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Hello Everyone! Enormous thanks go to our wonderful MoM’s who have agreed to “try out” for HDYDI! We are beyond thrilled that so many of you are reading along with us, and we hope you enjoy our contest week. Please vote for the author you would like to hear more from, as the authors with the most votes at 12:00am Eastern Time on Sunday, June 7th, will be invited to write for HDYDI. Enjoy and PLEASE VOTE!


Post #1: Inseperable, by Carissa

Carissa is a reformed lawyer who now stays at home with her 21 month old boy/girl twins. Carissa and her husband, Aaron brought their twins home from South Korea in October of 2008 when they were 14 months old and have been living and loving life with multiples since! While Carissa started out blogging to get through the adoption process, she now blogs to keep track of the daily happens at their house in central IL as well as get advice on everything from childrearing to fitness! Please visit her at Faith, Hope and Love, http://abc123vn.wordpress.com/

I never expected to be a mother to twins, to be honest I was beginning to wonder if I would be a mother at all. See we could not use any of the usual infertility methods and were told we had about a 2% chance of getting pregnant at all and if it was multiples I would have to be on complete and total bed rest due to some of my issues, so we chose adoption. When we started the process we actually said we would love boy/girl twins and the social worker about laughed us out of the room. See twins in international adoption are rare and boy/girl twins are even more rare so we had about as much chance of getting pregnant as we did of adopting boy/girl twins. Fast forward 14 months and we receive the referral of boy/girl twins from South Korea – boy were they tiny in the pictures even though they were five months old, they had been born at 25 weeks 5 days and must have been fighters to make it that far and be in such good health (though not perfect)! By the time we said yes, we knew that they would be about 14 months old when they came home, the whole thing seemed surreal.

Fast forward again to October 12, 2008 – the day we became a family. Little Man and Little Princess had just turned 14 months old but were more like 7 to 9 months old developmentally. No one had prepared me for one baby let alone two. I will never forget that flight home, Little Princess would ONLY go to her new daddy and would scream when I came near her and Little Man wanted to be walked around the plane for the first 10 hours of the 12 hour flight. My husband’s dinner ended up on the floor and some people were giving us dirty looks, though most were offering to help. I begged my mom to have the pilot turn the plane around so that I could give them back, I didn’t want to do this anymore. My mom, who had come with us for this EXACT reason, quietly told me that was not an option and I was their mother through the good and the bad. 

Little Man and Little Princess have now been home days shy of eight months – yep I have been doing this by trial and error for eight months! As I am sure every mother of multiples has experienced the sleep issues, the eating issues, recently the double tantrum issue and the attachment issues, but that was more adoption than multiples. And some have experienced the multiple doctor visits and the numerous therapists to boot. But as my husband and I were discussing the other day, the thing we love the most about our babies is their bond with each other. See we learned after we said yes that due to a few issues one of our sweet babies has if we had not said yes our babies would have been separated and adopted by different couples possibly worlds apart. We cannot imagine the two of them apart, they don’t even like to play apart. They have their own language that they use to talk to each other – while we love it we hope this goes when they learn to talk. They learn from each other and compliment each other – see our daughter has NO fear and our son will not do anything until he is absolutely sure it is safe, so while he learned to walk first she taught him how to climb the stairs! I love when they try to calm each other or even try to get the other to laugh so that they don’t have to cry anymore. 

I cannot imagine the damage that would have been done if these two had been separated. We are not sure our son would have survived, it took him about 7 months to fully open up to us and really start the attachment process even though he started bonding before that, his sister is the only reason we heard laughter from him before that time. And our daughter may not have been so happy and carefree, she shows us what pure joy is every day!   I have yet to separate them for more than an hour or so at a time, mostly because that causes huge fits and massive jealousy (what is the other one getting that I am not) but I know the day is coming when I will be forced to separate them in some way or another. I already am dreading that day as their bond is greater than any siblings I have ever seen and it will break my heart to see them upset because they do not have each other. For now we keep them together and relish the bond that they have and we will deal with the separation when we have to with the help of the moms from How Do You Do It!

Post #2, by Megan

Married in 2000, my husband and I have entered a new chapter in our life:  parents to 3 children.  Often stopped by strangers with the comment, “Your hands sure are full!” I just smile and remember a quote from an online blogger: “If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart.” 

I have soon-to-be one year old boy-girl twins and a 5-year-old son.  Recently back to work at a new job after a stint as a stay-at-home-mom, I’m studying in preparation for my massage therapist Board exams, while searching for balance in life, love, and marriage. 

This new road in life is sure to offer many adventures, headaches, joys, frustrations…what greater bliss, though, than to love one’s children and see them grow every day.

Birthdays are a time of reflection for me.  I’ve never really been one to make New Year’s resolutions; instead, come spring, right around my birthday, I feel the need to take stock in myself, my life, and my goals.  The same is true with the kid’s birthdays.  We just celebrated my son Logan’s 5th and later this month we’ll celebrate the babies’ first.  Some pretty major birthdays in my book.  All I can think about is how far we’ve come in the last half-decade since Logan was born, and how different life is from just one year ago before Kade and Addie arrived.  Remembering that I was so big that I couldn’t make the walk around our block this time last year or how I would go to my pre-natal appointments just dreaming of hearing the words “let’s induce” make me realize how different life is today.  And how both my husband and I were completely, totally different parents and people.  So much has changed since we became parents – and then, parents of multiples.

And yet, I find myself fondly gazing forward, too.  I can’t wait to get an idea of who the babies really are.  Their personalities are blossoming.  And every day, there’s something new that they are learning, each at their own pace and own style.  It’s the same with Logan.  He’s more and more a “big kid” every day; I see him practically growing overnight!  Skills that were once hard or challenging now come easily and he is more outgoing and independent than even 6 months ago.

All of this makes me wonder what and who these little people will become.  I would take a sneak-peek into the future if given the option.  Just to see what they look like, or who they are friends with, or who they choose for partners in life.  Is it possible to be completely enthralled with the future at the same time I’m pining for the past?  It’s as if these children are each a special little gift to be opened one day at a time.  I have to remember to be patient and enjoy the joy of watching them grow.

That’s the goal, isn’t it?  To enjoy each day, each milestone for what it is, and not just where it’s leading.  What about all of you?  Do you feel yourselves missing the stage that’s just passed as you pack up the now-too-small clothes?  Or dreaming of what the future holds?  Or, are you able to just sit back and take it all in?

Post #3: A Milestone, by Jenna

Jenna is a mom of a 2.5-year-old son and 4.5-month-old identical twins daughters, and wife to another researcher and student. At some point she will get back to her PhD studies, but in the meantime she’s at home learning with, and from, her three children. She has considered starting a blog to record her experiences and to reflect on her mothering journey, and maybe some day she’ll find the time to do it.

Today marks a milestone in our house. Tonight our 4.5-month-old twin daughters will sleep in their own bedroom.  They usually only wake for one feeding during the night.  Their milestone is about sleeping in their own room. My milestone is about accepting how my life has changed since we found out we were having twins.

I’m a planner and organizer-type person so naturally, before we even conceived the baby, I decided how I was going to balance work, school, my young son, and a new baby About a year ago we decided to have a second child – and I had a plan. According to my plan, I am supposed to be making the final revisions to my doctoral dissertation while I waited for the date to be set for me to defend it….

Instead… yesterday, I found myself at the library with a crying baby in the baby carrier, a crying toddler in one arm, while I pushed a double stroller loaded down with a second baby and a pile of picture books and board books. Clearly my plan is not working out as I imagined it would.

It all changed the day I had my first ultrasound at five months. At three months, and again at four months, I had been thrilled to hear the heartbeat of my baby. My sister had teased me about having twins and even asked the midwife to check for a second heartbeat. The midwife had reassured us that there was only one baby, placing the stethoscope at several different spots to demonstrate that there was only one heartbeat. My plan seemed to be working out just fine. I could finish my research analysis and rough out my thesis before the baby came, relax with my newborn while my committee read through my work – and I’d be ready to make the final changes just as the baby was getting old enough to be eating a little solid food, thus freeing me a little to resume my academic work.

I settled myself on the ultrasound bed ready to see my little one. Seconds later, I was looking at two little heads! We were expecting twins! Immediately, lying on the ultrasound bed, I started frantically trying to revise my plans, to rescue my well laid-out program that would have seen me graduate with a 9 or 10-month-old baby.

Being pregnant with twins turned my plans upside down! I had to give up my academic work so that I could get the rest I needed. I had to shop for all of what a second baby would need, instead of just checking off on my list what I already had from our first child’s babyhood. I had to figure out how to shoehorn two babies into our small 3-bedroom condo that was already overflowing with the accoutrements that our son had brought along with him. Desperately, I tried to preserve my connection to the academic world by maintaining my office in the third bedroom, and having all three children share one room.

Coping with twin girls and a 2.5-year old son continues to be a series of daily lessons in living in the moment. I try not to plan more than one activity, such as a playdate or going to the library, in a day. In fact, a day when I have dinner ready when my husband gets home is a successful day.  Many days I also manage to get a load of laundry done, the floors vacuumed or the dishwasher emptied – all endless tasks with three small children.  But it is an ongoing struggle not to expect to accomplish more in a day than just keeping them clean and dry and fed and safe.

The reality of my derailed plan is particularly apparent this week. My mom is visiting and with her help, I am converting my office into the girls’ bedroom. Soon after our girls were born, I realized that my office space would need to become the girls’ space, and I’ve spent time moving books, office supplies, and craft materials out and packing files and papers in boxes. But really, I’ve resisted the whole process.

I like what my office, no matter how messy it might be, represents.  It is my space in the house. It represents all my years of work as a student and as a researcher, and all that I’ve accomplished. It isn’t about the mundane and repetitive tasks of diapering, feeding and burping babies, and reading and rereading the same picture books. It is about losing track of myself in ideas that interest and excite me.

I don’t want to give up what my office represents.  Being a stay-at-home-mom was never part of my plan. But, I’m a long way from ready to be back at work or study fulltime. I’m not ready to be away from my children. I don’t want to be away from them from breakfast until dinner every day. I don’t want to come home so exhausted that we don’t spend quality time together. I need to find a way to focus on the present and the riches they bring to my life, rather than on what I’m giving up because they are here. I love to watch my daughters sleeping, holding hands. They are so clearly completely comfortable and contented. Seeing them smile when I come to get them up after a nap is the most wonderful feeling. At these moments, it is so clear to me that at home with my children is where I belong.

The challenge this week, and in the weeks and months and years to come, will be to, as time permits, create a new approach – one that will truly balance my time, that considers our family’s financial situation, that allows me to be actively involved in raising our son and our two daughters, and allow me to enhance, enrich, build, develop my sense of self in the process.

Jenna1

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After telling my husband I would not watch the season premiere of Jon and Kate Plus 8 last night, I ended up tivoing it anyway and watching it. I was sad after the show and stayed up way too late thinking about it. What really got me was when Kate said divorce rates are so much higher for multiple parents and they thought they would beat that statistic. The other part that was very hard for me to watch was the kids asking Jon when he was coming home and telling him they missed him. I am a total believer the majority of reality tv is scripted, but those moments still took my breath away.

In the multiples community, you can’t help but hear of two very sad realities: children dying and divorce. Every time I hear of a sick or dying child, I hug my kids close and gain some perspective. After watching that show last night, I’m going to hug my husband close and gain some perspective. My husband and I have been through some very tough things together: his back problems and surgery, double unemployment, my hearing loss and surgery. Yet having twins was very hard on our marriage because there was so much to do, so much stress, so little sleep, so much worry, so little money, and so little time. As joyful as those early months were, they were also some of our hardest together.

My boys are three now and I can say that my marriage is as strong as it has ever been. Yet last night I realized I can always do more to show my appreciation, work on my marriage, and commit to staying happy together. I don’t think I’ll watch the rest of the season but for that perspective, I am thankful. I am just sorry the perspective had to come at such a high price for them.

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One thing I’ve discovered, in my almost two years as a stay-at-home mom, is that “weekends” just don’t have nearly the same ring to them as they used to.  In my pre-kids working days, I loved the weekend as much as the next person.  Get up when I feel like it, stay in my pajamas if I so choose, maybe go out for Sunday brunch or an impromptu Saturday night sushi dinner.  Maybe I’d be good and go to the gym, maybe not.  Leisure. Freedom.

Ha.

Turns out, my toddlers don’t know the first thing about sleeping in on the weekends or the joy of doing absolutely nothing.  No, they want the exact same routine as every other day. Wake up, have breakfast, watch Sesame Street, get dressed, have an activity/outing, eat lunch, nap, play some more, have dinner, go to bed.

For me, Saturday ain’t that different from Wednesday.  Except my husband (M) is home instead of at work.  And I’m tired of the Groundhog-Day repeating of our day-to-day. I still feel this pull towards the idea of the weekend, as though I’m due some blissful quiet.  And so is my husband.  So while I’m always scheduled and routined during the week, and can be surprisingly efficient with my time, the weekend days have a tendency to slip by.  We’re still in our pajamas too late, and not in the relaxing way.  But in the “what do you want to do? I don’t know, what do you want to do?” kind of way.  And in the meantime, the kids are bored and cranky, and I’ve lost my sense of time and forgotten to give them a morning snack.

seesaw swing

It’s the weekend when I feel ambivalence toward my routinized ways.  On the one hand, I’m tired of them and want to forget about them.  On the other hand, the lack of routine makes me realize the degree to which I rely on them, and the degree to which they make my kids (and, by extension, me) much happier people.

I think that what I really need is a weekend routine.  Something different from the weekday, so the SAHM thing gets a little bit of a change-up.  But something relatively set and predictable, so the day can still move along and we don’t all go nuts until I explode and yell “we have to leave the house RIGHT NOW!”

Checking out the tractor

As with many things parenting-related, it’s also a question of setting and meeting (or not) appropriate expectations.  Expecting the weekend to be leisurely and relaxing is just setting us all up for failure.  And it’s when inappropriate expectations are set (and, subsequently, not met) that I get the most frustrated.

Obviously, weekends can be and have been times of fun.  Trips to the farm or a fun birthday party, going out for lunch to a Mexican restaurant, etc.  Fun.  But I think I need to balance the need for fun with the need for routine.

And get it through our thick heads that weekends as we once knew them are long gone.

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While paging through the May 2009 issue of Ladies Home Journal, I came across an article titled “Workplace Wars.” The author, Carol Mithers, wrote about the cultural clash occurring between the Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964); Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980); and Generation Y or “the Millennials” (born between 1981-2000.) A small but shrinking percentage (about 8%) of the workforce is composed of the “Matures” (born between 1922-1945.)

Mithers speaks candidly of the various workplace differences that crop up when four generations with very different perspectives of the world work together. One paragraph in particular struck me:

Then there are the Millennials-at a whopping 83 million, the biggest generation of all. Millennials are techno-kids, glued to their cell phones, laptops and iPods. They’ve grown up in a world with few boundaries and think nothing of forming virtual friendships through the Internet or disclosing intimate details of themselves on social networking sites. And, many critics charge, they’ve been so coddled and overpraised by hovering parents that they enter the job market convinced of their own importance. (emphasis added)

The article continues:

Cultures also collide over such basics as how to work, what hard work means and what it takes to get ahead. For people in their 40s and 50s, dedication to a job usually means coming in early, staying late and doing nothing else during work hours. To young workers, who’ve been multitasking their whole lives-instant messaging friends, while watching TV and checking MySpace, all while doing homework-a single focus is a waste of time.

I was born is 1980, and as such skidded into Generation X by the skin of my teeth. I was raised in a rural area on the East Coast that could probably be considered a little behind the times. I was raised in a strong Christian family with my step-father, mom, brother and adopted sister. My step-dad is a carpenter and his hands bear the scars of exhausting hard work. My mom is now an insurance agent, but cleaned houses when we were school-aged so she could be home with us. My parents are extremely hard workers.

My parents modeled tough love, a strong faith in God, integrity, hard work and dedication to the family. I learned a lot from them. Specifically, the high value they placed upon family.

I wonder what my children, and their generation will say about us, their parents? Will they say we were always too busy multitasking to truly pay attention? Will they say we cared more about productivity than people?

I certainly hope not, but I find myself being pulled toward the computer to check my email or update my blog when the kids are awake (I try to save my computer time for nap time.) I find that I get frustrated with all the messes and although I try, it is hard to relax when my environment is messy. Perhaps I value technology and productivity a bit too much?

My other concern is in over-praising or coddling my children.

“…they’ve been so coddled and overpraised by hovering parents that they enter the job market convinced of their own importance…”

In this day and age, technology is so easily utilized, that we have our children’s entire lives recorded in blogs, virtual scrapbook pages, on You tube and dvd recordings. I adore my children, and am so glad that I have blogged about their lives as a way or remembering and preserving our memories…but at what point does it cross the line? Is it possible that in this documentation we over-inflate our child’s sense of worth, there by doing them a disservice when they enter the job market?

I would love to hear your thoughts on Generation Z…what are your hopes and dreams for the emerging generation? What values/beliefs/hopes do you wish to pass on? What would you like to see change? What values from the “Matures” and “Baby Boomers” would you like to see continue in our society?

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Divas and Dudes

Contrary to popular lesbian stereotypes, the majority of our friends are straight with most of those having kids. We’ve been to exactly one gay bar exactly one time and it was about as both appealing and appalling as any other bar. Neither of us are man-haters. I won’t leave the house without lipstick. We’ve been together nearly nine years, we’ve both been highly involved in our church, and many of our straight friends have been to more Pride Parades than we have, primarily because we’ve been to exactly zero of them. As if that doesn’t raise enough eyebrows, we went about embarking on a journey to get pregnant.

For we same-sexers, getting pregnant is a deliberate, planned, and oftentimes prayed for occurrence. “Oops!” is never a part of our conception story. We correct the doctor’s estimated delivery date because we know Exactly. When. It. Happened. Being a new mom turns your world on its ear. Being a mom of twins presents its own unique challenges. Being a lesbian mom add several layers of trickiness.

One thing I’ve learned as a mom of twins is that we have to anticipate as much as possible, plan as best as we are able, and be prepared for the unexpected. One thing I’ve learned as a lesbian mom is that you pretty much have to do that in almost every area of your life due to the often-experienced discrimination against same-sex couples.

Medical care, for example. None of my straight friends had to first interview their fertility clinic, their OB/GYN, the pediatrician, and the daycare to determine their level of openness and willingness to help me get pregnant, deliver, treat, and care for our children. The conversations often went something like this: “Hi, my name is Rachel and this is my partner, Jennifer. I am pregnant with twins and after they are born, Jennifer will also adopt them. We will both be their moms. If this is an issue for you personally or with the staff in general, please let me know now so that we might find a more open and professional provider. Your clinic/practice/school comes highly recommended but with all the other things that will come at us with twins, we need to know that those we entrust for the care of our children are supportive of our family structure.” I am grateful to say that we chose the best providers and all of them stayed on board. Not so on the spiritual front.

Do you know how hard it is to find a church that is open to and accepting of a two-mom household? Try locating a couple of those in your area that isn’t the “gay” church or some one-off splinter denomination. And once you do, does it have a good children’s program? Does it have a children’s program at all? Does the worship style fit with the ways you feel most connected? Do people avoid shaking your hand during the giving of Peace because a husband isn’t around to make them comfortable? As open as our mainstream Methodist church is in general, there was a small but palpable sense of displeasure that the pastor baptized the children of a same-sex couple in their church.

Godparents & Pastor

Growing up, I was very involved in my youth group and Young Life; I was the President of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I received my undergraduate degree from a southern Baptist university, where I was also a Young Life leader. So it’s no wonder that I’m surrounded by many people for whom my coming out kind of threw their preconceived notions of what a gay person was like through the cross shredder. I am so blessed that many of those friends have come out in a way themselves: more accepting, more open to others unlike themselves. A handful in my life did not, particularly after I decided to get pregnant.

One of the favorite questions of the disapproving is “who will be the male figure in their lives?” asked with the connotation of “Gotcha, bitch!” and the inflection of shards of glass. Unsurprisingly, my friend whose husband was killed in a tragic car accident when she was five weeks pregnant has never been asked that question. Ever.

Still, it’s a fair question – one that I’ve thought about ever since we decided to get pregnant. More so once I knew that one of the twins was going to be a boy, and particularly since our son is outnumbered 3 to 1. Which means that he is four times more likely (I’m counting the nanny) to see a woman do an activity to model from than he is a man. Take, for example, the benign fact that we often put a bow in our daughter’s hair because (a) they’re super teeny and cute, and (b) she’s got long bangs that need help staying out of her face. About half the time, though, she yanks the bow out of her hair and tosses it to the ground. Last week, I saw my son go pick up the newly discarded bow and put it to his head, holding it there and looking up at me.

I think for most diversity-inclined, open and reconciling folks, his action might be understood as mimicking behavior that he observes, maybe even seen as cute. For the homophobes, it would be precisely the reason that gays shouldn’t have kids because a 12 month old putting a bow to his head wouldn’t have happened if there was a man around and gay people are just breaking down families across the country leading to economic depression, terrorism, and swine flu.

When it comes to clothing and appearance, yeah, I’m a little sensitive to gender stereotypes. As a lesbian mom, I think twice about putting Mateo in his pink Ralph Lauren boys polo shirt that is friggin adorable because omg how would that LOOK? So when he wears it, I’m sure to pair it with rugged blue or otherwise clearly boy shorts or pants, all the while telling myself how absurd the logic is.

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I am also a very practical person, however. We (very gratefully) receive lots of hand-me-over’s from friends and from Jennifer’s clients, so there’s lots of clearly boy and clearly girl clothing in the closets and drawers. If I’m doing the shopping, more often than not, I economize on the bottoms by buying boy clothes (like sweatpants and cotton shorts) that our daughter can wear as our son grows out of them. I mean seriously, it’s gray sweatpants! Does she really need pink ones or gray ones with a pink flower to let the world know they’re for girls? My checking account says no. I’ll differentiate with the tops, thanks. Plus, have you seen how short the summer shorts are for little girls? For crying out loud.

Diva

Harper is more cold-natured and will still sleep in poly/fleece footed pajamas. The pajamas that were given to her brother. The same ones that have footballs all over them. Just two days ago I was going to return some pajamas that I had purchased for Harper because I had looked in their closet and found that she still had all of Mateo’s 18 month pajamas she can still fit into for a while(on average, there’s a two inch and two pound difference between the two). But then I thought “you know what? She doesn’t have any of her OWN pajamas and I am going to keep this cute lady bug ruffled sleeve pajama set for her after all.” So in my practicality, I still aim for fairness. Right now, we generally have a no-dress rule in the house. Not because we don’t want to put Harper in the girl box, but because quite frankly, I think it’s just cruel to put a little girl crawler in a dress which invariable gets caught under the knees.

I was once asked by a co-worker “which one of you follows the man’s role in the house?” I am not even kidding. He was referring to household chores such as mowing the lawn and changing air filters and taking out the trash, but still. If I were step back and watch us in motion, it would look a bit of a dance: Each of us alternative which baby we bathe each night, putting the kids down together, then one of us cleans up the bath area which the other gets dinner started while the former cleans up the kids’ dinner area, then eating dinner together, then one of us tidying up the play room while the other cleans up the kitchen. On a Sunday evening, one of us restocks diaper stations while the other takes out the trash. I’m better at the bills. She’s better able to accommodate the lawn during the day due to her flexible work schedule. Because we both share in all the responsibilities of our household and child-rearing, our children will witness a sense of balance because of it.

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For us, navigating the waters of gender norms with boy/girl twins reaches far past clothing selection and chores and their play. The key will be to grow two children that are independent, confident, and respectful of themselves and others. And I think most parents would agree with those goals, regardless of what their gender profile is.

I’m not minimizing the role of a man in the everyday life of a child. And for us, both our children will be afforded generous time with their grandpas and uncles and our male friends. Our situation isn’t perfect. But neither is anyone else’s.

Being same-sex parents certainly accentuates our concerns for fairness and equality for our children, both in terms of teaching them how to respect those around them and in terms of our hopes for environments that will be supportive of their family. We are fortunate to be surrounded by people in our lives who have been forging well worn paths of fairness and equality long before we came out and long before we decided to have kids. And those folks are straight! In addition, we don’t have to look much further than some of the contributing writers here on HDYDI to gain perspective on the fact that a little boy trying on something of his sister’s doesn’t necessarily have to be a big fucking deal.

So how do we go about handling the gender norm stereotypes? It’s day to day. I’ll keep letting you know how its going. For now, I’m off to finalize the order for two dolls I’m purchasing, one each for Mateo and Harper. None of the dolls’ clothing will be dresses. And none of it will be pink or blue.

Mother's Day Lunch

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