorted out my feelings. I felt embarrassed that I had to ask another man for his sperm. Angry that he put some theoretical child of the future as a larger priority than his good friends’ current situation. Considering the costs of sperm banks, I felt anxious that we wouldn’t get pregnant right away and the costs would be too much with subsequent attempts. I felt angry that he can make sperm and I cannot. I feel angry that he has the choice whether to give his sperm away or not. I wanted to write this post in a letter form, addressed to Kyle, but I think that he’s been at the center of my brain for long enough. We are not waiting for anyone else to be part of this path to parenthood. Whatever the outcome, we are doing this together. I just hope we get lucky with some awesome anonymous sperm that does the trick! Hopefully at this time next year, I’ll be wiping up drool and longing for the days when I could sit down to write a blog post about sperm.

* Make!