Friday, September 18, 2009

Mooing & Validation

So I have a confession to make. We don't actually have 5 dogs. We have 4 dogs and a cow. Our grumpy Dukey is secretly a cow dressed in dog's clothing. He has this habit of mooing. Sometimes he moos when his hips hurt, sometimes he moos when he's grumpy, and sometimes, like a baby who cries all the time, we have no idea why he is mooing and we have to try and guess why he's mooing. I think most of the time he just wants attention because if I give him hugs and shower him with attention about what's the matter he stops mooing.

A few months ago, the vet put Duke on a prescription pain medication for his bad hips. We'd been giving him aspirin but the effectiveness seemed to wear off after a while so we moved on to the next step. Since there are 3 adults in the house and we all have varied schedules we had to work out a schedule to make sure he didn't get overdosed with pain meds. When Ange and I are out of town Brian (my/our roommate) is in charge of the pain meds. When I am in town then I take care of it. Since I typically get up earlier than Ange I usually give Duke his meds before I leave for work or whatever. But his pain meds require him to eat or he'll get a little tummy ache. Most mornings he eats right after coming in from the morning potty break and I can give him his pill. But some mornings he likes to just crash out on one of the dog beds in the living room or go back into the bedroom and crash with Ange. On those days I usually leave Ange a note or send her a text message so she can give him his pill. This morning she was awake trying to win us a free trip to the Caribbean to see Dave Matthews Band from WTTS so she was laying in bed when I told her to give Duke his pill whenever he got around to eating. This increases the likelihood that she may forget to give him his pill. Because it isn't her regular duty on occasion she's forgotten (but not usually).

So this afternoon when I got home from work I was unloading and loading the dishwasher and I noticed that Duke was mooing a lot so I sent Ange a quick text:
Me: Did you give Duke his pill? He's mooing a lot and I didn't know if it was a pain moo or a dork moo.
Ange: Definitely a dork moo because I gave him his pill before I left for work.
I giggled and smiled when I looked at our text conversation, because A) it was completely silly and B) I thought about how it indicated that we are really becoming a family. Warning: I'm about to get all PhD dorky on you, but it's the way I am thinking right now so deal with it. A big part of my qualitative research methods focus on meaning making particularly in contexts of relationships. As I was giggling over our text conversation it naturally made me think about how Ange and I had created a shared space with common meaning and a particular language that no one else may fully understand or might think was strange. This to me is family. It makes me think about my "birth" family and how my sisters and my parents and I have these funny little quotes and actions that only we understand and how it might look really strange to the outside world, but to us it is normal and even charming to us as a family. I've seen my sister and her husband do this and I was always worried that I wouldn't have anyone to do the same with. I'm so glad that I have found Ange and we have created this same family ourselves and I'm really excited to continue building on what we have already established and look forward to expanding our family in the future.

Because my brain is spazzy and stream of consciousness like it made me think of an incident earlier this week that also made me smile for a similar reason. I came home to my mom's house after school one day and I saw that she had ordered a print of Ange and me from our Portland vacay getaway. She had it sitting on one of her black frames that had been hanging empty on the wall for several months. She slowly had been filling them up, first with pictures of my sisters and I, then with Dale and her friends, and some old pictures of her and her friends in college. She also added a picture of Clint and Leslie from last year's fall photo shoot. The fact that she had on her own printed a picture of Ange and I to put on her wall meant a lot to me.

Although I am completely comfortable being in a same-sex relationship I can't say that it is always the easiest thing in the world, mostly because of the outside world and society's constraints and expectations. Even when I know I'm in a safe and secure environment there is sometimes that little bit of apprehension that creeps in whenever I have to go into a new social situation and "come out" all over again. There is always that risk that someone is going to be horrible and do something heinous, and while it really doesn't bother me so much, it bothers me if someone would dare try and hurt Ange's feelings. She's much more sensitive than I am, and since I am very protective of her, anything that would possibly make her feel bad or uncomfortable makes me want to punch someone in their eye. So any time there is something really positive it makes it even a million times better. When you are used to being on edge because your relationship is not always accepted it's really nice when your relationship is validated in such positive ways.

In the past, I've only dated one person serious enough to bring to family functions and introduce as my partner. But overwhelmingly everyone hated her and so there were never any warm and fuzzy moments when she was around. Now that Ange is around things are very different. She is wonderful and likable and everyone gets along great with her. Every time I go visit my dad and stepmom or my aunt and grandma one of the first things they ask is "Where's Ange?" (well not if she's with me obviously--but when she's at work). It's nice to know that she is expected and even missed! When we were moving Hilary to MSU my dad said "Does Ange have to work that weekend? She can come and we can have a real family vacation!" It was so cute it made me just want to hug him to death. It makes me hopeful for the future and eases anxiety about when we decide to have children and how they will be accepted into our respective families.Our lives may not always be easy, but with loving and supportive families it will much easier to weather the times when people are being rude and demeaning to our family.

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