Category Archives: children

Good Kids

Last time I wrote  I talked about my doubts about being a good mom.

Then this weekend happened.

I got sick. Really sick. Couldn’t get off the couch or cook dinner or do anything sick.

Let’s backtrack a bit. We had a fun time at Powell’s Books and Voodoo Doughnuts last Wednesday. Thursday, I had my yearly checkup (get your STI screening every 6 months, kiddos!) and did… stuff? I don’t remember. Friday I woke up with allergies. NBD, right? Take my Claritin, and…

Go back to bed. I felt awful. Worse, I was feeling antisocial for no recognizable reason. So, I tried to sleep it off. Let the kids watch TV and play computer games. Somewhere, early in the morning, was a visit from the plumber. And, very early, Jason and his partner left for Kinkfest.

I slept all day. Got up in the late afternoon and ordered pizza for the kids since I had a show I was going to that evening, and I showered and got dressed. Still with a tickle in my throat, I found the theater, and my best friend, and we got seats and cocktails.

That whisky got me through the night. They were taping the show and I was terrified I’d get a coughing fit and ruin it. My group of friends and I went out for dinner, and by the end of my meal, my head was swimming. Not from the watery cocktail…

You know how it is in a dream, when the monster is coming after you? You can see it coming, running you down, but you can’t move to escape it?

That’s how this cold was.

I made it home. Tucked myself into bed with a glass of water and my flask of gin, took an extra strength prescription Sudafed and some ibuprofen. And I stayed there for the night. Got up, ate some oatmeal so I could take my brain drugs, and went back to bed. Jason left again for Kinkfest, and the kids watched TV and played computer games again all day.

I finally made it out to the couch in the late afternoon. I couldn’t even conceive of cooking, so I ordered burgers delivered and texted one of my partners, asking him to tell me I wasn’t a bad mom for ordering takeout two nights in a row. He talked me down from that, I took more drugs and went back to bed.

Sunday, I got up! And sat down on the couch. And watched an entire season of Downton Abbey while crocheting granny blocks. By late in the day, I felt well enough to shower. I got on my local grocery store’s website and figured out how to order delivery and had stuff delivered so the kids could have lunches to take to school the next day. Then we microwaved some leftovers roast beef and ate sandwiches and fruit for dinner.

That night, Daphne tucked me in.

She’s 10. She’s a sweet little soul, and a bit of a mother hen. “Ok, mom,” she said. “Do you have your water bottle? Your stuffed hedgehog and your bunny? Did you take your medicine? Good. You can rest now, and if you can’t sleep you can read or play a game on your tablet. But you need rest to get better.”

Yes, I sleep with stuffies. Don’t judge.

Both kids had spent the weekend mostly on their games and their new books and their anime shows.

But Jacob would bring me Reeses cups and leave them on my bed desk, or the table next to the couch.

Daphne picked me flowers since I was sad that I couldn’t go out.

Both of them would check in and ask if I’d eaten and taken my cold medicine.

So, yeah. I guess I’m doing ok, because I’m raising some damn fine humans there.

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The flowers my lil girl picked for me.

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Good enough, I guess

There is something supremely strange about being called a great parent when I feel so clueless, like I am barely scraping by on the best of days.

“You’re a great mom,” Jason texted to me after I told him about adventuring to Powell’s Books with our kids and our son’s girlfriend.

“You’re a terrific momma,” my coworker says after I talk about a day off spent reading and playing board games.

“You’re doing good job, mom,” when someone else hears about my son’s good grades.

And I don’t see it. I see a mostly ok mom with mental and physical illnesses. One who can barely get off the couch some days and who hides in bed with her stuffed animals instead of interacting with the world. I see a mom who has two husbands and other sexual partners and a social life that purposefully excludes my children, sometimes.

I see a mom who is heavily tattooed and is beginning to seriously rock the “aging Portland dyke” aesthetic. Who has taught her kids to swear and make pervy sex jokes and feeds them doughnuts for lunch on days off. I see a mom who would rather day drink than chaperone any field trip, ever, and can only occasionally remember the names of her kids’ teachers. I shelve my lesbian comic books next to their Manga in the living room, and I allow them to read pretty much anything they want. My young daughter is obsessed with Deadpool and wants to be Glamora when she grows up.

And I’ve been judged for a number of things. My kids swear and know about sex and drugs. They listen to Irish punk music and hardcore gansta rap in the car with me. We have deep conversations about atheism and other forms of belief, and I’ve told them it’s ok to not believe in a god, unless gramma asks. If she asks, they believe in Christianity and so do I. I’ve been in front with them about my mental illnesses and how I have to take prescription drugs to make my head work correctly and how I had my tubes tied because I had rough pregnancies and couldn’t bear the thought of having another child. I make jokes about the kink lifestyle in front of them. I lean on them a lot. They do a lot of the chores around the house, since all the adults work full time and my mother is an invalid and needs a lot of help. I get judged for working, for not volunteering at the school, for being home too much, for being home too little, for having kids, for not having kids… the list goes on and on.

But my son is the kind of guy who, in front of a half-dozen gamer teen boys, tells his girlfriend he loves her. He’ll hug me in public, and bring me peanut butter cups on my couch nest days. My daughter will fight anyone who says her life is unnatural and goes on long rants about sexism and why don’t girls’ pants have pockets. They both value nature and bring home good enough grades, and apparently both add “a unique perspective to any class discussion.”

So, maybe I’m doing ok. I still don’t feel like a good mom. But maybe, I’m good enough.


Update on the kids

The second-most popular question we get as a poly household is “How do the kids deal with all of it?”

The first is “Who sleeps where?” which baffles us. We all sleep in beds. The rest is none of your business. Sometimes, I sleep on the couch. Anyhow…

The kids
They’re fine.

I know I’ve updated about them before, and I’m honestly not interested in talking about them much, because I feel like they don’t need to have their life splashed across my blog before they are old enough to tell me if it’s ok or not. But, parenting as a poly couple, which has evolved into a pod of four adults, is a big part of our life here.

And, actually, I’m kind of surprised at how fine they are.

We just celebrated our son’s 15th birthday. He planned the whole thing. He wanted to play Laser Tag at a nearby arcade. He wanted about 10 of his friends there, plus his girlfriend, and he wanted his best friend since forever to spend the night. He asked his grandparents if his little sister could spend the night at their house so he and his friend could have time to themselves. And then he presented this as a whole package, all we had to do was reserve the party room and pay.

On Saturday, I got to meet eight of the most polite young men I’ve ever encountered. They brought Steam gift cards, Mountain Dew, and Doritos, and talked about running Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. They flirted with the cute girl working concessions, and helped clean up the empty popcorn boxes and soda cups at the end of the afternoon. They thanked us for the day, shook our hands, and wandered off with parents who looked just as baffled as I felt. Baffled that these teeny babies that we carried under our hearts for nearly a year should be growing beards, buying cars, kissing girls, and getting jobs.

My daughter is now ten. This morning she asked me what a feminist was, and upon getting the answer, proudly declared herself to be one. She’s writing a book with a friend of hers, has a wild imagination, and is worried about starting her period at school or on a camping trip. She’s a beautiful and fierce little dragon, and I’m so proud of her.

There’s a security that they have, that I really envy. When I was 10, I was dealing with the first stirrings of depression and anxiety disorder. When I was 15, my father got sick. My folks always fought, and home was someplace I tried desperately not to be, at least until my anxiety paralyzed me in the 8th grade, and I couldn’t leave for a year.

They still have a safety net. Jas and I, of course. And Jason’s partner, who lives with us now. She plays video games with them and buys pizza on nights when the other adults work. They miss my other husband, N, who is in Japan for another few months, and they’re eagerly planning for when he comes back home. Because of our life, their experiences have been richer, I feel, and more varied than they would have been if we were a traditional couple. And the logistics of it doesn’t phase them at all. Sometimes, Daddy sleeps with his other partner. Sometimes he sleeps with me. Sometimes, N sleeps with me and Daddy is out late with someone else. Their world revolves with very little disturbance for them and there’s almost always a supportive adult at home for them to talk to.

My daughter says her friends think it’s weird that Daddy has two wives, that Mommy has other partners. But she sticks up for us, saying she thinks it’s weird that her friends don’t have a big family of loving adults. She tells them she’s lucky.

And my son? He wants to know if N can help him find a car this summer.

So, yeah, I think the kids are still doing allright.

 

 

 

 

 


More

One of the most common questions/criticisms I hear about the poly lifestyle has to do with people expressing concerns about my children. It’s second only to the questions about jealousy and time management.

“What about your kids?” people will ask. They frequently whisper this, like it is too taboo a subject to even speak aloud. I often just shrug. It’s a big topic to tackle in the space of what is usually a small conversation.

“Our kids are fine,” I’ll say. “They don’t know much; when you were eight, how much did you know about your parent’s sex lives?”

And that’s the crux of it. Our kids don’t know the ins and outs of it, haha. Our son is almost 13, our daughter will be 8 this weekend. They are far more concerned with Pokemon, social studies homework, and whether Gramma paid them for their chores this week. Our son is best friends with Velah’s son. They are the same age, share the same interests, and are frequently thrown together during social functions. I’m glad the kids can still be friends, and I hope their friendship will flourish. 

So, what about our kids? At almost 13, our son probably knows what happens when I send the kids to bed and take my boyfriend into my room with me. He knows that his dad stays over at Velah’s house. He sees us kiss each other, often, and passionately. He also sees us kiss our other partners. When I was kissing my boyfriend one time when he was visiting this fall, I saw my son looking at us and grinning. He knows this man makes me happy.He also knows that Splatoon is currently on loan from my boyfriend, and that he has another grown-up in his life to talk about pokemon with.

Kids have a very self centered view of their world. And in a healthy poly family, the kids have multiple adults with multiple talents and interests who are there to help them figure out this crazy world. Our group of friends and partners includes multple faiths, backgrounds, careers, and interests. I feel this provides a well-rounded safety net for the kids; if they can’t come to a parent with a question, chances are some adult in their life will have the answer.

It’s better than I had as a kid.

Somewhere, our society has lost the village… We tend to hole up in big houses and wall ourselves off from other people. Feeling like we need to be the only answer for our kids shortchanges them of the richness of experience that a different point of view provides to them. I’m not saying that poly is the answer for everyone; it’s hard work, and a person can do a lot of damage to a family if they do it for the wrong reasons or go into it with an unhealthy mindset. But, I think everyone can learn a little from the idea that more people in someone’s life can be a very good thing.That sitting down with someone of a different faith or from a different part of the country can give you a perspective on your own life that you might not have had. That having a group of caring adults looking put for a group of kids is actually ok… and admitting to ourselves that we aren’t always the best person to answer our kids’ questions or concerns.

When I think of the vast amount of intangibles that our partners and friends have brought to the table for our kids, I can’t think of raising my kids any other way. The poor kids get exponentially more parenting than they would have if we were doing it by ourselves. But they also get exponentially more love and support.

“Our kids are fine with it,” doesn’t even begin to cover all of this. “Our kids are better for it,” sounds smug. Maybe in writing this out, I will have found a better answer.

In the meantime, thank you for reading.


Summer’s End

Today is my mom’s 70th birthday.

And with that, the summer that had started with a whirlwind and so much drama has drawn, quietly and easily, to a close.

I’m doing well. I had meant to write more, to create more. But long weeks at work got in the way. I’ve not harvested much this summer, I’ve not done much canning. I’ve been busy, working for the most part, enjoying these fleeting moments with the kids.

We adopted a new cat this summer. He’s a lovely long-haired boy named Bing. The dog seems to like him. The other cats endure him. I’ve done plenty of knitting. I finished a hat and a pair of socks, and I started a sweater. I did not go camping this year, but the kids and Mr Awesome did and they had fun. I’ve been to Powells a few times, and the beach once, and I have done very little hiking, and no eventing at all. And I’m ok with all that.

I haven’t heard from Wash, and I miss him a lot.

This summer has been long and hot and dry. I feel parched, ready for the autumn rains, and hopeful for snow this winter.

There are new beginnings at this season change. Both kids are in school for full days, and for the first time in a decade, my weekdays belong, primarily, to myself. I find myself wishing Wash was still in my life, to enjoy this time with me… It was something we had talked about, the chance to spend afternoons together this year, once I had them free. But life changes, and moves on. I’m certain he is where he wanted to be, and I have let that part of my life fade into the past, where it belongs.

I’ve been on a few dates. One, terrible and terribly humorous, ending with me so thankful for an escape that I got on a train out of the city without a thought to whether it was even going the correct direction. I might write about that one later; it was a funny experience. I had a date, yesterday, which went amazingly well, with no need for a public transit rescue. But over all, It’s been a season of being monogamous, which hasn’t fit very well, and has felt strange and awkward. But it’s been good, too. It’s been good for my marriage; a good chance to reconnect with my husband without the distraction of other partners. Also, a chance to connect better with Velah, and (I hope) help her through a pretty rough patch.

I’ve escaped the seasonal cycle, this year. There’s been a few rough days, but, by and large, the bitch in the corner has stayed in her corner, and the depression hasn’t taken me as it has in the past. I am very, very thankful for that.

Tonight, I can hear the frogs outside my window and think of the rain that will soon replace them. I’m eager for the rain, for the change in seasons. I’m eager to see what’s on the horizon, to see how my children grow this year, and how the change.

And for me? New lovers, perhaps. New friends, certainly. New experiences, without a doubt.

And at the center of it all, I stand, living and laughing and loving.

Happy autumn to you all.