Monday, June 30, 2014

Proud!


This past weekend was LGBT PRIDE weekend around the nation.

NYC has one of the largest celebrations with a MEGA-parade that includes (at least!) ten thousand participants making their way down Fifth Avenue to the West Village. Whether in heels, wheels, or by sensibility-shoed foot, paraders passed at least one-million supporters, hooting and hollering and taking photos the entire way.

If you have ever watched a pride parade, it is a TOTALLY different experience to be in the parade. It truly does feel like you are walking a 2+ mile red carpet with friends, fans, and paparazzi clicking photos and cheering you on. My arm was literally achy from waving to people by the time we reached the finish line.

This was our third year participating. In the past, we marched with the Episcopal Diocese of New York and The Love-Yourself Project. This year, we marched with the Family Equality Council, along side the LGBT Center. This is the same group that hosts Family Week in Provincetown, which we are attending in late July on Cape Cod.

The day was bright and beautiful and the crowd was warm and embracing. Our girls were shining stars (mostly). At first, the glittery attention was alluring but that waned quickly. Well before the mid-way mark, they had ditched their wagon ride in preference of our shoulders and backs. At some point, they became downright bored! Even still, for much of the route, I had the privilege of carrying two 35 pound toddlers on my body. The crowd loved it but my achy Monday-morning back is PISSED off at my Hercules complex. I'm sure it was the adrenaline that made me barely notice the effort involved to carry them.

Anyway, with the entirety of the spectacle along the parade route - dancing drag queens, loud and pounding music, glitter flying from all corners, buff men in thongs, topless women, balloons, banners, and giant rainbow flags, etc... - can you guess what was the most exciting part for our little girls?

Once they saw an ice cream truck parked on a side street that we were rapidly passing, the balloon of sensory overload had been popped. As a matter of fact, Aria, who was on my shoulders at the time, began screaming at the top of her lungs, 'ICE - CREAM - TRUCK!!!!'  

We may have to establish a new parade in honor of ice cream pride! Lest you be concerned, they did receive their creamy reward once we made it to the end. But first, Aria spent 20 or 30 minutes on my back in a back-pack carrier SOUND ASLEEP!    I sometimes find it hard to sleep in total dark and total silence. I admire the kind of resolve that can catch zzzzz's among the chaos of gay pride!?!?!


She only woke up only because we passed an enthusiastic bystander in a 2nd floor apartment who was squirting a water gun into the crowd. Aria was really angry when she caught an eyeful of H2O, interrupting her dreams of ice cream trucks.

It was a very special day and a tradition I hope we will continue.


Someone asked me why we still march. Presumably this was asked because there has been a historic shift in the pendulum of justice knocking down many equality barriers that were sturdy pillars of opposition just a few years ago.

Of course, that is true. And in fact, this year marked the highest number of corporate sponsors walking in the parade along side every politician who is not opposed to human rights. But the stark reality is that there is still a very long way to go - both in law and in practice before our community is accepted without prejudice everywhere.

However, for us, it is a simpler answer that I thought about yesterday as we were walking.

We march because we are proud....we are proud because we are a family!!!

Happy Pride!!!


















Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Changing of the Guard!

Managing the day-to-day of triple-toddlers is not for the faint of heart.

The one thing that was patently unclear to us as we embarked on our parenthood journey was the knowledge that the early days/weeks/years were – to quote the pig called Peppa – “EASY-PEASY!”

Not to mislead, those days were definitely not easy by normal person standards. However, as compared to the progressively high-octane days that follow child-mobility, it is effortless to yearn for the sleepless days of feed/burp/sleep/poop/repeat routine. Life was simpler, if at least predictable, when all we had to do was manage our trio of bodily function factories 24/7.

Alas, shortly after our girls discovered their voices, they FOUND THEIR VOICES. A definite panache for demanding negotiations ensued. Somewhere along the way they learned that speaking loud and with rapid fire repetition of their demands, no matter how obscure, can be effective. There WILL be consequences! I don’t recall who said to me that the person who invented the phrase, ‘terrible twos’ hadn’t yet had a three year old. True, DAT!

Frankly, it’s our own faults.

When children are babies, parents act like they are the center of their coo-ing universe. The reality is that we are just in the honeymoon phase of a new job. We have blindly convinced ourselves that we have an ability to control things.

We do not.

We go to enormous lengths to ensure the child knows that if they want sunshine, we will happily oblige in exchange for a passing smile, chuckle, or wink of the eye. That’s all the compensation we need.

Over time, toddlerhood arrives. Toddlers have a tendency to abuse that power we unknowingly gave them. Once verbal communication skills start to peak, we parents become their ‘bi-atch.’ We are just a member of their staff as they shift their view to be in charge of influencing all things in the universe.

I am the captain now!’ comes to mind.

I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to console an out-of-control child and I look at them in bemused resignation. I can see right into their heads. They stare me down and say, ‘Just do what is in my F****ing head, you moron….do THAT and we’ll all be happy…’ The problem is they don’t yet have the words to say it just that way. So instead, they smack you in the face or pull their sister’s hair or throw a bowl of soup at the wall.

Good times!

Anyway, our bundles of joyful energy will be 4 in September (how the heck did THAT happen!) and we now get glimpses of the light at the end of the tunnel. More importantly, we are growing more confident that the light is not a train speeding towards us! They have their moments as I am sure we all do but I do believe (hope! pray!) that they will soon trade their tyrannical ways for reason and kindness….at least occasionally.

Child care has proven to be one of the most difficult things to manage through this phase. We were very fortunate during the first 2 ½ years with superstar nannies, first a dear friend who came to the U.S. as an au pair from Russia 15 years ago and then our beloved Sabine!

Sabine came to us as an au pair from Austria, initially for 1 year. She was our modern day Maria Von Trapp, the modern part being purple hair, tattoos, and piercings. She was instantly a perfect fit for our demanding trio and more to the point, for Paul and me. She truly became a part of our family and was a trusted care giver as our girls transitioned from caterpillars to beautiful butterflies with a hornet complex.  

She extended for a 2nd year which was a huge blessing. However, after 2 years, she was ineligible to renew her visa any longer so it was time for her to return home and stake claim to the next phase of her life. We were sad to see her leave but knew it was time for next chapters all around.

Our next au pair arrived from Spain and it couldn’t have been a more different experience. At its simplest, she was a mismatch. I could be unkind in describing her shortcomings but it doesn’t serve the story I am telling. The reality is that she was just a bad hire who didn’t understand what it meant to be a part of a family….or at least what it meant to be a part of OUR family.

After 7 months, she abruptly quit with no prior indication that she was planning to do this. We think she was hoping we’d beg her to stay and offer to change the rules of our home. We did not. I have a pretty simple policy in my house. We are happy people. If you cannot be happy, we support you going somewhere else in hopes of finding a place that does make you happy. I can't (won't!) convince you to be happy!

We accepted her resignation and within a few days, she returned to her home country, leaving us in a lurch. Her final words to us, delivered in a tearful gasp of air intended to inspire the avoidance of any pity was, ‘I’ll have you know, my parents are VERY wealthy…

I didn’t know that but I probably should have guessed.

Our agency found us another young woman, almost instantly, who was in a home in Texas. She was also caring for triplets. She was from Germany and was very unhappy in Texas because she felt she wasn’t being incorporated into her host family. Sadly, this is commonplace in the au pair program. Families chose a young woman and place the heavy demands of long hours and never ending chores on them without ever offering the support and guidance that a young person, away from their own homes and families deserves and needs. We fell for her sad story and wanted to help turn her experience in America into a memorable one. She was a perfect fit on paper.

So, with much less diligence than would have normally been performed, we brought her to our home the day before Thanksgiving. Despite her excitement for our invitation to join our family, I neglected to react to a major red flag. Literally the next sentence after inviting her to join us for Thanksgiving was, ‘Can I have off on Friday…I really want to experience the American shopping after Thanksgiving.’ It gave me pause but I ignored it, hoping she was just caught up in the moment. 

I shouldn't have ignored my gut.

We showered her with family-time and holiday cheer but knew pretty quickly that she was struggling with her duties. We had a crazy busy Christmas holiday, hosting 25 people from around the country for an entire week. So, we chose to wait until after the holidays to do a proper orientation/training period.

After the holiday season calmed, we sat with her to describe how she would be successful in our home. We were gentle but direct in how she needed to be ‘in charge’ when she was caring for our children. Their playroom is her classroom and should be kept organized the way a classroom would be required to be kept.

At the core, she was unable to keep our girls in her control while she was caring for them. She had awful instincts about how to solve problems (like telling Aria our dog would bite her if she didn’t behave) and we increasingly felt that she would be incapable of handling an emergency if something happened that required focus.

Well, to say she didn’t receive our feedback in the spirit in which it was intended would be generous. She quit the next morning with 10 minutes notice and called a friend to pick her up. She was intended to start her day at 8:30 but was moved out of our house for good by 9:15.

After 6 weeks in our home, this made me see red. I arranged for her visa to be immediately terminated and she was given notice that she must leave the country in 24 hours at her expense.

Paul and I looked at each other in total dismayed frustration. We don’t have family nearby and we both work full time jobs that demand our attention during the work-week. We prefer in-home care but at the same time we knew we couldn’t afford to have the tumult of another bad choice living in our house.

We enrolled the girls in a full-time day care. It was expensive and inconvenient, but ultimately a good experience for the girls to be in a structured group of children the same age.

The weather was awful this past winter. Our driveway is long and twisty and up a hill through the woods. Some people comment it isn't easy to drive up in sunny and dry conditions. Couple that with tundra like temperatures, snow several times a week for several months, and we had a stressful winter.

If you have ever had a morning where you felt the world was against you, imagine what it would be like if you had to wake up in the morning, shower and dress yourself, feed 3 dogs and inspire them to go outside to do their business, wake up 3 girls, get 3 girls to go potty (preferably one at a time!), dress 3 girls, brush 3 hairy heads and full sets of teeth, feed 3 demanding breakfast customers (a jar of Nutella and a spoon….sure!?), bundle 3 girls up in thick winter coats and scarves, strap 3 girls into the minivan and plead with them to not fight with each other, drive 15 minutes to the day care, un-strap them, wrangle them through a snow covered parking lot and into their classroom, get their coats off and hope they don’t have a tantrum as you rush out the door to get to your job. Do this in reverse at the end of the day and repeat every single day of the work week!

The girls did fantastic in school but you could probably guess the merry-go-round of germs made it so someone was sick at nearly all times causing mid-day calls from the school for someone to fetch said sick child which would result in Paul and I taking turns missing another day of work.

It was a winter to remember. Strike that. It was a winter to forget.

Fast forward to March and Paul was planning a 2 week business trip to India. I literally had shivers thinking how the heck will I survive being a single parent for 2 weeks.

At the same time, I had an email exchange with Sabine to see how things were going in Vienna. She had recently broken up with a boyfriend, was working crazy hours in her job, and to top it off, someone broke into her rented flat and stole all her jewelry.

It seems we all had a crappy winter.

I jokingly offered to fly her ‘home’ and then we both paused and realized…why the heck not! Within in a few weeks, she was back – as a tourist this time – just as Paul left for 2 weeks to India. (He met with our surrogates on this trip which I'd like to dedicate an entire post to at some point in the near future....it's a good and heartwarming story that reaffirmed our pride in our family's journey.)

The girls were giddy to see Sabine but trust me I was giddy-er!

We kept the kids in day care but since she was around to lend a helping hand, the stress of getting them ready melted away as she flashed her super-nanny cape and made it all seem organized and doable.

Since she arrived, I was able to focus and do a thorough search for our next au pair.

To cut an already long story short, we did. Her name is Mandy. She is from Germany. She arrived last week and lights up a room with her mega-wattage smile and determination to succeed. Luckily, we have a week of cross-training with Sabine as she gets up to speed. 

We are hopeful and excited and nervous all at the same time. Mostly excited.

Easy-Peasy!


We will say goodbye to Sabine again next Saturday. We know she'll be back but hopefully next time we can have a little less drama preceding her visit.



Sidney ~ Mandy ~ Vivian ~ Sabine ~ Aria

Monday, May 5, 2014

My Favorite Color

Vivian fell down the other day. She landed on her hands and started to cry. When she got up, I hugged her and said, ‘What’s the matter, sweetheart?’ She looked at me with tears as big as water balloons and said in a sad vibrato, ‘My knee stepped on my thumb!’ 

I could not help but ooze with love for the overt adorableness of her innocence and need for comfort as I squeezed her until her tears turned into laughter.

**

Aria’s recently discovered favorite food is the cucumber. However, she scrambles the word in her head and now will ask for a ‘cumbutter’ whenever anyone has a salad. I don’t correct her because that just sounds so delightfully better than a bland old cucumber. Paul has done the same thing with the ‘flowflers’ that grow in our garden.

**

Sidney went to pick her shoes out of the closet one day when the sparkly red boots caught her eye. She asked to wear ‘the kinky boots…’ which made my gay heart swell with pride to know she must have overheard me talking about the hit Broadway musical of the same name.



**

Vivian has learned her last name. She is exceedingly proud to know that she shares it with me. If you ask her to tell you her name, she will usually remember and punctuate it with, ‘…like PAPA!’ 

Separately, and what should have been an unrelated conversation, we have taught our girls the proper names for their anatomical parts. They know that boys have a penis and girls have a vagina.

You could imagine my surprise when I recently tried to show off Vivian’s ability to say her full name when she proudly declared her name was, ‘Vivian Penis….like Papa!’

**

In the evening, when I have to go to rehearsal for a community theatre production of Smokey Joe’s CafĂ© that I am performing in, the girls know that Papa is going to ‘Singing Work.’  They never want me to leave so they try to convince me to stay home. Although I don't make a lira from this effort, I tell them I have to go so we have money to buy food and toys. They inevitably tell me that they already have toys and they are not hungry.

**

At church, the girls often ask us, ‘Where’s Jesus?’  I point towards the altar where Father Owen is standing, with large stained glass windows behind him. There is an stained glass image of a crucifix but I try to explain He is everywhere. The next Sunday, Vivian saw our priest walking up the aisle and yelled, ‘Look! …it’s JESUS!’   I saw Father Owen after service and asked him to not let it go to his head.

**

Sidney, debatable to be the happiest child I have ever met, has started handing out random – totally unsolicited – expressions of heart melting love. When you least expect it, for example when standing at a sink in a public restroom, she will say, ‘Papa….I LOVE YOU!’  She elongates the word love and you know that it is not just a word to her. She understands what it means to love! 

**

Our trio will definitively declare best friend status at least a dozen times a day. Sometimes they politely ask, ‘Are you my best friend?’

Sometimes they indigently demand, ‘You are NOT my best friend!’

Sometimes if Paul or I ask, ‘Who is my best friend?’ they will answer with a snarky twinkle in their eye as they matter-of-fact respond with, ‘Nobody!’ 

And sometimes, they tattle as they fight back their disappointment, ‘Vivian will not let me be her best friend.’  

**

These are only a few of the hundreds of fun - and more often funny - moments of speech confidence that we have been experiencing lately. Over the last 6 months, the girls have arrived at the neighborhood of comprehensive talking. It is mostly a delight, especially the discovery of compassion they have for us and for each other. We are thoroughly enjoying their games of word mastering as they test drive their poise and negotiating skills.

Even still, it is a marathon each day. They literally start talking seconds after they wake up and narrate their way through each day until they finally fall asleep 14 hours later.

They also remember and repeat everything and anything we say now. What is said around them in the world WILL be absorbed, as if they are reptiles breathing through their skin. I have to be especially careful with my proclivity to having a potty mouth.  

Gone are the days when you could talk about them without their realization and being clued into the context of the conversation. An innocuous chat between Paul and I, to contemplate if we should go to the playground or stay home, must be carefully piloted or you are definitely going to the park.

Suddenly last week, after a long day at nursery school, Sidney was upset at bedtime. She was scratching her arm and had tears in her eyes while saying, ‘I don’t want to be brown…I want to be white.’

It is not easy to get things by me, but I admit that one took me for a loop.

Something must have been said by someone somewhere to have caused such an ugly and heart wrenching comment.

But WHO? …HOW? …WHY?  Who in this forsaken world could have said ANYTHING - to a 3 year old who spends her day smiling - that caused that comment before she put her head on her pillow?!?!?

Was this our first glimpse of racism? 

We go out of our way to celebrate 'the different' in our day-to-day life. It is easy to forget that that is not the way everyone else steps through life. I probably will never know what influence caused her to say what she did, or why she was caused to even have that thought. But it make me angry. 

It made me angry…confused….and ultimately aware. 

This may sound trite but I often forget that my children are bi-racial. Frankly, we only remember when we see the girls standing next to a cousin or friend with alabaster skin that seems nearly translucent to our unaccustomed eyes.

I often play a game with the girls and ask them which color is their favorite.

Vivian’s favorite is purple. Aria prefers orange. Sidney always says yellow.

Mine was orange too…but I have changed my answer now. 


Without any need for consideration, brown is  my most favorite color.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hallelujah!

For a host of reasons, Easter is one of my favorite holidays in the year, mostly because it is the beginning of the sunshine season. Ever since the awfulness of this past winter finally subsided, I know I was not alone in my unfettered eagerness to see some evidence of spring. Hallelujah! 

The entire weekend was glorious, filled with sunshine and moderate temperatures.

On Saturday morning, we attended the annual egg hunt in the down-town section of our little village next to the Hudson River. It is a fund raiser for the local civic society. The event starts promptly at 10:00 and is pretty much over by 10:03, so it’s important not to be late.

Paul insisted we get there to register by 9:30. ‘Register’ basically means handing the nice lady behind the table next to the Easter Bunny a $10 bill. So, with that business was done in approximately 17 seconds, we now had half an hour to kill.

Paul can sometimes be a hair (or in this case, a hare!) overzealous in his approach to physical activities with our girls, especially if prizes are at stake. In his mind, it is all training for their Olympic debut someday. After seeing the lack of participation from India in the latest winter games, he has already devised a stratagem to compete under the Indian flag to ease the stress of qualifying.

In any event, the prizes were plastic eggs filled with penny candies, an apparent powerful motivator. Paul was determined we get our $10 worth. He used the spare time to circle the field and strategize. 

He found his preferred spot for the girls to start, a good distance away from any of the other children who lined up next to the registration lady, clumped in masses of unnecessary competition. Amateurs! Most children had cute little Easter baskets. Not us. Our girls had deep buckets. To be fair, Paul had the girls put stickers on them too.

Next, he started coaching the girls to pick up as many eggs as they can. ‘We’ll open them after the hunt is done…don’t stop and open them until the bucket is full…okay?’ he said with a sense of encouragement tinged with urgency.

Remember the movie Fight Club with Brad Pitt? I kept thinking in my head, ‘The number one rule of egg hunt is…you do not talk about the egg hunt!’

Because I enjoy making my beloved twitch, I started counter-programming the girls. Sidney, what color is your favorite? Yellow? Okay, only pick up the yellow ones!’  Paul, unimpressed, snappily jumped in to correct me, ‘Pick up all of the colors Sidney!’

Anyway, it was all great fun and they practically had an entire corner of the field to themselves. They succeeded in the chase and came home with a bucket full o’ eggs.

Later that day, it was time to dye the real eggs. We chose to do this craft in the buff as we were sure to be dyeing more than eggs.  I should clarify, the girls were naked…not us! As it turns out, egg dye works petty well on little hands too.

On Easter morning, shortly after 6:00, the girls woke up and climbed into our bed in a dazed bewilderment, as is the custom on most mornings. Our bed is the waiting spot for everyone to ease into the awake hours. Of course, you can be sure that only applies to the girls. Paul and I are expected to click our heels and be ready to serve immediately after their eyelashes part. This is often at odds with my need to lubricate my brain with a cup of coffee before I can satisfy anyone’s demands. Actually, I often wish I could skip the second cup of coffee and go right for the third!!!

Our trio can have very sweet moments but they are not at their best right after they wake up. Especially Aria, who typically needs 20 to 30 minutes to ease into the day. If you try and rush this process – as we often do despite knowing better – she goes off the reservation and usually gives us her best portrayal of a scene from the exorcist which quickly spirals into a chaos that you probably would not believe if I told you. Be assured, stuff will be thrown!

I only wish this were a great exaggeration however, Aria is our ‘stress-sensitive’ child. This is the term we learned at a parenting lecture last summer. We decided ‘stress-sensitive’ was just a nice way to say ‘cranky’ and while it sounds more polite, it also sounds more expensive to cure. But she definitely has that! We go to great lengths to keep her on the even keel and often fail miserably.

Anyway, once they arrive at the edge of our bed, the rapid-fire demands from their furrowed faces begin. They need to be pampered and cuddled and placed ever so gently on a pillow before they can proceed with waking up. We have realized over time that the trade off for good, sound sleepers is they have a process to emerge from their sleep-comas. If you try and rush this process, nobody wins. Nobody!

Meanwhile, I want them to be excited for what the Easter Bunny left them in the kitchen and they don’t have the slightest idea of what day of the week it is much less that it is a special holiday.

Eventually, we work our way downstairs and their eyes light up at the setting-in reality that this day shall start with CANDY!

Next up, it’s time to get all dolled up for church. We have a hit-or-miss relationship with church. If I take one or even two little girls with me, they are dainty little ladies who inevitably cause smiles at their palatable adorableness. When all three are present, we are often less admired.

Last Christmas, we brought all three to the Christmas-eve children’s mass, which was a late afternoon affair packed to the brim with eager, well-dress children and their extended families. As we entered, each child was given a small toy animal that would be placed in the manger next to baby Jesus later in the service.

Despite a few extra ants-in-their-pants inspired by no nap and a late afternoon activity, all was going mostly fine until it was time to line up for this manger drop-off bit. We were in the back of the church so we were at the very end of the procession. Once we arrived at the front, baby Jesus was flanked with a scene of plastic toy animals of all shapes and sizes.

Now, if you are three years old and are confronted with putting your little animal toy IN a pile or taking some of the choices OUT of the pile, which way do you think your little brain would favor?

Sidney and Vivian reluctantly forfeited their animal and then sulked away with Paul. I was left with Aria – our ‘stress-sensitive’ child – and she was not having it. She was the very last child and I did my best to gently persuade her to drop the donkey as her grip tightened.

Everyone is watching by now and giggling under their breath as they see a classic battle brewing. I am sure it looks adorable from the comfort of their pew. But I know better. I take the hand holding the animal and give it a good shake and it drops. I start to walk away.

Aria crosses her arms in protest and plants her feet steadfastly in place. I know I have about 6 seconds to evacuate before I have to make a reservation for confession for the words I’m about to say. I scoop her up and whisk her away so mass may continue. She immediately turns into a tornado of flailing spaghetti arms and legs as I realize we have now entered the danger zone.

I attempt to sit back down with the rest of our family but quickly realize we need to leave the church. I scoop her back up in my arms and start making my way out as she starts screaming. This coincides with the exact moment the children’s choir is introduced to start singing Silent Night.

As I am nudging my way through shoulders of parents trying to film their children singing, Aria starts screaming for ‘DADDY!!!!’ at the top of her lungs.

I fight through dirty looks of disapproval. I am sure that nobody knows this girl has a Daddy AND a Papa. All they can see is a sweaty man struggling with a girl who is screaming for her Daddy. There was no compassion for a parent dealing with a bad situation. Kill me now!

As I reach the door, I hear Vivian, who has become very upset that I am leaving the church, start screaming ‘Papa!’ from the other end while melting into a nightmare in Paul’s arms. 

I managed to make my way back in to the church for communion when the priest – a parent of 2 toddlers of his own - whispered to me, ‘…we are almost done, my brother. Hang in there.’

I’m mortified to think of all those parents and relatives with video on their smart phones of a sweetly sung Silent Night tinged with a screaming chorus of ‘DADDY! ….PAPA!’ in the background.

So as I was saying, Church can be hit or miss for us. To my delight, Easter morning did not include any special toys or processions. The girls were happy and pretty and behaved for most of the service, except for Vivian who wanted to sing, even when the singing stopped.

After mass, we hosted an Easter feast at our house. We were a group of 14 and enjoyed a bounty of good food and better company. We finished off the day with another egg hunt in our back yard and then a homemade apple strudel.

All in all, a glorious Easter weekend full of fun and smiles. Nonetheless, I was thankful for Monday when I could return to the relative comfort of the office.

Happy Easter!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Whatever Happened To....

It has been nearly two years since I popped my head up in the blogger universe. For a host of reasons, that seemed to be the time to push away the keyboard and step away from sharing the stories that make up our days. Since then, it seems that most of the blogs I used to read have likewise met and passed their denouement. Where did everyone go?!? 

Over the last month, I have randomly received a few very thoughtful solicitations to find out what’s going on with our family.  ‘…a simple update would be grand,’ per one prior reader who met us in 2009 when we were just a couple of guys with a seemingly far-fetched idea for creating a family, as seen on Oprah!

I guess those emails have tugged at my heart strings, inspiring this update. Plus, to be honest, I have missed writing about the trials and smiles of our family. When I wrote in the past, I was able to capture events in words that confined a memory into an easy-to-revisit capsule. And I do revisit them every once and a while. Like a great old photo, those old posts usually demand a grin and typically a little fog of the eye too.

I am still a major-league nostalgic sap in case you were wondering!

Much more importantly, I imagine these stories will be fun for my girls to read, and relive though my eyes, at some point.  Some day, they will be able to process the profound significance they have had on our world. In the meantime, I shutter to think of the millions of little moments that are lost in the corners of my mind, having only had the pleasure of a short prominence before – POOF – they joined all the now forgotten gems of our girls’ story.

In looking back, I found a few emails from curious intended parents who, at the time, were considering traveling to India. Their first email to me was always filled with some level of anxious trepidation surrounded by a cautious hope of finding their path to parenthood. They read our story, saw our girls, and knew it could be true. The possibility was tangible and therefore less abstract….achievable in fact. I can totally relate to those first feelings. We have dozens of similar emails sent to those who went before us, prior to 2009.

The thing that got me was that those emails are from people who are now parents. I got a lump in my throat when I realized the role our journey and my blog played for at least a few families. As we faded back into our unshared daily life, I had forgotten how important our world-wide community of support became to those who embarked on this foreign adventure. We took turns celebrating successes and holding hands when mourning was necessary. It really was quite remarkable and special.

We became a forever-connected family of sorts. No matter what happens in life, we will have shared a path that was unique and special but at the same time, common. Our children will know pseudo cousins from all corners who share a similar story. 

And just like a real family, along the way, some went rouge for one reason or another. So, while we can be sure they won’t be at the table come Thanksgiving time, we still love them and their children for their perspective on our journey-in-common anyway. But, from afar is fine.

All of that being said, a few books worth of stories happened in the last 2 years.

First of all, I would be remiss if I did not admit that there have been times when I justly wondered if I would make it to the end of the day without collapsing into a pile of fatigued angst while clutching my fists above my head, declaring ‘WHAT have we done!!!

I’ll let you in on a little secret of parenting multiples that nobody will tell you when your little bundles arrive: despite the long hours of around the clock butt-wiping, feeding, puking, changing, shhhh-ing, rocking, and laundry, the baby years are – by a country mile - the EASIEST part due to their mostly rounded heads acting like giant anchors, safely securing them to the earth below your feet.

Sure, crawling and then the first steps inspire moistened eyes of pride and joy. However, once mobility fully sets in, it’s GAME ON, BITCHES!!! For a while, you can manage fine. In fact, you will rather enjoy the comedy styling of drunken baby bumper cars. But, once they secure their sea legs and add on top of that the vocabulary of emerging personalities, sibling competitiveness, and confidently declared independence, it’s a horse of a totally different hue.

Whoever first coined the phrase ‘terrible twos’ had not yet had a three year old…much less three of them! I am now in a steady state of lower back-pain from the human origami I play with my 35 pound juggling balls of wiggle. They insist on climbing, poking, and prodding from the very first, right up until the very last, moment of each day.

I have been known to start the day with an inspirational speech geared towards our attention-challenged trio. I sit the girls down and gently explain that there has not been a single day in their entire lives where they did not cry at least once. Could today be the day!?!? COULD TODAY BE THAT HOLY, LOVING, QUIET-ISH DAY?!?!

At the same time, I spend most of my days and nights engaged in extended discussions with toddler terrorists who are vastly more influential negotiators than anyone I have encountered in the business world. Truly…I am challenged to find the type of pushy persistence that is steadily hurled upon us with escalating urgency as that of a three-year-old who wants something. ‘No!’ is rarely a serious obstacle when they are in pursuit of something…anything. Seriously, I think their little brains translate the word ‘no’ to ‘INSIST LOUDER ‘CAUSE PAPA CLEARLY AIN’T LISTENING!!!’

At 3 ½ years old, if words could be converted into energy, the utterances of ‘I want…’ in our house could alone power a small village. Said in rapid succession with varied demands attached, it could make your mind positively spin on a quest for just one quiet minute where nobody is yelling, fighting, hurling things, or taking off their clothes for a moment of public exhibitionism.  

I am told this is normal but, our girls’ moral code of justice is questionable at best. The mind of a toddler does not fully understand accountability nor consequences of actions. So, if they pull hair or shove or hit a sister in the face, I can predict their answer with surprising (maybe not!) accuracy to the question of ‘Did you hit your sister?’ With a confident reply of ‘No!’while shoulders are being shrugged - despite mounting evidence to the contrary – we will then pursue an unattainable grain of remorse and compassion.

Potty training has proven to be our Everest! Despite all best efforts we have only succeeded in training 2 ½ of our girls. The ½ is for our holdout that has a special place in her bedroom that she affectionately refers to as her ‘poopy corner.’ I’ll save more of that story for another time. If possible, when it starts with a funny ‘Remember when she used to…’  

Notwithstanding all the challenges and endless chores and duties, none have been insurmountable.

There have literally been thousands of joyous moments of pure bliss that could not match the value of all the gold in the world. When you least expect it - and usually most need it - they become the reasons to wake in the morning and smile at the sky!

Random and unsolicited little voices saying ‘I Love You’ could forgive the worst behavior…resting their little tired heads in the crook of your neck while they take contented deep breaths while falling asleep….taking their sisters hand and skipping for no reason at all….dancing and singing like they are working to impress the back row of Carnegie Hall….telling me a joke – a really adorable joke – and getting the punch line JUST right….an unprompted ‘Thank You’ said to a stranger who had no idea of the morning we all just had….crawling into our bed and sighing as they plunge into deep pillows of lazy contentment….funny little stories and nicknames that grow more and more strange….

All of it continues to make us the happiest and luckiest - and often tiredest - people we know!

So, there you have it….not so much a story but a State of the Family.

Life is very good!

Since you made it to the end of this run-on tome, here’s a photo montage we made for INSTAR (Indian Society for Third Party Assisted Reproduction) in support of the SURROGACY WALK that has been organized for April 20. It's a walk beginning in Delhi at Nehru Stadium with participation anticipated from 500 surrogate mothers, their relatives, doctors, and supporters.

Surrogacy BUILDS Families!  TRUE 'DAT!  We are forever grateful for the journey!!!

Enjoy!

I have missed you and hope to hear from you too!




Friday, August 17, 2012

The End

We have reached that time.

It is certainly not the end of our story, however these are the last and final words that will appear on this blog.

I do not know what the future brings. At some point, I may write about our family again in a different setting.

However, for now, this is the end of our public diary.

I am grateful that I will someday be able to share the many stories, photos, and videos that resulted from this journal with our children when they have grown old enough to understand.

I have immensely enjoyed writing every syllable that you have been kind enough to read in the 350 posts over 170,000 page views that precede this one.

Our extraordinary journey is forever a part of our colorful history!

Thank you for coming along...

Farewell.

Love,

2 Daddies and 3 Little Girls
faithtovishwas@gmail.com