One and a Half

This toddler continues to surprise me every day. She is so aware. So alive.

And so full of tantrums.

To be honest, I don’t really know what’s normal or expected at this age. And I kinda like that. I worry sometimes that she’s behind on certain things, but then she goes and does something amazing and I stop worrying. She’s doing things on her own terms and in her own time. She was late to the walking party, but clearly that hasn’t stopped her from leaping right into running.

I keep thinking I should read more about this age and how to handle it. But between work and writing and, well, wrangling her, I don’t really have the time. And maybe that’s all for the best. I go with my gut instinct instead of anyone else’s rules and so far, that seems to be working.

Saying “no” to a toddler is hard, though. But the giggles and the laughter and the dancing make it easier. I know she’s just learning how to handle her disappointment/frustration. That takes time. Heck, many adults don’t know how to handle those.

I’m amazed at how easily she learns things. Music class just wrapped up and I thought she hadn’t learned anything from it, because she mostly just sat and watched. But then I started humming some of the songs and she started doing the dances and moves from the class – the same ones that she hadn’t bothered doing while there. So she’s watching. And learning. And I need to be more careful about what she learns from me.

She still doesn’t really have any words. She babbles. Occasionally I hear “kitty.” If she were Russian, she’d have “da” down pat. But she’s drawing with markers and picking up pen and paper and climbing with ease and trying to fold things so – I’m really not worried.

It also seems that we’ve decided on having another. I guess life is finally easy enough for me to look back on those first six months with some degree of fondness instead of just anxiety. I tell myself it’ll be easier the second time, because we’ll know what to expect. I tell myself that it will only be really, really hard for a few months – that time will pass.

I don’t know how we’ll fit two small children and a home office and two adults and two cats into a 800 square foot house, but… well, people used to live in much smaller spaces. We can make it work.

I don’t know how I’ll handle a newborn and a toddler while working from home and meeting deadlines and also navigating subsequent book releases, but, well. The chaos will keep my ego from getting too inflated.

I do know I want the liveliness two children will bring to our home. I want that family. I want Lady Jr to have a sibling and to not be the sole center of our universe. I want her to grow into an adult with a brother or sister who can talk to them about her fears/concerns/worries about her parents. Who can confirm that a Thing really happened in their childhood and wasn’t just a part of her imagination.

I am afraid that I will fail and that they’ll have a relationship like my brother and I. But I’m aware that fear is just that – a fear. And really, what’s the worst if that does happen? I learned a lot from my brother, even if things were more bloody than rosy. And even more daring – what if they have a good relationship? What if they’re friends? What if everything turns out all right?

What if we learn how to juggle our lives with two and we’re able to raise two niblets into two loving, caring, and empathetic human beings?

What if?

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Google Understands

Okay, so maybe the feeling isn’t quite the same. Not even by a long shot. But there are certainly a lot of conflicting emotions, expectations, and surrealness surrounding both.

It makes sense afterward. There’s so much heaped on that moment – by us, by our community, by society. And above all, we are supposed to feel nothing but pure joy. There is no room for any other emotion, certainly no conflict, certainly no confusion. Be happy. Just be happy. Why aren’t you happy??

Funny how so few things in life are truly that cut and dry. Processing takes time, especially for any major event in your life. And in our era of instant connection, it’s so easy to get instant feedback, to give instant feedback, instead of just taking a day – or a week – and cocooning yourself and letting all the emotions wash over you, accepting them, letting them go, and sifting through them until you get to the ones that feel right.

All that’s to say – I remember being handed a purpleish, bloody, tiny creature with a scrunched up face and thinking what the heck is this? Then falling in love over the subsequent days and weeks.

The same is apparently truer of covers than I’d expected. Except, well, it wasn’t bloody. I mean. A little bloody. And I’ve run through the whole rollercoaster of emotions this past week, all the way from what have I done to holy shit this is my life now. So perhaps Google knows.

I tend to resist the common narrative that babies and books can be compared, because when it comes down to it, I will burn the world for Lady Jr, while I might get into a Twitter spat for my book. But at least when it comes to conflicting and surprising emotions, well.

Not wrong, Google. Not wrong.

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Update on the Second Parent Adoption Interview

tl;dr It was fine!

I tried not to spend all weekend cleaning the house, but… well, it looks a lot better than it has in well over a year. Hah. It’s not that I don’t have the time to clean/organize, it’s just not been a priority, and since I used to invite people over as an impetus to clean and the last time someone’s been invited over was… well, I don’t even remember.

Basically, it was less of an imposition and more of a much-needed excuse to clean. And now I feel ready for spring.

But that’s cleaning, not interviewing. Two lovely social workers showed up at our door and then sat at our tiny table in our tiny house and asked us questions about our lives, our relationship, our families, etc. It was all fairly simple and felt a lot like they knew they were just going through the motions and there wasn’t really any problem here. In fact, one of them mentioned they’d done a few same-sex adoptions like this before and she’d try to be as efficient as possible.

Lady Jr only had a half day at daycare. We brought her home early so she could take a Real Nap. She’s just not been taking naps at daycare lately and when we pick her up, she’s an exhausted mess, so we figured it’d be easier to have her well-rested.

Which turned out to be an awesome idea because she was just so much fun during the interview. Playing with her toys and climbing into laps and putting on her sunglasses and then running from room to room. I felt like they got to see her as she really is, instead of, well, a hot mess.

So yeah, it was fine. Thanks to all your reassurances, I honestly didn’t worry too much about it. Dr Lady did well and neither of us are worried about the outcome. They said to expect a court date some time in May, and then after that not even the vice president himself will be able to separate Lady Jr from her moms.

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Second Parent Adoption

tl;dr We have a home interview scheduled for next Monday (in a week) and I have no idea what to expect. Any advice?

Way back when Lady Jr was born, we had no trouble getting both of our names on the birth certificate. Then we actually got the certificate and saw that they’d listed Dr Lady as the father. I didn’t think much of it, but then the election happened and really fucked up judges started being appointed to various circuits and Dr Lady spoke to several attorney/legal friends and, well. We decided we’d just feel a whole lot safer if Dr Lady formally adopted Lady Jr.

I’ve chaffed against the very idea the entire time because wtf, straight people don’t have to adopt their own children, but of course I don’t really have to worry about my own legal status as the biological mother, so. And said legal friends did assure us that doing so now would save a lot of potential future headache for Dr Lady if something happened to me. So, rage against the hetero-normative legal system aside, we found a lawyer, filed paperwork, and started the process.

The fun (/sarcasm) thing about adoption, even second-parent (which is what’s used for step-parents), is that they still have to over-analyze your life. So we filled out a questionnaire when we filed and now a social worker will be stopping by our home and… asking questions?

Honestly, I have no idea. I’ve tried Ye Olde Googles, but the results are heavily weighted toward straight up adoption and I don’t know if second parent is any different. Since they’ll be in the house, I’m assuming that basic safety things should be in place (and already are). Like, outlet covers and no knives on the floor. But I don’t know what might be expected beyond that. All the chemicals are out of reach, but the door to the basement remains open. I mean, we close it if she’s zipping around the house and we’re not keeping up, but there’s no gate or anything.

Mostly I just don’t know what to expect from the questions. I’m sure it’ll be fine, I can’t imagine anyone looking at my wife interacting with Lady Jr and not thinking they’re perfect, but also I don’t want to give any homophobic buttwipe an excuse to be, well, homophobic.

Anyway. Any advice/help/pointing in the right Googly direction would be appreciated.

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17 Months and Tucson

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I’m doing that thing again where I don’t post because it’s been so long since I last posted that I have like 100 things to say, so I’m only going to focus on two just now.

17 Months!

Lady Jr is definitely a toddler now and every week is doing more and more child-like things and dropping some of her baby habits. Toddlerhood is a strange transition. On the one hand, she’s very much still a baby. On the other, she understands so much.

As the baby book that we use as a doorstop says “baby says little but she understands all.”

Not wrong.

I got used to her being about as smart as the cats, but she is well beyond that and I’m not keeping up. She remembers where she left things, remembers where she usually leaves things, remembers where I’ve put things, remembers routines and other things. She brings us her hat when it’s time to go out. She points to her shoes happily and then lifts up her feet.

I put a diaper down and pointed at it and said “diaper change time!” and she stopped what she was doing and plopped down next to it.

She has said “nuk,” “cat,” “kitty,” “book,” “all done,” “yeah,” and “yes.” There are definitely more words in there I haven’t deciphered. I could’ve sworn I heard “no” yesterday, and I know once that starts it doesn’t stop.

Her walking is almost out of the stumbling-drunk stage. She walks confidently many places, but is still wary of the outside. It’s going to be 50 this weekend, so we’ll work on that.

She rarely crawls anymore.

She sleeps all the way until 6am. Which has been amazing. I think we’re done with the morning bottle. We still have one at night before bed. I’m not sure when to give that one up.

She loves water. Her favorite foods are still sweet potato, chicken, eggs, and cheese.

I can’t believe she’ll be 1.5 years in just a month.

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Tucson

Ever since we left Arizona, we knew we’d be back to visit. I’d specifically planned on coming for the Tucson Festival of Books weekend. And so we did. We flew 4-5 hours and spent a week in the desert with our friends and cacti and introduced Lady Jr to all of it and it was great.

This was her fourth plane trip: Atlanta, Germany, Minnesota, and now Tucson. I never intended to travel so much with her, but also we have purposefully not been traveling as much as we used to, so really – we just travel a lot. When our family and friends are as spread out as they are, it’s hard not to.

Honestly, these days I daydream about living in the same town/area as family. It’s probably not going to happen any time soon, but every time I meet another person here in Lansing who is from here and has lived here all their lives – I get a little jealous.

Anyway. Tucson.

Lady Jr met her first cactus and her first mourning dove and her first quail. She played with sand and she walked around the Festival of Books. She met all of my coworkers, and some of my old county coworkers. She tasted ice cream and prickly pear sauce and churros and sweet potato fries. She met a cockatoo face-to-face and… well, got a bit scared honestly.

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She did really well in the pack n play and on the plane and with all the travel and meeting everyone. She continues to be the hammiest ham, making friends wherever she goes. I’m always afraid of running into someone who absolutely hates babies, but if I have, their hate has been lost in all the love she receives from everyone else.

Occasionally I reflect on how they only love her now because she’s tiny and cute and as soon as she starts to be a Real Human Being, they won’t want to love and protect her – but that way lies anger and madness, so.

Anyway, Tucson was great. I’d gone hoping for a little closure and instead realized after seeing all my friends that I really am lonely in Michigan. And not for want of trying – boy, have I fucking reached out here – but that’s for another post.

God, the mountains, the cacti, the food, the coffee, the people, the books, the library, the endless horizon –

When we landed back in Michigan, it was 30 and snowing.

Gotta just keep telling myself that come May, it gets gross there and lovely here. And now that Lady Jr is getting better at the car again, we can actually see some of the coast and the upper peninsula this summer.

In the meantime…

heavy nostalgic sigh

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She’s Walking!

She started taking steps on her own 2-3 weeks ago and this weekend she started zooming around. She’s made it from one side of the room to the other, stopped, turned, and come back, so I think we can call it official:

We have a toddler!

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Love

I don’t blog as much now because mostly it would just be me talking about how much I love this baby.

But maybe that’s enough for a blog post.

Gods, I love this baby. More than I could ever imagine. I get all those cliches now, I really do. I love spending time with her and chasing her squealing around the house and holding her and helping her walk from one side of Target to the other and coming up with ridiculous games and tickling her feet and smelling her hair and plopping her down at daycare and shouting “you’re free!”

She’s a delight. A ridiculous, adorable, loving delight.

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