Queer Youth: It’s Getting Better. Whew.

So there’s a time in my life that I don’t like to think about, let alone talk or write about. But I recently wrote a YA novel about a pair of high school soccer players, and I discovered that inhabiting their minds for months on end brought me spiraling back to my own teenage-hood, better known as the years-long period of my life when I felt actual despair. Hopelessness, even. Like my character Jamie, if not for soccer, if not for the endorphins, the team goals, the chance to inflict my anger and frustration legally and with encouragement on a small leather ball and larger, less leathery opponents, I honestly don’t know how I would have made it through junior high and high school.

I’ve heard a lot of people say they hated their secondary school experiences, including my own sister. It’s not something we talk a lot about, but as a teenager, my older sister struggled with suicidal ideation, much of it revolving around the two-year relationship she had with another girl. I found out about my sister’s girlfriend from Aaron (not his real name), one of the identical twins who lived in my neighborhood. Aaron was the more dynamic of the two boys, i.e. the one who suggested he and his twin Adam switch clothes and classrooms every so often in elementary school. We could all tell them apart, of course, but the adults? Not so much.


Rocking the pageboy in the early 198os.

Aaron was also the boy who, in seventh grade, announced to the lunch table that my older sister was a “dyke.” Apparently he’d forgotten the reputation I’d made for myself in second grade when I beat the crap out of any boy who dared steal my soccer ball or put me down for being “just a girl.” I mean, it had been five years, so maybe his memory lapse was understandable. Or maybe he just thought that now that we were in junior high, I would act more like a “regular” girl and less like a tomboy, despite the fact I favored tube socks, Puma sneakers, and a Kate Jackson pageboy haircut.

Either way, he seemed to realize his mistake almost immediately, because as my fists clenched and my eyes narrowed to slits, his eyes widened and he backed away.

“Take it back!” I roared, pushing away from the lunch table.

That’s when he made his second mistake: He whirled and ran. Like a wild cat, I growled and chased after him, my adrenaline surge fueled by his frenzied flight.

The chase was pathetically short. Aaron had quit soccer long before and was more interested in video games and (though I didn’t know it then) smoking weed with a few other future wake-and-bakers in the neighborhood, whereas I was still fully soccer-obsessed and a member of the Hillside Junior High track team. I caught him in the courtyard outside the lunchroom, tackled him to the ground, and sat on him, yelling at him to take it back. Naturally, he did.

Our friends followed us, and when a monitor finally picked up on the disruption in the lunchroom force, our friends pulled us apart and we all retreated as if nothing had happened. At least, outwardly. For the next few days, though, I walked through the school halls with a question battering my brain: “Was she?” And even more disturbing, “Am I?” By then, I already knew I was different. I’d known for a while, but junior high was where my difference became more pronounced because not only did I have crushes on girls more than on boys, I was still a tomboy—i.e., resolutely gender non-conforming, although more out of cluelessness than choice. My female friends had recently begun to speak what seemed to me almost a foreign language revolving around boys and make-up as they worked to fit themselves into a traditional gender role I couldn’t begin to fathom. It probably didn’t occur to Aaron that I would kick his ass at lunch because, duh, I was a girl, and girls in junior high don’t usually seek to dominate their male classmates either physically or academically. Second grade, sure. But seventh grade? My reaction marked me as an outlier even as it reinforced my schoolyard rep as someone not to be messed with.


My sister (center left) and me in the late 1980s

My sister, who identifies as bisexual, and I, a genderqueer lesbian, both came of age in the 1980s, when homophobia in American culture was dishearteningly mainstream. Unfortunately, thirty years later, the “taint” of queerness in sexual orientation and gender presentation is something American kids still struggle significantly with. In fact, according to the Trevor Project, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24, and LGB youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth. Other disturbing statistics from the Trevor Project: Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and 25 percent report having made a suicide attempt. Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.

The Dangers of Being Queer

There’s a reason for the tendency toward self-harm and the marked lack of resilience among our community’s youth. Members of other minority groups can usually rely on a support system made up of friends and family who in many cases share their minority status and who love them unconditionally, but kids who are queer fear they will never find a place where they can be accepted for being their authentic selves. Those of us in the LGBT community don’t know who will respond positively until we make the decision to be honest with the people in our lives—or someone else makes that decision for us. Coming out always means running the risk of being ridiculed and ostracized by childhood friends and, even worse, family members.

We’ve made enormous progress in the decades since I was a teen, thanks to LGBT civil rights activists and to campaigns like the It Gets Better Project, which works to communicate to LGBT youth that even if their families and communities of origin reject them, there will be other places where they will be loved and accepted, and other people who will cherish them. But despite our many steps forward, half of all queer teens still get a negative reaction from their parents when they come out to them, according to the True Colors Fund. More than 25 percent are thrown out of their homes, and still others run away to escape an abusive environment. Right now, LGBT youth—who represent around 7% of the American youth population—make up an estimated 40% of the 1.6 million homeless young people living on the streets. Despite their minority status, LGBT youth are nearly eight times more likely to wind up homeless than their straight counterparts, a situation that puts them at an increased risk of victimization, sexual and physical assault, and mental health issues.

Public schools in the U.S. have made significant advances against LGBT bullying, too. When news of my sister’s relationship with her girlfriend got out at Kalamazoo Central High School, she was harassed on a daily basis in hallways, bathrooms, and classrooms while the school’s teachers and administration largely looked the other way. But while LGBT verbal and physical bullying has, unfortunately, survived the test of time and has even evolved in sophistication via social media, schools have become better at both prevention and intervention. A couple of years ago when GLSEN released the 2013 National School Climate Survey, their 8th biennial report on the school experiences of LGBT American youth, they noted that even though LGBT students continue to experience pervasive harassment and discrimination, an increase in the availability of school-based resources and support is making American public schools safer overall.

Getting Out


Me & Bandit (& my perm!) in high school

But school—and home life—is still not safe for so many LGBT youth. Rejection from families of origin and “pervasive harassment and discrimination” are not easy things to bounce back from, no matter how much support teachers and administrators extend. After witnessing my sister’s experiences at the hands of Kalamazoo Central bullies, I retreated into myself, focused on soccer and schoolwork and writing, and, in a 1980s version of It Gets Better, basically waited out high school. Leaving my family and hometown behind was, I imagined, the only way I could ever find true happiness. Or if not happiness, then some sort of contentment. I pictured my adult self living alone in a cabin in the woods where I would have my dogs and my books and my fictional characters for companionship. It would be a quiet life without a spouse or children; a blessedly (or so I thought) empty life where I wouldn’t have to worry about being despised for who I happen to be.

Seeking solitude as a teenager wasn’t a blessed experience, though. It was incredibly lonely. Whenever anyone reached out to me, I responded only half-heartedly. I was so afraid of being rejected, so far inside my own head and heart it would have taken someone incredibly strong and dedicated to break down my defenses. I told myself I was happy being alone, and honestly, it was often a relief to roam the woods near my house with just my dog at my side; a relief to play soccer alone in my old junior high schoolyard after everyone had gone home for the day. I studied hard and watched tons of television and read romance and science fiction and fantasy novels, anything to distract me from my daily life. And I waited.

With all that studying, I did well academically. Soon colleges were lining up for me, and I knew that my dream of escape was within reach. I visited schools, read view books, and listened to my gut, and somehow I managed to pick wisely: Smith College in Western Massachusetts, an all-women’s school eight hundred miles away from my Southwest Michigan hometown. Smith’s view book contained a handful of photos of smiling tomboys in among the “regular” girls, including a picture on the back cover of two athletes walking down a brick path casting wide smiles over their shoulders, autumn leaves swirling around them, an ivy-colored building in the near distance. In that image I saw the possibility of being accepted and no longer alone. Maybe even, dare I think it, happy? When I visited Smith in Northampton, Mass. (a.k.a. Lesbianville, USA), I knew I was on the right track. Soon, it would get better for me.


Smith College, where (for me) It Got Better

And yet it took a full year for my heart to thaw, an entire year at Smith wondering if I could put myself out there, if anyone would like me if they got to know the real me. Not until my sophomore year did I gain enough courage to cut my hair short and match my outsides to my insides, to come out far and wide as a gender non-conforming lesbian. As soon as I did, an amazing girl asked me out. She thawed my frozen heart the rest of the way, and though I imagine she probably grew frustrated having to battle my walls and the emotional iciness I retreated into whenever I felt threatened, she was more than generous with her patience and unconditional love. We were together for a year during which my old dream, of solitude and dogs and loneliness, faded completely away, overtaken by visions of a partner and home and even, maybe someday, children. My parents adored her, and even after we broke up (alas, she graduated and I didn’t), they continued to ask about her for years. Once, I asked my mother why, and she told me that my relationship with my first girlfriend made me a more open and loving person, for which my parents will always be grateful.

Twenty-five years later, I am not the same teenager who left home wondering if I would ever find a place to belong. And yet, somewhere inside of me is that broken girl, that scared girl, that hopeless girl. Sexuality isn’t everything, of course; it’s just a part of who we are. But if your sexuality and/or gender identity fall outside cultural norms, they become objects others can and do use to hurt you, to ridicule you, to chip away at your sense of self. To beat you down, figuratively and sometimes literally. They become the reason your family might stop loving you, the reason your best friend from childhood might turn away from you, the reason your teachers might withhold help and acceptance, the reason your church might mark you as a sinner unworthy of your god’s love.

The majority of queer youth still struggle with these and other “what if” moments because most queer youth still come from straight parents who are statistically just as likely to ban them from dating anyone of the same sex or kick them out–or force them into “conversion therapy”–as they are to unconditionally love and accept them for having the courage to be themselves.

And yet, it does get better. There are an estimated 3,000 school-based Gay Straight Alliance clubs across the U.S., and even more opportunities for queer youth to connect online. It does get better, and it has gotten better over the last few decades. My hope, along with that of so many other LGBT adults, is that it will continue to do so.

My vlog for the It Gets Better Project is below. If you watch it, try not to laugh at the additional permed mullet pics from the (thankfully) distant 1980s–I dare you…

Posted in Family, Gender, LGBT rights | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Game Time Cover Reveal, Release Date, and Jacket Blurb

The cover for Game Time, book two in the Girls of Summer series, took shape this week, and I realized that the Valentine’s Day recreate would be better suited to book three in the series. So here is the final-ish cover for the next book:


I reserve the right to change it–when I self-publish, I often make good use of that right–but this is the general gist. Due to requests (thank you to two readers who contacted me on social media!), I also made it available for pre-order on Amazon. This is my first time using the pre-order option on the KDP publication platform. “Pre-order” means that as soon as the book is uploaded and approved for publication on the KDP platform, it’s automatically delivered to the purchaser’s Kindle app. Seems like a good process to me, both for the author and the reader.

The publication date I selected is September 30, 2016. Only a month away! Whew. I (and my patient beta readers) have much to do. In the meantime, here’s the blurb/product description:

Training Ground, book one of the Girls of Summer series, introduced Emma Blakeley and Jamie Maxwell, two young athletes with seemingly bright soccer futures. Now, in book two, those futures are upon them.

It’s late 2013, and the world’s best soccer players are gearing up for the 2015 World Cup. In London, Jamie has just completed her third season with Arsenal Ladies F.C. Only one soccer dream still eludes her: a spot on the US women’s national team.

Emma, a national team regular, plays professionally in Seattle with the NWSL, the most recent incarnation of American women’s pro soccer. When Jamie is invited to her first national team residency camp, Emma is apprehensive. As professional athletes they have crossed paths a few times before, but they haven’t spent this much time together since high school.

Jamie, meanwhile, would do almost anything to earn the chance to play for her country at the highest level. Even, if she had to, share a room with Emma at team residency camp.

Both women are hoping it doesn’t come to that.

Join Jamie and Emma for the latest installment in the ongoing story of their lives, loves, and would-be world championships in Game Time, book two of the bestselling Girls of Summer series.

All right. Happy summer to you, and back to work for me… As a reminder, you can add your email address to my mailing list if you’d like to receive news and updates on future releases. Happy reading!

Posted in Lesbian Fiction, Second Growth Books, Self-Publishing, Soccer | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

WLW Soccer Fans/ Artists/ Creative Types – Apply Here!

Are you as gutted as I am about the US women’s soccer team loss at the 2016 Olympics? Well, now’s your chance to distract yourself with a creative project: I’m putting out a call for a cover image for my upcoming novel (as yet untitled), the third in a series about women-loving-women who happen to play soccer for club and country at the highest level. (Read reviews and more about Training Ground, book one in the series, on Goodreads.)

I have a specific image in mind, based on the famous Adidas Valentine’s Day post:


Only instead of two female runners on a street, I’m looking for the same pose with two female soccer players on a grassy (soccer-ish) field. Surprisingly, I haven’t been able to find an image like this on any of the stock photo sites where I usually shop for cover images, which is why I’m soliciting an original image. I’ll pay $100 via PayPal, include the photographer/ illustrator’s name in the book’s front matter, and send a print copy of the book when it comes out early next year. And as a bonus you’ll get to have your work/legs featured on the cover of a best-selling lesbian author’s WLW soccer novel!

Other visual requests/details: Time of day should be morning or afternoon. Field can be stadium or not, and you can even take the image against a green screen or white backdrop. (I can add the field later via the wonders of Photoshop.) Cleats or indoor soccer shoes are preferred, with low socks, no shin guards, and shorts. One of the characters is gender fluid (Jamie, the taller one) and the other is more traditionally feminine (Emma, the slightly shorter one), so clothes/ styles are welcome to reflect those differences. Both characters are white, but darker skin tone can work too. Good muscle tone is pretty much required—sorry to be picky, but the characters are in the US Women’s National Team player pool, so the image needs to reflect high fitness levels. Also, shaved legs are the norm in that world. Anything above thigh level doesn’t impact the shot, though. Trans models are welcome.

File requirements: I will consider a realistic graphic version (preferably in Illustrator file format) or a staged photograph. Either way the image should be high resolution (minimum 3264 x 2448 pixels) and unfiltered (no Instagram version). Please be able to email me a copy of the original file or share it via some form of the cloud. If you prefer to send a thumbnail for me to consider, you are welcome to do so.

Selection criteria: I will choose the image that best represents my vision for the novel—which, I know, is totally subjective. Sorry! Although if photographers/creators would like, I’m happy to create a gallery of images submitted with links to the creator’s online gallery or website. Sort of like an Unsplash for wlw soccer fans…?

Licensing: Please be prepared to offer the image royalty-free according to iStock Photo’s standard license agreement available here.

Timing: As soon as possible! I would like to have the image in hand no later than 8/31/16. If I find an image before then, I’ll update this post here on WordPress.

Contact me: Questions? Photos to submit for consideration? Email me at katechristie8 at gmail.com.

Posted in Lesbian Fiction, Self-Publishing, Soccer | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

It Makes a Difference

On Tumblr last week, a post about LGBT marriage popped up on my dashboard. User propharah had written, “Hearing women say ‘my wife’ and men say ‘my husband’ is therapeutic to be honest.” Coincidentally, I stumbled across this post only an hour or so after coming out as my wife’s wife for probably the five hundredth-plus time in our decade of marriage. I’d already been considering a blog post about the morning’s experiences, so when I saw propharah’s note I opened up Word and wrote a quick reply on Tumblr.

Here it is in its entirety—with a few accompanying illustrations, of course, because this is WordPress not Tumblr ffs.


This morning at our daughter’s swim lessons at the local YMCA, my wife introduced me to an older woman who had just come in: “Sara, this is my wife Kate. Honey, Sara is Aiden’s grandmother.”


Me and Alex at the YMCA pool

At the word “wife,” the other woman’s head whipped around and she looked between us with an expression that seemed to demand, “Wait, are you joking? Is this a joke?”

Kris and I have been married for eleven years (2005, Western Massachusetts), so it’s not like this reaction was entirely new or even a bit unexpected. Ignoring the stranger’s shocked look, I held out my hand and smiled. “It’s nice to meet you, Sara.”

After a brief pause, she shook my hand and then stared unblinking while my daughter ran over and hugged me. As I leaned down to press a kiss to Alex’s forehead, I found myself replying silently to the unvoiced questions hanging in the air: “Yes, we are married. Yes, this is my daughter, too. Yes, we are a family.”

Eventually Aiden’s grandmother recovered her equilibrium and we all sat down and chatted for the next thirty minutes as if that awkward moment had never happened. When I made an offhand comment toward the end of the conversation about Alex having two moms, Sara only nodded and kept right on, her deer-in-the-headlights days apparently behind her.


Alex, Aiden, and the rest in the shallow end

Later, as I left the Y and headed to work, I couldn’t help thinking about the fact that we were probably the first legally married women this 65-year-old retired widow with two sons and three grandsons (I might have unearthed her life story in the course of a single swim lesson; it’s what writers do) had ever met. Or, at least, the first women who had ever called each other “wives” so easily, so proudly in her presence. Stonewall happened only a few years before I was born, but it happened after Sara became a wife and mother. She had lived through a sea change for LGBT Americans, even if she wasn’t aware of most of those changes.

As I drove toward campus, I also realized what a difference it made to me to be able to meet this straight woman on equal footing; to discuss my family with the weight of legal and governmental, if not cultural, support behind me. When we talked about the simultaneous joy and deep-seated exhaustion that comes with looking after small children, it was as fellow mothers–even though I am not biologically related to my children. When I offered condolences on the recent loss of her husband, it was as a fellow wife who, unfortunately, would someday likely either be in her shoes or be the one to leave my own wife in that position.

Being equal in the eyes of the law makes a difference to me, and it makes a difference to my wife and our daughters, and it makes a difference to all of our friends and family members. It also makes a difference to the myriad strangers we encounter on a daily basis: to those who do double-takes when we use the term “my wife;” to those who silently revolt at our constitutional right to do so; maybe especially to those who inwardly cheer and feel a little bit better about their own lives, their own possibilities, their own futures.

Absolutely, it makes a difference.


A couple of married (to each other) soccer moms and our kids

Posted in gay marriage, LGBT rights, Non-Biological Motherhood | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

New Book Out: Training Ground, book one in the Girls of Summer series

As some of you know, I just released my newest novel, Training Ground, from my imprint Second Growth Books. The ebook is currently on sale for $2.99 and has already made Amazon’s bestseller list for lesbian fiction. (Woo hoo!) Amazon is also currently offering the paperback at a discounted price of $9. In a few days, I’ll post information about a Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win a signed paperback copy.

So here’s the skinny on this book: Training Ground is the first in a series about women’s soccer (football) players, inspired by my ridiculous fangirling over the US women’s national team after last year’s World Cup. Think of the series as USWNT fanfiction with original characters, written by a traditionally- & indie-published lesfic author.

The blurb from the back cover is below. If any reviewers would like a review copy, please contact me at katechristie8 at gmail.com. For an excerpt and purchase options, visit the book page on my website or pop on over to Amazon. Happy reading!

Sometimes a chance meeting can change everything.

At fifteen, Jamie Maxwell’s main goals in life are to make the United States youth national soccer pool, move past the Incident-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named, and maybe—someday—kiss a girl. When she meets Emma Blakeley at a tournament in Southern California, something about the older girl draws her in. And it isn’t that she expects to ever get the chance to kiss Emma. Really.

When Jamie invites her to sneak out on the last night of Surf Cup, Emma doesn’t go because she likes Jamie’s smile. She goes because, as the daughter of a surgeon and a nurse, she has a genetic predisposition to try to heal people. And Jamie, she can tell, is wounded.

Neither girl suspects that this first last night together will form the basis of a bond that will last across years and miles, from SoCal soccer fields and New York hotels to Portuguese beaches and the streets of Vancouver. But that’s how most friendships begin, isn’t it? With a smile and a nod and the courage to ask, “Do you maybe, possibly, want to come with me?”


Posted in Lesbian Fiction, Second Growth Books, Women's soccer | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Oh Happy Day(s)


The day Alex was born

Some people say that the day their child is born is the happiest day of their life. For me, I can honestly say that isn’t the case. The day Alex was born was the day that I found out just how little control I had over the life and death of my wife and the baby she was carrying. The day Alex was born—actually, days because it took 35 freaking hours—I stood helplessly watching the person I loved most, the person I’d chosen to hang my future on, labor to bring into the world a tiny person who seemed intent on not leaving her body. I could only stand there and try to help in my very limited way, such as holding her hand through the worst of the contractions, pushing her hair back from her face, telling her when it was absolutely time to give in and get the effing epidural god damn it, and offering weak sounds of reassurance as she looked up at me with absolute terror when the baby stayed stuck and the contractions slowed and began to come farther apart. There was literally nothing I could do but wait and hope—which, to be honest, are two things I’m not particularly accomplished at.

The second time around, with the twins, Kris’s labor was shorter and the epidural came just in time apparently, but the experience was almost as dizzying for me, the non-pregnant spouse. Kris had a late-term complication that could actually kill the babies if we didn’t induce early, so that was a tad stressful. Add to that the dream I’d had six weeks earlier that one of the babies came out not breathing, plus my flashbacks to the trauma of Alex’s birth, and my nerves were pretty much shot even before labor began. Kris pushed Ellie out easily in only a few minutes, but Sydney was a different matter. When she finally emerged pale and limp and not breathing, I was certain my nightmare was coming true. She recovered quickly and we were told there should be no lasting effects, but, yeah, definitely not the happiest day ever.


We were pretty happy, to be honest

People also say that their wedding day is the happiest day of their life. While this one I can get behind a little more, a wedding is still an event with an alarming ability to spin out of control. What if your partner gets cold feet and doesn’t show up (which happens in more movies and TV shows than anyone about to get married really needs to think about)? What if a family member gets drunk and makes a scene? In my case, I was too nervous beforehand for it to qualify as the happiest day, although it was definitely the happiest event of my life: all those people coming to Western Mass to celebrate us, to toast to our love and what we hoped would be a lasting commitment. And the dancing—you haven’t lived until you’ve seen your drunk college friends scream in unison with your new wife’s equally drunk cousins, “Oh Mickey you’re so fine you’re so fine you blow my mind yeah Mickey!”

Honestly, though, in my less than humble opinion, the best day of someone’s life most likely sneaks up on them, and maybe they realize it at the time and maybe they don’t. To my mind, the happiest day story goes something like this:

One Sunday morning five years after your first child is born, you wake up at a not ungodly hour to a perfectly quiet house and the faint sound of birds beginning their morning songs. You try to go back to sleep, but soon you give up and reach for the book on the bedside table. With light filtering through the narrow spaces in the blinds, you remember why reading is one of your very favorite things as you sink into the life of the book.

Eventually, though, as the sunlight intensifies and the birds begin to sing louder and the neighborhood starts to wake up, you’re brought back to your own existence by soft footsteps and a small face smiling at you over the edge of the bed.

“Can I come up?” the little person asks.

“Of course,” you say, smiling back.

You pat the space next to you and watch as the munchkin crawls up and snuggles under the covers, her tiny body warm against your side. Then, if you’re lucky, another small face appears, and then another. Soon you are sandwiched by small people and, if you’re especially lucky, a happy dog that lays at your feet, tail thumping lazily against the comforter on the bed that you and your wife picked out shortly after you got married. You chose a king because of your mutual dream of one day spending lazy Sunday mornings reading in bed and snuggling with your children and dogs.

And you realize that this. This right here. In this moment, you are so happy that your heart grows at least two sizes and tears prick your eyes and you hug your kids closer, kissing the tops of their tiny heads while they giggle up at you, so accustomed to your sappiness that it doesn’t faze them in the least. (It’s possible they even enjoy it.)

And because you are happy and because you know you are just so, so lucky to have even a single moment like this one, you gaze across the multiple tiny heads crowding your bed and look into the sleepy eyes of the woman you once watched in terror, afraid that your entire existence was about to come crashing down and that there was absolutely nothing you could do about any of it. But it didn’t. Instead, this woman you have known for decades and loved for so many years pushed through the pain and the fear and the anxiety to give you not just one beautiful, perfect child but three.

And you smile because you know that this is the happiest day of your life. You smile because if you’re lucky, there will be more mornings like this and your heart will just keep growing. You smile because you know that you are truly, especially lucky.



Posted in gay marriage, Non-Biological Motherhood, Parenting, Twins | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

10 Things to Know about Parenting Multiples

Or, How I Learned to Occasionally Dislike Parenting—Like, Really, Really Intensely

When Alex was a baby and Kris and I both worked part-time and got plenty of quality time with her, I remember reading a parenting post about how it’s okay to not enjoy some parts of parenting. I don’t remember the specific examples the blogger used, but they definitely involved trying to parent multiple small children capable of speaking, running, hitting, and kicking, but not of dealing with their own borderline psychotic toddler emotions.

Alex hadn’t learned to walk or talk yet at that point, and Kris’s RA was still responding to treatment. Life seemed so sweet for our family of three that I shook my head in pity for that poor mom who either lacked time management skills or perhaps had had children before she was really ready. Four years and two additional children later, I finally understand what that other mother was talking about. Thus I would like to publicly apologize for my smug forty-year-old self, and also to confirm as many have done before me that karma is, indeed, a bitch.

What follows is a list of realities about parenting multiple small children that Kris and I have learned since the twins were born. If you’re currently eating, you might want to wait until you’re done to read on. If you’re considering having a baby or a second child, you might want to avoid reading on at all. Just saying.

  1. There will be poop. Lots of poop. Perhaps literally a ton of poop if you have enough babies. Newborn poop will squirt out of your child’s butt at one in the morning, hit a nearby window, and proceed to drip slowly down the glass as you laugh hysterically. In her toddler years, your child will remove her diaper, look inside, and yell, “Oh no, there’s poop in it!” as she waves said diaper over her head. If you have a baby boy, he will also piss on you every chance he gets. But don’t worry. Urine is sterile!
  2. You will be sick all the time—all of you!—and not in the ways to which you might be accustomed. One day, your children’s eyes will decide to hock loogies. This is called pink eye. Look it up on the internet and then wish you hadn’t. You will wash your hands until they crack and bleed, but to no avail. One morning you will wake up and find that your eyes, too, are glued shut. You can hear your sick children crying but you can’t see them very well. Which, after all, might be a blessing.
  3. You will use up all your sick leave taking care of said children. When you inevitably succumb to the sickness of the month, you will use up your vacation leave. This unhealthy cycle ensures that you will be chronically short of vacation time at a point in your life when you need it the most.
  4. You will spend years of your life kneeling on the floor to help with socks and winter caps, tie shoe laces, zip jackets, and change diapers.
    4a. Parenting will destroy your body. In addition to being chronically short on sleep and chronically congested (there might be a cause-effect relationship between these two…), you may find that your knees, ankles, and back creak at odd moments and refuse to bend at all by the time your children are school-aged.
  5. You will find yourself repeating the same phrases, over and over and over and… Phrases like, “Don’t touch that!” “The tag goes in back.” “No, other foot. I said, other foot!” “Bring my shoes back—now.” “Put my sunglasses down.” “God damn it, [insert child’s name]!” And, “I’m sorry I got impatient with you.” Because when you repeat the same things over and over and the outcome still doesn’t change, you will become impatient. Unless you are a saint. And even then you will lose your patience.
    5a. You will buy lots of sunglasses, cell phone screen protectors, and furniture—because living with multiple small beings who lack impulse control will teach you to recognize the importance of not becoming overly attached to inanimate objects.
  6. Your young children will have no body shame. This is a wonderful thing, except when it extends to your body. Your mother’s helper is going to see you naked. So will your father-in-law. And your neighbors—on both sides. You will learn never to assume that just because you left the baby gate shut AND your bedroom door closed AND the window shades down doesn’t mean that this is still the state of affairs when you wander naked from the master bathroom after your second shower in six days. But don’t worry. Your neighbors are getting used to seeing you naked.
  7. Your young children will have a worse case of the wandering hands than any high school boyfriend ever. Try not to recoil too visibly, and recognize that these episodes present a perfect opportunity to teach your children about the sanctity of other people’s private body parts. Again and again and again… (See # 5 above on repeating yourself.)
  8. If a loved one dies, your young children will remind you of it constantly. For weeks. For months. For years. Just when you think you have moved past the pain, your children will ask to see photos of your loved one. You will comply because you understand that kids need help processing the big things in life. But still. You will cry, and it will hurt.
  9. Your own squeamishness with bodily fluids will fade after years of wiping your children’s butts. This will mostly be an improvement, except on the rare occasion in which you find yourself socializing with other adults. Then your tendency to tell stories regarding projectile poop (see # 1 above) will potentially lose you friends and influence. Not that you’ll care. You’ll be too giddy from your temporary freedom and the glass of wine you unwisely downed on an empty stomach to notice your friends and/or co-workers shying away from you. Fellow parents of small children will stick around, though, clutching their own hastily imbibed booze as they describe the color of the material that came spewing out of their own children’s orifices just the other night.
  10. The accepted way to end one of these lists is to offer up a sentimental “And yet, parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever love!” But I’m sorry. I was up three times last night with assorted small, whiny beings, and right now I just want to post this and veg out with DVRed episodes of Downton Abbey or possibly the 2015 World Cup finals.

I mean, yes, of course I adore my children. Did you read the list? The only thing that would allow someone with an overly sensitive olfactory sense AND a tendency toward vomiting to withstand the rigors of parenting three children under the age of four is, obviously, copious amounts of prescription dru—I mean, copious amounts of unconditional love. While I won’t commence listing their numerous virtues, I will share a recent photo of my three lovelies on a good day.

For now, good night and good luck, as Kris and I used to say to each other every night before turning out the lights. To be honest, we still sometimes do.


Two out of three smiling and looking = good enough

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