Tis' the season to fit a perfect Madison Avenue/Norman Rockwell image of happiness. No pressure to live up to standards, just a massive media barrage 24 hours a day. I'm happy. You? Are you happy? Did you have a great Thanksgiving? Yes, of course. Everything went so well.
I read a friend's blog today and looked back over my own from the last few days and realized we were both guilty of a bit of whitewashing. I know she's been through the wringer lately and not a word of it made it's way on her posts.
I know we're all guilty of censoring out the unpleasant and making lovely pictures of events. It's the holidays, after all. I know I wasn't intentionally leaving out the difficulties. But leave them out, I did.
Partly because I think it's dull to hear over and over again that I'm still having nightmares, my wife is still working too much, and my family of origin continues to be a battle, one that leaves me feeling small and powerless.
I also tend to paint a picture of a perfect family structure, one with two moms, two dads and our three boys. But it isn't. We often disagree, and struggle with our roles. There are triangles on top of triangles built. None of us came from picture perfect circumstances. We all have had to deal with questioning ourselves, our sexuality, how the world perceives us based on who we love, a process that leaves scars on your psyche, no matter how much therapy you do.
The truth is we fight, we argue, we don't like each other at times, we wrestle constantly with the roles of who has what right to say what about the kids lives. Do we, the moms, get ultimate veto power because we are the legal parents or do the dads have as much right to demand something? We all have the same overall values but how it plays out on a daily basis can be very different.
We are far from perfect.
Some of it comes from a desire to show off our gay family as just as good, if not better, than anyone else's. I can hear my mother's voice telling me that raising children as lesbians was wrong. She loved her grandchildren, but at any given moment, no matter how loving and accepting she seemed, she was quick to point out how wrong it was.
I was guaranteeing them a life of pain, discrimination and being an "other." I would shrug and say, last I looked, people of color were having children and their kids were in the same boat, only they didn't have the choice to disclose their difference.
She hated that response. She would mutter something about it being different and a choice.
I love that. Oh, yes, being gay is a choice and because it is SO MUCH EASIER to live this way. Why, complete strangers are willing to come up and slit our throats simply because we breathe. I believe that was part of the recruitment literature.
Get free pass to be a hate crime victim! Be refused employment! Denied heath care benefits! Have family and friends reject you!
Some of the need to ignore the bad, highlight the good is because I'm tired. I don't want to be someone with nightmares. I don't want to work so hard all the time at relationships. I hate being afraid. If I close my eyes, and plug my ears, it will be better.
I've been guilty of a little whitewashing over the last few weeks. Painting beautifully lit domestic harmony, like Johannes Vermeer where the reality is more like a Jackson Pollack painting, smattering of globs of paint all over. I spend so much time trying to stay in the lines when the lines don't even come close to the reality of my life. The irony is, when my kids were little, I would sit and color with them, always purposefully going outside the lines, creating other images that didn't exist on the paper and encouraged them to do the same.
My apologies for being less than truthful at times. It comes, I know, from a deep-rooted need to be accepted. Loved. Acknowledged. To silence the critic on my shoulder, always pointing out the flaws in my life. Telling me to stay in the lines.
The holiday season always reminds me, oh so much more intensely, that my life does not fit in the lines. I am not living a Normal Rockwell picture. I'm not married to a man. I'm not skinny and blond- oh wait. I am blond. At least today. I am a suburban lesbian mom who sticks out like a sore thumb wrapped in flannel. I make horrible mistakes. I can be impulsive and argumentative.
But it doesn't need to be whitewashed, either. Not for the holidays. Not ever.
And, I need to remember, to hold, to cherish, that it's still beautiful.