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Mother’s Day? Pshaw.

That one day that sells so many Hallmark cards and Russell Stover chocolates is coming up. Six days. What do they call it? Oh yeah, Mother’s Day.

I like the idea behind having a day to pamper Mom and serve her breakfast in bed. It’s a peaceful enough thought. But once put in practice, it terrifies me.

I do not want my three- and five-year-olds serving me breakfast in bed.

First of all, they don’t know how to make coffee. Not that I could drink it, anyway, I’ve given it up for the moment. So they’d have to pour me juice. Knowing them, they’d put bubbles in it (carbonated water – not so good with the orange juice).

Then comes the actual food. I imagine B.R. can make a mean toast, and J.J. can spread a mean jam. I’ve watched her do that much. She really ends up wearing it pretty well. Upon realizing that they cannot scramble my eggs or heat up my oatmeal, they’d probably decide that Mama would really like a bowl of cereal with too much milk. They wouldn’t be all wrong.

Now comes the trick of serving breakfast in bed. Up the stairs, past the big ornery rottweiler puppy, two hands on the glass, and two hands on the bowl. I’m sure the toast would be getting pretty soggy by now. Trying to figure out how to open the door with both hands full and the dog waiting for them to drop something. Leaning on the door and realizing it wasn’t really shut in the first place, stumbling into the room and sloshing just a little juice on the floor, making the dog very happy.

Poking mom and yelling at her, “Happy Mother’s Day!!” thereby wresting her from the clutches of a steamy dream involving Pickle and performance art, and also scaring her half to death until she sees the two smiling, jam-stickied, angelic faces holding a very messy breakfast out to her. As she sets the dishes down and risks the transference of jam onto her own person with hugs and kisses, they wait eagerly, expectantly for mom to take that first bite.

And she does. And takes that first sip of bubbly orange juice, too. And she relishes the sweetness of her babies.

“Mama, can I have a bite? I’m hungry.”

Inevitable.

And then I’d have to get out of bed and start the day any like any other. There’s no pampering for this mama. And you know what? I think I like it that way. I can’t fathom what I would do with myself otherwise. I’d go a little crazy from boredom, I think.

Besides, if I’m not hanging out with them, that means that they’re with Pickle, and they’re already picking up enough of her habits. I’m pretty sure B.R. just learned how to belch the national anthem. I don’t think I need to know what kind of tricks they can do with the gas that comes out the other end….

So Hallmark can take their Mother’s Day and stick it with their crumpets. I get more than enough appreciation every other day, even if it means waiting until 1 am after the youngest is done puking and seeing that peaceful expression that says, “Thanks, Ma. I really do feel better now.” Or the oldest to say, “Mom, I need to lay down. Will you come rest with me?”

Those moments are so small, easy to miss if you don’t know to look for them. And in each one of them, there’s a thousand thanks.

And then someone has to go and fart and the moment’s lost forever. Ugh.

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Resistance is fertile

It’s a beautiful Spring Day and I haven’t quite motivated myself to begin the Spring Cleaning I mapped out yesterday. Something about finishing that second cup of coffee seems more of a priority.

I woke this morning to find the cable out. A mixed blessing. I’d love for the cable to go out in the middle of the afternoon so I can’t use Nick Jr. as my crutch, a means to keep the kids busy while I go about my chores in a less painful fashion. But first thing in the morning? I’m just not awake enough to answer the myriad questions my two little ones chuck at me, rapid-fire.

So I thought.

In an attempt at mindless fun – well, mindless to me, anyway – I broke out the Chutes and Ladders game from its perch high up in the closet. I’d love to make it more accessible to the kiddos, but we have a rottie-shepherd mix with a rather destructive tendency towards oral manipulation of all things Not His. Except shoes, but that’s another matter altogether.

Today’s game was a lesson in sportsmanship and patience. Big Red learned that you just can’t destroy the pieces when the game’s not moving fast enough. And J.J. learned that even when Mommy wins, she’s still on her team, cheering her on. Isn’t that just precious?

We then moved on to the next lesson in patience – this time, testing Mama’s as well. B.R. was given a Disney puzzle collection for Christmas, and we haven’t really had much opportunity to work on the puzzles. Last week, we made a family affair out of piecing together Finding Nemo. There were two adults and one child working on it then, so it was fairly peaceful and simple.

Today, not so much. Two children and one adult. Not quite the same balance. J.J. fully accepted the concept of finding and putting together all the edge pieces first. B.R. immediately recognized all the pieces that belonged together and wanted to put them together right away. Mama was conflicted.

It’s always been my intention to let the little guys do things their own way, make their own rules as they go along. As they’ve grown, however, I’ve realized two things. 1)I’m a stickler for order: I like to know my place in things, I like to know exactly how to go about what I’m doing. And, 2)Following directions is a necessary skill for everyone, and games and puzzles are an excellent way to practice said skill. Not that one should always blindly follow directions – I feel like I do a pretty decent job of encouraging the kids to find alternate solutions whenever possible – but there are certain situations in which a certain sequence of steps must be followed to achieve the best outcome possible. First aid comes to mind. De-escalating a conflict is another. Basic day-to-day tasks, such as cleaning: you don’t want to sweep the floors before you wipe off the counters, or you’ll end up sweeping twice.

At the same time, not following directions as they’re laid out before them teaches my children to exercise creative problem solving, to think for themselves. And it’s more fun that way.

I think I struck a balance. I insisted, for simplicity’s sake, that we do the edges first. But I had the kids take turns deciding which edge they were going to work on. Then when it came time to flesh out the puzzle’s interior, they each chose the aspects they were going to work on. Once we got to the innards, B.R. was ready to go to town. He knew exactly which pieces were going to go where. He was able to use his spatial reasoning skills in the way that worked best for him. My daughter, being younger, needed a little more coaching, and so my role with her was a bit more involved.

Then, a quarter of the way through the puzzle, the cable came back on. Go figure.

Today is Easter. I’m a pagan, and my kids celebrate the Sabbats with me. Ostara was on Tuesday, and we didn’t really celebrate. Time slipped away, as it often does when one is mothering small ones. But today is a beautiful day. And the Spring Cleaning seems a perfect way to celebrate.

No egg hunt for us. Eggs as a symbol of fertility have been co-opted by the masses to represent chocolate and gluttony (which, I admit, I’m a sucker for). Probably no gardening either, as we live in an apartment and have no yard, and container gardening turns my green thumb black. I’d thought about taking some tea lights down to the river and floating them away with our wishes for Spring, to honor an old Springtime celebration – but that doesn’t seem very friendly to our already-sick river.

Ostara is all about celebrating fertility and growth. I think today, with all my limitations, I will focus on growing my babies and celebrate their ever-expanding brains.

Today, we’ll turn off that T.V. and finish the puzzle. And Spring Cleaning? They love to help.

(After all, if we’re going to hunt for anything, wouldn’t dust bunnies be appropriate for the day?)

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Pint-sized Pride

Oh, messy life, indeed.

Last week was Pride Week in my hometown. Put aside, for the time being, the fact that I’ve never understood the need to celebrate Pride in April, when it’s traditionally celebrated in June most other places. I know the college town atmosphere pervades everything, including common sense. This isn’t about that.

Put aside, too, that the whole thing is (sorry, friends, I love you dearly…) kind of a joke. A bunch of 21-23 year-old kids hollering and waving rainbows does not Pride make. And some of the chants sound like they might as well be yelling, “We must, we must, we must increase our bust!” (Actually, wouldn’t surprise me if a couple of my friends were actually saying that).

I don’t mean to harsh on it – I do love the Pride march, it has its own little place in a cobwebby corner of my heart, a corner that’s been neglected in these cynical, jaded times. This year, I’m a little bitter, and it has nothing to do with Pride itself. The week’s events just happened to be the unfortunate stage.

I am a lesbian. But first, and foremost, I’m a mom. I’m a lot of other things too, but for the intents and purposes of this brain-spew, we’ll stick mostly with those two labels. Normally, I keep labels for jars, but now and then, they help clarify matters a bit. So.

I am a lesbian, and I’m a mom. I have two beautiful kids, who are too young to have any sort of clue about sexuality or sexual identity whatsoever – As It Should Be. Three and five. Their world consists of dinosaurs and rainbows and beetles and ghost stories. I’d like to keep it that way as long as possible.

Now, being a mom who is also a lesbian, there are certain realities I have to face. One is that, no matter how normal a life I make for my children, they will one day realize that having two moms is something slightly out of the ordinary. Whether they realize it on their own or (goddess forbid) peers pick on them for it and bring it to their attention thusly, I want them to be ready. Many years ago, when B.R. was still less than a year old, I scored a freebie: a book titled How Would You Feel If Your Dad Was Gay? It’s a cute book, complete with bad ’90’s haircuts and all. It’s a story of a brother and sister whose dad is gay, and word gets out at school. The aftermath is chaotic, and affects a boy whose mom is a lesbian. It’s generally a book for older kids, but my kids like “big kid” books, and my daughter was the one to pick it out. Given the timing of her choice, and my inclination to squeeze the potential to answer their life questions out of every possible opportunity, it seemed like a good idea.

The kids were all ears. Asking tons of questions – and answering them too. I asked B.R. what he would do if someone gave him a hard time about having two moms. Without missing a beat, he quipped, “Tell them they’re a lunatic.” While he was at his dad’s a couple of days later, he called me, “Hey mom, what’s that thing when two people who love each other can’t get married? You know, the one we read about the other night?”

“You mean like when a man loves another man?” I asked.

“Yeah, but the woman version of that. What do you call that?”

“Oh, that’s a lesbian,” I answered. Next moment, I heard his sweet voice announce to a room full of adults, “My mom is a lesbian!” And then he said his thanks and goodbyes – my job was done.

To me, that’s what it means to celebrate Pride with kids. Emphasize the normalcy of it all. It’s just another way to love. They don’t need to know about the conflict and the hate and fear just yet. They’re little. Let them follow beetles around and chase rainbows. (Interesting that I keep coming back to rainbows)

The day after we read the book – which I had intended and expected to be their only real exposure to Pride for the week (though I apparently should have known better) – they went to their father’s house. They had a very busy week, apparently participating in a lot of Pride Week events on campus. I got to hear all about it from my friends. Stories moms don’t like to hear, about their baby wandering around looking for his parent, repeatedly, in a very grown-up setting. And I don’t want to think about how close they came to the Phelps family – I’m just glad B.R.’s reading is still limited.

The week was hard. I had to pay attention to my breath, and only my breath, to get through it. The closer Saturday came, the bigger the knot in my stomach grew.

Saturday was the day of the march. He had plans to march with the kids. I had a terrible feeling about this.

Before I go any further – for those of you who don’t know me, I calls it like I sees it. Sometimes I come across as rude and tactless, and those who are inclined to will call me a bitch. I don’t mind. I am what I am, and it is what it is.

So I had a terrible feeling. Why? Why wouldn’t I want my kids to go parading downtown with a bunch of fags and dykes, shouting, “Ten percent is not enough, RECRUIT, RECRUIT, RECRUIT!”? Because they’re three and five, and that world is not theirs. Yet. It may never even be. The choice should be left up to them.

Their dad… I don’t know how he identifies. And it wouldn’t be very radical of me to decide for him how he should identify. But this much I do know. For whatever reasons, it feels to me like he’s making a mockery of my way of life with the way he presents himself. He dresses the way he does because he wants to make a statement about patriarchy and oppression – not because he feels more himself in those clothes. He takes the kids to Pride events to “show our support”, not to revel in the sense of unity it’s supposed to promote.

I don’t want my kids to feel like MY way of life is being forced on them by myself or by anyone else. And I’m struggling, because there’s a part of me that wants to tell him, “This is MINE. Go find your own lifestyle.”

These feelings were only reinforced when B.R. told us he didn’t like the march because it was boring. And when he shared his feelings with his pop, he was told, “We’re here to show our support. We’re staying.”

I was always told, as an activist, that support is only effective if it’s not forced. If we respect our limitations, then we can make the most of what support we can offer.

I don’t even know who he thought he was trying to make the kids support. I hope to high hell he wasn’t trying to show his support of their lesbian mom – or that they would even infer that. I get enough support from them when they call me up to ask for a definition of a word they read just the other day, or when they tell me they love me, and even love my girlfriend, too.

They’re three and five. They can support me by scrounging for pine cones and jumping in puddles and chasing rainbows. They can support me by reminding me that we’re a family, just like any other.

They can be proud of me for being their mom. Nothing else about me matters to them.

They’re three and five.

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Men, Childcare, and Parenting

David Gilbert, a political prisoner incarcerated for clandestine actions carried out by the Revolutionary Armed Task Force, recently put out An Open Letter to “Men in the Movement.” In the letter he calls for “for movement men to get fully involved in childcare.”

I really liked his letter because oftentimes radicals will say that men need to become more involved with things like childcare so that women can get a break and participate in meetings.  This is true, but it usually takes on a weird tone and sentiment.  It was most obviously articulated at an anti-sexist men’s discussionI attended at an anarchist conference in which a guy said, “women shouldn’t have to be the ones always doing the shitwork.”  The fact that things like childcare are seen as cumbersome chores to so many men, even if they are taken up dutifully, is seriously problematic.

Instead, Gilbert points out that the most important reason men need to step up and take an active role in childcare is because that this aloofness to children

“damages men the most because we cut ourselves off from the regular interactions that can enrich our lives in many ways. Children ask the questions that make us think more deeply about everything, exude the energy that buoys our spirits, embody the potential that gives us hope for the future.”

In a patriarchal society, we as men have oftentimes abandoned our ability to love.  In her book The Will to Change, feminist writer bell hooks testifies that

“No one hungers for male love more than the little girl or boy who rightfully needs and seeks love from Dad.  He may be absent, dead, present in body yet emotionally not there, but the girl or boy hungers to be acknowledged, recognized, respected, cared for.  All around our nation a billboard carries this message: ‘Each night millions of kids go to sleep starving- for attention from their dads.'”

I guess that quote speaks more to what children miss out on when we are absent from their lives- so it’s a double edged sword.  When we are not actively involved in the rearing of children in our movements we miss out and so do our kids.

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Procrastination – the word of the day…

I’d like to say I’m a busy mom, too occupied with doing puzzles and reading stories and organizing playdates, and that’s why I didn’t post my Friday picture on “Picture Friday.”

I’d like to.

But I won’t.  The reality of it is simply this: I’m a spacey mom with a touch of laziness.  I remember to do things and tell myself I’ll get to them after this project is done.  I leave said project midway through to tend to a broken fixture.  I repair broken fixture and hear cries of, “Mama, I want ‘nuggles!” and realize I have terribly, horribly neglected my children for half an hour.  So I read them a story.

If I manage to stay awake through the whole thing or not get distracted by a story of my own.

This is life in my world.  Every moment is one adventure after the next.  It’s a journey – you take that first step heading west, and somehow, you end up south-by-southeast by day’s end.

Let this photo be a warning to you – if you love Smurfs (or are terrified of food dyes), be careful when you tell your children they can have a snack as soon as you’re done cuddling your lover.  They hear you say, “Mom will be right down, let’s just help ourselves and save her the trouble!”  And the next thing you know, you end up with this:

Smurfs for snack

(For the record, I am a food-dye-paranoid mama.  The blue food coloring they imbibed came from a package we used to dye “oceans” they made in jars).

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I loved this birthday party that Micah went to yesterday. It was perfect. I watched a bunch of kids “decorate” cakes and then run around a yoga studio for about two hours. Hula hoops, loud music, bright colored frosting all over faces, and tons of giggles. Pretty much the highlight of our week.


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Picture Friday.

So I was talking with another mama, Abby, who intends to write on here. We were thinking some pictures from our week could be a really awesome thing to every Friday. I was inspired by Amanda Blake’s blog soulemama.com where she captures a moment every week that simply says it all. It is a moment to savour and requires no words of explanation. I love that.

If you have one of your own moments to share please link in the comments!

Here is my moment from this week:

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