are you my moms?

the musings of yet another lesbian couple on the journey of mother(s)hood

Suck It, Cancer. December 11, 2014

Filed under: toddler — areyoumymoms @ 1:55 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Dear Rigby,

Tonight as I write this, I’m on the other side of the country.  I haven’t been able to hold you, tickle you, or chase you in 4 days, and it’s torture.  I’m sitting in an airport, getting ready to board a flight that couldn’t possibly get me home to see you and mama soon enough.  I travel all the time for my job (you know…all those times you see my suitcase and say “bye-bye”), and you probably don’t even notice that I’m gone, since you and your mama have so much fun together.  But I notice, and I’ve noticed more on this trip than any other.

Being away from you and your mama right now is just not ok.  You see, Rigby, this week the world lost 2 beautiful souls.  I’ll say it right out loud: cancer can suck it.  I’m not sure how or when we’ll explain death to you.  I don’t really know how or when we learned about it.  But what splinters my heart into a million pieces is that you won’t remember the throaty bursts of Jane’s laughter or her buttery alto (uh…tenor) voice.  You won’t know that Tanya was all smiles…and trouble (the best kind).  These were two women who said what they meant and loved big.  And we’ll never forget them.

I suppose that’s what living through someone else’s death is about; the best thing we can do for those who have passed is to make sure they live on in people who loved them.  And part of that is teaching you about them.  I’m sure there’s more you should know, but right now, while it’s still more raw than I want to admit, here’s what I want to tell you:

Tanya was a character.  Beautiful inside and out, she left an impression on everyone she met.  She never pulled punches, even when she probably should have.   She smiled.  All the time.  Even when she was upset, she still wore a snarky, toothy grin on her face.  She was smart, caring, and compassionate.  Tanya would pass a stray dog and the next thing you knew, she was on her way to the pet store for a bed and some food, having absolutely no room for another pet, but no room in her heart to leave it behind.  I want you to learn from Tanya how simple it can be to do something nice for someone (human or animal) and turn their day around – or even their life.

Jane was bigger than life.  She was one of my musical soulmates.  You spent much of your first year listening to her sing, both in our house at her voice lessons and at Nunsense rehearsals.  And I know you loved her voice as a baby as much as I still long to hear it today.  And she surely loved you.  She was among the first people to know that we were trying to bring you into the world, and sometimes I think she, and others like her, willed you into being.  She held you before you were even one day old, and she loved watching you grow from that minute until her last.  Jane laughed easily, and was hands-down one of the funniest people I’ll ever know.  Learn from Jane that a song, a belly laugh, and a bear hug can make anything better.

Jane and Tanya were both fighters.  They endured chemo, radiation, and experimental treatments.  They prayed.  They sought as many opinions as they could.  One of the toughest lessons to take away from this is that sometimes you can give it your all and it just isn’t enough.  Tougher still?  You fight anyway.  You do it for the people you love and those who love you.

Jane’s repertoire has been the soundtrack to my life for the past several days.  Sometimes I hear her singing one of the art songs we worked on, other times I hear one of her favorite showtunes or a jazz number she sang with Amy & Larry.  But mostly it’s a number from Hairspray that she made her own:

There’s a road we’ve been travelin’,

Lost so many on the way.

But the riches will be plenty

Worth the risk and chances that we take.

There’s a dream in the future.

There’s a struggle that we have yet to win.

And there’s pride in my heart

‘Cause I know where I’m going and I know where I’ve been.

 

I’ll teach you this song someday.

Love always,

Mom

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Rigby’s Birthday Letter (#2) August 21, 2014

Filed under: Birthday,Rigby,toddler — areyoumymoms @ 4:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

Dear Rigby,

Well, it’s official.  You’re 2 years old.  I really can’t believe it.  I’m looking at the first picture I ever took of you – I was still being attended to by our wonderful doctor when I snapped this one of your mama holding you and smiling the biggest smile I’ve ever seen.  And in a little while, I’ll be sitting on the floor while you use me as a human jungle gym and tell me all about your day.

Last year I wrote to you about all the things you accomplished in your first year of life.  I hope to make that a tradition, though I’m sure eventually people will get sick of seeing it on the internet and I’ll just jot down a few bullet points on a post-it to save for your future spouse to laugh at.  In the meantime, here’s a look at year 2.  It’s been a good one:

  • People still talk about your hair.  And they think we’ve never had it cut.  This means they’ve never had to try to keep you distracted through an estimated 15 trips to the salon.
  • I’m always amazed by your smarts.  Before you turned 2, you could say your alphabet and you knew the letters and some full words by sight.  You can count to 10 (13 on a good day), point to about 10 body parts, and your favorite TV show is still Jeopardy.  I’ll take smarty-pants toddlers for $1000, Alex.
  • As smart as you are, you took your time finding your words.   You understood us early, and you babbled for months in a dialect that can only be called Rigbese.  But it wasn’t until you were just shy of your second birthday that you started reliably using words we could recognize.  The list of your first real words is pretty diverse: dog, apple, violin, please, thank you (you say “ta” like a sweet little British kid), flower, cookie, and house.  Once you started, the words came like a flood.  Every day I hear you say a word I didn’t know was in your vocabulary.
  • One of my favorite Rigbese words has been “BEEE-AAAHHH.”  No, you are not requesting a lager in Maine.  This is your word for please.  Don’t know why.  Don’t care.  It’s just cute.
  • One of my least favorite Rigbese words is “pettit.”  I can’t begin to figure out why, but this is your word for ball.  We still call it a ball.  And you must still think it starts with a “b” since you say “A – APPLE, B – PETTIT, C- CAT” etc. when reciting your abc’s.   Why?  Why on earth?  And when will you start using the real word?  For now I’m just going to assume some of the Baby Einstein lessons in Spanish have kicked in and you’re trying to say “pelota.”  Here’s hoping that by the time I write birthday letter #3, you’ll have moved on from that one…

    DOH!!!

    DOH!!!

  • You are a truly fearless world explorer.  I watch in horror as you run, climb, and generally plow your way through life without so much as blinking an eye.  Meanwhile, your mama just beams with pride.  I have learned so much from both of you in this regard.  You both remind me every day to approach life without fear and just to jump in.
  • Your adventurous ways are on full display when we’re at the beach, or any other fence-free environment.  You run barefoot through the yard, into the bushes, under trees, and out onto the sand, directly into the water.  And then you turn right around and run back the way you came without a care in the world.  Sorry about that time I was too busy taking action photos to prevent your face-plant.  Though I’m not sure you noticed; you never even batted an eye…just wiped the sand off your hands and kept on running.
  • This year you got sick for the first time.  (And before you readers start typing your comments, yes – we do know how truly blessed we are to have such a healthy boy.  We thank the stars every day.)  Once I realized that you weren’t seriously ill and started recognizing the signs of an impending up-chuck, everything was ok.  And I hate to say it, son, but it was better than ok.  For 4 days, you just wanted to lay with your mama and me.  We held you for hours in a way that we hadn’t been able to since you were a baby, and haven’t been able to do since.  I’d never wish that you were sick, but I know it’s going to happen.  And now I know what a special time that can be, and how warm it felt…not just your feverish little body melted into my arms, but how warm and just right it felt having you turn to us for comfort.
  • Whether it’s a new word (ahem…if you can say “fork,” you can use one), a random unsolicited hug around my neck, or when I walk in to wake you up in the morning and find that you’ve stripped off your pj’s, you still surprise me.  By the way, that includes the tantrums you now occasionally throw in public.  I’m never ready for those.
  • One of the most important lessons I learned from you this year is that Monsters, Inc. is a true story, or at least part of it is (if you haven’t seen it, watch it; I’m not going to apologize for “spoiling’ a 13-year-old movie).  Sully & Mike learn that a child’s laughter can supply the energy required to power all of Monstropolis.  And they’re right.  At the end of a day, no matter how long or frustrating it has been, I come home to you and mama.  When we sit on the floor and read books or play with Big Battery Drainer Elmo…I mean Big Hugs Elmo, your tiny voice energizes me.  When you crawl on me and make sweet little pretend snoring noises while we “nap,” I’m totally refreshed.  And when I get to exercise my right as your parent to find and take advantage of all your tickle spots, your uncontrollable giggling completely re-charges my battery.  It’s exhausting being a parent.  But just when I think I can’t go another step, your laugh pushes me on.  Thanks for that.

Rigby, you have changed who I am.  And what’s more, you’ve changed who I want to be.  I am forever better for having you around.  You’re my boy, blue.

Love Always,

Mom

 

 

A Mom by Any Other Name August 11, 2014

Filed under: Rigby,toddler — areyoumymoms @ 4:01 pm
Tags: , , , , ,
Have you guys seen my mom?

Have you guys seen my mom?

I’ve been called a lot of names in my life.  Those of you who know me well are probably having a bit of a laugh recalling the things you’ve called me (to my face or behind my back), or have heard others hiss at me.  Even at MKL’s and my wedding, one of our bridesmaids noted in her toast that “everyone knows” I’m a bitch.  More than one friend calls me “the boss.”  So, right.  I’m that girl.

It doesn’t really bother me to be called names.  But it has historically bothered me to be called something other than my name.  Don’t call me “sweetie” or “baby” if you didn’t put the ring on my left hand, and especially don’t do it if you’re a business colleague.  Don’t assume I’ll answer to “ma’am.”  While I appreciate my southern upbringing, there’s just enough yankee blood coursing through my veins that I will assume you think I’m old.  And I’m not allowed to be old.  I have a toddler.   Don’t think, mother, that you can give me a name with the express intention of calling me by a nickname.  I let everyone know at age two that wasn’t going to fly, and I still only answer to that abbreviated version of my name when it’s used by two of my cousins.

There’s an exception to this rule that I’ve been waiting my whole life to envoke.  I’ve always wanted to hear some tiny voice calling “Mom” or “Mommy” and know that it was meant only for me.  It’s one of the milestones I’ve been looking forward to since finding out I was pregnant.  MKL and I toiled over what our child would call us: Mama and Mommy, Mom & Mama, Mimi & Momo?  The choices for lesbian maternal monikers are endless.  We decided on Mama (MKL) and Mom (me), and ultimately knew that he’d call us whatever he comes up with.  But I didn’t think he’d come up with Dad.  Or Dog.

The saddest truth a couple of lesbian parents will face is that the vast majority of children say “dada” as their first syllable.  In a straight-2-parent household, this is awesome.  Daddy gets to brag that his new child has called him by name first.  Unfortunately, daddy’s brags are usually crap.  It’s just what kids say first.  It’s not that they favor one parent over another – it’s just easier to say “dada” than “mama.”  When it happened in our house it was hilarious.  For a minute.  For a month, even.  It was his cute little parlor trick he did for company – watch me call my moms “dad” and see how much it bugs them!!  And then we had to teach company not to request that trick anymore.  After a few months it became something that would push all kinds of respect-our-two-mommy-household buttons we didn’t know we had.  So eventually he stopped.

“Dog” was Rigby’s first official word.  We followed any utterance of “dog” when directed at our dog with “what’s your dog’s name?” in the hopes that Rigby would one day yell out “STELLA.”  Instead, we’ve inadvertently made him associate the word “name” with the word “dog.”  Now if you ask him “what’s ___’s name?” the answer comes quickly: DOG.  It makes no difference who you’re talking about: me, MKL, Stella, his grandparents, his godmother…everyone’s name is DOG.  If you prompt him and remind him of the name you seek, he’ll say it happily.  He just doesn’t do it unsolicited.  Until last week.

1 year and 356 days after I introduced myself, Rigby finally called me by name.  He saw me coming up the driveway after work and said “MOM” just as clear as a bell.  Of course, I was outside the house at the time, so I didn’t hear it.  But I saw his little mouth move and watched MKL jump up and down, so I know it happened.  He called her “MAMA” a few hours later.  So it seems he does, in fact, know who we are.

Since last week I’ve spent a lot of time focused on getting a repeat performance of his mom-o-gram.  I’ve heard it a few times, though not with the vigor he used last week.  I find it so strange how this affects my sense of identity.  I felt like I became a mom when I got pregnant.  And then I felt it again when the pregnancy got scary.  I felt it again when we had baby showers and opened cards addressed to “Moms,” and again when I started my maternity leave.  Of course I felt a surge of mommyhood when I held Rigby for the first time, again when he choked on a piece of fruit, and even more when he was sick for the first time and just wanted to be held.  But there’s something truly special about Rigby’s acknowledgement of our roles in his life – as though he has just figured out who MKL and I really are.  I know that I’ve been this sweet child’s mother for almost two years.  I know that we bonded as mother and son and that he knew my name long before I knew his.  But now when I’m in the store and he wants to tell me something, he can call me by name and everyone around us will know he’s my boy.   I’m not his Dad.  I’m not his Dog.  I’m his Mom.  And with every time he says my name (yes, even when he whines it or yells it at me later in life) I can assure you I’ll fall in love with him all over again.

 

Moms Say the Darndest Things July 31, 2014

Filed under: Rigby,toddler — areyoumymoms @ 4:37 pm
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The other day as Rigby started to wake up, he began that telltale whine that let me know something he wanted was out of his reach.  I went into his room to find him looking over the crib rail, exclaiming, “TOWER! TOWER!”  And sure enough, 2 prized lego stacks (towers) had made their way out of the crib and onto the floor.  A few minutes and a diaper change later as I was pouring his cereal, I heard myself say something I never thought I’d hear, let alone say: “Please don’t put your legos in the sink.”  Whaaa?  And then I realized MKL and I say strange things like this all the time.  So today, here are a few of my favorite things we’ve said since becoming moms.  They’re all funnier and weirder if I leave out the context altogether but I’ve included it a few times just in case any of you work for DFCS.  I don’t need a case worker showing up…

"You're bored?  Here - play with Stella's leash."

“You’re bored? Here – play with Stella’s leash for awhile.”

  • “We don’t eat seashells.”
  • “Don’t throw your milk at the dog.”
  • “Are you playing with the bubbles on your pecker?” 
  • “Do you have to put your head in there?” (you don’t want to know)
  •  “You have a Cheerio stuck to your butt.”  (this has been said to every member of our household, human and canine alike)
  • “Stop humping the baby!!” (yes, we’ve had to say this to our female dog)
  • “Eeeewwwww – don’t step on the condom!!” (on a walk around our particularly colorful downtown neighborhood…)
  • “Sure – come on in here while I go potty.”  (if you have a toddler and haven’t said something like this, please leave a comment and let me know how you’ve reclaimed your right to privacy in the bathroom)
  • “No, no, no, NOOOO – don’t put your hands in the poop!!” 
  •  “In fact, I am not your Dad.  I am your Mom.  Please stop calling me Dad.”
  • “Please stop pointing that at me!” (no, not his finger…baby boners start very early, and if you’re not prepared, the first one you see will continue to blur your vision for weeks to come)

 

Remember that show “Kids Say the Darndest Things?”  I can recall sitting with my grandmother and laughing hysterically at the cute things the children used to say (“Who was George Washington’s wife?”  “Miss America.”)  And now that I have a child and the world is just aching for another reality show, I think someone should just follow parents of toddlers around and catch the insane things that come out of our mouths on a daily basis.  Toddlers lend perspective.  And, thankfully, context.

 

 
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