Thursday, March 15, 2007

Do We Change Ourselves For Our Children?

As I get older, more-married, and more tired trying to balance work, friends, and being the primary parent, I realize I don't care much about what I am wearing or how I look. Like the classic Desperate Housewive's mom scene, I find myself talking to people or going out with toddler food or ickyness of some sort on my clothes.

I only occaisionally notice myself these days. It's just the way it is when you are running after a 2 year old, trying to get her into the "best" school, and creating the precious moments we share. Forget running an organization, a part-time home business, and keeping my wife (and pets) happy.

In my frugal moments, I am proud that working from home and taking care of a toddler has kept me from needing to buy many new clothes over the last 2 years. Though, every once in a while I realize how old and on the butch-side my clothes are.

You are probably wondering where this ramble leads.

Well, I have moments when I wonder whether my daughter's moms need to change their image a little to make her life easier. Of course, at 2, she is perfectly content with how her moms look. But will she want her moms to look a little less-gay, and a little more mom-like (whatever hererosexist image I have conjured up in my mind)? Will looking more mom-like make her life easier?

Neither of her moms are opposed to wearing dresses or anything like that, but we generally dress for comfort, and let's face it, men's clothing is more comfortable (and cheaper--just compare the same products for men and women at Old Navy).

I am not exactly sure how to pull off the looking more mom-like image, but I am pretty sure I might want to consider it for my daughter's sake. Playground comments from parents and kids can be brutal, and I would hate for my daughter to suffer because of something I can control (well, I think I can control my non-mom-looking appearance).

Just the other day, a nice young boy around 9 said to me "you're her mother?" in shock. He was quite surprised when I said yes, and then he muttered how it is amazing how kids don't look alike (I think he meant like their parents). Anyway, he was commenting on the fact that my daughter is hispanic and Native American, not me not looking like a mother. Whew! But, a wake up call nonetheless.

One thing I like about being gay is that many of societal's rules don't apply--or at least I can get away with some things because of my gayness. I don't think I would get away with wearing my painter pants and t-shirts in the heterosexual world. See, more to love about being gay! You get to wear what you want!

Actually though, I'm not sure how much of my non-mommy looking appearance is a gay thing, or from laziness. I think it might be more of the latter since most (not all) of the other gay moms in my play group pull off looking like moms.

When I read what I just wrote, it occurs to me that this sounds more like my own internalized homophobia because what I am really saying is I don't want kids on the playground whispering (or loudly) saying Maggie's mom is GAY.

Don't look for me on the playground in a sun dress, but maybe not my painter pants so much.

I don't care what others say about me, but I do worry about my daughter getting hurt. Good thing the next generation is more accepting....

Friday, March 02, 2007

Competing at 2!

I can hardly believe it. My daughter is only 2 years old and she/we are already competing against other children her age. No, it's not to get into Harvard, or even a sports team, but to get into a good local school program in the Fall. I have been thinking more about this process than I have other big, important things in my life. I don't exactly know why I am so preoccupied with it, and I worry a bit about how I will feel about other really big things in her life down the road.

Tomorrow, we have my daughter's interview at one of the local schools. We really like this school, so we are preparing her as if she is taking the entrance exam to Stanford. Well, we are preparing her as much as you can prepare a 2 year old. Trying to teach her to answer "what's your name," and the rules: "remember, no pushing other kids," remember, you have to share with other kids," and "listen to the teacher" (I don't think she actually knows what a teacher is). Now, on most days, my daughter can do great in a situation like this. She is very social, loves being around other kids, and listens fairly well. Let's hope tomorrow isn't one of those rare "bad days."

We've already been scrutinized twice. Once at an orientation, and another time for the parent interview. Is it crazy that now our 2 year old has to interview? We sure are putting a lot into it. I wonder, does it really mean a great deal for her future? We've convinced ourselves of it, at least for now.

We are not alone with this process. I am hearing a lot of talk on the playground from other families who are competing for one school or another. Whether it's the great public school that takes people out of district, or one of the many private schools, people are already stressed about this for their 2 year olds. I wish someone would have told me about this earlier so I could have started preparing sooner (most programs we are looking at have a 1 year wait).

I just have to remember it is really out of my hands--meaning I make sense of these things by believing whatever is supposed to happen will happen. So, if she wasn't meant to get in, then that's the way it supposed to go. Sometimes, I hope she won't get in so I can spend another year at home with her, but that's certainly not best for my career, my family finances, and I think her well-being.

We'll see what happens....