Because love is fantastic and life is hard

I have two boys, who I love more than anything in the entire world.  I was made to be their mama, and I am profoundly grateful that I have that honor.  They light up my days with love and joy.  Watching them learn and grow and become more of who they are each day is an amazing blessing.  I am so lucky.

It is my most desperate hope that one day, they grow up to be kind, strong, intelligent, happy, peaceful, loving men.  I hope they have lives that fill them with joy.  I hope they live such wonderful, exuberant, amazing lives bursting with passion that they don’t think to call me every day.  And I hope they are loved.  I hope they find someone who sees the fantastically wonderful people that they are and who feel as lucky to be in their lives as I do.

Because, love is fantastic.  And because life is hard.  Stuff happens.  Things get tough, hearts get broken, people suffer and struggle.  And we are all saved by the people who carry us through that.  We ALL need each other.  Each of us gets to, if we’re lucky enough to find them, choose that one other person we need beside us on those darkest days — and the one we want to share the gorgeous, transcendent, bliss-filled moments with, too.  We ALL get to choose.  And that choice, once made, should be equal, in the eyes of the law, whoever is making it and whoever they choose.

Equal.  The SAME.  Not “equivalent”.

Because, people, life is hard and we need each other.  Nobody should have to do it alone and nobody gets an asterisk for “almost but not quite”.  Whatever the future holds for my boys, my friends, my friends’ children, their friends and millions of others that I’ll never know, I want them to get to share their love, and their life, with the person they choose.

Frankly, I hope my kids grow up to read this and fail to understand the need to talk about marriage equality.  I hope they think that this discussion is ludicrous, because, in the world they inhabit, it will hopefully make no sense to them.  I hope that my children will inherit a world where this argument is antiquated, embarrassing and recognized as being fed only by hate and unfounded fear.

I’m an American, and I believe in freedom of religion.  I believe this also grants us freedom from religion.  The separation of Church and State ought to guarantee that the outdated morality of much of our citizenry cannot dictate the law of our nation.  Marriage, as defined by the Church, is the business of the Church (although hate and exclusion have no place there, either).  But marriage, as defined by the State, belongs to all of us.  Equally.

One mom to another

Dear moms of the world,

I know you’re like me.  We love our children.  You had a change-the-world moment when you looked into the face of your baby for the first time and you become anchored to that tiny soul.  The world suddenly revolved around that little person in your arms, and you would do anything to protect them.  The love you feel for your child is awesome and deep and amazingly strong.  You love that baby fiercely, and you are a force of nature that would do anything for that child . . . and then, at some point, you realized that every other mother has had that moment with her baby, too.  The world is a different place after that.

We love our babies.  We promise them that we will protect them, take care of them, love them, cherish them and move mountains if we have to.  We would die for them.  (And that isn’t hyperbole.  We really would.)  We want them to be happy, to feel good about themselves, and to be adored.  I will love my children completely, forever.  I hope that one day, my boys find someone who cherishes them as much as I do (it won’t happen, but I hope they get close).

Like all moms, I also fear for my children’s future.  I worry that they’ll grow up to be unhappy, insecure, unsatisfied, demoralized, ill, hopeless or lonely.  I worry that somewhere between now and adulthood they’ll stop feeling loved, or safe, or special.  It’s a concern that sometimes keeps me up at night.

If you could show me the future, and it showed that my children will be happy, healthy, fulfilled, loved, enthusiastic, peaceful and safe, I would walk around in a state of constant bliss.  THAT is what I want for my kids.  I know you want that for your children, too — we all do.  It’s a mom thing.

Now imagine, for a minute, that your child grows up to be gay.  (Maybe you think that can’t happen.  Maybe you think it’s one of the worst things that could happen.  But, humor me.  Imagine it.)  Imagine that your child is also happy, confident, healthy and satisfied with their life.  And that they are loved.  They are the center of someone’s world.  There is a person, who they adore, who looks at them almost the way that you do — someone who sees how marvelous, charming, intelligent, sweet, kind and amazing they are.  This person is the light of your child’s life.  And they want to be together, and be a family.

Can you see it?  (Does it make you a little sad?  It’s ok for the idea to be shocking to you.  You can work on that part later.)  But if you can REALLY imagine it, what do you want to happen next?  Do you want your wonderful, joyful, loved child to be able to happily build a life with this person who thinks they’re the greatest thing in the world?  Or do you want them to face ostracism, bigotry and legal invalidation?

You’re a mom.  You want joy for your baby.  Of course you do.  It might be hard to accept, if you’ve always been taught something else, but deep in your heart, you know that you want your child to be happy, loved, cherished and safe.  You don’t ever have to explain it to anyone.  You don’t even have to acknowledge that you know what’s right.  But when you vote, vote for the right thing.  Otherwise, you’re letting your child down.  You’re undermining those quiet, cuddling, baby promises you made.

My favorite Valentine

Last night, after the boys were in bed, I got out the construction paper, glue, stickers and glitter.  I made a Valentine’s Day card for each of them.  I love doing little things like that for them, and it’s extra fun when it’s a surprise.  B is onto me — he knew he’d be getting a card.  He specifically asked that it come *in the mail* because I usually just hand them to them.  (I was behind schedule, so Dan brought them in “from the mailbox” this afternoon, which really means we hid them in our foyer after I made them last night.)  Since they knew the cards were coming, I also made each of the boys a glittery heart with their name on it as a surprise, which I stuck to their doors (above the as yet not taken down Advent calendars) last night while they were sleeping.

This morning, after the boys had been up for a while (I was already in the shower) B saw the heart on his door and got really excited.  He ran to check to see if Liam had one, and was thrilled to show him.  Then he checked our bedroom door.  When he saw there wasn’t one on there, he asked Dan, “Daddy, can we make one for Mommy’s door?”

I got out of the shower just in time to see Dan attaching my new valentine to my bedroom door.  It’s wonderful.  I love it.  It’s pink and it has a big heart, with lots of stickers and authentic Benjamin & Liam artwork on it.  It is my most favorite Valentine’s gift I’ve ever gotten.  I feel so loved, and I feel so amazed by my thoughtful, loving, kind 3 year old son who wanted to make sure that I got a special heart on my door for Valentine’s Day, too.

Such a beautiful day

We don’t have as fixed a schedule here in Vienna as we did in the US.  I was pretty strict with our family schedule at home — here, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf in terms of flexibility, and we’ve also been here for not quite two months (during which time we’ve lived three different places) so we just don’t have things settled yet.

Allowing for flexibility, however, our days tend to follow one of two general patterns:  either we get out and explore (or get some things done) first thing after Dan leaves in the morning, followed by an afternoon at home, or we have a relatively quiet morning at home doing household stuff and try to get out in the afternoon.  I try to make it a point to get out for a bit every day, and I’ve managed that most days.  (I find it helps my sanity, as well as Benjamin’s, to get out and stretch our legs, and I’m also fighting a latent desire to curl up on my couch and watch tv in English all day and temporarily forget where we’re living, which, although occasionally tempting, I know I will regret one day soon.)

Getting the kids out of the house is always an ordeal, although I’m getting better at it.  I change diapers, get kids dressed, get myself dressed, make sure the diaper bag is packed, then one child will inevitably need another clean diaper, or one of us will need a clean shirt (because they just spilled something and/or spit up on themselves, or on me), put anything edible away so the dog doesn’t eat it while we’re out, make sure everything is off or closed and squared away, grab my keys or Benjamin’s water or Liam’s pacifier (whatever I almost forgot) . . . and then it’s time to pack all of us, and the stroller, into the too-small elevator and go out into the world.

Typically, by the time I get everyone downstairs and strapped into the stroller, I’m nearly too exhausted to go out.

But every time — every single time — we walk out the front door of the building into the courtyard, Benjamin looks up at the sky and says, “It’s such a beautiful day!”  It doesn’t matter what’ it’s like out:  cloudy, hot, raining, cold, windy.  It’s worth all that effort just to hear it.  Really.