On Close Friends Having Kids

Over the summer Betsy and I took the kids to one of those play water parks. We also invited some friends who are expecting their first child soon. Now, I don’t normally bring toys to these places because there’s nothing worse than twenty toddlers that don’t understand sharing attempting to share. It’s meltdown station. But this park is different, it has a cool waterfall that can keep Atticus entertained for days. So, we made the terrible mistake of bringing a few boats to let the kids float them off the waterfall. The kids took the boats out to the waterfall and were happily playing. Meanwhile, another child began playing with one of the toy boats. Noa saw this and decided it was not okay. She promptly removed the toy from the child and returned it to our blanket. We explained to Noa the importance of sharing and told her to give the boat back to the kid because she wasn’t using it. Yeah, I know, she doesn’t give a shit.

We resumed chatting with our friends and I expressed my anxiety over them having a child. I think I actually told them, “I’m kind of nervous about you having kids because I’m afraid I’m going to judge you.”

Let me explain, I wouldn’t consider myself a super judge-y mom. I don’t care how you had your baby: epidural, no epidural, C-section. You want to breastfeed until your kid is five? Go for it. Banning sugar for the first 10 years? Cool. Only dressing your kid in white onesies for the first year? I might suggest a jacket in the winter.

As a very honest friend once said, ‘I was the best parent, until I had kids.’

And I was. I was going to be the mom that had a newborn that ‘slept through the night.’ The one year old that had never experienced ‘screen time.’ The toddler that didn’t scream over broken cheese. Oh yeah, and then I woke up and realized parenting is hard. Like, sleep deprived, postpartum anxiety, who told me this was a good idea, hard. And the things we are judging other moms about have little influence over the character of their children.

I love being a mom. I know every parent loves their kids, but not every parent loves parenting. But I genuinely like my kids. They’re funny and sweet and typically super rad to be around. I had three in four years that should say enough.

They are formula fed, sugar eating, TV watching, co-sleeping kids.

But I intervene when my kid won’t share. I show up daily to teach them how to be good humans. I read with them and we talk about our feelings. We do ‘family hugs.’ They help us build chicken coops. We go on nature walks and treasure hunts. These are the things that have an influence on the character of my children. (Side note, although it probably doesn’t effect your children, you’re a shitty parent if you won’t change your kids shitty diaper. Your partner dislikes it equally as much as you. It’s the first red flag you’re going to suck at parenting. End rant.)

Back to my concern about my friends having kids. Kids add a whole new dynamic to a friendship. We all have our beliefs and parenting approaches. And not liking someone’s kid can break a friendship. It’s like the friend that marries someone that you don’t really like but they’re happy so you try to support it. Five years later the friendship has fizzled away. Now imagine that felling with someone’s child. If you don’t like your kids being around their kids, it probably won’t last.

Every time one of our close friends announce they are expecting, I think to myself, please don’t be the righteous parent. Just be the parent that intervenes when your kid is being a brat, that doesn’t expect someone else to do the parenting. Show up and your kids will be fine.

Token Family

Coming out is a tough thing. There is often a lot of build up, thousands of scenarios made up in your head and hopefully a giant much ado about nothing. There is the big coming out to friends and family and lots of little ones to follow. I didn’t realize this in the beginning. When I got married, others just assumed it was to a man, and I let them.

Until I had kids. Now I come out daily. I’ll be in Costco and tell Noa to go find ‘Mama.’ Some nearby individual will politely interject, ‘Oh, you’re not her mom?’

‘Yes, I’m her mom. But she is lucky enough to have two.’

Noa will then explain that she has a ‘Mama’ and a ‘Mommy.’ Duh.

Or someone will ask, ‘Who did they get such blue eyes from?’ Clearly noticing I don’t have blue eyes. ‘My wife.’

There was another incident on an elevator once where a woman said, ‘Wow, she looks so much like both of you, which I know isn’t possible.’ Cue awkward silence and a quick elevator escape.

And then there was the time Betsy spent 10 minutes with the Century Link salesman and he finally said, “Is your husband here?” Because she’s just a wife.

Until now the kids haven’t known any different. We have several lesbian friends, one with kids, and we change most stories to read “Mama and a Mommy”. In Noa’s world, most people have two moms. Except her cousins.

Noa started preschool today. And we are the only two mom family in the school. The token same sex couple, doing our part to bring diversity to the school. When I introduce myself to other parents and say, ‘Noa is my daughter that’s her other mom, Betsy’ I hold my breath for the response.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not worried about my ability to raise healthy kids in a same sex family. Science tells us these kids do the same, if not better than heterosexual families. She has two moms in a healthy, loving home. But I do suddenly feel a strong need to expose her to more same sex families. For her to make friends with other kids with two moms or two dads. Just because she doesn’t have any classmates with same sex parents, she’s not alone.

I have my theory on why kids from same sex parents do, the same if not better than heterosexual’s kids. One, they’re wanted. Which isn’t to say heterosexual couple’s kids aren’t wanted. But you don’t hear about the gay men on the corner having an ‘oops’ baby. These rascals are one hundred percent planned out and wanted.

But more importantly, we don’t follow heteronormative roles. Betsy cooks and cleans. I manage the money. We both work and stay home. We build shit, like wainscoting and a chicken coop. Because gender roles are so outdated.

And yet I worry about her being in preschool. About making friends and telling them she has two moms. I’m sure it will be harder for me than it is for her. I mean she currently thinks that wearing underwear is what makes someone a girl and wearing diapers makes you a boy. In her world it is.

Eventually she’s going to realize her books actually say ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy.’ That having two moms isn’t the standard, although it is super cool. I hope that Betsy and I can teach her that when asked about her dad she isn’t afraid to tell them about her two moms.

My Tuberculosis Is Acting Up

Since I’ve known Betsy she’s always been a somewhat active person. However, after every hard workout she always comes home with a slight cough. She’ll make a comment that she needs to get checked for asthma while I remind her that anyone who works out hard typically has a minor cough that follows.

Before kids
Circa 2010 (Pre-latent TB)

Fast forward several years and she is asked to have a TB test done for one of the agencies we work for. She goes to her primary care doctor and gets the serum put in her arm and is asked to return two days later to have it checked.

Two days pass and as she is leaving the house I notice the giant red spot on her arm. The following conversation ensures.

Me: “Hey, I think your TB test is positive.”

Betsy: “It’s fine, I’ve had this before.

Me: “Betsy, you have a giant, bumpy, red spot on your arm. I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to look like that.”

Betsy: “No, it will be fine. I’m not worried.”

Out the door she goes and 45 minutes later I get a call from her. “Yeah, so my TB test is positive. I have to go get chest X-rays and go on some medication that’s going to make my pee look like Tang for three months.” Um, cool!

Although my first reaction was slight worry the doctor assured us this happened more frequently than we realize. It is apparently considered latent TB and is very common in people that work with populations from Mexico and Asia. She is now required to have chest X-rays done every couple of years to check for anything strange.

Although now every time she works out and gets her cough she looks at me and says, “Hey, Babe I think my Tuberculosis is acting up.”

What’s In a Name

I’m an introvert. I mean, one can clearly assume this from the blog title.  It often surprises some of my newer friends or colleagues when I share this with them. “But you can start a conversation with anyone.” It’s true, but I think part of that is manners. We all learned how to fake being an extrovert in school. However, once I got to college I realized I would rather spend on weekends reading a new book then going out to a bar or club. In conversation, I typically ask the questions and keep it very superficial about me. Unless you ask my birth stories, then you better grab a chair. I share those with everyone.

I could barely handle my wedding because I was the center of attention. We eloped so I could avoid a wedding. But even after the elopement my wife was set on a formal wedding. I obliged and panic attacked my way to, and through, the day.

Wedding 2

People wear me out. I will eat lunch in my car during an all day workshop or job just so I don’t have to interact with anyone.

I leave most large parties without saying goodbye to anyone. Betsy tells me I’m rude. I tell her my heart races a hundred miles an hour thinking about the goodbye, let alone doing it.

I dread singing happy birthday to anyone in a large group. Restaurant happy birthdays are the worst. A group of waiters singing to someone at my table while various patrons watch or participate, cue bathroom escape and sweating.

If I see someone I know in a store I will probably go out of my way to avoid them. Nothing against them, I just don’t have the energy to maintain a conversation without being rude.

If we’re having friends over and one of them asks last minute to bring a friend that I don’t know, I wonder if it’s too late to cancel. Surly they must understand how much stress this causes an introvert? Nope, they’re here. Cool, I think my kid needs me.

Kids, they are the best excuse for an introvert. You can use kids as an excuse for anything. Nope, can’t come to your party. No sitter. Sorry I disappeared to the car without saying goodbye, Atticus was having a meltdown. Excuse me while I go put my kid down for bed, 45 minutes later Betsy comes to look for me. I just couldn’t bring myself to come back down.

Sleeping babies are so good.

Except birthdays. Three times a year I have to endure the anxiety that comes with my children being sung to for their birthday.
A year ago I read the book ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain. It completely changed how I saw myself and other introverts. I’m much less hard on myself when I don’t want to be social and go out. Or when I exit a party without saying goodbye. And I’m trying to get better at being honest with others in my reason for not attending a social event. Although telling someone you can’t come to a gathering because being social requires too much energy doesn’t always go over well. I may just stick with the kids excuse.