When I Knew That I Was Bisexual

I was twelve. It was during homeroom in middle school, which at my school wasn’t called homeroom but instead named with some ridiculous acronym that never really made sense and no one actually used.

So anyways, I was in homeroom.

Every day in middle school was a social learning opportunity. I was observant and desperate to be “cool”. I noticed how the cool kids dressed, listened to how they talked, watched how they carried their books (down at the hip is cool, grasped in front of your chest is nerdy). I also picked up vocabulary that wasn’t being taught in any of my classes… the kind of vocabulary kids only got to learn if they had older siblings or were allowed to watch whatever they wanted on TV.

These kids in homeroom knew about something that I had never heard of. It began with a conversation with one of the girls at my table saying she was ambidextrous. Another boy chimed in and said he was too. A second girl, late to the conversation, said “I think I’m bi too!”

The two 13-year-old boys at the table were quick to snicker, and the girl became embarrassed and defensive, backtracking and trying to understand why what she had said had elicited that reaction. The boys knew something she didn’t, and knowledge on forbidden topics was practically currency in middle school.

Still trying to grasp what she had said, she kept talking, clarifying that she thinks she can write with both hands, and isn’t that what they were talking about?

One of the boys decided to clue the rest of us in on the joke. The second girl had claimed she was bi, which, according to them, was a term for someone who likes both guys and girls. NOT the term for someone who uses both hands to write. They explained that bi means someone who “goes both ways”, which I guess could actually describe ambidexterity, but that is obviously not what the commonly understood meaning is. Just like how when I say “the pill”, we all know exactly which pill I am referring to.

I immediately thought to myself upon hearing this definition, “Oh, so that’s what I am. That’s what it’s called.”

It really was that simple of a moment. I heard the word, learned the meaning of it, and knew that’s what I was. There was never a question to me. No “bisexual awakening”. I have always been bi, the only defining moment for me in my sexuality was when I realized what it was called and could then identify myself.

Really, guys. No big “Aha!” moment. Just, oh! That’s me! And right on to the next subject.

Throughout adolescence I had crushes on both boys and girls, but I just didn’t know how to express the crushes on girls at an early age. And by the time I wanted to, where I knew I liked a female enough to say something, I had already realized these feelings not be met with open arms. I worried my female friends would be awkward around me or uncomfortable with me. But I never felt different. Or wrong. Or guilty for these attractions. Honestly, (and purposefully), I didn’t hide them very well.

I continued on in my teens dating the boys I liked, and I told every one of them that I identified as bisexual. As for the girls I liked, I knew  full well they did not like me back so I never pursued it.

 

The rest of the story of how I got to where I am now—with a toddler and a future wife—is for another time. The Steph You Should Know here is that I have always been this way, I have always felt this way, I just didn’t know what it was until puberty— at the same age that most everyone else is figuring out who they like too.  I never “became” bi, I didn’t transition to  bisexuality, and it is definitely not a phase. It’s just me.

A Year Later…

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Eli is so OLD! He’s almost THREE! I have been a mom for so long now. I think back to pregnancy, which began in 2012. 2012?! It doesn’t seem like I have been Mommy for that long. But at the same time, I can’t really remember what it was like before either. They always say it flies by—and except for the weird time-freeze vortex when he’s throwing a tantrum in the toy aisle at Target— the time really does go fast.

He has all his teeth, he does puzzles by himself, he even tells me when the light turns green when I’m driving.  We celebrate every milestone… and then some. Like the day he asked to eat a baby carrot, that was huge in our house. Eli won’t even touch any food that feels wet, let alone eat it. It was like he took first steps again, I was so excited. HE ATE AN ACTUAL VEGETABLE!

There are so many days where I am so impressed by him, and I have to remind myself that I’m his mom and I get to take some of the credit for how amazing he is. For my first try with the whole parenting/raising another human thing, it’s gone surprisingly smooth. I feel very lucky.

For those of you who are Facebook friends…. you know I have some other big news from the last year. I met someone. And I feel very lucky for another reason, because this someone and I are getting married.

Blog, meet Rachel.

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Rachel and I met last March, right around the last time I posted on Steph You Should Know. If you’re keeping score, it’s totally because I met her that I haven’t been posting. It’s also because of her that I am posting again now. A month ago I asked her to marry me, and after how many times we have been asked “so… who is wearing the suit?”, it just felt natural to take to the internet to discuss and expound on our relationship. We are bisexual. Both of us. While I feel my sexuality is a relatively private detail, it raises a lot of questions when I say I have a fiancé who is female and a two year old son. I would like to address and answer those questions.

There is some stigma surrounding the B in LGBT, and not many know what bisexual means. Honestly, Rachel and I are very new to the scene, so we are not experts on it either (and not claiming to be experts). All I know is how I feel for her when I see her face, and how full and warm my heart is when I see how much she loves Eli.

She is the partner I did not know I would find, and she came along when I wasn’t looking for her. I am so surprised and amazed by her and how gracefully she has entered my chaotic life. My life now features a rollicking toddler and an inspirational, supportive partner. The stories I share here will be the Steph You Should Know— the struggles, joys, and funny anecdotes of parenthood, partnership, toddler-rearing and wedding planning— all wrapped in one package.

 

And let me say it now: thank you all for your support. You have no idea how much it truly means to us.

 

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My loves walking in a field of tulips

 

My Son’s Favorite Word That I Unknowingly Taught Him

He picks up a lot from watching me, I am also a standing eater. Although I usually get more of the food in my mouth.

He picks up a lot from watching me, I am also a standing eater. Although I usually get more of the food in my mouth.

I don’t live in his mind, so it’s probably a little assuming of me to say it’s his favorite word. It definitely reveals way too much about our home life.

Baby Daddy and I had been trying to figure out for a while what word Eli was trying to say. He would say this word over, and over again, with increasing volume and intensity, and we couldn’t figure out what he meant. One evening when we were handing off, we discussed these words. There were two: one that sounded like ba-ba-doi and another that sounded like yeh-pa-dee.

As we talked it out we realized what one of them was. Yeh-pa-dee. Say it out loud. Yehpadee. Still stumped? I’ll give you a hint: It’s a game show.

I’ve been trying to get on this game show for years, and I watch it every night. When Eli’s doctor asked if he had any screen time, I proudly told him no…. and then remembered that we watch this every evening promptly at 7 o’clock. When I told the doctor what show it was, he seemed amused and wasn’t concerned about Eli’s exposure to this side of television.

Still don’t know what the word is?

Jeopardy.

My son says Jeopardy.

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We never did figure out what that other word was, but he stopped saying it, so I’m guessing he found a different way to get the point across.

I’m slightly pleased that Eli knows the word Jeopardy but also just barely abashed. It’s a big word for a year-and-half-old kid. It’s pretty impressive. It also is now how to he refers to any television. If the TV is on in the background, it’s “Jeopardy” to Eli. Even the TVs in the electronics department of stores are “Jeopardy! JEOPARDY!”. I don’t really know how to explain to others why my child is shouting the word Jeopardy every time we walk into a Costco.

There are worse words he could be repeating. There are more personal things he could be sharing about our family to random people—and I know those moments are sure to come down the road, in that magical, awful, golden age where children are little truth mongers. Jeopardy is a cute, harmless word for him to know. What Eli picking up the word Jeopardy shows me is that I have to watch how I talk and what I talk about in front of him, and that I needed to start last week.

The Steph You Should Know: If there is something you do every single day with your baby present, trust me, they’re picking it up. Which gives me a lot of (probably false) hope for early potty training.

My kid? He says Jeopardy. Maybe one day he’ll be the next Ken Jennings. (A mom can dream.)

I’m Still Mad About What Another Mom Said to Me

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Look at the above photo. Tell me, can you find what I am doing wrong as a parent in this picture?

A mom in the waiting room could see clearly what mistake I was making and made sure to let me know.


First, the Steph You Should Know from the following story: this was not an isolated incident. While I live in a very kind area of the country—seriously, Portlanders are really nice people—that doesn’t stop the Mom Wars. These battles are everywhere and know no boundaries—in all senses of the word. Mom Wars can best be described as the animosity and judgement other moms feels towards each other for differing parenting and lifestyle choices.

For example, there is apparently this huge feud, (that I had no idea about until I read some comments online), regarding who is better: stay-at-home moms versus working moms. Without bothering to take individual situations into consideration, some mothers (and I say that as if there is another word at the end of it) feel righteous enough to tell other mothers that there is only one right way to raise a child.

The worst part about the Mom Wars? All of the judgement, the rude comments, the put-downs— it all comes from other moms. This baffles me. We all know how hard it is some days. So why aren’t we, moms, lifting each other up?


 

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Sending Baby Daddy selfies in the waiting room, before the incident.

Last March, when Eli was 8ish months old, he had a fever. It was a tiny smidgeon of a fever, barely even 100.0, but I decided to take him into the pediatrician’s office. He had been acting funny and pulling at one of his ears, and I was worried he had an ear infection. We were a week away from getting on a plane and I wanted to make sure he was healthy before traveling.

I made the appointment, took him in, got him looked at. He was totally fine. The doctor couldn’t find any reason for his fever, made it clear I didn’t need to worry, and gave me some good tips for my upcoming flight with Eli. All in all, a very uneventful and unnecessary trip to the pediatrician. Uneventful, at least, until we walked through the waiting room on our way out.

A mom had come into the waiting room while we had been in the exam room. She was perusing a shelf of pamphlets in front of the door as I carried Eli towards the exit. I said “excuse me” in my quiet, polite, Portland way, because I needed her to move away from the door for a moment so I could get through it. It’s one of those heavy doors on an arm that slows it down so it can’t slam. She reluctantly moved aside, and as the door was closing behind me, I heard her say in a voice loud enough for me to hear,  “It’s too cold outside for a baby not to have socks on.” 

She knew the door would close slowly. She wasn’t trying to say anything to my face, but she wanted me to hear her remark.

Look at how happy this kid is. Would you find something mean to say to that face?

Look at how happy this kid is. Would you find something mean to say to that face?

In early March, it was maybe 50 degrees outside, and Eli had a slight fever. So I removed his socks to help him  stay cool. Anyone who has had an 8 month old child knows that they tend to remove their own socks anyways. Whatever, I should not need to justify myself. Why, oh why, lady, did you think it was okay to underhandedly let me know this was not up to your standards?

She was not kindly informing me that the temperature had dropped outside; she was clearly not trying to help me out. Her intentions were to notify me that I was not taking care of my child correctly. That I was failing as a mother. That she could take care of my child better than I could. If she wanted to me help me out, she would’ve said it to my face. But she waited until I was a safe enough distance away not to turn around and confront her but still within earshot.


I wish I could pinpoint why this happens. If I had to guess for myself, I would say it’s my age. Or lack of a wedding ring. When I tell people at work that  I have a son, the response is often, “You have a baby?!”. Sometimes, in this way, they are complimenting my waist size or how young I look. But usually, the way they say it makes it clear to me what they think of my ability as a parent in correlation to my age and appearance.

Regardless of the reason why she did this, I felt so much doubt and anger after this mom said this to me at the pediatrician’s. I wanted to go back in and tell her my baby had a fever, and I was actually overreacting and being overprotective by taking him in at all. I wanted to go justify myself to her; I wanted to prove to her that I am a good mom.

Does anyone else hear how messed up that sounds? I felt the need to prove to a complete stranger that I am a fit mother. Moms, why do we do this to each other? We ALL know how hard motherhood can be, and yet we continue to judge each other to the harshest standards—standards that are NOT one-size-fits-all. It’s been a year, a whole year, and I can still hear her voice in my head; I can still feel the doubt surge through me.

If you’re reading this and you’re a mom, I want you to know something:

You are doing a great job. 

(And don’t you dare let the lady at the pediatrician’s make you feel anything less than that.)


I did find out why he had been acting sick later, when I saw the tooth coming through when he was screaming on the airplane. (Flying with an infant…Oi … that fun experience is a whole post for later).

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Before our flight last March. Bye bye PDX carpet =(

I’m Baaaaack

I’m finally ready. I can tell I’ve been away from my blog for a long time when all of the photos of Eli look like he’s still a baby.

I mean look at him, he’s totally a toddler now.

Anyways, there are going to be a few changes in format here.

First, no more FitMama. For a few reasons, but mainly because I don’t want to. No one wants to read about the mom who lost all the baby weight super easily and who had very few struggles regarding staying active and healthy post-baby. It’s not that I’m never going to talk about fitness, I just won’t try to have a weekly segment.

Second, I am going to get more personal. I started writing this because no one else I knew was really going through the things that I was. (And also because I spent my whole pregnancy becoming a fountain of knowledge for all things pregnancy related and I wanted to share the wealth.) I’m still one of the only moms in my peer group. Sharing on here helps me feel I like am not alone, and it also gives my peers a glimpse into what motherhood is really like—the stretch marks and the beautiful moments and everything in between.

 

That’s all for now, internet. I’ll be back shortly. Byyyyyyye.

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I’m Not Ignoring You, I Just Need Space

Space.

Space.

Hey Blog, I miss you.

But to be perfectly honest: being perfectly honest is exhausting. That last post (wayyyyyy back in October, I know) drained me, emotionally.  I want to keep sharing. I’ve been getting feedback from readers recently (I’m totally just pretending to be nonchalant about the fact that I have reader[s]), and I know my absence has gone noticed.

I just wanted to say: Blog, I’m not done with you yet. You weren’t a phase. It’s not you, it’s me. I need to spend some time living my life, not writing about it.

I am not necessarily a private person, but some of the stories I have (and want, and need) to share come from a place that I’m not ready to visit regularly.

The good news, I finally have time for you, blog, because Baby Daddy is home from deployment. This is sure to drum up a lot of new content as we work through co-parenting. Spoiler alert: It’s been really great. Eli is thriving. That’s really all I care about. The rest is just icing and cherries.

Thanks for the space,

Happy Holidays!

-Stephanie

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Festive Eli

 

Changes

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After a bit of a hiatus, I feel that I need to fill you in.

There have been a lot of changes going on around me lately. My mom got married, I got new roommates, my baby daddy was home from Africa for two weeks, then Eli and I went camping for a week, I go back to work this week, and I have another wedding that I am in the following week. And not to mention, Eli is a full fledged walker now, he’s switching from two naps a day to one, and his separation anxiety is stronger than ever.

So my blog—while I want to have it be awesome and successful and reach lots of readers—is just not the top of my list. Eli is and always will be, my first priority. In fact several things make the list before Steph You Should Know. I love writing, I love sharing, and I think of new posts every day that I want to sit down and work on. Free time for my blog is just not something I have in abundance though. With the free time that I do have, I socialize, garden, or exercise. Or do the ever-present housework.

I plan on coming back at my blog with gusto, and I reallllllly want to do a month long series on pregnancy. But that month is not going to be August. Until I get things more settled and organized, I can only promise a few sporadic posts here and there.

Never fear my health and fitness lovers, FitMama Friday will resume either this week or next. But as for the rest of it, the stories from the trenches of being mommy and getting to this point, those will have to wait.

Hope your summer has been as wonderful and adventure-filled as ours =)

What You NEED to Start Doing for Your Health

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I tried to keep the blanket on him….he’s a squirrelly sleeper.

It has been a year. I made it! I got through the whole first year of my son’s life. He and I both made it. Not only made it—we thrived. We crushed this first year. We owned it.

Okay, enough patting myself on the back.

Why was it so easy? Why didn’t I crack? Why didn’t I feel fried? Scrambled? (Why are all these words ways to make eggs?)

I got enough sleep. I put my sleep as my own number one priority. Taking care of Eli was the number one priority for us, and then for me—just for me, when he was taken care of—I made sleep the most important thing in my life. I made sure I got enough. I didn’t try to push myself to be more, do more. Even this blog? I only work on it when Eli is sleeping. And if I decide I should nap while he naps, I do. Nothing, NOTHING, is more important than sleep.

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Think of how you feel when you have not gotten enough rest. Are you physically at your best? Mentally? Emotionally? No. Now think of feeling that way and trying to keep another, tiny, curious, needy little human alive. (Needy in a good way.) To be the best parent I can be, I first need to be well-rested. It is the ultimate. It comes before being hydrated, being well-fed, and exercising. I cannot do anything else more valuable to my health than getting an adequate (or more than adequate) amount of sleep.

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Waking up together, well-rested on Christmas morning =)

If you find you can’t go to sleep because you have other things you need to get done you are doing too much. Take something off your plate. Sleep is when our bodies recycle the cells we have spent and used during the day, especially in our brains. All of those cells that no one knew what function they had, except that they were more active when we slept? They are the little recycling centers of our minds, that take all the junky beat up cells, break down the parts, and give them back to the body to be used again or shipped out. When you don’t sleep you are letting all those junky cells build up in your body and in your brain.

It doesn’t matter how healthy you eat, how often you exercise, or how emotionally balanced you are, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, you aren’t doing your body any justice. Sleep comes first.

Go take a nap.

Good luck and Happy Friday! (And happy 1st birthday, Eli!)

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Mmmm that face! So sweet!

We’ve been busy…

My mom’s backyard wedding!

Sorry, readers. I apologize for my absence this week. But I have had a couple other things going on…. like my mom getting married! In our own backyard! Needless to say, I have been busy. More on the wedding later.

I have missed my blog, and so I come back to it this morning with a short story and a sweet sentiment:

When Eli’s dad and I were dating, we celebrated a Valentine’s day where we both forgot to get a card for the other. Realizing this, I joked with him about what my card would have said, had I written one. In a slightly (okay maybe more than slightly) sarcastic tone, I said, “Every moment with you is magical”. With a cheesy sigh and a batting of the eyelashes, it became an instant go-to response for us. We would use completely unromantic, ironic moments to whisper to the other, “every moment with you is magical”.

Then our son was born.

And truly, ever so truly, every moment with Eli is magical. There is this sense in the air, nearly tangible, of something so much more special, important, and uniquely wonderful with Eli around. It goes back to what I’ve said before, about all the time spent with my baby daddy leading and preparing us, unknowingly, towards being parents together. I didn’t know when I said it that Valentine’s day what that phrase would really come to mean to me.

So to you, dear son, my darling boy, I want you to know….

Every moment with you is magical.

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A Promise

Tonight I had a second of, “what the heck am I doing?” quickly followed by, “I don’t know what the heck I am doing.” I’ve been having a bit of writer’s block, which is odd because I have so much to say, especially regarding all things mommyhood. So I creeped some other blogs to see how they do things. I learned one very important lesson. After wasting almost 2 hours reading other blogs, I had gained nothing. I learned nothing (except the lesson of learning nothing, of course). I read about other kids and other moms and didn’t get any advice, no ideas to try, no tips for how to do anything, no useful information.

So my promise to you, you the lovely person who is reading this for whatever reason you may have, is to try my best to provide useful information. Not to waste your time.

In fact, I encourage you to step away from the computer and go take a deep breath of fresh air.

Promise me you will.