One idea about what to do if you have no Dad in your family

I like to invent new family traditions, especially when there isn’t something obvious to do in the first place. And by obvious I mean, eating tacos at Thanksgiving dinner or running around the outside of the house naked on New Year’s Eve.

Enter Father’s Day. In a family made up entirely of women and girls, and one female dog, this could be a puzzle. But we wouldn’t be here without one very important man in our life: our sperm donor.

Now, I don’t believe for one second that this man is our children’s father. Being a father is a role that lasts a lifetime. And it’s also a choice, just like motherhood, that you make every day. But no need to get all lecture-y. We’re talking about inventing fun stuff, so let’s get back to that part.

Our family was created with the help of one generous man, who thought it was a good idea to visit a sperm bank and leave a microscopic piece of himself behind. And for that, I really don’t have the words to describe how thankful I am. And to all the people who thought of this crazy idea in the first place, and put it into motion so people like me could have children of my own.

And in our small way, I thought it would be nice to thank him. And since we don’t know who he is, where he lives and I’m not friends with him on Facebook, that left us mostly with symbolic alternatives. So here is what we did.

We got four balloons to release into the sky – one for each member of our family. And we wrote a message on them, thanking him for our life. Or at least his contribution. Because he gave us a gift. Two of them, actually. And they are extremely important to me. And I would never want it any other way.

And here is what happened. I cried the whole time, because I am very emotional about all the awesomeness of our little family. Pam, the steadfast one, took pictures. Wynn stared at me very concerned about the tears pouring down my cheeks. And Marlo kept asking for her balloon back. Here is a picture of the scene minus the crying and the complaining about the lost balloons.


And bonus, they look just like sperm when they are floating away. Happy Father’s Day.

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One mom + another mom = Not much for Mother’s Day

I need a plan for Mother’s Day. I know what you’re thinking. It’s a little late. And it’s true. It’s a little late for this year. But c’mon people, when I plan ahead, I really plan ahead. What are you doing for Christmas 2015? What? You don’t know!

Actually, this is just my clever and defensive way of not dealing with the fact that I think I missed an opportunity here. Having two moms in our house caused this event to cancel itself out, sort of like Quaaludes and cocaine. Oooops, sorry, my 80s was showing. But Mother’s Day at our house was an oxymoron, when it should have been twice as much fun.

But if we want to get really truthy, I find Mother’s Day mildly irritating, partly because it comes on the heals of tons of other family holidays, and I’m actually sick of cake, which seems entirely implausible. But mostly I have ignored Mother’s Day because it’s sort of trapped in it’s gender identity. Mother’s Day has to be all nice and flowery and unobtrusive. It was so understated this year that I completely forgot about it until about three days before. C’mon Mother’s Day Lean In! You need to stand up with your protest sign, your loud voice and get your Hillary-Betty-Gloria on.

So what did we do? Not much. We went to grandma’s house, ate chili and beans and ran around in the sprinkler naked. I skipped the last part, in case you’re wondering. As did grandma. I looked up Mother’s Day on Wikipedia to see if there was any truth to the story that the day was started as a day of protest by mothers who didn’t want their sons to die in wars. It’s not. It’s a holiday “honoring mothers, and motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.”

You would think that would be good enough for me. And it is. I was honored in a nice, flowery and unobtrusive way, by just treating it like any other day that it was great to be alive and have a family in my own home at peace.


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Some holiday punch

Happy Boxing Day! For the longest time, I never knew what Boxing Day was. I always thought that it was the day when you finally became tired of all the holiday madness and wanted to punch someone. But no, it’s the day when you put stuff in a box and give it to the help. Seriously. I probably laughed out loud when I read that the first time, because it seems so snooty. So check your calendar. Does it have Boxing Day on it? What does that say about you?

And yes, I will be doing something to celebrate Boxing Day because I enjoy holidays that involve prejudice or any activity that divides people into groups so they can be treated differently. I am going to box up the old coffee maker and give it to the ARC. The coffee maker works just fine and has for the last 20 years or so, but we got a new one yesterday from my mother-in-not-law. The new one is very pretty and modern – stainless steel to match the other kitchen appliances and programmable.

And I don’t know how to use it.

I read the directions last night, which was a Christmas miracle, because I usually just throw them out. And I filled it with water, put in some coffee grounds and punched some buttons to program it to make coffee at 5:30 a.m. Or at least that’s what I thought it would do. Right now I am not drinking coffee and it is 6:30 a.m. I may go downstairs right now and plug in the old coffee maker, so I can have some coffee. Hang on.

OK. Coffee is being made. How do I know? It sounds like a helicopter is taking off in the kitchen. This is the other problem with the new coffee maker. I can’t tell if it’s making coffee, so I just stand there staring at the pot to see if there is any coffee dripping into it. And cursing.

So, all this hubbub is just a friendly little reminder from the people in the world who are trying to do something really nice for me. They are letting me know that change is hard. I like the idea of having a new coffee maker get busy at 5:30 making coffee for me. But right now it’s doing nothing. And I will have to work harder than normal to get it to do what I want. And I don’t like extra work – at least not extra work that I didn’t choose. But I’m going to try again tonight by re-reading the directions and pressing some the buttons to see what happens. And if it doesn’t work, I may just punch someone.

Christmas projection: Some thoughts about the perfect gift

Spoiler Alert!
Doug: This blog will reveal what our mom is getting you for Christmas.

It’s almost Christmas Day. It’s tomorrow, just in case you really haven’t been paying attention or you just woke up from a coma. And in that case, you should stop reading this blog and read the New York Times to find out what is going on and to see a full-page, animated ad for the movie Les Miserables. But I digress.

The gifts are wrapped (almost). Most of the cookies have been eaten. (Please send more.) And I will probably get sucked in to making tamales today, even though I swore earlier that I would not.

Christmas, at least in America, is a time of great cheer and shootings. But most importantly, it’s a time to buy lots of stuff. If you do not buy lots of presents and give them to lots of people, then you are less of a person. Less of an American. I try to live up to this very high standard by doing lots of shopping and TONS of contemplating about what the right gift might be. This year, I started thinking about and shopping for Christmas gifts in March. I’m not kidding. Because this year, quite a few people are getting the best and the worst kind of gift from me: A homemade one.

Now, I know what you’re thinking! Thank god, I’m not actually friends with this woman so I don’t have to pretend like I really love the stupid thing that she spent hours making for me. But let’s get on with it. A number of my friends and my super awesome spouse are getting Christmas ornaments made of felt. I know. This gift idea is SO obvious. Here is an example:

southparkornamentsThese are the kids from South Park, just to reinforce the point that most good art is informed by something that is already beautiful and to try not to get sued. It took me most of a weekend to make these. And yes, I cut out all the little shapes that make up the 3-inch figures and sewed them onto the green back by hand. They are also stuffed with just a tiny bit of cotton batting – the kind that you put into quilts, when you make those. Everyone makes their own bedding, don’t they?

So these are already on our tree. And there are others that are carefully wrapped in tissue and placed in a box or a bag ready to jump out and surprise the next lucky friend! Some ornaments are singles, and some are collections. There is “breakfast” – already delivered – comprised of bacon (of course!), eggs, toast and a cup of coffee all lovingly made from felt. “Sports balls” and “superheroes” are wrapped and under the tree. There is a high-heeled shoe and a football logo and probably some other stuff that I’ve forgotten about.

Whatever the thing is – sports, superheroes, food – it’s supposed to be fun and remind me of you. I also really appreciate sarcasm, as I’m sure you already know. Our Christmas tree is mostly filled with ornaments that we find funny. And we have nicknamed a lot of them. Like “the grudge” – a little figurine that supposed to look like an elf (I think) but looks more likely that extremely creepy spirit from the movie.

But, now it’s time to get serious for a second. Every gift we give is a projection – we can’t help it. (Remember we talked about this earlier this month.) So, ask for what you want if you haven’t already, otherwise you will get what someone wants you to have! Seriously, I can’t read your mind and neither can your husband, your wife or your BFF no matter how long you have been together. Don’t let them project on you. Or if they do, take it as a hint, and divorce them or speak up.

So, my gift is what I think about you. Or at least what I think you would like. Unless you’re my mother, and then your gift is a convenience. She is giving my brother a copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s new book after she reads it on the plane on the way to Germany. She is going to try not to wrinkle the pages or drop it in the toilet, like she did with one book that she gave me one year.

So have a great Christmas whether you’re projecting on someone or being projected on. And I’ll see you on Boxing Day.

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