What We Create

I’m feeling weddinged out today. Just. Phew. They are tiring, weddings. But I still can’t get myself to wrap words around, well, my life right now. I have no notes from a marriage today.

So I thought I would post something from the current inspiration folder of my brain. My current inspiration folder, blessedly, contains nothing wedding related. It contains things about being brave, about breathing into the belief, not the fear. It contains snippets of people working to build the life they want. It, frankly, includes a lot about world travel. And style. I like style. And it includes families – families who have found a way to navigate through the shoulds, and create what they need. People who have had the courage to hold tight to the core of who they are, as they allowed what their family was to shift and change.

Almost exactly a year ago, I was starting to have tiny breakdowns about the wedding. The invitations were going out, and some people’s reactions were less than ideal. I was being asked about my bridesmaids, and about first glance pictures, and about all this stuff I didn’t want. And I was starting to hyperventilate. And when the feeling of there being no air got to its worst, I would watch this Our Labor of Love SlideshowAly and Elroi’s wedding. Over and over and over again. And slowly, I would start to breathe again. What I wrote last year was:

Maybe it’s because I’m a visual person, or maybe it’s just because I’m a little slow sometimes, but somehow these pictures slammed me over the head with what should have been really obvious: I can do whatever feels right to me to do, and still stay EXACTLY who I am.

So this year, when I saw pictures of Aly & Elroi and their baby (I knoooowwwwwwww…..) it loosened up something else in my chest.

It made me breathe easier. It made me feel like I had permission to make our family whatever it needed to be, and do it however we needed to do it (babies in closets most definitely included). Because no, I’m not pregnant, but I am thinking and thinking and thinking. Thinking about what I need, thinking about what we need, dreaming.

After I saw these pictures, I was lucky enough to email with Aly. We talked about how important it is to expand the notion of what a family can be, for all of us. We talked about how family equality is as important as marriage equality – and not just for LGBTQ people, for all of us. Because the brave and radical acts of redefining and reclaiming families and marriages, that the LGBTQ community keeps doing, over and over, in face of all of our laws, and discriminations, and judgments? That radical act of bravery continues to free us all, one hyperventalater at a time. But I’ll leave you with Aly’s liberating words:

I went into parenthood knowing I’d do some things differently from my parents and peers partly b/c of my sexuality and politics and partly b/c I’ve always tended to feel more comfortable with non-mainstream choices. But, my oh my, I had no idea just how different my choices would be and how much my making different choices would affect others. From where my baby sleeps to what he eats to what he plays with, not to mention how he got here–every single decision is wrought with so much controversy. And people feel offended if you go a different route than them. It’s bizarre. The first year of my son’s life has been a sort-of decision-making and assertiveness-building boot camp. It was exhausting at first and eventually enpowering. But fear not, parenthood, like marriage, is what you create.

And that holds true for all of us, and all of our families: kids now, kids later, kids never (and eff that – partner now, partner later, partner never). It is what you create.

Photos by the blindingly talented Our Labor Of Love

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  • I don’t think anyone could say it better than Aly- “it’s what you create.”

    I think that’s also the hardest part because there are an enormous amount of opportunities and possibilities to do whatever you want, even if you don’t see it. Buzz word alert: Think outside the box. Don’t feel limited to what you see or know. The best way to do that, like you said Meg, is to do what feels right to you. You’ll know when something is right or wrong, and you just gotta go with it. Use your heart, gut and mind as your own system of accountability. Talk with your partner and weigh out the options. Constantly ask yourself, “why am I doing this again?” And if the answer feels good in your heart, gut and mind, there you go. (This is the most ideal scenario. We all know real life ain’t so easy.)

  • Cat

    This is probably one of the lovliest things I’ve seen on the Internet in a long time. This is the sort of thing that makes me wildly excited for our future. Thanks as always.

  • Courtney

    What exactly does Aly do differently? Just out of curiosity!

    • meg

      Aly & Elroi are a gender queer couple :) I didn’t bring it up, exactly, because in some ways it seems beside the point.

  • Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this post. It was exactly what I needed to reinforce my “road less traveled” approach to my new marriage and family situation (hubby came built in with two lovely daughters and we do not plan on our own children). People have a hard time believing me and processing the fact that I don’t want my own kids and since my sister just had a baby in April, I am constantly hearing, “so you’re next, right?” and “when are you going to give your parents their second grandchild?” It can be exhausting!

    • Sara,

      I know exactly how you feel. My hubby has a 15 yr old daughter from his previous marriage, and we both came into the relationship knowing that we didn’t want to have a child. But, I feel like I have offended others who have children when I tell them I don’t want a child of my own. It’s nothing I desire, nor do I feel like I’m missing out on anything. It’s a hard concept for many women with children to understand. i decided I’m going to do ME and the heck with the rest :)

      • Michele

        I just want to give props to amazing ladies who fall in love with and marry men who already have children from previous relationships (and their children, for that matter, because indeed, you’re marrying them too).

        My father met my step-mom when I was 15, and married her when I was 21. We have an excellent relationship now, but that wasn’t always the case, because…well, I was a huge a$$hole when I was a teenager. Just terrible. And because I lived with my dad full time when I was growing up, my step-mom was witness to and recipient of my special brand of a$$hole for a couple of years.

        I can not even imagine how difficult it must have been her sometimes – to stay – when I was doing everything in my power to get her to leave.

        It is commitment, redefined.

  • And people feel offended if you go a different route than them.
    Oh my God, YES. With everything you do. Stupid example: If you say you don’t want a princessy wedding dress, then the girls who have princessy wedding dresses are offended. No, no, no. There’s nothing wrong with princessy wedding dresses. They’re perfectly beautiful, and yours suited you. I JUST DON’T WANT ONE. This is not a reflection on you. IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.
    (Actually, I DO kind of have a princessy wedding dress, or at least more princessy than I wanted initially … another story for another day.)

    The more important the perceived action, the worse it gets. I realize that in many ways our own actions affect others, but in the ways that they REALLY DON’T seem to be when people get the most haughty. It’s absurd and really annoying.

    • This is so, SO true.

      I think the root of it is that when we get married or have children, we are opting into a major social institution (marriage, parenthood) where others have tread before. We become communal property, because the institution we’re inserting ourselves into is bigger and older and more entrenched than we are. So we hear about “The Way Things Are Done”, even if they don’t fit in with who WE are. And, to a certain extent, we need to respect that. For my wedding, I’m not wearing black shoes because my fiance firmly believes it’s bad luck, even though my black peep toes are sexy AND comfortable. We make compromises and changes and decisions based on the people we love– sometimes we bend to the will of the institution, to keep the peace or because it doesn’t matter THAT much (see: shoes), but sometimes we stand up for ourselves and our differences, because it really, really does matter.

      These times in our lives are intense, emotional, deeply personal. So people want to share their war stories and their happiness and the stress of it all. And they fear that anything different is a reflection negatively against what their choices were, even when it’s not a reflection of THEM, it’s a reflection of US. And navigating that with confidence, with compassion, and with individual strength is difficult. But it’s what makes us a family, in the end.

      Beautiful pictures. Beautiful family. :)

    • zannie

      Oh yes, this is SO true. I think a big part of this is that people don’t really make conscious decisions about their lives. Most people just fall from one pattern to another and don’t give it much thought. Like: if I’m getting married, I need a big wedding. If I’m married I need to have a child. If I have one child I need to have another, because it’s not good for a kid to grow up alone.
      There are many people who work like that and it never occured to them to break the patterns, or to even consider if it’s worth thinking about. And I think that the problem is that when they see someone who breaks pattern in one way or another (from a less-traditional wedding dress to non-traditional wedding to non-traditional roles in marriage, to non-traditional way of raising kids etc) they start to think that maybe the obvious decisions they made were not really conscious decisions and weren’t really that obvious. They start to feel doubt, they feel endangered and they attack to protect themselves.
      Of course, the wise way to go would be to analize their decisions and work from there toward better lives and perhaps some of them do so, but the first instinct is to think “so I could’ve had a different life? so I screw up?!”. And that’s why they are so critical about everything and every different choice. I think.

  • I’m reminded of a piece by Amber Hollibaugh in which she describes her parents putting her in a dresser drawer to sleep at night; that was a couple generations ago. My own dad had a crib donated by a church. And, finally, I think Ariel’s baby lives in a closet, too. From the drawer, to the charity crib, to the closet, each generation doing better than the last — the American dream in our own dreamy way. Thanks for sharing the pictures. I love watching these families grow up.

  • Carbon Girl

    I would love to know what Aly does differently. I am overwhelmed with parenthood right now–the idea of it. Three of my friends are currently pregnant and a coworker just had a special needs baby. I know that I don’t want kids for awhile yet–I want to enjoy my partner, my pets, my time.

    But for some reason all of this happening to those close to me is making me so confused. Maybe because I have no urge to have kids yet and I am afraid I might never. Maybe because I have no idea how a baby would even fit into my life. Maybe because due to the special needs baby, I feel like I should have one now before the chances of having one myself increases. Maybe because I have a coworker with two kids who keeps telling me that all the ideas of things I might be able to do with a baby–go camping, take traveling, NOT cosleeping (I am too light a sleeper for that), make time to go to the gym–are impossible, unrealistic dreams.

    Wow, that was a rant, but it feels great to get off my chest. I guess the thing is for me to wait, ponder, and knit my friends adorable baby blankets.

    • I also recently had two good friends/coworkers have babies, and it’s my first experience being around pregnant people/friends with babies every day, as college friends with kids leave in different states than me.

      They are both doing the “traditional” parenting route with how they are raising their babies and in letting it completely take over who they are and what they can do in their lives and like to tell us how it will be EXACTLY the same for us.

      It will still be a couple years before I expand my baby family, but it already freaks me out how much judging and offending I KNOW will happen when I don’t go the same route. These are the girls who couldn’t understand how I could possibly want to hyphenate my name instead of just taking my husband’s, and thought my outdoors, mostly nonreligious, “atypical traditional” wedding was, and I quote “weird”. Also, I like somewhat unusual names and they think it is mean for parents to name their kids anything other than traditional names. Ugh.

      • Lethe

        I think it can be comforting to seek out people as examples who are taking a different path. I was totally inspired by a former boss of mine who I saw managed to keep living out her activism, her job, her love of traveling, her adult friendships, etc when she had a baby – and not because she had millions of dollars to throw at the problems or a full time babysitter. Though I think part of her success was having a very involved partner.

        Incidentally, don’t worry – I have a very unusual name, and growing up I always LOVED it! When I’d meet new people, the first thing they’d say is “what a pretty/unusual name!” As a child I felt kind of bad for the kids who weren’t always the only one in their class with their special name. ;)

  • Olivia

    This post is a great antidote to the incessant “you’ll see…” that you hear from the moment you get engaged.

    • Faith

      or even before you’re engaged…gah!!!!!

  • Erika

    What little kid doesn’t want to live in a closet? I used to hang out in my toy box when I was that age, probably to create a little secret space of my own. Any other fans of The Poetics of Space out there?

    • meg

      Awwww…. live in a closet and play with the pots and pans, right?

    • I loved my closet. I’d pile all my blankets on the floor, snuggle in and read. It was a space that was safe, quiet, and totally mine.

  • Okay. First of all I’m totally obsessed with Aly & Elroi’s wedding. Not in a totally creepy way- I promise! But it was one of the first queer weddings I found in the very beginnings of my gay/lesbian/queer bride search of the internet. I was the MOH in my best friend’s wedding and I was overwhelmed with the whole hetero-love-fest of the event. And quite frankly, a little depressed by it. And a little jealous too. I just couldn’t quite wrap my head around how my eventual queer wedding would look, or feel, or exist in this world. And then I found A&E’s wedding and my mind was blown. And as simple a realization as it was, it was profound for me: we could do whatever we damn well pleased. We could create our wedding, our marriage, and our life together exactly as we saw fit. And now we are just that….So big and deepest thanks to Aly & Elroi and so many hugs and congrats and pinched cheeks for that babe too!
    And on the closet front (I know, irony) I totally slept in the closet, in a studio I shared with my entire family until I was around 7! Yup. My sister and I had a bunk bed in the closet. (and that’s about it) And it was freakin’ awesome. Oh and the kicker: We lived above my family’s candy store. So there ya go: candy stores and extremely small sleeping/living spaces- the stuff childhood dreams are made of! And I think I turned out all right too…..

  • I think that people have a difficult time with differences because it is a case of perception. No matter how well something worked for you it may not fit another’s needs or even preference. People feel comfortable being validated by others and in some forms this validation comes in doing the same things or seeking advice. It feels good to be validated and when that comes in the form of doing what everyone else does it makes some people feel more secure. (Think middle & high school).

    For example, my husband is a doctor and when we talk about expanding our family (not for a while yet…) it is assumed that we will go to the hospital like everyone else. I would much rather not go this route, but isn’t it funny how that is automatically expected? It’s a social given that most babies are born in hospitals. Luckily, the social perceptions of marriages and families are changing. I’m glad for this. The internet community has a way of also helping validate us in our differences which is a bonus.

  • As long as a child is loved, happy & healthy, why do people care how it’s done & judge if it’s different from their way? And from these gorgeous photos, you can clearly see this baby is loved, happy & healthy!

  • Erin

    Those are the most gorgeous new family photos I’ve ever seen. Good antidote to being wedding-overwhelmed :)

  • After seeing those photos a few weeks ago, I contact Elroi and asked her if she and Aly would share some of their family story with me on Offbeat Mama. They’re supposedly working on something now … *fingers crossed*

  • Michele

    I’ll be honest – I’m a pretty judgmental person by nature.I have no opinions whatsoever about what the “right” way to have or raise a child is, but I’ve certainly got a lot of opinions on the various ways that people do it – some favorable, some not so much. Do they matter? Not really – they’re not my kids, but I’ve still got ’em. I don’t always share ’em (though sometimes I do), but I’ve got ’em nonetheless.

    I’m also a very, very curious person by nature – I just like to KNOW things, and once I hear/read/see something new, I want to learn AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE about it – so I ask A LOT of questions, which probably reads as judgment to some people, but nearly always – is not. It’s just information gathering.

  • Meg,

    I want your inspiration folder. These words resonate in a way I can’t describe:

    “My current inspiration folder, blessedly, contains nothing wedding related. It contains things about being brave, about breathing into the belief, not the fear. It contains snippets of people working to build the life they want. … People who have had the courage to hold tight to the core of who they are, as they allowed what their family was to shift and change.”

    So lovely. So perfect for me right now.

    Thank you.

  • Exactly! Weddings. Marriage. Family. Married life. Single life. All of it is what we create. While we can’t create what others do, we can certainly create what we do and how we react. I created a great life for myself when I was single. And now I’m taking that creation and creating a great life for myself married. I love the idea that we create our lives, because that also means we create our own happiness or our own misery. Hooray for creating happiness!

  • KristieB

    I spend a bit of time around queer families. I volunteer as a “Big” with Big Brothers Big Sisters and my “Little” has a transgendered parent. Honestly, I’m insanely jealous of queer couples/ families for getting to chart their own course, make their own rules, define themselves as they please… You don’t get that in a hetero marriage. I’m instantly “wife” and expected to take my husband’s name and stay at home with the children. My husband is the breadwinner, decision-maker and discipline-giver. It is expected that you will have 2 children, born in a hospital. You will live in the suburbs with 2 cars in a house with a bedroom for each child.

    Fortunately, I married a man willing to have discussions about things and figure out what works for us. He married me because I’m “quirky.” I love discussing with him how we will raise our children (who will have ‘interesting’ names) in a tiny house (that they will hopefully also be born in) where they can share bedrooms (sleeping alone is scary). I know that our family and friends will roll their eyes at our choices.

    My opinion has always been that you don’t questions someone else’s choices as long as everyone in that situation is happy and healthy. I don’t have children, but I can still tell a struggling parent when I see one.

    • I wouldn’t get too jealous–there’s a lot of hard shit that comes with that “freedom” to redefine. And perhaps it’s just because I’m on the queer side of things, but I don’t actually think it’s that much easier to go off course from the norm as a queer person. People still have plenty of expectations of what a wedding/marriage/parenthood should look like, regardless of the gender or sexuality of the people involved. And queer people are just as likely as straight people to be raised in traditional WASPy culture and all the baggage that comes with it. My partner and I are getting married this fall, and our mothers are FULL of helpful suggestions about what the wedding, etc. should look like. Fortunately, we both want a relatively traditional wedding (save for the two brides and the UU church, which is not traditional in my family), so it works for us. But if what we really wanted was a pagan festival in the woods or a backyard BBQ with death metal accompaniment or a reception at a roller skating rink, it’d be a tough road with our families. :P

      So anyway, I see your point, but I’d caution you to not spend too much time being jealous of people who have made their own way as a result of not having the same legal rights, respect of society, or in some cases, love of their families. Queer people worked hard to build a supportive alternative community because in some cases it was needed for survival. But that doesn’t make it easy. And I, for one, am very grateful for all of the alternative-types, both queer and straight, who’ve been willing to go off the beaten path and make it easier for the rest of us to have these choices despite the pressures of society.

      • zannie

        So, I’m speaking from the straight point of view – from a fairly traditional, not very open country (Poland). I know it is hard for queer couples everywhere but it’s not exactly easy for straight people, too. I mean, I lived happily convinced I can do whatever I want and then I moved in with my FH before we even got engaged (gah!) and I got this giant-punch-in-the-face moment when reality started to oppose everything I did. First, we lived together before the wedding, then we got engaged in a silly place (the proper place would be a restaurant with violinist and candles and so on) and now we’re not having a traditional Polish wedding with traditional Polish reception! All of this seems to offend someone and we even had to move our wedding date because my FH’s family made too much mess: people were disinherited, there were divorce threats and lots and lots of fighting.
        On the other hand I know a lesbian couple that (once they managed to convince their family that they really know what they’re saying and doing) got free card and everybody’s happy.
        I guess my point is that we are all fighting in our own way, and it doesn’t make any route easier or harder. We just need to do our thing and that’s it.

        • Liz

          I want to reiterate Becky’s point. Please don’t underestimate the effect that not being legally recognized or accepted can have on a relationship. Being queer makes everything harder, from starting a relationship, living together, getting married, conceiving children to paying the bill at a restaurant. Every step of the way you are having to redefine and defend your relationship to everyone. Yes, we have the flexibility to redefine because there are fewer stereotypes and if you live in a metropolitan area that is welcoming of GLBTQ folks it can be quite fun. However if you live in a rural area or a homophobic community you don’t have the luxury to freely experience being in love because you are constantly on guard and hiding. I hope and pray for a day when GLBTQ individuals can be proud of our freedom to redefine relationship, marriage and parenting. And I am glad to hear that some people see and recognize the positive communities we are creating.

          Every bride’s experience is unique and gay or straight family relationships are tried during the planning and excision of a wedding celebration. I wish the major decisions facing my family were about cake flavors and china patterns instead we’re having to weigh the consequences of my father, an ordained pastor, conducting my wedding at the risk of loosing his ordination because our church does not agree with gay marriage.

          Please do not get me wrong, I would not trade my life. I love my future wife and am blessed everyday to have the life, friends and family that we do. I suppose they say the grass is always greener…

          • meg

            I’m just going to put this out there – I actually think it’s a really good thing that allies, and other straight people are starting to see that their are wonderful enviable things about the queer community. That they/we are starting to realize, hey, LGBTQ people have something to teach us!

            I know it’s really easy to just want to slam that down – to say, “You have no idea how hard it is for us,” and of course that is TRUE. But I think, maybe, as we try to inch forward on the path, maybe it’s helpful to say, “Yes, we’ve gone through a lot of really hard stuff, and we’ve built something really beautiful with it. So yes, we have something to teach you. Let’s start talking.” Because, you know? You do.

            I don’t think people admiring the beautiful things that the LGBTQ culture has been able to create out of hardship takes away from the hardship. As per yesterdays discussion, minority communities can welcome and teach, without allowing people to appropriate.

    • Lydia

      Straight couples can choose to redefine their relationships however they choose, if they want. LGBTQ couples don’t get a choice, there is no default relationship model for them to fall back on.

      Honestly, I hear a lot about how straight families HAVE TO fit the traditional model, and I don’t buy it.
      Huge numbers of straight couples don’t fit the traditional model. And I don’t mean they went out of their way to build their family from the ground up (though some certainly do), but that many families can’t operate on a single income, and that outside factors and personality end up dictating people’s roles in the family.
      I mean, sure, sexism and rigid gender roles cause problems in straight relationships. I’m sure it’s tempting to fall into those roles, even if they rarely work, because that’s the fiction we’ve all been sold on (including LGBTQ people). But straight people are allowed to define their own families, and they always have, without anyone really trying to stop them.

      • meg

        I don’t think anyone is saying that straight people CAN’T define their own families, I think what people are saying is that the way that LGBTQ people do (and often have to) is inspiring. You see it far less often in the mainstream world then in various segments of the counter-cultural (by choice or mandate) world.

        What’s being said is totally a positive thing.

        • I think Meg’s “remember the lesbians” (guest?) post was a really great example of this. There seems to be a certain sense of freedom for LGBTQ (in how they’re able to shape their families) in not having any traditional mold to break, which is hugely inspiring for those of us who, because we present as a “normal” cis-gendered, able-bodied, hetero couple, are pressured into conforming to. My boyfriend and I get a lot of shit from family, friends, and sometimes near-strangers because we buck those traditional norms.

          Many of the great examples I see around the intertubes of people having the courage to define their relationship and families on their own terms are LGBTQ people, and on days when I feel like disowning my family because they’re accusing me of emasculating my boyfriend because he’s willing to put my career first, it’s a huge boost to see people thriving in their new, “non-traditional” families.

  • I’m going out on another “stir some shit up” limb here. What about the concept of the two-person family? Just the husband and wife, maybe a few pets. That’s what my family is and I love it.

    Matt and I don’t want children. It’s not that we don’t like them, we just don’t like them for us. I revel in the time I spend with my friends’ and family’s kids. I absolutely love being an auntie, and I also love my little two-person family, and my three kitties and my fishies, of course (I’m pleased to say they all live harmoniously).

    I think families are whatever we make of them, like our marriages are what we make of them. Gay, straight, biological, adopted (I am), single, polygamist, kids, no kids. If it’s your thing, go for it. Be who you are and be comfortable with that.

    • meg

      You know I’m all about that. Hence the very specific “kids never.” I never ever assume that kids are right for all families.

    • KristieB

      My best friend is in this boat. She’s been married for 6 years…and her sister-in-law is preggers, so we are hoping people stop bothering her about “when are you having kids?”

      D & I are one of those couples that are just starting to get used to the idea about actually having kids…maybe (eepp!). We are not one of those couples that HAS to have kids. We will (and are) perfectly happy just being us with 2 dogs and a lizard. It is really annoying to have people asking us “when are you having kids?” I want to answer “when are you going to stop being a nosy b—–?”

      How ’bout couples (like my brother and his lady) who are very committed (6 years AND pregnant), but feel no need to actually get married?

      • meg

        That is pretty much everyone we know. After 24, our friends just stopped getting married. So yes, I mean they got married super young or not at all… But there are babies galore.

      • Sarah Beth

        Wow. Yeah, I definitely know how that feels. A lot of my fiance’s friends are older than us, like in their 30s or 40s with school-aged kids. The wedding is still a year away, and we are quite young at that, and they’ve been dropping hints and lines about us having kids for a while now.
        “You guys should hurry up and get married and get you some of these…” (meaning kids. ironic, since it came from the man who just had a vasectomy, so clearly he’s had enough of “those”. ).
        “So when are you guys going to have kids?”
        “So when do I get grandchildren?” (my mother, who wants five…I’m an only child. NOT HAPPENING. :\)
        “So when do I get great-grandchildren?” (his grandmother).

        And all I wont to scream is “YOU DON’T!” “WE’RE NOT!” I’m 22, for goodness sake! And I’d like to get married first. And spend some of my married life sans kids, if not all of it. And what if I don’t ever “come around” to wanting kids? What if I decide I’d rather adopt an older kid. And any one of these people would absolutely lose it if had a kid before we were married anyhow. Why are people so @#$% nosy?!

        • zannie

          I remember my very strict and traditional grandfather talking to my cousin and I that we don’t really need to get married to have kids, because it’s biologically possible to have them before the wedding! Who knew! I guess it shows how desperate he is. he just very very much wants to have great-grandchildren;)

          Since most of my family isn’t that desperate they patiently wait till I get married with the baby talk. But reading about it reminded me one situation when I was 25 or 26. I got the ‘when are you FINALLY getting married?’ from my Grandmother (again!)*. I finally couldn’t get it any longer and when I heard another “Such a pretty girl! When are you getting married?” I answered “When they allow lesbian marriages in Poland”. Poor Grandma. But she never talked about it again. Not with me, anyway. And since this technique worked beautifully, I’m planning something similar for the “when baby?” talk.

          *my Mom had to survive the same 30 years ago. According to my Gran when you turn 23 you are an old maid which is a shame for you and the family and should be immediatly taken care of by getting married asap. I’m getting married this year, 2 days before turning 28 but I live on the other side of the country. Mom got married at 30 and lived at home. It was a hell from what she tells me.

        • jolynn

          I have some long acquaintances who married young (before high school let out) because they were pregnant (it’s actually a large percentage of that crowd!) and are self-described absolutely miserable–not happy in their marriage, feel like their children kept them from the world of possibilities, etc. Which is a sad choice in their outlook, but their choice. And THESE are the people who constantly pester me to marry and have children. It is at once a “come join my misery” and a feeling that if I do something different than that I am judging their choice.

          Different actions do not mean judgment, and the whole thing is somewhat bizarre to me.

  • Marisa

    Watching my Gay, Trans and Queer friends get to create their relationships, parterships, marriages and families from the ground up has given my new husband (still weird to write it) and I more freedom and assurance in our choices. Our choice to decide that having kids might not be right for us. Our choice to pick up and leave good stable jobs and a house in the suburbs for the unknowns and possibilities of living in the Caribbean (more to come on that soon). But most importantly, the seed that it planted is that life is not just about living what you see and what you know and what others around you tell you. It’s finding your way, whether that’s a white picket fence, or a backpack and a dream or something in between and doing it because it’s right and it works for you.

    I’ve learned from my friends, queer and straight alike that life isn’t about doing things because you think you’re supposed to. People who do that are the ones who inevitably wind up wondering how they got to where they are, with nothing but could haves and should haves. Making your own way is messier and scarier and sets you up for a lot more falls, but I think it’s better to come to the end scraped and bloodied and not regretting a thing.

  • Allison

    I feel like my best motto for life is that we are all cut from the same cloth, but that fabric is calico so every piece is a little different from the next. I would like to say that I’m so different and making this rebel path with my life but really I’m not.
    I WANT a baby (like 2 years ago I wanted one) but at 24 with a new house and a soon to be new husband that idea just isn’t plausible. My peers seem to think that I’m putting off the baby making because I don’t want to “ruin my life” but really it’s that the guest bedroom isn’t finished, the bathroom isn’t remodled, and our student loans aren’t paid off yet.
    Give me those three things and you KNOW we’d be doing all sorts of crazy shit like tracking my ovulation and picking out names.

    Starting our own baby family by getting married is brave enough, but expanding that baby family and doing it in your OWN way is downright fearless.

    Congrats to A&E on starting your new journey with those cute little cheeks!

    • KristieB

      “Starting our own baby family by getting married is brave enough, but expanding that baby family and doing it in your OWN way is downright fearless.”

      Oh wow. Seriously, wow.

  • MinnaBrynn

    To kid or not to kid is one of the few things we’re still in discussions on, but seeing pictures like that sure makes me want to consider his “yes kids” stance a little more. “But fear not, parenthood, like marriage, is what you create” Sigh. Yes. That’s something I should probably hear every day.

  • Sara

    Love this post! I love that my new husband and I get to create our lives as we want it. He is older than I am and had kids when he was young (who also had kids when they were young). So at age 33 I now have grandchildren (by marriage). I love that I get to be a grandma before being a mom. Not the way most people do it, but it’s working for us!

    • KristieB

      Sara, your life sounds crazy fun! Imagine your grandkids babysitting your baby. Whoa…

      • Sara

        It is both crazy and fun. :) I hadn’t thought of that scenario but it’s definitely a possibility!

  • Stephanie F.

    I’m a happily single, unattached, unengaged woman that is not interested in having children. And yet I love this wonderful blog about weddings. I’ve been trying to figure out why for a little while now, and something in this post finally made it click.

    It’s really quite simple. I love love.

    Being fiercely independent doesn’t mean that I’m choosing to live without love. That love is somehow unimportant to me. It just means that my definition of love, my definition of family is perhaps a little different than those who are in a couple. No, I don’t have a spouse or a partner or a significant other. But I am a daughter, I am a granddaughter, I am a sister, I am an aunt, I am a niece, I am a cousin, I am a friend, I am an activist. And while it’s true that my choice to be single is not the same as choosing a relationship that is unconventional or nontraditional or whatever outlier label you’d like to put on it, I still feel outside sometimes, that my choices constantly buck expectations, and seem to require explanation to everyone.

    So, I guess this is my little shout out. My little moment to say that yes, I’m a single girl regularly reading a blog about weddings, but I do live my life with love, I do live my life in support of all kinds of love, I rejoice in love, and I am defining my life and my love in a way that makes me happy every single day.

    • englyn

      You go girl!!

    • Rizubunny

      Stephanie F., you are awesome. Can we be friends? Seriously, I want more people like you in my life. And, I want to be more like you.

    • Rachael

      I am replying to this comment, just because I couldn’t “Exactly!” it twice. Cheers to you! Like a lot of folks on APW, you sound like someone I’d want a weekly tea date with…

    • Angela

      I’m glad I’m not the only one!

      I’m another single, unattached, unengaged woman(though I look very much forward to a distant someday when I’m surrounded by children of all ages, I’m just not ready for them yet) who loves reading this blog. I never comment because I figured I was the only one… and because mostly I don’t have much experience with the “planning-a-wedding” stuff. I love reading about it, though, and thinking about it.

    • Nataliah

      There seems to be almost a hierarchy of things that make other people’s heads explode. I was starting to that idea of being happily married but choosing not to have kids topped the list. But I actually think people have the hardest time accepting that someone might ‘choose’ to be single, that it’s not just a matter of not being lucky enough to ‘find the right person yet’ etc. Good on you for standing up and owning your choice!

    • Stephanie F.

      I just have to say that you guys are awesome! Thank you for responding. I was afraid my comment might end up in my lonely little echo chamber. But hooray! I’m not alone!

  • Um, I had to actually put out a memo: “We’ll not be thinking about kids for at least three years.” Then, while helping my grandma pack for a move, she insisted on saving a few toys for her great-grandkids (meaning, my kids), which should be coming along, oh, in about three years or so. Heart. Pulverized.

    But you know what’s been crazy? That whole process we went through standing our ground on our wedding decisions helped get us to this point too, where we gently but firmly tell people we’d rather have (read: AFFORD) an agritourismo (preferably with a pool) than kids. And we don’t get as offended with people’s well-meaning intrusions or try too hard to make them understand our point of view. We’re getting financially secure to buy a farm. That’s our dream, and we’re creating it. Done and done. That’s been a pretty amazing gift.

    • meg

      You know when you have a farm then EVERYONE is going to want you to have kids because it’s going to be uncontrollable thinking about the farm baby cuteness ;)

      Sorry. Focus. You’re points are lovely and valid, and I want you to have the life you want and an agritourismo (can I visit?) and I am TOTALLY NOT thinking about toddlers chasing baby chicks.

      • ddayporter

        maybe sixorangecarrots will take care of that for us..!

      • Ha! See, that’s why we put the 3-year mark out there. Because even we don’t know if, by the time we’re tooling around our agritourismo (YES please visit, everyone, I think that’s almost the literal translation of the word), sipping on drinks in our pool after a long day of cheesemaking, we’ll think, ‘Know what would make this even better? Our little ones chasing after baby chicks (or pigs. Whatevs.)’ No idea. I don’t think we’ll ever stop creating our lives to match whatever moment we find ourselves in. And I like that feeling, too. :)

        • Liz

          babies are an effing nightmare.

          as far as other peoples opinions, i mean.

          like. holy smokes. if one more person asks me about my stance on breastfeeding, i might make a “what i do with my tatas is none of your damn business” t-shirt.

          • meg

            You should start saying something totally absurd really really seriously, like, “I think most kids that are breastfed grow up to be murders.” And then just stare at them.

  • Rizubunny

    Meg, I know you were talking about the inspiration folder of your brain – but I just realized because of that comment – I could have an inspiration board/folder for my LIFE. That is so cool. Thank you for rocking my world, pretty much every day, with what you say.

  • aly

    Hi Meg! Thanks for the love. What a great conversation you started. In the queer community, we talk a lot about “chosen families.” Many of us have little to no support from our families of origin, so we focus on creating and growing our chosen families in every imaginable way. For me and Elroi, we knew we wanted a monogamous marriage with children because that’s just what our dreams are made of. But many of our friends are polyamorous. Others feel conflicted or downright turned off by the idea of marriage as an institution. Just like straight folks, some of our queer friends want children, some are happy with many dog children, and some are wonderful role models to children but don’t have the drive to be parents themselves. While being queer in our culture has many downsides, I do think that because we’re forced to examine and question parts of our identities early on, we’re more likely to examine and question other parts of our identities in ways that folks who neatly fit into the mainstream never do. Now that’s not to say that all straight folks are mainstream or that they don’t investigate their identities–far from it–but when you’re hated by a large part of the population (sometimes including your own family members) for one aspect your identity, there’s a different kind of intensity and urgency to figure out who you are, what you want, and why. And there’s a freedom and a joy to figuring that all out, even with all the resistance and hate you still face from those who will never accept you.

    • JM + MJ

      “And there’s a freedom and a joy to figuring that all out, even with all the resistance and hate you still face from those who will never accept you.”

      So well said. Even with all the hard parts of being queer and counter-cultural and just plain different, they joy of creating our own lives and families manages to be greater than the difficulty nearly all the time. I think it’s really freeing when we come to love ourselves, our partners, our children, and our community simply out of the desire to love them and share their lives instead of out of a feeling of obligation or guilt. Of course, sometimes those hard parts are really, really, insanely hard and painful. There’s no denying that the journey really sucks sometimes. But, when you get a glimpse of what might be, it’s hard to accept anything less.

      Also, Avie really is a wonderfully happy and well-loved baby. Not that I’m biased or anything ;)

  • This post was just what I needed to see right now. Creation is such a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

  • Paige

    I know this is a departure from the topics everyone else is discussing on this thread, but I was so happy (right word?) to read these words:
    “I was starting to have tiny breakdowns about the wedding. The invitations were going out, and some people’s reactions were less than ideal. I was being asked about my bridesmaids, and about first glance pictures, and about all this stuff I didn’t want. And I was starting to hyperventilate.”
    I go through this everyday, every morning, every evening, every dream (or nightmare). Sometimes I wish I could call you for advice! I’m such a people pleaser that I come close to a breakdown every time someone tells me I HAVE to do things one way or I SHOULDN’T do things the way I want to. I wish I was a stronger person and stay firm in doing things my way, but I also want to make every single person happy. I have NO IDEA how to find a balance. I’m almost turning into a bridezilla in the sense I’m so paranoid with making everyone happy that I make myself sick with worry…
    OK. That was my ‘Practical Wedding’ rant. Hopefully I won’t burden you with too many of those:)
    Love this post! Beautiful family!! I didn’t sleep in a closet, but I played in them every single day so I might as well!

    • Paige, Amen. I was having an existential wedding crisis on Wednesday. I’m over it now, but I was really NOT feeling the love. Reading that paragraph eased my heart as well.

  • This is the post I needed to read before we head into the weekend full of awkward encounters with my parents regarding our wedding and their opposition to it. I can’t imagine having to deal with them if we were anything but a straight couple, and am given hope and strength when I read these posts because I know that in the long run what matters is that we are both happy, regardless of whether outside influences are pleased with our decisions or not.

    Thank you Meg, and thank you to all the wonderful women who share their stories on this blog.

  • The idea of creating your own family for me doesn’t meet rocking the hell out of old rules (although if we did that that would be awesome too). For me it means a magical opportunity for our little baby family to shed a lot of the disfunction of my fiance’s family, to decide that we are creating this family however we like, and we like it different from what we’ve been through before. It’s liberating in any number of ways.

  • Maureen

    I teach a class at a Midwestern university (Working with GLBT Youth in Professional Contexts) and showed this post to my students in our discussion of heteronormitivity last week. That’s how awesome/importnat I think it is. LOVE!

  • I want a babbyyyyyeeee……e.e.ee.

    That is all.

    • Maybe I should worry about the wedding 1st. ;D

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