Well, Merry Christmas to all.
Ours has started beautifully with the exception of one glitch: our friends, Vince and Thuan were unable to fly in yesterday from Chicago (nasty weather), so they will come on Saturday and stay until after the New Year. Instead of Thuan's famous Vietnamese fish soup for dinner last night, Bing and Liv made ham and it was just the three of us.
And of course, Tinton and Nirand flew in last night and I think that Liv was actually surprised. Bing and I took her to the airport to supposedly watch planes take off (she has loved this activity since toddlerhood and I hope that travel gets into her blood) and she spotted Tinton coming down the escalator and nearly jumped out of her pants with joy.
And after a nice breakfast at my sister's house, we are all busy going in different directions. Tinton is going to take Liv ice skating. Nirand is busy making his Indian supper for us. (And thanks so much to the Idle Devil for the grand recipe for Badam Doodh. I made it for homecoming drinks last night and we all adored it.)
Bing and I are going to have a date this afternoon and go see this. Then, we will all meet up back home for Christmas dinner.
We opened Christmas gifts this morning before we left for breakfast at Patrice's house. And cleaned up.
Liv loved all her gifts. Bing and I got her an electric guitar, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and a new chess set. Tinton gave her a microscope and Nirand gave her a children's cookbook. When Vince and Thuan get here, she will be spoiled rotten as they have money to spend and insist on indulging her shamelessly.
Tinton gave Bing and I the set of Charlaine Harris books that the television show, True Blood on HBO is based on. We are both excited about that, although I snagged the first one and have told her that she only gets it after me. Bing's sister gave our family a gift certificate to Target. Hal and Nora gave us a book of free movie tickets to our neighborhood theatre and the promise of free babysitting whenever we go. They also bought Liv her own set of gardener's tools. Nirand gave us Christmas ornaments from India that are so delicate and lovely that I am afraid to touch them too much. My sister gave me three gorgeous cashmere sweaters with exquisite pearl buttons. My co-workers gave me a pricey jar of pure shea butter lotion, the only thing that works on my poor dry skin. And Utah sent us a box of decadent Godiva chocolates, as she does every year. Every year, I send her a raspberry swirl cheesecake, her favorite.
So...boy howdy, we are one happy family.
I hope you and your kin are having a grand day too. It is so cold and snowy outside, but so warm and cozy inside. Life is truly good.
And now on to the questions...I have told myself that once I finish up the questions, I will travel around to all the blogs I am behind on reading.
ZC asks "Who are the people whose wings lift you as an adult?"
Hmm. My Da still lifts me to this day. Often when I am confronted with a parenting decision, I ask myself what he would have done. He was a fantastic man, an exemplary parent and loved by so many that the church was overflowing at his funeral. If I can be as good and kind as he was, I will consider myself a success.
I look up to Bing a lot too. She is such a steady person. Very pragmatic and practical, but so steadfast in her love that I think I could learn a lot from her. She is the most loyal person I know and always so ready to be a good neighbor. She is much loved in our block while I am simply known as her quiet partner.
Liv inspires me more than anyone else. She teaches me every day to look at the world with an open heart. That sounds so fucking sappy, but it is true. I see the rain and she finds the rainbow for me. She saved me in so many ways. Before she was born, I was simply sliding through life (and often stoned or out of it.) When I knew I was going to be somebody's mother, my life changed for the better because I knew that I wanted to do this parenting thing correctly. I cleaned up my act and my life went charging into a better place. All because of one little seven pound baby.
Mme Benault asks if I recall the time I lost my faith in God and why.
I never really had it begin with. I was raised in such an intensely religious Irish Catholic family that you would think that I would have it in my veins or something. But, I missed that gene. My sisters all have it. I never did. I remember at a very young age wondering about the validity of god.
As I grew older, I questioned more. By the time I was in college, I was reading about the background of the Catholic church and just...repulsed. I mean, good hell...all that selling of dispensations and greed. It made me sick at heart. I left the church for good when Liv was about a year old and I have never returned.
I have always believed, though, that there was a power of good in the world and a power of evil. I know in my heart that this is accurate. And it has virtually nothing to do with religion. One of my professors in college was an atheist and he was the most upright, finest man I know. I knew that goodness existed and that he added to it.
When I worked in the ER for a time, there was a man who came in who professed to be possessed by Satan. He was assigned to me after he had attacked someone in a grocery store. I sat across from him and it took very little time for me to see that not only was I dealing with a very ill person, but an incredibly intelligent person too. He worked hard to promote himself as a textbook schizophrenic, presenting every symptom like clockwork, pulled out as if from a a case study. He had studied up on it, that was obvious. And he was incredibly clever and real. Underneath the facade was simply a very evil entity. I could see that and it chilled me to the bone. His eyes stayed in my mind long after he was taken away. I remember him sitting across from me and as I looked into his eyes, I realized that not only was he toying with me, but he was much, much smarter than I was. And he was evil, not just mentally ill, he was certainly that, but something else too. Something very frightening and very, very dangerous.
I believe that there is a light and a dark side. Maybe not an entity, maybe not god or satan, but...a force. Bing calls this the star wars mentality. And yes, it is simplistic. I try hard to land on the light side as much as I can.
I know that there are documented miracles. I know that there are ghosts. I have seen them. I also know that evil exists. I see it every day in the media. I believe in my heart that there is a connection of good and one of bad.
But, I do not know for sure that there is a god.
I sometimes picture aliens coming to check on us humans and reporting back to their peers that....
Well, they still pray to statues and believe in an entity that will save them. They meet in buildings to pray to this entity and their speech is flavored with thoughts that this entity somehow guides them or has the power to step in and make a difference in their lives. If only they could see that THEY are the power, that THEY are the entity.
I sort of believe that we are all a part of that entity for good and for bad. We just have to keep the good force stronger than the evil one.
Earth Muffin asks if Bing is my partners real name.
No. I started calling her Bing when we were in college. It was Christmastime and I was having trouble waking up for class one morning. She finally went to the cafeteria and snagged some bacon, came back to our dorm room, held it under my nose and began singing White Christmas to me.
She doesn't have a very good voice. I grumbled, snatched up the bacon and said, "Okay, okay...Bing Crosby. I'll get up if you will stop singing."
She's been Bing ever since.
Bing's real name is actually Tess. I am only revealing this because my blog stalker already knows her real name, so I am giving her nothing new.
Lulubelle had many questions. One was to ask how my bff, Harriet, is.
She is okay, Lulu, thank you for asking. She went through a bad patch a few months ago with depression but she is doing better now. I think that she simply put all the pain over losing her sister on the back burner for a very long time. She had to. She had her sister's children to raise, had to say goodbye to her old, tiny house and buy a bigger, newer house and she had to go back to work instead of be what she loved, a stay at home mom because they had two extra mouths to feed and not enough money to buy the food. She started working full time, falling back on what she did before she had children, working as a counselor to teens with eating disorders.
And eventually, she hit a wall. She missed her old life, her tiny house, her small family and her life in sweat pants.
She came through. She went into therapy and started giving herself permission to grieve. She and I went out and did some crazy things. We went bowling. She made me take a belly dancing class (I lasted for ONE CLASS.) And she eventually went to AA.
I am so proud of her. I saw her last week when we arranged to meet for lunch and exchange gifts (she gave me a lovely scarf for my poor balding head and I gave her a charm bracelet with a bowling pin, a hula dancer and a tiny house on it) and to drink coffee instead of wine.
Lulu also asks about the "dynamic" with Bing's family. Are they more accepting than mine?
Bing is originally from Louisiana, but she has a sister who lives here and her mother and several aunts and uncles. They moved here to work in the packing plants when she was younger.
Bing's family is rather odd but of course, mine is odder. They are staunchly Catholic and very devout, but they are also, well....southern. They have accepted Bing and my relationship from day one. Bing's sisters call me their sister in law. Her mother calls me her daughter in law. Everyone is very accepting and always has been. But...they have a curious dynamic that used to give me the shivers.
I come from a very non-huggy, very quiet family. Bing's family is gregarious and um...well...LOUD. They have rough and tumble arguments, usually at the dinner table and say the most snarky things to each other.
And then...after they have pronounced each other to be total bitches and foul bastards in a heated verbal match that looks as if it might come to blows...
They. Just. Stop.
And when they say goodbye, there are hugs all around and no one is offended. All is done.
Everyone says what they think and they get it all out and then well...they move on.
If that happened in my family, we would not be on speaking terms for years. I have seen her two uncles have huge fights at the dinner table that ended with bottles of beer flying and then ten minutes later, they were back slapping and watching football together.
I have seen one of her sisters call the other a "bleached blonde hussy" causing the other sister to take off her shoe and hurl it at her. And then, a half hour later, one sister will be taking off her bracelet to give to the other one as a gift because she admired it.
I have learned to sort of...adapt. But, I still get unnerved now and then. And I will never get used to being hugged and kissed wetly each and every time they see me.
Lulu also would like to know if Socks has asked for a little brother or sister.
No. He knows a good deal when he sees one and I don't think he would consent to sharing Liv with another animal. Plus, one dog is plenty for us.
Jess asks if I were an elderly woman and I knew I would be passing soon, what three things would I want to give/tell Liv?
1) Have a diverse group of friends. See the world from all angles.
2) Try not to hurt anybody if you can help it. But, never be anyone's doormat, either.
3) Listen more than you speak.
Trite, maybe. But, that is only a partial list. I have lots of ideas to impart to her. I'm sure she will only listen to about half of them. And that is fine. It is best to go one's own way in the world and discover things on your own terms, when you are ready.
Jenny wants to know about Bing's parenting relationship with Liv.
Oh. Well. That is a bone of contention sometimes with us. Bing can be very...stubborn. She is also a big fan of being strict with children and insisting on them following rules. Me, not so much. Bing doesn't think I am "parental" enough with Liv. She thinks that I am not strict enough and that I spend too much time discussing things with Liv instead of expecting her to simply obey me.
She and Liv love each other but I can see right now that Liv's teen years will cause some problems for them.
For now, she knows that I am Liv's parent and that what I say goes. If she has a problem, she can discuss it with me when Liv is gone or in bed (and believe me, she is not shy about stepping up to that plate) but that she is NOT to interfere.
Besides money, it is probably the one thing we argue about the most. I feel that Liv is doing just fine and I am comfortable with my parenting style. Bing feels that I need to lower the boom a bit more. She is against any physical punishment but she is a big fan of grounding children. I disagree. I think that grounding Liv is more punishment for me than her. I would much rather just sit down and talk things over with Liv and work things out that way. And it isn't as if Liv is a brat or a problem child. She isn't. She is a verbal little girl with lots of opinions.
An example: Liv has never had a bedtime. She gets a bath about 8 p.m. and then either she and I read for a half hour or she can read on her own for a half hour and then it is lights out. But, there is no absolute time that Liv has to be in bed. Sometimes, if we are enjoying a movie, etc, I let her stay up later.
Bing believes that this is not setting boundaries enough with Liv. She tells me all the time that "children need to reach out and feel a wall sometimes...it makes them feel secure."
I think that is ludicrous and I have said so. Bing also thinks I am a bit too loosey goosey with junk food.
But, the thing is that Liv almost always chooses good food, rarely pigs out on cookies, etc. If Liv was overweight or a junk food junkie, I would step in, but she isn't. If she feels like eating a few cookies some nights for a treat rather than carrot sticks, I'm okay with that. I figure that some nights, I choose ice cream rather than a cheese cracker, so why not Liv?
I don't know if it will ever get solved. The bottom line is that Liv knows that Bing loves her, even though she once told me that she thinks that Bing is "a little too much of a rule setter."
Matarot asks what was the tipping point in finally letting Bing back into my life.
I think I just grew up. I realized that there was this incredible woman who loved me, was loyal to me and protected me and that she had been there all along. And I knew that if I was going to settle down with anyone, it would be her. Only Bing has the capacity to put up with me, I think. I can be really, really hard to live with.
And amazingly, after all the shit I put her through, she was still here with me. I hadn't scared her off or acted so cool and aloof that she lost interest. Where am I gonna find that anywhere else? She had seen me at my ugliest, both inside and out and she still found a way to love me and want me. She knew my bad points and my good points and still loved the real me. She knows me better than anyone in the world and she still wakes up every morning and says she feels lucky.
But, you know...I never doubt for a second that is me who is the lucky one.
JYankee asks how Liv handles Bing and my relationship and if others ever give her a hard time.
Liv is pretty accepting. But, the truth is that I think that Liv knows that I love her and feels safe and reassured in my love. And she knows that Bing adores her too. As she has gotten older, she understands that she needs to knock on our bedroom door before she comes in, things like that. But, she also knows that, in a pinch, both of us will drop everything to get to her if she needs us. She and I have never actually discussed my relationship with Bing, but then...what child has to do that with their parents?
Liv simply accepts that we are a family. I've never called attention to it or pointed out to her that we are different from most of her friends. I have never wanted it to be an issue. I just want it to be what it is: a family.
As far as others giving her a hard time? To my knowledge, it hasn't come up. I chose a very diverse, very progressive Montessori school for her to attend. It was imperative to me that her education be important, but I wanted her to be in a school where all kinds of families existed and accepted each other, all different types of children.
I love her school. It is very green, very progressive and very diverse. And she isn't the only one with two same sex parents. There are several in her building. I knew right from the beginning that I would pay as much as I had to for this monetarily. And her school is not cheap. But, no one is turned away if the parents are willing to work to pay tuition by tending the school garden or cleaning bathrooms or bringing a talent they have to the school (one father teaches a t'ai chi class for free to any parents or children on Saturday mornings, another mother polishes the wooden floors every month.)
I have run into a few snotty parents, but not many and they are far outnumbered by the rest. I have never once had Liv come home from school and complain that she was teased, etc. But, the school has a very open door policy on nearly everything. Problems are discussed and solved before they become issues.
Again, I ADORE Liv's school. I like it that religion is not part of the curriculum in any way. The teachers are well paid and very, very good. And the school is very small and that helps. Liv's entire elementary school is under 100 children.
They recycle, learn to compost, tend a school garden and help the neighborhood. They are learning to be citizens of their school, their neighborhood, their families, their community, their city and the world.
I am not stupid. One day, she will be teased. But, I am hopeful that her school and I have given her the tools to deal with this.
And lastly (y'all are clapping...how RUDE!!)...MLC asks who would play me in a movie or screenplay?
I say let Catherine Zeta Jones be me. But, the truth is that I am no beauty. I think that any pale faced, short woman with a smart mouth and a bad swearing habit could play me.
Angie suggested Linda Ronstadt.
Okay. She would be fine. Or Tina Fey. Meryl Streep. Gwyneth Paltrow.
How about Betty White?
And I am finally done...I will get to your blogs this weekend as time allows.
Right now, we are home from the movie...(it was loooonnngg, but pretty good) and it is almost time for dinner. I smell curry. Ahhh. Tinton and Liv are finally home from ice skating and Nirand is calling for someone to set the table.
I guess it's the least I can do.
Happy Christmas, to all you patient readers. You guys rock.