Photo: Juliet James
We have no one to blame but ourselves. We knew what we were doing. And we were smart enough to do the math. We just weren’t optimistic that things were going to work out first time, twice. Even heterosexuals working with the freshest materials take six months on average to conceive. And by the third kid, any birthday would do, as long as there was a birth to celebrate.
Lesbians have options when it comes to planning the birthday calendar, when insemination is involved. You can try for the astrological signs you’d most like to live with for the next eighteen years, though Mother Nature and reproductive technology can interfere with the best laid plans, and maybe a Scorpio will turn out to be just what you needed in some kind of Karmic destiny.
I should just be happy we didn’t get any Geminis (and did get the three kids). As a Virgo, Gemini was my only restriction. Love/hate/love/hate. Not good for a parent/child relationship.
But on the other hand, we have birthdays all winter Bam, Pause, Bam, Bam, with Thanksgiving and Christmas during the month we’re birthday-free. For four months there’s no break from decorating the house, eating cake, planning celebrations and wish lists pinned to the bulletin board. And then after the third birthday, it’s Valentine’s Day.
In March we rest, before ramping up for Easter, which at our house has all to do with The Bunny, the circle of life, and the return of spring, no uncomfortable dresses necessary.
But regarding birthdays, all we were thinking at the time was “Hey, we’re fertile, let’s go,” not, “Hmmm, this could get a little hectic during semester Finals, perhaps we should wait a month or two.” Oh no, when you want to make a baby, you want to make a baby, even when there’s no sex involved.
Nor were we thinking about how handy it would be to have summer birthdays, with parties at the park instead of inside our house, while a snowstorm rages outside. Or a September birthday, so the kid could have the age advantage over classmates. Or May, because there aren’t really any cool holidays to come in conflict with.
But then again, there’s the potential Gemini thing.
For parents, the kid’s birthdays are a big thing. Not a “let’s rent ponies and a blow-up bounce-house” big thing necessarily—I kind of hope that only happens in movies—but more an emotionally big thing. A milestone. A “my baby’s growing up” moment. Plus, a birthday is something you know your kid is going to remember well into middle-age (at least birthdays after five) and none of us want to be described as “My Mom was bad about celebrations” at the therapist’s office later.
We’ve always done the “family birthday” thing, instead of going to the pool or shooting paint balls at each other. We’ve had themes and homemade drawings of Pokemon or rabbits, and scary movie sleepovers since the tween years. Grandparents descend. Best friends attend. There was once an attenuated cream puff fight.
I spend the three days afterwards cleaning up and finishing off the chocolate cake, hoping the day, whatever the kid ended up wanting to do, whether Harry Potter on DVD or a game of Nerf Gun Zombies in the basement, is a memory we’ll all recall with a smile.
Blogger Bio: Beren deMotier is a Carol Brady in Levis/tattooed lesbian mama in a mini-van, obsessed with safety, doing the right thing and the amount of dog hair on her wood floors. She is a regular contributor to both Curve and Black Lamb, and has written for Hip Mama, And Baby, Pride Parenting, ehow.com, and for her blog, “That Lesbian Mom Next Door.” Her multi-award-winning book, The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage, recounts her giddy leap through a legal window, straight onto the barbeque pit of public debate when she and her partner married in Oregon in 2004, their three children along for the raucous ride. (berendemotier.com)