Two moms, two hounds, and a baby. I’m Molly and my wife is Catch. We spent about 2 years trying to conceive our miracle baby, and were finally successful after a round of IVF and an FET that resulted in a twin pregnancy. We lost one of our twins, but our miracle baby A stuck with us. Charlotte was born on July 23, 2015 and is the light of our life.
Last week, Catch was picking Charlotte up from school, and a little girl asked her, “Does Charlotte have two moms?”
Just a few weeks prior to that, I emailed the school’s director because the camp enrollment forms had fields for “mother” and “father.” I told her it felt uncomfortable to have to put one of our names next to “father.”
There are some women who walk in our neighborhood often, and we run into them from time to time. They think I’m Charlotte’s mother and that Catch is my sister. We’ve never corrected them because their English isn’t great and they mostly just marvel at how fast Charlotte is growing, but someday, Charlotte’s going to catch on to those little lies of omission.
While we were out shopping with Charlotte the other day, Catch ran to the restroom briefly. When Charlotte realized she was gone, she started screaming, “LITTLE MAMA! I NEED LITTLE MAMA! WHERE’D LITTLE MAMA GO?!” People stared at me as if I was kidnapping her.
I get so lost in my little “yay, gay!” cocoon sometimes that these little moments when I’m reminded that we’re different from other families are jarring—like a static shock. You’re just going about your business and then zap!
I remember the time (years ago) when Catch and I were crossing the street after a sushi date and someone threw a full water bottle at us from their car window as they drove by and screamed, “Fucking dykes!” We weren’t even holding hands. We scurried away as fast as possible—heads down, not making eye contact with anyone around us. We were hurt and embarrassed…. And now I think, what if Charlotte had been there? How long will it be until she witnesses a scene like that? How long before she’s made fun of for having two moms? How long before some unenlightened parent at school won’t invite her to a birthday party or include her in a play date because of her two moms?
Because really, it’s only a matter of time. It’s not if… it’s when. No matter how far we’ve made it, there is still so far to go. I forget sometimes… until that familiar zap reminds me. I’ve had 20 years of practice having my heart broken by society because of who I love. (Wow—20 years. When did that happen?) Who will be the first to break my daughter’s heart?
More importantly, who will bail me out of jail when it happens?
What do you do when you need to do two major home improvement projects, but you can only afford to do one of them?
You do them both anyway, of course!
In so many ways, Catch and I really balance each other out. Unfortunately, when it comes to spending large sums of money impulsively, we both kind of suck. It’s not often that we have large sums of money to spend, but this year we happened to get a significant tax return. Suddenly, visions of a remodeled bathroom danced in our heads, while visions of a roof that desperately needs to be replaced beat us over the head.
In the end, we crunched some numbers and decided to throw caution to the wind. In the battle of bathroom vs. roof, they both win. We’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of our marriage this year and we always said we’d go to Hawaii for this one. Instead, we’ve decided that we’ll get far more joy from a functional bathroom.
When we bought the house, we intended to do the bathroom ourselves (with the help of FIL), but the logistics of that would be damn near impossible. It’s our only bathroom, and the in laws would have to stay with us while the work is done, which means we’d have 5 people sharing a torn-up bathroom in a small house for too long. It’s a recipe for disaster. Also, if we did it ourselves, the scope of work would be more limited and we wouldn’t really get exactly what we want.
So, we’ve been interviewing contractors for the last month. It’s been… interesting. We’ve made great progress though, and we sign contracts with someone to do the bathroom tomorrow. On the roof front, we’re waiting for an update from one roofer, and once we have that we’ll be ready to roll.
In the meantime, we have been up to our eyeballs in bathroom planning bliss. It’s been a helpful distraction from losing our sweet Roly. It’s good to be busy and to have something to look forward to. On Saturday, we ditched the kid with my parents for a few hours and wandered aimlessly through bathroom fixture show rooms until we found the shower of our dreams. It was a splurge, but holy crap you guys—after 3 years of not even having the space to bend over in our shower, I am actually daydreaming about my first shower with the new stuff. Also—TWO SINKS. I do not understand WHY anyone put in a SIX FOOT LONG vanity with only one sink in a 3-bedroom house with a single bathroom, but it was stupid. Two days ago, I ordered our new bathtub, and while it’s not fancy or expensive, it will at least allow me to fill it with enough water to cover myself without having to shove a wash cloth into the overflow drain.
And the roof—well, it’ll just be nice not to have to worry about it anymore. It looks so ugly right now with its patches of missing shingles (it has 3-5 layers on it, so missing shingles don’t really mean exposed roof). Plus, all the grainy stuff blows/washes off in wind & rain, and it makes a huge mess of the yard. The new roof will be nicer color, more energy efficient AND environmentally friendly, so it’s a win all around.
So if you need me, you can probably find me on Pinterest obsessing over every last detail of our bathroom. Right now, this is the direction we’re headed in, but there are still a lot of variables to figure out!
Current bathroom (kinda–this is from the listing when we bought the house–it looks 3 years worse now.)
My dog died. The hard drive containing every single photo I’ve ever taken crashed and burned. No backup either because (insert long story here). Also, I got food poisoning so intense and horrible that I actually fainted in the bathroom, causing me to fall over onto Charlotte’s step stool and Elmo potty before hitting my head on the wall.
Do not come anywhere near me unless you are holding the cutest puppy ever and bearing wine. Lots of damn wine.
Ten years ago, Catch and I moved into a tiny little triplex apartment with Twix. Twix was about a year old at the time, and she was used to living with our former roommate’s sweet boxer. They were buddies.
The first week after we moved in, we got an anonymous note from a neighbor informing us that our dog was barking all day while we were gone and we needed to do something about it ASAP. Our immediate neighbor was struggling to adjust to life in LA, and one day while she was outside crying on her back porch, she heard Twix crying too. She started talking to Twix and Twix ended up digging a hole under the fence to get to her. That was when we knew for sure that Twix was lonely.
We contacted the local basset hound rescue. Our application was approved, our home visit was conducted, and the next thing we knew, we were on our way to meet “Luke,” a two year old basset who was being housed in a kennel in a vet office.
Roly’s ride home with us after his adoption – 11/2007
I don’t think we could have left him there if we tried. Luke came home with us that day, and almost immediately, he was Rolo.
Rolo came to us with fur stained yellow from his own urine. He had staples lining his belly from a botched neuter surgery. He was a mess, but he was such a love.
The first week we had him, he ate the couch. Then he taught Twix that the trash was actually a delicious hound buffet. If there was trouble to be found those first few weeks, he found it. He taught Twix how to howl and the two of them performed a daily duet while we were gone. We wondered whether we made the wrong decision.
By week 3, Rolo had settled in to his new life, and we knew we could never let him go.
This dog… he’s just a big love.
One of our good friends says that Rolo’s eyes hold the secrets of the universe. I think she’s right.
Yesterday afternoon, we said goodbye to our sweet boy. I feel like I’m broken now. This is not the first time I’ve said goodbye to a beloved pet, but it was different this time. It was different with this dog… our Roly.
Last night, we clung to each other sobbing and begging to just have our boy back. We need him. We don’t feel whole without him. How can we have a Twix and not have a Rolo? They are a pair.
I am gutted. This loss is a physical pain. When I woke up this morning, all I wanted was to go back to sleep because it doesn’t hurt when I’m asleep. I keep trying to tell myself that the pain is love. It’s all just love. The pain means that we loved that little dog as much as we are humanly capable of loving.
We have no choice but to continue walking forward into this new normal. We told Charlotte that Roly died. That he isn’t coming home and he’s in our hearts, now. She immediately changed the subject and resumed playing with her chopsticks. I wish it could be that easy for us.
Yesterday’s school shooting in Florida shook me hard. My wife and my daughter both spend their days in schools while I sit on an upper floor of a secure professional building with restricted key card access and a panic button at reception. I don’t know how to make peace with that. I don’t know how to turn off the pictures of gunfire and their faces that flash inside my head sometimes. Zoloft is an incredible drug for anxiety, but my fears are rational and even Zoloft can’t create a false reality.
I wish I had the answers. The US is on a downward spiral, and it will continue until everyone can come together and say enough with the violence—enough with the death—enough with the guns. Sadly, I think it’s more likely that in the next 10 years our schools will have airport-level security and armed guards. I see a future of bulletproof classrooms, and a “president” who boasts on Twitter that the need for such measures will provide jobs and boost our economy, so yay, guns!
I’m tired of being at the mercy of these suits who are only capable of considering the best interests of 1% of the population.
I am tired of watching as our media exploits these tragedies for their own gain.
I’m tired of hearing the names of these mass murderers spoken over and over again until they are burned into our brains, while the names of their innocent victims are forgotten within weeks.
Charlotte felt a bit warm last night. I took her temperature… 100.5. Eh—not so bad. We’ll see what happens. She’s probably fine, right? <—Denial. Deep parental denial.
Naturally, she woke up extra miserable this morning. Her voice was raspy, she was coughing, she couldn’t stop cry-whining (that’s a thing, in case you didn’t know), and her temp was 101.4.
Last week, I had to leave early to take Charlotte to a dentist appointment that we had already cancelled and rescheduled once before due to illness.
Two-ish weeks ago, I had to call HR from our locked, pitch black lounge because I was collapsed in a heap puking into a trash can with the worst migraine I have ever experienced.
Three-ish weeks ago, I sat in my boss’s office and explained that I needed to leave because our household had just been diagnosed with scabies and a) it is contagious, and b) I need to go pick up prescriptions and then get home and wash every last inch of everything. (Long story on that one. I just about fell out of my chair when my doctor called that day.)
Just before that, I missed work to deal with Ratgate.
Before that, I was sick.
Before that, Charlotte was sick.
Basically, all of those events in a row made for an unhappy boss. He was as gracious as he could possibly be, but I can read between the lines. I was being flaky. I knew it. I’d be really frustrated if one of my own employees was throwing up the constant excuses that I’ve been, so… yeah. Not winning any employee of the month awards right now. There is no denying that I am not really pulling my weight at the moment.
And now, Charlotte is sick. Again. And there is no denying her sickness, so I can’t even feign ignorance and send her to school anyway.
Our former nanny is unavailable. My in-laws are both terribly sick, so they can’t come up to help. My dad can handle a few hours here or there, but he cannot change a diaper or deal with anything more complicated than changing the channel or going to the park. The last time my mom caught a Charlotte-virus, she was down for over a month. Her immune system is shot and I can’t let that happen again. Catch
What are parents who work outside the home supposed to do? I get 5 paid sick days, which is great, but it’s not great if I have to use them all in January, and it’s really not great if management rolls their eyes because “she’s out again.” There is so much I could say about this, but I’m too tired and stressed to be articulate and feminist-y. Something’s gotta give, and it can’t be my paycheck.
It would be great if someone could find me a job that involved sitting on my couch while taking naps and maybe taste testing Girl Scout cookies a few times a week. I am fucking exhausted. There are about ten thousand hours of TV recorded on our DVR at the moment—shows that we used to watch religiously after Charlotte went to bed at night. Except Charlotte never goes to bed at night anymore (or so it seems) so by the time she actually does fall asleep, we’re usually asleep, too. The same goes for naps (when she will take them.)
She’s lucky she’s cute, because we feel like the walking dead and I’m pretty sure we’re just going through the motions to get to the point where she is either a) old enough to watch our shows with us, b) no longer living at home, or c) sleeping like a normal human being.
She wakes up screaming a lot. Sometimes in the middle of the night (we’re thinking night terrors), but often, she just wakes up in the morning or from a nap and freaks the fuck out for whatever reason. This morning, I slipped into the shower before Catch left for work, and as I emerged from the shower to grab my towel, I was greeted by the screams of my child. “I NEED BIG MAMA! I DON’T WANT LITTLE MAMA! GO AWAY LITTLE MAMA! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH! HOW DARE YOU FUCKING LOVE ME OR TRY TO CONSOLE ME!”
I swooped in wearing my damp towel expecting to save the day with my presence, and was greeted with, “I NEED BIG MAMA TO GO PUT A SHIRT ON! AHHHHHHHH!!!!”
I left to go put a shirt on. “I NEED BIG MAMA TO COME BAAAAAAAACCCCKKKKK!”
I put on a damn shirt and returned to her room where I was instructed by the tiny sobbing dictator to “LIE DOWN RIGHT HERE.” I obeyed. She started screaming at me about my feet. “I NEED BIG MAMA TO PUT YOUR FEET ON THE BED!” Um… okay? They are on the bed. I think? “NOOOOOO!!! I NEED YOUR FEET ON THE BED!” Fuck. My. Life. I ask her to show me what she would like me to do with my feet. She reaches over and shoves my legs clear off the bed. Okay, then.
Are you confused by all of this Big Mama / Little Mama business? Yeah, we were too. Charlotte has decided that mommy/mama will not fly in her two-mom household. We are now Big Mama (me) and Little Mama (Catch). Whatever floats your boat, kid. It’s a good thing your moms have a sense of humor. At least we know who the hell she’s talking about now when she’s screaming in the middle of the night. (Big Mama. Always. What a privilege that is. <–sarcasm)
It is amazing that you can love someone so much when they legitimately find joy in torturing you. Is parenthood just an understated version of Stockholm syndrome?
At this point, our lives are about 30% staring at our incredible child in wonder and amazement, 30% wishing our incredible child would just fucking sleep, 30% worrying about providing for our incredible child, and 10% contemplating whether they offer boarding school for toddlers.
She is incredible, though. In every sense of the word. Absolutely incredible.
I have been in a food funk lately. I just don’t feel like cooking. I buy the groceries and then… meh.
Unfortunately for my kitchen blahs, we are trying to save money after the most expensive December I have ever seen and the other night I had no choice but to cook. Something. Anything.
I’ve seen a million Instant Pot spaghetti recipes that seemed pretty underwhelming so I made up my own on the fly. This was dinner for the 3 of us on Wednesday and Thursday nights, plus there is enough for at least 2 days of lunches. I need to add the caveat that this is the spaghetti version of a midwest comfort food casserole. We’re not talking gourmet. We’re talking about a kid-pleasing weeknight meal that will fill tummies and get dinner on the table with one pot and very little effort. I am mostly sharing this because I totally winged it and want to remember what I did because I will 100% make it again.
Here’s what I used:
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (I used pork because I had it, but turkey would be totally fine)
16 oz package of dry spaghetti noodles – I am 95% sure this would work with ANY kind of dry pasta
24 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups of water (I swished it around in the pasta sauce jar to get every last bit)
1/2 to 1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1 bag of fresh broccoli florets–12 oz or so (optional)
frozen turkey meatballs (optional–these were more for the kid, but we enjoyed them too)
Brown & crumble the sausage using the saute setting
Break the spaghetti in half and spread it on top of the sausage
Dump the can of tomatoes, the water and the pasta sauce over the noodles. Make sure the noodles are covered with the liquids–smoosh it around a bit if you have to. Sprinkle with seasoning and salt.
Top with the broccoli florets if you’re not averse to smooshy overcooked broccoli that gets hidden in the sauce once it’s cooked so your kid doesn’t know it’s there. If you hate the idea of mushy broccoli, don’t add it.
Then throw some frozen meatballs on top. Charlotte loved the meatballs.
Put the lid on, seal the vent, and use the manual setting to cook on regular pressure for about 10 minutes. Do a quick release when it’s done, and mix well before serving. The broccoli will basically disintegrate if you use it, but whatever–the kid ate some broccoli and I didn’t have to beg.
About ten days before Christmas, Charlotte discovered that she could perform Cirque Du Soleil from the bars of her crib. The next day while I was at work, Catch converted the crib back to a toddler bed. You may recall that we attempted this several months ago and it was a total fail. Spoiler alert: nothing has changed. The toddler bed is still completely unacceptable to Charlotte.
We spent a number of nights lying on the floor next to her bed as she fought sleep and pleaded with us to put the bars back on. One night, I dared rest my head on her mattress and she sat up in bed and demanded, “ON THE FLOOR, MAMA. Mama sleep on the floor.” The days are a bit of a blur at this point, but that incident may have been the last straw for me as there is now a full/double size mattress in the place where the crib once was.
Charlotte is still not a fan of her bed, although at least this way I can lie next to her IN bed rather than on the floor.
We thought we did it right. We took her out and let her choose her own bedding. (Frozen—big surprise.) We involved her in the mattress selection. We talked it up and made a big deal out of how wonderful and exciting it all is. It’s still a no-go.
With the crib, we had our bedtime routine and after I sang You Are My Sunshine and we said our good nights, we would close the door and she’d put herself to sleep while we had some desperately needed down time before bed. Those days are gone, now. We both have to spend about an hour (+) lying there with her while she fights sleep with every fiber of her being. She sings songs. Makes random observations. Asks weird questions. Demands a drink of water. Untucks herself and then demands to be tucked back in. You name it. Eventually, she will start to get sleepy and demand that I snuggle her just so only she can’t articulate what it is she wants, so it becomes a frustrating battle of No, I need your other hand, mama. No mama, the other arm to snuggle you. Put your arm out to snuggle mama. No, the other arm. Until I end up twisted like a pretzel in the most uncomfortable position possible so that each of my hands is cupping her face just so with my “other arm” putting just the right amount of pressure around her middle.
Once she falls asleep (took 90 minutes last night) I gently untangle myself from her snuggle setup and Catch and I quietly creep to the door. She will sleep on her own until she wakes up screaming for me around midnight. At that point, I usually end up falling asleep in her bed with her and stay there until morning. She’ll wake up a few more times but I’m right there, so it’s relatively easy to calm her down and get her back to sleep.
Basically, this feels like having a newborn again. My body is sore, and I am exhausted. The mattress we got is perfectly fine for a 30 pound 2 year old. It is less fine for a thirty-something, overweight mama.
Also, she won’t nap in her new bed, so pretty much the only naps she took over the holidays were in the car. Yay.
So, sleep is crap. We are all overtired and cranky… why not add a good solid dose of the holidays? Sugar and presents and people and places and non-stop excitement are REALLY great when you have an overtired, overstimulated 2 year old. It has been a living HELL. I have never been SO over my kid before. I just can’t. By Wednesday last week, Catch and I were both counting the minutes until we could go back to work. We are DONE. She has been an absolute DEMON.
That’s not to say that Christmas didn’t have its moments. We did have a lot of fun. We spent a lot of time with a lot of family, and we all felt very loved. When Charlotte woke up on Christmas morning and exclaimed, “Santa ate the cookies!” my Grinchy heart grew three sizes.
My mom put together a dress-up/treasure box for Charlotte and it included a lot of my grandmother’s old costume jewelry, which was so unexpected and cool. Catch’s cousin in Washington sent Charlotte a frozen karaoke machine, and I don’t think she possibly could have sent a more appropriate gift to my kid. She is in love with that thing. She rode her Power Wheels Jeep at Oma & Opa’s house. Played with her baby cousin. Went to her first birthday party. Had a play date at the zoo with her friends from school. Had some one-on-one time with Nana, who was beyond excited to give Charlotte some gifts that she could not have been happier about. There was a trip to Disneyland that was filled with wide-eyed toddler amazement. She saw a movie in the theater for the first time and LOVED it. We enjoyed a prime rib dinner with my parents on New Year’s Eve while our overtired, slap happy kiddo entertained us with her “Happy New Hear!” exclamations and general silliness.
We may be starting 2018 a bit tired and slow, but I have no doubt that we’ll get through this hurdle just as we’ve made it through all the others.