Jaxson, Life In General

Father’s Day

I spent the first five years of my life without a dad. It was just me, my grandma, and my Aunt Lee. My mom was young when she had me, and when I was 4 my grandma ended up adopting me. When I was 5, my mom met a wonderful man who would end up becoming my step-dad – no – just dad. He’s the only one I’ve ever known and the only one I’ll ever have. I’ve found my biological father, but because of my dad I just have no desire to reach out or ask questions. I’m happy with my family just the way it is.

My dad did not always have it easy. He had to try hard to break down this angry 5 year old’s resolve to hate him. I felt for a long time that he was taking my mom away from me, and then they got married and had my brother and sister and I felt like they were replacing me. I was very angry at them all as a child, but still, I wanted to be a part of their family so much. Sometimes I felt like an outsider in my own family and I definitely had some resentment towards my mom. She gave me away, got married, and had started her own family. What I didn’t know at the time was that when I was 6 and after they had gotten married, my mom asked to adopt me back from my grandma. She was wary of their new relationship and refused. Despite this, my relationship with my dad grew, and we bonded. He is one of my favorite people in the world. He always tried the hardest to include me, to make me feel welcome, to make me feel like there was no “step” in our relationship. He never introduced me as his step-daughter, but as his daughter. He listed my name among his kids without second thought.

I didn’t know about the failed re-adoption attempt when I was 6 until I was 12, and I promptly told my mom and dad that I wanted to come live with them. That wouldn’t happen until I was 17 though, after I graduated high school, because my grandma had moved us out of state when I was 12. I would spend the summers with my family and while we had typical ups and downs throughout the teenage years, my bond with my dad never faltered. He is the best person I know, and I’m so glad that Jaxson has him as a Guh-Guh and as a wonderful example of not just what kind of a man but what kind of a human to be, and one day, the kind of father to be.

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Jaxson spent the first five years of his life without a dad, too. He has and always will have two loving, caring mothers. He has had his struggles since the divorce and subsequently my relationship with Brandon, but I have strived not to have him share the feelings of anger and being an outsider that I had as a child. Instead of one small family of just me and his Mama, instead now he just has a larger family consisting of two parts – him and Mama, and then him and Brandon and me. We’re adding to our family, not replacing anyone. We strive to be inclusive of him and to be there for him. I never want him to feel the way I felt.

When Brandon and I first got together, Jaxson had some confusion about the whole dad thing. I have never pushed him to call Brandon dad, I have never referenced him as dad, and anyone who does gets a stern talking to from Jaxson as he proudly exclaims, “I have two moms!” As Jaxson got older, he started asking questions though. He thought that all adult men were dads, so we had to explain that you have to have children to be a dad. He would ask sometimes if Brandon was his dad, prompting a modified “birds and bees for children of two moms” and no, it was not Brandon’s seeds that made Jaxson grow in Mama’s tummy. Jaxson loves Brandon’s mom and they have a really sweet and special connection, and he keeps telling her that Brandon and she will part of his family once we get married, not just yet, but we’re “practicing right now”. But he has never wavered that he does not have a dad – he doesn’t like them, he says, because he’s never had one – and Brandon will not be his dad.

In May, Jaxson’s pre-school hosted a Mother’s Day Tea for all of the moms and he was so happy both of his moms were there with him. Just prior to it, we were driving home from picking him up for the weekend and I had asked him to make sure he wanted both of us to come. He said of course! And then he asked me if Brandon could come too. I laughed and said no because he’s not a mom. I was surprised that Jaxson was sad, and he said, well what do we do for Brandon?

So I told him about Father’s Day, and that if Brandon and I have kids in the future, Brandon will be a dad so he can celebrate Father’s Day but for now, he won’t. Instead we’ll celebrate Guh-Guh and he and Mama can celebrate Papa. And in this small quiet voice from the backseat Jaxson says, “I want to do something for him on Father’s Day. It’s okay if Brandon’s my step-dad.” I almost burst into tears. It was so sincere, so sweet. He genuinely wanted to celebrate him! I had not pushed him to, I had not even suggested it, and here he was acknowledging that he was going to be okay with Brandon’s new place in our family. It was a small victory! I asked him two, three times to make sure that he was okay and he meant what he had said, and each time he said “Yes, mommy! Will that make Brandon happy?” I told him that “Yes, I think that will make Brandon very happy to hear that.” We planned our Father’s Day activities on the rest of the car ride home. Jaxson picked what he wanted to do and I told him I’d pay for it. ūüôā

Brandon was very happy to hear that, indeed. And he’s excited for his first Father’s Day with Jaxson. He loves him very much and I have to admire the patience and understanding I see in him, that my dad once showed to me. I couldn’t have found a better man to be a dad to my child – and to our children one day in the future. There’s a saying I’ve seen before –¬†Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a step-dad. And that’s the truth.

 

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Jaxson, Life In General

I’m Proud

June is Pride month: a time to come together and celebrate our differences and diversity, to unify on common ground, to embrace acceptance and raise awareness, to fly our flags high and proud and just be who we are. It sounds idyllic, like one month of the year where there is no bias or outrage, no judgment or hatred, just celebration of the forward movement we have made and to keep furthering our fight for equality and acceptance. Unfortunately a lot of bias, hatred, and ignorance still exists.

I grew up in a super conservative Christian household. I was always taught that being gay was wrong. My great-grandmother was a lesbian and all I heard about her from my grandma was how awful it was and how she was going to Hell and her and “that woman” were committing the ultimate sin. Granted, “that woman” and my great-grandmother herself were not the best people in general, but that had nothing to do with the fact that they were gay.

I had a crush on my best friend for the longest time. She had the prettiest blonde hair. I also had a crush on my other best friend for just as long. He lived 3 doors down from me and we would ride bikes home together throughout elementary school. We all would play together with the other apartment kids. I would always be jealous of them because he would always be the hero and she the princess; he had a crush on her, too. On the rare occasions it would just be she and I playing, I would be excited because I could be the Hero and I would always wonder if I’d have to kiss the princess to wake her from the spell. I would always feel a mixture of excitement, and fear, anger, confusion. I felt ashamed – like these feelings were wrong. And I felt them for him too – I wanted to be the princess so he’d have to kiss me. All this combined with my grandma’s voice ringing in my ear that two girls can’t be together and I felt ashamed that I felt that way for my girl best friend.

Growing up I would always have a crush on one boy or another, always trying to get a “boyfriend” or whatever that means as a child, but no one ever liked me. When I was in high school, I went to a small Christian school and my graduating class had 5 people in it (me included) so obviously no boyfriends there either. It wasn’t until after I graduated and moved in with my parents that I finally started to break free from the bonds of the Christian teaching I’d had drilled into me my whole life. I had a chance to be and do as I pleased without judgment. I actually went on a date! With a boy! Mind you, it didn’t turn out so well overall, but at least I went. I started jumping from one person to the next to, for lack of a better word, obsess over. One thing I never wanted to be was alone, and growing up I always felt like I would be. So I picked the worst people to pursue. Like, I look back and what was I thinking?!¬†

It wasn’t until I was 21 and I met Jenn that I felt right about someone I liked. But at the same time, I felt wrong. Jenn was … well she was a woman. Isn’t that wrong? Do I really like her that way or just as friends? It took me a long time to sort my feelings and realize that yes, I did like her like her. I was scared. Because I knew that meant I’d have to break a lot of norms. She was definitely a lesbian – out and proud. So was I a lesbian too? I didn’t know much about bisexuality back then – I just thought I had had it wrong my whole life and I was actually a lesbian, like my great-grandma. And so our relationship progressed, we got married, had a child together, and I was happy with my life for those 8 years. I thought that we would have more kids, and grow old together, and be this little old lady lesbian couple one day. But it was not meant to be.

After the divorce, I was lost. I felt shattered. Not just because my life as I had known and planned it was in shambles, but because I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t know what this meant for me or for who I was. I did not date anyone for a year after the divorce. I would try to strike up conversations on dating sites but it just didn’t feel like the right time, so I would shut down my profile and give up for a while. I eventually updated my profile to being open to dating both women and men. I had, at one point, a conversation with a woman but it just fizzled out. I thought she seemed pretty cool and I would have liked to get to know her more, but I could feel that it just wasn’t there and I wasn’t going to force it. Finally, I stumbled across this guy’s profile. And I knew he was it. I don’t know how I knew, but I did – just like when I met Jenn I knew we would end up together, I knew that about Brandon.

I felt conflicted a little – wasn’t I a lesbian? Was I straight the whole time? WTF am I? I had the realization that I was, in fact, bisexual. I had brought this up to Jenn once after the divorce and she retorted with anger and annoyance saying “well¬†that could be why this didn’t work”. I didn’t understand since I had loved her completely – never once had I thought of anyone else while we were together, male or female. I am definitely a monogamist. I shouldn’t have been surprised; she had said off-color comments about bisexuality before that she didn’t understand it, didn’t agree with it, and didn’t think you could truly be bisexual because “they always choose the opposite sex”. But that’s her journey, not mine.

Instead, I embraced it. I lived my truth. I told my family. I told my friends. And I moved forward with my life. I started dating Brandon and eventually we got engaged. I am building a life with Brandon. And I’ve been upfront about myself from day one. There was never once a hint of confusion, anger, fear, prejudice, or anything but acceptance and love. “I don’t care who you were with or what you like, you’re coming home to me at the end of the day.” He accepts me 100% – not just now but my past as well.

I don’t expect anyone, especially strangers, to understand. When Jenn and I were together, people would ask if we were sisters. When Jaxson was born, people would ask which of us was the mom and which was the aunt. When Brandon and I went to a birthday party for a school friend of Jaxson’s recently, someone asked if we were Jaxson’s aunt and uncle (they knew Jenn from taking him to school). Another time we were decorating his classroom for teacher appreciation and we got asked “how we got roped into this” as if we didn’t belong. Our family is unconventional and different and that’s okay.

One thing I will always do, is raise Jaxson without the bias I was raised with. I answer each and every one of his questions he has about relationships. We’ve had conversations about marriage and divorce, about girls liking girls and boys liking boys and some like both. I want my son to be proud, too, not just that he has two moms, but that he has a lesbian mom and a bisexual mom. That diversity and differences abound and it is okay if you don’t fit into the norm. I want Jaxson to feel safe being who he is – whoever or whatever that ends up being. I want him to accept everyone regardless of who they are. I will do everything I can to ensure that he doesn’t grow up hearing negativity about any human. I don’t want him growing up thinking anyone is wrong in regards to their orientation, gender, or race. I want him to have nothing but love and understanding. I want him to be able to come to me and tell me about his girlfriend or boyfriend one day without fear. I want him to change the world and that starts with me.

I want him to remember this:

Break the mold. Be loud. Be proud. Be you. 

Life In General

Two Years Later

I can’t believe it has been over two years since I last posted, publicly at least. The last post which I just released was written 2/28/2016 after my world was shattered by my ex-wife requesting a divorce. Things had been rough for a while, more so after Jaxson was born, but we both trudged through as long as we could. Trudging through, however, is not how a marriage should be lived, and therefore the choice to separate and ultimately divorce was for the best. We had both lost ourselves in our marriage and now at least we have the opportunity to reconnect with ourselves instead. We spent the better part of a year disentangling our lives and finally making our separation legal. The wounds have (mostly) healed, though I suspect we both still have some lingering scars that itch from time to time. For the most part our split was amicable and we are working it out as best we can in regards to Jaxson and his life, but there will always be some issues from time to time.

I will not speak ill of her whatsoever, however this blog will no longer be “Keeping Up With The Joneses”. Instead, it will be me writing about my life, about Jaxson still, and about what comes next. I can’t promise that I will be super active here and I even contemplated deleting the blog altogether (or at least setting it to private in the archives), however I wanted fellow TODDlings to still be able to find us for Jaxson’s sake. We are up to over 25 children we have found so far and we have a Facebook group where most of us collaborate and share pictures and we have even had some meet-ups. It is all very cool and different and a little scary, but in a good way. Jaxson has met two of his half-siblings so far and has even had the revelation that yes, this person shares a part of you, and look she has two moms just like you.

He has had a rough time with the transition from a two-mom home to having two moms separately. He has been in therapy for about 5 months now and things are slowly getting better. He is strong-willed, independent, but such a big love with a great big heart. He is the sweetest when he wants to be, and brilliant – absolutely, wildly intelligent. I know he is going to accomplish great things one day, and I also know all parents think this but we do especially think he is something special.

The first year after the divorce was hard, like possibly the hardest thing I’ve had to go through. We got together when I was 21, and I had never lived alone (roommates, but never by myself), and I not only had to live alone but move to a new city altogether! I ended up moving to Orlando to be close to my job and we sold our home and she moved to South Orlando so that we were closer but not too close so that I could see Jaxson more. She is ultimately moving again but that’s another post for another day.

After the first year of the separation went by, we finally had paid the court fees off and it was legal. We were officially 100% done and single. I had been lonely, I had looked online a couple times the year prior but I was quickly disgusted and turned off the dating apps. I just couldn’t yet. I wasn’t ready to even think about dating or being close to anyone again. I spent a year working on myself, losing weight, getting healthier, learning to be alone and getting to know me – the real me – and coming face to face with some truths that should have been apparent all along.

After the divorce was finalized I felt as if I were released. It was okay. I could go out and meet people and try to figure out how to date…since I’d never really done that but once before almost a decade ago. I signed up for two dating apps. I even met a nice girl and we talked for a little bit but then it fizzled and didn’t go anywhere. I had the option to search for girls and guys in this app…and one day I decided I’d check both boxes. It was something I’d known for a long time, but I am so black-and-white sometimes that I thought “Well I’m with a woman, so I must be a lesbian!” Meanwhile anyone prior to her had been men that I had been attracted to, aside from my best friend when I was 6. So I liked both genders? Well, yeah, I did. Because you know what, I fall for a¬†person not their genitals. And so I embraced that I was bisexual and therefore embraced myself for who I am 100% and lo and behold, he walked in to my life.

I saw the profile picture of Brandon with his cat and thought, aww that’s cute. You can always like a guy that likes cats. ūüôā I couldn’t think of anything to say and so I just favorited him. It was getting late and I couldn’t think of anything witty to say. A few minutes later I got a message saying hello and he had seen that I had favorited him and it was nice to meet me. We chatted for a few minutes since it was almost bedtime, but the ball had already started rolling. The whole next day we messaged each other, learning each others ins and outs and likes and dislikes. We spent the better part of the weekend chatting and I told him that I wanted to meet him. He was perfect on paper, I had to see it to believe he was real (he won me over saying for PB&J he holds the J and adds honey instead – a match made in heaven!). I had been upfront with him about having a child and that I was recently divorced, but I had one more thing to tell him and this would his test. I told him I had a secret, something I hadn’t told him yet and he asked me what it was. I told him that before I met him and wasted his time, I had to tell him that the reason Jaxson didn’t live with me was because he lived with his biological mom…my ex-wife. Brandon didn’t miss a beat and accepted it and told me he had a secret too. His secret was not a deal-breaker whatsoever, and so we met and went on our first date the following Tuesday.

It went perfectly. We went to the Cheesecake Factory and then walked around the area for almost 5 hours. I was worried we would have nothing to talk about and yet neither of us could get enough conversation with the other. And when the night was over, he walked me to my car and I half expected him to try to kiss me, but instead he just asked if a hug was okay. And when I felt his arms around me I knew that I had found home. Fast forward to today and we have been together for over a year now, and we are getting married next year on our 2nd anniversary. When you know, you know. Just like I knew I was supposed to marry Jenn, I knew I was going to marry Brandon too.

Brandon’s accepted me, my past, my child and resulting family structure, and everything else with grace and kindness. He is genuinely one of the nicest people I have ever met. He is never jealous or worried about me or what I’m doing. He lets me be independent and free. He will join me on adventures by ourselves and outings with my friends, all of whom he has accepted as his own. He loves Jaxson and seeing them play together or read stories warms my heart.

As for Jaxson, he is adamant that he “does not want a dad because he does not like dads”. They will have their own relationship at one point I’m sure. They get along for the most part, aside from Jaxson’s strong-willed personality of wanting to do what he wants, when he wants to and not listening – but he does this with me as well, testing boundaries. He says it is my house so he only listens to me, however he doesn’t do that very well sometimes either. Part of this is typical strong-willed 5 year old, part of this is trying to withstand the changes happening in his life and family. I have asked him if he is okay with me getting married to Brandon and Brandon being around forever, and he says yes, but he doesn’t want to call him dad. I told him I would never expect him to unless he wanted to, and I know this is far from over but we are s l o w l y making progress with him transitioning to having two moms that are now separate plus a Brandon. He said he is worried Brandon will replace Mama (Jenn), but I assured him that was not the case and that he would always have Mama and Mommy, just not together. He’ll get there eventually. I was resistant to my step-dad coming into my life, and now I wouldn’t trade him for anything.

Now this post ended up much longer than I was hoping, but I wanted you all to know that yes I am still here, we are still alive, and I’ll be back with more soon. I have many updates for Jaxson over the past two years!

Life In General

Where Do We Go From Here?

Yesterday, Jax went to our friend’s house for the morning so that J and I could have an adult conversation. I had been “forewarned” about the conversation the day before at work, and I was all nerves about what it could be. I knew it had been a rough two weeks since I had started my new job 2 hours away, and I knew it was a strain on her being the sole caregiver all day every day. I also knew she’d been unhappy for quite some time and despite trying to go out with friends more to “find the fun”, she was still miserable. I tried to be accommodating and let her go out as much as she wanted, but I was starting to feel lonely. I got one day a week to stay and hang out with a friend after work, and it made me so happy. We both got to play at being single and we both liked it. It was easy, easier than it should have been.

And so at our talk yesterday, there were so many tears. And she broke my heart. She is my first love and now, my first loss. We have decided to separate, with the intent to divorce in mind. I never wanted this to happen. I was raised that you grow up, find ” the one”, get married, have kids, and live happily ever after. And yesterday that ended.

Now my future is terrifying, unclear, and completely different than what it was supposed to be. We still love each other, which makes it harder I think than if we hated each other, although that would be worse for Jaxson. We are on the same page as to how to handle him and co-parenting. We are on the same page when it comes to taking care of him the rest of his life and how to handle expenses in the future like braces, activities, and college. We are both still his parents, and always will be.

She told me she was worried that I would just leave once she told me. I told her she was ridiculous, that I would never jeopardize Jaxson being okay, nor would I hurt her like that. But I will be moving closer to work during the week, coming home once during the week and then on weekends so I can see and spend time with Jax and so she can have a mid-week break.

For now…we don’t even know where to start. She moved into our spare room on Jaxson’s side of the house and let me keep the master at least while I still have to get up and travel to work daily so I don’t wake him up. That’s about all we know right now. I just feel so lost and alone and so so scared.

My entire future started 8 years ago, and now it’s going to be completely different. We were going to have another baby…now I’ll have to do it alone. Everyone keeps saying, don’t think that way, you could find someone else, but right now it just feels like I won’t. And I don’t want to. I found the person I wanted to spend my life with and now I’ve lost her. I feel like I failed in some way at our marriage, and being a straight A student I’m very upset about this F.

I just feel so lost and confused and just broken hearted. She was my first relationship and now my first heart break. I feel like a 13 year old girl who just lost her first love and I’m just so tired of crying.

Uncategorized

Happy Holidays!

We won a free photo shoot at Target, so we took Jaxson to get professional pictures done. Our photographer wasn’t so great, so it took forever to get any decent pictures. Jaxson, overall, did a great job for his first time having pictures done, but of course was a typical two year old and just wanted to play with all the props instead. ūüôā I’m glad we didn’t have to pay for the pictures, but we got a few really great ones so it was worth it in the end.

We are celebrating Christmas Eve at my parents’ house tonight, then we will do our Christmas at home in the morning and go to J’s parents’ house for Christmas in the afternoon. It will be a busy time, as always, but I’m looking forward to watching Jax enjoying it all! It is exciting this year because he “gets it” now that he’s a little older, and he’s been honing his gift-unwrapping skills.

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

holiday card 2015

 

 

Life In General

Thankful

So, today is Thanksgiving…

My wife hates Thanksgiving, always has, always will. I know some people balk when we say that, but hear me out. We’re not huge fans of the food and my wife’s birthday is Nov. 26 and so nearly always falls right near Thanksgiving (or like this year, it’s actually ON Thanksgiving). This meant a childhood¬†of no birthday parties with friends since everyone’s usually travelling or spending time with family during the holidays, having a meal for your birthday that you don’t really care about (steak please?!), not to mention desserts that give you no joy (she’s not a pumpkin fan either). And talk about stress getting everything presentable and spending the day in the kitchen! Plus, its an awful holiday. Shouldn’t we be thankful¬†every day? It’s not even about giving thanks anymore, its about stuffing your face as quickly as possible so you can get out and go shopping that evening (because Black Friday has now become Black Thursday). Anyway…

I wish I could say this year is different for her…but her birthday actually falls on Thanksgiving. We somehow ended up putting on dinner again this year. At least we control the food so we can keep the sugar and carbs in check, but it sucks because she’s upset with the whole Thanksgiving thing. I wanted to buy her a steak for her birthday and grill it without her knowing, but there was just no way I could pull that off! I wanted to give her something good this year, so¬†I asked her what dessert she wanted me to make for her “cake” and she¬†decided on a Keto Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! So she’s excited about that. She’s not excited about the stress of cooking that huge of a meal (24 lb turkey!) and having 4 kids and 10 adults crammed into our smallish house (where do we seat everyone?! at least we have a large porch!) on a day that¬†should be all about her.

So to me, today is not Thanksgiving, it is her birthday. The day to celebrate that she came into this world so she could grow up and I could fall in love with her! Without her, there would be no Jaxson. Without her, there would be no Bubba (our cat). Without her, there would not be the home we share or the large family to share this Thanksgiving with. And so for her Thanksgiving, just like everyday, I am just so thankful for my beautiful wife. She is truly amazing and I am so lucky to have her. She busts her ass every day to take care of our son and keep our house running smoothly. She shops, prepares, and cooks all of our meals. She cleans our home and keeps it pristine! All this while making sure our son is a well-adjusted human and gets the proper social interaction and physical activity every single day. She has the most thankless full-time-with-mandatory-overtime-24/7 job in the world Рnot to say being a stay at home mom is not rewarding in its own way Рbut so many times the importance of her job and the contributions she makes to our family is vastly unappreciated and overlooked by virtually everyone.

Even I, sometimes, forget to say thank you. Of course I am always grateful for her and the amazing things she accomplishes every day, and I am thankful for the sacrifices we have made so she can¬†stay home with Jaxson. I know its not easy for her, just like its not easy for me to get up and go to work every day, but she doesn’t get a choice of going to work or having a sick day – her job is 24/7. Her job is nights, weekends, overnight…endless dishes and cooking and playdates…with no time for herself.

I wish we weren’t struggling financially, so that for her birthday I could have given¬†her the massage and the haircut and the day that is only¬†about her. The day she deserves! I hate that I wasn’t able to do these things for her, because she gives so much of herself to do so much for us. I hate that I could only get her a card from me, a card from Jaxson, and a chocolate bar. I hate that our gift is¬†so¬†minuscule¬†in scale to the gift she gives our family every day. She deserves the world on a platter, not¬†just a candy bar.

So, Wife (since I know you’re reading this ;)), I want you to know that not for Thanksgiving, not just for your birthday, but every single day, I am so thankful for you. I am so thankful that you came into my life when you did, that you love me like you do, that you gave us our beautiful son, that you have literally sacrificed everything to stay home with him, and that you have¬†so selflessly taken on this role in our family. I just want you to know that I truly appreciate everything you do for us and I love you so much! From the bottom of my heart,¬†THANK YOU!¬†You are my everything and I’m so glad you were born!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY LOVE!

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P.S. Just to update, our Thanksgiving was awesome. Everyone got along great, had a nice time, and all the food came out at the same time. I busted my ass today and cooked everything (except the dressing!) and kept kicking J out of the kitchen so she didn’t have to do anything. Inadvertently, I gave her the gift of a day where she didn’t have to lift a finger, and she said that was the best gift I could have given her. Success! It was a wonderful day, and J also got lots of Starbucks cards so she was excited about that! And she liked the chocolate bar Jax and I got her very much. Yay! ūüôā