Today I was reading back through some of our old posts on this website and came across this one that Caroline wrote a few years back: “A simple, boring, Halloween story.” It made me smile.
I haven’t written a full post here since February of 2014, and that’s not a coincidence. In March of 2014 two things dramatically changed our family: first, we made an offer on a house that would eventually be home to an eight-bedroom intentional community. And second, I began contemplating, and then in short order planning, a gender transition. Within four more months I would be on hormones, Caroline would be pregnant, we would be beginning to build out our basement (three bedrooms and a bathroom, done ourselves), and we would frankly be diving into a two-and-a-half year utter whirlwind.
But today I was lying on my couch reading, and Caroline’s story made me smile. Here was my favorite part:
It’s such a simple story: a family having a night together in preparation for Halloween…. But I wanted to write it because I remember when we first became poly not ever seeing stories like this and I was thirsty for them. I needed to know that we weren’t crazy and that this could be Normal. Simple. Boring.
The fact is that it wouldn’t have been all that different if we weren’t poly. Maybe it would have been a close friend instead of a boyfriend. Maybe it would have just been us and been slightly more harried. Maybe there just wouldn’t have been any spooky noises when the lights went out. But – hey – for me, I hope more and more of my family holidays look like this in the future. Fuller, more complete, closer to my own personal ideal of a home.
It’s been three years since that story, and Caroline’s boyfriend is still here. He’s also become our roommate and a third full-fledged parent to our now two children. He walks the older one to school, knows his teacher, knows the parents of his friends, and often cares for both kids single-handedly during the day. Our one-and-a-half year old said ‘Adam’ months before he said ‘Mama’ – and he’s got two of those.
Meanwhile our family has grown in other ways, too. We have five other roommates besides Adam, who have varying depths of relationships with us and with our children. I have a girlfriend of two years who doesn’t live with us, but when I talk about my family I mean her and her husband and her dogs, too. Our boring nights often now involve seven or eight people at the dinner table, our boring mornings catching up with an overflowing family over coffee in the kitchen. A family trip to the zoo might require two cars, or three, and when my son gets a school assignment to write about his family he writes pages. And while our Google calendar might have been a bit overwhelming at first, it’s become a mundane part of the fabric of our lives.
These past few years our lives have been liberally seasoned with changes very far from common experience. But I smiled when I read Caroline’s post because, as we’ve begun to settle down into our new normal, it looks a lot like what she described all that time ago. People may not be able to identify our relationships when our family walks down the street (as Adam once pointed out, “I bet nobody gets it right”). But we’re still getting the kids to school, getting dinner on the table, taking casual date nights with settled partners, and doing everything else that’s part of a normal, simple, boring family life. We’re just doing it our way, a way that for us is “fuller, more complete,” and very much our ideal of a home.
We’re not perfect. We struggle, and sometimes we struggle hard to make this work. But we’re also doing it. We’re living proof that Poly really can look this way. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.