What Does a Kid Know about Marriage … Quite a Bit, Actually.

The Divine Miss M is a bona fide Harry Potter nerd so she was rockin' the Dumbledore sign at a recent Marriage Equality Rally

The Divine Miss M is a bona fide Harry Potter nerd so she was rockin’ the Dumbledore sign at a recent Marriage Equality Rally

PFLAG National filed an amicus brief with the Tenth Circuit in the marriage equality appeals.  It filed a similar brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the Prop 8 case.  Their approach is to tell stories of inequality not just from the perspective of the lesbians and gays affected but from their parents, families and friends. As our daughter, the Divine Miss M falls into the category of families of lesbians and gays. PFLAG National contacted her to see if she would like to share her perspective. She submitted the following which was included in the amicus brief filed today.  (No, we’re not at all proud of her and of course, I don’t get choked up every time I read it and even as I type this):

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My partner, Jodi, and I raised our daughter in Oklahoma before moving to Colorado in 2012. As lawyers in Oklahoma, we were not “out” professionally for fear we would lose our jobs. A year after we moved to Colorado, we were able to obtain a Civil Union License. While having a “civil union” carries with it certain legal benefits, Jodi and I want to get married. We want to be responsible for and held accountable to each other for all of our days. Marriage is the strongest commitment you can make in this country and we want to make that commitment.

Marriage equality is also important to the other member of our family: our 13-year-old daughter. Her feelings about why she believes Jodi and I should be allowed to marry are as follows:

“One of the things that I like to do with my best friend is to plan my parents’ wedding. My best friend and I make lists of people to invite to the wedding. We also talk about who the bridesmaids should be. But we don’t talk as much about where or when the wedding will take place. That is because I have two moms, and right now they are not allowed to get married in Oklahoma, the state where I was born and grew up, or in Colorado, the state I moved to two years ago.

I think it’s unfair that my parents can’t get married. I can see that they love each other just like my grandparents love each other and just like the straight parents of my friends. I see them hugging each other. I see their togetherness – the way they treat each other with respect, the way they work together as a team.

We are a true family. My two moms are great parents to me. They always tell me when they are proud of me. I know that I can go to them with any problem. They teach me great lessons about standing up for what you believe in, not giving up, but always being respectful of people who disagree with you.

My family is just like everyone else’s and my parents deserve the same rights as everyone else. Everyone should be able to marry the person that they love and the gender or race of that person should not matter. Knowing that my parents are not allowed to get married makes me feel like some people don’t believe that we are a real family. It feels lousy and hurts my feelings. But I’ll keep planning my parents’ wedding and looking forward to the day when they can get married.”

This is by no means the first time she’s participated in an ‘activist’ role, nor is her passion limited to LGBT issues.  Her submission was, however, the first time she’d ever voiced the specific concern to us that other people didn’t see us as a real family.  I suppose we never know just how many ripples in the water inequality leaves in its wake.  But I do know the Divine Miss M is stronger, more self-assured and believes more in the possibility of changing the world than I did at her age – probably because she’s already started.

Posted in Colorado, Family, Lessons, Parenting, Rights and Legal Stuff, Uncategorized, Us | 7 Comments

Explaining Inequality to Children

Earlier today I was discussing with another attorney the Utah and Oklahoma Tenth Circuit appeals regarding same-sex marriage. He asked me if it was hard to explain our family to our daughter or Jodi’s role in her life since I’m technically the biological mom (As an aside, I loathe that distinction but I understood the context of his well-intended question).  I had to really think about that answer because I couldn’t recall an exact moment the Divine Miss M had to suddenly understand our family.  I do recall her telling me when she was around the age of 5 that two women should be able to get married but not two boys.  Though it made me chuckle, I believe her conclusion had more to do with two boys in kindergarten with whom she didn’t get along and her desire to deny them – well, everything – than about a person’s acceptable legal status.

I finally answered by telling him that we’ve never really had to explain our family to Miss M.  I’ve never had to ‘explain’ Jodi’s role in her life.  I’m assuming that’s because Jodi’s role in her life is defined by the relationship M has with her, which is that of parent and child.  I don’t have to explain to M what role my mom plays in her life, or her cousin’s role, or her grandparents’ role because those roles are defined by M’s relationship with them.  M knows that Jodi’s parents are her grandparents not because we told her they are but because that’s the relationship she has with them.  M is a highly intelligent child but it doesn’t take smarts for a person to understand their own family.  Indeed, regarding Jodi’s adoption of her, M matter-of-factly stated that Jodi was already her mom, this was just something we had to do for it to be official to others.

Nope, this was never something that had to be explained.

Nope, this was never something that had to be explained.

Do you know what has consistently been difficult to explain to her?  Other people’s intolerance, why we don’t have equal rights, why we can’t get married, why Jodi couldn’t adopt her in Oklahoma but can in Colorado, it goes on and on depending on what issue has arisen lately.  We have steadfastly managed thus far to keep her from hearing about Kansas, thank God.  She has asked countless questions trying to understand why people fight against equality for the LGBT community in various contexts.  We make a valiant effort to remain respectful while discussing these opposing views, including and maybe especially those based on religion.  M sees all of them as irrational and nonsensical and usually gets frustrated, angry or upset because none of it is logical to her.

I was talking to a friend in Oklahoma City once who asked about my family’s reaction when I came out to them. I explained that most were accepting but not my dad or my brother, with whom I no longer have relationships. He was startled by my brother’s reaction when he learned my brother is in his early 20s (much, much younger than I, obviously). He explained that he always just assumes the next generation will be better, that it’s like meeting a young racist – he knows they exist but they always surprise him.  (I had to begrudgingly admit, my brother’s probably racist as well.)  Anyway, I thought of that today when I was answering the attorney. I’m not wild about the analogy to the Civil Rights era in the 60s but I have to admit, explaining our inequality to M is a lot like explaining racism to her and any other child, there’s no logic to it.

As I’ve thought about that conversation this afternoon, it’s occurred to me that people who are opposed to marriage equality, who consistently point to protecting children as the reason for that opposition, would be surprised to learn those children actually see them as the real threat.

Posted in Boulder, Colorado, Family, Parenting, Rights and Legal Stuff, Us | 1 Comment

Kansas: The new Hate State

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In the 90s, Colorado had the dubious honor of being known as the Hate State. This occurred after three counties passed ordinances prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and the voters promptly passed Amendment 2, prohibiting the extension of such employment protection. That Amendment was eventually struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in Romer v. Evans, but not until after the usual years of litigation.  It took a while but Colorado eventually rid itself of the odious Hate State moniker.

Every now and again a state will either propose or ponder legislation that makes it a potential candidate as the new Hate State but none have done anything quite egregious enough to be awarded with the title … until now.

Kansas, enter stage left right.

This week, the Kansas House passed a bill that the Senate is also expected to pass and the ever-righteous Governor Brownback will undoubtedly sign with glee.  This bill allows employees of public and private businesses/entities to refuse service to gay customers if the employee feels it would violate their religious freedom.  Lest you think I’m overstating the text and application of the law, please feel free to go here and read it: Kansas Hate Bill.

I think my favorite part is where the bill says that an employer must provide another employee to wait on the gays if an employee refuses, “or shall otherwise ensure that the requested service is provided, if it can be done without undue hardship to the employer.”  (emphasis provided).  So, if it’s a business full of nothing but bigots whose employees all have religious objections to waiting on gay customers, guess the gays are out of luck.  Jodi’s family is from Kansas and there is a particular Italian restaurant there I adore.  I really hope it has at least one server whose religious freedoms are not offended by serving me a plate of spaghetti.

But there are so many possibilities to ponder for this new law.  I wonder what happens if someone working voting polls has a religious objection to gay people voting.  Just not going to let the gays vote at that precinct? Or wait, I have an idea, why don’t we just harken back to the enlightened ideas of the Founding Fathers who counted African-Americans as 3/5 of a person.  Using that theory you could just count each ballot submitted by a gay person as 3/5 of a vote.  I mean, come on Kansas, if we’re going to do this, let’s go all in.

There is absolutely no question businesses will put up signs saying “No Gays Allowed” or “Gays not Welcome” or “Gays not Served Here.”  How in the hell are we supposed to take our annual Christmas trip with our daughter to see Jodi’s family knowing we might see some of that?! I know what will happen. The Divine Miss M will see it, likely go off on the business person or unfortunate employee before we can drag her away and then get in the car and sob.  Also in that vein though, what if we are in an accident or for any reason need police or medical help and happen to draw a bigoted officer, hospital employee, ambulance personnel while we’re there?  What then?  Based on the wording of the Kansas statute, any of those could refuse to serve M as well.  She’d just be guilty by association.

When I first read that this bill passed the Kansas House and would likely be law, I was annoyed and rolled my eyes. Later, the more I thought about it, the more infuriated I became.  One Representative stated the following on the House floor:

“Discrimination is horrible. It’s hurtful … It has no place in civilized society, and that’s precisely why we’re moving this bill. …. There have been times throughout history where people have been persecuted for their religious beliefs because they were unpopular. This bill provides a shield of protection for that.”

Oh, the irony.  But let’s look at what he said.  People have been persecuted for their religious beliefs?  Yes.  Yes, they have. The Crusades come to mind, for example.  Jewish people during the Holocaust.  This world has seen centuries of horrific religious persecution.  Please let’s not insult the historical and personal tragedy of true persecution by conflating it with having to sell me a candy bar at a gas station.

Some have tried to spin this law as only allowing the refusal of services related to the celebration of a gay wedding or similar joining.  This bill is not so limited.  Specifically, if contrary to religious beliefs, an employee does not have to

Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement;

related to OR related to the celebration of any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement.”  It is NOT limited to a celebration of a gay relationship in any form.  It is any service related to any such relationship.  That is absurdly ambiguous, as codified bigotry usually is.

If you’re going to be hypocritical bigots, then don’t add dishonesty to it as well.  This bill has nothing to do with protecting religious freedom. The purpose of this law is to legalize homophobia. It’s about institutionalizing the last acceptable form of discrimination.  Well, congratulations Kansas, the Hate State moniker is all yours.

 

Posted in Rights and Legal Stuff, Uncategorized, Us | 3 Comments

Repost: Advice and Anniversaries

I originally posted this last year on February 8, 2013. This year, I’ve managed to post something about it on the day of but since I haven’t actually written anything new, not sure that’s progress.  Still, it’s a day worth marking, at least to me and especially this year since I’ve struggled more than the last.  Regardless, or maybe especially because of, those struggles, February 7th has arrived and I find I am still overwhelmed with gratefulness.  Here’s to another 7 years.

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The best advice I ever received in my life is this:

“You don’t have to ride the truck all the way to the dump to know where it’s going.”

I took my last drink of alcohol on February 7, 2007.  ‘Drink’ should be plural because, believe me, if I was capable of taking ‘a’ drink on that night or any night, then I wouldn’t be marking this anniversary.

6 years ago yesterday.  Huh.

I’m likely supposed to feel pride in that accomplishment.  And it’s not that I don’t.  Exactly.  I certainly don’t have negative feelings about it. I just can’t really pinpoint how to describe it and I know pride doesn’t quite fit.

When I think of the quintessential rock bottom, I picture someone waking up in a gutter wondering how they got there, friendless, family-less and broke.  Did I hit that rock bottom?  No.

I’ve written and then deleted descriptions of the year preceding 2/7/2007, especially the preceding six months when I was in a downward spiral of depression and self-destruction, but I can’t quite bring myself to publish that.  Cowardice, shame, whatever.  It wasn’t everyone’s rock bottom, but it was mine.  It took far longer than it should have for me to  acknowledge I had a problem.  It is amazing how well reasonably intelligent, professional, inherently controlling people can hide that sort of thing. And certainly, it takes a while before such people admit they can’t fix themselves.

No-one can hide it forever, though, and eventually, cracks in the surface can’t be smoothed over anymore.  Though I can think of multiple incidents during that last six months that should have forced me to get some help, it was one colossal parenting fail that finally made me look at myself honestly. I hold myself up to impossible parenting standards anyway and to fail spectacularly because I was basically a drunk still makes my skin crawl.  Finally though, finally, I stopped and asked myself, “Really?  This is the person you want to be?”  I’d already lost some friends at that point and my career was beginning to be adversely affected, but I began to get it together.

I don’t deal with daily cravings for a drink and I am usually perfectly comfortable with alcohol in the house.  On the rare occasion I’m not, it is disposed of or taken elsewhere.  I know I can’t take the first drink, because I also know without question, if I take one, I’m incapable of not following it with forty more.  Lay’s potato chips used to say, “You can’t eat just one.”  It’s an apt description of my relationship with vodka.

During the time period following February 7th, I expressed skepticism at my accomplishment since my rock bottom didn’t include a gutter and I still retained most of my possessions; dignity, being intangible and all, doesn’t count.  And that was when a very kind man, who was familiar with my story, explained, “You don’t have to ride the truck all the way to the dump to know where it’s going.”  It may be odd but I find that very comforting.  It seems like such a simple statement, but it has a lot of layers.  Wisdom wrapped in simplicity usually does.

In February 2007, the Divine Miss M was in kindergarten, and blissfully clueless.  The only thing she knows now is that I don’t drink.  It’s been six years.  My life is such a contrast to what it was then.  A partner who remains far out of my league but chose me, anyway.  Miss M who surrounds us with twelve year old sassiness and an enviable amount of moxy.  Living in a town they describe as ‘twenty five miles surrounded by reality,’ my days are filled with mountain views and laid back people and the ability to just be.  I look around at this life I’d never have had if I’d stayed on that truck and I settle on … grateful.  Grateful is the right word.

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She’s supposed to kill the spiders!

Does anyone else ever wake up from a dream mad at their spouse?  This occasionally happens at our house. I’m sure no-one will be surprised the dreams are usually mine and Jodi is the target of my ire.  One would think these dreams would be about her flirting with/dating other women.  While those dreams and my resulting annoyance have occurred, this week the dream was about her misguided humanity toward spiders.  Really talented spiders.  And I woke up furious.  (I will concede now there are occasions she’s entitled to sympathy just by virtue of being married to me).

What was the spider’s talent,  you ask?  Or maybe you didn’t but you should.

It went like this.  In my dream I was at our house in our living room – which was in reality not our living room or our house.  Do other people’s dreams do that?  Just create new details about mundane things like, you know, where you reside?!  Anyway, I was calmly sitting in a chair minding my own business when I saw a giant tarantula on the coffee table.  I say giant because it had really, really long legs so it was bizarrely tall but not particularly wide.  I started trying to yell at Jodi who was in some room down the hallway.  However, my dream did that thing where you can’t scream, or even really talk at a normal tone of voice apparently.  I was getting panicked and frustrated thinking it was just like in a dream where you can’t yell – unfortunately this seemed to do nothing to clue my dream self into the fact that it was indeed a dream.

– Mind you, when I told this story to the Divine Miss M, she interrupted at this point to ask why I didn’t just try to kill the spider myself.  A question that never occurred to me because killing spiders is supposed to be Jodi’s job. We all have our roles in our respective relationships and one of hers is spider-killer. –

I continued my futile efforts to yell for the resident spider-killer, not taking my eyes off the freakishly tall tarantula. And then I watched it use two of its legs to deftly pick up the sippy cup next to it on the table, tip it over, drink out of it and set it back down. (The dream world apparently created a toddler for us. I never saw the toddler and sadly, keeping said tarantula away from it never entered my dream world mind.  Clearly, I rock as a parent in every reality).  At that point, I was able to make enough noise to attract Jodi’s attention.  She walked in and do you know what she did?  Well, she didn’t kill it, I can tell you that! Instead, she picked it up and held two of its legs up so that, in her words, “it can’t bite me” and proceeded to take. it. outside.   All the while, I’m telling her to kill the d*mn thing!

Upon awaking and vociferously explaining the deplorable nature of her actions, she calmly responded that obviously she wasn’t going to kill it as it could drink from a sippy cup.  That did not get her off the hook though because she didn’t know it could drink from a sippy cup, she wasn’t in the room then and I hadn’t told her before she went all PETA on me.  (I would note she was also not concerned, in either reality, with the resident toddler.  It’s really a wonder the Divine Miss M has made it this far.).

This occurred to neither of us.  Awesome.

This occurred to neither of us. Awesome.

She also didn’t seem concerned about my subsequent outrage.  Instead, she proceeded to let the dogs outside and I heard her breezily tell them, “Watch out for the spider.”

I’d already told her we weren’t in our current house in my dream. She doesn’t listen to me at all.

Posted in Random thoughts, Uncategorized, Us | 3 Comments

The Divine Miss M enters the teen years

January 8, 2001, 8:45 p.m.

Turning 13 means a detour to Starbuck's on the way to school.

Turning 13 means a detour to Starbuck’s on the way to school.

Thirteen years ago.  That’s when my whole life changed, cliché as it sounds.   I think, in hindsight, I was too young and too naive … but she arrived, anyway.  Since that moment, everything has changed.

And thank God for that.

It’s funny, I remember every detail about the night she was born. When the doctor told me she had a head full of curls and the nurse exclaimed, “She has rolls!” When the doctor finally held her up where I could see her and my first coherent thought was, “Her head is shaped like a football.”  When they laid her on my chest and she protested loudly with indignation at the shock of it all.

Now, as I watch the video from that night showing the family filing in to see her, I can see what no-one else does.  That I was holding her in that moment and praying silently, “Please don’t cry because they’ll all know I have no real idea what to do.”  I remember worrying, rather belatedly, if displaying total incompetence meant they’d never let me take her home.

Yes, I remember all of that but the moment that truly stands out to me came later, in the wee hours of the morning, after the well-meaning family members had mercifully left.  I laid her down beside me in the hospital bed, swaddled so tightly in her blanket all I could see was her little face.  We were both on our sides, close enough I knew she could focus.  The light was dim and everything was still and quiet.  She was awake and alert and seemed to inspect my face so carefully, I could scarcely breathe.  I wondered at the thoughts she might be having, trying to match the face to the voice she’d been hearing for several months, wondering at this person to whom she’d been assigned?  I wondered too, irrationally, if I was measuring up.  Thirteen years later, I can’t think about that moment without getting chills on my arms and tears in my eyes.

Later in the day, I held that chubby little person in my arms, under my chin, to my chest and in my lap, and I dreamed. I dreamed of first smiles and first birthdays.  I dreamed of bike rides and trick or treats and scraped knees.   I never dreamed of the specifics, of today, of this, of 13 years later. I couldn’t.  It was too far away, like trying to picture infinity. Even now when it’s here upon me, I cannot fathom it’s been 13 years. That I have kissed her sweet face and tucked her into bed literally thousands of times. That I’ve spent (almost) every single day with her and have witnessed every step, every inch of growth, both inside and out. That little baby who I carried inside me and who’s voice I tried to imagine when I closed my eyes at night, now speaks of things I never knew, of interests and passions that are not from me but of her own yearning to learn, her own views of the world.

I didn’t know when I was holding her then the changes that would come, even though I knew they were coming, of course.  I never pictured the sprinkling of freckles across her nose and cheeks that would appear during the summer she was six. That those little noises she made as an infant would turn into the demands of a pint-sized tyrant.  That the ‘mama’ I waited on for so long, would quickly turn into Mommy and all too soon, Mom would become my only title. That one day I would be startled simply by the length of her legs. That on others, I’d be even more startled by her insight.  That she would devour books with a passion, and hate math just as fiercely.  And that she would present to me a fascinating dichotomy of an adamant refusal to conform battling with a sensitive streak desperate for approval.

At 13, she still doesn’t hesitate for hugs, kisses and “I love yous,” no matter where we are, but I wonder when that will change.   In a store, I heard a two-year-old tell his mother, “I wanna hold you” and I was struck by such a strong force of longing, I had to stop myself from telling her how much she would miss it when he got that particular syntax right.

She is separating from us now, seeking independence and responsibility and relationships outside our family. She wants so much to be her own girl, and yet, in a million little ways, she still needs her mommies.  When she feels overwhelmed or something or someone hurts her feelings, she comes to us still – for now. She buries her head in between my neck and shoulder and sobs while I rub her back. She still sits at the island while I make her hot chocolate to ease the sadness – even if it’s 90 degrees outside. Yet, there are moments I simply can’t fix whatever hurt has been inflicted upon her, whatever disappointment she has suffered.  A helplessness I never understood before parenthood.

I was fiercely determined to have her, and then once she arrived, I don’t believe I’ve ever been so terrified.  Thirteen years later, I am even more afraid at times because I realize she is slipping away from us.  As a teenager, she’s busily pursuing friends and interests far outside of us, exactly as she should. She’s striving for the independence she can’t quite decide she wants right now; but she’ll be sure soon … and determined, I’m guessing.  She’s too much like her moms for her own good (or for ours).

I don’t like to imagine life without the little girl who will still occasionally lay her head in my lap. She is easily the greatest thing I have ever done, ever will do. She has changed and reshaped me more than any other person or thing could ever hope to or will.  The next milestone will be high school, then driving and then college and somewhere in there dates will occur.  But no matter the number on her birthday cake or how tall she grows, I know one thing I tell her will always be true, “You’re not A baby, but you’re MY baby.” That never changes.

Posted in Family, Growing Up, Lessons, Parenting, Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Satan & My Wife

As you all know, we escaped moved from Oklahoma one and a half years ago.  Shortly after our departure, (and yes, I’m sure the timing was merely coincidental) Oklahoma’s brilliant state officials erected  a Ten Commandments monument on the north steps of the state capitol.  Not remotely surprisingly, a group has submitted an application to erect a 7 foot satanic statue right next to it.  This is the proposed design:

I think my favorite part is the little children on both sides.

I think my favorite part is the little children on both sides.  It’s hilariously awesome!

The description includes this: “The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation.”  Upon reading this (and laughing), I told Jodi, “Okay, if this goes up, the three of us have to go to Oklahoma, have our picture made on this thing and then use it as our Christmas card.”  Without missing a beat, she nodded her head and responded, “Oh, absolutely.”

If anyone ever wonders why I married her, that, my friends, is why.

Happy New Year!

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I’m Telling Santa

santavintage_s640x427I was at Target recently and overheard this conversation between two sisters. I’m terrible at guessing ages but I’m going to say, maybe 8 and 6.

Eight year old, dreamily: “I’ve been dreaming of this phone since I was a child.”

Six year old: “You ARE a child.”

Eight year old: “Shut up.”

Six year old: “I’m telling Santa.”

—–

I turned my head so they wouldn’t see me giggling. I never had siblings remotely close to me in age but as a parent, I sincerely miss the ‘telling Santa’ threat.  Though, I couldn’t use it until the Divine Miss M was much older because as a toddler, while she was completely fine with presents from him on Christmas morning, she was otherwise terrified of the Big Guy.  I learned early on to avoid putting her on his lap for the obligatory Christmas photo.  There is a picture from when she was almost one and it shows a red-faced, tear-streaked child proving that she possessed the strongest set of lungs in the free world.  More memorable, though, was when she was around three and I had the brilliant idea to just wander over and speak with Santa Claus while I held her.  When I told her my plan and headed in that direction, she immediately grabbed the sweatshirt of the man nearest us – a complete and total stranger – and started screaming, “Help! Help me!”

Mortifying.  Needless to say, I nixed that idea quickly.  It was years before she spoke to Santa through any medium except letters and once on the phone (the teenage son of one of my mom’s close friends hilariously played him).

Obviously, with that kind of innate fear already present, I couldn’t pull the ‘Santa is watching’ card until she was older.  I think I got cheated out of a few years of good December behavior.  I’m not sure exactly when she got over her fear but I do have a few photos of a smiling, happy child on Santa’s knee.  All too quickly though they don’t blindly believe anymore.  One of my less than stellar parenting moments came in Second Grade when she said kids at school kept telling her Santa was your parents. In my dismay of the Santa illusion being over, and with it a little piece of innocence you never get back, I said, “Those children were probably naughty all year so their parents had to do it.” I’m going to take a wild guess and say that probably isn’t an answer recommended by any child professional.  Never mind, though, because she wasn’t to be fooled for long.

In Third Grade, we’d begun reading the Harry Potter series. That December she asked me if I believed in magic. In light her obsessive adoration of the series, and my desire to be a good, conscientious parent, I felt compelled to answer something along the lines of not believing in it literally but for stories and imagination.  In reality, I was less good parent and more a lamb being led to the slaughter when her next question was, “If you don’t believe in magic, how do you believe in Santa Claus?”

I fumbled for some answer but of course, the day eventually came when she no longer believed. Unfortunate because at almost thirteen, I could really use that kind of threat now more than then.  It feels more acceptable to say some third-party might not bring you presents than to say we’re not going to give you anything for Christmas if you keep acting like this. Though, this is the first year her behavior has prompted me to seriously ponder such a threat and mean it.  I suppose it’s good they’re still cute and pull at your heartstrings while they sleep, almost as much as they did when they were little.  I’ll just have to peek in on her on the night of Christmas Eve before we drag out the loot.  But I plan on her doing a scavenger hunt to get her main present – it will be fun and the fact she’ll have to work for it is just an added bonus.

Posted in Family, Growing Up, Parenting, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

What exactly are you supporting?

It’s been an interesting week.  The Divine Miss M won her school spelling bee, for which we are very proud, and have now descended into the hell mire of studying for the Regional Bee.  Also, Jodi’s birthday was yesterday.  Her main gift was a surprise birthday lunch with the friends she’s made here in the past year.  It was perfect, they were awesome and we are so lucky to have met the people we’ve met in this community.  And hey, New Mexico Supreme Court, way to add the icing to her proverbial cake!

But none of that will be the main focus here.  I hesitate to write a blog post about some issue literally everyone in the world is throwing a fit about but once it’s necessary to explain to my child what bestiality is and why any person would reference her parents in such a way, it seems I lose all restraint and rationality.  I am, however, self-aware enough not to post anything too quickly so that I might avoid a full on rant.  I don’t want to be as hate-filled as those who speak against me and sometimes that means taking a few days to count to 100 many, many times.

I’m not going to reiterate what Mr. Duck Dynasty said about homosexuals because why.  Actually, I’m going to refer to this blog who said everything I think about it far more eloquently than I can this time.  Go read that now.

Here, I am going to cover two things: 1). my observations on people’s reactions and 2). how I’m startled by the fact no-one is more upset about what this man said about race because honestly, it’s more concerning than what he said about us.*

On the first topic, social media is a funny thing. Facebook shows what memes and posts your friends have ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ and of course, people post their own thoughts.  I try very, very hard to respect people’s opinions, though I may not agree with them.  That’s usually not even a struggle for me. This week, however, I have to admit after reading the interview at the heart of this controversy, I’ve been thrown a few times by people who post their support for him or like some meme that portrays him as a victim.  I don’t know if it’s right on my part but I’m having a hard time reconciling someone supporting me who also supports a man who thinks I am defined by the kind of sex I have or who thinks my marriage is a gateway to bestiality, whatever the f*ck that means.  *deep breath, count to 100* I make a massive effort to allow people to be uncomfortable with our family but still be respectful to us.  I don’t demand all or nothing. Indeed, I don’t think I ask much outside of being treated respectfully.  I truly believe all the advocating in the world won’t open a closed mind as much as just being around gay people and their families and seeing that we’re just normal, every day people who love and laugh and fall down and get up and hurt and try harder and fail and succeed just like everyone else. That can’t be accomplished if we only associate with people who fully support us.

Keeping that in mind, I’ve still been dismayed when I’ve seen close friends ‘like’ memes that say “We need more families like Phil and [whatever his wife’s name is]” or are all about “Save Phil”.  Really?  Even if, and it’s a big if, even if you’re okay with his talk about us, I’m flabbergasted by anyone who would support him after what he said on the topic of race.  This brings me to my second topic. Giving people the benefit of the doubt, in case they haven’t read it (and didn’t follow my instructions about reading the other blog), it’s this:

I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

As the blogger stated, “Comparing black people to white trash is cringey, but suggesting that black people were happier during segregation? That because Phil never heard a black person publicly complain BACK IN THE ERA OF LYNCHING means that they must have been satisfied with the state of things? … Not to mention, the subtext of his remarks is that black people nowadays are entitled, unGodly, discontented welfare recipients. So when I see people as “standing with Phil” based on their Christian values, I really have to ask . . . how does an apologist for our country’s ugly Jim Crow legacy represent Christian values?”

I can see reading it and not having much reaction but I don’t understand how some of the people I know can not only not be bothered, but feel strongly enough to actively work to ‘save’ him (I’m including clicking a ‘like’ button as actively working) after he said that black people were happier during Jim Crow and didn’t complain about white people because they weren’t on welfare then – because you know, all blacks dislike whites and not only are all blacks on welfare but also, no whites are.  (and if you automatically think ill of people who use welfare, then you already have issues and I’m not feeling charitable enough to not note that).

I get angry, of course, if I think very long about what he said about families like mine but I don’t think long on it and mostly I just don’t care.  However, I get downright disheartened when I read what he said about us in conjunction with what he said about race and then see people feeling that his Christian beliefs are being attacked.  Though, who knows, maybe they’re right since goodness knows the Bible was used for centuries to justify slavery.

In the end, whatever happens with him happens and I can’t find it in me to care.  However, in spite of my usual effort to not do this, people’s opinions and reactions have inherently affected how I see them. I think The Master said it best, “When you pop out of bed and begin a save Phil campaign then maybe we aren’t as compatible as I thought.”

*Also, people’s very misguided understanding of constitutional law is seriously making me bang my ahead against the wall.  My adoration of con law is deep and real and embraces my full geeky self. I could go all legal scholar now and explain why his constitutional freedoms have not been remotely violated here, no matter which side of the fence you fall on, but the blogger I linked summarizes it without getting too technical so just read that, please.
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We’ve Got Cards

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 3.07.40 PMJodi’s birthday is in two days (though believe me, she’s all about claiming the whole week.  I jokingly resist her efforts but the truth is she’s definitely worthy of a week’s celebration, especially since the Divine Miss M is still living at home after informing us this weekend that grounding her was not going to do any good because “you’re not always going to win.”  Mother of God, let us all survive her teenage years and overlook the fact I begrudgingly admire that kid’s moxie).   Anyway, the upcoming birthday was why I found myself in the card aisles at Target this morning.   Given the timing, she obviously competes with another holiday and the birthday card displays are currently a tad diminished.  I quickly found sections for husband, mom, dad, aunt, nephew, etc. but couldn’t find wife.  In my search, I stumbled onto the Anniversary cards.  I wouldn’t have even stopped since that’s not the occasion we’re about to celebrate (yet) but something caught my eye.   In the midst of the usual individual card descriptors – funny, romantic, “for wife”, “for parents” – I did a double take when I saw “Two Women in Love.”

Turns out, there were two cards there for lesbian couples celebrating their anniversary. Huh.  I assume there were some for men as well, but I didn’t search.  I was a little stunned, to be honest.  And also, my eyes got suspiciously watery.  I’m going to assume my allergies were going temporarily awry rather than consider that equality makes me hideously sappy.  Apparently these cards are old news to some but I somehow missed it.

You might not notice but it is very difficult to buy a greeting card that does not include some kind of heterosexual reference.  For example, there will be an image of a couple’s hands – one male and one female.  Or a card with words and a silhouetted couple in the background – one male and one female.  Less often but still ubiquitous, some written reference to male/female or his/her in the wording. I certainly do not think these cards are in any way wrong or should be changed, but I have always yearned for the addition of cards for us.  Though we have long been able to order such cards online, that would require planning ahead and well, it was an accomplishment I was buying them with two days to spare (in my defense, Jodi is the same way).  But lo and behold, there the cards were today in a major store … although, one was a little humorous.

Almost every person who has ever come out has had the experience of at least one extremely well-meaning friend or family member trying to show they’re supportive but ending up going way over the top.  It’s lovely, really, but also funny.  Recently, a friend described this happening at her sister’s wedding not long after the friend came out to her parents.  As she walked away from a table of relatives at the reception, some random family member blurted out, completely out of context, “I loved Will & Grace and Jack was my favorite character!”  Um, well, alright then.  Not so smooth obviously, but that person’s intentions were golden.  Awkward yes, but incredibly endearing.

Target, or more specifically the card maker, gave me the same thought today as I picked up one of the “Two Women in Love” cards.  Again, these cards were for an anniversary – a couple already joined in some commitment strong enough to celebrate it annually.  Yet, the outside of the card said, in big curly script, “Girl loves Girl.”  I all but snorted when I saw it.  Jodi and I won’t have our first anniversary until next May but I’m pretty sure, since it is an anniversary we’ll be celebrating, we kind of know our respective genders.  It would be a little weird for me to give her a card that declares “Girl loves Girl.”

But they’re trying, bless their hearts.  Awkward yes, but incredibly endearing.  So, thank you, Target  – and Hallmark, who I learned today also sells cards for same-sex couples.  It’s hard to describe how marvelous something as simple as acknowledgment feels.

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