Hopes

When I was a kid, I distinctly remember my mom saying “don’t get your hopes up.” I rationally know that it was a moment-in-time-specific saying, but it stuck with me, and has had a profound effect on many things that I do. I halt my emotions, rather than feeling them, in order to put myself in emotional limbo until all.the.facts.are.known.

I was doing this with my recent pregnancy. Because my sister-in-law had a 10 week miscarriage, I was afraid that an early announcement would bring about a similar result (not rational, I know), but announced secretly, anyway. I was afraid to let myself get too excited about being pregnant, in case it meant losing it (and then deciding the next steps, which almost 90% would be not trying anymore). When Potamus asked for a sister, and I want a girl, I held off even entertaining the idea that it could be a girl. Sure I know that I’ll love another son, but I want a girl.

In the past few days I have been catching myself calling the baby ‘her.’ I spent ten hours cleaning out our office/guest room and moving the changing table from the garage into our new nursery/guest room. I know it’s just nesting, but when my parents arrived I was just naturally calling it ‘her room,’ and saying, ‘when she gets here,’ etc. And I realized, when doing my mindfulness app, that I actually want to get my hopes up. Will I be sad, and go through the emotions if anything were to happen to this baby, or if she were to be a he, yep. And I’d also be fine. I’d know that I can handle emotions and changes and everything turns out okay.

So I’m letting myself get my hopes up. And I’ll deal with the consequences later. Because I’m tired of living like my life is on hold until I know X or Y or Z happens.

Coming Out in Light of the World Vision Kerfuffle

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With my students I talk a lot about how we, I think as a culture, tend to define our things but what we are not, or what we don’t like. We might say things like, “I’m a Democrat,” but it feels more strongly like “I’m not a Republican, and therefore I have chosen the other box, default Democrat.”

But today, in light of the shitty week I had with the roller coaster of World Vision emotions (that you can read about how it started here and ended up here and some cool thoughts about it here), I thought I’d break a rule and tell you all:

I’m not straight.

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I fully recognize that I live in a world with a hetero normative story line. I am presumed straight by those who meet me, and ‘lie by omission’ when I don’t ‘set the record straight.” Because I am married to a man, I am assumed to be straight. Just like because I don’t have a wheelchair, or guide dog, I am assumed to be able-bodied (rather than looking at the invisible disability of chronic mental illness). This idea of ‘passing,’ is something I am familiar with on a daily basis, and get the privilege of choosing if, and when, and to whom I come out, if I do at all.

So last week I had drinks with a friend, and as we were discussing the World Vision drama, and all my frustration behind the big flip-flop, I said…

“I was telling Boof this, that people don’t realize. I have his protection in church. I am accepted and loved and welcomed with open arms because of him. They see me the way they want to see me, as a straight, married woman with a child. I am the walking white woman stereotype, in their minds. But without my husband, if I was on my own, and openly dating, or was married to a woman they would think very very differently of me. So this decision of theirs, it could affect me. I could not be hired because of who I am. “

And his response:

“Are you a lesbian?”

It wasn’t a question with judgment attached. He had been tracking my conversation and, since he’s in a relationship with a woman who identified as lesbian, seemed to be trying to understand. And that’s when I got quiet. Because no, I know I’m not a lesbian. I know that like I know I’m not black. But the question brought back memories, of being in high school, or after college with no boyfriend or ‘marriage prospects,’ and my sister saying to me ‘mom and dad think you’re a lesbian.” It brought back memories of being called ‘Sir’ when I had short hair and was shopping in the mall, or gasp, even wearing a bikini. I said, “no, I’m not a lesbian, but I’m not straight.”

My parents are deeply religious fundamentalists, and were probably part of the group of evangelicals that would take their money away from starving African children to prove a point. They will probably never know me beyond what they see on the surface. But I balk at the labels, because straight doesn’t fit, and lesbian doesn’t fit, and bisexual doesn’t fit either. A student once asked me if I was pansexual and I said I don’t know, because I’ve never been attracted to someone who’s trans. It’s not that I don’t like labels because they feel too labelly, it’s that I haven’t yet figured out what label actually¬†fits.¬†It’s like shopping for jeans, do any of them REALLY make my butt look good? I mean, for realz yo…

But what I do know, is that I’m not straight.

That’s the closest I can get to a label. NotStraight. Unless I tell you about energy. And how I am attracted to energies that complement my own, and that often means women. And sometimes men. And sometimes I’m not attracted to anyone at all (except of course my husband, right?). I’m married, to a man. If I weren’t married to him, I might be married to a woman. Or I might not be married at all. I might date a man, or a woman, or nobody. I don’t know. I don’t plan who I’m attracted to, or who ends up clicking with, and it goes beyond genitals, though those are fun aren’t they?

People who know me intimately will not be surprised by this news. It might give some an ‘aha’ to explain the previously unexplained. Some already know, like my graduate school peeps and some coworkers who I share openly with because it’s come up in conversation. This isn’t some big coming out manifesto, as I don’t even know what I would be coming out to or for, other than the fact that the World Vision kerfuffle affected me deeply. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of feeling like without Boof I would be less of a person in Christian circles.

Monday Morning

 

I bought my son a baby doll…and it’s rocking my own sense of identity

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he picked dolly out and wouldn’t let her go

My hunt for weather-appropriate clothes (on sale) at Fred Meyer left me wandering dejectedly through the toy aisles. I thought that I might come across something fun to add to the collection (because Scrummy has chewed up a few of the play foods that I bought most recently), and Potamus got really excited in the cart and pointed at the dollies. I picked one up and asked, “do you want this?” and his response was a very definitive “YEAH,” and he hugged her tight (yes, I’m associating a female gender to the doll because she’s dressed in pink. Sue me). Fortunately Dolly was only $2.99 because some dolls are really expensive and I didn’t feel like shelling out $20 for an experimental toy (not knowing if his definitive ‘yeah’ meant ‘YEAH’ or he was just excited in the moment, like he does with snack-time). But Dolly, as we’ve named her, has been a permanent fixture in our house for 30 hours now.

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I know the psychological benefits of boys playing pretend with dolls and other ‘typical girl’ toys like play food and stuffed animals. I read blogs where boys have long hair, or play with dolls, or wear skirts to Home Depot with their dads. I loved that he picked this toy on his own, and has been so lovingly attentive to her. He’s pretended to feed her, wants help wrapping her in a swaddle, and has laid her in a little box for a bed. He snuggled with her all last night, even when he came into our bed. I think it’s so sweet to see him holding her so lovingly while watching TV or eating dinner.

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So, with all of this sweet happiness that I’m feeling in my gut when I look at this innocent little boy with his dolly, do I feel a little twang or twinge after today’s outing to KidsQuest? While nothing was said overtly, I did notice that people noticed…if that makes sense. Most of the moms I encountered seemed to have a wistful ‘awe, how sweet’ look on their face. And dads seemed to be thinking ‘is that a boy carrying a doll?’ though I wouldn’t say their looks were judgmental or hostile, but more…surprised? And then there was the older restuarant worker who almost fell over his own feet staring at Potamus and Dolly while getting back to his shift. He was smiling, but also seemed…perplexed?

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Now, I don’t want to be over-analyzing every little experience we have in the future. Because I can’t read minds, and these people could certainly just have been admiring my adorable son, rather than thinking about the fact that he’s carrying a baby doll. After all, if I notice this, then maybe it’s because I feel uncomfortable? Why am I letting my son carry a doll? Is it some political statement? Is it my way of rebelling and giving the gender stereotype marketing a big eff-you finger? Or is it because he so sweetly asked for it and seems to love it more than he’s loved any other toy?

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Potamus and Dolly eating some lunch at Panera.

Have you let your son/daughter play with ‘opposite gender’ toys? How did it make you feel? How did it make you feel in public when your child wasn’t ‘gender conforming’ for any reason?

On Housing a Football Star in My Womb

I’m not really sure what moms-to-be really mean when they say they all felt “flutters” as the first kick, because let me tell you…Baby Boof (now that we have established that it is, indeed, a gentleman baby inside of me) was certainly not dainty like a butterfly. The first kick felt distinctly like a finger-thwack from the inside, as if to say, “hey lady, just wanna let you know I’m in here,” or maybe he loved/hated what I ate for dinner that night and was asking for more of it or to never have it again. It’s hard to tell what a certain alien-like creature inside me is really trying to communicate, since English hasn’t yet begun, and I don’t speak Thwack. Although, perhaps I could teach him the lost art of Morse Code?

Now, at the beginning of 25 weeks the kicks have become more distinct and I am always wondering what the hell is going on inside of me (and why he prefers the right side of my belly to the left) and then I got THIS ultrasound:

Well golly gee, doesn’t that just explain it all? Though help me decide…is my uterus currently a USC football field with Baby Boof as the star quarterback scoring the winning touchdown (notice the Heisman pose he’s got going on there) or am I birthing a 70’s throwback to John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever (referencing a movie I’ve never actually seeen, and am only guessing at the star actor. It could have been Kevin Bacon or Dean Martin for all I really know).

So here I am, trying to live a normal existence as a pregnant lady, and my child is throwing a dance party inside my womb. Brilliant.