Tonight, Owen woke up not too long after going down to bed for the night, fussy and whimpering and upset, and clearly still exhausted.

After Audrey tried to settle him by nursing, it didn't take long to become obvious that he was very gassy and uncomfortable.

That meant desperate measures, so Casey danced him around on his shoulders, as Audrey followed with the laptop, playing "Donkey Riding."

There's not much Owen likes better than dancing on his Daddy's shoulders, and he was smiling, but still a bit uncomfortable. Casey handed him off to me, and he was still fussy and gassy, so I sat with him, loved him, rocked him, rubbed his back and tummy, and finally, half an hour of rocking and lullabies and considerable farting later, he fell asleep.

We have teamwork down.

Recently I found out that a relative I'm not very close to officially "disapproves of" our "lifestyle."

Argh, I hate that word, "lifestyle." It doesn't work for sexual orientation, it doesn't work for polyamory -- at least, not as we live it.

Our lifestyle involves dancing a little boy around until he can fart a little. It involves making sure well-baby appointments are scheduled so that at least two parents can go, because we're all interested. Usually, three of us go. It involves laundry and walking the dog and figuring out which furniture needs child safety and earthquake safety retention straps. It involves going to bed at night exhausted and waking up delighted to share the dawn with one of the most confident, joyful children I've ever known.

So for whichever folks out there disapprove of our lifestyle? this is what you're disapproving of. And I don't need your kind of approval.
We walk around the block, in our new neighborhood, at least once a day. It's so nice here, with lots of trees, people who actually use the front yards (people have seating out front! gliders and benches and chairs! they wave!), it feels very safe. Owen, who is the King of Charisma and a social butterfly, likes to smile at people and dogs.

As we meandered around the block a few days ago, I noticed that one of the houses had a nicely* redone front planting area much like I'd wanted to do our own, with deep reddish brown chrysanthemums (which I adore), and uncarved pumpkins out. I complimented the woman in the yard on the new look, she was pleased, and came down to say hi. She's new to the neighborhood and has a baby just a tad older than Owen. We talked a long while about a few things, but mostly, as new moms do, the babies. We decided to start going on walks together. Random elements of the conversation turned into me telling her about our family structure. (I don't wave a flag about it, but if someone asks whether the baby's eye color comes from my family, I tell them about how Owen has two mommies and a daddy, and though I'm his stay-at-home mommy I'm not his biological mommy, and leave details to the question process that almost inevitably follows.)

She was puzzled, briefly interested, glad for Owen that however it is we do things, he's obviously a loved and happy baby, and then on we went with other topics,

This is my favorite response ever. And it made me feel really happy about being around this woman as another mom, and having Owen spend time side by side with her kid as they grow, it means I don't have to feel like we're hiding.

I made the decision, years and years ago, not to lie and not to hide about things about me that other people might not be pleased about. It's meant I've lost touch with some people in my past who would not be okay with who I am now, and it's meant not getting close to some people in my present, but it's exhausting and spirit-killing for me to live a lie, to live hiding from people's opinions.

IMG_0174 by marymactavish
IMG_0174, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

I think we're decent people, good parents, and Owen's clearly a happy baby. We're privileged and know we're lucky to have family members, specifically all of Owen's grandparents, whom we can trust not to cause trouble about it (and some "alternative" families have had real difficulties with that), and we trust each other. In fact, Owen's grandparents really seem to like our family, if not love it, and they certainly love him.

I feel for those of you who do, for one reason or another, have to stay relatively closeted as poly (or other alternative) families. I hope that changes for you soon. What effect does being closeted have on your life now, and what would have to change for it to get better?

*by my standards, which means there was some digging and some sticking flowers and seeds in and some raking over, nothing fancy

Picture posted on the basis of omgcute, not relevance

owenIMAG0667 by marymactavish
owenIMAG0667, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

Today, Owen turns three months old, or fourteen weeks. He was conceived almost exactly a year ago, coincidentally on solstice, coincidentally on the weekend of his other parents’ commitment ceremony. So tonight, while those parents are off on a celebratory anniversary date, I will sit down and write a note about how things are going for Owen, and for us.
(I fully intended to write this on June 21, but was attacked by a nap, succumbed, and didn’t wake up until almost midnight.)

I know I should be recording Owen’s milestones, but “shoulds” aren’t doing very well by me, and I haven’t much been. But let’s see: He can say a hard G now! He learned, just today, to grab the ring on his beloved hangy-things toy, and shake it to (almost) make the bell jingle. He has a mirror, and can talk to mirror baby for an hour at a time. We visit the library now and then, he looks around and I browse. He's got books at home but hasn't yet been fascinated by them. I picked out an oversized board book today and we looked all the way through it twice. I wished for a camera in someone else's hands, it would have been lovely to document.

Right now, he’s lying near me asleep, giggling. He is so happy. He giggles and smiles easily and often. It’s like we’re trained monkeys around here and his smiles are peanuts. We will do whatever is necessary to keep those peanuts coming.

He is strong! His neck is mostly stable now, considering his age. He is playing a new game with me where I’ll sit him on my belly, while I’m on my back, and he leans back against my thighs, then he’ll pull his upper body toward me like he’s trying to do a crunch. I help him shift his balance very gently with my legs and stabilize him with my hands, and as he sits up, he beams. He can do this over and over until he’s exhausted, somewhere between five and ten times in a row. I’m not sure I can do ten crunches right now.

He is GigantoBaby, long and lean, in size 6-12 month clothing depending on whether the item snaps at the crotch and how the neck opening is built, at three months old. He sucks on his fists a lot, finds his thumb now and then, and we've started to wonder if he's in the earliest stages of teething already.

I’m starting to notice something I don’t like in myself, and I think it’s just about years of conditioning, in that though Casey and Audrey both clearly identify me as one of Owen’s parents and though I often see myself that way superficially and act as Mom, my subconscious leaps out now and then. I will say something like, “Let’s get you home to your mama so you can have lunch” or most telling, recently, when a woman at the hardware store asked us, “Is he yours or hers?” about Owen. I answered, “Hers,” without a moment’s hesitation, then corrected it quietly, “Um, ours.” In the correction, I don’t think I was trying to appear not-gay so much as that I didn’t want to invite questions. But the initial “hers” was straight from my deepest insides.

But really, nothing else has been an issue. Everyone who needs to see us as a family does. We spent Father’s Day -- all of us did -- with Audrey’s parents, celebrating her own father, and Owen’s father, and it was good. We are good. We’re a family in ways I never dreamed even up until Owen’s birth, and I love it. I’m happier than I’ve ever been before.

Just for those unfamiliar with either our weird family setup, or polyamory in general, I present to you taste of the "poly lifestyle."

This is how wacky it gets around here.

A couple of days ago, Casey and I did a lot of yard work, clearing out the overgrown ivy, privet, and blackberry vines near our driveway so we aren't eaten alive by plants when we get out of the car to open and close the gate.

Later that day, he worked on his computer, which is giving him annoying display failures -- still can't quite figure out where in the video card <-> motherboard <-> cabling issues it seems to be. It doesn't seem to be the monitor and probably isn't the CPU.

That evening, I was on my laptop, and Audrey sent me an IM to tell me she could see the baby moving under her skin! How exciting is that? I love that she shares these things for me. It's really helping me feel like part of the whole process. Soon, I'll probably get to feel the baby moving myself. I can't wait. Audrey and I aren't involved in the belly-snuggling way like she and Casey are, but she's eager to share this baby with me, even now.

Today, Casey is off at Audrey's house because she has far more computer skill than I do, so they're working together on his computer. He stopped for hay on the way, so we can clean the chicken coop. In the meantime, I'm sorting out adult and baby clothing into piles -- cut up for rags (or baby wipes), bring to Thrift Town, try to sell on ebay. Most belong in the middle category. Later, I'm going to do a little sewing and tidy the kitchen a bit.

I might henna my hair. It's Saturday, after all -- gotta live it up.


Nov. 13th, 2010 11:53 am
This journal started as more of a family-making diary so friends and family could follow the progress of this stage for us, Audrey's pregnancy, and how we're getting ready for the baby, but since then, there are more general readers who didn't know us before, and I figure I'll write a quickie introduction. I'll relink it now and then, if needed.

Hi there!
I'm Mary, middle-aged, happy. Casey is my husband. We raise rescued dogs and a few chickens on a tiny bit of property in the San Francisco bay area. Audrey is Casey's other partner. Casey and I have never had a monogamous relationship in the decade and a half we've been together, and that works very well for us. He and Audrey are very close, and I'm delighted with how happy they make each other.

A couple of years ago, the three of us got talking about family-making. It's now a time in which we are all at the same time ready and able to have a family, only I can't conceive, and Audrey isn't ready to be a primary parent. I'm ready to be a primary parent, and Audrey can conceive -- and did, last summer. So now we have a baby on the way, due in March. We are all three parents, but I'm going to be the one with the child-raising experience, the willingness, and the time to do most of the direct caregiving.

Please feel free to cruise through my past posts -- there aren't too many -- and ask any questions you like. I'll answer whatever I can as well as I can. (If I feel like they're too personal I might be vague or let you know what I can't answer, and I go out of my way to respect Audrey and Casey's personal boundaries here, so what's not TMI for Mary usually might be TMI here. They also have the password to this account and might either write something themselves one day, or simply answer your questions here, or you might not get an answer.)

If you're one of the readers I don't already know well or personally, feel free to introduce yourself, perhaps telling us what your interest in our family is, or tell us where you know me (or one of us) from elsewhere, or even just say hi.

If you do not have a dreamwidth account, feel free to use OpenID. And though some people comment on the livejournal feed and I don't mind, I would prefer that people also paste those comments into comments here, so I am notified about them.

- Mary
We reach this point next weekend:

He was sleeping just like that during the ultrasound, and required some tickling to get him to move to see his genitals, or even to get good angles on his other organs. On the other hand, he keeps Audrey awake at night. He seems to be nocturnal.

Beginning later today, I am going to try to make the unlocked posts in this blog more of a "gestating a family with three-parent alternative-poly-stuff" contents in the public posts, along with the basic public baby stuff I've shared, while using the locked posts more for stuff I'd share with friends/family reading this -- so if I know you well enough for those, you'll need to get a dreamwidth account (I can give you access numbers if I have them, or you can pay the tiny amount of money dreamwidth needs) to see those. I might mirror some of them in my own livejournal as well.

This is because I've actually received some requests to write about our experience with this! If dreamwidth proves to be the wrong platform for it, I'll move it to wordpress or blogger, but I love my little "family values" moniker so much, and am not likely to get that elsewhere.

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