Trudy’s in the adorable mispronunciation of words stage. You know the one. I remember Arden in this stage–we were so sad when he learned that “aqua” is not pronounced “a-wa-qua”, and “orange” was not “ornange.” Yesterday, we took a family trip to a museum, and are delighted that, while it is different than Arden’s was, Trudy’s pronunciation of the word is equally as adorable. “Mu-zee-ma.” As in, “I go to the mu-zee-ma with my two mommies and my brother.” (side note, if she is hanging with one of us and the other walks in, she shouts, “TWO MOMMIES!” and, just yesterday, she told Jess, “I have two mommies. I lucky.” The rainbow in my heart grew two sizes. Anyway.) So, we’re in the car, as the mu-zee-ma is about an hour away, and just chatting it up. Jess, forgetting which adorable pronunciation to use, borrowed Arden’s. “Trudy, what will we do at the mu-zee-a-em?” (Arden said “mu-zee-a-em” through kindergarten, I think, and I still try to spell it that way [museaum] when I write it. Kids–they get in your head.] Trudy’s response? “Mama, why we go to the A B C mu-zee-ma?” Ha.
Even if you don’t mean to, I think you compare your kids, just because experience is a teacher. Arden was a ridiculously early talker. Like, ridiculous. He knew his colors (including a-wa-qua) at about 18 months simply, I think, because he got feedback when he talked about them. Trudy’s language acquisition was much more typical, but because my experience with Arden was what it was, I was concerned. I could even say that I knew that my concern was unfounded and silly, but there it was. And, of course, she’s busy telling us what all the time now, and had fine motor skills much earlier than Arden did, and in the end, who really cares because they are both healthy and happy. And, we raise our children not to be the same, or to be one particular way, but to be their best at whoever they are, and, for me at least, a parenting goal is to facilitate them figuring out who they are in the world, and to support them in whatever way I can.
I encountered someone recently who kept asking me if Arden was my biological child or if he was Jessica’s. I finally let them know that the continued line of questioning was unnecessary at best, and homophobic at worst, and could it stop. Because, really, in most cases it is an irrelevant question. I can tell you that Jessica has never felt the need to prove that she’s Arden’s parent, and I feel pretty secure that Trudy and I know that we belong to each other. Neither one of us feels any angst about how we became a family, nor do we overplay our role as either child’s parent. I laugh to see how much Arden is like me in many ways (one day Jess was telling him that he and I were the most stubborn people she knew. “I am NOT STUBBORN!” ha. Oh, son.), and how much I love my favorite Jessica qualities in him. Trudy has some serious OCD that i might suggest come from her Mama Jess, but not only does she sort of look like me, but she’s got some of my personality traits rising to the surface. I think lesbian families can be an interesting case of nature and nurture. (Plus, we can always blame the donor.)
Anyway, last night at dinner reminded me that sometimes, just sometimes, biology does matter. I can’t remember how it came up, but Jess asked Arden if he was a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of dude. Ever thoughtful, he responded that sometimes he’s half full and sometimes he’s half empty. Jess noted that she thought that’s how most people are, including herself. I said that I thought that Jess was more often a glass half full kind of person, and I used to be that way, “but then I got old person butt cancer [not the technical term for colon cancer, but it makes Arden giggle uncontrollably, so I will take one for the team] at 34, and I’m more often a glass half empty person.” Seriously, Arden giggled for a full 5 minutes. As he calmed down, Jess told us that she’d been reading some statistics, and that Arden’s lifetime chance of getting colon cancer is 25%. “Dang,” I said. Arden, with his half full hat on said, “Well, at least it’s not 100%.” Heavy. We talked about how, because we know, he’ll have colonoscopies early on, and they’ll get any polyps that might grow before they turn to cancer. The conversation ended as we all looked at Trudy who was covered in spaghetti sauce (messiness is definitely not nature in her case. Although, needing a bib might be. hmm.) and demanding attention. I feel grateful that Trudes won’t have to go for her first colonoscopy at 24, and that Arden fully understands why he will.
And, as I think about those sweet, funny, frustrating, hilarious children, I will try to let them nurture my more often half empty nature back to my old glass half full ways. I’m getting there.