Playgroups

I try to be the kind of parent that thinks ahead.  I want my daughter to feel special and unique but I also want to give her a cozy place to hide, should she ever have days where she’d like to just blend in.

We have many gay friends with kids.  Always have.  This wasn’t really anything that ever appealed to Yegs but I think it’s important.  And now I’ve taken interest in an adoption playground where all the kids are transracial.  There are two different groups, actually.  One is at the home of a friend once a month and we know most of the families.  Most are gay.  2 birds with 1 stone, huh?  But the other is a facebook group I found thru a fellow blogger and they meet every week.

It matters most to me that my daughter see other children with dark skin.  It matters second that she know other children who are adopted.  The gay thing falls last but that’s because it’s the easiest.

We live in a pretty diverse neighborhood.  Lots of blended families and even a large home of refugees from Somalia.  One day, on one of our walks, we met a grandma with three grandkids who come to play often.  We finished our walk with them – Glory following their every footstep.  And the next day they were waiting in the front yard when we got home.

They’re cousins ages 7, 5 & 3.  They all have fantastic names like Janaya, Travell & Jaslyne.  Glory loves them.  She loves that their hair is the same is hers.  She touches it the same way that people always touch her hair.  And they love that she looks like them – except with long hair.  🙂

I suppose it just matters that she is surrounded by all kinds of beauty.  I suppose 5 different playgroups are far less beneficial than 1 that she soaks her up through and through.

New friends.

Old School

When you’re little, you don’t pick your friends.  I had a few friends around the neighborhood when I was a kid, but most of my friends were the children I hung around on the weekends – when my parents were with their friends.

It was the 70’s.  My parents were hippies, trying to be grown ups.  They had been friends with the same group of people for … well, forever.  They all went through school together, became parents around the same time and went on to get married and have more children. (typically in that order)  The good part was my brothers and I had plenty of weekend friends right around our ages.  We were almost like a giant, dysfunctional family.

There were many parties.  I loved the weekends because it usually meant we stayed up late and did (practically) what we wanted.  That was pretty cool for a 10 year old.  There was a lot of drinking, probably a lot of other “won’t mentions” and great music.  We’d all end up crashing on the floors and somehow magically carried out to our cars, on to our beds, without ever knowing we left.  It was all I knew.  It’s how we spent many, many weekends and holidays.

But once the kids around my age turned about 12 or 13, we started staying home.  Our parents all stayed friends but most of the kids went years without seeing each other.  And after my brother died, when I was 16, we really removed ourselves all together.

Having lost my brother, I felt like a misfit.  I know it sounds odd but nothing seemed to work right after that.  Our entire group of friends kind of collapsed from under us because I think, honestly, no one knew what to say.  My best friend ended up leaving the state to go live with her father – saying it was just too hard to move on from it.  I understood the struggle for them because we were going through it too but it’s still interesting (after 24 years) to hear how people dealt with it.

Saturday night we had a reunion of sorts.  From the hippy days, we invited over two friends (& their spouses) with whom we still keep in touch.  Their parents are still friends with mine (& also very close with my yodad) and we’ve always stayed partially connected thru birthdays, weddings, babies, etc.  My brother & his girlfriend came too so it was seriously like the 4 kids…  all grown up.  Because they know my yodad so well, we talked a lot about the events related to the last year.  They told me that they actually found out he was my dad when they were in their early teens.  It’s crazy what some people won’t talk about…

Anyway, we also talked about my brother who passed away.  He was almost 14 at the time and these two friends were our same ages.  He’s my age.  She’s their age.  They remembered things about that summer – about the funeral – that I had forgotten.  & they both felt like it took them years to get through it.  They were our family.  We spent weekends together every month and Every New Year’s Eve for years.   Of course it did.  It’s just odd that we never talked about it before.

So we all gathered around my kitchen for hours and hours, talking about all those years ago and everything going on now.  There were cocktails and good music but nothing of the “not to be mentioned”.  Still, I wondered if it were really that different from those days 30 years ago.  I mean, our kids were roaming the house – crashing on floors.  There was good music and even an exciting argument or two.  We aren’t driving volkswagons (anymore) but we appreciate them.  (& were probably conceived in them… but that’s for another day)

We’re just the new generation of old hippies.  And I feel super grateful that these two, especially, are still in our lives.

Forgiveness

This is a long time coming.  I expect it will take weeks to write but it’s still worth writing.  It’s worth many things.

Many of you know my history from my last blog.  For those of you that don’t, I wouldn’t even know where to start.  But to jump ahead, I wanted to tell you all that things are wonderful with me & Gracie.  …and even her mom.  It’s good.  Without jinxing it, it’s really good.  There are still rules and guidlines and boundaries but as we build trust, those things feel farther and farther away.  And for me, just seeing her is a miracle.

I’m not sure if time was the biggest tool in healing or if it was really just an honest conversation that needed to happen for 9 years or so.  I think it’s different for both of us.  I remember her calling one afternoon after we exchanged (not very nice) emails.  I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror watching my lips move but not knowing what I was saying.  I felt like I had nothing to lose.  I was crying.  She was crying.  And even when we weren’t speaking, a whole lot was being said.

We’ve had a million conversations since that day and they’re always hard.  But every time we hang up I wished we could’ve spoken that honestly all those years ago.  I wish we could’ve been vulnerable and sassy and scared and just plain honest.  What would’ve been different?  And if we could stop any of you from the mistakes we made, what advice would we give you?  We’ve spent a lot of hours talking about this very thing.  What if I had just trusted her enough to say the hard things?  What if I hadn’t given her reason to not trust me?  What if she had more time to sit without making such big decisions?  What if we didn’t have armies pulling at us – creating two seperate sides?

But it didn’t happen like that.  We were awful to each other.  The awful’est.  We were enemies and it turns out that neither of us were ever really comfortable in that camp.

We were talking with her friend a while ago and she said, after spending the morning with us, “I can’t believe you were ever fighting.”  My response was, “Oh believe!”  But then said, “Actually, we weren’t.  We paid other people hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight for us.”  And it’s true.  Any time we were together – just us, we were fine.  Adding in all the laws and lawyers and ego just fueled the forest fire that should’ve just been a temporary burn from a candle.

A few months ago I went to a conference for LGBT lawyers.  It was amazing and there were about a dozen other moms & dads there that went through custody battles like I did.  Out of all of them, I was the only case that lost in court.  But as we all spoke and hugged and cried, I wondered how many of them really won?  There was one mother who won in court but her relationship with her daughter is so broken that she doesn’t even speak to her.  A dad who spent 6 years fighting for his son but those years were too many and now they simply just don’t know each other.  And another who changed the law in her state so now everyone under her is protected but she has such a wounded relationship with her ex that her relationship with her children is robotic – layed out hour by hour by a GAL to make sure the mom’s aren’t hurting the children by talking badly about the other.  Ugh.

I get it.  More than anyone and as the same as everyone, I get the need to fight for your child.  I have never recommended that someone do it through court but I will stand with any one of you who choose to.  I understand the feeling of “even if I lose, she’ll know I tried.”  But what else can we do?  If Cheryl and I could sit in the front of a room (without tomatoes being thrown) and talk about what we would’ve done differently, what would we say?

Coulda Shoulda Woulda.  And a million other things.

I’ve been writing our story for years.  But you already knew that.  I’ve always struggled with the outline because there has never been an ending.  Sometimes there is and I think, “is it really okay with me that it end badly?”  And I guess it is.  But I really don’t want that.  I have always wanted a happy ending and I’m crossing every finger and toe for just that.

Stay tuned.