Wednesday, June 20, 2007

things change

my partner and i have recently split up in the last few months. i've moved out and am renting a house in the same city with the twins. they' will be staying in the same school and are both proceeding to first grade in august. i tried everything possible to try to work out our differences; suggesting counseling, therapy, more communication, more time together (like date nights), but all were discarded. he's very unhappy, has been for a long time, is no longer in love with me and doesn't want the same things. he also turns 50 later this year and i believe is going through a mid-life crisis. i'll admit that i've been unhappy too but i made a commitment to our relationship almost 7 years ago and i would do whatever it takes to honor that, especially now that we are not only a "couple" but a family. i did get him to therapy several years ago but only about 6 months. there were never any long-term improvements. i saw my only option was to move on and provide a home for my kids and myself where i can find happiness. our house sold after 30 days on the market. i hired a lawyer to file for dissolution of our domestic partnership and custody of the kids, which we both agreed to be 10 days/month for him. the twins seem to be very resilient. i attribute that mostly to the fact that though they have had an uncommon childhood with the severe neglect with their birth mother for the first 21 months of their life and then 13 months in 5 foster care placements and 2 failed adoption attempts they have always had each other to rely on. a lot of pressure for 2 so young. we told them together and they didn't truly understand until we moved and they stopped seeing daddy everyday. they processed the information over time, asking questions sometimes difficult for me to answer, though i do my best to relate my answers to their 5 year old level. i'm now feeling that i have to be mother and father and feel strangely (and strongly) up to the challenge because it's all for them, for their well-being and future. there has been an outpouring of support from family, friends and teachers. we just spent our first father's day together and though it was slightly uncomfortable for us, the kids enjoyed it. my son even remarked in his sensitive way that he liked when the family was all together; daddy, papa, his sister and himself. i later reiterated what i told him before—that we will always be a family even though we don't live in the same house.

Friday, March 23, 2007

recent events

we just celebrated our second anniversary of adoption day yesterday! on tuesday i took cupcakes to school and read an adoption story to each of the kid's classes.

kids start karate class tomorrow.
my son has to wear a cup and both kids have to wear a mouthpiece.

i was so proud of my daughter. when i was signing them up they got the mouthpieces and immediately wanted to rip them open from the plastic bag they were in. the woman told them not to open them because there were directions for their mom and dad about how to fit the mouthpiece to them. my daughter looks up and says, "we don't have a mom." and there's a pause as the woman's looking at her and she adds, "we have two dads." the woman doesn't miss a beat and says, "well, your two dads will need those directions then."

i know she's had to tell kids at school about her two dads but this was the first time i witnessed it.

that same night i was brushing her teeth and she was trying to talk to me. i told her not to talk while i brushed her teeth. when i was done she asked if she could tell me something. i told her she could and she asked if i knew she was "giving me her tension." i asked her to repeat herself and she said, "i was giving you my tension." i asked if she meant that she was giving me her "attention." she said, "yes my tension, like a soldier." she then stood up straight and saluted me!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

a beautiful story

a friend forwarded me this article about a middle aged gay couple who adopted their 5 children through California State Foster Care. it brought me to tears.

The FOREVER FAMILY / Finally home: A white gay couple wanting a family. Five children of color needing a home. A San Francisco church seeking a minister. Done.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

all part of letting go

i've noticed myself lately struggling with my children's milestones. the first few weeks of kindergarten i missed the updates i would get every few days from the preschool teachers. since it was a full time program one of the two teachers was usually still at school when i picked them up and i could hear about how their day was, what triumphs and tribulations they experienced. like when my daughter snuck valentine's candy during nap time for months before the teachers noticed because her mat was near where the candy was stored and she had stopped taking naps and was laying down quietly. during that time we would wonder why she wouldn't eat her dinner, since the teachers told us she'd always ask for seconds and sometimes thirds at lunch! now they go directly from kindergarten to afternoon daycare and by the time we pick them up the teachers have left. i've begun and hope to continue to build a strong relationship/partnership with each of their teachers (they're in separate classrooms but spend recess and lunch together) but it's the day to day activities that i find myself missing. and i've begun to feel the pull of having to let go a little. when my son tells me the teacher told him he couldn't eat the jellybeans i packed for his snack he sees it as black and white... no candy in school. i feel the need for further explanation. (let me also add here that we do monitor the sugar our kids eat, the jellybeans were a gift that i thought would be a nice surprise for snacktime) the teacher explained that she told him sugar snacks were not a good idea for morning snack, after which the kids go back and work on lessons. she wants to avoid the sugar crash during lessons. so i told him he could eat them after lunch and the next day they were gone when he brought home his backpack!
i also see the need to let go slightly when they're with some of the neighborhood kids that have started to befriend them. these kids are a couple of years older so we've had to establish some guidelines and rules. today i told them not to just invite friends over without first asking permission from papa or daddy and to also ask permission to go over a friend's house. though they're only 5, i can see in the years to come the balancing act of letting go and wanting to know where they're at and what they're doing and with whom. some of the minute points of parenting that i never considered.
today a 7 year old friend was over from across the street playing with the kids in our family room. when i walked in the 3 of them were playing on my elliptical trainer, something my kids know is not a toy. i had told the neighbor the last time he was over doing the same thing that it wasn't a toy. so i had to be what felt like the "mean neighborhood dad" and tell him "i told you before that's not a toy." later, the shock of who i've become at 46 brought me back to when i was at my best friend's house in 4th grade and for some reason had the urge to look through his dad's playboy magazines, which i have to add he left right on the coffee table in plain sight. when i got caught i was banished from his home! looking back, who was more to blame, the 9 year old for his curiosity or the 30 something for displaying his girlie mags in the living room? and more importantly... how do i not become him.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

the funniest things

this is my collection, thus far of the funniest things the kids have said. rereading them now makes me enjoy them all the more... and look forward to much more family laughter in the years ahead.

april 2005 (3 years old) - my niece brought over some pumpkin pie for us. the next day i was having lunch with the kids when the doorbell rang. it was the mailman asking me to sign for a letter. my daughter, always the inquisitor, asked if that was the mailman and i said yes, then i took out a piece of pie for dessert and she asked what it was. i told her it was pie. she asked where it came from. i told her someone brought it for me. she then thought for a moment and asked "the mailman?"

may 2005 (3 years old) - when i asked my daughter to identify a picture of a horse she knew what it was. i then pointed to the saddle and asked her what that was. she thought a minute and asked "a seatbelt?"

june 2005 (3 years old) - i was reading with the kids last night and we came to a picture of an elephant with his trunk in a pool of water. my daughter asked what he was doing and i told her he was drinking water, that elephants drink water through their trunks. she came back quickly with "i drink from the fountain!"

july 2005 (3 years old) - my son was upset with something my daughter did and quickly told her "i don't like that, i'm not going to be your sister anymore!"

october 2005 (4 years old) - i took the kids grocery shopping and on the way out the clerk said "bye." so i asked the kids to say goodbye. my daughter said "goodbye" and my son said "don't pee your pants."

october 2005 - my son's pet name for his sister is "pom-pom" because of her hairstyle.

november 2005 - i though i heard my son ask "papa, can i put a bug in my ear?" what he was trying to ask was "can i wear buzz lightyear?"...his light up sneakers.

june 2006 - i'm home with the kids for the weekend, my partner's at work. my son's on the potty and i hear him say to me "papa, i'm done, i wiped my vagina and my bum." which he hears his sister say often. his sister is in a room nearby and tells him quickly "you don't have a vagina!" i tell this story at dinner that night and the four of us can't stop laughing for 5 minutes. (note: we decided early on based on dr. phil's advice to use the anatomically correct names for penis and vagina)

june 2006 - my daughter was singing a song while i was doing her hair, something about "chicken little's alligator underpants." sounds like she and her brother learned it in school, but she and her brother keep changing the words each time they sing it to see who can make each other laugh more.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

simple answer to a difficult question

we had talked about how we would respond when our kids realized we were gay, though it's never come up in the way we expected. we always told our kids the same thing we told curious kids from preschool who would ask "why did our kids have 2 daddies?" or "where was their mommy?" ...we found that kids were naturally curious and only required the simplest of answers... there are lots of different kinds of families, some have a mommy and daddy, others have 2 daddies or 2 mommies, others might have only a mommy or only a daddy, other kids are raised by an aunt and uncle, or their grandparents. this answer worked for all situations. i donated several books on different types of families to the kid's preschool. the teachers would read them at circle time and answer any questions. i never realized that i and my family would be a spokesfamily for gay and lesbian families, but if not us, then who?
the twins were in full time daycare this summer for 5 weeks with kids from kindergarten through eight grade. one of the teachers told me that some of the other kids had begun to notice that our family had 2 dads and were asking about it. she wanted to know what our response was. i explained to her about the situation i encountered in preschool. she asked if we had thought about how we would deal with other situations as the kids got older, expressing that other kids can be mean. i didn't have an answer for her or my family. i grew up with kids making fun of me, as lots of kids do. how do i prepare my kids for potential hatred and ignorance of other kids? is it through honesty? confrontation? ambivalence? my son is very sensitive and emotional, he still cries when he can't get his jacket on. how do we teach him? i told the daycare teacher that we'd cross that bridge when we came to it. my hope is that we can deal with it as a family, open and honest. can they still hate us for that?

Friday, September 01, 2006

catching up

it's been many months and i keep thinking about writing but always feel bad that i started from the beginning and only got through to our first holidays... and now it's well after our second holidays together, and several family vacations, and preschool, pre-K and this week began kindergarten... and the twins turned 5 just two weeks ago. hard to grasp at times that they were only 2 years old when we met, and now 5! no longer babies but big kids.
we're coming up on fall with school having just begun. they started late since we were on vacation, visiting east coast families once again this year. seeing all of their east coast aunts and uncles and cousins and their only grandparents (my parents are both gone now). celebrating their fifth birthday over and over again! we had to buy an extra suitcase just to carry home all the loot. they went to their first wedding and had a blast. and everyone had such great words of praise for us and them, seeing the big changes in their behavior since last year's visits and telling us how well-behaved they were (we wonder whose kids they're referring to at times, i guess we see them 24/7 and know when they're acting up). my partner and i do have very similar views on discipline and acceptable behavior. one of the first values we tried to instill was manners, please, thank you, no thank you... and two years later we still have to enforce it at times. but i feel so proud when i hear one of them say please or thank you all on their own to others. i read something online a few months back (i'm a voracious reader of anything child rearing related, if i can learn one thing i didn't know i haven't wasted my time) it said that "we hold their hearts in our hands." that left an impression on me. i only wish i could remember it more when they're dawdling and temperamental and tired or talking back or arguing with me... constantly trying to be a better parent. i guess by the time you get it right they're off to college.