Category Archives: Gender

If the shoe fits…

In late August our little family trooped off to the kids’ shoe store at the mall.  We were there to get Tadpole a new pair of shoes.  His last pair (awesome bright yellow ones that look like dump trucks) were starting to fall apart, and we wanted him to have new ones before the new school year.

We’ve been to this store before, and have always shown Tad both the purple/pink/sparkly section and the blue/brown/orange/superhero section, and avoided labeling them by gender.  As feminists it’s important to Roo and me to not close off gender options for either of our kids based on their sex.

In the past Tad has generally opted for shoes from the “boy” side of the aisle.  He has dearly loved a series of vehicle shoes–he had ones that looked like fire trucks a few winters ago, followed by race trucks followed by the current dump trucks.  But he did pick out a pair of purple sandals a few summers ago and wore them until they fell apart.

This time around, Tad’s first stop at the shoe store was a pair of light saber sneakers that not only lit up, but also made light saber sound effects.  I told him that they seemed very cool, but that we wouldn’t be buying them because his teacher would not be thrilled if we sent him to school with shoes that made noise.  Tad was disappointed, but soon picked out a pair of blue and green light-up sneakers, tried them on, and seemed satisfied.

blue shoe

But the he started chatting with a little girl on the other side of the store and she showed off the pink and purple light-up sneakers that she had picked out (coincidentally the same model of shoe as the blue-green ones in a different color scheme).  Tad reported to his new friend (as he tells anyone who asks) that his favorite colors are “pink and purple and magenta and gold.”  Then he turned to Roo and me and asked, “can I get the pink and purple ones?”

pink purple shoe

My heart sunk.  I was filled with conflicting thoughts and feelings:

  • I love my boy and am proud of how thoroughly himself he is.
  • But he is about to start at a new school, bigger and less sheltered than his cozy little preschool.  We don’t want our sweet boy to be teased by his new classmates.  Plus, he could potentially go to this school for 9 years.  Will he want his 7th grade classmates to remember him as the boy who wore pink sneakers?
  • Our whole family will be starting relationships at this new school.  We’ll already stand out as a two-mom family.  What assumptions will people make about us if our boy also shows up in pink and purple light-up shoes?
  • What if he decides in a few weeks that he doesn’t want these?
  • But our principles mean that we should support Tad wearing what he wants to.

We explained to Tad that some people might tease him about the shoes because they incorrectly think that some colors are just for some people.  He insisted that he still wanted the pink and purple ones.

Roo and I held a whispered conversation about how to handle our dilemma.  Roo had a very wise idea–to buy both pairs.  The store was having a “buy one, get one half-off” sale, so it wouldn’t be a huge difference financially.  And this way Tad could decide each day which pair he wanted to wear and how much gender-bending he wanted to do. Roo and I thought about how we all make decisions every day about how much of true selves to show, and how much to compromise in order to avoid standing out.  Neither of us have been boys, so we don’t know how to navigate these gender issues from that perspective.  But we have been girls and women, and so we have experiences every day in making decisions about how much to fit into the appearance that is expected for our gender.  Some days I shave my legs because I like how it looks/feels.  But on other days I do it because it’s easier to not worry about getting funny looks.  And there are other times when I decide that I don’t want to shave and am okay with potentially standing out.

Tad proudly wore his brand new pink and purple shoes to day camp at the Y the next day.  He came home in tears reporting that other kids at camp had made fun of his shoes–and that staff had joined in.  I felt so sad for my little boy and furious at the camp staff.  I was sad but not surprised that the other campers had teased him.  Kids Tad’s age are exploring a lot about gender and trying to make everything follow simple rules–“girls do ___” and “boys do ____.”  But we had hoped that staff would protect my son rather than joining in the bullying.  Roo spoke with senior staff and they promised to look into the issue, but they couldn’t make it never have happened.

Still, Tad wore his pink and purple shoes to his first day of kindergarten.  He told us that some kids had laughed at him and had told him that his shoes were girls’ shoes.  We repeated our family’s “party line” which is that anyone can like any color.  For the next week or so, Tad wore his blue and green shoes.  Then, a few weeks into school, he tried the pink and purple ones again.  He came home saying that a few kids had teased him, but that he had told them that anyone can wear any color.  We emailed with his teacher, who told us that she had not seen many problems, and that she had been impressed at the way Tad stood up for himself on the few occasions when she saw some teasing.

Now Tadpole wears his pink and purple shoes to school almost every day.  I’m so proud of him as I watch him walk into school each morning–my little boy in a sea of older kids, his blue shark backpack on his back and his pink and purple shoes on his feet.

 

Advertisements

23 Comments

Filed under Gender, Parenthood, Tadpole, Uncategorized

Not a fan

Things of which I am not a fan:

Working five days a week  On weekdays I only see Sprout for about an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.  She’s changing so fast that it feels like the kid I see each weekend is a totally different one than the weekend before.  She learned to roll from back to front while at daycare last week, and I didn’t see her do it until Saturday.  It’s hard to only have two days a week when we really get to hang out, and those days are full of chores, laundry, trips to the grocery store, etc.  I know that there are plenty of parents who have this schedule (or worse), but it’s still hard.

Power struggles with Tadpole in the mornings Tadpole was doing better at getting himself dressed in the mornings without a fuss, but lately things have gotten tough again.  Some mornings he crawls back into bed and pulls the covers over his head.  On other mornings it takes a threat to take away some important privilege before he puts on each item of clothing.  We had a reward chart, and that seemed to help for a while, but I think we need to adjust it somehow in order to get his attention again.

Things of which I am a fan:

Weekends  In my pre-kid life, weekends were a time to fit in as many fun activities as possible.  This past weekend we went to one event on Saturday and went to the grocery store on Sunday.  Other than that, the four of us hung out at home, and it was so nice.  There was time to catch up on some chores (I think Roo did 7 loads of laundry!), and also time to just be present to each other.

Sunny days and springtime Our little family spent a lot of Sunday afternoon outside in our yard, which was lovely.  With the cold and snowy/rainy winter that we’ve had, it feels like Sprout has hardly seen the sun!  But this weekend she got to roll around on a blanket in the grass.  And the rest of us did some work in the garden and set up our hammock.  Unlike last year, when Tad appropriated most of Roo’s tools and then did almost nothing useful with them, this time he actually did quite a bit of good weeding.

Our many-gendered boy On Saturday we went to a fairytale festival at the local library. There were a variety of costumes that kids could try on, and Tad went back to the costume booth multiple times and created a variety of outfits for his alter egos, “Princess Jack” and “an armored pirate fairy”.  At various points he had on a tutu, a knight’s hat, a purple princess dress, pirate face paint, armor, fairy wings, and a magic wand.

Familiar routines  It hasn’t taken as long as I thought it would to get back into some of our pre-Sprout routines.  I’ve made pancakes or waffles with Tad on several recent weekend mornings.  And we’re back to our old Sunday nights, which include me cooking a big dish for the week and weekly baths for the kids (yes, weekly).

Watching Tadpole and Sprout together Tad loves to be wherever Sprout is, and is constantly touching her, talking to her and making faces at her.  He is so full of affection for her that he often needs reminders to hug her more gently or to give her a little space.  One of his favorite things (and mine!) is when they have a bath together.  On Sunday night in the tub he gently poured water over her and sang her little made up songs.  And she just grinned and grinned and kicked her legs with joy as she looked up at him.   This is the kind of thing I dreamed about when we were TTC, and it’s magical to have a part of that dream come true.

10 Comments

April 7, 2014 · 9:23 pm

Public Property

I had a midwife appointment last Thursday, and afterwards had a few extra minutes before I needed to be at work.  So I stopped at a fast food restaurant along the way to treat myself to a fruit smoothie.  Below is the ensuing scene:

Woman behind the counter: Are you having a boy or a girl?
Me (consider saying “right now I’d like to be having a fruit smoothie” but bite my tongue):  A girl.
WBTC (turns to her co-worker): That doesn’t look like a girl belly, does it?  I heard it’s boy bellies that are usually right in front like that.
Co-worker:  Yeah, that’s what I heard too.  I don’t think that looks like a girl belly.
WBTC: Are you sure you’re having a girl?
Me (really hoping my smoothie shows up soon):  That’s what they said.
Random other customer:  I think boys are usually carried low, so that could be a girl.
Third woman behind the counter: Yeah, it’s boys that are carried all the way around, and girls that are just in front.
Yet another random customer:  Yeah, I think that looks like a girl belly.
(I turn away from what’s starting to feel like a mob of people wanting to share their opinions about the size and shape of my body and head for the door.  But make the mistake of stopping to get a straw, where I am interrupted by an employee who had been sweeping the floor.)
Floor-sweeping employee:  So did you want to have a girl?
Me:  We would’ve been happy either way.
FSE: (seeming disappointed that I’m not going to share my innermost thoughts on gender with her): Oh.  When are you due?
Me (over my shoulder as I escape out the door): December.

It’s fascinating to me that so many people think it’s totally fine to comment on the shape and size of a pregnant person.  There’s not really any other circumstances in which that is socially acceptable.  We don’t walk up to strangers and say, “wow, you sure do have big feet!” or “wow, what a tiny belly you have” or “your head is way out of proportion with the rest of you.”  But somehow, a pregnant person’s body is public property and lots of people think it’s acceptable to examine and comment on it.

Last Thursday was certainly not the first time I’ve had conversations like this.  And this one was actually fairly benign in that they were debating the sex of my baby (which I don’t have much doubt about after the ultrasounds we’ve seen) rather than the size of my belly (which tends to come with all sorts of emotional baggage attached).

Over the summer a man in line in front of me at a rest stop in Delaware wanted to know when I was due, and promptly expressed his disbelief that I could have so many months left to go.  I considered going into detail about IUIs and vaginal ultrasounds and the other reasons that I am definitely sure of my due date, but decided that I’d rather just get my pizza.  I’ve had many people tell me that my bump is “so cute” and “so little” and many others tell me it’s huge and they doubt I’ll make it until December. One of the joys of being pregnant is that, in addition to the societal pressure that women face all of the time about not being too big, there’s also negative feedback if you’re too small. I feel fortunate to be relatively comfortable in my body, because all of these comments could make me very self-conscious.  Belly’s too small–am I giving the baby what she needs?  Is the baby okay?  Belly’s too big–am I eating too much?  Is the baby going to be obese?  Is it going to take forever for me to loose all of the baby weight?

Many women have jealously compared the shape and size of my belly to the way they remember carrying their baby/ies.  All of this examination (and especially the jealousy) tends to feel uncomfortable because I don’t have a lot of control over how my body carries pregnancies.  It’s not like I’m doing anything particularly virtuous that is giving my body this shape that they think is ideal.  I usually mumble something like, “isn’t it interesting how different people’s bodies are and how little control we have over how it happens.”  I certainly understand how much pressure there is to look a certain way when pregnant, but it’s not so fun to have other people’s insecurities projected onto me.

I will admit that there are occasional moments when I like feeling special and like the center of attention.  But in moments like the scene above, I just want to get my smoothie and go to work in peace without having the shape and size of my body closely examined and commented on by every employee and customer in the McDonalds.

 

8 Comments

Filed under Gender, Pregnancy, Uncategorized

Interlude

Thank you so much for all of the comments on my previous post.  Your commiseration, advice, information and perspectives have all been so helpful.

We ended up having a lovely Thanksgiving with my family.  And Roo and my mom had a brave and wonderful conversation that cleared up a number of misunderstandings.  My mom and I talked a bit as well.  After all of this Roo and I are leaning towards taking my parents up on their incredibly generous offer of financial help with IVF.

My emotions on this swing wildly from moment to moment.  At times I am excited that we could soon be moving on to a new plan that will give us much better odds of success.  At others I am angry and bitter that we have come to this point.  In other moments I am anxious about the IVF process and how much Roo will have to go through.  And there are plenty of times when I am guilty about having acess to financial help that so many others do not–and if I have access to this kind of money shouldn’t I use it to save starving children rather than bringing another 1st-world consumer-of-resources into the world?

I realized recently that I am spending hours at a time lost in thoughts about the past (reflecting on how painful this process has been and wondering why it hasn’t worked already) or the future (should we really do IVF?  what will it be like if we do?) or the never-will-be (all of the bitter and grieving thoughts about experiences that we won’t have because of having a larger age gap between our kids).  It’s not the best way to live my life.  I know that I will need time in the next few months for thinking and planning and grieving and raging.  But my goal is to set aside bits of time for those things, and to spend the rest of my time working on being present to what’s going on around me right now.

One of the best ways to remain in the present is to spend time with Tadpole, who throws himself into every moment with so much energy and enthusiasm.  We spent a lovely evening together on Tuesday when Roo was at an appointment and I thought I’d write more about it in an attempt to remind myself how really wonderful many things about my present life are.

To set the scene I should mention that one of the million things that I love about Tadpole is how little he tries to fit in or to do things like other people.  He dresses himself, and his clothes often end up on backwards (sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident).  At times I mention to him that he has ended up with something on backwards and check in with him about whether he wants it that way or not.  And his usual reaction is to assert that he likes it just fine the way it is.  One day, when he was wearing a shirt with a backhoe on it, he said “I like it because I want the people who are behind me to see my digger.”  He also has a new pair of sparkly purple sneakers, which he adores (somehow we lost one of his beloved fire truck sneakers on the way home from Thanksgiving.  I’m still completely baffled about how that happened).  I lovelovelove that he is so thrilled to have shoes in his favorite color and so unconcerned with rules about who should be allowed to wear shiny purple shoes.  So on this particular Tuesday my beloved child happened to be wearing all of his clothing backwards (which meant the drawstring in his pants waistband made a little tail and the label in the front of his t-shirt was sticking out under his chin) and his purple sneakers.

Another one of the million things that I love about Tad is his imagination and how seamlessly he switches back and forth between reality and fantasy.  We arrived home after I picked him up at school and were looking through the mail.  He found a Christmas card from an old work colleague of mine with a picture-perfect nuclear family (1 husband, 1 wife, 1 boy, 1 girl, 1 dog).  Suddenly we were that family, and I was the “husband” and the yoyo that he dragged around the house was the dog.  Then “a fairy came” and Tad was transformed from a woman into a man, “so in this family there are two husbands.”  I was told that it was bed time and instructed to lie down on the living room couch while he lay down on an adjacent chair.  We were very “I Love Lucy” with our separate beds.  Then it was “morning” and time to get up.  I had gotten quite comfortable on the couch and protested so he said, “it’s okay husband!  I will make you breakfast!” and proceeded to create “scrambled eggs” and “sausages” that looked remarkably like his Brio train cars.

After our imaginary breakfast, Tad helped me make real mac and cheese.  He counted spoonfuls of milk, stirred in the cheese powder, and proudly carried his own bowl to the table.  We held hands to say our “thank yous” (our family’s form of saying grace, each saying something that we’re thankful for).  And we talked over dinner about the tool belt he had made at school and plans for tomorrow.

We had a little time to play after dinner.  I was impressed to watch Tad put together a big floor puzzle with no assistance from me.  And I was proud of myself for biting my tongue when he asked for help because each time he was able to figure out a solution on his own.  Then he wanted to get out another toy, and I told him he needed to put the puzzle away first.  He cocked his head to one side and said,  “Okay Momma, I make a plan with you.  You want me to put it away and I do not want to put it away so I will put away 4 puzzle pieces.”  It was hard to argue with such a confident negotiator.

I told him it was time for bed and he asked to be carried up the stairs.  Sometimes I wonder if I should do this for an almost-4-year-old, but he is so grown up in many respects that I’m pretty willing to let him be a little guy from time to time.  Besides, I love the fact that he tucks his chin over my shoulder and snuggles against my neck.  I got him into his pajamas and we brushed his teeth.  Then we read his dinosaur book and I sang him 2 songs.  Roo and I used to be allowed to sing actual lullabies, but now he demands that we create songs on the spot–and he usually provides the topic as well.  Recent song topics have included, “me and my cousin C driving in a truck,” “taking a train to the doctor’s office” and “hall monitors” (after encountering that term in a book we’d read).  After songs I (or Roo and I, if we’re doing bedtime together) lie down with him in his bed for a few minutes.  On Tuesday he was restless, as he often is, but I still love having a few minutes to hug his wiggly little body.  After a few minutes of snuggling, I headed back downstairs to clean up the kitchen, pack lunches…and obsess about the TTC process.

It is very hard to be in this in-between space where we don’t know what the way forward will be like.  I don’t like not (yet) having a plan.  I hate how much time and energy the TTC process is taking.  So I’m trying to take a little of it back by being present to moments like Tuesday night.  I don’t want to be so caught up in our struggles to conceive kiddo #2 that I miss out on moments like these.

7 Comments

Filed under Gender, Tadpole, TTC #2, Uncategorized

Our Many-Gendered Boy

When Roo and I found out Tadpole’s sex (about 20 weeks into my pregnacy), we both worried about how we would do raising a boy.  We knew a lot about being girls, and not much at all about what it’s like to be a boy.  Our lives had been very focused around women.   Even in our professional lives we had often focused on women–I worked at several all-girls camps many years ago, and Roo taught at a girls’ school.  95% of the artwork on the walls in our home portrayed women.  Almost all of our friends were women–a diverse bunch, and with a wide variety of gender presentations–but still almost all female.  How would we help our little guy figure out what kind of a boy/man he wanted to be?  How would we help him navigate masculine worlds, when we had spent so little time in them ourselves?  We were also aware of the possibility that our kid might be transgendered–and in some ways it felt like that world might be easier for us to help our kid navigate than the world(s) of boys and men.

It turns out that (so far at least) Tadpole does a great job of finding resources and role models for himself.  When talking to either grandmother on the phone, his first question is usually, “where’s PopPop/Poppie?”  At the pool the other day Tad spent 30 minutes talking to Ben (an adolescent lifeguard, who happens to be the son of one of Tad’s preschool teachers), and another 30 minutes talking to the awkward teenaged boy at the snack bar.  Tadpole talks to men everywhere we go–chatting with an older man at the bus stop about our planned adventure for the day, telling men at neighboring restaurant tables what he chose to eat, and calling out greetings to any of our male neighbors who come within earshot.

All by himself he as found male role models who exemplify lots of different ways of being men.  Tad adores the soft-spoken bookish father of one of his friends, and runs up to hug the macho fire-fighter dad of one of his classmantes.  Ben (Tadpole’s lifeguard friend) is a femmey guy who likes to compare notes on nail polish with Tad.  Our neighbor (who you may remember from this post) is another of Tadpole’s heroes.

Tadpole also seems to have no problems figuring out what kind of boy he wants to be.  Tad is a boy who loves:

  • cars/planes/trains/construction equipment
  • purple (his favorite color for at least a year now)
  • soccer
  • having his nails painted (preferably purple)
  • firefighters and police officers
  • music
  • running and jumping and rough-housing
  • snuggling and hugs and kisses
  • babies (he loves “holding” several of our friends’ babies, and is a devoted Daddy to his doll, Baby Fred)
  • cooking (real and pretend)
  • reading books
  • pull-ups with fairies and unicorns
  • pull-ups with cars/planes/helicopters/trains

It is so fun to see him exploring the world and figuring out more about who he is and who he wants to be.  And I love that he hasn’t (so far) experienced a lot of pressure to cut off parts of himself in order to fit into the “boy” box.  I think if someone now told him that “boys don’t like purple” or “boys don’t like fairies” he would look at them like they have three heads.  Obviously boys like these kinds of things because he is a boy and he likes these things.  I am proud that much of this freedom from “boys don’t ___” messages comes from Roo and me.  It also comes from his classmates (many of whom are being raised by “good hippie folk” with values similar to ours) and from his teachers.  And it comes from the folks who we have in our community of friends.

But I’m sure that gender and defining gender roles will likely become more important as he and his friends get older and as he experiences  a wider world.  I suspect that he will get a lot more messages about what being a boy means and what things boys are not allowed to do/like/feel.  Thinking about that future makes me sad and mad.  I love all of the pieces of our little boy and I don’t want him to have to disown or hide any of them.

Maybe that’s where Roo and I will come in more–helping Tadpole figure out how to hold onto all of himself as he moves in a world that is less tolerant of some of the parts.  We’ll have to help him figure out what parts of himself he feels comfortable sharing in which settings.  I imagine we will also have conversations about how to stick up for what he believes in and create space for things that are important to him.  This feels like a far more intimidating challenge than just having to round up some men to hang out with my kid or put some pictures of boys up on the walls.  But it seems like a challenge worth undertaking, both for him and for the world at large.

5 Comments

Filed under Gender, Parenthood, Tadpole, TTC #1, Uncategorized

Beach week

I apologize yet again for disappearing for a while there.  There has been a lot going on–a week which included three TTC-related procedures (more on that later), a week at the beach with Roo’s family, and general summer craziness.

For the last five or so years, Roo’s parents have rented a house and our family, plus Roo’s brother and his family, have stayed with them for a week.  I won’t go into the details here, but things were not so good in Roo’s family when she was growing up.  So it is an amazing sign of the work all four of them have done that this trip was ever possible.  And it is miraculous that we have done it for the last 5 years.  Roo and her brother have very different political and religious beliefs. But his family and ours have remarkably similar parenting styles, which ends up mattering a lot more when we are all spending time together. The college-age revolutionary that I was would probably not believe that this was possible, but it seems to be the case for us.

It was a hard week for Roo and me in certain ways.  We left for the beach the day after the third of the three procedures in one week, and there was a lot we were still sorting out about that.  And then Roo’s brother happened to mention that his preferred presidential candidate was Rick Santorum, which was difficult to figure out what to do with.  But we did a lot of swimming and playing in the sand.  And the advantage of having so many adults is that Roo and I got to go out on several dates after Tad was in bed.

Tadpole loves spending so much time with his relatives.  He loved having his uncle and his grandfather around (the obsession with men that I talked about here is alive and well).  He also has three cousins who were there (two girls, ages 6 1/2 and 5, and a boy age 2) and they got into all sorts of mischief together.  He and his next-oldest cousin spent lots of time playing imaginary games and building sand castles together.  Sometimes they would both have imaginary houses (in opposite corners of the front porch, for example) and “visit” each others’ houses.  And sometimes she would have a house and he would be the firefighter who came to put out fires in the house (you might be able to guess which kid picked out which plot…).

And then there were the moments when he was clearly experimenting with the power of being bigger than another kid.  One night the grown-ups were sitting over the remains of dinner.  We heard a scream from the room next door, where the kids where playing.  Then Tadpole came running into the room, giggling.  His younger cousin’s brand new fire truck was tucked under his arm, and the cousin was in hot pursuit.  Tad ducked and weaved around the adults like an NFL player, and went laughing into the kitchen, leaving his cousin in tears.  Sigh.

For Roo and me, it is also wonderful to connect with our nieces and nephew.  I went out into the ocean with my older niece for a long time one day, and we had so much fun.  She clung to me like a little monkey, and we talked about her upcoming school year and giggled when big waves came.  My nephew is working hard on learning to speak and on understanding the world, and he spent an evening dragging me around the house and pointing out things that are “dawt” (dark, i.e. the fireplace and the inside of his mouth).  And I had lots of little moments with my younger niece, including a long walk with her and Tad and my mother-in-law.

So that’s a brief update.  Thanks for checking back despite the dearth of recent posts (and isn’t “dearth” a great word?).

4 Comments

Filed under Gender, Parenthood, Tadpole, Travel, TTC #2, Uncategorized

Mother guilt

One of the amazing perks of Roo’s job is that after you’ve worked there for seven years they give you a chunk of money to go on a trip over the summer.  We have been daydreaming forever about what we might do when her sabbatical year arrived.  It seemed important to use the money to do something that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.  Neither of us have been outside of the country in years.  Roo’s last international trip was when she was in high school and mine was when I was in college, and I’ve never traveled in Europe.  I can’t even remember how it all came about, but we settled on Italy as our destination quite a while ago, and started making plans with a travel agent earlier this year.  We’re going to Italy for 10 days in June.  We’ll spend three days each in Venice, Florence, and Rome.

We thought about taking Tadpole with us for approximately seven seconds.  First, we couldn’t afford the third plane ticket.  Then we thought about taking a 3 1/2-year-old on a 10-hour plane trip, dealing with a preschooler with jet lag, and trying to keep a small person from running into precious artworks in museums.  I love lots of things about traveling with Tad, but it’s not exactly restful.  And traveling internationally is tiring in its own ways.  Traveling internationally with the kid seemed like way too much.  We are very lucky that Tadpole has grandparents who are willing and able to do take care of our kid, and who we trust to do it. Tadpole will stay with Roo’s parents for some of the time we are gone, and my mom will come stay with him at our house for the rest.  He loves spending time with his grandparents, and has spent weekends with Roo’s parents before.  He has been asking for a time when my parents can babysit him.

As our trip to Italy gets closer, I’m starting to realize that it’s really (hopefully!) going to happen.  It has been a far-off dream for so long that it’s hard to believe that our departure date will actually arrive.  But that means that the reality of Roo and me being away from Tadpole for ten days is also sinking in.

As much as I am excited about having some time off from parenthood, I am sure I will miss him terribly.  And I’m worried about how he will handle the separation.  My guess is that he will have lots of fun with his grandparents.  But I also think he’ll miss us a lot.  The longest he has spent away from us in the past is two nights, so ten nights feels like an awfully big jump for all of us.  I imagine it will be pretty hard for Tadpole to wrap his little brain around the length of time we will be gone.  He often asks for breakfast when he gets up from his nap, and none of our explaining can make it clear to him that it’s really not a new day yet, which tells me how fuzzy his comprehension of time is.

I keep trying to tell myself why it makes sense to go through with the trip.

This trip is a fabulous opportunity, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we are incredibly lucky to have it.  I think it will likely be really good for Roo and me and our relationship.  We will visit museums and walk around foreign cities and go on a gondola ride.  I envision sleeping in, and dinner in candle-lit restaurants and long (uninterrupted!) conversations about art and culture.  In the long run, it will be good for Tadpole if his moms have a stronger relationship.  The last 3 1/2 years have been incredible and wonderful, but also intensely exhausting; I imagine I will be a far more patient parent when I return.  The trip will be a great opportunity for Tadpole to have some time on his own with his grandparents.  Because my parents live out of town, he hasn’t gotten to spend as much concentrated time with them, and I think they will all enjoy it.

I don’t buy into the idea that parents (usually meaning moms) should sacrifice everything for their children.  The vast majority of the time, Tadpole’s needs and desires come first in our family.  But I think it is okay for Tadpole to miss us a bit when we go out for the evening occasionally or even when we’re away for a weekend.  And I sometimes do things to take care of myself that are less convenient or pleasant for him.  But isn’t this trip taking the idea of self-care a little too far?  Isn’t 10 days too long for a three-and-a-half-year-old to be away from both of his parents?  I envision myself and Roo enjoying our candle-lit dinners while our child is on the other side of the world, feeling abandoned.

The plane tickets and hotel reservations are non-refundable (and are partly paid for with Roo’s school’s money) so it would be awfully hard to cancel at this point.  And I don’t really want to cancel them.  I desperately want to have 10 days off from parenthood and to have adventures with Roo and on my own.  And that’s the part that makes me feel like and even worse mother.

5 Comments

Filed under Gender, Parenthood, Tadpole, Uncategorized

Happy Winter-Holiday-of-Your-Choice!

We’ve had a crazy and festive few days.  Tadpole’s birthday was a few days ago, on a day in which we also attended a friend’s Hannukah party and the Winter Solstice service at our local UU church.

Then Saturday we attended the Christmas Eve service at Roo’s parents’ church.  We had mentioned to Tadpole on the way to church that there would be a “play where they told the story of the baby Jesus.”  As soon as we described the animals that would surround the manger, Tad decided that he was going to be in the play and that he was going to be a sheep.  Fortunately, folks at the church had masks that visitors could use–including a sheep one.  He took his job very seriously.  That’s him below, staring resolutely at the crowd and ignoring the chaos caused by a wiggly 9-month-old “baby Jesus” on the lap of an inexperienced “Mary.”

 

Yesterday we had a wonderfully cozy Christmas morning with just the three of us at our house.  It was definitely my favorite part of the day.  We had each bought a few gifts for each other and had a lovely lazy time opening them.  Roo and I talked afterwards about how it felt like just the right amount of gifts.  We focused on quality rather than quantity, and it was nice to have time to play with everything as we went along.  Tadpole had even bought a gift for each of us at a “kids only room” at a holiday fair.

(Yes, that’s a big Star of David on the right side of tree.  Tadpole made it at preschool when his class was studying Hannukah and insisted it should go on the tree.)

Tadpole’s big gift was a wooden play kitchen.  He loves to help us out when we bake or make smoothies, and he seemed thrilled with his new toy.  He uncovered it and said, “Oh!  A kitchen!  I didn’t have one before and now I do!”.  He has spent a lot of the last few days cooking up imaginary dishes for us.  In a completely uncompensated and unsolicited endorsement, I’m really pleased with it.  It took less than 45 minutes to put together, seems quite sturdy, and is made of wood.  It’s also not pink, which was a plus.  It came with some cute accessories too–pots and pans, a loaf of bread and some carrots held together with velcro which he can cut apart, etc.  I have had kind of hard time letting him explore it on his own and not getting too involved in playing with it myself…

 

In the afternoon we went over to Roo’s parents’ house to have Christmas dinner and more gifts with the extended family there.  Tadpole has cousins aged 6, 4 1/2 and 2.  They had a fabulous time running around together, bossing each other around, dressing up in various costumes, and creating utter chaos.  Between the big dinner and the running amuck we actually didn’t have time to open all of the presents.

I commented to Roo the other day that I’m very glad we’re taking this month off of TTC.  There has been so much else going on, so it’s nice to not have the logistics of inseminations to fit in.  Never mind adding in that emotional intensity.  But I’m also looking forward to getting back into actively working towards kiddo #2 in the new year.

How have your holiday celebrations gone?  What was your favorite part?  Also, I’m trying to put together a coherent post concering our recent conversations with Tad about Santa Claus and whether he is “real”.  What do you tell your kids about Mr. Claus?

1 Comment

Filed under Gender, TTC #2

Men, men, men

Our financial planner, Mike, came to our house the other day to help us figure out what changes we need to make since I got my new job.  Tadpole was beside himself with excitement.  He wanted to ask Mike what color car he drives.  He wanted to see if Mike would read him a book.  He wanted to show Mike his latest dance moves.  And days later, Tad is still talking about how “Mike came to our house and sat over there.” 

Tad is a friendly guy, but this kind of enthusiasm is generally reserved for men.  It’s fascinating to watch.  Random men in the grocery store, dads at the park, the mailman.  Tad will strike up a conversation with any of them, and is tickled if they respond at all. 

I know that a lot of this is developmentally appropriate.  And Tad has great uncles and grandads and friends who he gets to spend time with.  But I’m worried that there’s still something he is missing out on.  I try to remember that no parent can give their kid everything–we find someone else to give our kids piano lessons, if that’s not our thing.  We hook our kids up with coaches to help them learn their favorite sports.  Most parents expose our kids to lots of interesting grown-ups (extended family members, teachers, church members, etc) so they can have lots of role models.  And many many kids grow up just fine without a dad in their homes for a variety of reasons. But is there something that Tadpole is missing out on by not having a dad in his home? 

Part of me is terrified to admit (in public, no less), that our son might be missing out on something by not having a dad.  And the politically progressive me absolutely supports the rights of families of all shapes and sizes to raise kids.

But as a parent, I want to provide Tadpole with everything he needs.  And it makes me worried and sad that he seems so desperate to have connections with men, which is something neither Roo nor I can provide.

Does anyone else have this experience?  Any ideas about how to handle it?  Does this play out differently in two-mom families where one parent is more butch/masculine-identified?

2 Comments

Filed under Gender, Tadpole, Uncategorized