• Mother Hens

    We’re a lesbian couple in central Virginia and we're raising a child. Oh my god. We had a child. Read the rest over at Butch…and Pregnant.
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We are sliding headlong into a giant pool of sweet independence. I hope RR is enjoying this as much as I am. I think I can see the place where the constant effort to keep another person alive and unharmed ends and the cautious optimism that they will reliably do this for themselves begins. I’m pretty sure the pot at the end of this particular rainbow is Staying Home Alone.

We’re solidly in the realm of drop-off birthday parties. There are still some parents that hang around but, for the most part, the packs of children maraud at will interrupted only by generous smearings of cake and ice cream. She can make herself a sandwich and get a glass of water so even though it’s pretty much prison, she’d survive. She goes to her bedroom and plays or reads for more than an hour at a time. I suspect she wouldn’t even notice if I weren’t in the house. Yesterday I was outside for an extended period of time, first talking with the fence repair guy and then clearing out all the possum pieces some renegade vultures had left lying around.* RR was utterly unconcerned.

If she had a phone, we could practice calling 911 and that will be the clincher for me. She turns eight (I KNOW) in June and I think that’s old enough for her to stay home alone for short periods of time. I get giddy thinking of the things I can do. I can go to the grocery store unaccompanied! I can go to the grocery store without having to listen to RR’s sass about how she doesn’t want to go! I can go to the gym! I can take the dogs for a walk with my headphones! I can have a cup of coffee and write in a coffee shop like an adult! It’s a whole new world.

This is exciting territory, folks.




*I’d like to point out that we live IN A TOWN and not in some unchecked wilderness. IN A TOWN where I should not be besieged by vultures.


Another Last Time

There have been a few things I was looking forward to in RR’s life. For example, I could not wait for her to grab her tiny feet with little plump fingers. Some of them have been happy pops of joy, like the first time she came home muddy or the first time she called me mama. Some of them are bittersweet last-time moments that meant swapping out the baby to get to the child. Seemingly overnight she shrugged off the pacifier, the sippy cup, the car seat. I soaked up every last moment when she wrapped her little hand around my index finger when we crossed the street. I know we’re minutes away from the first time she tries out “mom” and the first meal she cooks us is closer than I think.

There are the sad milestones we have passed: the death of the first pet and the first grandparent. There are the less sad ones that are coming: the first best friend fight, the first public speaking nerves, the first ask-for-money bailout text. There are the ones I wish we could skip: the broken heart, the first car accident, the first unrealized dream. And there are happy ones waiting just off stage.

I have been waiting for the moment she’d fall into reading. It’s every bit as rewarding as I thought it would be to find her curled up in a chair, head tipped over the page, finger tracing along under the words. We got her a library card and set up a lamp by her bedside so she could read at night. We navigated the unanticipated need to gently scold her for reading while a friend was over and agreeing on a reasonable time to turn out the light and go to sleep.

I was prepared for the first time she slipped her hand into mine instead of holding my finger. In the months leading up to it I took a breath and cemented the memory just in case that was the last time it happened. I was prepared for the last bath and we all know that I began hoping for the last diaper change years before I did it. Not bedtime though. I completely missed it.

All of a sudden, she wants to read herself to sleep instead of sitting on my lap and reading along. Did I miss the last time she snuggled against me? She is fine with a kiss goodnight and a remind to turn the light off when she’s done reading. Did I miss the last lights-out lullaby? I didn’t commit them to memory. I wasn’t paying attention. She slipped right past me.

I encourage her to run far and run fast. To climb out of my reach and disappear around corners. I try to let her fight her own battles and trip over her own feet. But I wasn’t ready to let go of bedtime. With RR there’s always a chance of a slide backwards after a big surge like this but it’s a small consolation. It’s part of growing. Mine not hers.


What Life Looks Like

I’m not sure what I expected seven and a half years in. I don’t think I thought that far ahead. In five years, we moved to a new city, found new jobs in new professions, bought a house, and had a baby. I think you’d agree that all available brain cells were occupied.

Today it all feels very adult. We go to work. We save money. We pay off student loans. Debra found a new job that’s both professionally rewarding and more time consuming and I’m often finding it’s just me and RR at pick-up, at gymnastics, at morning drop off. We work hard. We remark on how we actually do the amount of work commensurate with our salaries. You wouldn’t think that’s remarkable or unusual but there have been times where one or the other is more disproportionate and we’re both sitting at an even, if tiring, balance. We come home. She cooks, or I do. RR consumes popsicles and apples while decompressing over Captain Underpants. I frequently catches her reading, knees flopped open, hair hanging around her cheeks as she digs into a new chapter. One of us washes the dishes. We watch TV and read before going to bed. We aren’t as lively as we used to be. Or at least less frequently. On Sundays, we have dinner with my mom.

That makes our lives sound pretty dull and sometimes it feels that way. But, RR gets taller and more lovely. Her art is sometimes startlingly good. She tells jokes. She knows how to wink after a bit of sass. Debra is in a few bands and some weeks she’s out of the house several evenings. I tell myself I should use those evenings to write but mostly I read, then go to bed early. I suspect I’m the one that’s dull.

Maybe it’s just that we’re so close to March. It’s a dreadful time of the year. I guess what I’m saying is, seven and a half years in is pretty good. Even if it’s not very exciting.

RR > Gloom

I’m gloomy lately. It’s the best word for it. A sort of foggy shadow. You can still be happy in the gloom but the bone deep pressure of it is still there. I wish that it was more like passing clouds on a sunny day. I’d even take those days when cold wind and sudden storms gets replaced by a chilly blue sky. And, you guys, I complain a lot and loudly about those days. Ugh. Cold. Instead here I am in the gloom.

Like I said, there is still happiness and a lot of it. For example, RR is potty trained. When I typed that I wrote, “RR hasn’t had an accident in…” and then I realized that we are past the days of counting accidents like injuries at a construction site. We still ask, she still checks, but none of us are sure about when exactly the last day was. For those of you that got here by searching (and lots of you do, judging from search terms), the answer to “when will my child be potty trained” is, in our case, seven years old. We survived it. I wasn’t sure we would. I’m not sure how we did.

Also, I love being her mother. Every single day. She’s independent and delighted with each new milestone she achieves. She can make her own sandwiches, getting down supplies from the highest shelves. She charms strangers. When we stop at a light or go through a drive-thru it’s not unusual to find her batting her eyelashes and getting a genuine smile in return. She’s funny. So funny. She has timing, and delivery, and loves a ridiculous joke.

So far, the genetic gamble is paying off. Of course, it depends on a heavy dose of luck and the donor being truthful, but we did our best to engineer a little girl who looks like me, doesn’t struggle with her size, is chill by default, and has an easy talent for music and rhythm. Of course, she does love to read Captain Underpants books and watches too much My Little Pony. I spend too much time telling her to chew with her mouth closed. I lose my patience. She has the regular allotment of sass. I am over the moon in love with my family. And so, I have indulged myself and included the following. The gloom, you guys, it doesn’t lift but it lets life happen.

Tell Them You’re a Mama

The last two weeks have been a slog. Not caused by any one thing in particular, just the general press of life day in and out. I’ve been so busy at work that my wrist started to hurt from typing. Then there was less typing and more meeting and my ass started to hurt from sitting. Finally there was more teaching than sitting or typing and I got a cold for my efforts. These are not actual problems*. Still, September has been oppressive in its unrelenting pace.

And then I got a UTI and I hated the world. Especially the insurance company whose machines were down and couldn’t process my prescription. I spent any free time I could find (and that is rare these days) working on it, including the ride home where I called both the main insurance company (we can’t help you ma’am) and the prescription insurance company (the system is just down, ma’am, I don’t know when it will be back). RR was deeply concerned about me because, as you know, all things urinary are in her wheelhouse. Her little brow wrinkled more and more as I talked and she kept repeating, “Just tell them you’re a mama!” as if that would magically move mountains.

Sometimes Being a Mama feels like moving mountains, and sometimes you take a moment to ignore the burning when you pee and realize how grateful you are to have someone who thinks it’s the most important job in the world.


*I live in Charlottesville


For us, seven is the magic age of “what will I be when I grow up?” Now, her mother and I are pretty good examples for both doing what you love and doing what to have to in order to earn money while not killing your soul. And while we don’t want her to fall prey to the Dream Job syndrome (i.e. nothing is good enough if it isn’t The One), we also don’t want her to feel like she has to pick a path, prepare for it, and stick with it. At least, not forever.

The first job she reported wanting was a queen. She announced this about a year ago along with her plans for future residency (our basement) and children (two, twins, girls, who her mother and I will take care of). That was six. At seven we have a more practical job – an art teacher. Both residency and child-rearing strategies remain the same. I say practical with a bit of hesitation, I admit. She’s certainly talented, but is being an art teacher really a viable career choice? But then again, who am I to think it might not be? Besides, she’s seven and she’s still working on core skills like reading, math, and toileting (do not even get me started).

Art teacher sounds more realistic than queen and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was actually “art teacher with a tattoo artist side hustle.” Man, does this child love to draw on herself, others, walls, curtains, floors, etc. She loves the look of body art generally and begs for face-painting at every opportunity. She doesn’t ask for much else so this is a noticeable (and consistent) request. In fact, if she had free access to temporary tattoos, she’d plaster them all over her body. Which brings us to her latest efforts.

While at the pool this weekend, RR disappeared from view for 20 minutes. Debra was with her and looked all over but it was crowded and she was missing. When she reappeared, she had a large, glitter tattoo on her forearm spelling out the name of a new internet service provider in town. Yes, my child emblazoned herself with a glitter tattoo that turned her into a walking billboard. Best of all, she proclaimed, “This will last for THREE WEEKS!”

Giving the scrubbing I insisted she give it in the shower last night, I think it will, in fact, last three weeks. Can we at least get a discount?


Don’t Say a Word

A week before her seventh birthday, RR had her last accident.

I mean, it was the last recorded accident, not to imply there will never be another. SHH. You guys! Do not tempt fate.

But, it has been…26 days. That is the longest dry streak we have ever had. Of course, she’s fucking seven, but that makes it even more of a win, right?

I would like to just sit here and revel in the sweet-smelling dryness of it all. I have a sensitive nose and her tendency to sneak drawers carrying poop surprises into her dirty laundry meant we frequently were perfuming our entire neighborhood with the smell of freshly washed human feces. We quickly learned that our lovely new washer and its water saving features mean that sneakshit does not rinse out in the wash so much as dissolve and coat all the clothes uniformly. Not only that, but they frequently pass a low-grade sniff test when wet only to get into the dryer and WHAM! poop neighborhood. Exhausting.

When she was two and we worried, our physician said “she’s only two!” When she was three and we worried, the school shrugged it off and gently offered potty training pamphlets. When she was four, we dragged her to a sensory specialist who told us that RR being who RR is doesn’t have anything to do with bladder control. At five, we despaired and got a doctor’s note for school, took her to a urologist, and visited another sensory specialist. At six, we took her to the urologist (again) and a gastro specialist who, at the end of a very long day of exams, gave her cookies and diagnosed chronic constipation. It wasn’t until the tail end of six that we were down to one or two accidents a week.

She’s in a camp that she loves (vs last year when she peed in her pants all day every day) in a building that she knows (vs a long walk to a restroom) that has a beautifully appointed, quiet bathroom for her to use (qualifications, apparently, for seven-yr-old dryness). On a recent trip with us she also stayed dry through naps in the car, time changes, and unstructured chaos. That’s not unusual though, all of the other promising streaks have also occurred while she was with us. I’m afraid that when she transitions back to school (same building, no access to that particular bathroom), all of this will be lost. I’m very, very hopeful that a summer of being so dry will make being wet seem startling instead of the norm.

Then we can work on getting through the night. But can I tell you something? I could give a giant flying fuck if she stays in a pull-up until she’s sixteen as long as she stays dry during her waking hours. Her butt’s tiny. It could work.