Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh he's such a BOY...

I hate, hate, hate the gendering of children.  It really wraps my knickers all in a knot.  I hate that we limit kids with bizarre expectations of what boys and girls are supposed to like, supposed to be, supposed to do, supposed to feel.  I hate that people become very uncomfortable when people guess the sex of their baby wrong (because really, a beautiful baby is a beautiful baby is a beautiful baby!)  I hate that girls aren't supposed to be handsome and boys aren't supposed to be pretty.  (And I defy anyone who sees my Boy-o to tell me he ain't pretty**).

I hate that you can't shop on-line for kids clothes or toys without first checking off whether you are looking for girls or for boys.  I hate that they market the same freaking toys like bikes or pushy cars or kids shopping carts in pink and blue for further gender segregation.  I hate that pink and blue is considered gender segregation. 

I hate that all of my son's life, people have taken his exuberance and infinite energy and speed as proof of his "boyness," though I take some solace in the fact that Girlio is fast showing signs of following right in his footsteps.  I hate that boys are still told not to cry, and even when parents aren't overtly that ignorant, boys are still encouraged to "shake it off" in ways that girls are not.  Anyhoo. 
Knot. In. My. Knickers.   Big one.  Huge

It breaks my heart to think that my rainbow, sparkles, flowers loving boy, who cries freely when sad or hurt, who loves a good cuddle more than anything will be coaxed or shamed away from these things because they are not "boy-ish" enough. 

It breaks my heart equally to think that my baby girl, who is already now showing signs of being a rough and tumble, take-no-prisoners, world-here-I-come kinda kid; who already loves playing with trains and trucks and making "brmmm brrmmm brmmmm" sounds, will be directed and encouraged to love dolls and play house, and flowers and sparkles more than she loves sports and trucks and trains and active play. 

But what I hate even more than thinking about these inevitabilities, is the fact that we don't even consider WHY this streamlining still happens.   And here's my take (which will probably piss some peeps off, but there ya go). We as a culture are uncomfortable with sensitive, non-sporty boys who like the colour pink because we as a culture are still hugely homophobic.  There.  I said it.  I know loads of cool parents who have no real problem with folks being gay who would die a thousand inner deaths watching their son wear pink, or drive in a toy Barbie car, or let them pick out a rainbow sparkle shirt from the store.  Call it what it is folks.  Homophobia.  Boys who like pink, who cry easily, who like "girl" things, who are sensitive, who don't like sports and would rather go to dance class, etc. etc. are sissies.  And we are scared of our boy being sissies because sissy = unmasculine = faggy.  Period.  There is no amount of spluttering or excuses that will change this icky reality.  We really need to get our shit together, because frankly, I expect more from our generation.  A whole lot more.  C'mon people.

And while we have slightly more cultural tolerance for girls who step outside of acceptable gendered play  and appearance boundaries,  like say girls who play sports traditionally played only by boys or who aren't comfortable with pink and frou frou, this is only acceptable for a brief period of time and to a certain degree.  We have a name for it - the tomboy phase.  The expectation is that eventually, all girls will embrace their 'girliness,' develop the dream of becoming a princess and marrying 'the one'.  You know, Prince Charming.   And when girls don't embrace girliness, flouff and frou frou evenutally, we get mighty uncomfortable.  And yes, you guessed it.  It's homophobia my friends.  No long hair?  No dresses?  No make-up.  Not all into giggling and boys?  That's dyke-y my friends, and we don't like it.  

My quarrel here is not with girliness, or dreaming of being a princess, because as a femme-tastic queer grrrl, I'm here to tell ya I AM a princess.   I wish everyday could be a dress-up, put on the bling, going to a fabulous tea-party kind of day (though believe you-me... it ain't).  My problem is that the princess-ification of girl culture is more heterosexualization, that is, about landing Prince Charming and being taught to value the self for how it can attract others (yep, good old P.C. again) rather than the love of pretty sparkly things because those pretty sparkly things make you smile on the inside (and oh they DO make me smile on the inside :-) 

Many people argue that gendered behaviour is innate, and there may be some (and I do emphasize SOME) truth to this.  Boy-o was drawn to typical boy things more than I ever thought he would be from an early age.  BUT - I believe very very strongly that the reason he is also drawn to things like rainbows, pink, flowers, sparkles, dancing, singing, snuggling and cooking in his wonderful second hand toy kitchen etc. is because he hasn't yet been told that these things aren't "for" boys.   A great example of this happened this past weekend.  We were at a picnic Pride event last weekend where there was a free tattoo booth for kiddos. Boy-o picked out a beautiful hibiscus flower, in shades of pink and orange with plenty 'o sparkles. He was so proud, showing it off to everyone and making movements with his arm to emphasize it, the way a newly engaged woman might self-consciously emphasize her bling hand. (It was a really nice tat - I got in line for one but then felt guilty about the kid waiting behind me - sigh).

My point here - and I do have one - is that given a choice, Boy-o chose a pink sparkly flower tattoo over lizards and turtles and frogs and all kinds of other options that might have been interpreted as more gender neutral (which is a term I find silly, but whatever).   Boys are steered to "boy" things.  They are discouraged from pinkness and sparkliness and feelings-ness and all the other things that girls are steered towards.   Girls are steered away from brrrm-brrrm Tonka trucks, from loudness and general ballsy-ness and towards all of the aforementioned "girly" things and ways of being.   This bit is clearly cultural, not innate. 

Wanna know what I hate the absolute most?  The fact that I am plagued by the fear that people will accuse me of trying to "turn" my kids gay if I let my son wear pink sparkliness or tiaras or dresses, or if I encourage my daughter towards trucks and overalls and discourage Barbie and Disney princess world.  And at the risk of sounding like a broken record - yes, you guessed it, it's another example of ___________ (Fill in the blank).   I'll even give you a hint.  It starts with an "h".

** but sorry, I just can't bring myself to post face pics of my kiddies on here because I think it's an invasion of what little privacy my big mouth affords them :-)

wear your heart on your kids

Anyone else tired of the same old boring, pink and blue, stereotypically gendered kids clothes with craptastic messages? Well, have I got something for you... Read on only if you think your wallet is up for the challenge!

This company's website asks us to "Change the way we think about our girls" and boy do their products ever rock my feminist world! I will be dropping some of my wifey's hard-earned cash (please note implied self-depricating sarcasm, as clearly said cash is earned by my feminist stay-at-home mama ass also) here for sure.  With t-shirts and onesies that read: "When you wish upon a star" with a super cute picture of a female astronaut, "Call me in the morning" with a little girl as a doctor, and "I drive like a girl" with a winning race car driver on the front, and my personal fave, the little girl sailor with the caption "Always looking fora great sail," these tees are a surefire way to take a breather from princesses and various other forms of damsels in distress-y-ness.

Zazzle is another great site for lefty kid wear, and it's great for the little boys and little girls in our lives. From the boys tees that says "Let us play with dolls," or "Boy" with a butterfly illustration, to girls shirts that read "I may not want to get married when I grow up," or "No one's taught me to be bad at maths yet," these shirts are awesome! They also have some great sexism busting shirts about parenting, such as kids' tees and onesies that read: "My dad goes out to work. But can he really have it all?" (FUNNY!), or "You can discuss my care with Dad too," or my personal fave (what with our lack of dad-ness over here) "My mum's personal fulfillment makes me happy." Can I get a hallelujah? Fan-freaking-tastic, I say!

Awesome organic kid and baby wear with positive messages like "Be kind to small things," "I'll change the world one day," "recycle love," a gorgeous rendition of the First Nations message "We do not inherit the earth, we borrow it from our children," and several other lovely free-to-be-you-and-me kind of kids wear. This stuff is really beautiful. Check it out, and I guarantee that the only part of you that will be sorry is your wallet.

Little lefties boasts "clothes for social change" and they do not dissapoint. I've been eyeing up the sweet black "Question Authority" shirt for some time now, as well as their turn-pink-on-it's-ass pink onesie/tee that reads "STRONG" in big old letters. Also cute are "Future treehugger," "Future President" (though maybe not so apropos for us Canucks!) and "Goddess in the making!"

This kids clothes site doesn't specialize in politico-wear, but they certainly have some I'd love to buy! Examples of their wares include: "100% Organic," "Make cookies, not war," "Future Princess" (with the princess crossed out and president written in over top!), "Stop Wars" (using the Star Wars logo), and lots of other peace-nik and environmentalist wear. Good stuff. Super cute. Awesome messages!

And for those of you that need to do some gay-by shopping... loads of "I love my mommies/daddies/gay aunties/uncles/grandmas/grandpas" fare here. It also goes beyond that stuff, with loads of other rainbow loving options. (I particularly enjoy "Got Moms?" instead of "Got Milk?" Get it? Get it?!). Anyhoo. Good queer baby-fare with loads of options. LOADS.

So all ye lefty parents/grandparents/friends of children everywhere - kill time and internet shop with your conscience safely intact!   

(And don't hate me for posting this :-)

(And it goes without saying because obviously, obviously, obviously I'm not nearly cool enough for these to be paid endorsements, but there, now I've said it just in case you think I'm hocking people's wares for money!!!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I just received the best and most vociferously adoring post-nap baby cuddle ever.  I am an asshole.

Mother-guilt.  A tried and true invention.

Would you like some cheese with this whine?

I have been feeling weary lately.  Mom-weary, which is like road weary but, you know, for moms. It seems to come and go in waves, and boy-oh-boy are we at the crest right now.   My temper is quicker to flare, my impatience is swifter to rise, my voice faster to raise.  And my kiddies are yet again getting the shit end of ye olde proverbial stick. 

Everything takes a colossal effort.  Getting the kitchen clean is a major battle, and the second I win, I'm losing again.  Getting the kiddies out the door a Herculean task, requiring more arms, legs and heads than the Goddess Kali (though my mood by the time we finally make it is probably fitting to Kali's wrath).  I am unusually reactive to things like whining, even for a second, even when I know in my heart of heart of hearts that said whining is the fault of the crappy nap from the day before and not designed sheerly to piss me off.  I'm spending too much time hiding away on the computer and I'm letting Boy-o watch entirely too much tv and leaving Girlio to her own devices far too often because I just have no play left.  I'd rather poke out my left eye than play.  Really.  (And as such, the next person who tells me that they'd just LOVE to be a stay-at-home parent because "How much fun would it be to just play with your kids all day every day?"  will think those G8 police batons recently being flashed around with such um, gusto, were fracking feather dusters.)

I need a haircut.  I need an eye doctor appointment.  I need time to actually pick out the new glasses I need.  I need to see the dentist.  I need to go shopping for my wifey's birthday.  I need time to actually clean the house - the whole house - without the small creatures following me around destroying every room I've just spit-shine (okay - I'm sure you all know I'm not that, erm, precise of a housekeeper, but you catch my drift).   I need a casual drop-in daycare.  I need a career change.  Or maybe just a day off. 

Because you know what?  My kids are amazing, clever, beautiful and delightful creatures.  They're super fun and super funny and cute as wee little buttons (though as an aside, are buttons really that cute?).  They are, without hesitation, the best things that have ever befallen my little life.  But when I can't get away from them, like, ever - this perspective can be a little slippery in the mama hands.  

No break-y = crap, crappy, crap-tastic mama.  

Guess who needs to put herself in a time-out?

10 Surefire Ways to Prevent Sexual Assault

This is a repost of a blog entry by Heather Corinna from Scarleteen (a wicked-kick-ass teen website).  It does a beautiful job of turning around prevalent ideas of resposibility for sexual assault and placing blame right where it should be.  Awesome.

10 Surefire Ways to Prevent Sexual Assault

Submitted by Heather Corinna on Tue, 2009-12-15 16:12

Just a helpful reminder from Feminist Law Professors if you're looking for tips on how to prevent rape.

We agree with them that these ten tips absolutely, positively can prevent many sexual assaults without fail.

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

And for those who want to check out the wicked cool teen health and sexuality website:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh Canada - I can't stand on guard for this

I can't stop watching the footage of riot police at the G8 in Toronto.  It is rivetting, sickening, beyond disheartening.  I'm not entirely sure that I can in good conscience continue to teach my children that the police are there for their own protection.  I can't stop wondering whether in 15 years, that will be my son or my daughter being herded like cattle, tackled, fired on with rubber bullets, dragged to the ground, pepper sprayed and tear gassed when they attend their first protest, when they choose to exercise their democractic right to participate in a demonstration.  Or worse still, whether my children will even still have the right to publicly express their beliefs and their disagreement with government policies and actions.  

The media is all over the rioters, the looters, etc.   But keeping the entirety of coverage on these 50 or so people who acted appallingly (and yes, it IS appalling), serves as a pretty handy mask for other more pressing issues.  Issues like government sanctioned (maybe even instigated) brutality against its citizens.  Regardless of how people feel about our government, government in general, and the G20 in particular, I simply cannot imagine how we as a country have reached a point where this is not causing mass outrage.   This goes way beyond party line and affliliation.  And as we head towards Canada Day, I can't imagine I'm the only one wondering what exactly it is we're celebrating.

Friday, June 25, 2010

bossy know-it-alls

Today I have been blessed by the presence of people who clearly know more about child rearing than me, and really wanted to share their wisdom, which I in turn would like to share with all of you.  Here are a few of the special tidbits I have learned today.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

1.  My son's reading comprehension and abilities are clearly delayed. 
We were picking up some photos at London Drugs, and Boy-o was asking me what different signs say around the store because that's his thing right now.  I read a lot of signs.  A lot.  It's amazing I haven't had a car accident from reading all the signs we pass.  But I digress.  The photo lady pipes in to this conversation and tells Boy-o that he "needs to get on the computer and learn his ABCs."  Then she turns to me and says "You really should teach him to read on the computer."  I tell her, somewhat distractly as Boy-o is practically flinging himself in various directions past breakable things, and I am trying to juggle a 21 pound baby in my arms, along with keys, a wallet, and now a year's worth of baby photographs.   "Yeah - he's only 3 and he does know his ABCs.  He's just not reading yet."   And still she persists: " But my grandson learned to read when he was 2.  On my lap.  On the computer."   Um that's great lady.  I'm not really sure where this pressure to make kids learn to read while practically still in the womb comes from.  He's 3.   I didn't figure he needed to know how to read The Iliad yet, or signs in line ups at London Drugs for that matter.  I thought we'd leave something for him to learn at school so he isn't appallingly bored there.  But apparently Boy-o is dreadfully behind in his learning curve.  So much for those college scholarships we were counting on.

2.  My daughter's learning is also sadly delayed. 
After London Drugs, we head to the doctor for Girlio's one year check ups.  We are late because there is no parking to be found within a ten block radius.  Consequently, we (that would be me) are also sweaty and grumpy when we arrive.  We see the nurse first for our pre-check up check-up.  The nurse goes through a variety of developmental milestone kind of questions and I'm all like, yes, yes blah blah.  Then the nurse asks me:  "Can she understand simple commands: Like go get your shoes?"  And I'm kinda surprised at this one, having never really considered asking the baby that can't walk or talk to go and get her shoes (or fetch me anything else for that matter- and am I the only one that thinks it's weird to ask your baby to fetch her shoes? Anyhoo...).  "I don't know..."   I go for the truthful answer.  The nurse looks at me with a very concerned look on her face: "Oh, well she really should!"  This time I go for the full out lie route and I assure her as earnestly as I can manage that we will get right on the shoe fetching business when we return home.

3.  Fat people must not know about healthy eating and exercise habits for their children, since they obviously have taken such poor care of their own slovenly selves. 
The nurse seemed to really want to impress upon me the importance of eating properly and exercising for the baby (who again, can't walk so probably isn't ready for jazzercize just yet).  Anyways - nursey, after already confirming with me that we do in fact feed the baby appropriate and nutritious foods, felt the need to quiz me on the types of food we feed our child (who is, by the way in the 50th percentile for both height and weight!).  "Do you feed her whole grains?"  Yes.  "All four food groups?"  (SHIT - THERE ARE FOUR?!)  Yes.  Then she actually proceeds to list the food groups for me, in case I am a total idiot.  "Meats and alternatives?"  Yes.  "Dairy?"  Yes.  "Fruits?"  "Vegetables?"  Yes.  Yes.  Breads and Cereals?  Yup.  Check.  Wow.  There really are 4 food groups.

Next, she impresses upon me the importance of physical fitness for children.  I try to make a joke of it and let her know that Boy-o never, ever stops moving and Girlio is fast following in his footsteps.  However. You should know.  Exercise for children is NOT a trifling matter (and again, I suspect doubly so because their mom's a fatty, but whatever).  "Here is a booklet on exercise and healthy eating for kids.  Do you need it?"  Here again, I mistakenly go for honesty.  "No thanks, I think we're good."  (And my recycle box is full).  This is met with total disapproval (and I didn't even say the recycling part out loud!)   This was not the correct answer.  "Oh, well you really should!"  And she proceeds to take me through several of the pages to convince me.  I take the booklet, which is currently sitting in my recycling bin.

Lotta learning for one day.  Tomorrow we'll be sure to do better.  Reading, (possibly some simple algebra so we don't lag too far behind), fetching and all four of those new fangled food groups.  Mama's honour.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The 5 Alarm Not-Fire...

I haven't been able to brnig myself to blog about this until now because it was too freaking traumatic (in a funny way... but still!).  It was back in the thick of tantrum-times, when the days were long and the nights, well they were long too!   Boy-o, during a moment of relative calm, pushed a button on our alarm which caused it to go off.  Looking back, this should have tipped me off to the fact that our alarm had "magic" buttons for fire and police (which, had I been a manual reader, and I am emphatically not, I would know this).  Anyhoo.  I punched the alarm off super quick and didn't bother calling the alarm company, because other times when I've been quick to turn it off, the company hasn't even registered the alarm going off yet.  And on I went with my not-so-merry day.   I turned the ringer off on our phone so that Boy-o and Girlio could sleep without interruption.  I endured a whole bunch of tantrum, which was sort of counterproductive to the whole point of turning off the ringer on the phone, as clearly both of the children were rather profoundly awake.  And then off in the distance we heard sirens.  Getting closer.  I was relieved to hear them, largely b/c they jarred Boy-o out of tantrum-land.  But then they started to get really close.  Like, on our street close.  We zipped to the window to see what was up.  Heart sinking - I see firetrucks and firemen pouring out onto our lawn. 

Boy-o is in his absolute glory..."Mama - firetrucks, firetrucks, FIRETRUCKS!"   Fuck.  Fuck.  Fuckity Fuck Fuck!  There are not one, not two, not three, not four, but five firetrucks outside of my house.  My heart is pounding and I am sweating and shaking and about to crawl through the floor with total humiliation.      "Wow Mama!  Wowwowowowow!  Do you SEE MAMA?!"  Oh I see.  I see hot firemen on my front lawn to see if my unshowered, messy-haired, no-make-up, no deoderant, sweatpants wearing self, and my beautiful and unruly children are alright.  Not sure if I've yet mentioned how humilated I am yet? 

Turns out that there is indeed a magic fire button on our alarm.  It's green, in case you were wondering.  It also turns out that the alarm company has been trying to reach us while I've been busy dealing with not napping and tantrumming.  It also also turns out that the fire department tried to give us a ring.  It also also also turns out that when all of the above could not reach us, they called L. at work and sent out the calvary.  Big time

They were exceedingly kind to us.  There was no lecture, other than the very public one to Boy-o from his mama about not touching the alarm because then firemen had to waste time at our house when they could be out helping people who really needed it (or playing cards with their hot selves at the firestation, whatever).  And they didn't threaten us with a bill for the five trucks that were diverted to our home, which they would have had every right too.  And they mercifully did not point out that I was the most unkempt and dishevelled woman they'd ever laid eyes on.

By the time I cleared out the five firetrucks full of hotties and the nosy neighbours that descended like vultures, I realized that I had better call L.  Too late.  She was already on her way home, out of her mind with panic, thinking her whole family was up in flames.   

Given it was too late in the day for her to go back to work, we did what any shell shocked mamas would do.  Pulled out the booze and hugged their peeps (yes, in that order!).

Five fire trucks.  Five.   Sweet mother.  That'll teach a girl to shower more regularly.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Feeling Snow-White-ish...

Help!  I'm living with the 8th and 9th dwarves - No-sleepy and No-listen-y. And Prince/ss Charming is off to work. Anybody got a poisonous apple they could spare to knock me out for awhile?  

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

More great reasons to hate Disney...

Here is a perfect example (and really just one angle of many) of the crap messages Disney sends out to kids... and why I will leap down the throat of any and all who try to introduce princess (or prince) culture into our household!  Frankly, I'd rather Barbie than Disney (though I'm hoping she won't be making an appearance either... )

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Super-fun Internalized Homophobia Game: What If?

The other day, for the very first time, Boy-o encountered a negative reaction about our family make-up.   There is a neighbourhood urchin, an 8 year old, who is drawn to our home like a moth to a flame.  He practically stalks us, wanting to come over and play constantly.  I've let him, as he's largely a polite wee thing, and he seems to need us, for reasons as yet to be discovered.  But when Urchin realized that Boy-o had two moms, he exclaimed "That's SO weird!"  Boy-o looked a bit stunned.  Then repeated the words I'd told our neighbour urchin, and have told to him a million times before.  "All families are different, Urchin."    But as I stood there, processing what had just happened with a heavy heart (and yes, yes I know it will be an important educational opportunity for Urchin - I just honestly don't care), I wondered how long my words would be enough to soothe away the largely negative messages our son gets from the rest of the world about what a family should be (even though the reality is that barely anyone's family resembles this Cleaver-esque image of perfection anymore, and even though that image was largely a mirage anyways).

This experience, combined with the fact that our son has begun acting out having a father in imaginative play, has opened the floodgates for my parental fears (even though I am well aware that this is just a normal part of exploring the world around him).  What if our kids hate us for not being the Cleavers?  Of course, I know that being different is an asset rather than a liability. But I'm practically ancient, and they're just kids.   I knew going into having kids that we'd have to struggle against messages from the mainstream world.  I just didn't think it would happen so soon.

I know these fears are the product of internalized homophobia - I get it.  I get that even though I scream and rage at the Limbaugh's and Schlessinger's and Coulter's in the world; just like when the 'well meaning'  folks say things like, it's selfish for gays to have kids because those kids will bear the brunt of the worlds' homophobia (even though no one really has kids for 'selfless' reasons and even though it isn't my fucking fault the world is filled with homophobic wankers) their message still seeps into my body somehow. Just like I get that all those kids' books well-meaing folks have purchased for us with the traditional nuclear family seep into my son's psyche and alter his perceptions of 'normalcy'.  The assumption is that kids, particularly boys,  are at a deficit if they don't have fathers.  The "trouble" of "fatherless sons" is discussed ad nauseum in the media, particularly in regards to boys with, um, delinquency issues.  Again, I get that this is ridiculous.  I know that this is based on sexist ideas about same and opposite gender relations.  I know it's archaic.  And still, there is this place in my brain where these ideas still act as a filter to how I see and exist in the world.  We take things in, even when we don't want to, and even when they don't fit for us. 

And so these fears linger.  Not that Boy-o or Girlio will head to a life of crime, but far worse.  What if they resent us?  Hate us even?  (And though I'm sure we'll give them loads of perfectly good reasons to resent us all on our own - what I'm talking about here if what if they feel these things for reasons beyond our control?)  What if we our love isn't enough?   It is almost unbearable to contemplate.

What if they knew that I wanted them so badly that my body literally ached for years to have a baby?  What if they knew that we tried and tried to have them, that we were so desparate for the love of them that we resented our friends who got pregnant so easily when we could not?  What if they knew that they were the most important, the biggest loves of our loves, the hardest, most rewarding, most amazing thing we have ever done?  That we would willingly undergo any form of torture in order for them to flourish, to succeed, to feel loved and okay in this world.  Would it make a difference? 

It is the constant need to both combat and compensate for messages from the outside world, that ultimately makes this issue so anxiety-producing.  So we wait, we watch, we try like hell to instill self-esteem and valuing difference, and we wish on all the stars we can find in the sky that our love will be enough to see us all through at the end of the day.

Working through these fears seems like a constant wrestling match with a slippery crocodile - sometimes I come out on top, sometimes the croc does, and in the end, it could be anyone's game.

Final Parting Words:
Now, if you yourself are a gay parent - I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Hey lady - it says right in The Big Gay Handbook that we are not supposed to talk about this stuff!  It's right there, sandwiched in between "How to Turn Straight People Gay" and "Queer Bathhouse Etiquette."   I know - I know - it feels almost traitorous to publicly grapple with this stuff because it feels like capitulating to the homophobic crap spun everywhere in the world around us. It would look so much neater and tidier for the queer cause if we didn't talk about the tricky stuff and just put up a united front against the haters. I know.

So - for the record - in case there are any Limbaugh-lovin', queer hatin' folks reading my blog for some strange reason - I don't worry about my kids getting messed around in this world because they have two queer parents who love them more than anything in the world.   I do, however, spend a whole lotta time worrying about my kids getting messed around in this world because of Limbaugh-lovin', queer hatin' asshats who spew their toxic shit everywhere, ya dig?  So to steal and turn the famous break-up phrase - it's not me, it's you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

a spot of perfect in an ordinary day

I think that watching my girlio babble and splash away in the bath while simultaneously listening to my wife and son perform a very loud and boisterous 3 act circus show in the living room = a small moment of bliss hidden in the disguise of a regular old day. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Birth Story at One Year

A year ago today, at 7:15 a.m. Girlio took this world by storm.  Labour started the night before, around 8 p.m. while L. and I were watching a goofy and very funny Parker Posie movie.  I laughed my ass off in between contractions - and wondered if this was really labour or just more of the practice contractions I'd been having for the better part of a week.   After the movie, too revved up to try and sleep, we decided to walk to see if we could speed up the contractions and get a good rhythm going.  Thank goodness for video monitors, which allowed L. and I to walk a half block radius from our house while watching Boy-o sleeping in his room safe and sound.  After a half hour of walking, we knew it was time to call in the reinforcements, and the grandparents were called.  Boy-o's Papa came to our house, and we headed out to their house (nearer to the hospital) to pick up Gramma.  We walked and laboured for a bit longer at Gramma's, up and down their long driveway (their neighbours probably thought we were nuts!).  The weather was warm, the night was still, and the stars were out in full force.  Those moments of walking together, holding hands and stopping every few minutes for contractions, were so peaceful and calm.  I remember thinking that it would be lovely to just walk around outside until I was really ready to get birthing! 

Around 1 a.m., the contractions started hitting stronger and much more frequently, so we knew it was time to ditch the loveliness of the great outdoors and head off to the hospital.  We gave our midwife a call to let her know we were on our way in.   We set up a cozy cocoon in our birthing room (which was big, complete with a shower, birthing tub, rocking chair, birthing bed, and a full size murphy bed for post-birth rest!), and immediately got the IPOD going with my specially made birthing tunes.    I walked and danced with L. for much of my labour, just as it was with Boy-o.  Though I tried other positions (birthing ball, rocking, etc.) nothing else really felt right to me.  I loved this part of labour - listening to music, dancing, swaying, walking through contractions with L.  It was so mellow and calm.  Our nurse and midwife (as well as two student midwives) kept remarking that our room felt so relaxing and chill.  Apparently it was too chill, because after awhile our labour stalled a bit.   I didn't mind too much, falling asleep on all fours on the birthing bed, in between contractions.  Around 4 a.m., we decided with our midwife to break my waters and get things going again.  Boy did that ever work!   We walked and danced and swayed some more and before long, we were well on our way.  It was painful, yes, but also exhilarating and empowering... my body was working so hard to bring our baby girl into the world!  I really wanted a water birth, and just as we began to wonder if I should get into the tub, two things happened.  Our midwife popped in to check on me and transition hit me like a ton of bricks.   When the midwife asked me what I needed, all I could do was flop over on the bed moaning "I don't know.  I don't know what I need"  over and over again as I was slammed by wave after wave after wave of run on contraction.  She sagely advised my caregivers that it was time to strip me down and put me in the tub.  The water was running, I was undressed by my peeps, and as I took a step towards the tub I was hit by the uncontrollable urge to push.  I grabbed the side of the tub, fell into a squatting position and began birthing our girl.  L. popped down beside me, flanking me and whispering encouragement - at times the pain was so intense that I felt as if her voice was the only thing keeping me attached to this world.  Girlio came so so quicky.  I pushed for maybe 4 minutes before our midwife caught her, on her hands and knees beneath me on the floor.  So while I didn't quite get the waterbirth I was hoping for, at least the tub came in handy for holding me up! 

At 7:15 a.m. on June 15, 2009, our baby girl stole into this world and stole our hearts in the process.  She was so wide-eyed, calm, watchful.  She still is, a year later.  She breastfed like a champ.  She still does, a year later.   As L. and I lay with her tiny, sweet, self, it would have been unfathomable to us that a year of her life would have passed so quicky.  For those deliciously quiet, sequestered, few hours together after her birth time seemed to stand absolutely still, as we dozed and marvelled in each other's presence.  And yet, here we are, on the day of our second child's first birthday.  Girlio is always climbing, always laughing, into everything, totally in love with her big brother, and right on the verge on walking and making herself a bone fide toddler.   Though she's pretty easy going thus far, she's working on honing a stubborn streak and a flair for finding trouble to give her big bro and her parents a good old run for their money.  I can't wait to see what adventures she tackles as she heads into her second year of life with us. 

Happy birthday sweet girl.    


Monday, June 14, 2010

3 - the continuing saga

I should probably not be tempting fate by putting this sentiment into writing.  But here I go anyways!

Boy-o's tantrums have almost totally abated, confirming what we had had not let ourselves dare to hope.  They were not the product of anything horribly, terribly wrong (you can't see me, but I'm actually jumping up and down, waving and contorting my entire body in a wonky prayer of thanks to the God/dess of children).  The tantrums were, in large part, the product of yet another developmental leap.  They were also a big old wake-up call - clueing us in to what we had suspected, but not yet confirmed.  We have a  sensitive and spirited child on our hands.   He is beautiful and bright and inquisitive and amazing.  But we've learned that Boy-o gets overwhelmed and overstimulated very easily.   We've learned that we must cling to the mid-day nap like a drowning person clings to a life-preserver.   And we've also learned to be better watchers for cues of our 4 household enemies: over-tired, overwhelmed, hungry and overstimulated. 

There have a been a few concrete hard and fast rules that we've developed that have helped our rocky houseboat find calmer waters.

1.  We never, ever, ever do more than one out of the house thing per day (and it's really best to have a day between activity days wherever possible).  So if we have a dance class and get invited to a playdate immediately following - it's gotta be a no.  If we have a dance class and I realize I just need to pop into the store and get something - I suck it up.  One thing and one thing only.  It is a pain in the ass.  It makes me more isolated because I have to say no to things more often than I'd like.  But in the larger scheme, it makes all of our lives happier and calmer.

2.  Nap or quiet time is an absolute must.  Every day.  After lunch.  Without fail. 

3.  Absolute consistency with tantrums, and developing safety rules for tantrums as a team.    We came up with: 1. No hitting or hurting, 2. No throwing things, and 3. We have to go to our room until we are calmer (and one of us would always go with - this isn't meant as punishment).   

4.  Listening to him as well as expecting him to listen to us.  If we are somewhere and he says "I want to go home,"  instead of blowing it off, we stop and take stock of the situation.  What's going on?  Is he overwhelmed?  Tired?  Hungry?  We've learned that sometimes, we're gonna need to check out half-way through the grocery shop, leave the playdate or dance class or soccer game half-way through.    Or if we are supposed to be going out and he insists he doesn't want to go - why?  What's going on?  Maybe we just need to stay in and chill out.   We're learning to go with his flow a bit more these days - not always easy, but infinitely worth it.

5.  Never, ever, ever go anywhere without snack.  Lots of snack.

I'm not saying we're livin' la vida tantrum-free.  But they are shorter in frequency and intensity - and they make sense.  (As in, we are not having a tantrum because I committed the injustice of purchasing a watermelon at the grocery store and deigned to bring it home, even though it is one of Boy-o's favourites, I SHOULD have known better.  This of course, made absolutely no sense, thus making the hurricane of emotions it evoked much scarier and confusing.  Now it's more like, I am mad because you won't let me watch more TV, which makes sense.   I'd be pissed if I were him too.)

The beauty of turning the corner on this phase, and of all of us learning new coping skills together, is that we get to go back to really enjoying watching him grow and learn and thrive in the world around him! Boy-o has been seeming so wonderfully and terribly grown-up lately.  It's wonderful, of course, because watching your child flourish right before your eyes is such an amazing gift.  And it's horrible at the same time, because there will always be that part of you that wants desparately to keep them small and wee and with you forever.   He has been sprouting complex words in complex sentences, using amazingly imaginative play, delighting in his daily new discoveries, and just generally being a joy.   

And I am so thankful right now:  that I don't have to turn into the mom-from-hell anymore - not saying she's been vanquished - but she certainly creeps up less these days; that my Boy-o is way more Dr. Jekyll than Mr. Hyde; that Girlio no longer lives in a warzone; that we are all free to enjoy our days in a way that was just not possible a month ago; that we can focus on just being, as opposed to living for second-by-second damage control.   I'm not so stupid as to think that we are in the clear - developmental leaps and challenges will be back.  But I am so much more confident in our ability to cope with them when they do arise.

Life ain't perfect - but it sure feels like a weight has been lifted.

P.S.  if any readers feel that their tots might have some sensitivity issues, I really, really, highly, and especially recommend reading:  "Raising Your Spirited Child" By Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.  It made me feel infinitely less crazy during this challenging process.


It is an amazing feeling to be in the majority, even just temporarily. Where did all those queer people come from?   Pride was wonderful.  The sun shone, the kiddies had blast, we ran into lovely friends and had an impromptu BBQ.   As they say ala Flintstones, we had a gay old time ;-)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lofty (um, read stupid) goals and Pride with small kids

Ahhh - such a dumb-ass am I.    Cute, but not too bright, as the saying goes. 

Gone are the days where I can carefree-ily march in the Pride Parade, get my gay on, drink beer in the beer gardens and then head out to party with my people all night.  Okay - truth be told, I was never actually that cool.  But still. 

Things I realized about my plan to march the entire pride parade with our kidlets.

1)  The parade starting point and ending point are far away from each other.   This brings up all kinds of logistical issues.  Where to park?  At the beginning, the end, or the middle?  What to do with the wagon and scads of helium ballons and tired and overstimulated childrens (who most certainly not be up for a ten block walk back to wherever the car is no matter what we decide) if we have to take public transportation to wherever our car is.

2)  The parade is in the middle of nap-time.  Oh, we're still going and getting our gay on.  It'll just require lots of sugar, bribery and coddling.  And then we're gonna pay for it later - that's I'm sayin'.

3)  Apparently one is supposed to register to march in the parade.  Even, like, to walk.  Who knew?

So here's the revised plan. 

1) We will still wear our gay-bow finery.  Oh yes we will.

2)  We will still soup up the wagon with balloons and stuff.

3)  We will bring lots and lots of cash for sugary treats of all varieties (along with a giant kidfriendly knapsack containing pretty much everything we own).

4)  We will park at the parade ending point, and try to walk up half-way and sneak into the parade mid-point.  Hopefully no one will ask if we registered :-)

5)  We will be fully prepared to use any forms of bribery available to us, as needed.

6)  Being out and proud used to be logistically easier.  Just sayin'


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gayin' it up...

I have always been a bit, well, too cool for the rainbow.  You know, the big ole gay rainbow.   I know, I know.  I'm a bad, terrible excuse for a queer.  It's fine, as far as symbols go.  But as the queer daughter of lesbo moms, I've been to a lot of Pride Parades - and had a lot of rainbows in my life (in my house, on the family cars, on our porch, whathaveyou).  So maybe I got a little sick of rainbows.  Or maybe it was lingering teenage disdain.  Or maybe it's because I've been spoiled enough to live in some pretty liberal, gay friendly places that I've taken my queerness, my identity, my right to take up public space, a little bit for granted. 

But that was then.  Things have changed.  This year, we're going rainbow.  Full-on rainbow.  There is some serious rainbow accessorizing happening in our home.  I'm making freaking t-shirts and souping up the kids' wagon with rainbow windmills and helium balloons.  There may even be rainbow face paints. 

So why the colour change of heart?

The first reason is, I no longer live in a liberal, lovey-dovey, free-to-be-you-and-me kinda place.  I live, as you all know, in Redneckville.  In fact, I live in one of the redneckiest ends of the city of Redneckville (This might have been information our gay real estate agent woulda shared with us, no?).  I'd be lying if I said that this hasn't done a number on my sense of safety as a queer woman and as a queer parent.  Oh sure, I've always been careful about when and where I let myself be visibly dykey (aka demonstrate any form of affection with my lover), no matter where I've lived.  But here, I've never even considered walking down the street holding my wife's hand.  It's a little sad-making.  We're out.  Our neighbours know we're gay - we're not hiding it.  But we're not, you know, taking out a billboard either.    

And then there's the little matter of the very public gay bashing that occured a few months ago here in my city, where a lesbian was very violently assaulted by a fourteen year old boy because she was a lesbian.  It was ridiculously mishandled by our city's police (shock and surprise, I know) who did not even initally file the report, and then very nearly refused to handle to the case as a hate crime.  And there were folks who couldn't understand why it was a hate crime.  It was a hate crime because it was a crime directed at not just one person, but rather an entire group of people.  Hate crimes are like acts of terrorism.  They succeed precisely because they instill terror far beyond the physical victims of the initial crime.  A gay bashing instills terror in the lives of all queers, and it certainly hasn't done anything to make me feel more, you know, all comfy-cozy-queer here. 

The last, and to me the most pressing, reason for bringing on the rainbow love is that I now have children.  Two wonderful, beautiful children who should be able to see their parents hold hands or share a smooch in public without having to see them look over their shoulders to see who is watching, and whether said watchers might pose a danger.   Children who deserve to always feel as if their family is okay just the way it is.  

But the reality of our lives is that they likely won't be allowed to feel this way always.  Because their parents don't hold hands or smooch in public.  And we do look have to look over our shoulders.  We do pay attention to who's watching, and who might pose a danger if we are read as queer.  We do have to continually respond to assumptions about the presence or absence of fathers and husbands.   

So being able to have a day where we can just be ourselves, have a public cuddle, and enjoy the presence of our community is such a gift, and one I realize I've taken for granted.  Our kids are too young right now to understand now how important the pride march is to our community, but I hope that when they're older, they'll be able to look back and appreciate that time and space to really celebrate who their parents are as a couple, and who we all are as a family.  

Pride is also a chance for our kids to be immersed in open queer culture in all its drag queen-y, gender queer, dykes-on-bikes glory, and it's one that only comes along once or so a year.  I want Boy-o and Girlio to be able to look at drag queens and trannies and big loud-mouthed dykes and flirty fairies and chosen queer families of all shapes and sizes, and feel at home.  I want them to know that this is their community and know that it is fucking amazing and beautiful. 

So me and my family, we'll be at the pride march this Sunday, gayin' it up in all our be-rainbowed glory.  And we'll be loving every in-your-face, hand-holding, smooch-in-public, unafraid, pride-y moment.  Because we can.

free for all toxicity

It seems as though everywhere we turn, we learn something new and disturbing about the toxicity of everyday products in our lives. I think most of us tend to want to turn a blind eye to this kinds of information - because more bad news in a bad news world is overwhelming, and because it's difficult to figure out what our alternatives to potentially toxic products are.

One of the more shocking discoveries I made awhile back was that cosmetic products are actually not held to any sort of safety regulations. That's right. Make-up, moisturizers, sunscreens, deodorants, shampoos - you know, the stuff we slather all over ourselves and our children - NOT REGULATED. And, I guess, in light of the previous news, unsurprisingly, chalk full of toxins. Toxins that are linked to cancer, infertility, and all kinds of other badness. Even companies that use the "natural product" or "green product" advertising line are full of toxins (and those ones to my mind are the worst offenders!). Companies that immediately come to mind here are Aveeno, Melaleuca, Arbonne, Lush, Body Shop - but the list could go on and on for days.


There are two lovely reports/studies put out that give us both real information AND real alternatives. So, other than the need to do a little homework and product hunting - nothing to get overwhelmed about.

Below are the links to check out. Really - check 'em out. You'll be horrified, it's true. BUT - these reports give us the ability to practice harm reduction. Okay - maybe we can't afford to buy the super-dooper-all-natural-and-wholesome-chemical-free alternatives. But we can look up and find products that are LESS harmful and still likely in our price range. At least that's what I've tried to do.

The first is the Skin Deep Report, put out by the US based Environmental Working Group. (This report has the added bonus of informing you which products are tested on bunnies and puppies and kitties too),

The second is the 2010 Sunscreen Report Findings, put out by the very same EWG.

So -what do we do about this shit?!  

We read it.  We read it and weep. (It's a lot to take in and if you're at all like me, you'll need a moment to be furious and outraged.)  We read it and share the information - because no one knows about this stuff... and like they say folks, knowledge is power.

And then we shop.

Show those corporate bastards that we will not accept toxins in our make-up, in our sunscreen, and in the lotion we slather our babes with daily.   Because when we stop buying their products, they'll start changing 'em.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

brain dead

I have started and abandoned not one, not two but four blog posts in as many days.  I cannot find the chutzpah or time or brain space to finish them.  Bugger. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

a small sampling of things i've learned from my kiddies, so far

1.  Your outlook on life really can improve with a nap!

2.  Why cry over spilled milk (or water, or juice, or pee... whathaveyou) when you can stomp in it?

3.   It really is possible to live on 4 hours of sleep a night (but not necessarily pleasant).

4.   Anything can be a gift if you just perfect the presentation ("Mama!  I've got somefing JUST for you!  Look - a BOOGER!")

5.  The day can turn on a dime, and,

6.   It can always go either way.

7.  Distraction can never be overrated.

8.  When you  hear music, it just makes good sense to dance, location irrelevant.

9.  Sometimes the most exciting thing to do is nothing at all.

10.  When you're feeling upset sometimes the best thing to do is take off your pants.

11.  If it feels good, you should probably do it.

12.   Everything is negotiable in some way.

13.  When emptying pockets, one must be fully prepared for all  possible eventualities of contents!

14.  Bribery works (there's a reason there are laws about this in the public sphere!).

15.  Some things will never cease to be fun (rainbows, puddles, public streaking, etc.)

16.  Every other day is a magical adventure.

17.  Every other other day is really best spent at home in pajamas.

18.  Grown-ups talk too much (and play too little).

19.  Never underestimate the power of well-timed puppy-dog eyes.

20.  Hugs really can make just about anything better.