Lessons by a Rose

The six weeks that I went by myself through Europe is when I transitioned into adulthood. Never before had I gone so long away from my family, and I realized the impact it had on my ability to see myself as a real person. No one else spoke on my behalf but me for once, and I was fascinated by myself for having adult conversations. I was impressed with myself for doing so in French no less, but just as much if not more so in Germany with P. She knew me when I was a child, so it was more empowering to me to speak without my mother present. I realize at this moment that what I was experiencing was a degree of inhibition for the first time.

One of our conversations turned to literature, stemming from a quote she made that went over my head. She was astonished the “The Little Prince” wasn’t a mandatory read in the states, it was such a classic! And she told me it was available in French, German, and English on Amazon and continued to speak highly of it.

Shortly after I returned home to the States, an unexpected package arrived for me. P had sent me a copy of “The Little Prince”, and I sat down that moment to read the slender book. It’s a sentimental story about the integrity of being a child, which made it ironic for me to fall in love with it at the turn of adulthood.

Now a mother myself, I look back on my childhood to see the ways it influences the way I raise my children. Oddly I don’t remember a lot of it anymore, as a result of trying to leave it behind me and build myself back up. I consider regretting it now that I’m a writer, since many argue that one of the intentions of writing pertains to emotion and experiences and I’ve deliberately buried mine deep. I wrestle with this when working on my novel I first conceived over a decade ago to relieve the stress from being abused. In my research I came to the conclusion that Anakin (my father) is a narcissist, so I’m something they call an Adult Child Of Narcissist(s). One of the most dangerous aspects of this kind of abuse is that it is interpreted as normal by the victim and the abuser, but is hidden from the outsider.

I intended to work on my story more before Alice asked me to look after the babies. I had Ginger, Gaston, and Guinevere gathered in the same room and wondered how to use my time besides getting things done. Guinevere pointed at my laptop and asked, “movie?” I figured it was adequate research to watch something from Netflix. Bailey informed me that “The Little Prince” is available, remembering that I had the book and tried reading it to her one time. I was eager to see what they did with this classic.

I used to not be sentimental. I don’t know if I was emotional from my research or if the sentiment of the story seized me, but I had tears in my eyes through the entire movie. I meditated on it each time we paused it (life happens when you have kids) and came to be more and more enlightened. For starters, the heroine’s mother shows narcissistic tendencies: lives vicariously through the child, controlling the child’s schedule, giving the child value based off of his/her accomplishments, isolating the child. Secondly, the comparison of children and adults is made often, and frequently in conjunction with the phrase, “growing up is not the problem. Forgetting is.” Initially it’s clear that they are referencing the innocence of childhood before the corruption of the world- don’t forget, stay true to the “inner child”. And then it clicked for me- forgetting in general can be a problem. After all, that was the obstacle in accomplishing my goal of writing this story with truth and purpose was to communicate the trauma of what I went through while still giving myself a happy ending I dreamt up in my youth.

My past includes my experiences, even the bad ones, and I think I have accepted that. In my present I can give my children the childhood they deserve, and I can protect the future by reaching those living my past now.

P is the one I came out to by email and said she would respond when she had more time, but I have yet to hear from her. As she hasn’t disrespected me, I feel no ill toward her, and am still eager to hear  back.

Blogiversary

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I’m so glad today is a leisurely day, and I get to share with you that it’s Ch4rl13Sm1th’s anniversary! Steve nicknamed it a blogiversary, hence the title of this post. As for the title of the blog itself, I haven’t come up with a better name for it yet, but at the same time don’t think I mind it either. A year ago today I reflected on the way I live my life and wondered how to do more. An introvert with a story to tell, I have enjoyed writing for years after somehow not associating it with the chore of doing school assignments. Starting a blog and not having it backfire on me gave me courage to write the rough draft of a novel, and accomplishing such a task in 30 days has led me to feel invincible and most of all like I matter. That might be a big leap and hard to explain, so just take my word that I feel like a better person because of having the courage to write.

Initially I signed into my account to do a little post about all the knitting I was able to accomplish and what that looks like. I was inspired by Kristin’s post about how she did presents last year and wanted to show off how I managed my time well enough to squeeze in some pretty knots.

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Edward wants me to call them Bags of Holding and I can’t think of a cooler name for it. I made one for each of the kids that would be home for the holidays except for two, who both have a pair of knit baby booties.

The pattern for the bags is available here, though I give more details on my experiences on my Ravelry account. I was raving to Ed about my accomplishments when I knit four for the Girls and Guinevere tried to snatch them all up, so I understood she would appreciate one as well and made hers in turquoise. I put a Baoding ball in since she isn’t quite old enough to find something better to put in it herself and made a longer string so that when she’s older she can practice her dexterity tying and untying it. She loves shaking it around for the music. Knowing that the first thing the Girls would do was sniff the fake flowers, I sprayed rose perfume into them. Geraldine was the first to catch it, as I expected.

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I knit some for the grown-ups as well, matching Edward’s to his two sets of die and increasing the size accordingly. Mine being the first it has the most mistakes, but I still love having a customized, hand-made pouch to show off.

Daisy was kind enough to share her yarn with me earlier last year, which gave birth to Seamus and ALL THE BABY BOOTIES I made. Every day at work I had a booty to knit and became somewhat famous for it.

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And for myself, I really wanted pretty fingerless gloves. My mother had given me a few skeins of brown acrylic yarn a few years ago. I feel like brown is her color, and if I knit it into certain shapes my artwork gets called certain things I would rather not associate with my craft. I tried using it up to make fingerless gloves, borrowing patterns from Google to get the size and adding in a cable stitch to make it pretty. Then I learned from my mistakes and made a shorter set in ribbed, and the day after I mended one of the gloves I lost the other and became rather depressed about gloves. I gave it another go this year to play with an amethyst wool yarn Danielle got for me and am pretty satisfied. The left one is too small, but it was painstakingly made and so I’m going to show it off anyway.

I think I did pretty good with my timing, since Christmas presents were all finished before Christmas, meaning I completely bypassed the last minute shopping that the holiday is famous for. Some were done during the month that I wrote over 50,000 words. I didn’t include a picture of the little basket thing I knit up for Danielle to hold the miniature spa kit I assembled for her because it is embarrassingly ugly, but what I can take away from the experience is that it is interesting knitting with strips cut from T-shirts and pillow cases.

Guinevere Makes History

We considered today that Guinevere is indeed in a very special family. Bailey and I officially changed our last names at the SSA office yesterday and have considered what all that means. If I end up in the hospital and they say “family only,” then Bailey can see me. Bailey can also take Guinevere to doctors’ visits and speak for me, etc.

We decompressed, piled up on the king size bed, everyone exhausted from the day’s tasks. Guinevere yanked on the shirt sleeves she could reach, babbling away about how much fun she’d had today while we brainstormed about dinner. “Want a hug?” Edward reached out to her and I passed her along. She reached that age where she thinks Daddy is the cool one. Probably because of his beard, which she immediately yanked. Bailey started pinching at Guinevere’s cheeks. “Hey, she’s my baby,” Ed teased.

“Uh, legally, she’s my baby.”

Legally she’s MY baby.”

There was a shared excitement when we all realized the unique nature of our family. Of our ten born children, Guinevere is the only one that can legally have more than the typical set of parents. Yes, we signed papers saying that Edward is the father. Bailey and I also signed papers, which makes Bailey (as well as myself) her mother(s). And because Alice is married to Edward, she is a stepmother, right? Edward said that Bailey was a stepmother. I don’t think that’s right, because when a gay couple has a child, one of them is not considered a stepparent. I tried to Google the definition of a stepparent, and it doesn’t really correlate, because to count, the initial relationship needs to have ended, which is clearly not the case.

Our poly family may not be legally considered what we count it to be (I think we now look like swingers in the eyes of the law), but we have some sort of legal standing now.

I took pride initially in that my child would be the one to break the double digits of number of children we have, and later realized that I’m also the first ‘second wife’ (though not in paperwork) to have Edward’s child. I don’t ever want to be ‘that mother’ that lives vicariously through her daughter, forcing her to do things she wouldn’t want to do just because I want something to be proud of her for. I love her by virtue of her being her, and I will encourage her to be the best she can be (best at brain puzzles, best at jumping, kindest person in her class, whatever floats her boat, though she seems really driven to communicate). I will be proud to be the mother who supported her in her endeavor, even if no one knows who I am. In the book of Matthew, Jesus prays over some fish and bread and feeds however many hundred in two instances. Had no one packed their lunch that day, there would be no food to multiply, and that miracle wouldn’t happen. I don’t mind being the nobody that was an ingredient to a miracle, and with Guinevere, I think that’s who I am.

Happy Baby

Happy Flowers. Comment if you know what kind they are.

Edward bunched his socks like he usually does when he’s decided that his day is now complete. (I don’t know why he does this. They have to be unbundled before they’re thrown in the wash, but at least the exterior is clean.) Facing Guinevere in her toddler seat, he sat on the rug and called out, “here, Guinevere, catch!” He tossed them each gently to her. She was unfazed, observantly wide eyed.

“Edward, don’t be so mean,” Bailey chided. She rubbed her large belly, curled casually on the couch.

“I’m not, look. She’s picking it up.”

Guinevere extended her hand to the bundled cloth hesitantly, looked up and saw that we were watching her expectantly. Her expression clicked from naïve to mischievous, and she ‘chuckled’.

She wheezed and grunted like an old man, even poking out her chin, pulling the skin from her lower face and neck. Edward responded with a sort of Mikey Mouse chortle that sounded like the character running from a snapping dog. Somehow these things sounded similar. She got excited and chuckled more enthusiastically. They went back and forth this way until Guinevere was so passionately wheezing and whatever other noises she was making while simultaneously rolling her wrists and ankles the way she does when she knows she’s being watched,  and Bailey couldn’t breathe because she was laughing so hard.

On Teaching Babies (at Six AM)

The street lights illuminated her saucer-sized eyes, which drifted sleepily side to side in a daze at 5:45 in the morning. I recognized the voice on the radio. “It’s Eminem,” I informed her. Her eyes drifted to mine, oblivious, and then away again. I have and will continue to teach her things even if they go over her head, no matter that she’s seven and a half months old. I chuckled at the lyrics.

“I don’t like Eminem,” Bailey stated. She slouched at the other side of the car seat, hair lit orange at each passing streetlight. Guinevere turned to stare at her.

“I do. He’s really popular in Germany, too.” I couldn’t tell if Guinevere liked Eminem.

I imagined a voice criticizing my parenting. It’s easy to imagine when you’ve been in court over it for a year and a half. It’s also easy to imagine a lot of things at almost six am. You let your child listen to this music? they would say. (Now, I realize that people wouldn’t say something about exposing a baby to mature language [I don’t think] but I’ve been surprised by a lot of things lately). Yes, I would retort. I would not say that she’s just a baby and doesn’t know any better, though. I would say that Eminem makes good music, and his lyrics communicate many relevant statements. I don’t believe that I should shelter my baby from reality and cover her ears from ‘bad words’. She needs to know that words are just words, so that when she goes to school, instead of crying to me that some kid called her gay, she can make a witty retort to them about homophobia.

Equilibrium

The round world

Guinevere is a genius.

She is getting a head start on learning, and she is ahead of the world.

Guinevere is three months old.

She knows what equilibrium is, and that it keeps her upright.

The world does not know how to be upright.

The world does not understand what equilibrium is.

The world is round, and hot, and cold. It doesn’t know that it’s spinning

spinning

spinning

Out of control.

The world doesn’t know how to be upright.

But Guinevere does.

Baby Season in Bloom

Huge announcement!!!

We are the most blessed family alive. We were made for our time, where some beautiful things take place that shatter the chains of prejudice. Our life is that of love, and we always live according to the heart. And because babies.

The Ladies have each been given a ring. We’re all artistic, and Edward wants for our rings to be the best he can give and customized to the pieces of his heart we each fill. Until he can afford the rings he dreams for us, we have ‘temporaries’. Bailey’s is a round amber set in gold, mine a pair of flowers and leaves framed with a vine in silver. Alice had felt compelled to buy it at a yard sale years before she set eyes on me, and it is the only ring I’ve ever tried on that fit my ring finger. We suspect that it was made as a toe ring. The soldered joint on Bailey’s failed one day, and we couldn’t afford to repair it due to pouring our incomes into rescuing the girls from Alice’s parents’ custody.

I have mentioned earlier in my blog that I believed for a time that I did not want kids. After meeting Edward, I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t mind having (one or two of) Edward’s kids, waaaaay in the future. Our plans are not God’s plans, as Guinevere reminded me.

I watched over my body as though examining the facets of a gem for about two weeks after expecting my cycle to start, before deciding to make a bold announcement when Edward offered for me to sample a cocktail he’d invented. I called Alice from the couch to the bedroom. Bailey was already perched at the far corner of the bed texting, and Edward was waiting for a Star Wars game to load on his computer. I dropped the bomb: “Guys, I’m pregnant!”

Alice did the cliché and supportive gasp, exclaiming, “Oh  my God!”, eyes filling with tears of joy. Edward’s jaw dropped and his eyebrows rearranged in his awkward state of shock, the computer blasted the theme song for Darth Vader, and Bailey angrily shot up and stormed out of the room, slamming the bedroom door, and then the bathroom door a second later. Alice tried to compensate for Bailey’s reaction by running over to give me a hug, squealing at the thrill of having another baby. Ed went after Bailey to console her, assuring me that it wasn’t that he wasn’t thrilled, just that Bailey really wanted a baby and felt hurt that I was having one before her. That’s not what she had told me last week, I thought as I recalled a conversation I’d had with her in the car, where she shared her relief of not having a child yet. She has a tendency of telling me and Ed different things. What she had told Ed was that not having a ring or a baby made her feel like the ‘woman on the side’ people accused her (and me) of being.

To help Bailey with her raging emotions when Ed was out of town on the business trip, I wanted to make for her another ‘temporary’, but Edward beat me to it when he presented her with a ‘permanent’. “You had a baby first, so she gets a ring first,” he explained. I never saw it as a competition and didn’t need for him to explain himself to me, but he’s very considerate of making sure that no one feels left out. Knowing that Bailey was going through a hard time, I made sure that I let her know that I supported her. I started on a pair of baby booties in her favorite color, since the ring idea was useless now.

One evening we were unwinding for bed, playing ‘ketchup’, as we call it when we catch up on what’s going on with us. Bailey examined the back of her hand, looking over the orange heart-shaped facet gem set in gold. I knew it made her feel more valued to have it. “I’m glad you got a ring,”

“Thanks. Now I just need a baby and it’ll be even.”

Her words stung me, as I wondered if she felt like I was competition, and not her wife. “It’s not about being even,” I retorted, trying not to let the pain show in my tone. Edward made his move to cheer her up as she buried her face into the pillow. I whispered my forgiveness under my breath.


Whatever I was working on at the time (did it have something to do with reading up on blogs in WordPress?) didn’t matter once the bedroom door was thrown open. Bailey stood in the open doorway. “I’m pregnant,” she announced, triumphant. I don’t understand that strong desire to have a child, but I love her, and I did everything I thought I should to let her know that I was happy for her with her.

There were many points during my pregnancy where the mood swings dipped into depression, and I wept was upset over feeling left out, controlled by restrictions placed on me by the pregnancy and the limits of my body, and progressively hating my physical condition more and more. Bailey once responded to my complaints, “If I were having a baby, I wouldn’t care about being fat.”

Now I think to myself, just you wait, Bailey. I’ll remind you.