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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

Entries by Cheryl Dumesnil

Exile in Tweenville: A Lesbian Single Mom, Raising Boys

(0) Comments | Posted April 26, 2016 | 4:09 PM

My sons have changed the lyrics to Don Ho's classic, "Tiny Bubbles," to "Tiny Buttholes." They are singing it, at the tops of their lungs, at the breakfast table, again. My esophagus refuses to swallow another bite of scrambled eggs until the "butthole" image is erased from my...

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Dear Activist. Dear Politician. Dear Poet.

(0) Comments | Posted December 18, 2015 | 5:03 PM

Jesus, it has happened again. And again. On the same day, two mass shootings, one in Savannah, Georgia and one in San Bernardino, California.

Jesus rolls off my tongue not as a direct address but as an expletive. I could just as easily have said, "Sh*t,"...

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Be Brave

(0) Comments | Posted November 23, 2015 | 9:49 AM

Recently a friend I'd lost track of years ago reconnected with me. Among other "what I've been doing for the past decade" facts, she shared that her sister had given birth to a baby girl named Brave.

My friend sent me pictures of this tiny beloved -- an eighteen-month-old goofing...

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Just as the U.S. Legalized Gay Marriage, I'm Getting a Divorce

(0) Comments | Posted July 23, 2015 | 5:40 PM

The Good News:

I was sitting on my back porch, wrapped in a hoodie to ward off the early morning chill. A freelance writer and solo parent, this summer I've been avoiding childcare costs by waking up at 5:45 a.m. and cranking out a few uninterrupted hours' work before...

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How the Fight for Same-Sex Marriage Affects Children

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2015 | 9:38 PM

"Mom, what's Proposition 47 about?" My 10-year-old son asked this as we drove past a house bedecked with election signs.

"I'm not sure yet. I need to look into it," I answered.

"What about Prop 46? Are you voting yes or no?" he pressed.

"I haven't decided yet. First I...

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7 Tips for Surviving the Holidays With a Broken Heart

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2014 | 2:20 PM

All the winter holidays hold one thing in common: a celebration of light. It makes sense, really. During the coldest, darkest time of year, here come the holidays, with their Diwali lamps, menorahs, and Yule logs, to set our hearts aglow.

Or not.

Let's be honest: for those of us...

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

(0) 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

(0) 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."


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