are you my moms?

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

Make a Difference. November 25, 2014

Filed under: Rigby — areyoumymoms @ 4:50 pm
Tags: , ,

Dear Rigby,

Sometimes the world is a shitty place.  (Sorry, Mom couldn’t come up with a better word there – it wasn’t for a lack of trying.)  Last night after you went to bed, we learned that a grand jury could find no probable cause to indict a police officer for shooting an unarmed teenager in broad daylight.  At least six times.  With witnesses.  I’ll agree with many whose thoughts I heard this morning, that without seeing the evidence as the grand jury did, I don’t know all the facts.  But we’re not talking about a “preponderance of the evidence” or “beyond reasonable doubt.”  We’re talking about probable cause to indict someone for killing someone else.  The lack of decision in this case, and those like it, is something I’ll always question.  And I hope you do, too.

Last night’s decision hit me like a punch to the gut, and in addition to being angry, disappointed, and nauseous, I’m also twitchy and unproductive.  I’ve tried to figure out – for the sake of Michael Brown’s family and Trayvon Martin’s family, and all the other nameless grieving families out there – what I can teach you so that you won’t be a party to anything like this in your lifetime.  Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Learn from everyone.  Let’s be honest – the odds are pretty high that you’ll be bullied, picked-on, or otherwise called out for being different, simply because of your moms.  By the time you read this, I’m quite sure you’ll have already learned that your family unit is a loving, awesome place to grow up – but it is also not what some people consider “normal.”  On the other hand, your odds of being shot in the street by a cop if you aren’t armed are awfully low.  You were born into a diverse environment, surrounded by families of all racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.  But the inherent privilege that comes with being born white will stay with you no matter where we live.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you, and likely to themselves.  That’s one of the reasons we choose to raise you in the city; so that you grow up seeing more than just a reflection of yourself.  It is our hope that you will absorb all the history, beauty, and pain our diverse surroundings have to offer, and that the lessons you learn will stay with you for the rest of your life, informing your world view.
  • Speak up.  Don’t misinterpret this one.  I don’t want you to grow up with a misplaced lack of trust for authority.  You should respect authority in all forms, as the good guys do usually outnumber the bad.  But you should also ask questions of your moms, your teachers, your friends, and ultimately your government.  If you see someone being mistreated in any way, speak out.  If something seems out of place, it probably is.  If something appears unjust, it probably is.  Say the words you would want someone to say on your behalf.  And if no one listens, say them again.  Say them louder and with more and more passion until someone hears you.  If you’re smart (and I know you will be) you’ll realize that a choir of voices carries farther than a soloist, and you’ll get other like minds to join you.
  • Look through another lens.  I’m afraid the U.S. history curricula won’t have changed by the time you enter high school, though there’s more than a decade before that happens, so I suppose there’s hope.  You may get a teacher who talks about our government with a singular view, as though it is the same government for all constituents.  I hope I can get to you before that teacher does: our government isn’t the same for all people.  The world isn’t colorblind, so everyone’s lens has a different filter.  Once you’ve taken the time to recognize others’ perspectives, you will see that the criminal justice system is particularly flawed.  I think it’s important for you to learn now that the system which purports to protect us all was not designed with that objective in mind.  If you and your generation can master the idea of acting on your compassion for others’ perspectives, maybe you will be the ones to change the system for the better.
  • Value everyone.  Today you are 2.  You believe that everyone you meet is inherently good and that pretzels and juice can fix any problem.  This view will undoubtedly evolve over time as you become jaded like the rest of us.  But if you hold on to one toddler trait, let it be the unconditional love you show everyone you come into contact with.  Cling to the fantasy that love can melt the frozen heart.  If someone was taught to hate you because of who you are, show them that you were taught to love them, no matter who they are or what they say or do.  Let them know that everyone has value in your eyes.

One of our parental duties is to protect you.  We teach you how to look both ways when crossing the street, not to touch the hot oven, and to hold our hands in a crowded parking lot.  I’m grateful every day that there are tips I don’t have to provide: don’t walk too fast down the street (someone might think you just committed a crime), keep your hands out of your pockets in a store (someone might think you just shoplifted), or don’t hang out in groups of more than 3 (too many friends may be misinterpreted as gang activity).  It breaks my heart that so many of my friends have had to learn or teach these lessons.  If your Mama and I can raise a child who sees things differently, maybe we will have done our parts to make a change.

Go out into the world to make a difference.

Love,

Mom

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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.

 

 
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