Dressing our Daughter in Pink & other modern parenting dilemmas

Back in a time before Baby, I had a lot of opinions about parenting.

One of the things I developed a fairly strong opinion on in the run up to starting a family was gender-neutral parenting. What modern ‘liberal’ free-thinking middle-class woman hasn’t thought about how to give children positive messages about the fluidity of gender and enable them to make informed choices in their life which are  unconstrained by social conceptions of gender even if they are eventually conforming? I am keen to make sure traits and preferences are not gender-coded; that all clothing  and job choices are seen as valid options. I want blue and pink to just be colours, fairies & dinosaurs to be fun. But what if we overdo it, I worry that our little family is not equipped to demonstrate and articulate expressions of traditional femininity  – girly isn’t really our thing…
Then I look at the reality that snuck up on us.
A lot of the clothes we have for baby are second-hand or are gifts from relatives. Financially, it is daft for us to even contemplate not taking the help we have been offered. So pink it is.
Plus it turns out not only do some people just love buying girly stuff, only those with female shaped (and coded) babies been happy to donate clothing and actually it is surprisingly hard to buy things other than in very gendered blue or pink (ie no blue flowers or pink robots or green well anything)
But as I watch relatives and complete strangers flail around desparately trying to gender our child if they cannot see blue or pink cues I realise that this is not a battle that can even be fought just with accessories – perhaps it is more important that Small realises that even when they have to dress to conform for safety or other reasons that doesn’t restrict the way they fee lor their intrinsic worth.

One of my most difficult dilemmas is parent naming.
Small has 2 mummies and a daddy. But should the mummies have different names to her? How should we introduce ourselves? How should I enforce making relatives give Mummy W appropriate recognition? What if neither of the mummies have ever been entirely comfortable with the idea of motherhood? What if Daddy is wrapped up in a very traditonal 2 parent model?
And this is the key area of difficulty what are the boundaries and responsibilities of 3 parents? And how can we make that work for a small human who has her own needs?

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Samhain

This pagan threshold of the living and the dead is my marker of a New Year begun.
It is also the date that marks the very first vows my wife and I exchanged.  The words of our handfasting were for a year and a day to give ourselves time to reconsider – but I knew as clearly then (11 years ago) as I do now that they are for the remainder of our lives.
I don’t earn as much money as I should, I don’t keep the house as clean and tidy as I could, I recklessly fell in love with someone else, I often cry for no good reason, regularly eat all the cheese and rarely cook but still she loves me.
She spends on fripperies for others and skimps on her own needs, is always losing something about the house, is hopelessly forgiving of her demanding family, has dreadful PMT and steals my chocolate but still I love her.

And so I say again:
I promise to take you as my best friend, and as my lover; to be yours and to keep you in my heart and soul through whatever we may yet live through; to support you, and to protect you – since we are one. I promise to learn to have faith in myself and to not falter in my trust of you and I promise to listen, and to give, so that together we can be strong. Lastly, I vow to live every day in consciousness of this gift and to remember and thank-you for our love.
And 
everyday I choose you, choose to spend the rest of my life with you. I take you as my wife, my friend and my lover, through the bad times and the good- through every twist of our lives. I promise you my respect and my trust, I promise to share my hopes and my dreams and to offer you my strength and my care.

Darling wife, you have ridden with me through the storms of our depressions and put aside your fear to live with my polyamory and I feel so privileged and so humbled by your love – tell me how to show you my joy and trust in you, how to demonstrate my love and trust in you. Together we are stronger than any storms, together we can face the unknown and build our dreams, even if we have to leap into the unknown. I will always be yours. Ta ghra agam duit my wolf

Outside the sanctuary I would pray for her, and to the last I shall continue to seek her.
From her blossoming to the ripening of her grape my heart has taken its delight in her. My foot has pursued a straight path, I have sought her ever since my youth.
By bowing my ear a little, I have received her, and have found much instruction.
Thanks to her I have advanced; glory be to Him who has given me wisdom!
For I was determined to put her into practice, have earnestly pursued the good, and shall not be put to shame.
My soul has fought to possess her, I have been scrupulous in keeping the Law; I have stretched out my hands to heaven and bewailed how little I knew of her;
I have directed my soul towards her, and in purity I have found her; having my heart fixed on her from the outset, I shall never be deserted;
my very core having yearned to discover her, I have now acquired a good possession.

The Other Christmas

6th of January – traditionally the very end of the christmas season; but for W & I this year (as several times in the past) it has been our day of festivities.
We had breakfast in bed, opened presents and had a big dinner before topping the day off with Alan Turing Monopoly with B.

Its not a grand affair, we didn’t even have decorations up, but its important. Its important that we get to spend a holiday together.. to be a family apart from our parents. Not every family has the opportunity that we have to contemplate and act on the need we have to be with each other and actively spend time appreciating what we can share. I feel strongly that its important that we choose our family holidays and that we spend a bit of time relaxing and enjoying ourselves – I am glad that the way we do our ‘christmas’ is about fun and not about the right things to do and I am glad I get to spend time and make memories with all my family, especially as I think of all the many people I know who work over festive periods or can’t be with the people they love for all sorts of reasons such as health and money. We are lucky not to be tied to a day so much as tied to each other.

Broken Dreams

Feeling very full of PMT and self-pity which has led to crying jags and a rather hefty dose of the blues.

This means tears at the news reports, tears with music and unreasonable over-reactions to everything (all of which would be less tricky if I wasn’t busy hiding this from parents and other family members).
However, it has led to one particular rather critical realisation/heartbreak. I won’t be moving home any time soon. Despite my father’s promise that my childhood home would become mine he is increasingly reluctant to leave it and I have to face the idea that instead of it being my ‘family’ home and a viable small-holding I won’t get it til we are older/retiring.
Right now I am utterly miserable about this and probably over-reacting and/or misrepresenting the situation but still this is a big deal for me.
I need to re-plan my life and think about what is possible for all of us, stop day-dreaming and just get on the treadmill.

The Book and other tales of affection

A few years ago the wife and I when the wife and I were having a rough patch I decided to start writing her love letters.
Since then I have tried to write her a note for most of the days that we are apart in a big A4 hardback book. I write them in advance so she can pack the book in her luggage – which means trying to think of things to brighten her life and remind her that I am thinking of her sometimes weeks ahead of time. Initially, I wanted to remind her that even if I am with B in her absence she still has an important place in my heart and in my life and now, whilst that remains a meaningful part of my letters, I try to focus on planning our future and building a record of good memories.
Christmas and New Year are probably one of the most difficult times for us to be apart and I look forward to when she and I can really settle into our own family christmases in our own home but til then words will have to do. I hope that even when our separations are fewer and less painful she will keep our book to make her smile and I will be able to hold on to the importance of making that extra effort despite all of the little things that take up our time.

It is that same sentiment that makes me grateful for the evenings we commit to spending with each other, both W & I and B & I and sometimes all three of us. Its too easy to slip into the comfortableness of just being in the same place as each other but that never feels the same as agreeing to spend time with each other, talking, watching tv or cooking together are as good as going out to dinner and a damnsight better than faffing on the computer barely interacting. I think it is important to both of them that I make an effort to give them some time that is theirs and to do it regularly. Without it W would feel like I was only with her for convenience and B would feel like he didn’t matter and was always 2nd in my thoughts and I think I’d go mad without the chance to connect.

Still it’ll be fun to spend christmas on my own recharging my batteries and getting ready for new routines and new challenges.

When you don’t love you

How can you help someone who doesn’t believe they are worthy of love?

When you love a person who automatically assumes that everything they do is wrong, when they think that they aren’t lovable, when every day they fight their sense that their choices are fundamentally flawed etc… then you in turn fight everyday to remind them that you find them intrinsically lovable and that you trust them.
I know how the depression monster eats away at every feeling of worth and I know what it feels like to believe on a truly fundamental level that simply by being every action and word of yours is flawed and yet I struggle to deal with it in other people – especially when I care about them.

How do you deal with the fact that someone you feel passionately is beautiful, funny and caring, not to mention smart and engaging can’t even believe in your love for them?
How do you assuage the fear and anger that goes with the sense of powerlessness and hopelessness of low self-esteem?
What do you do when you know that your actions and existence only make the person you care about more anxious and feel less certain of their actions?

Some days I am reminded more strongly than others that my relationship(s) require a lot of time, work and patience; some days I am reminded that the battles we face with depression and anxiety will be with us for the rest of our lives and some days I am especially reminded that my feelings and choices not only have long and heart-rending consequences but also that they are probably less important to me than the long term feelings of my girl.

10 Years

The Handfasting

Alone, awesome, complete within Herself, the Goddess, She whose name cannot be spoken, floated in the abyss of the outer darkness, before the beginning of all things. And as She looked into the curved mirror of black space, She saw by her own light her radiant reflection, and fell in love with it. She drew it forth by the power that was in Her and made love to Herself. Her ecstasy burst forth in the single song of all that is, was, or ever shall be, and with the song came motion, waves that poured outward and became all the spheres and circles of the worlds All began in love; all seeks to return to love. Love is the law, the teacher of wisdom, and the great Revealer of mysteries.

[Mr. C.] We have come here today on the sacred feast of change and new beginning to celebrate the great immutable of love. We shall witness the union of W and Koll.  This rite celebrates their love and commitment.

[W] I promise to treat you with loving respect to cherish you as my dearest friend and truest companion. I promise to keep you safe and hold you in my arms. I promise to remedy my own mistakes but not to dwell on them, to try to readily forgive both you and myself. I promise to defend and support you and to accept your love and support. I will walk beside you on our path, but I will not try to choose for you, nor ask you to make my decisions for me. I vow to communicate even my inmost self to you and grow in trust and love, from this day forth. Finally, I promise to let our love inform all my actions so that it may be a joy to all who meet us.

[Koll] I promise to take you as my best friend and as my lover, to be yours and to keep you in my heart and soul through whatever we may yet live through, to support you and protect you since we are one. I promise to learn to have faith in myself and to not falter in my trust of you and I promise to listen and to give so that together we can be strong. Lastly I vow to live every day in consciousness of this gift and to remember and thank-you for our love.

(A blessing is given – in the form of prayers and whisky)

[Mr. C] I will now wind the ribbon around your joined hands to symbolize your union.
Once for the Maiden, once for the Mother, and once for the Crone

[Each partner says in turn:] The light of the Goddess within me recognizes and loves the Goddess within you.

[Mr. C] May you hold your mutual well-being foremost in your hearts and minds. You are now wedded in the sight of the Gods, and those gathered here who represent your community until Lughnasadh when if the Gods are willing and you have the desire to do so you will renew this vow. You may kiss to seal your pledge.

Grounding

When stress and work constraints get the better of you it is easy to let family time slip away.

Today I was reminded how much difference it makes just to sit down and eat together.
My wife made a beautiful sunday dinner – it was nothing short of a gift for B & I, warming, homely and thoughtful (not to mention damn tasty). I hope that she felt good to be able to share that with us.
I take for granted the moments we sit and laugh together and I shouldn’t. Stopping to eat together or watch trashy tv has always been a way to escape even when our relationships were at their rockiest and no matter how painful and personal the process is we are closer for it. I think on balance I am glad for separate spaces (extra cleaning but better escape clauses) but sharing is good.
Thankyou my loves