parenting

I guess I’m *that* parent

Parenting is a huge messy enterprise. I think we all kinda know that, yeah? And it’s made messier by all the messaging around it: either parenting is the best thing ever and you absolutely cannot miss this unique experience, or it’s the hardest thing ever oh my god, I question ten times every day what have I done to my life? There’s very little middle ground here, except for the fact that both ends of the spectrum are true for most parents at some point?

I don’t know. Somehow I hadn’t thought too much about what I thought it would feel like to be a parent. I was sure I wanted to do it, and that was all there was to it.

But yeah, I’m team “best thing ever”, for the record. It’s ridiculous how completely I feel that way. When the baby known here as Goblin was born, one of the first things that my partner and I had to say about that wrinkled screaming mess was “their voice is soooo cute!”

And I like to joke that obviously I bonded instantly – my labour was induced by an oxytocin drip, which means I’d been pumped full of the love/bonding chemical for a good 12 hours before they were born, and another 12 hours after that. I probably could have bonded with a wet mop at that point!

But we’re way beyond that now. Goblin is almost a year and half now, and I am still just completely googly-eyed over them and everything they do. They’re very obviously the best creature ever to grace the earth (they’re also very obviously just pretty much a normal toddler, for the record; kinda advanced on some milestones, kinda behind on others. None of that is relevant.)

Seriously though, I’m the kind of parent who genuinely enjoyed all those middle-of-the-night feedings (ok, not *all*, but north of 90% of them I swear). What’s that? I get to get up and spend 20-40 minutes cuddling with my baby, who I haven’t seen in an excruciating 4 whole hours? AMAZING! THAT’S MY FAVOURITE THING TO DO!!

So, going to work has been harrrrrrrd for me. I have at least as much separation anxiety as Goblin does about it all, for sure. But we’ve got a decent routine, and I’m pretty good at cherishing the time we do have together, so while it’s not ideal, it works!

Do I even have a point here? I don’t think so! Just an update to say that I’m happy, I’m guess :)

Quick update/Consider yourself WARNED :P

I keep wanting to get back to blogging more regularly, but then keep… not doing that. It’s not because I don’t have things on my mind that I want to write about, it’s just that… my thoughts are pretty much always about my baby. And I don’t really want this to turn into a parenting blog.

Or at least, I’m not ready to admit that it might just have to become that for a while. This baby really is the centre of my entire universe; my perspective on pretty much everything is now through the lens of parenthood (and I wouldn’t have it any other way), so here we are.

It does seem like the only way I’ll be able to fire up the old writing habit will be to start letting myself write about baby/parenting stuff. So, be prepared I guess? I’m still going to talking about gender stuff and feminist ideas/perspectives and all that, it’ll just have a different flavour I guess. Maybe i’ll even branch out once I’m back in the game! Stay tuned for more next week :)

Babies and (parental) gender

I knew going into this whole parenting thing that I was going to get called “mommy” a lot, by default. And I do.

I don’t have the energy to proactively tell people I only have minor or passing relationships with about my gender and how I do and don’t identify. This is true in all areas of my life – though I’m out at work among my co-workers, (and I recently added my pronouns to my professional email signature!) I don’t correct random library patrons who misgender me, not even if they’re people I see somewhat regularly. They just don’t need that information about me, to be honest? And I apply this attitude everywhere.

So, in the hospital when my baby was born, I was called “mommy”. At baby groups, I get called “mommy”. In my baby’s swimming lessons, I’m one of the “mommies” (while silently wishing that the class I was in was more visibly mixed-gender, like the on immediately before ours, so that that “mommy” stuff wouldn’t be thrown around quite so freely).

What I really wasn’t expecting, though, was how often people who do know me, and know that I am genderqueer, and are actually very good with my pronouns (and sometimes even explicitly knew that I didn’t plan to go by mommy!)… still reflexively called me “mommy”, when talking to my baby.

There is something deeply ingrained in our psyches about babies, that they must be in want of a mommy, I guess? It was actually equal parts fascinating and perturbing for me, how naturally people’s brains went there. Brains are weird that way!

But yeah, me and my baby, we’re on a first name basis. I’ve always planned to let them figure out a title for me if and when they want to, but more recently I’ve also been speculating that the baby-talk version of “Kasey” could very easily be “Seesee”, which might just be a perfect fit on its own. I think I may even try to encourage it :)

How does your gender factor in to your future plans? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge Part 18

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: How does your gender factor in to your future plans?

Gender always factors in my future plans at least to the extent of whether or not I plan to be out about my gender in x, y, or z context, and if so, when. Speaking of which, I am now 2/3 of the way through my probation at my current job, so maybe as soon as a couple of months from now? I am also considering waiting until next year’s Trans Day of Visibility, but that may just be a procrastination tactic on my part. We’ll see?

But yeah. I mean, I feel like I might be harping on this a bit and all (though maybe I am harping more in my head than in writing, so it may bear repeating here after all), but the place where my gender looms largest for me in terms of future plans is around this whole thing where I am really hoping to find someone who wants to raise kids with me.

The thing is that while I am open to a totally platonic arrangement in this regard (and can even see some advantages to such a thing), I also now that most people aren’t. Most people are actually pretty attached to getting their romantic (and sexual) and family-making needs/desires met in one package.

Which means I am thinking a lot about how my gender impacts my current and future date-ability. And it kinda sucks. Trawling OkCupid for people who are open about wanting kids is some depressing shit. I usually keep my searches open to those who set their settings both to “wants kids” and “might want kids”, but the honest truth is that all of the patience I may ever have had for people who might maybe want to have kids at some magical future ‘someday’ got used up a long fucking time ago. When people are in their freaking thirties and still dicking around on “I don’t know. Maybe?” on a question like that, I just fucking can’t. (And I mean, look, I don’t actually mean to criticize you if this describes you. You get to not now what you want, or you get to be unsure about whether it is possible for you fit kids into your life, or whatever else. Just, we would not be compatible right now, because you would make me crazy, is all.)

And then there’s the fact that even the folks who say they want kids are very often straight. I am sure I have no shot with straight women. I do with straight men, but the idea of dating straight dudes gives me pre-emptive dysphoria at this point, to be honest. The risk of being made to feel invisible, incomprehensible, and/or just generally like shit is too high.

And of course, even if I did want to to risk all of that, I know that plenty of folks wouldn’t want to date me anyway because of my gender. or they would want to, but maybe they would make me a secret or misgender me behind my back because they didn’t want to be out about having a trans partner or whatever? I mean, I know a lot of this is useless anxiety-brain speculation, but also these are real things that people do, and I am not even remotely capable of handling that kind of bullshit right now.

In my worst moments, I have honest-to-goodness considered a sort of detransition. If I just say I’m a woman, than my prospects would open up. I could be less difficult, and require less work from potential partners. I could date people who don’t care about social justice, I guess.

Except of course I don’t want any of that. Of course I don’t want to date someone who would not date me if I was honest about who I am. And of fucking course I don’t want to raise kids with someone who doesn’t understand social justice issues.

And even if I was willing to make that many compromises, the thing is that every time I think about it, it is clear to me that I can’t. I can’t go back to pretending to be a woman. It would destroy me.

So here I am.

I kind of got away from the original prompt there, maybe, but anyway, yeah, these are the things I think about when I think about my gender and my future.


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

Schrodinger’s divorce

So, I am getting divorced. I just realized I never explicitly said that here, although I¬†wrote directly about the reason why earlier this year. I haven’t written a lot about it here because my former spouse-person does read this stuff, and I have been doing my best not to unfairly throw my feelings at them around this (so, to you, fair warning that you may not want to read this one, I guess). I need to get this stuff out, though, and processing these kinds of feelings has been one of the major things this blog does for me, and I’m not willing to continue sacrificing this outlet for the sake of whatever-has-been-holding-me-back, so here we go.

My divorce is very amicable. The post linked above gives you the sunniest of all of my attitudes toward it, and its the one I’ve worked very hard to keep in the forefront as I’ve gone through the motions.

The short version is, when we decided to get married, I was very clear on the fact that marrying me was also a commitment to have kids with me, and my partner agreed to that. And then last year, about five years in, they let me know that they had realized they don’t want to have kids after all. Our divorce isn’t anyone’s fault, and neither of us did anything wrong.

And yet.

That’s not the only story there is to tell. And I can’t always stick to that one either, because it doesn’t even begin to honour all of the feelings I have about it.

Because the thing is, I am angry. I am so goddamn angry. I feel betrayed. I feel abandoned. The life I have been actively and consciously working on building has been torn down around me and I the only thing left standing is me, alone. (I mean, not really, but also yes really, that is what it feels like).

Because the other story goes something like this:

I met an amazing wonderful person who honestly change my life. Our relationship was just comfortable and good right from the start, and I knew I wanted to be with them, as much as I have ever known anything. They were someone I wanted to be with, and they were someone I loved the idea of raising kids with, specifically.

They were less sure at first (less sure about whether they wanted to marry at all ever; less sure about whether they wanted kids at all ever) but after a few years we decided to get married and that’s what we did.

For me, this meant we were a team, that I was no longer just building a life for myself, but rather we were working together to build a life (or two parallel lives anyway) for the both of us. And I loved this. This made me really happy.

I made different life choices than I would have without them. I limited my job searches to Toronto and the surrounding areas (despite the fact that both my career path and the whole having kids thing would have been easier elsewhere), because they were not willing to consider moving and I wanted to be where they would be. Every time we changed apartments, the search was more stressful and difficult than necessary for me, because they didn’t want to live in a high-rise, but since I can live happily just about anywhere, their preferences were the ones that mattered.

I forgave infidelity. More than once. And it wasn’t even hard, because when it came down to it, I knew this was the person I wanted to be with. I could feel it in my bones, and it was as simple as that, for me, always. We figured out better boundaries that were reasonable for both of us, that they could live within and that I could feel comfortable with.

We had a really good and strong marriage, to be honest. It of course had its problems, and we each had things about the other that were trying and wearing, because we are human, but we were dedicated finding ways of making it work, and we did a damn good job of it. Our marriage survived career changes (for both of us). Gender transitions (for both of us). The aforementioned infidelities. We barely even flinched.

But.

Over and over again, we put off having kids. Because they weren’t ready for that yet. Because they had a list of conditions we needed to meet before that could happen, some of which were reasonable, and some of which kept changing. Primarily though, they were stuck working retail and it was miserable and was causing them chronic pain problems, and it was priority to get them out of that hole, and obviously that is all reasonable. So I dedicated myself to helping them figure out what would make them happier to do for a living. I listened to them and helped them figure out their options for changing their career path. And they started working toward an awesome career path (one they are now pretty solidly on). I supported them through a year of school, after having more or less supported myself through my own school (apparently I can work and do a master’s degree at the same time, but they can’t. Whatever. This is the pettiest I’m going to get, I promise.)

I am most bitter about that year, though, because it was actually right when the light at the end of this tunnel finally came into view that they dropped the bomb on me. They were still in the middle of school at the time, and even though we both knew what it meant that they had decided to to not have kids, I decided I would continue to support them until they finished school and got a job, and then we’d start disentangling our finances, and everything else.

To be very, very clear: right up until that conversation happened, I had really thought we’d probably be actually seriously able to look at having kids within a year, or maybe two on the outside (i.e. around right now, as it happens). Instead, we are getting divorced and I don’t know whether that is ever a thing that will happen for me anymore.

There are so few things that I was unwilling or unable to compromise on. There are so many things I did compromise on, so many things I gave up on to be with them, and to help them reach their goals. And there was one thing in the entire world I wouldn’t give up for them, and that’s the one thing they decided they wouldn’t help me with.

It is the actual worst thing they could have done, within the realm of things it would have been even remotely plausible for them to do.

And so I am angry. I am angry that I have given up so many small and large potential opportunities in my life because I thought we were working together toward this one goal that is more important to me than anything. I am angry that I have apparently wasted more than half a decade by trusting someone else’s intention to help me with this goal, when if they had never made me that promise, I would have been looking elsewhere, and maybe I would have found someone who actually shared my conviction and desire.

If I hadn’t trusted in this person, over and over again. If I hadn’t been willing to wait for them. If I hadn’t convinced myself they were worth it, that it would work out in the end, who knows where I’d be now?

It definitely couldn’t be any more of a mess than this.

And so I’m angry. At myself, for trusting the wrong person. At them, for not wanting a thing I want so desperately for them to want.

I think about all the work and effort that went into the project that was our marriage, and I look at the nothing it has come to (half of the savings I thought I had; half of the furniture needed to fill an apartment; I feel like a failed adult).

And I feel so utterly abandoned.

The worst part is, I don’t even really want to start over. What I want is to turn back the clock two years, to when everything was still ok. When I was happy.

I still want the life we were building together. Yes, I want children above all else, and that is that choice I have made, but I also really very much wanted specifically to share that with this particular person. I can’t imagine a better life than the one I was promised to me and then had taken away.

Of course, there is no going back. I couldn’t even get those feelings back if I had the option to, any more. But I don’t know how to move forward from this, either.

I know that part of what I need it time. I know these things will heal. They have to.

And despite everything, I know my life is pretty ok, even great in many ways. I have a job I really, really love, that is fulfilling and that I am usually excited to go to. There are so many wonderful people in my life who love me and support me in various ways, and who I get to love and support as well. My life is full of wonderful things. The core of my life has fallen apart, but I am still in one piece, as I always have been, as I always am.

But at the same time, I am still really looking forward to the day when I can finally say that I got through an entire a week without crying myself to sleep.

And it is still very distinctly possible that the gamble I made on this marriage will ultimately mean that I never do get to have kids. To be honest, I think that is why I can’t decide how much anger it is appropriate for me to have, how much it is appropriate to actually direct at my partner, or at myself. Because only time will answer for me whether this is a forgivable betrayal on their part, whether this was a forgivable mistake on my part.

Only time will tell whether this is really an amicable break-up.

So yeah, it’s Schrodinger’s divorce.

Babies and gender again: “Do you want a boy or a girl?”

So, in thinking about the question of babies, gender, and pronouns in writing my previous post, I also thought about the ways in which I’m going to have to start dealing with binary-gendered questions long before I even have a baby to gender (or not).

Because of course pregnant people get asked a lot about whether they hope the baby is a boy or a girl.

The obvious answer to this question is “I don’t care.” And I might use that. But I have also realized that I might (at least sometimes, when I have the energy) rather answer that I hope the baby is intersex.

For one thing, it’s more likely to shut people up than saying “I don’t care,” since they might continue pestering me for an answer in that case. But more importantly, it’s also kind of true.

I know that an intersex baby would be much better off with me for a parent than most other people. So if one of the intersex babies being born anyway is mine, that would be great.

But also, as I tangentially mentioned in my last post about this, I would probably be able to use neutral pronouns for an intersex baby with far less pushback from people than I would have with a non-intersex baby. Like, no, everyone, I really don’t have anything to go on vis a vis this baby’s gender right now, not even the thing that you wrongly think defines their gender, mmkay?

I don’t know if that would work, really, but at least I’d feel more strongly about holding the line in that case than I might with a non-intersex baby, if that makes sense.

So yeah, if people ask, that may very well be what I tell them.

What to do about babies and gender

[Content note: reference to adult-child related sexual creepiness]

As a person who intends to have kids at some point, and as someone who is very aware that you can’t tell what a person’s gender is (/what their gender is going to be or whatever) when they’re born, I have to deal with the question of what I’m going to do about my future babies and gender.

I mean, hopefully it’s obvious that I have no intention of imposing any sort of gender norms or expectation on any kids I have. And I will listen to them about their own gender as soon as they are able to tell me about it. But there is still the question of what to do about pronouns etc until they’re able to do that.

In an ideal world, I would lean toward using neutral pronouns – either the perennial ‘they’, or something specific as more of a placeholder (I remember reading a long time ago about someone who referred to their fetus using the ‘ou’ pronoun, and I like the idea of using something that isn’t so clearly linked to non-binary/genderqueer identities, since that may carry a lesser version of the baggage involved in traditionally masculine or feminine pronouns.)

But living as I am in an entirely un-ideal world, I’m not sure this is what I will actually end up doing. I may very well wind up simply using the pronouns assume the baby is cisgender (unless they’re intersex, in which case, gender neutral pronouns it will be until I can hear otherwise from them), as a sort of default/educated guess (since there is a high likelihood that they will be cis), for a few reasons.

The main one is, I just don’t know that I have the energy to have all the conversations that would be involved in refusing to gender my baby. Although I am not going to adhere to gendered expectation with clothing, toys, etc with them, I know that people would push back harder against gender neutral pronouns than other things, simply because it makes them uncomfortable to use them. Which is a terrible reason, obviously, but still. I have enough work on my hands doing this for myself, and people are more upset by gender neutral pronouns when they are applied to children, and more prone to inappropriateness or downright violence (or trying to get me to lose custody of my children even, probably) than I am prepared to deal with.

Which, on some level I feel like maybe I should not have kids unless I am willing to fight for that for them. But on the other hand, I don’t think that placeholder pronouns alone are going to harm a kid who is otherwise raised as much as possible without gendered expectations. I don’t think that ‘he’ or ‘she’ is somehow inherently a more harmful placeholder than ‘they’ or ‘ou’ could be anyway.

My other fear, though, is not about me and my own energy, as much as it is about my child. A baby who is referred to by gender neutral pronouns may attract some really unsavoury behaviours from people who really really need to know the baby’s ‘real’ gender. I am quite sure that refusing to indicate a binary gender for my baby would make a whole lot of people suddenly really interested in changing that baby’s diaper, or helping them with their bath, or something. And that level of creepiness is not something I want a baby or toddler subjected to.

I am also afraid that being quite to obvious about my gender neutral approach to parenting would result in other adults trying to over-compensate for that, and my children being subjected to even more over-the-top, explicit gender policing than they otherwise would.

So, I dunno. I don’t know what the least harmful route to take, really. I’m just going to do my best and what feels right, I guess.