Category Archives: Parenting

Dad Wisdom

I am thinking about all you dads out there this Father’s Day.


Some of you will get cards and go out for brunch as a dad or with your dad this special day. But…some of you won’t.

Maybe you have little kids or grownup kids. Maybe you have a dad who has passed away and part of this day will be painful knowing he isn’t here anymore; you will look through pictures and relive memories in his honor.

More tragically, maybe some of you never had a dad in your life. That may be particularly sorrowful. Maybe you had a dad figure or figures in your life to help you develop into the person you are today: a coach, a stepdad, a mentor.

And maybe, as I have met many of you, your kids are estranged. Perhaps this is because of some fault on your part, but if you could change something to make it better, you would. Maybe you still can. Ugh. I am guessing it is painful.

For my own life circumstance, my kids now have two dads, both of whom love our kids and I appreciate them for what they do and add to Maddie, Kate and Thomas’ lives. Now that I am down a path of healing after finding out about Devon’s sexuality, I am happy to live this unexpected life of mine.

It is never boring, let me tell you.

One of the biggest things that has gotten me to this point is my own dad. His experiences, his sincere faith and his wisdom has come to me at many times during my adult life to help guide me. I love him so much.

I am going to ask you, Reader, to share phrases and memories that your own father or father-figure may have passed on to you as wisdom, which you can live by…and even pass on to your own children.

Here are several biggies from Don:

  1. Worry is like a fast getaway on a wooden rocking horse.
  2. I will bring back the Fanny-Pack under the brand name: I B Cool.
  3. God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.
  4. Stick to the Letters in Red.
  5. Always assume that the other drivers on the road can’t see you.
  6. We don’t need a dishwasher. We already have two: You and your sister.
  7. There is a difference between reasons and excuses.
  8. Saying “sorry” is easy; asking for forgiveness is key.
  9. The best car is the one that is paid for.

So…what kind of wisdom can you share that you remember from your father or father figures? I want to hear them in the comments below.

Happy Father’s Day to all people who do any kind of fathering. You are loved and appreciated.

Have a Wonderful Day,

Emily

Movin’. Shakin’. Gettin’ the Word Out.

Life really is sweet. Sometimes, life is super duper pooper sweet…like this last weekend. Lots of writing, cleaning out my closets (literally, not figuratively), getting to spend time with just my oldest daughter (which is rare) and sleeping in. That sleeping in thing never happens, so that’s what made this weekend super duper pooper.

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The middle and youngest of my Three Little Birds got to do something very special in San Francisco for their National History Day projects: they met with and interviewed Cleve Jones, a key player in AIDS activism, gay rights and was the main stud behind the AIDS quilt project. He also happened to be close friends with Harvey Milk, so both Thomas and Kate got the royal carpet treatment by Cleve, complete with a tour of the Castro pointing out key areas of interest for both Thomas and Kate’s projects. Cleve also had a surprise for them, as he asked Dustin Lance Black, Academy Award winning producer of many films (including Milk), to join them. Basically, it was a Cloud 9 Weekend for those two kiddos.

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If they don’t go far in the competition, I will be shocked.

Weekend at Emily’s: that’s a wrap.

Now, if you’re stopping by for the first time, you may be doing so because of a piece that I wrote for the Straight Spouse Network’s blog. I am very happy they published it, because it is a great resource and I am thrilled to be connected with it. If you are looking at the screen with a question mark on your face, here is the link and piece I am talking about. Check it out!

Straight Spouse Network Blog

I keep submitting pieces to as many news organizations as possible. I have been feeling led lately to speak out to people who have a little clout in this political world, and getting published is a great way to do it. Many of you know I am an LGBTQ Ally, and I have lots of reasons for this. I understand if you are not at this point in your life because the nightmare you may be dealing with hits too close to home. However, it has been a lot longer for me, and since my own Rainbow Family (called The Reeses and Their Pieces) has a bit of a stake in LGBTQ rights, I have a lot to say. Mostly, I feel that because Mixed Orientation Marriages have an incredible amount of shame and secrecy tied to them, the nation needs to know about us. We need some empathy, dammit! People need to know they’re not alone; people need to know what to say and what NOT to say when a family or friend is going through this crappy thing; and legislators need to know that the more laws that they pass that keep LGBTQ people as second-class or not equal, the more likely that MOMs will continue to happen…which means more hurt, pain, deceit and wreckage for straight spouses who get married to someone who is too afraid to be “out.”

Does that make sense? I haven’t finished my first cup of coffee this morning.

Basically, I am going to run my flip-top head off to anyone who will listen.

I love writing. I love people. I love being able to use the very thing of finding out my husband is gay, that caused me the most pain I have ever had to endure, to give meaning and purpose behind it.

Thanks for stopping by. If you are looking for encouragement, then be sure to read the link above. I meant every word of it. You really are stronger than you give yourself credit for.

You can do it. I believe in you.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,
Emily

Under One Roof: Ridiculous Rainbow Family Holiday

What a holiday!

A full-on Rainbow and Glitter Gala Celebration, with our Three Little Birds, Devon and his husband Felipe… and me, the Clutter Whore Ally Momma.

Best Christmas movie ever, besides "A Christmas Story."  I fully expected some crazy antics occurring with our weird family this Christmas, not unlike Clark Grizzwold's world.
Best Christmas movie ever, besides “A Christmas Story.” I fully expected some crazy antics occurring with our weird family this Christmas, not unlike Clark Grizzwold’s world.

Last year was the first year we spent Christmas together under one roof, mostly due to necessity.  I was recovering from one hell of a pre-chemo surgery, complete with tubes coming out of all kinds of places for drainage and some really great pain pills.

I needed help.  And Devon and company were there for me.

But this year was by choice.  I heard on more than one occasion from the kids that they were thrilled we could all get along well enough to be together under one roof.  I didn’t see this one coming nearly 10 years ago, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

To say life is different now than it was then is a complete understatement, but I loved it.  The fact that the kids felt it was a blessing was wonderful.

So, to brag a little and share my life with you (and to document our Christmas together because it’s my blog and I can do what I want with it), I am going to post pictures here and memorable moments so that maybe one day, when the dust has cleared in your world of finding out your spouse is gay, you might be able to see what is truly possible.

Life is stranger than fiction, and more beautiful than we can imagine if we keep our minds and hearts open after moving forward and working through our shtuff.  Know what I mean?

Here ya go!

Our break started off by me finishing the semester at Rainshadow with my students and getting all of my grading done so I wouldn’t have much work to do while I was off for three weeks.  If anyone tells you that they didn’t go into teaching for the perks of great breaks, then they are lying.  Teachers certainly don’t get paid enough for all we have to do, but having these breaks makes things pretty peachy, I must say.

We left the day after school was out to go to Sacramento, all six of us, to watch Thomas’ basketball tournament and do some massive shopping.  The road trip was a blast, the hotel room situation was spectacular and we spent way too much money on food and gifts.  But that’s okay.

Here are the photos of our road trip, including me relaxing at the mall with my feet up.  What a rough job shopping can be.  My clods were killing me!  Next time I will wear my Birkenstocks and not my Kick Cancer’s Ass Boots.

The trip went really well and it was so much fun spending time with them.  We all got along, which 10 years ago, I never would have imaged.

Next came Christmas Eve.

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The beautiful Christmas tree with obscene amount of gifts at Devon and Felipe’s house.

I was slated to stay there for a couple of days.  We did our usual Reese Family Christmas Eve Dinner with Devon’s family at his mom Virginia’s house.  Good food and LOTS of laughs.  We were all crying from laughter listening to Aunt Wendy explain the rational thought that went behind her Sims City obsession.  Gifts were exchanged and we made out with some great loot.  Thomas and I took a poll with my Facebook friends to see who looked better in his SWAGish hat.  It was a tie, by the way.

My sweet Middle Bird, Kate, came down with an acute ear infection while at Grandma’s that night.  Christmas Eve.  Ear infection.  Welcome to the world of having kids.

The brilliant thing?  All three of us parents were able to pitch in and help.  I did my best to comfort poor Kate, while the dads braved the only 24 hour pharmacy that was open to get her meds… and were there ’til 1 a.m.  Nightmare?  Yes.  But isn’t it great we were all there to help make our Christmas Eve work out?

The sweetest thing came from it.  This picture.  I sent it to Kate after telling her that I wouldn’t want to spend Christmas Eve any other way (she was feeling horrible for “ruining” our Christmas) and she told me it was her favorite picture of all time; she would “treasure it forever.”  Bam.  It’s all about being positive and having a little perspective.

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Here is the picture I took, cuddling with my sweetie pie Kate, who was feeling like crap. She said she will “treasure it forever.” Awww.

Christmas morning was beautiful.  There was very little chaos and lots of thoughtful gifts, including the handmade gift that my dad made for the girls (he made my sister and me a hand mirror as well, just like the ones pictured below and we still use them to this day). All of this, including playing Risk as a family, made for a memorable time with our Freaky Rainbow Crew.  Here’s a video and some pictures from that morning.

And finally, New Year’s Eve.  This day is officially Devon and Felipe’s 1st Anniversary after getting married last year in New York City.  So, I stayed with the kids at their house, took them out to The Hobbit and Pizza with another good friend of mine, and returned to their house to bring in the New Year with gambling for Hershey’s Kisses as well as a hotly contested game of chess.  What a wonderful way to bring in this year with the three best people in my life.  And without Devon (and Felipe, too) we wouldn’t have been here, doing these things, altogether.

So, basically, the holidays are over, but the memories live here for myself and anyone to view, hopefully forever.  Life is beautiful.  Expect things to be that way.  You might be surprised.

Happy Holidays and may your 2015 be extraordinary!

Emily

Rainbow Family Christmas Vacation

Never in a thousand years would I have pictured myself having holidays with Devon and his husband and my kids all under one roof… 10+ years ago. I wanted to share my Facebook Thankfulness Post from today to give you some perspective on what time and moving forward can do for families who have a spouse that comes out. I am not guaranteeing this will happen for you, but I want to encourage you to be open. Take care of you. Let go of things and people you can’t control. And above all, LOVE. Love yourself, love your kids, love your friends. Love really can heal things because it is powerful.  Happy Holidays from me to you.

My wonderful sister, Lora. She and her family are beautiful people, inside and out.
My wonderful sister, Lora. She and her family are beautiful people, inside and out.

Day 340: December 19, 2014

Thankfulness for This Time Last Year

Nothing like receiving a text at 4:30 a.m. this morning from my Sis. That’s okay, Lora. I wasn’t sleeping or anything.

Actually, I was wide awake. And I was thinking about the exact same thing you wrote. Woman! We are so connected. Do you have telepathy?

“I was just thinking that a year ago today I was out at your place helping you recover from that awful surgery. I’m so glad we’re a year out from that. Miss you. Love you.”

No kidding. Ditto on all accounts. Worst surgery I hope I ever have to go through.

I continued my recovery over Christmas at Devon and Felipe’s house. Lots of great drugs. Way too many tubes and bags coming out of me. But the silver lining was that I got to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning under the same roof as my Rainbow Family. That part was wonderful.

Then they all left for NY. That made me sad and feel sorry for myself. Again, thankfully I had great drugs and wonderful Wendiana to help me out for a week with those spazzing dogs and movie marathons.

I was sad I couldn’t go with them. That’s what makes this holiday so special. Today we leave for a mini Rainbow Christmas vacation to Sacramento. All of us freaks in one car being a weird family. Basketball, music, shopping, laughter and memory making. To top it off, the whole doing Christmas under one roof was a brilliant idea, so we’re doing it again.

This is going to be one amazing holiday. I couldn’t have guessed in a million lifetimes that I would be where I am today, thinking like I do, without all of the blessings that my life “tragedies” have brought. I love my family. I love my life. I love feeling thankful.

Also, F you, Cancer. I made you my Bi**h.

Happy Holidays,
The Survivor

Two/To Dads on Father’s Day

This morning, I woke up with Devon on my mind.

It’s Father’s Day and I know that he is happy thinking about our kids and enjoying the handmade cards they gave him, but he is also thinking about his own father, Fast Freddy, who passed away a little over a year and a half ago.  Knowing him, he is experiencing some sadness right along with the joy he feels over being the dad to our Three Little Birds.  Devon and The Reese Clan:  I loved Fred very much.  I am thinking about you all, too.

While we were married, Devon was a great dad, and still is today.  He has always been very silly with them and kept them in mind when making decisions for our family, with exception at times to the crisis we went through after his Big Reveal.  Decisions then were often a lose-lose scenario for everyone it felt like.  But ultimately, we made a great team as parents and sought to always provide a united front to our children, even if we didn’t always agree on particular topics.

Look at our baby faces.  And my eyebrows.  I wish someone had encouraged me then to get my uni-brow waxed!
Look at our baby faces. And my eyebrows. I wish someone had encouraged me then to get my uni-brow waxed!

Devon and I were married a little over 2 years before we had our first beautiful daughter, Maddie.  Before she was born, I cannot remember any fights between us of significance. We intentionally didn’t have TV and went places with each other that kept our love and friendship strong… and some of these things we did were uber nerdy: we played ping-pong a couple of times a week at the rec center in Lawrence, Kansas (I kicked his arse most of the time… or at least, that’s how I want to remember it); we played board games; went on old people Sunday drives around neighborhoods and dreamed of the day we would own our first home, how it would be decorated, what we would name our kids, and trips we wanted to take together; we prayed together, read Scripture together and went to every church potluck we could schedule.

Dynamics changed once Maddie was born.  When people say their first year of marriage was horrible, I cannot relate at all.  It was the first year that Maddie was born which caused us to stress and argue the most.

I often say this:  When you get married, you don’t realize just how selfish you were.  And when you have kids, you REALLY see just how selfish you can be.

Sacrifice becomes your daily life.  You have to give up yourself – your dreams, time alone with just you or as a couple, your hobbies – more than you’d like to.

And with that first child comes the gritty reality that you don’t know what you’re doing.  It’s a lot of floundering and mistake making, and Devon and I had several fights over what to do when neither of us really knew what to do.  As the mom, I felt that I had the ultimate say over how to handle middle of the night crying fests, chaffed nipples and sleep schedules, and as the dad, Devon wanted to be included in on the tactics for dealing with things neither of us had answers to.  He would give his two cents worth, I would out right dismiss them, he would be hurt, we would argue… and then the argument became more about our own pride than sensible solutions that needed to be implemented.

I’m guessing most partners and spouses with kids have experienced the same thing.

And to this day, when we do occasionally argue, it’s almost always about the kids and how to handle things.  I’m thinking this will not end anytime soon.

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A dad on the floor makes him fair game as a jungle gym.

Fast forward to 2014.  Three kids, a coming out of the closet experience, 2 times dealing with cancer, a change of mindset about homosexuality not being a sin and a choice, my kids having two daddies… and still Devon is a great dad, and his husband, Felipe, is wonderful to our kids. I will never have to worry about having that evil step mom to compete with regarding who is the real mom of the family.  It’s all about me being the only mom they will ever have.

I kinda love it.

One of the most important revelations that I had after dealing for a bit with my own hurt after Devon’s big reveal, is that my children are NOT me.  As in, the betrayal I dealt with, the trust that was ruined, the crisis that was created by Devon coming out and the feelings of anger and working with instead of against the new life that I was to live… did not mean that my kids would have the same reaction, feelings, hurt or lifetime of distrust toward romantic/love relationships.  I often projected my own experience onto my kids, expecting that they would have to deal with or feel the same way I did.

Now, did they have to deal with this new life and have some hurt or emotions to work through?  Absolutely.  And maybe stuff will come up in their lives that stem from the Big Reveal in the future.  But their relationship with their daddy, while it may have changed in some ways because we didn’t live under the same roof, was not damaged, especially because they saw the example that we set when it was all said and done.

You see, Devon will always be their dad.  It’s not like the kids had to decide between keeping their relationship with him or putting a retainer down for a divorce attorney.  There wasn’t a romance involved, only the love and respect that Devon and the kids had for each other.

Him being gay did not change his Daddy Status.  I was the one that had to change my ideas of what they would do and how I thought they would react.

My middle daughter, Kate, said it perfectly: When he told us he was gay, I don’t think I was too surprised, not because I knew, but because it didn’t make him any different to me.

Isn’t that beautiful?

And it helped me to remember that Devon is and always will be that fun, responsible and good example of what a father is to his children.

Now, to the many people who seek to use this site as support for their scenario of a spouse coming out of the closet, I am aware that this particular post may tug at emotions you are still working through.  I want you to know that I am in no way attempting to intentionally put something in your face that would try to hurt you in any way or sway you to handle your lives like I did.  I realize that each family’s scenario has intricacies that can make a situation more difficult than my own.  This post, however, speaks to my own journey with Devon’s Big Reveal and how far we’ve come since that Day.

And my experience is this:  I chose to work with my situation instead of against it.  There have been so many blessings that have come from this, particularly that my kids have two daddies who love them and would die for them, just like I would.  My kids are secure in our non-traditional Rainbow Family and there is so much love surrounding them from all sides like bubble wrap, which is really wonderful.

So, Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there, gay, straight, or otherwise.  If you are a dad, you are at your core, a dad forever.  And kids will love their parents, even if they can be hurt by us.  Keep in mind that kids are almost always quicker to forgive us than we are at forgiving ourselves, and I want to be just like them in my own grace, mercy and forgiveness toward others.

And to those of you who have households with two daddies:  Thank you for loving your children just like any human would.  You being gay simply does not matter when it comes to loving your kids.

Happy Father’s Day, Devon.  And also you, Felipe.  Two dads and one mommy?  People should be envious.  Our lives do not suck.

Love, The Only Mom Our Three Little Birds Will Ever Have

P.S. One of the earliest blog posts that I wrote was a special message to Devon from our kids a couple of years ago.  It’s precious and funny, and will reveal a lot about Devon’s relationship with our babies.  Check it out here:  We Love You, DaddyDFKMTJumpingFamilyPhoto

 

That Damn Wedding Album

I’m a clutter whore.

I keep anything and everything.  It used to drive the OCD man crazy.

If Devon hadn’t have come out of the closet, our differences on our housekeeping philosophies would have driven us apart, I’m sure of it.  But you know, gay trumps clutter any day.

So when it finally came time to move out of our foreclosed home, I had been living there by myself for nearly a year.  The house was disgusting with piles of ka-ka everywhere.  I even had kept my Christmas tree up until April.  No kidding.  I think I kind of rebelled against him in a twisted way with my new-found freedom of not having to keep the place neat and orderly all the time.  I now despise June Clever, who wore prim and proper little dresses with pearls and carried a vacuum in her purse.

Like seriously, I pretty much didn’t fold one ounce of laundry for I think 5 months.  Ask my kids.  I would simply fish through a Mt. Everest of clean laundry everyday in order to get dressed.  They used to lie on it like a giant Lovesac and watch Hannah Montana.

I’ll bet it was uber comfy.

Wait.  Who am I kidding?  I would still be doing that today if my oldest daughter didn’t like to fold laundry so much (this is beyond my understanding).  Thank you, Devon, for passing on that mutant gene.

You can only imagine what it was like when it came time to sort through household junk and decide what he would keep and what I would keep.  I pretty much just wanted to leave it all there and start over.  I considered pulling a trailer trash move and walking away from everything just so I wouldn’t have to sort through and organize things.

Devon’s solution was to come over when I wasn’t there to find the things he wanted.   I was glad about that arrangement.  I definitely didn’t want to hear a lecture from him about my slovenly ways.  I’m sure he took a look around, baby barfed a few times on the dry brown lawn, and set to work.  I had already given him a list of things I definitely wanted and set a few things aside.

But, that damn wedding album.

That was a doozy.  I really didn’t want the stupid thing because at the time, I was still really struggling with my hurt and anger.  He didn’t want it that badly either because it made him cry.  Actually, everything makes him cry.  He’s the biggest bawl baby ever.

But we knew we needed to keep it.  You know, our kids really loved that album.  For me it produced hurt.  For them it produced nostalgia.  They loved us both.  Without the two of us marrying, they wouldn’t have existed.  That is a very amazing thing, really.

I put my hurt aside, he put his tears aside, and we kept it.  I gave it to him for safe keeping because I really wanted all of the scrapbooks I had created.  There were times that I considered cutting out his face from the pictures out of spite, believe me.

Today, I am so glad we kept it.  With time, my hurt healed.  We worked on our relationship to make it as amicable as possible, which also took time.  Today, I can sit down with the kids and look at that album with them.  They can even ask me questions about our first date, what it was like in the hospital when they were born and how Daddy reacted, what our favorite vacations were together as an intact family… and I don’t get sad anymore.  That one really took time.

It has been so important to the kids though.  When they see that we aren’t bitter toward each other, at least with our demeanor and words, then they feel more secure.

At this point in my journey, I can finally look at the pictures from that day and not feel bitter that Devon hid his homosexuality from me.  For a very long time, I felt like our marriage was a sham.  Once I finally accepted as truth that I was the only woman he ever loved, I felt free to believe that he truly loved me and that my relationship with him was real.

Keep that wedding album, people.  You might be glad that you did someday.  I fully believe that if you work through the bitterness, the betrayal and the lies that were lived by your gay spouse, you will make peace with the life you lived.  It is genuine.  Your love was genuine.  And your kids need to know that.

Oh, and don’t cut out any faces.  That looks freaky.

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We went on tons of family vacations to Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay, California. This is one of my favorite pictures of us. I still have it framed and displayed in a prominent place.

Blessings, Emily