Thursday, August 31, 2006

Beautiful Fire versus Beyonce

Tonight, the kids begged for S’mores. Campfire. C’mon, please?

By 8:15pm, only two adults remained at the fire.

The kids? Inside watching the MTV Video Awards show.

I can’t miss Beyonce, Ben said to me. Oh no.

Beautiful Fire. Crisp, cool night- perfect after a long day at the beach.

I put them to bed a few minutes ago.

Kelly Clarkson wasn’t even there, Ben told me, clearly disappointed.

Should have stayed out by the fire, I said.

Whatever, he sighed and drifted off to sleep.

Shoe Pile, Day Three

I was right about the shoes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

End of the Day

We had a long day at the beach today. The waves were six feet high, the water a balmy 63 degrees.

Twelve for dinner at the Oarweed in Perkins Cove. Chowder, Lobster and 9 ice cream sundaes devoured.

It's 9:30pm and almost everyone is sound asleep.

This is the kind of day that makes being a parent incredible.

Why I Love Golf

Okay, I golf. Some people think it’s really snobbish, something wealthy, white men do. I can’t argue. Tennis has a bad image, too, but there are more women out there swinging rackets so it’s not quite so bad. You know, the country club always has a tennis court for the ladies.

Seeing that women are not allowed any good tee times, I guess they give up and play tennis. And in such lovely skirts, too.

Even so, I love to play golf. I find the rhythm required, the repetition of the strokes, a Zen practice. I can’t sit still in a chair to meditate for the life of me but I can walk up to a golf ball and go through the exact same routine again and again.

I love walking down the long stretches of lawn. Okay, it’s not politically correct to like overly processed grass that probably has enough chemicals dumped on it yearly to repeat Bhopal. I know. I can’t help but love the manicured greens. And when did I ever get to wear saddle shoes? Now mine have spikes. Better than anything some cheerleader wore.

I love playing golf because it’s a game I am pretty good at. Okay, I’m more than good. I stand at the first tee, usually assigned with three randomly selected male co-players who are shitting their pants they have been stuck with a GIRL.

C’mon on guys, admit it. You’re all afraid the single woman teeing off with you is some chick who has to hit the ball ten times before getting to the 100-yard mark.

Not me.

I love watching their faces when I hit the ball and out drive them.

Game on, big boys.

I’m probably going to par the hole from my girly-girl ladies tee. In fact, I’ll probably beat you.

It is a game fraught with problems. All of them caused by old, white guys who can’t see that letting some women in the game doesn’t mean they give up the option to swear on the course. I’ve been known to let loose a blue streak after missing a birdie putt myself. And it will give me more opportunities in the business world to be invited along when the boss plays.

Not that my boss plays. I asked her once if she wanted me to teach her how to play- we do work in the investment business and no other business in the world conjures up images of golf and martinis the way the investment business does.

No luck on the early Friday tee times I was hoping for. I did get to teach her how to make a lemon drop martini- small consolation.

But letting women on the course isn’t going to change the world they live in dramatically. Sure, they may turn around and have a woman for a boss someday but they all had mothers. I’m pretty sure they know how to take orders from women. And it’s a game. Not the boardroom.

So I play golf because I love the game. I love the graceful ease of it. I love the one great hit you get every time you go out that stays in your mind making you think, yeah, I could tee up with Tiger someday.

When he’s in a wheelchair.

So, guys, I may be a bleached-blonde woman hitting from the ladies tee?

But I can swing a club.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Onslaught

I have my friend, Suzy, coming in today with her four kids. Oh yes, and Joe, the unofficial fifth child. Suzy and I only see each other once a year, usually at my house in Maine. Always with our kids. We have known each other for almost thirty years. We’ve watched each other’s kids grow, mostly from a distance.

Ian and Joe are… young men now. Way taller than me. Big Teens. I can only imagine how big their feet are. Sara, my namesake, is a teenager, also. I remember her with her fuzzy head as a baby, watching her father’s every move whenever he walked in a room. Sean, the chattiest of the crew, is almost a teen. And little Megan, who is ten, like my oldest Ben, is no longer very little.

Don’t forget the dog. And the cat. And, oh yes, Weezie is coming tomorrow if the hurricane is just another weather channel fabrication. That’s my three, plus a friend of one of mine- I said, oh, who will notice one more? - four, plus her five, and four adults.

13 people. I think I’ll have to throw one out. That’s an unlucky number.

After wheeling through the supermarket yesterday with a cart so full I had the boys on each side making sure nothing fell, I only had one thing left to worry about. The shoes.

My house in Maine is not big enough to house that many shoes. Teenager’s shoes. Smelly shoes.

It should make for an interesting week.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Telephones, Puberty and Penis Facts

My son has become completely obsessed with the telephone. He calls people all the time. Mom, can I use your cell phone? Ben, the regular phone is right over there. Yeah, but a cell phone is so… cool.

He just hung up leaving a message for his girlfriend. At the end, he left a kiss.

What was that? I asked.



Mom, it’s nothing, I just did… and he made a kissing sound again.

That sounds like a kiss. Should I discuss this with [girl's] parents?


Have you kissed her?


Do you want to?

OH MY GOD MOM, don’t write that in your blog!

(I am talking and typing at the same time. They’ve read the blogs- no, not all of them, but most. He knows I write everything they say.)


I haven’t kissed her.

Do you want to?

I’m not answering you…

And then from the other room, he says,


Okay. Puberty. He’s turning eleven in October. I am completely unprepared for this. When he was about six years old, I remember he kept tugging at his pants, at the crotch of his pants, or just plain ol’ digging straight into his underwear.

Ben! You can play with you penis in the privacy of your own room. Not in the grocery store.

Ben! It’s not going to fall off, I promise. You don’t have to hold on. Please get your hand out of your pants.

Ben! At least go wash that hand before you eat those French Fries.

And finally, Walter said to me, are you sure it’s not his underwear? Does he wear boxers or briefs?

Briefs. Cute ones, with Batman on them. Why?

Get him some boxers. Maybe they are too tight.

Uh… okay.

Boxers tried. Still incessant tugging, pulling. Back to Walter, who, at that point, became my penis advisor. Hey, I don’t have one, what the hell do I know about penis care?

Maybe he needs to pick a side.

Pick a side? What are you talking about?

You know, it kind of hangs down and you need to pick a side or else it gets rubbed or stuck in the middle. That hurts.

Pick a side… who knew? Okay. So the next time Ben was grabbing at himself, I found myself, lesbian mother with no penis experience, saying, calmly, Ben, you need to pick a side for your penis. It will be more comfortable.


Now I have to get on the phone with Walter because how does one pick a side?

Here, I hand Ben the phone, ask Walter.

Since then, we’ve been through the hole in the underwear issue- I’m advising my boys to carefully pull their penis through the little pocket to pee, with their zipper unzipped. Okay, call me a fool, but it seems that’s what all the extra fabric is for and the opening. I thought it was one more functional aspect of men's clothing that confirms the fashion industry's hate of women.

No, Walter tells me. You just unbutton the top button and tug down your pants a little bit and pull it out over the top. You don’t use that tiny flap. My god, you’d strangle it!

Now I don’t feel so bad about the horrible design of bras.

I wish I could say I’m done learning interesting penis facts. I am not. Each of the younger boys has their own takes on all things penis related. And I have to get ready for the onslaught of puberty questions. I don’t mind talking about sex- we have to some degree since they were very little. I think it’s important to give age appropriate information along the line. When Zachary came home from kindergarten and asked me what sex was, I told him.

Okay, I copped out and gave him a very limited heterosexual model- it can be when a man puts his penis into a woman’s vagina. Sex is how a baby can be made; you know the egg and the sperm? We’ve talked about that. There are many other variations, but why do you want to know? (There can’t be any absolutes in our family. Have to leave the door open for the sperm bank, and their own parent’s version of love.)

[boy] told me it’s when two people kiss each other’s butts.

My, I thought. What is going on in [boy's] house?

I told him I wanted him to always come and ask me these kinds of questions. Rarely, I said, would his friends have the right information.

That was relatively easy and I choked a little on it. Now I’m listening to my BABY make kissing sounds on the phone with his- gulp- girlfriend? What’s next? The condom demonstration on the banana? Will [girl's] parents ever let him come over again if they read this?

And how do I start dealing with sleepovers? From my own experience, I know I have to watch Ben with [girl] as much as I have to watch Ben with [boy]. Boys more often have sexual contact with another boy first, even if they are straight, than with a girl. If I say that to a straight parent, are they going to flip out on me? God knows if Dad had his first orgasm with a pal while they were both jerking off together- how he has dealt with that defines his understanding. And am I suppose to smile and say, boys with be boys? I can’t. I know there are power dynamics involved that lead to abusive situations- no one makes thoughtful decisions about sex at eleven, twelve- sometimes not even at forty. How do I equip Ben with the right information, acknowledge his growing body, keep him safe and give him freedom to become a young man?

For now, I’m going to ask him when he makes kissing sounds on the phone. I tease him, gently, and hand over my cell phone for him to make another call. To another girl.

How to handle two women at once? Let Walter try and answer that one. That's where having a lesbian mom will come in very handy.


I have my family and my family. A friend, Jim, spoke at our double wedding about the importance of family. How so many of us have to start over, design new images, new relationships that reflect family because as gays and lesbians we often end up disowned by our families of origin. Walter and Allan, as the kids dads, are a choice. I have a tight circle of friends who are my family, who I call on when I need help. Who call on me when they need help. No biological tie or familial commitment could be stronger.

My family of origin and my family of choice. I have chosen a wonderful family. The joy I felt sitting on the deck Friday night in Down East, hearing the excitement from my kids about their week of Dads’ camp, was profound. It was a stark difference from how I feel about my family of origin.

My family of origin right now is a painful place. I cannot go there. I don’t know if I ever will be able to again. Deep scars both make me want to leave and in a painful irony, make me want to go. I don’t know how to say no. I have never known how to say no. The feeling of emptying every ounce of my being into someone else, to care for them regardless of the cost to me, is in fact, comforting. It is familiar.

My family of origin loves me when I’m good. And have loved me in such wonderful ways, as an adult. When I play the game the way they want it played I am celebrated, my family of choice, embraced. When I accept the family lies as truth, I have a special seat at the table- one next to my mother, heir apparent, the favorite child, the trusted one. When I agree with the stories told around the kitchen table, never adding the real endings, I am accepted in their world.

There were very real endings, though. They are unthinkable. To acknowledge them is often unbearable. I have started to remember. At first, it was like watching a blurry movie but the details are starting to become painfully clear. I am unable to keep quiet. No, I am unwilling to keep quiet anymore.

The rules and the game. My mother accuses me of playing a game with unfamiliar rules. It is a game. We all dance around what we each believe is the truth. If you tell the wrong story or give the real ending, game over- you lose your place at the kitchen table.

I have lost my place. I’ve spoken the truth, my truth. I’ve told the real endings, my real endings.

Like how I spent years sitting in the living room on Turk Hill Road having my mother rage at me, my brother and my sister. The house I grew up in is so deeply imbedded in my psyche I am only now remembering all that happened there. How we would be pulled out of bed, lined up on the couch and humiliated for our imperfections, our selfishness, our self-centered behavior. When we were children- 7, 9 and 12 years old.

I’m not allowed to tell that story. My mother was divorced. Raising us alone. She had no choice, she says. The story I am to embrace is to tell how as a child, I had to figure everything out for myself. Regardless of her attempts to steer me in the right direction, I always had to do it my way. I was stubborn. Difficult. She, however, did admire my strength. She let me make choices no other mother would ever have done, giving me unusual freedom as a girl.

Not how she crushed that freedom when she had drank enough bourbon and I would sit as still as I could, willing myself out of my body, out to the woods where it was quiet.

One Christmas she came chasing after me, pounding on the windshield in fury because I was leaving. It was midnight. I was twenty years old, home from college on break. I had a car. My mother tried to slap me. Again. Sometimes she’d catch me off guard and make contact but usually, she was intoxicated enough I could anticipate and stop her hand. But that night, I grabbed her hand and threw her against the refrigerator and told her no more. Try again and I’ll kick your ass. I will not take it anymore. Ever again.

The story told is how we would all gather around the tree on Christmas Eve and open the presents all the nursery school children my mother taught had given her. How we would all take turns, and she would delight in our eagerness to open the ones that were clearly Russell Stover chocolates. How we all laughed the year someone gave my mother a green sweat suit, something she would never in a million years be caught dead in. How we managed to have holidays even though it was so hard for her, as a divorced mother of three, to make it happen.

I need to tell all the stories, not just the pretty ones. I need to resist the pull to be the good girl and make everything okay again. It is not okay. It was never okay.

And yet, on some level, it is what I believe I deserve. I cannot get over their description of me- selfish, self-centered, lazy, always looking for the easy way out. If anyone really knew me they would know how worthless I am. I feel myself being tugged at by my family of origin. There is a scramble to keep us together because if we lose the stories and their fanciful endings we have to all face the truth. We have to face the pain. You have to come back, I am told. You should come back. You must come back. How can you be so cruel? That’s my favorite. How I can be cruel. I pull away to heal and I am cruel.

The first step, of many, is changing the rules. Telling the truth. For me, the game is over. I don’t want my place at the kitchen table anymore. I can’t do it anymore.

The other day, I had a friend say to me, you are an extraordinary person. It is painful to watch you work so hard to be accepted by people who may never love you. A family of origin for whom I have never been good enough. I have never been smart enough. I have never read enough books, seen enough art, I didn’t go to a good enough college and ultimately, I have never realized my potential. My job now is a lovely little distraction. But not what I’m capable of. My children are wonderful but my time focused on them was wasted. I am constantly bumping up against the walls placed around me, trying to get past them to have them know me, love me and understand me. For me. Not for what anyone wanted me to be. But for who I am. The walls, I know, are impenetrable. They will never know me.

No, I won’t do it anymore. For my children but mostly for me. I will not give up my soul anymore. I am learning how to say no. I am learning how to see I may actually be worth something. I don’t need to be extraordinary. I just want to be okay.

As Jim said, sometimes, we have to create family. A family of choice that will hold us, love us, know us for who we are.

And maybe even think we are extraordinary.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Three Kids, Smelly Laundry and a Stomach Virus

I woke up today with a stomach bug. And a four and a half hour drive from Down East to Ogunquit.

With three kids. Their smelly laundry.

Rest stops would whizz by. I thought, if I stop at each one like I feel like I need to? this will be an eight hour drive. Hold tight.

Held Tight.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Dads camp pick up

Met the bobcat. Brief blog as we are very remote. Great brunnelo wine and hot dogs. Stars out soon.

Maine is stunning

It is quiet here right now. Nap time. Soon we are off to watch the sunset. Then lobsters pulled today with fresh sweet corn. And more stars. More tomorrow...

Friday, August 25, 2006

A Week with the Wife

Last night, Jeanine made a request of my blog.

Can you please say something nice about me?

I’ve said nice things.

No, you haven’t.

Listen, I took out the line about you and the computer that you asked me to…

I know, but that’s not true anymore. You know that’s changed. And the blog is current. You can’t write something that isn’t current. It gives me no incentive to work on this.

And I took it out.

You just always sound like you’re ready to kick me to the curb.

I am not ready to kick you to the curb! Did you read Trash Day? It was mostly about me getting my head out of my ass, me doing work, and me recognizing that starting over would be pointless because unless I did the work, I’d end up in the same place.

You know, there really aren’t that many computers…

Let’s no go there.

Okay, okay, but can you say something nice about me?

I have spent most of the last week with Jeanine. Just the two of us. She did have to work, some, and so did I. Calling myself out on that one- I did agree to do work on my vacation, something I always rail on Jeanine about.

And for what, she asked, a cookie?

Okay, I did ask for a cookie- acknowledgement that I was going above and beyond for my job- but I also asked for more vacation time, too. I actually like my job, I tell her. She rolls her eyes. I have always liked my job, she says.

Back to the week, away from the old stuff. We get so caught in old stuff sometimes. And to what end? We’re both right, neither of us is right. Emotional house cleaning, I keep thinking. Sweep it out and let it go.

We had a week sans children. We talked. We played golf together. We went out to dinner. We sat out on the deck and shared one of our wedding cigars. (The smoking police can stop in their tracks- never in front of the kids. one or two a year. And we always feel green enough after we split one it’s another six months before we even think about it again.) And talked.

Okay, we did a lot of other things after the cigar and the dinners out but it’s not going to pass the Weezie Meter. But then, we’ve always done that.

And there I realize, is something nice I can say about Jeanine. She is beautiful. The first time I met her I was unable to speak because she was so beautiful, I was dumbstruck. And I still am. Even after all these years. Where she can’t really express her feelings in words, she can certainly express them … uh… non-verbally. Really, really well.

Really well.

During one of our roughest times early this summer, and friend said to me, you still have great sex after 15 years and you’re thinking about leaving? What the hell is wrong with you? Are you outta your goddamn mind? Hire someone to do the laundry and figure the rest out, for god’s sake.

It’s true. We look around at friends and wonder who else is still having sex regularly in long-term relationships. As lesbians, we certainly have the bed-death role model, living like flora and fauna, intertwined and yet no longer sexual.

What the hell is the point of that? Jeanine asked me the other night.

I have no idea.

We don’t get to see images flashed in front of us in the media on a daily basis of people staying together, committed, loving, embracing. For a long time, the only literature out there was about falling in love and then killing yourself because you fell in love with another woman. Not much to look forward to. Even on the L Word, the newest hope of lesbians to see some hot sex that doesn’t involve men, the one long-term couple breaks up. And one goes back to a man. Great. I’d rather look forward to killing myself.

No role models. Most of the long-term relationships are still relatively closeted. Our counterparts from our parent’s generation quietly lived their lives as ‘friends’ or ‘roommates,’ as unidentifiable as possible. It’s up to us to provide images of long term relationships- working, not working, struggling, breaking through, breaking up- honest evaluations for the next generation. No one should stay married in an abusive relationship that is clear. Gays and Lesbians will get divorced- trying to live up to an unrealistic standard is another blog. But how do we remain intimate, connected and sexual?

Everyone raved about “Brokeback Mountain” last year. I, personally, am sick of the dying, miserable, someone getting killed for being queer movies. It was a great movie, yes. Beautiful, yes. But can someone out there please give me a happily ever after movie where two gay men or two lesbians end up in love no one dies? Throw in some great sex, too? It doesn’t have to win an Oscar; it doesn’t even have to be that great. Just something, anything, that supports our relationships instead of reminding us, once again, how hard it is to be queer in this culture. We know.

So there you have it. Something nice about Jeanine. Something to remind us that sex can be wonderful, too, after 15 years. Yes, we struggle. And we’re working on it. No kicking to the curb is going to happen, hopefully not ever. Let’s face it. She rocks my world.

I’d be out of my goddamn mind.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Trash Day

So my wife and I are in couples therapy. As I had posted before, we found ourselves in trouble. Okay, my wife would say everything was fine, as soon as the next project finished, everything would be normal again. I would say we were in deep shit. I mean, deep.

I came to the abrupt realization the other day when I went ballistic over the smallest thing that it’s clean up time after 15 years of marriage. I love my wife and she makes me so mad so easily. We need to do something or else we may lose sight of all the wonderful things in our lives-our kids, our family, the unspoken intimacy from years of being together- because we can’t see past the junk. The real junk, the emotional junk, the unavoidable build up life brings.

I hate clutter. As a child, I came home with report cards noting my love of a tidy space. My wife would live with stacks and piles everywhere, as long as she had a spot to sit in and a place to put her diet coke. I hate her clutter. It’s not just the physical clutter, but the emotional clutter she lives in, too. I think she is addicted to chaos. It doesn't matter where, when, or how, her life is always in some state of chaos. She's not comfortable without a cell phone hooked to her waist and fifty people calling her needing something all the time. Not just need something in a vague way but need it now, within the next hour, or else the world will end. Work isn’t 40 hours a week or 50 hours a week, but 80 hours a week. I’ve kidded myself into believing I can live with the emotional chaos by ignoring it. Instead, I go nuts about the physical chaos that goes along with it. That's where I draw the line.

It’s funny after 15 years, the things that end up bothering you the most seem so petty to those looking in, but to the ones on the inside, it’s painful. I know a couple divorcing after many years of marriage, who are now fighting about things that happened 10, 12, 14 years before as if it happened yesterday. It doesn’t help that one kept a diary and now quotes from it, having recorded word for word arguments of the past. I keep a journal, too, but why waste my energy on what she said. When I’m mad, I don’t care what she said, it’s wrong. Why bother writing it down? Messy build up never cleaned out left one of them thinking she could start again and not make the same mistakes. I’m guessing she’ll just start a new journal.

I’m no better. I have my own record keeping. Mine is about her stuff all over the house. We have approximately 15 computers. All but a couple are old machines other people were throwing out that my wife rescued from the scrap pile. They, and the monitors, take up an enormous amount of space. To me, they lie about like broken carcasses. To her, they are lost puppies, needing love. I cannot deal with the clutter of gear. I need it gone. It is the physical embodiment of all the phone calls taken at dinner time, on vacation; the weekly lists of what nights she’ll be gone and the work related reasons as to why.

My floors may be polished, but I have been collecting the emotional dirt. I don’t need it on paper, I have it in my heart. And it’s getting very cluttered. To make it another 15 years, I need to do some housekeeping.

The whole concept of keeping current in relationships is new to me. I grew up in a family where secrets were held, tight, deep, forever. Dirty laundry was never aired because it would mean shame rather than redemption. To admit any wrong was to be weak. None of us wanted to be weak. The result has been devastating for me. I am holding the old pain and unable to let go. It would mean weakness. Shame.

I have to try. I will give up being mad about the cell phone attached to her waist, 24/7. I will let go of resenting the need for chaos. I will clean out my emotional build up from the years. I, too, have created chaos. I need to understand why.

I don’t want to start a new journal.

Even if all the computers are moved out, the physical clutter gone, will it really be enough for me to let go? Am I focused on something that feels doable only because the real issue feels so insurmountable?

I hope my negotiations will be taken seriously. I am. Serious in recognizing sometimes the things we let go over and over again grow into major obstacles for intimacy. A pile of trash seems so silly to get upset about. Until it's been sitting there for fifteen years and suddenly, it's not trash anymore, but disrespect. Lack of caring. Self-absorption. For both of us.

It's the unspoken, little things that kill long-term relationships. Wanting to start fresh with someone else with the belief that somehow, it won't happen again, it will be different is understandable. But it’s the nature of relationships. We fill our lives and our hearts with so much. And yet we forget to take out the trash. We don’t remember how to let go. Or we never learned how.

Maybe I need something physical to change in order to know I have made a commitment to the emotional housecleaning I know I need to do. Maybe I need something hard from her, to see her commitment. And then, perhaps, we can start with a renewal, a beginning with all of the love and memories the fifteen years has given us. Because somewhere in the piles of junk is an amazing love. We just need to find it again.


Okay. I have saggy knees. I didn’t think it would happen but it has.

I don’t usually run in front of a mirror at a gym, watching my clearly not so perfect form. Here, in Maine, my treadmill is in front of a window. I can see my reflection. It’s a little disturbing.

I’m training for a 10k run. Which sounds so much more butch than 6.5 miles. Or course, when I was being talked into it, it was only 6.5 miles. I can run 6.5 miles I said with confidence.

Why the hell am I running a race at 43 with saggy knees?

I know a woman who can swim, in the ocean, for miles. She is about a hundred years older than me. I watched her one-day glide through some serious chop in the water. I was and am impressed.

If she can do that at her age, I can run a race.

I can do 6.5 miles. I went to the beach the other day to run. I’m feeling pretty good jogging, no huffing and puffing. Smooth. I can do this, I think confidently.

And then a woman, clearly many years older than me, passes me. Easily. She’s not huffing or puffing either.

Why am I running a race? I asked Heidi, a much younger friend who has been dragged into this race business, why don’t we just sign up, get the free tee shirt and then wave from the sidelines? We won’t have to wear three sports bras to wave. One will do. (This is another reality of running at 43 with a very large chest. Layers of sports bras.) And twelve year olds and sixty year olds won’t be passing us by.

She offered a training schedule downloaded off the net.

I’m running a race- 10k, thank you. Saggy knees and all.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Peaceful New World

The Jehovah Witnesses came by today while I was at the beach.

So sad.

I am curious to find out about the end of times.

Or is it the spaceship?

No, no, it’s Life in a Peaceful New World. They left me a pamphlet.

Something bad and evil will happen to people like me. Non-believers. Heathens. Lesbians. Perhaps we all get swept off the hell. I hope gay men are included, otherwise I see a bunch of dykes, new age spiritualists, and neurotic intellectuals- and it’s not a party I want to be at.

This Peaceful New World sounds pretty impressive. Like the line from the movie, “Cocoon” the promise of eternal life and health is tempting. “We won’t ever get sick, we won't ever grow old and we won’t ever die,” the Grandfather reassures his young grandson before he embarks on the space ship.

Of course, in the sequel, they all come back because they were bored out of their minds and dying didn’t seem like such a bad thing after all. Someone should tell Tom Cruise.

I’m not sure I want the wolf residing next to the lamb. I like the fact that my cat catches mice. Okay, not so much the baby bunny she brought home. And I was going to wring her neck if she caught the hummingbird she was eyeing today. But mice and moles? Good kitty.

I love that on the final page of the pamphlet, they let you know there are requirements to meet to live forever in the coming Paradise. Some where between being righteous and blissful I’m guessing there is some money donated to the church involved. There always is.

Me? I’ll take hell in a hand basket. If there are hand baskets, there will be gay men. I mean, who will design them? Market them? Do the photo shoots? Be the models, take care of the models? And who will buy them and know how to properly accessorize with them? Gay men. (Okay, not all gay men have the design gene. I don’t care. They’ve all faced being on the other side of righteousness and that’s enough to get into my hell.) I know I’ll be much happier there. It may be hot but perhaps we can all bring a lovely sarong with us.

And the righteous can live with the lions. I may be eternally damned, but I won’t have mice.

Ten Year Plan

Last spring at work, we had to contemplate a move from one office space to another. We’re a small- as in four employees small- company and all of us have children at home. There were several options, all pretty nice, but we needed to choose which one. I asked, “what do you see the business being in five years, and what do you see your family needing in five years? And in ten?” Of course the business will grow, and employees will be added, but it was the family needs that completely steered our decision.

The ten-year plan, we realized, included our elementary school children in college. Along the line, our babies will become sullen teenagers slipping home to have sex at four o’clock in the afternoon before the parents get back from work. We would need to be vigilant in new ways- not of uncovered electrical sockets, but of uncontrolled hormones. My experience planning as a board member of a foundation using a tool called scenario planning guided my end of the discussion. Take the best of all worlds, take the worst of all worlds, and take what you think is the middle ground. And then, plan accordingly. The extremes are as important as the expected. We all expect certain things to happen in our lives. Kids grow. We age. Jobs come and go. Your family will need to be fed, clothed, housed and educated. We approach these realities daily, think about them in the long term. Plan accordingly.

We rarely plan for the best-case scenarios. And we don’t tend to plan for the worse case, either. In my ten-year plan, I imagine my oldest in college, NOT the college two blocks away, as he threatens as we walk past it to his elementary school every day, but a lovely college where he is immersed in learning, and having fun. My middle son will be almost done with high school, and I see him tall and smiling, with his gorgeous blue eyes, and engaged in many school activities. My youngest will be sixteen, hopefully getting dressed by himself and tying his own shoes- who says expectations for the youngest aren’t as intense as the oldest! I see my wife and I enjoying thoughtful careers along with pursuing our art- my writing, her music. I see little to block us from achieving those things.

And yet, I know things can change in a heartbeat. At the same time last spring, a friend’s wife- only fifty five- was at home, hooked up to morphine, done fighting with chemo, saying good bye to her seventeen year old son, her fifteen year old daughter. She was diagnosed ten years before. It wasn’t in her ten-year plan to die. It wasn’t in her spouse’s plan to be a single parent someday. What I admired the most about them was their willingness to create a new plan with the devastating news. They focused on what was good in their lives. She quit working as an attorney and stayed home with her kids. They bought a farm and horses. He moved his career closer to home, one that cost him professionally but was essential personally. Faced with the worst-case scenario, they changed their ten-year plan on instinct and with a clarity that sometimes only comes from being faced with a limited timeline.

And yet we all have a limited timeline. It is the making of many a midlife crisis. Are we living the way we want? Have we been true to ourselves? What are we settling for on a daily basis that doesn’t feel good but we’ve simply become accustomed to? When the kids were little, I didn’t consider ten-year plans, I considered ten-minute plans. If I had a particularly good nights sleep, I could plan the next day. There was a whirlwind I found myself in with three young children, a chaos I had created, that kept me from asking bigger questions about my life. No one was dying. No one was getting divorced. Nothing unexpected happened.

Now it is my friends who are getting sick. And divorced, usually after many years and children together. I’m faced with people finding closure and new beginnings. Horrific, unexpected worse case scenarios creating the need for new plans. It makes me restless. I need to consider the things I live with on a daily basis that do not feel good and why I continue to have them in my life. I need to hold more deeply the good things, the hope, and all the possibilities. I have such a rich life, with many layers and textures. And as much as I need to hold the good things, I also must face the painful pieces. I have only begun to realize how the chaos I create keeps me from my past, from memories too big, too much to hold, until now.

I need to go back again to the best case and worse case scenarios. I never imagined I would be forty-three years old and only now remembering my past. I also never imagined having two amazing fathers in my kids lives. In the last year, the boundaries of what could be the most horrible has been stretched considerably. It blinds me, at times, making me unable to consider the best case. I am prone to extremes, so it is important I consider the middle, the gray reality that is most likely.

And move forward with the clarity that comes with a limited timeline recognizing my fortune in being able to make a choice to do so.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ogunquit Nude Beach?

Guys, you're dreaming. Go to Provincetown. It's too cold in Maine to be nude at the beach.

Think about the shrinkage.

The Weezie Meter

As I embark on a new life as a blogger, I’ve had several friends say to me, it’s okay to be personal, but not too personal. Be careful of what you say.

And I tell them I am. I have the Weezie Meter.

Weezie is my mother-in-law. She reads my blog. Hopefully daily. I know anything I post she will read.

I judge things I’m writing on a scale of one to ten. One will make Weezie smile and think I’m sweet and write beautifully. Ten is going to elicit a look of horror and perhaps a firm reprimand.

I’m thinking the picture of her? Probably a 9.5. She doesn’t like having her picture taken let alone posted on the internet.

When I went to write about a Winnie-the-Pooh towel Jeanine brought me the other night, I thought to myself, can Weezie read this? It’s funny. Who else but a suburban housewife is going to have a Pooh towel in the linen closet let alone brought to them… uh…

No. Can’t have Weezie read it.

Sarrr-ahhhh! She’d yell at me.

She’s been incredibly supportive of my writing. But I’m pretty sure the towel story is well over a 10.

I know half you out there are thinking, why does a lesbian need a towel? Can’t go there. It’s off the Weezie Meter.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Walter's Flowers

Walter Prayzner Custom Gardening.

Walter does all my flowers. No, it's not free for me. I just bore his children. No no. I get a bill, too.

No one ever wonders why I love my house in Maine after they come and see the flowers.

Yes, all the pictures on the blog are ones I have taken. Except Dad's camp and the picture of me, exhausted. Those are Walter's pictures. We decided a great deal of uplighting and perhaps a filter would be best for my 'after' vacation picture.

Walter is a very talented photographer, and not just of dead people. (He had a brief stint as a morgue photographer.)

And he is an unbelievable, visual artist with plants, flowers and organic material.

If you live in the Boston area and will open your checkbook and not complain? email me and I'll give you Walter's number.

If you think you know where plants belong? Go to Home Depot and do it yourself.

Come Get Them NOW...


I am ready to start my week without them. I was ready last night. I was ready driving them up here.

I woke up this morning to a screaming match between Ben and Jake.

Why did you pull the cat's tail? yelled Ben.

I didn't, yelled Jake back.

I SAW you, Jake.

I didn't do it!

Jake has entered an unfortunate stage of lying about things he's done he knows he shouldn't have done but simply couldn't help himself.


I'm thinking, where is Jeanine? Why didn't she shut the bedroom door when she went downstairs?



I hear a faint voice- Jeanine is in the bathroom downstairs. She's yelling from the toilet.

Ben and Jake stop it now!


I SAID STOP IT NOW! Jeanine has left the bathroom. I still don't know why she didn't shut the bedroom door.

Boys are all in separate corners waiting for Walter and Allan.

I'm ready.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Dads' Camp

For the second year in a row, the boys are off to Dads’ camp. A week of no showers, hot dogs and last year Ben had enough sugar on the first night to induce vomiting.

I can’t drink a whole two-liter bottle of Mountain Dew, he told me.

I gulped down my horror that he would be allowed to do such a thing but then, I didn’t have to clean up the mess. This year? I’m guessing no two-liter containers of Mountain Dew will be swilled down by a single boy.

Dads’ camp is at Donald’s house on the ocean in Down East Maine. It is a beautiful cabin on a peninsula where you can watch the lobster boats come and go from the deck. It is always cool. At night, you wrap in blankets and watch the sky become filled with stars, so many you realize the arrogance in believing we are the only life in the universe.

Donald removes his precious items, like the Tiffany lamp, and settles in for the onslaught of three boys and two dads. I believe Walter and Allan always bring him a giant size bottle of vodka.

Last year at Dads camp, they all learned how to shave (and moisturize). They tasted beer for the first time. They fished. Zachary had to be peeled out of the clothes he wore the entire week.

What did you like about Dads’ camp last year? I asked.

The beach Jake said, pointing out the picture above.

The beach Ben said.

(It’s a first. Jake said it without parroting someone. Good job, Jake.)

Junky cereal, says Zachary.

I roll my eyes. Anything else, Zachary?

Um… he grins, junky cereal.

There is no TV. No Imac with DVD’s. Lots of junk food. An old rope bed for sleeping. A hammock for swinging. Skinny dipping is allowed. Lots of climbing on rocks. Fresh lobster pulled from the water that day. Mussels picked at low tide. A couple deer heads and a stuffed Bobcat line the walls. Leather furniture. Wood paneling. A huge stone fireplace for nightly fires. Manly.

Okay, Donald is gay and just like we suburban lesbians have to have our Speedos, gym shorts and keens? The gay man living remotely who doesn’t want to end up with someone with no teeth needs some style. There is the before mentioned Tiffany lamp and lovely decorative touches, not to mention the man is a gourmet chef who makes a simple boiled lobster dinner something to tell your grandchildren about.

I don’t think my kids see that, though. I know they don’t see the Tiffany lamp for obvious reasons.

For three city kids, it s a chance to be away from traffic, noise, and the ever present glare from the streetlight outside their bedroom window. They hear the ocean not the commuter rail. It’s open and they are allowed to roam free. They get to see the stars I remember from my childhood.

And they get to be with their Dads. They get to identify with parents that look like them, who are adult versions of what they will be someday. I don’t think any kid has to have a man in their life to be well rounded. I had a father and the scars he left run deep. But there is something really precious about what they give my kids, something I can never give them. I don’t know what it is to be a brother, a father, or a husband. They are all roles I watch from outside. I feel lucky, sometimes, not having girls. My expectation, having been a sister, a mother and a wife would warp my view of any daughter I had. It’s the fodder of many a therapy session, not just for me, but for all mothers and daughters.

And yet, the one mom, one dad and two point five kids Madison Avenue image the Republican extremists are trying to sell us? Such bullshit. As important as it is to have role models in children’s lives, it is more important to have love, connection and presence. Sometimes your gender doesn’t matter at all. No one will win an election if they admit that.

There is a great essay in a book “Confessions of the Other Mother,” by Polly Pagenhart that talks about being a lesbian Dad. It’s beautiful. Unfortunately for my boys, while I may look the butch role, I’m really not. I’m never going to camp. I don’t like getting dirty. I’m great at sports but I find spitting really vulgar. I have been dubbed the “butch princess” at work because during an office move my boss discovered my inability to hold a tape measure.

Who we are and how we affect our kids sometimes is genderless. Walter and I had an intense talk the other day. He talked about having a distant father. The distance Jeanine had created in her life by being so focused on work was painfully similar to his own experience with his father. That was about parents, not gender lines. Kids. Relationships.

So my boys are off to Dads’ camp. They’ll stop at Ruth and Wimpy’s for haddock sandwiches on their way. The kids all have clean underwear and clothes for each day, which I’m pretty sure, will remain untouched. Mountain Dew will be consumed in disgusting amounts. Stars will be watched. Rocks thrown in the water. All the fears right wing extremists have that my boys won’t have a normal life can be confirmed.

They will have an exceptional life.

With two moms. And two dads.

Let Dads’ camp begin.

Jake's Sarong

I was helping Jake tie on his sarong yesterday morning. It had been worn as a cape the night before.

You know, he said to me, army guys wear these.

They do?

Yeah, not our army guys but some army guys do…

Very interesting.

Jake came home from his trip with Walter to Florida with a sarong. It’s what guys wear when they’re hanging out, he told me. You know, after going to the pool. You put on your sarong and relax.

Um… okay.

It’s a guy thing, he assured me.

This is why I sought out men to have in my children’s lives. Barbershops, spitting and pocket pool, I knew were guy things. I never knew about sarongs.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Longest Drive

Going to Maine for vacation is always the longest drive. I’m completely exhausted, ready to crash. The kids are revved up and ready to go. Bad mix. Kind of like Red Bull and Vodka.

I remember once, when Ben was four and Zachary was two, they were in their car seats and actually had the ability to drive me right over the edge. Laughing. Screaming. Crying. Laughing. Screaming. Whining. What do you do when you are the only adult in the car and you have another forty-five minutes to go? I pulled over, got out of the car and shut the door.

I have a Volvo wagon (Do all of you suburban lesbians drive volvos? a friend, Stephen, asked. Why yes, we do. I answered. And we all wear one piece speedos, gym shorts and keens lest we be kicked out of the club). Very sound proof. While the cars rushed by, I took a deep breath. I couldn’t hear them screaming. Or laughing. Which ever they were doing at the moment. I counted to ten.

A friend and much wiser parent, Anna, once told me, put yourself in time out. It'll drive the kids nuts and give you some room.

Before the safety police file a 51A on me, I know it’s not safe to pull over on the highway. I’ve heard all the stories about random tractor-trailers crushing entire families as they sat in their disabled vehicle on the shoulder. But if I didn’t pull over and step out? I was going to kill them.

Today was no different. Except there were three of them. Plus a howling cat. And they were all capable of physical contact. No more car seats keeping a barrier of plastic between them.

The topics of conversation ranged from the drive-in movie they had seen the night before, to poop and pee. It really doesn’t matter where they start, it always ends up being about poop and pee. And then, ultimately, someone touches someone and the shoving, pushing, hysterical screaming begins.

Threats are issued from me. Don’t make me stop this car…

Which means what exactly? It’ll take another hour to get where we are going? Who is that punishing? But it seems to work. At least for a while, until they realize I am not going to stop the car. I step on the gas instead.

Jeanine, my lovely wife, called me while I was driving up. Traffic is awful, I said. It’s going to take an extra hour. The kids, as you can hear, are killing each other.

She’s laughing.

It’s not funny.

But I can hear the cat, she says. It really is funny. I mean, the boys AND the cat? That’s funny.

Not from where I’m sitting.

I wonder, how is it that I am always alone driving the boys and assorted animals up? Quietly, I plot a weekend away. To a spa. Without her.

We hit another traffic jam. There is a correlation between bumper-to-bumper driving and yelling. If we’re sailing along at say, 70 miles per hour, they’re all pretty quiet. But slow down to 30? Restlessness sets in.

More threats. I will put your TV in timeout.

Then, naturally, I put TV in timeout.

This absolutely punishes me.

Too late. I’ve said it. I have to stick to it.

The last ten minutes of the drive, I’m completely weaponless. They know I’m not going to stop the car. TV is already in timeout. Traffic on Route One slows to a crawl.

And the cat is still howling.

It’s always the longest drive.

Friday, August 18, 2006

My Girls

I have been incredibly blessed with a couple special girls in my life. They are like daughters to me- although not, making it, in some ways, even better. They are very important relationships. They learn from me and I learn from them.

They are all girls to be reckoned with. They are not wilting flowers. They are not afraid of much, certainly not the things that scared me at their age. They are powerful. And yet, they are girls. A concept completely foreign to me.

I spent most of my childhood dressed as a boy, wanting to be like a boy, fighting like a boy, playing hard like a boy. Before you go down the lesbian-in-training road, I did it out of a sense of urgency. Being a girl in my house wasn’t safe.

I dressed in my brother’s clothes as often as I could. He taught me how to play sports, pushed me hard- there was no room for crying. I could play basketball, and play it really well. I knew all the sports scores, and stats of players from baseball to basketball to football, where they played college, what pro team they were on… I memorized the sports pages.

My girls, they are different from me. They are feminine and strong. They have long hair and muscles. They wear nail polish and don’t care when it gets chipped. I watch them in awe. They have achieved a balance both boys and girls should strive for- an appreciation for the best of both genders. And in doing so, they are smashing old roles and creating new ones.

They all played with Barbie’s, often wear pink, and two of them have a deep love of sport cars. They play sports. They dance. They whisper and giggle. And one can stand up and sing out loud, on stage, fearless, sans microphone, her voice filling the hall. They care about what their clothes look like and they wear sweatpants and hoodies. I nod in appreciation when Anya explains the retro-chic layered look she’s going to wear for the Kelly Clarkson concert. I have no idea what a retro-chic layered look is but I am sure it makes her happy.

I love their freedom.

Early this summer, I took [girl] up to Maine with me for a special trip. I have known [girl] since before she was born. She is now the ripe age of ten- almost eleven. We have always had a connection. When she was a little baby, I could make her smile- even without the Twinkle-twinkle song. A couple of years ago, she declared herself my daughter. You need a girl, she said. I’ll be your girl. I’ll be your daughter, okay? I was honored.

The rest of the clan was joining us for the weekend but she and I left early. Just the two of us. And the cat howling in the back of the car in her crate, she reminds me.

We got there and after unpacking, we wandered down to Perkins Cove to go shopping. I tend to go in a store, see what I want in thirty seconds and if not, I leave. I don’t try things on. Instead I hold them up and eye them for the correct size. In short, I hate shopping. But my girl wanted to shop, so we shopped. She picked out a small, metal garden sign that said “Queen.”

Get this for you boss, she said.

She had heard me on the phone on the ride up with my boss who was frantically trying to figure out the postage for an airmail letter to Canada. I answered the phone YES MY QUEEN, as I do when I see the caller ID and know it’s her. The process of getting the 63-cent stamp and the red “AIR MAIL” stamp on the envelope took three phone calls. She’s a brilliant investment manager. The details… well, that’s my job.

[girl] not only remembered what seemed like a completely off the cuff remark from me, she also recognized it in another form in the store. She heard my laughter in talking to my boss. She looked at me wide eyed after the conversation, hearing my quick answers to what seemed so foreign and grown up. For me, it was just a stamp and a moment to joke with the Queen.

And as girls often do, she took in the feelings, made the connection and pointed out the sign. It was profound to me. Touching. Thoughtful. Sweet. My boys are often sweet but I have never seen one of them make that kind of connection. It’s work to get them to think outside themselves in a way as girls, we are trained at an early age to do.

She’s still a kid- we went and picked out a sweatshirt for her and had ice cream cones on a bench by the rocks. We sat. Watched the tide come in. We talked. Just about stuff. I didn’t have to pry or pick up a baseball glove and toss a ball around to have a conversation. She talked about her feelings.

You don’t get to do this with the boys, do you? she asked me.

No, I smiled. Never.

Yet when the boys arrived, she was flying down the zip line, playing tag, throwing balls, laughing and being rowdy. She climbed rocks, jumped in waves, played four square- often better than the boys.

She has the best of both worlds.

In my own way, I’m learning from her, from my girls, what it is to be a girl. I have had a complete make over with an entire container of blue eye shadow to provide the perfect dramatic look and expert instruction on how to apply mascara- thank you, [girl]. I have been pampered at a salon, with beautiful, bright pink nail polish selected for me, my hands dunked in hot wax- thank you, [girl]. I have been slowly introduced to hair products, the idea of using them, to the art of blow-drying my hair- Thank you Melissa.

I’m not going to work in a sparkling cocktail dress but I have done a fabulous rendition of Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” in one. I’m never going to wear make up on a daily basis but I have watched it transform my face. I am never going to wear pumps but I learned how to turn gracefully in them. For the birthday song.

I love these silly acts. I love sitting on the bench and just… talking. I feel sadness for what I missed as a child and a joy in discovering it now.

My girls are showing me gray in roles I thought were black and white.

Chipped nail polish and all.


I am under the influence of impending vacation. Actual work may induce dizziness and should only be taken with coffee and liberal amounts of chatting.

I have to go to work today. My job is, at times, incredibly detail oriented. I work at a small, investment management company. I cannot make mistakes. Ever.

My counterpart at the brokerage firm we use is going on vacation today at 4:30pm, too. We call each other and calculate the exact number of minutes before we leave for our two-week vacations. We are both aware that we are relatively useless at this point.

I had a complete brain malfunction yesterday. As I said, I cannot make mistakes in my job. I didn't but I came close. I emailed my boss suggesting it was perhaps better to have me go on vacation immediately. She ignored me, sending back a list of tasks for me to do today.

Because she's already on vacation.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cherrios, Goldfish and Diapers

Being the least prepared mother in the world, I showed up to the camp talent show with a dead battery in my camera.

I had to sit next to my friend Margaret, who is the most prepared mother in the world. Not only did she have a camera- real film- her husband was there with a video camera. All moments captured. Beautifully. I call Margaret the Martha Stewart of motherhood.

When our oldest kids were only toddlers, we used to go out to a park in Concord, one she found, a perfect spot, with a gorgeous oak tree on top of a hill, where there were no crowds but always a great breeze on a hot summer day. We would go up there, meeting in the parking lot.

I would show up, Ben strapped in his car seat, the wrong way I found out years later when they actually wrote instructions for the damn things you could read- you’re suppose to anchor it? Who the hell anchors a car seat? I had a big, blue Rebook diaper bag that had a pad. And a zipper. And it was washable. I thought it was great.

Margaret had the diaper bag with separate pockets, zippers and compartments so the carefully cut up, seedless grapes didn’t come near the wipes or diapers.

I had cheerios in a plastic bag. Sometimes, they were fresh. Only if I had been eating them, too. I had a few juice boxes. And goldfish. I always had goldfish. All piled into the bag. Wipes. Diapers. When a plastic bag was empty, I stuffed poopy diapers in it.

Margaret had Oatios, the organic alternative to Cheerios. In their reusable, washable container. In a separate compartment next to the previously mentioned quartered grapes. Also in a reusable, washable container.

Once we were settled under the tree, in the shade, enjoying the breeze, Margaret would pull out a small, tactile orange ball with indents for the kids to be able to grab a hold of it.

I had… um… no toys. Cheerios, goldfish, a couple juice boxes, diapers and wipes.

We’d throw the ball and Ben and Cate would go wobbling along after it, back and forth, for what felt like hours, probably only ten minutes.

Then, when the kids would tire of that, she’d had blocks, small, primary colored ones, for the kids to play with.

And we’d have another ten minutes of time to talk to each other.

And I had… cheerios… goldfish- you get the picture.

When we all went away for the weekend, having rented a house with a group of friends with kids, Margaret showed up with crayons in a container- plastic, reused from a take out dinner- and they were all whole. Nothing broken. And recycled paper from work for the kids to draw on.

I had… never mind.

So today, Margaret had her camera. With real film. A husband, with video camera.

I had a digital camera. No juice. Wife at work. Three boys who never even told me there was a talent show.

Guess who did? Yup. Margaret.

Margaret is the Martha Stewart of parenting.


I am a parent. I’m lucky no one has died yet.

Naughty Moms

I had the Naughty Moms for dinner last night. Don’t ever have a group of women called the Naughty Moms to your house for dinner with an unlimited supply of wine.

Don’t have me to your house for dinner with an unlimited supply of wine.

Oh my.

More on the Naughties later. This morning I’m off to a talent show at the boy's camp.

Not that they told me about the talent show. Or ever mention a single word about camp. Another mother had to tell me about the show.

For that, I’m taking my camera and going to sit right in front of the stage and wave a lot.

Payback is a bitch.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

But that's MY bed!

Last night, I went to bed. I had tucked my three children in their separate beds hours before.

I was tired.

This is what I found in my bed.

Not just the kids. The cat, too.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Dads

My boys are incredibly fortunate to have not only two moms, but also two dads. And no divorce. At least not yet. * Pretty unusual in today’s world. The kids are at times horribly embarrassed by this fact, at times completely relaxed with it, and once or twice, I’ve even heard them brag about it- only to other friends with lesbian moms.

I always knew, even before I gave birth, that I would want to have men in my kids’ lives. It felt important. Whether I had sons or daughters, men were important. I like men. Have no desire to have sex with them but I like them anyway. Men are different. They have a different perspective on the world, in general. Perhaps it’s because a large part of their brain is actually found at the tip of their penis. I don’t know for sure but I do know that I love being around men. Maybe it’s because a large part of my brain is at the tip of my penis, so to speak but that’s for another blog.

Straight men are fine but they usually end up staring at my chest the entire time I’m talking to them. Last I checked, my breasts, while interesting conversation pieces, are not actually conversationalists. They don’t talk, guys. That’s why I’ve always tended towards gay men. They will look at my breasts and either turn their noses up because mine are better, or will ask to borrow a bra for the next drag party. Serious room to stuff.

Walter came into our lives when Ben was not quite two and Zachary was a baby. A friend had recommended him as a great person to help us with a completely overgrown yard we had just purchased and could not begin to remove all the weeds, bushes and bramble that covered the quarter acre.

Hey, we’re in the suburbs here. A quarter acre of weeds is pure hell. Especially when you’re 7 months pregnant.

He came to meet with us the first time and I remember loving his stories. He told stories about trees, flowers, plants and how they could cover the land. He had energy, charm and before long, I simply opened the checkbook and said, do what you think you should. I was one of his favorite clients because I opened the checkbook and said do whatever you want.

He would always chat when he came to work on the yard. And I was one of those lonely, stay at home moms who had put the blocks into the can and taken them out fifteen hundred times already by 10am and craved any adult contact. We talked and talked. And Ben would always be around, as was Zachary. One day, he said to Jeanine, I think I’m going to sign up to be a big brother. She told me this and I grabbed him the next time he came over.

Be Ben’s big brother. And Zachary’s.

He stopped and considered.

I said, this is a huge deal. I am asking for an enormous commitment. You’ll have to come over, weekly, you have to be consistent and you have to be sure you want this in your life. Don’t give me an answer now. Tell me in two weeks.

And then I had to scramble and discuss this with Jeanine. I do have a tendency to make huge parenting decisions and inform her later. This means understanding we will not be the only ones in his life. Walter may, at some point, want to take him for a sleepover. There will be events that Ben will want a guy to go with, not one of us.

She was not happy but agreed that a man in their lives was important. Basically, she had no idea what she was getting into. But I knew. I knew enough about Walter and had a strong gut feeling that this guy was a keeper.

And he is.

Eventually, as the boys grew, and we added Jake, Walter’s husband Allan started to enter the picture. Jake, as a toddler, gravitated to Allan. Jake is no fool- he knows when hands are full and sought out the available ones. Allan, openly afraid of small babies, could not resist. A family was being formed.

The adults all agreed on the kids. And, slowly, we started to socialize. Walter and I loved to cook. I brought him his first cheese from Formaggio’s and he fell in love with the flavors, the regions, the different smells, just the way I love wine. Allan and Jeanine are similar in their love of meatloaf and no nonsense, no frills approach. Walter and I cannot imagine things left in their containers on the table. They taught us how to drink martinis- I remember thinking, my goodness, these go down easy. And before you know it, I’m agreeing that anonymous sex with a truck driver sounded pretty damn good. We brought them into our lesbian moms group, where they were celebrated and embraced as equal parents to the boys.

I think the truck driver moment was probably a lot more fun… at least for me it was. I do remember Jeanine being a little annoyed with my enthusiasm.

When marriage became legal in this state for those of us already married years and years (don’t ever tell me I’ve been married two years- it’s been fifteen and I’ve earned every one), we decided to get married. All of us. Oh, you know us queers, we can’t help but push the limit.

A friend suggested we simply have a double wedding. I stopped and realized the biggest thing we had to celebrate was our family. I really wanted to have a ceremony for the kids. To acknowledge their mothers and their fathers.

Sounds beautiful? Walter and I wanted to go to the Justice of the Peace and have a lovely dinner at Arrows in Ogunquit for ten of our most favorite friends. Allan and Jeanine? Big church wedding. 200 people. Fights ensued. Caterers tried out. More arguments. Guest lists. At one point an ocarina version of Simple Gifts- my choice of music- was played in an attempt by my wife to steer the opinion of others. Below the belt, I said. I still can’t listen to that song without hearing the gales of laughter from the three of them.

So we have two moms. Two dads. Lots of love. Sometimes even for each other. Always for the kids.

*See previous posts for complete disclosure that I am not a perfect person. I do not have a perfect marriage. And my children are, at times, completely wild. Although, I am their mother and do believe they are the smartest, most beautiful and talented children in the world. As I said, I am not a perfect person.

Green, The New Black

Driving in the car with the boys, when they are not hitting each other, is a time rich with information. Ben and Zachary were discussing grillz last night.

Do you know who invented grillz? Ben asked.

No, who?

Flava Flave.

Who’s that?

I dunno, some guy. But all his teeth were gold. He was the trendsetter. The original.

Maybe he just had bad teeth. You know, maybe he never brushed them.

Seriously, Zack, it was about style.

I know that guy, Jake pipes in.

Jake hates being left out of a conversation and will find a way in, usually by parroting something he knows nothing about, no matter what the cost.

He invented grillz. Yeah. He did. I know him. Yeah.

Jake, you don’t know that, you don’t even know who he is, GOD.

Ben starts yelling which ultimately ends the conversation.

Ben is on top of style. He knows his fashion. Two years ago, at the age of nine, when Walter was decked out in his new orange coat, Ben informed us that green, not orange, was the new black. When he was three and we moved into a new house, he methodically set up his own bedroom, placing toys and stuffed animals artfully around the room. Don’t touch, Momma, he told me sternly when he was done. I wouldn’t dare.

And pop culture. People wonder why I know so much about pop culture. I live with a walking Teen People magazine.

MOM, did you know that Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton got into a catfight?

MOM, Madonna is like so old but she looks really great. Much better than you and you know, she’s even older than you. Maybe you should find out her beauty tips cuz your wrinkles are … you know… so there. You look... so old.

I can’t get the kid to read a book but put Tiger Beat in his hands and every word is memorized within an hour.

MOM, Kelly Clarkson is like, so old news… I mean, she’s like way over twenty years old. Rhianna is the new Kelly Clarkson.

Yeah, Rhianna is so cool and Kelly Clarkson is so not… Jake parrots. Prepare for impact.

JAKE, you don’t know ANYTHING…

Another rich information session cut short.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Before Vacation

I thought I would do a little before and after photo shoot.

This is me before vacation.

Note the serious bags under my eyes. I'm only smiling because Walter is cooking dinner.

Marriage and School Forms

In this age of amazing technological advancements, why am I still filling out school forms, page by page, writing the pediatrician’s name and phone number on enough forms to create such an intimacy with the letters they begin to look foreign?

Like you feel about your spouse after 15 years. Do I know you? I’ve seen you very day, but do I know you?

Marriage and school forms.

There is a parallel. Three kids, three sets of forms, each 15 pages long, each requiring a signature, your child’s name, emergency numbers, by the time I get to the last page, I don’t read anything. I sign and start writing the pediatrician’s name and number on a form that could be giving permission to sell my kid to the highest bidder. It’s not that I don’t care about the care about my children or don’t understand why the after school program needs to know the names, numbers and driver’s license information for all of our family, extended family, and people who might look like our family- I just stop reading.

You spend years with the same person, living together, going through the same routines, breathing the same air you start to forget to look at them and remember the details of who they are. Some of it is inevitable, how can you not be lulled into a familiarity after so long? But some of it is not.

Ben informed me the other day, when he was furious with his other mother; he was NOT going to breathe the same air as her.

Uh, that will be hard, I noted.

NO, I’m going to breathe THIS air, and he stuck his face next to the air conditioner.

A creative solution, I thought.

And in my marriage right now, we are looking for some creative solutions. We let things go for too long. We were breathing the same air and it started to get annoying. Difficult. To say we’re on some rocky ground now is like saying Mitt Romney is kind of a Mormon. Kids, life, the swirl of activity around you and suddenly, you have no idea who is sleeping next to you at night. Except that they always hog the covers. They refuse to get up with the kids in the middle of the night. The annoying things stand out.

She used to play the piano for me. I would sit on the bench next to her and turn the pages. Where she had no words to express herself, she would play Beethoven with such elegance and passion, it would make me cry.

I used to cook elaborate meals, with fresh ingredients hunted down from the best places, and pick a perfect wine, and light candles. She would listen to be ramble on about the wine, where it was grown, how much rain there was that year. My passion would come out in my descriptions of the selection of the recipe, the story of the wine.

We knew each other.

Now, we never see each other. And when we do, there are schedules to discuss. Strategy for the newest child issue that has come up- Ben clearly needs his own room. There is no room on the third floor for anyone. How do we keep him from killing his younger brother before space can be made? There is no toilet paper. Who is going to BJ’s next? Did you pay the mortgage or was I suppose to? Why can’t you help more? Why can’t you? The strategy/planning session becomes bickering. Frustration. And before anything can be solved, someone is chasing the cat through the house with a tube of toothpaste.

I’m tired of filling out school forms. I’m tired of bickering about who should fold the laundry and why my job is just as important as hers. I need some creative solutions.

Maybe I’ll go stick my face next to the air conditioner for a while.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

No Shoes, No Service

Anchovies and Salmon

One AM. I am not up at one o’clock in the morning. Ever.

I was last night.

Why? Because the five boys in my backyard, pumped full with the Mountain Dew I provided, were laughing hysterically every time one boy would shout:


And while the humor of this statement may be lost on those of us over forty, the nine and under set found this reason to keep the entire neighborhood awake. In fact, they only settled down when one of their comrades felt ill and complained he needed to sleep.

I firmly believe children must never have the upper hand. Once when Zachary was an infant, I was so sick I lost my voice. Not even a whisper could come out. Ben, then a toddler, was wildly running through the house, jumping on the couch, pulling the curtains, yanking the cat’s tail, and looking directly at me with every act. I sat, completely immobile, nursing the baby. I couldn’t even yell at him. Finger pointing and a stern look were not enough. He sensed the weakness. It was all over.

Friends think I’m hard on my kids. That I expect a lot. I do. I take choices away. I do not negotiate. My rules are firm. I know I make mistakes but I stick to what I said, the line I drew even when I wish I had just kept my mouth shut.

I am in charge.

Not last night.

Caffeine, sugar, laughter, flashlights and goofy stories ruled. Perhaps that’s why the neighbors didn’t call the police. There was sweetness to it.

And just like Ben, they sensed a weakness in me. As annoyed as I was, I could not help but appreciate their silliness and the simplicity of their life at this moment in time.

Anchovies and Salmon were in charge.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Sleeping Bags, Flashlights and of course, the IMac.

Remember sleeping out as a kid? Canvas tents. Musty smells. Cotton sleeping bags covered with dew by morning. Someone's brother would come and scare you to death rattling the sides of the tent. Blair Witch Project stuff. Scary stories told with flashlights held to the face.

That’s not what happened here tonight.

Sure, there were flashlights. Sleeping bags. Nylon- not nearly as warm but seriously dew resistant. There were a couple of scary stories told by flashlight. But as I watched the kids all gather around an IMac computer my wife had brought out for them to watch a DVD on, I knew the nostalgia was over.

It wasn’t even an old IMac. It was a new one, with flexible screen and round base. High tech speakers attached. Couldn’t have the built in one. Where’s the sound quality in that?

The party started out as most parties involving a group of boys do- loud running around, shouting, tackling, dragging out of inappropriate toys to pounce on- this time it was sleds from the garage. Global warming and climate change is certainly a problem but sleds in August? Only a group of 9 year old boys could drag out sleds, jump on them in hopes they will slide and suffer the wounds from the sleds resistance to the grass and soil with a confidence they might have gotten it to move if they had just the right angle.

Before anyone jumps down my throat about girls versus boys, I am a feminist. I gave my boys dolls. I gave my boys trucks. I have made them listen to Maria Callas. I have let them listen to 50 Cent. Barbie’s, flamboyant dress up clothes, and as many female centered storybooks as I could find have filled their lives. I can’t even say I’m gender neutral. I’m completely woman biased.

I have never seen a girl throw herself on top of a toddler’s, full sized plastic car, pushing with all her might sending the car downhill, arms outstretched, thinking, this will be fun.

Girls jumping on sleds in August? No. Just my boys.

After the sled attempts and the series of band-aids it required, dinner was served. Hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries and loud shouting. The Mountain Dew limit had been reached during the sled races, so the ever-foreign MILK was served.

I can see Zachary as an adult, sitting in the chair opposite his therapist. And then, you know, she served milk. At my birthday. She served milk. Shoving his face into his hands, sobbing at the indignity.

Let this be known now- I am a mother who is not afraid to serve milk. I expect no potty talk at the table, even at birthdays when everyone is gathered around shirtless, filthy feet, screaming at the top of their lungs.

I love listening to the kids at the table. To hear them shout over each other and hear their beliefs, no, insistences about the world is refreshing. Cleansing.

Wait, Wait, Wait…

No, listen to me…

GUYS! C’mon, GUYS, you gotta hear this…

Wait… THIS is funny. No, wait, c’mon, c’mon, listen, this is REALLY funny…

All familiar refrains from my own childhood friends. The connection. The sincerity. The passion of belief. The tent is still pitched in the backyard. They are still wrapped in sleeping bags. Flashlights are still being pointed in every direction.

The IMac… well, that’s new.

Party Boys

Mountain Dew. Coke. Chips. Cake. Ice Cream. Hot Dogs.

Game faces on.

Adults afraid.

Let the Party Begin!

Vacation... dream on

Today, the blog begins. The previous postings are some background, already published essays out there in the world of small literature magazines no one has heard of with the circulation of 1500 where once a writer’s story won an award from the community newspaper for excellence in local humor. I’ve already had a friend email asking if I was planning on a fourth child.


I have three children. Three boys.

You know me. You’ve sat next to me on a plane, plopped down beside me at the beach, watched in horror as I was lead through a maze of tables at the restaurant till I was seated right next to you. I’m the lady with three kids- no, not just three kids, not just three kids under the age of eleven, but three boys under the age of eleven. And while it may seem unfair to you, please understand, I occasionally leave the house with them. I’ve heard you huff under your breath but until that particular law is passed, I get to have dinner out. Don’t worry- they’ve all had their shots. I’m not, however, vouching for the stuff oozing from their noses. I’m staying away from that- you should too.

Right now vacation is on my mind. I stayed home with my boys for almost ten years. Ten years as a housewife. One mom recently said to me, while making the trek between her full time job as a physician, her son’s baseball games and her twin daughters pick up at daycare, where’s my tiara? Do I get a tiara for this? I feel as though I need a tiara, or a straight jacket for the ten years I spent at home being a mom 24/7.

Sure, I’m still a mom 24/7 but now I go to work. And get paid. And work is like a going to a spa compared to being a stay at home mom. Please don’t tell my boss. She gets wind of how I really feel, my next salary negotiation may not go so well.

But now, I get vacation. Paid vacation. And mine is coming up in a week. Something to look forward to, right?

What I really want to do is have a vacation- a real vacation. I want to walk down the beach alone, with no one asking for a piggy back ride, winging sand at elderly (and usually slow until they see my children) walkers, or pegging endangered Terns with broken sea shells. I want to saunter slowly. I want to check out the attractive beach goers without watching in horror as my eleven-year-old son Ben is staring at the same woman I am.

The last time we were at the beach together, he wouldn’t stop staring at two, very young, bikini-clad women lying on their stomachs.

Ben! I finally said.
What? He said, horrified I noticed.
Stop staring.
But they are sticking their butts up in the air!

For the record, they were not sticking their butts up in the air. Not that I was looking, too.

Is it ever really vacation when you go with your children? Seriously. Why do we do it? It is my choice after all, to come to the beach with forty tons of equipment, and rip shoulder muscles out trying to get it to a clear spot. I know what my children are going to do when they get there. I know there will be no rest. But I also know there are moments, when we all sit down for lunch under the umbrella on the beach, and laugh about how the waves knocked us down, or how our castle was ruined by the incoming tide, that creep into my brain and somehow take a much bigger piece of space than all the hard work of the trip. I remember sitting with Zachary, my middle son, in my lap and watching his face as fireworks light up the sky- not how he whined loudly and constantly, during the entire time waiting for the show to start.

I remember Ben’s first lobster, his joy at dipping the white meat into the melted butter and actually liking it, not him playing the with shells afterwards, accidentally flinging the green innards onto the sweater of some poor woman sitting next to us. I remember Jake as a baby running towards the water and stopping dead in his tracks when the cold hit his feet, bouncing up and down on his pudgy legs, yelping in surprise and delight, not the later rendition performed in his crib at three AM, making sure not to stop until we all saw his prowess. My brain doesn’t seem capable of remembering with the same intensity the awful stuff as it does the wonderful, hold in my heart forever kind of stuff. In short, I’m an idiot.

Vacation will have to wait another week. Tonight, we have a birthday party. Five 8 and 9 year old boys are going to have a sleep over in the tent we have set up outside. I’m sure by eleven o’clock tonight I will need the straight jacket, not the tiara. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 11, 2006

First Born, Third Child

The difference between being a new parent and a, well, for the lack of a better word, used parent, can be determined by this quick little quiz: you’re unpacking the car and the baby seat is between you and a bag of groceries. Do you, A, go all the way around to the other side of the car to get the bag of groceries, or do you B, take the bag out over the baby and think to yourself, this isn’t such a great idea. Everyone who answered B is, without a doubt, a used parent. The first one wears you down, the second smoothes off any remaining edges, and by the time number three enters the family, forget about it. You’re definitely used.

We had our third child this past spring. People ask me how it is to be up all night again. I smile graciously, but the truth is, I’m not. Not because the baby isn’t crying, but while the baby is crying, I’m sleeping. Young newborn has to work on getting up to a certain volume before this mother hears. I remember when our first child came home. Every peep, sigh, and rustle had me wide awake, checking on him. I was a wreck. By the time the second one came home, I remember thinking what a good sleeper he was. The truth was, I was a good sleeper. When he was hungry, really hungry, he would cry and one of us would eventually hear him. The latest addition started sleeping through the night faster than all the rest. Third baby syndrome. It’s lucky we hear him in the middle of the day, let alone at night. Poor baby. Doesn’t seem fair in some ways, especially since he is technically a first born, a position deserving far more immediate attention. While I gave birth to the first two babies, he came out of my partner’s body, giving him the unlikely distinction of being the first born, third child.

It is curious to think about, this last little baby (regardless of my partner’s insistence that one more would be hardly noticeable, and what the hell, why not) suffering from first time pregnancy jitters inutero, and yet having used parents upon entering the world. My partner knew how to be a mother, but found herself full of all the first time fears of being pregnant, regardless of my attempts to describe and explain every twitch and change. I believe some of my own pregnancy anxieties can be seen in our oldest's need for order, and hysteria over changed routines. Studies have been done to determine birth orders effect on personality traits, the first born often being the most successful, head strong and confident, the youngest being the most flexible and the middle one- squeezed from both sides- lucky if they grow up to know how to tie their shoes. But what about my youngest son, for whom there are no studies, no vast amounts of literature, to describe his world. He is the third son of two moms. Will he have the seriousness of a first born or the freedom of the third? A mixture of both?

I suppose it doesn’t matter- he will be what he will be regardless of my worrying. But he will be unusual not only in his community, having two moms for parents, but in his own family, having a different biological mother than his brothers. I’d like to think it won’t matter, but as a child I can remember being teased by my brother and sister that I was ‘natural born,’ when in fact, we were all three adopted. I would cry, insisting I was exactly like them, brought home at three weeks old, with no biological ties to our parents. I know we wouldn’t allow that kind of teasing in our family, but it wasn’t as if my mother did. Part of being a used parent is accepting what I can and can’t do for my children. Sibling torture is one thing I know I have only a small amount of control over.

First born, third child. For all of my concern, he may have the best of all worlds- confident, creative, flexible and successful. His brothers may envy the long, dark eyelashes he inherited from his mother (or at least the attention they bring), or perhaps the focus will be on their shared biological father. They may all be so overwhelmed by the difference in their family from the outside world, biology will be an ignored nuance. I wish there were more children like him, grown up and able to reflect on their experience to support his reality. We know no one else with the same family configuration. At least as an adoptee, I had a whole world of people who struggled and celebrated lives like my own. My youngest is a pioneer in terms of a two birth mother family, with several siblings. I can almost be convinced to have one more child, to give him more familiarity in his life, end his uniqueness.

Almost, but let’s face it, adding one more child isn’t something to be taken lightly. Just like there will be times when one kid gets more ice cream in his bowl, or a better present from Grandma, things will never be even for the three of them. Try as I may to be fair, I’m not. Isolation and identity questions may always plague my kids. They are growing up in the mainstream culture with a decidedly non-mainstream family portrait. For me, being adopted has been both wonderful and difficult. I can only hope his experience is lined with as many supportive people as mine was.

All I really can know, despite the grocery bags carefully lifted over him, is how loved and cherished he is.

I Know the Feeling

I can’t believe I’m having another baby. In another two months or so, a new baby is going to enter my life. I feel fine, no bloating, no constant need to pee, no swollen ankles or raging hormones. I’m not tired, and I’m wearing all my regular clothes. It’s very strange, this pregnancy. And yet, after all the screaming and pushing is over, I’ll have another beautiful baby in my family. When I sat down and started filling out the birth class information, even though I’ve been through two pretty successful births (they came out and everyone lived- I think that’s pretty successful), I was at a loss for how to answer “Is this your first birth?” I finally scribbled “Kinda.”

You see, it’s my partner’s turn. And while straight new parents-to-be may discuss how to divide the workload equitably, most don’t get the opportunity to decide who will birth the baby. We did. I had the first two, and she’s having the last one. After all, I’m 37 now, and she’s only 34, and we did want one more baby. More than that, we both wanted to be pregnant, to go through the experience, to give birth to a child. Most of my straight friends shake their heads in envy. “I’d have two more if I didn’t have to be pregnant!” I mean, let’s face it, being pregnant, and taking care of other children is hard. “I’d have him have one just so he would know how it feels!” I do know how it feels. But now, so does my partner. The shoe is really on the other foot.

This became clear to me when my partner, in her first trimester, was complaining about how sick she felt. I agreed wholeheartedly. I could do more than imagine having morning sickness, trying to equate having the flu with the nausea of raging hormones. I was that sick, too. She shook her head, “No, you were just a little lightheaded- I’m really sick.” And there it was. A unconscious confession- she really didn’t think I was all that sick. She was sweet to me when I had morning sickness, very supportive, held my head, brought me ginger ale, but never really got it. Then, in true pregnancy induced dementia, was sure that she really really felt bad, the worse than any other woman alive could ever have felt, and could she have her pasta, no sauce, salad, no dressing and peanut butter toast now, please, before the next wave of nausea hits.

As the pregnancy has progressed, I’ve come to realize that while I do have a wealth of experience, her pregnancy really is unique to her. I’m not the one having the baby. This became very clear when we went to our first birth class. I went in, questioning whether or not we needed to go to one at all, and left in awe of my new role. I am packer of the bag, holder of the stopwatch, organizer of arrangements for the kids, and head cheerleader. Suddenly, it hits home that I’m the spectator, not the event. I won’t be the one who will know when it’s time to go to the hospital, I won’t be the one who will have the undeniable need to push. It isn’t my body.

That’s the hard part, the great part, the difficult part, the wonderful part. I watch this wonderful belly emerge, grow and move, and I know exactly how it feels to learn my baby’s rhythm by it’s movements. This one, this time, I’m the one watching. At night, spooned together, I feel the baby kicking against my back, and it’s wonderfully reminiciant and totally different. I get one little faint kick, and my partner get’s the bladder bouncing, lung squishing complete effect.

I worry, secretely, that I won’t have the same feelings for this baby as I did the ones who entered the world through me. It’s hard not to. When I watch my partner, though, with our two kids, I know better. The bond between them comes from endless sleepless nights, skinned knees and angry words. It comes from the day in and day out of life, their shared experience. Blood is a connection, but it isn’t the only connection. Giving birth doesn’t guarantee a good relationship. I know she couldn’t love them more. My worries quiet, and once again I marvel at the new life growing right before my eyes.

I have a new role this time. It will be challenging, different, new. I’ll surely struggle with it, talk about it, grow into it. I’m prepared, because, after all, I am a parent. It’s what I do every day.