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Cheryl Dumesnil
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Poet, parent, activist, and educator, Cheryl Dumesnil is a regular contributor to VillageQ where she reports from the crossroads of suburbia, parenthood, and lesbian life. Her memoir, Love Song for Baby X: How I Stayed (Almost) Sane on the Rocky Road to Parenthood, recounts her experience with chronic miscarriage, set against the backdrop of the marriage equality movement. She is the author of In Praise of Falling, editor of Hitched! Wedding Stories from San Francisco City Hall, and co-editor (with Kim Addonizio) of Dorothy Parker's Elbow: Tattoos on Writers, Writers on Tattoos. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her (still) legally wedded wife and their two sons. For more, visit CherylDumesnil.com.

Entries by Cheryl Dumesnil

This Is Not Bad. This Is Not Good. This Is Change.

(1) Comments | Posted October 15, 2014 | 5:23 PM

The last time I built an Ikea bookshelf, I was seven months pregnant with K, my almost 8-year-old. Today, I taught him how to place the screw inside the predrilled hole, how to set the drill's Phillips-head bit into the screw's crosshatches and how to pull the orange trigger.

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How My Second-Grader Explains His Two-Mom Family, A Play in One Act

(3) Comments | Posted September 11, 2014 | 3:34 PM

Setting: Interior, my Subaru Outback, en route to a school field trip.

Characters: Kid One, whom I have just met. Kid Two, who has been my son's classmate for the past two years. My Kid, sitting between them in the back seat. Me, driving.

Begin Scene: Mid-conversation, giddy children...

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'Do You Want to Be the Mother or the Father This Year?'

(0) Comments | Posted August 29, 2014 | 5:30 PM

When a local health foundation's bi-monthly marketing newsletter arrives in my mailbox, I throw it in the recycle bin without a second glance, every time. But the issue that arrived yesterday stopped me in my tracks.

The cover features two handsome, fashionably dressed men smiling at a gleeful toddler...

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My Invisible Honeymoon

(5) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 2:17 PM

She wouldn't hold hands with me, my newlywed wife, unless we hid our interlaced fingers under an airline blanket.

Tracie and I had just spent the weekend celebrating our wedding -- a very public rehearsal dinner at our favorite restaurant, a ceremony and reception in our backyard with sixty-something...

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The Problem With "Having It All"

(0) Comments | Posted January 21, 2014 | 11:14 AM

Years ago, as a twenty-something fledgling writer, I sat in an auditorium, listening to author Chitra Divakaruni read her work, enamored by the lilting tone of her voice, a musical quality made all the more lullaby-like by the echo of the poet's infant, nestled in her husband's arms,...

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Dear Harvey, Thank You

(4) Comments | Posted November 27, 2013 | 8:00 AM

Dear Harvey,

I remember the night, 35 years ago, when I learned that you and Mayor George Moscone had been murdered by Dan White. Nine years old, I was sitting on the brown shag carpet in my family's living room, in a suburb 50 miles south of San Francisco, watching...

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Mom, Is 'Gay' a Bad Word?

(167) Comments | Posted October 30, 2013 | 6:00 PM

I'm driving my two kids home from school when, apropos of nothing, B-Man says, "Sometimes when I get worried, the top of my head gets hot."

At the risk of shutting down this rare glimpse into my 9-year-old's inner workings, I respond in a hope-it-doesn't-sound-as-fake-as-it-feels nonchalant tone, "Huh. That's...

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'I Don't Usually Get Involved in Politics'

(3) Comments | Posted October 8, 2013 | 2:38 PM

"I don't usually get involved in politics..."

This declaration has appeared in my Facebook news feed several times in the past few days, followed by statements on the government shutdown. I can't recall exactly what those statements have been because I keep getting stuck on these seven words, stunned by...

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Be Who You Are, No Matter What Anyone Else Thinks

(0) Comments | Posted September 27, 2013 | 6:12 PM

"Are you going to wear your new shoes to school again today?" I ask K-Bird while rubbing sunscreen into his legs.

"No, I don't want to," he says, a little hesitantly.

"Why not?" I pursue, suspecting I know the answer.

"Um," K-Bird hesitates, staring off at something over my head,...

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Anxiety Mom vs. Adventure Kid

(0) Comments | Posted September 6, 2013 | 11:54 AM

Years ago, I reframed my understanding of courage by adopting this phrase: "Bravery doesn't mean acting without fear; it means feeling scared but taking action anyway." Since then, whenever I experience fear -- say, when my children want to ride on the outside of a cable car roaring...

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Witnessing History, With Children

(0) Comments | Posted June 28, 2013 | 4:10 PM

Iconic lesbian activist Phyllis Lyon, walking arm-in-arm with California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, stops at the top step of the grand staircase in City Hall's rotunda. She looks equal parts powerful and frail in her royal purple blouse, signature round eyeglasses, and...

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On SCOTUS Watch, With Children

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 11:20 AM

"Mom, what are you doing?" K-Bird asks when he sees me standing at the bathroom sink, brushing my teeth and staring at the laptop I've placed precariously close to our notoriously splashy faucet.

"I'm watching SCOTUSblog to see if the Supreme Court has made a decision on Prop...

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'Mom, What's Gay?'

(15) Comments | Posted May 31, 2013 | 8:26 PM

"Hey, look," I say, pointing to the HRC sticker on the bumper of a red Toyota Camry driving in the lane next to us. "There's a gay car."

In our suburban hometown, spotting a gay car is not exactly a daily event. So when I see one, I point it...

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The Zen of Miscarriage

(9) Comments | Posted April 12, 2013 | 3:00 PM

When the therapist said, "I think you're still grieving the three babies you lost, don't you?" tears salted my eyes, an unexpected assault.

"Babies," I echoed the triggering word. The room filled with a thundercloud of conflicting emotion. "I don't use the word babies. I call them miscarriages."

"Maybe...

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Marriage Equality: The 'Tri' in Our Kids' Trifecta

(3) Comments | Posted April 2, 2013 | 9:00 AM

K-Bird and his kindergarten classmate are rearranging magnets on our fridge when his buddy notices a family photo and says, "So you don't have a dad?"

"Nope," K-Bird says, moving the Canada magnet next to the Hawaii magnet.

"No dad?" Buddy asks again, just to get it right.

"Nope. Just...

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What My Kids Have Taught Me About Homophobia

(8) Comments | Posted March 15, 2013 | 12:28 PM

"Another child victim of biological engineering!" An anti-gay protestor shouted this at my then four-year-old son K-bird and me, as we were walking up the stairs into the California Supreme Court building in San Francisco, heading to one of the many Proposition 8-related hearings.

In the reflections on the glass...

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How a 59-Cent Electronic Tea Light Reminded Me What Really Matters

(0) Comments | Posted February 7, 2013 | 4:37 PM

On Dec. 31 my neighborhood inaugurated a new tradition: decorating our front yards with luminarias, paper bag lanterns lit by candles, a sign of welcome to neighbors and friends. Always up for activities that foster beauty and community, my family opted in.

Because the email suggesting the luminarias had arrived...

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'Parenthood Is a Path of Emotional and Spiritual Growth'

(2) Comments | Posted January 10, 2013 | 3:04 PM

The first time I heard Cat Stevens' "On the Road to Find Out" (as a teenager, while watching Harold and Maude with my beloved "Island of Misfit Toys" friends), the song broke me open in that teary-eyed, truth-that-knocks-the-wind-out-of-you way. Taking the first shaky steps of what would become...

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A Mom of Two Boys Wrestles With Sandy Hook and Masculinity

(46) Comments | Posted December 26, 2012 | 10:51 AM

"We're making a whole page of pictures about death and dying and deadly stuff," my son B says in an affected, tough-guy tone.

"Yeah," his brother K agrees, in the voice of a monster truck rally announcer, "a whole page of boy stuff."

They are 8 and 6 years old,...

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On SCOTUS and Prop 8: You Don't Have to Wait

(21) Comments | Posted December 4, 2012 | 3:15 PM

Waiting for the Supreme Court of the United States to issue a decision on California's Proposition 8 can feel like waiting for your alcoholic ex-girlfriend, who also happens to be a pathological liar, to pay back the money she borrowed from you so that she could rent a truck to...

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