I Am The Other Mom

Friday, April 18, 2008

My Other Blog

It has been noted that this blog has not been very active - for that I am very sorry! It is not what I intended, but life with a wonderful partner, and with two growing girls, a full time job, and creative passions - all together with a large dose of arthritis - I have been concentrating on my "Other Blog."

If you would like to visit there, I guarantee that you will find some daily life depicted therein, with, perhaps, a smattering of musings...

I do hope that in the not-so-distant future, to do better justice to this blog...

Until then, please visit me at: The Reluctant Blogger...


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Just Who is The Other Mom?

As you can see from the few posts which have been written so far, this isn't going to be in order of a timeline. I mean, really, does your mind work like that? No? Well, mine doesn't either. While I want to give you our backstory, this is really a blog of what it is like for me to be the "Other" Mom.

I glow when I think of having two wonderful daughters, each special in her own being. At the same time it seems odd to me that while I was right there at the moment of each conception, they are still my "adopted" children.

I have become a custom fit in an off-the-rack world.

Given that not every state in the union allows a lesbian to adopt her partner's children, albeit a "second-parent adoption," I feel grateful that the state of California did not throw up any insurmountable roadblocks. I'm not sure that will always be the case, which is all the more reason to protect our rights. But, that makes me what I am, in fact, I am their Other Mother.

I'm not their father, a role that does not exist in their home-life, although my place in our family is very similar to what a father's position might be in the readily accepted notion of "family." I earn the sole income, I pay the bills, I am gone to work at 7am and home by 5 or 6pm. My partner, my "wife" generally fixes the evening workday meal, and when I come home sometimes I hibernate and unwind from a tense day.

I do not enjoy this position very much, but it is what is necessary, and it is what I do. I would rather enjoy the day creating watercolors, writing or gardening. To be more connected with my girls. Sometimes I get angry inside because I cannot do that with my daily life. That's when I feel disconnected from my family. That's when I really do feel rather like the Other rather than Mom.

So now before I lose complete touch with my kids, I need to pay more attention to them, and less to myself. I think this will dissipate some of the anger that comes from somewhere deep inside. I love my life - I would not have changed a thing (except maybe getting together with Kandy a whole lot sooner!). I don't want to see what we have grow weaker due to inattention and neglect.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

And we called her - Fertyle Myrtle

Alas, after we got hitched, we actually started talking more seriously about having kids. It was 1994 and Kandy was sure that this was something we could do. I, on the other hand, reserved judgement. I was 39, and not really feeling like this was good life-timing on our part. Kandy, being 2 years younger, felt young enough for the challenge.

At the time, we were attending St. Francis Lutheran Church in San Francisco. It has a predominately gay congregation. Phyllis Zilhart and her partner Ruth were pastors who had had a child of their own with two men who were in partnership as well. Through them we came up with the idea of starting a monthly group of women who were thinking about what it would take to have children. None of us was very young - there were three childless couples and Phyllis and Ruth. It was through this group that I became more comfortable with the idea of having and raising kidlets.

By the late winter we forged ahead and made an appointment at Pacific Reproductive Services in downtown San Francisco. At that time they didn't have all the nifty little services that they have today. It was pretty basic. If you want a "Willing-to-be-Known" donor, at that time you couldn't see a picture, nor were audio interviews available, like there are today. They would tell us what a particular donor looked like, we'd get a written history, and to me it seemed a bit sterile. I guess that's okay. At the time, it just was a bit wierd.

We selected a donor who had a similar Romanian family history to mine, except his family also included a Sicilian lineage as well as Romanian. When we asked what he looked like, they told us he was very handsome and had beautiful blue eyes. His paper description described him as very athletic and tall.

So early Spring of 1995 we scheduled 2 vials of sperm - one we could do at home, and to hedge our bet, one to do in IVF.

Well, Kandy knew in a few days that all systems were Go! She was pregnant! First try.

Never in my life could I have envisioned what the next 10 months would bring to our lives.

Fertile Myrtle, that's my woman!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Our Wedding Anniversary - June 18th

Yes, it's that time again. Our anniversary is Sunday, June 18th. It's our 12th. But you know, that pales in light of how long we've known each other - since 1975.

We met in Keflavik, Iceland. I was 21 and she was 19. Both of us already had a Significant Other, but they were stateside - and we weren't. Needless to say, we became extremely close - we were drawn to each other. Iceland is a very, very cold place! But, while our time together was sweet, it was finite. In 1976, I had to leave Iceland and go to Guam (and thaw out) and not long after I left, she went to London. We didn't see each other again until 1982.

At that time she was in a relationship that lasted until 1993 - and then I asked her to visit me in California. From the moment I saw her, I knew we would make a life together. From that time forward we do periodically kicked ourselves for not getting together back in 1982. Oh well. Hindsight - 20/20. We need a better crystal ball.

Tomorrow we'll celebrate with the kidlets by going to a movie and out to dinner. My kind of celebration.

Wedding Pic...

Here's a picture at our reception... Kandy had to dig this up for me. We used to have our pictures up on the wall at our old house, but after we moved 4 years ago, they never got re-hung. Scanning it in lost some of the detail.

Yes, that's me in drag. Last time I ever wore a skirt.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Some History

Kandy and I were married June 18, 1994 in the chapel of St. Francis Lutheran Church in San Francisco. We were married by Phyllis Zillhart and her partner Ruth Frost. Well, we had the blessings of St. Francis, if not all of the Lutheran Church nor the state of California. For ourselves, though, it was the perfect wedding ceremony. Instead of organ music, a friend played the harp - Enya's music serving as a lovely centerpiece for that ethereal music. Many friends, and a few family came to celebrate with us. We do have pictures from the wedding at St. Francis, and I'll scan one or two in and post here later.

It wasn't until much later that our families would become more involved in our lives.

Although we went through the ceremony of the wedding in June of that year, it was really on September 10th of the year before that we wrote and said our own vows to one another and made the true commitment of our lives. Now is that romantic, or what?

Then, in December, Barbra Streisand was to come through town on her first-so-called "last tour ever." (Can you tell that I am not the fan?) Kandy has always been in love with Babs, so we got four tickets to her concert in San Jose - hoping to entice her mom and dad out here for a visit. Unfortunately, her mom has yet to get on an airplane, and her dad's health was a precarious at best for a car-trip from Ohio. Ultimately, we ended up with two extra tickets. An acquaintance, a pediatric physician at UCSF bought them from us. One evening we met her in Berkeley. For some reason, this exchange stands out in our memory.
As we were parting I remember her asking us,

"Have you two ever thought about having children?"

Immediately we both answered, "Oh no! No way! Ha-ha-ha! You have got to be kidding!"

And that was that - or so I thought After getting married in San Francisco, we honeymooned first
in Guerneville, and then we drove down to Santa Barbara. But it was in Guerneville that Kandy first introduced the idea of having kids.

Took me by surprise, let me tell you!
In the beginning I wasn't so keen on the idea. I mean, I was 39 years old, Kandy was 37. I wasn't real into the thought of raising kids anymore - not like I might have been at 30 years old. So we tabled that for a while - or, at least I did. Until we were down in Santa Barbara, and we talked more about it. And more, and well, I was weak and started to think that we could really do this. Encouragingly, Ruth and Phyllis had already had their little girl, and when we were exploring the idea we formed a Maybe Moms group with two other couples for a total of four couples, including Ruth and Phyllis. By October we all had decided to take the plunge.

A future post: The Baby Process (or Fertile Myrtle)

Saturday, June 03, 2006

and the journaling begins

The journal begins... I needed a place to share my thoughts on being the Other Mom, living in a California suburb, raising two lovely daughters, and planning for our future. Along the way I want to share my thoughts about where we are in this life, where we came from and where we are going. Not unlike any other couple out there.

But there's a twist. Our coupling isn't always accepted, although we have faced absolutely no opposition, thus far. Soon, in another year, the older daughter will start middle school. Maybe that other shoe will drop, maybe not. I don't know. But, I want our family to be prepared when it does. It will, some day.

My partner, Kandy, participates as much as possible in their school, while I go to work each day earning a paycheck to support our family. I've got the "dad" role, as Megan puts it. Kandy volunteers in each of their classes, she is an officer in the PTA, and she is a co-Girl Scout leader of their GS troop. She is a Mom, through and through.

I find my role as the Other Mom very challenging. It has more to do with our parenting styles than the fact that I'm not able to give all my time to the girls by comparison. You know what they say, "opposites attract?" That's Kan and me. I crave discipline and organization, and that's just not who Kan is. I worry that the girls are not learning some self-discipline, while at the same time I worry that I worry too much!

It's a dilemma.