Rocking Owen to sleep just now for his morning nap, I was briefly overwhelmed, while holding him as he drifted off to sleep, and I marvelled at his little face, at how welcomed this boy was.

News of Audrey's pregnancy was greeted with nearly unanimous joy, Owen's birth was celebrated by at least tens, if not hundreds of people, and he continues to be adored by family members and dear friends of whom I simply don't think to number.

He's just a baby, but I do not take for granted your support, our loved ones' support. In some (many?) families like ours, extended relatives shun us or at least think we're too weird to really trust, and there is no strong social group or community. Owen was born into a giant puddle of love. He was born into strong community, into a great tangle of arms that will keep him safe and sound. We might be the core of that tangle, but that tangle supports us too.

I hope I've expressed my thanks to you adequately. I'm not sure it's possible to express it completely.

Mary reads Freight Train to Owen

Now here's a little book review:

I first read Freight Train, by Donald Crews, in the early 80s, when I was first working with infants and toddlers. I have it memorized, of course. The illustrations are old-school airbrushing, and just perfect, simple and colorful and bright without being simplistic. Donald Crews illustrates motion perfectly, night perfectly. I have never known a child who disliked this book, I've known a lot who have enjoyed it, and even more who have adored it.

It is Owen's first-ever favorite book. He's now 7 1/2 months old, and he'll bring me Freight Train and sit on the ground in front of it, or ask to get into my lap. I read it once, or (so far) up to five times in a row with him. Three times in a row is about average. He turns the pages as I finish a line, and I watch his eyes scan left to right*.

If you are stuck on a baby shower or new baby or first birthday book, go find the board book version of Freight Train. For kids who aren't eating or mauling their books anymore, look for the hardbound paper-page copy, if you're pretty sure they don't own it yet.

I've got lots of ideas for Best Picture Books Ever, feel free to ask. That is the best first picture book ever, but there are a lot more out there to follow up with.

*Literacy takes awhile to develop, and is a continual and gradual process. It moves from nomming on board books to sitting with them to turning pages and scanning in the right direction; when I worked with quite a lot of kids who had recently immigrated to the US from Israel, it was fascinating to watch them figure out that some books scanned left to right, and some right to left, and which those were.

Audrey, Casey, Mary
Originally uploaded by marymactavish
I keep saying I'm going to write something about how grateful I am for community in this blog, and so much else has been happening, so much life.

In the past month we've had one car totally die and one continue to limp along. Casey's gotten a job after having been laid off for awhile. Fortunately, it's on public transit so we'll be okay with one car for a little longer. We're looking at one of our dogs, who's been with us for a decade, getting arthritis. She's athletic and spirited and it's hard to watch, but it's part of life, this growing old thing. So we're pondering whether to medicate her with aspirin now so she can have the liver-stamina for carprofen later, or what. It's a parenting thing.

There was recently a brush rabbit in the front yard which was delightful as we're plop in the middle of a 1940s suburb and I've never seen a brush rabbit in California outside of out in The Wild. But now we can go from saying "we don't take very good care of our yard" to "we are creating wildlife habitat" and it's meaningful.

Tonight's New Year's Eve. It's been awhile since we felt the need to party on New Year's Eve. We borrow dogs and have a dog sleepover. I make trifle. It's quiet. We might fall asleep before midnight (then awaken at midnight when the local fireworks wake the dogs).

So as far as this project goes, this making a baby with two mommies and a daddy, in a home with dogs and dirt (and chickens and occasional brush rabbit, apparently), for what am I grateful?

Here it is:
On facebook recently, there was a discussion in another community, the "Mothering" one I think, and somehow, I ended up mentioning how our family works. Some people freaked out a bit. One asked why Casey and I had even bothered getting married if we're not going to be monogamous.

But a few people congratulated us, and one messaged me backchannel to say that she was part of a local queer-parenting group and that any one or two or three of us parents, and our child, were always welcome there. It was just so friendly and nice and accepting.

My niece, who is older than Audrey, told me that she simply didn't understand polyamory or what we're doing. But family's family, so she'll accept who we are and she's made Audrey one of her own. On her Christmas card to us this year, she included Audrey's name with ours.

I got to meet Audrey's grandmother, finally, a week ago. Audrey's grandmother is precious to her, and vice versa. We wanted to reassure her that we are considering Audrey in all things in this project, that Audrey's rights and needs will be protected. Indeed, to the extent possible (which is really not at all legally, but which we want to try anyway), all grandparental needs will be at least considered, and observed to the extent we can. So now I feel like we've got the family blessings to the extent I really wanted them.

I want our child to grow up not in spite of family but in a large part because of it. Our family is special. Our families are special. If we are not constantly defending ourselves and our relationship choices and our family configuration, that leaves so much more time and energy to share our strengths and gifts and love. It leaves a lot less to recover from later, and much more to be grateful for.

I hope that, twenty years from now, we (including our child) can look back, realize the challenge we took on in creating this nuclear family, and realize that we have succeeded in a large part because of the love and support of our extended families of biology and adoption, and because of the broader community we've chosen.

I'm grateful beyond measure for all the love and support and encouragement you've given us so far. Thank you.

May 2015

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