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I Never Promised You a Rose Garden


Photo: Luz Maria Espinoza

Soon after my wife and I moved into our house, we had a fight about the rose bushes. There were 27 of them. They were all different colors and types. They were all overgrown and some sick. They had thorns like something out of a Grimm’s fairy tale and we had a preschooler and another on the way. My wife wanted them gone. I was in heaven because all summer and fall I had bouquets of cut flowers in every room. It didn’t bother me that some were yellow and some were pink and some were a funny color of apricot that many might consider orange.

It was one of our more serious fights, up there with the motorcycle one and the vintage acquisition one; or maybe I just think it was serious because I caved. My wife probably has a whole different list of serious fights. And they’re mostly about power balance anyway; there was no need for me to dig up the roses when I had bronchitis and was six months pregnant, in the rain. It just made me feel like I had a say in the matter.

Then add kids into the balance and see how your garden grows.

In general, I think lesbians manage distribution of chores well (and the Gottman Institute, “America’s Love Lab” agrees), as well as distribution of power in the relationship. But then the kids come along and neither parent gets to have the Kentucky Bluegrass or English Garden they wanted because now there’s a two-thousand dollar wooden play structure designed to withstand a nuclear holocaust where there really ought to be a hot tub, which you can’t have now for another decade because it wouldn’t be safe.

Oh, and the Labradoodle you got because every kid should have a dog, it’s hypoallergenic, doesn’t shed and is kid-friendly? Has dug up what was left of the grass, all the flowers that would fit around the fence area to keep them from being squashed during joyful play, and guess what? It sheds.

Dogs also dictate landscaping decisions. Half of our yard is playground wood chip and only half of that is around the (not $2,000) play structure in a six-inch deep safety regulation layer. The other part is where the dogs poop, to keep mud etc. from getting tracked in the house. Some days it seems like covering the whole yard with wood chips would solve so many landscaping difficulties and make year-round play for kiddos a whole lot less messy. Other days I think that would be giving in to the dark side. Like getting a “sensible haircut” or buying “mom jeans.”

Fortunately, we solved most power battles in the household years ago with the simple motto, “she who is willing to do it decides,” I make the gardening decisions now. My goal is low upkeep with plenty of vegetation; when I look out the window I want to see green. 

So while planning a garden is more complicated with kids, there is one area in which you and your co-parent can become bonded and in complete agreement—when the kid’s gone, the hot tub comes in.  

 

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)