Tag Archives: Love

Marriage and Kids?!? …why ruin my life?

Warning:  The next few paragraphs are just streams of thought and garnished with a tinge of sadness.  I am completely aware that it’s a jumbled mess and I am throwing a pity party for myself.  But…I am anxious right now and I will hurdle this anxiety much sooner if I word vomit.

Most of my life, I was conditioned to the norms of our American society.  Men had their jobs to do and women had theirs.  My Mom worked hard to build confidence in us to be and do whatever we wanted but she was deeply rooted in the culture that men ate dinner first and had the best of whatever was offered because they worked the hardest.  Could have been a Super HeroHer mom’s idea of life was “men were to work hard and women were to look pretty”.  It’s hard to break out of an ingrained mindset and my Mom works hard at doing just that.

We’re working our best to raise our daughter as gender neutral as possible.  I want her to know that she can play with whatever toys she wants and her favorite color CAN be something other than pink or purple.  I just want her to believe that no matter what she might be taught by outside forces, that she can be good at math and science…  that she can become a Scientist Athlete Artist Princess…if that’s what she wants to be.

While growing up, I never talked much about getting married or having kids.  Occasionally, I would talk about what it would be like having kids but I NEVER pictured my life with a spouse or children. Happily Ever After I never had a plan or idea of what my wedding would be like because I never thought I would get married.  Ever.  I pretended so I could fit in but in my mind’s eye, nothing seemed to add up the way it added up for all of my friends.  I was told that I needed to act a certain way so I could meet a good man, get married, and have him take care of me.  But man…that just didn’t make sense to me.  SO, my mantra turned into “marriage and kids?  why would I want to ruin my life”.  I pretended that getting married and having kids would “cramp my style”.  I was a world traveler and these things were not part of my plan.

The truth is, I never thought anyone would love me.  I was set on the idea that I would never find anyone to share my life with in a way that made me feel loved and allowed me to love back. 

Fast forward to 2007:  I’m FINALLY out of the closet (as in not afraid to be myself in front of others) and have rekindled a relationship with one of the smartest people I know…my crush from high school.

Fast forward to 2008:  I have finally recognized the unfamiliar emotions that have been creeping up and realized that THIS is what all my childhood friends were experiencing when they giggled about getting married.  On October 11, 2008, I proposed…well, she proposed because I got choked up.  October 11, 2008We buy a house together and crack jokes about how we’ll be perpetually engaged because getting legally married would never happen in our lifetime.  For the first time in my life though, I start imagining and planning what my wedding day might be like.  And I love it.

Fast forward to 2010:  We find out we have an opportunity to adopt our daughter.  Our DaughterWe find out that only ONE of us can legally adopt.  The other of us is in legal limbo.  We were able to be present during the pregnancy and in the room the moment she breathed her first breath.  Heather rushed to our baby.  I stayed with the birth mom and held her hand.  Our daughter was a bit too early and spent 2 weeks in NICU.  We were there every minute.  The adoption was finalized in 2011.  Still just one of us are the recognized parent.

Fast forward to October 6th 2014:  Our Wedding DayAfter a long 10 year battle, same-sex marriage becomes legal in Oklahoma.   Scrambling for every available protection under the law for our family…for our little girl, we decide to get married as soon as possible.  That day was October 11, 2014.  It was just the 3 of us, the Pastor, a photographer, and 2 witnesses.  Not exactly the wedding celebration I had been planning in my heart for the last 7 years.  But we were married and that’s all that mattered.

Fast forward to June 25, 2015:  I’m tumbling in my thoughts today because we are so close to a decision from SCOTUS about marriage equality in the United States.  A decision which can solidify the current legal standing I have with my better half OR nullify it.  I’m tumbling because had we been able to marry 4 years ago, we could have adopted our daughter together instead of having to adopt her once for one parent and a second time for the “step-parent”.  I teared up just typing that.

Working on leaping this emotional hurdle.  I am so grateful for what I have and where I am in my life.  I feel like a spoiled baby for being sad about these things.   Angel and the GirlI feel like a spoiled baby for wanting a wedding celebration.  I feel like a baby for being frustrated about going through another adoption process to legalize something we’ve been all along.  I am aware that my journey hasn’t been nearly as difficult as those before me but for the last 922 words,  I was able to blow off some negative steam that was fogging up all the blessings in my life.

Now that I’ve put it all out there, I’m feeling much better.  I thought about not posting since I am feeling better, but, just in case there’s a kid out there worried about their future…hang on just a little bit longer.  The familiarity of being an outcast will lose its grip.  Thanks to the patience and bravery of the souls before me, the lifetime wait for marriage equality for the entire nation is just days away.  I am grateful.

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ANGEL’S HALL OF FAME: My ever growing list of kindness.

Here it is…the announcement of the day.  Hold on to your butts…it’s a doozey.

I’m not perfect.

There it is…in all its glory.  Announcement #2?  I don’t know how to spell “doozey” but…well…hopefully, you get what I’m trying to say.

I have been reminded everyday how blessed I am despite my awkward existence.  Last week I was reading posts about one of my unwitting music mentors, Amy Grant, releasing a new album next month (“How Mercy Looks From Here” will be available May 14).  This of course, reminded me about the time my sweet friend, Eric worked diligently with my friend Lionel to arrange a meeting with Amy.  A meeting that was so surreal and meaningful to me that even today, I can not be reminded of it without having to wipe a “happy” tear from my eye.  I am so grateful for the thought and work it took to make that moment happen.  I thought about Amy and her music.  Her strength…that pulled me out of dark and sad times during my childhood.  I know that I’ve said this before but to see a woman so young writing and commanding a stage…it changed my life.  It changed my direction.

straight aheadI will be ever in debt to my friend Angela Calhoun for introducing me to “Angels Watching Over Me” and the Straight Ahead album. 🙂

This led me on a two week course of gratefulness and reflection.  Something that I have spent hours a day on as of late.  The more I got to thinking about how blessed I am, the more faces I could see.  People who have impacted me in such great ways.  People who pushed me to be better and raised the bar of compassion, intellect, thoughtfulness, and encouragement, the list is infinite.

From arranging lifetime meetings, buying cribs, car seats and stollers, replacing stolen Christmas money so I could buy my daughter’s first Christmas gifts, hugs and laughs, unexpected letters of encouragement, kicks in the ass that I really need, a surprise coffee, smiles galore at just the right time, a look in the eye that says, “you can do it”, a job, Facebook messages that say, “you’re better than that.”, teachers who make leaving my daughter every day just a little bit easier, French lessons just because, to cleaning my backyard because it looks like a ghetto zoo exhibit <<<yes, that’s true, and did I mention laughs?  Your random and not so random acts of kindness and genuine love for me and my family have built a better human being.  Not quite a bionic Jaime Sommers but SUPER close.

And do you know what I love about these people?  If any of them were to read this, they would ask themselves how they got on this list.  These are the humans that act out of goodness.  They show selflessness and without a thought of what anyone else may think,  they just do because they can.

hall of fame

Heather Threadgill, Sam Snavely, Vicki Peters, Steve and Lori Nance, Michelle Davis, Eric Himan and Ryan Nichols, Erika Hardin and Natalee Pendergraft, Julie Nikel, Lionel Vargas, Stephanie and Joe Christiansen, Cheryl Lawson, Michael and Catherine Ray, Barb Hauxwell, Joel and Kelly Russell, Stacy Acord, CC Lawhon, Kristi Perryman, Virginie Gill Dejour, Staci Walkup, Michael Shoopman, Travis Jackson, Howard Stump, Jessica Butchko, Billy Sauerland, Steven Nix, Kimi Hann and Chris Lieberman, Miranda and Phil Kaiser, Missy Wilson, Chrystal Kelly, Betsy Chase, Courtney and Casey Nichols, Michael and Amanda Mitchell, Janice Sawatsky Sahr, John and Jane Ray, Rebecca Smith, Deke Coop, Stephanie Schrepel, Caleb Taylor, and Jennifer Jako.

To my Hall of Fame:  You have been rocks to lean on and hands to pull me up.  You have been a crutch, a counselor, a clock, a mirror, a party, an icepack, a rope, a map, a compass, a hope, and my teacher.  I have been changed forever (for the good) for knowing you.

Thank you all for your compassion, kindness, and grace. You give me courage and I will never be able to adequately thank you…but it’s a start.


		
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MY terrifying reality of “in-laws”.

in-law (n)

n. A relative by marriage.

I was sharing a funny story today about the video below with a friend of mine and some of the details were about a drive from my house to my in-laws house…which is a pretty good distance.

Now, I know that when I say “in-law”, we all get different pictures in our heads and we’ve all had quite a bit different experiences as well.  There are jokes galore.

A lot of us have heard the term, “Monster-In-Law” and most of us have seen the movie Meet the Parents.  We get that there’s been some less than stellar relationships out there.

 

Mother--In-Laws
So…my story.
I actually have amazing in-laws.  I’ll admit that it was a bit rocky at first.  Their eldest daughter comes out of the closet and reveals that she is gay AND is in a relationship with yours truly.  We had our moments as everyone was evolving to this revelation and the true reality of who my partner is…
It’s 6 years later and I look forward to the times that I get to spend with them.  They treat me as one of their own and I am humbled and blessed to call them my family.
As I was thinking about all of this and in light of the 2 cases that the Supreme Court of the United States, I came to a terrifying reality.
Not my in-law?!?

THEY ARE NOT MY IN-LAWS.

My partner and I are not married.  I’ve called them my in-laws for years now…it’s what everyone understands…it’s our social indicator, our culture.  When referring to our spouse’s/partner’s/husband’s/wife’s family, they are our in-laws.  These are the words we use but by the very definition they do not represent my relationship with my partner’s family.  This was a sad moment for me.  I want to be able to call them my “in-laws” and what its very definition means – a relative by marriage.
With all of this rolling around in my head, it all became clear to me.  Marriage Equality isn’t about religion, pro-creation, science, politics, or even love.  We don’t say, mother-in-religion, father-in-science, sister-in-love. We say IN-LAW.  Marriage is about protection.  Protection under and by the law.  That’s what I want.  That’s what I want for me, my partner, my daughter, my sisters, my brother, my parents…and my in-laws.
It’s not just about me and my partner…this is about my family.
The Love part?  Well…it’s a bonus.  A great and wonderful bonus.
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“You Killed Your Sister”.

This is what I was told after the accident that left my little sister burned on over 50% of her 22 month old body.

It was 1977 and I was a sassy almost four year old with a curiously sweet and shy little baby sister.  We were living in a place that has survived only as pieces in my mind’s eye.  I don’t remember much of my childhood at all.  I don’t remember much of anything unless it’s a story that’s been told over and over again OR if it was something that was documented in a photograph…but this, I have held onto this memory for 35 years.

Sisters

The two of us before the accident.

The accident happened when Jammie and I were in a kitchen and trying desperately to find a way to some chocolate donuts on top of a counter. In the midst of our endeavor, a crockpot was knocked off the counter top.  The contents poured down the left side of my sister’s head and face, down her left arm, and completely covered her back. I have no recollection of this catastrophic event. All I know of this moment is what I was told. Little Jammie was whisked away and taken to Hillcrest Burn Unit. She wasn’t expected to live and what happened to her from that point, we only know from medical records. I am certain that the quick response of our mother is what saved her life. Sometimes we think, that in moments like these, we’ll remember all of our training, all of our senses, all of our “know how” and for some, it’s true. Regardless of what choices were made in that moment, I will never know how my mom was able to do what she did. Through shock and panic, she saved Jammie that day.

I don’t know what happened to me in the moments after the accident. I don’t remember anything but the feeling of suffocation.  All I do know is that after absorbing the words, “you killed your sister”, my mind shut off.  They tell me that I quit talking and walking.  My mom, who never left the hospital (except for when the orderlies dragged her out so she could “get some rest”) didn’t know what was going on with me until my aunt told her. Once again, it was my mom that came to the rescue. She took me to a therapist who, at that point said that the only way I would recover is if I knew, beyond a shadow of doubt, that Jammie was in fact, alive.  The ONLY memory I have of any of this tragedy is the moment that I saw Jammie’s face. They brought her frail little body to the doors of the burn unit. It was a typical hospital double door with the long and thin rectangular windows. I remember seeing her face through one of those windows and at that moment, a nurse opened the door so that her tiny hand could pass through the opening.  They let me touch her.  It’s been 35 years and I still can’t recall that instant without tears.

Adults do weird things in times of panic and mayhem. Placing the blame and guilt on my shoulders was one of those things. I need to say that my parents never made me feel guilty or made me feel the blame of the accident. They never uttered the words used to title this post, but when someone did utter those words, it changed my life forever. I walked through our school years hearing the taunts and watching bullies pick on Jammie because of her scars…I also beat the crap out of some of  them. I carried the shame and guilt of this accident for a very long time. Now that we’re adults, it’s so weird to look back on that time…on all of it. She’s such a strong woman. I am learning to be.

Here we are during the 2012 World Burn Congress.

It wasn’t until Jammie and I attended the World Burn Congress, presented by the Phoenix Society of Burn Survivors that I was able to shake free from an accident that was never my fault. Our time there was very emotional…we were forced to take a look at a very hard time of our lives…parts that had holes, stories with pieces missing. She and I were able to put the together some shattered, broken parts of ourselves. I learned that Jammie had moved past the accident way before I ever thought possible. She taught me that I am a survivor too. That it was ok that I survived. She also reminded me that we were just babies and that neither of us could possibly be held accountable for the accident. I was able to take a look at 4 year old Angel that still hid deep down inside and tell her that everything will be ok. That everything IS ok. That it was an accident. A terrible accident.

So…a chunk of my life that I carry, but that I no longer have to carry so harshly.

I don’t know why I share this story now…maybe it’s because my own little one is coming upon the age that Jammie was when all of this happened. Even now, it’s kind of hard to look at my daughter and see how little she is, knowing that Jammie had to brave such a travesty with that same tiny frame.

I am so proud of Jammie. I am proud of the woman she has become. She is a brilliant writer, a fascinating mother, a cherished part of my heart.

For more information on Phoenix Society of Burn Survivors click here: www.phoenix-society.org.  To discover the unbelievable talent that is my sister, click here: jammiekern.com

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