Many times I have wanted to braid Calliope’s hair. Usually, she doesn’t sit still long enough for this to happen. But the other day I was exuding patience and made my first real attempt at a french braid. I already posted this on facebook, but I wanted to capture it again here. I can’t help feeling so proud. I’ve done a pony tail with a plain braid before, but never have I done a french braid on her or anyone else. I used to braid my little sister’s hair all the time when we were wee little ones, but again, not french braid. Here are a couple of pictures. It stayed in for a couple hours without getting too messy…
Yes, I know Calliope hasn’t been a baby in ages, but it hit me like a ton of bricks about a week ago. Michael was out of town on business and I had a bad movie night and some wine after Calliope went to bed. Just as I was heading to bed and setting up the baby monitor next to the bed, I realized she looked a bit funny in the monitor. She had her butt in the air and was not covered up at all. I had a parental moment of pure love and thought I should go and cover her up so that she was warm. I quietly slipped into her room and upon seeing her, realized there was no way she was comfortable in that position. I thought maybe if I just picked her up quickly and laid her back down, that would be easy and the right thing to do. Unfortunately, she is not a baby anymore and the quick readjustment I had imagined in my head turned into quite the ordeal. No screaming or crying, but I did wake her more than I intended because she was just too big to maneuver so easily. I did succeed, got her laid down on her back and covered up. She was back asleep by the time I was back in my room. But the realization that she is just that much bigger made me sit there for a moment in bed pondering infinity…
One of the reasons for my silence of late has been the crud. You’d think I would have had more time lying in bed as much as I did over the last couple of weeks to write something, anything, but I just didn’t have it in me.
And one of the reasons being sick is the worst is because of all the fun one misses. One Saturday in particular, Michael took Calliope to Fairyland with Matt, Rachel and Piper. (I know, how could they possibly go to Fairyland without the biggest fairy ever?!) But I am glad they went because Calliope loves herself some Piper. They are soul mates, or as much soul mates as one can be at this age.
When they got back, I checked my photo stream to see what I missed. I gave Michael specific instructions that coming back without photos was not an option 🙂 Here is one of the cutest pictures I have ever seen, two actually…
Wow, has it really been that long since I wrote about Calliope, or anything else for that matter?? Time flies. Well, Calliope is my inspiration for getting back to WordPress. She is my inspiration for a great many of my endeavors. In particular, I remember a day about two weeks ago. It was morning, one of the mornings she doesn’t go to school. The plan was to stay inside and home for the day. School has been great for her, but she could do with a little extra rest here and there. I woke her up as usual, argued with her for several minutes about taking off her pj’s in order to get rid of her wet diaper, and then told her to pick out something to wear. Mind you, I have been hesitant to let her choose. What if she doesn’t match?! Oh my laundry, I couldn’t take it. Really, its an issue for me. But I am letting go, or at least practicing letting go. School is pushing me in that direction anyway. I have a lot less control over some major points in her life these days. Like naps, what and how much she eats, and of course appearance. So on my way out of her room, I say (as if it were the most normal thing in the world, and of little importance) “Make sure it matches! If the pants are pink, the shirt should be pink too.” I know that isn’t sufficient, but I figure its a good place to start. We can talk about plaids and stripes and polkadots later in life. Lets start with the basics. Solids. Of course, there are very few solids in her drawer, so here I am setting my own child up for failure. Probably not the first time, and likely not the last. I continue on and start making breakfast, very proud of myself for “letting go” a little.
She comes out ten minutes later dressed and I almost fall over with amazement. Did she match you ask?? More or less. The outfit consisted of gray pants and a shirt that had gray, pink and other colors in it, so it was ok. Not perfect. What was perfect was the smile on her face, the confidence, the pride in which she took having accomplished this feat. I actually didn’t notice what she was wearing (in regards to color) til later because I was so proud that she found the various items she needed, and put them on herself. We had a fabulous breakfast that morning.
I apologize, but I can’t seem to find the picture of said outfit. I’m sure I took one…
Yes, today was Calliope’s first day of school. Preschool that is. But still, its a big deal. I’ve been preparing for over a week. I think I may have previously mentioned disaster kits, emergency contact sheets and the incessant labeling of all things that might would go with her on any given day to school. Of course, I was the one running around the house this morning shouting First Day of School! First Day of School! being entirely silly and having way too much fun. Its obviously from Finding Nemo. Its not the first scene of the movie, although I always think of it as the first scene. And many times I have thought it should be the first scene. Somehow, my brain blocks out that first scene where mother and all her eggs are eaten by a (what?) … lets just say its a big fish with a lot of teeth. I wonder if Calliope also skips it in her memory of the movie. Its unlikely.
In any case, I was perfectly not calm this morning. I was just too excited to be ho drum. She loves being around other kids and new experiences and new toys. There was no doubt in my mind that she would eat it up like candy, or in her case, like cheese and tomatoes. Little cherry sized tomatoes. I was a little startled with how excited I was though. I never understood why dropping your kid off for the first day of school was such a big deal and why anyone would ever cry or have their emotions run away with them. I mean, Calliope has no problems staying with other people for the day, or even the weekend. We’ve proven that many times over. Sure, if you and your child have separation anxiety or similar, then its a big deal. But we can’t be the only ones who are outgoing and relaxed about Calliope being out in the world without us. But thats not what gets you as you are saying goodbye to your child. Its the overwhelming sense of loss. Loss of having her at home everyday (or thereabouts) to bug you and make you crazy and hug you and make you all warm inside. Its knowing that she is growing up. I can’t really call her a toddler anymore. I feel like we just graduated from baby like two weeks ago. Where did the toddler years go??? Oh, that’s right, they are only toddlers for a year, or two if you stretch the truth.
I did everything I was supposed to in preparation. We made a huge poster with pictures of all her family and friends and fun things she likes to do, We had a book for book week. We had tuition and a schedule request form for next semester. We had additional clothing for when she makes a mess of herself, rain gear and sunscreen. All labeled. So when we got to school, I felt great about dropping her off and all her stuff. The teachers were non-plussed as this is what you are supposed to do. Its normal. So I tried to talk to the teachers about her naps and her potty training and anything else I could think of… It became very clear that I was just hanging around and they didn’t need all my tidbits of information. She would be fine without me, without us. And I knew this, but I didn’t want to leave. But I did. I told Calliope I was leaving, got a very expedient hug and kiss and left the way from which I came. And I was very surprised to have watery eyes. Who is this person who can’t quite see where they are going? I’ve never had problems separating from her! We’ve always been very relaxed and comfortable about this. It took me all day to sort it out in my head and understand the full range of emotions (and I’m pretty sure I still don’t understand all of it).
Michael picked her up from school. When they got home, it was obvious that she was exhausted and very happy. Delirious even. She had not taken a nap, probably because there were so many kids around and its not what she is used to. She only ate her cheese and tomatoes for lunch despite the fact that I gave her avocado, watermelon, egg and cucumber. All things that she loves. Again, I think she was likely distracted. Not to mention they give out pretty big snacks at 9:30 in the morning and 4pm. She is definitely not used to that. We shall see how that plays out in the future. So she basically ate her leftovers from lunch, which was practically a full meal. And then she was in bed by 7pm and asleep ten minutes thereafter. I haven’t heard a peep since 🙂
We’re off tomorrow, and I’m glad. She needs to recuperate from that first day. I have a picture that Michael took with the big camera that I will post at a later date once it is downloaded from said camera. Now, I’m going to sleep, soundly.
We’re back home. Been here two whole days. It is nice to have all the things you take for granted until you are not home and don’t have those things. Like sitting in bed, sipping a small amount of bourbon over ice with only the bedside lamp on while the babe is asleep and the man is watching Taken 2. I’ve come to enjoy my moments just before bed by myself in our room. Its peaceful and relaxing. This Heavenly bed doesn’t hurt one bit either. I capitalized that on purpose. If you don’t know, you should. The Westin hotels all furnish their bedrooms with this particular bed, and it is quite lovely. So lovely that we actually bought the whole package which includes pillows (2 down and 2 hypo-allergenic) bedskirts, sheets and comforter among other things. It seems silly. I never thought I would be one of those people who would pay more for something so mundane as your bed. Everybody sleeps in a bed. And millions (probably more) sleep in a less than stellar bed at that. And here we are paying a premium for a bed that is likely built by the same people who make those “less than stellar” beds previously mentioned. It might be the same bed with just a different cover encasing it. All I know is that when we stay at the Westin or any of our timeshares (we really only have one, but it is spread out over 16-20 properties) I sleep like a baby. And you might think that has to do with the fact that we are on vacation. I don’t care. I’ve come to an age in my life where sleeping well is important. Do you think it is a coincidence that this bed was bought shortly after Calliope turned 2? Because, believe me, the timing is not lost on me. And I have been sleeping better since we got this bed. And you can’t even argue that life has settled down and we are just more relaxed, because everyone knows that is bull, shit.
So what is it that brings me to bed before Michael tonight? It has to do with names. Calliope is starting school this coming Monday. We are very excited for her. We visited the school today as a precursor to just dropping her off come Monday. So she would know some of the other kids, understand the layout a little bit, meet and interact with the teachers for a while. We just watched for an hour and a half as she participated in coloring, eating rice and beans, throwing sand in her hair, shoveling water in and out of buckets… We could have stayed there all day watching. She loves it there already. Right now, she is loving the space, the activities, the freedom of running around doing whatever, whenever. As time goes on, she will love the interaction with the kids and teachers and everything else this place has to offer. We left feeling very good about our decision to enroll her there. And of course, it has been a lot of paperwork. Trips to the doctor for a formal written OK that Calliope attend school and is not a danger to the other kids. Field trip forms, disaster preparedness forms, emergency contacts, medical information, likes and dislikes, potty training specifics, and on and on and on… Oh yes, and there are the supplies. An extra pair of shoes, two sets of clothing, rain gear, lunch box and sippy cups. All of which have to have her name on them. As I sat there putting her name on every item that she would be taking to school everyday, I started thinking about the fact that her last name is Lasmanis.
I have always been super happy about Calliope’s name. First, middle and last. I don’t regret any portion of it and never will, so don’t get me wrong. I’m not upset that she doesn’t have my last name. I am still upset over the fact that if the adoption situation in New Orleans had turned out more positive, that baby girl would also have been a Lasmanis. Hopefully I have not expressed this more than once. Because we are a gay couple and can not be legally married, we would not have been able to adopt a baby in Louisiana as a couple. Michael would have been the one to adopt, and that was decided based on his financial background. I haven’t exactly been working all that much since Calliope was born, so my income is not nearly as stable or sufficient as Michael’s has been. And since he was adopting, it would have raised one too many eyebrows for the name of the adopted child not to be his own. I was willing. If it meant that we could go through with the adoption with one less question mark, it was worth it to me. Adopting as a gay couple, across state lines is hard enough as it is. But as I sat there writing her name over and over, it made me just a little sad that I would have been singled out. Not left out, because that would be me being a drama queen. Just different than everyone else in the family. Garig. Michael and I have discussed several times the idea that our second child would carry my last name. It seems pretty simple and straight forward to me. And it truly is not that big of a deal, but as with most things, I like to play it all out in my mind and think it through, hopefully to some beautiful well thought out conclusion. Just don’t bet on it. So you ask yourself some of the age old questions to get you started. What have people before us done in this situation? Well, there are two answers that come to mind immediately. One, there aren’t that many gay couples with kids that I know personally. Supposedly, we only make up 10% of the population as queer individuals, so the percentage of us that have kids has got to be a lot smaller than that. And two, straight couples combine their last names or they all take the same last name. We can’t do that. I love Michael Lasmanis, but I don’t want to be Michael Lasmanis. I’m Michael Garig. Logistically, its a nightmare. And that is putting it mildly.
The next question I ask myself is why it matters at all? And the best truth I can come up with is that it is one more thing that points to the fact that we are different. As much as I embrace being different, there is a part of me that also wants to fit in. To be part of society. An accepted part. And sometimes, there is some comfort in knowing you are normal. I love it when I relate a story about Calliope and what she is currently going through and other parents chime in saying how their child just started the same thing, or just finished it, or are right in the middle of that phase. Its a great feeling that we are raising a child in much the same way other people do. The best we can 🙂 But here I am with a different last name than my family and can’t do much about it. True, if my name were not the same as my partner’s, this might be less of an issue. But the fact that we are same sex is what led to the same name being an issue in the first place. (yes, i know that same sex couples sometimes have this problem too, but that doesn’t count!) All of this also reminds me that we have no boundaries. Since few before us have done this (raise kids as gay parents) there are no rules about how it should be done. I found that when I was a young adult, being gay held the same lack of rules. While there were plenty of role models, it was a lot less developed than the social expectations of the traditional male or female. I didn’t have to play sports. Hell, I didn’t even have to like musicals. (i love sports and love exactly two musicals) I truly could do what I wanted. Freedom is scary. In my mind, giving my last name to a second child sounds perfectly reasonable and within acceptable boundaries. There is some argument about the kids being in the same school and not being recognized as siblings, but somehow I think the teachers and staff will know just fine. Maybe the other parents won’t catch on, but do we need them to? The ones that matter, they will know.
And finally, is it just me being insecure? Lord knows that happens from time to time. I do worry about being at the airport and someone questioning whether or not Calliope belongs to me. I don’t have any way to prove it. Its a good thing we look so much alike 🙂 Having the same last name would be helpful, at the very least. Then again, growing up, the siblings I was raised with all had separate surnames and that didn’t seem to matter. Its fairly important though. Its likely that we will adopt a child from another state like Louisiana and that would mean using Lasmanis. Is it ok if my answer is simply that it would make me feel better to have the second one share my name? I know I’m not alone, or separate from the rest of my family. I know it doesn’t mean the kids belong somehow “more” to Michael. I just don’t want to be the only Garig. I want to write Garig on a lunchbox one day. Oh, it seems so silly. But I just can’t help it.
Its been a long week, and the week getting ready for this week wasn’t so short either. Its pretty amazing how much has happened in those weeks. I am grateful for the experience. I’ve learned so much. I’ve felt so much. That baby girl was so adorable and precious. All the hair on her head, her little wide nose, how she was sucking on her thumb first thing out of the womb.
I never even got to hold her, but I was in the waiting room while she was being born. Waiting and anticipating and having all the feelings a new parent has in that situation. But I guess it wasn’t our turn yet to adopt a new family member. I can only hope that she is well loved and taken care of… I have no reason to believe otherwise. While her birth family was not rich, they weren’t begging on the streets either. And maybe the situation isn’t ideal, but I’m pretty sure that it will be ok. And for that, I am also grateful. I know that I am ok and that Michael is ok and most importantly, Calliope is ok. I’m not sure she grasped the full situation, but I know she could “feel” the change in the end. The ending. While this weekend was not really about her, she was amazingly sweet and beautiful and well behaved. I appreciate her even more. I appreciate our relationship with her birth family even more. I pretty much appreciate everyone and everything even more!
In short, we don’t really understand what happened. Apparently, we were not told the truth about some things. Well, a lot of things. Secrets were being kept and things were going unsaid. I personally blame confusion and fear. I believe that the situation was just scary enough to keep the birthmom from making good decisions. I believe she had good intentions. I have to believe that because otherwise, she just put us through the ringer. We named that baby girl. Delphine Renate Lasmanis. After Michael’s Mother’s name (Renate). Should we adopt another baby girl, do we use that name again? It seems odd to me. A name we intended for someone else.. Maybe I will understand it better when the time comes and I’ll be able to move past this particular situation. Maybe I will feel differently. I certainly do not want to forget. I suppose it would be a good story for our next little girl, or boy for that matter, down the line. I know I will keep a couple of pictures of that sweet little girl. I also took a picture of the hospital. Well, not the hospital itself, but a big star on the floor that was decorative and was located at most hall intersections. I will always remember this trip and I like the idea that this star will be one of the symbols that I associate with it.
I went back to the hospital one more time to see if she would talk to me. Almost all contact had been through Michael after the baby was born because he had the wrist band that allowed him access to her. So I was with Calliope most of the time. And I guess I just needed some closure, to say good bye. To know in my heart of hearts that it truly was over. When I arrived, I asked if she was still in the maternity ward and she was. I knew the room number, but I didn’t want to push myself on her. That is not my way. Never has been and never will be. I politely asked one of the nurses if she could go in and ask Asia if she wanted to see me for a moment, the other Michael. I knew she would understand that. While the nurse headed off, I couldn’t help but notice the sad eyes of every nurse at the station. They were sad for me, and for Michael. Maybe that extended to Calliope as well, but they could hardly look at me as I stood there. The room was a mere fifteen feet away, so it wasn’t long before she returned and said no, that she did not want to talk to me. Maybe I imagined it, but it seemed like there was a collective gasp at the nurses’ station. I thought I would stop breathing myself, so I took the biggest gulp of air that I could push into my lungs, straightened myself up and asked if I could leave a note, would that be ok? She said she would be happy to deliver it, but didn’t think it would do much good. Well, I knew better. I knew it would do ME some good. They were kind enough to get me paper and pen. In my best penmanship (which I take extreme pride in) I wrote a goodbye letter to Asia and just expressed our sorrow that things turned out the way they did, that we never had any intention of taking the baby girl without permission from all parties, and that we wished them all the best in the world. It was simple, kind and gentle, and most of all, it was filled with love. I don’t even know if she read it. Maybe she threw it away before even opening it. I don’t know. But it made me feel immensely better about the whole situation, and I walked out of there with my head high and ready to be with my family again.
We met up at Superior Bar & Grill for some good old fashioned sit down mexican food. Southern style of course. And I had a Bloody Mary to go with 🙂 Calliope had her first real enchilada and ate it so fast I thought she might choke. The waiter was very enamored with us. He and his partner worked there together as waiters and are seriously considering adoption. I think Michael scared them off! I forgot what he said, but I just remember thinking LORDY! He meant something positive, but it just came out all wrong… I just let it go. We were having a hard morning. But thank goodness for Mardi Gras once again, as we stepped outside of the restaurant and found ourselves right in the middle of a parade. This one was put on by the Carrollton Krewe. We found front row seats and took turns holding Calliope up high when floats came by so she could catch the various goods being thrown. We have tons of beads, stuffed animals, fake coins, the whole lot! OOOOhhhh, and my favorite was this guy throwing handfuls of little rubber balls down from up high, into the street so that they would go bouncing in every direction. It was so cool to see them just bouncing everywhere, and all the kids trying to catch them, or getting hit in the belly by one as it was bouncing through the streets. So funny. It definitely made our day to see that parade.
After that, we went back to the hotel, after witnessing a parking attendant and a taxi driver yell at each other for about seven full minutes at one of the back alleys we had to take in order to miss the parade and get to our hotel. We put the little one down, played a little Catan Rivals and relaxed. After, we made the final decision to start calling everyone who knew where we were, what the deal was. We called the hotel company and begged to leave early without penalty, to which they obliged. Flights were easier to find than we thought, and much cheaper, thank goodness. We had only bought one way tickets because we weren’t sure when we would be going back home, or how many of us there would be. Well, its only the three of us. Yes, I want to cry. But I’m on the plane right now, so I’ll wait until I can have some quiet time with my chicken pot pie, in our bed, in our home. It won’t be the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
Its 2:51 am Louisiana time. I’m awake because we are headed to the hospital soon. We met Asia last night and her little sister Shelby. Donna the social worker picked them up and brought them to meet us over dinner at Zea’s. Yes, it was awkward. By the time dinner was over, I had sweat patches under my arms that had long left their designated sweating areas. The only reason I knew was because Calliope needed to use the bathroom somewhere in the middle of dinner and I saw myself in the mirror briefly. It wasn’t one of those long pauses to stop and take a good look at myself or anything. It was a quick glance, not even one to see myself, more on accident than anything else. But it was enough for me to realize the issue at hand. Oh, and Calliope. What can I say? She was a doll. Maybe that sounds odd to some, but my friend Bob would understand completely. She sat and ate her dinner fairly quietly. Before dinner came, she played with the colors. She didn’t beg to be the center of attention. There were no time outs or even a hint of crying. We are so blessed. And to ask to be blessed yet again seems like a sin. Asia was very nice, very shy and very thoughtful. She didn’t have a lot to say, but I’m pretty sure we all agreed with everything that was said. And it looks like we are leaving here in about 45 minutes to go pick her up. And I think her sister Shelby will be joining us, but I’m not sure. Originally, her Mom was going to take her but after dinner we got a text from Donna asking if she could offer us up as a potential ride. We said sure! I’m not sure who schedules a c-section for 5:30 in the morning, but I don’t like them very much right now. Our plan was to get up at three, pack, maybe shower and then head out to pick up Asia. The hotel we are in is less than five minutes away from the hotel, by plan. Asia lives half an hour away. So much for planning. Of course, its not like we had more than two weeks to plan this either. Thats it folks. Two weeks. Less actually. Factually. We went to bed by 10 thinking 5 hours would suffice for sleeping. My mind and body had other plans and I didn’t even doze off once during those five hours. I heard Calliope say something in her sleep and Michael snoring at different times and intervals throughout, but never once did I slumber. I suppose it has to do a lot with that two weeks. I haven’t had time to process this the way one would hope. To just think through the few million scenarios that could happen over the next week or so. But that is a luxury I don’t have, we don’t have. In the end, everything is still up in the air. There are some serious hurdles between here and when we leave Louisiana, especially if we want to leave with a new family member. But last night, we took one more step in a positive direction. And we are thankful to everyone who is cheering us on, crossing their fingers, saying a prayer…
To tell you the truth, I am doing this mostly for my own sake. I won’t remember many of the details after a couple of years have passed and this is a great way to record at least some of them. For instance, I can hardly breathe right now. Or all day for that matter. Sometimes it is the sheer height of the rollercoaster. Other times it is the plummeting depths that keep you from breathing. There never seems to be a middle ground. There is nothing concrete about this situation. I have no idea what we are walking into. My imagination has had a ball today coming up with twenty THOUSAND different scenarios. Hell, its even been fun to some extent. One scenario involved Asia, her mom and all her siblings (none of which I have heard anything about except they live together) meet us for dinner. Considering how little communication there has been, that would be a total nightmare in my opinion. I’m sure we would be fine, handle it etc… but it sure would be unexpected. However, if her Mom were to show up for dinner, I think that would be more than ok. We do sort of have dinner plans for Thursday evening with Asia which is exciting. And I think it would be nice for Asia if she had someone there for moral support. It can’t be easy meeting us the day before she is going to give birth. And I mean that. I know that I’ve been going on in my own head about how hard this end of it is, being unsure of what is going on, juggling logistics, etc… but the truth is we have to stand up and be the adults in this situation. Asia is young, and I’m sure her emotions are beyond any kind of control at the moment. She doesn’t need us harping on her about what we need. She needs someone to care. Someone who will give her some answers about what the future holds, some straight answers (via gay mouths). Lets just hope she isn’t completely blown away by our progressive Californian attitudes, thoughts and way of being. Lord knows my Mother went screaming in the other direction (back to Texas, and now living in Louisiana of all places). The cultural differences are nothing to scoff at… Besides gumbo and crawfish, I’m not sure how much I like the idea of being in Louisiana for three weeks. Two white males running around holding hands and raising children. Its all too much. Just asking for trouble. Obviously, there will be do holding of hands in public, or anything of the kind. It actually is too dangerous. And while five years ago, I might have done it in spite of what people might do or say, I can’t afford to be so cavalier now with Calliope in the midst. Oh how I ramble.
Tomorrow, we are getting up at 3:30 am and will arrive in Louisiana around 5pm. Travel days are not awful, but they aren’t exactly fun either. In any case, the baby we find ourselves stalking is to be born on Friday. One way or the other, we should know something by Monday, providing everyone is healthy and discharged on schedule. And yes, the end is near. Or is it the beginning 🙂