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Before I get into how my family spent our first Mother's Day, I'm going to talk about Connor for a bit. The Great Formula Experiment continues. He's gaining weight, and getting longer, so we're going to keep on supplementing Aimee's milk while we try to figure out how she can make more, or if we can change her diet to make it richer. Connor's innards are finally cooperating with the new diet, and exploding baby bottoms are a thing of the past.

In the last few days, Connor has started smiling. He did it with me first, late last week. I wasn't sure it was real until he did it more than once. For those unaware, babies can first smile due to gas, impending bowel movements or Democratic victories at the polls. Got to rule everything out to before you can be sure your baby is smiling at you and not for something else.

Saturday was Noho Pride. The whole family went, and four out of five of us marched. Actually, one was carried, but we'll count that anyway. I stayed at the table for TBC to keep an eye on things. Not much to report other than that. Pride is always great, we ran into a lot of friends and acquaintances that met the baby for the first time, and good times were had by all.

Sunday was Mother's Day. It was our first as a family, so we had some special plans in mind. It started off simple, with cards. Ian got the two moms matching pendants, and later this week, I'm going to take them out to select matching beads for their bracelets. Like those Pandora beads, ya know?

We started off trying to go to breakfast at our favorite place. It's called Three Cafe, a tiny little place down the street from us that uses farm-fresh, organic ingredients. Sadly, they are always busy on the weekends, and for Mother's Day, they had live jazz outside on their patio. The wait was at least an hour, so we gave up and headed north.

We headed north because our main plans for the day had us going to Montague (which is a bit north of Amherst, most of the way to Greenfield, for those of you that care). Of all places, we ended up at the Route 9 Diner in Hadley. A lot of local social groups meet there, so it's a place we all eat at quite a bit. Back in the day, when Aimee and I were still doing Rocky Horror, it was the cast's after-show eating place. Getting there is easy. As we liked to say (and the current cast still does), "It's a diner. On Route 9. In Hadley. Figure it out!"

The first stop after breakfast was the Bookmill. Their motto is perfect, "Books You Don't Need in a Place You Can't Find". It's the bestest used book store in all of western Mass., and one of the best I've ever had the pleasure to waste time in. It's an old mill building, with a nice waterfall out back, with books winding through the building on two floors. It's a really good thing it's so far from home, or we'd be there a lot, and spend far more money on lots of books we don't really need.

I didn't mean for this blog post to turn into a travelogue.

The main event of the day was at a place called Red Fire Farm. It's a local organic farm, with two properties, one in Montague and the other down our way, in Granby. Last fall, we ran a 5k race on their Granby farm called the Tomato Trot. It covers most of their farmland, and ends near the tomato greenhouses and farm stand. It was a blast, and I'm already looking forward to doing it again. Last summer, we bought a lot of produce from them at the Forest Park Farmer's Market (every Tuesday from May through October), so this year, we simply signed up for a CSA.

For Mother's Day, they were running a workshop on making planters, followed by tea. About thirty people showed up. We made a nice little planter of herbs in a hanging basket to put on the porch, with a few left over to put outside in our garden box. The day included a short ride and tour of the farm, run of the greenhouse and homemade pastries to go with the aforementioned tea. The weather stayed sunny and nice all day.

The best part? We were just hanging out, being together, having fun. In the last month, we've spent so much time together that we should be ready to kill each other, or at least getting on each other's nerves. But that's not what's happening. We've been a family unit for a long time, but with Connor's arrival, we've suddenly hit a new gear we didn't know we had. It's been a wonderful ride, and shows no signs of stopping.

Back in March, we did a talk/presentation/Q&A session about polyamory for a conference at Hampshire College. We talked about our family, how we came together, how our dynamics work, stuff like that. Some folks in the audience expressed disbelief. We made it sound too easy. The way we've been living lately reminds me of that. It does feel easy, and if I were reading someone else's blog, I wouldn't believe it, either. But it only feels that way because we laid the groundwork years ago. Being poly isn't easy. We're constantly checking in with each other, talking about our lives, our goals, our fears, all that relationship stuff. Our family didn't happen automagically, although someone just meeting us now wouldn't really know that.

I kinda wish I was writing about the formation of our family back when it was happening. Well, I did some of that, but more in the vein of "this stuff happened" rather than writing thinky-thoughts about the process. So consider this an invitation, dear readers. Ever wanted to ask me/us a question about our family? Let me know, and I'm make them the subject of a future post.
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Two weeks ago, my family welcomed home the newest member of our family. He’s a beautiful little boy, and we’re happy beyond belief, as most of you following along at home know already. I can’t keep shaking the same thought, every single day. I look at my son, and shake my head.

I don’t know how they do it.

Monogamous parents, I mean. To be really specific, monogamous parents of newborn children.

There is so much bloody work to do! Feeding and diapers and changing and feeding and cuddling and bathing and more changing and laundry and more diapers and more comforting and yet more feeding and none of that takes “regular” life into account. Where do they fit in cooking their own food, their own laundry, their own sleep, for Gods’ sake?

Babies are hard work, everyone knows that. Even if you are blessed like we are, and have a pretty happy and very healthy child, there’s so much to do. Our little bundle of joy is quite a handful. He doesn’t like not being held, and let’s us know it if he’s put down for more than a couple of microseconds. Honestly, he’s a really good baby. Doesn’t cry unless something is wrong; generally he’s hungry, cold, dirty or some combination thereof. He eats every few hours, needs new diapers or clothes slightly less often, and frequently needs help relaxing into sleep. Nothing unusual for a two-week-old newborn, and I’m not complaining about any of it.

But I simply cannot imagine doing it with only two people, or worse, alone as a single parent! Because there are four of us, we’ve been able to trade off housework and sleep and baby duty, so none of us are wandering around looking like overwhelmed, exhausted zombie parents. Every third night or so, someone has baby duty, staying up with the infant so mommy can sleep (“mommy” here referring to the biological mom, who is the only one of us that can feed the little guy at the moment, since we’re exclusively breastfeeding and she cannot pump yet). We’re all working together to keep all of the balls in the air. We’re eating regular meals, the house isn’t a total disaster, we’re not running out of clothing, and errands are getting done. Mom is the most tired of us, but she’s got a good excuse. Giving birth is hard, and nursing is literally a drain on your body. Couple that with only being able to sleep, at most, three to four hours at a stretch, maybe twice a day, and cat naps in between, and it makes for a tired woman.

Imagine how tired she'd be if she only had one person to help? Or none?

There are a lot of advantages to being in a poly relationship. There are lots of advantages to living in a polyamorous household. We knew that having multiple adults around to care for an infant would be great, but I don’t think we had any idea just how great. Unlike the rest of my family, I can speak from direct experience. My ex-wife and I had two children, and when they were babies, we raised them without additional partners, pretty far from our biological families. It was hard to juggle everything. We did pretty well, I thought, but it was a struggle.

It is so much easier to do it this way. If someone is tired, we have backups. If something unexpectedly comes up, we have options. If someone can’t do something they said they would, someone else can step up and make it happen. Taking care of our son isn't easy, but it's certainly easier with more people to pitch in.

Real life is about to intrude. This week, one member of our household (the primary breadwinner) went back to work. Next week, another one does as well. In a month’s time, mom will have to pick up her job again (she works for herself from home, which is good, but her business cannot wait forever). Of all of us, I have the most flexibility. I’m about to finish grad school, and in this economy, it might take a while for me to find work. In the mean time, I get to play Mr. Mom. I have no doubt that taking care of our son is going to get a little more difficult for us as we are forced to go back to our regular lives. But even so, I feel sorry for all of the people in this world trying to take care of an infant with two or fewer sets of hands.

It is often said that polyamory isn’t about sex; polyamory is about love. Maybe the general public would be more interested or sympathetic to our lifestyle if we added a bit to the second part:

Polyamory is about love and family.
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Here is my latest column for Fearless Press. It should be up fairly soon on the website. But if you are impatient and want to read it now, go read it under the cut.

All Publicity Is Good? )

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January 2012

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