Today, Tams and I have been married 9 years. Together 17.
(LGBTQ) Marriage is hard.
(LGBTQ) Marriage with toddlers is harder.
(LGBTQ) Marriage with toddlers in an uncertain quarantine is harderER.
This photo is one of our happiest moments from 2009. Standing in the warm water in Huntington Beach, CA, laughing as a wave hit us. It was just us, the open road, and adventure. This was a high.
I’m not going to pretend this hasn’t been our roughest patch yet. Parenting toddlers and marriage-ing in a pandemic is TOUGH. There have been many moments of beauty and hope. But this season is a low. Stress. Tantrums. Uncertainty.
Some days I feel so strongly tethered to this immovable love. Other days the winds of life whip the dust around me and I can’t see properly.
I’m not the perfect wife. Some days I’m not even a good wife. But that’s where grace comes in. That’s where the depths of unconditional love reveals its’ beautiful face to me, and I can’t help but lean into it. Every day I am learning how to love well, by being loved well.
Being an LGBTQ person comes with its’ own set of challenges.
Being a married LGBTQ person comes with its’ own set of pressures. To not take the right to marry for granted. To not fail like many expect.
Being a married LGBTQ person of faith adds a thick and interwoven layer of shame and guilt that requires a continual dose of therapy and self-reflection.
(If you are an LGBTQ person and you are struggling – I see you. I am you. I want to make a mountain of space and sit with you in it. Don’t give up. You’re doing great.)
Because… there’s always love.
Some days it feels buried. Some days it’s just looking at each other and simply saying, “I’m not giving up today.”
This year we planted veggies in the garden boxes in our backyard. We stood with the kids in the fresh sun & peered into the wet soil. Tiny, teensy bits of green push their way to the surface, exclaiming, “Life is here! New life is growing!” It made me tear up.
Love – like life – is so damn resilient, and it just freaking never gives up.
Tams, I love you.
Happy 9/17 years together. I’m choosing us today, and believing for the tenacious love that just won’t give up. I know that through this, our love will grow even stronger.
Friends, I can’t believe I get to announce this dream come true. If you don’t mind indulging me, I will give you a quick timeline of how I got here:
I have always wanted to do a project combining my art and faith journey as a gay Christian. In late 2018 I thought of doing a kids book so that my kids, and other kids, could read it. I called it “Dear Younger (gay) Me”.
Nov 2018 – I had a call with Jennifer Knapp (childhood icon!) about an unrelated project we were going to collaborate on, and I brought up my book idea. She encouraged me to do it.
Feb 2019 – I started sketching storyboards & writing on the train to and from work. I was shocked at how quickly it all came pouring out of me. I reached out to Rachel Held Evans. (I wrote a guest post for her blog in 2014 and had kept in contact with her.) She wrote me back saying: “What a beautiful book, Stacey! I’m happy to share far and wide. Thank you for making this.”
May 2019 – I sent out my book idea on a whim to see if I could get an agent to represent me. Within four hours of sending it out, and to my total shock, I had two offers of representation. I signed with The Bent Agency in NYC a few days later.
July 2019 – My agent Claire sent out a formal book proposal to a bunch of editors and we wait. (I am learning publishing is a slow game!) Claire helps me evolve and expand my story from a kids book to a YA illustrated novel.
Oct 2019 – We are approached by Beaming Books who are very interested.
Nov 2019 – Beaming Books sends Claire a book offer to publish! Claire goes back and forth to negotiate the terms as I vibrate with excitement in the corner.
Feb 5, 2020 – I officially sign the book deal with Beaming Books!! They start a discussion about changing the name of the book to be more suitable for a YA audience. They land on “Still Stace: My Gay Christian Coming of Age Story (An Illustrated Memoir)”.
March 5, 2020 it is officially announced in Publishers Marketplace (above image) I can fiiiiiiiinnnnnnally share this with you all!!
I am beyond grateful for this opportunity. I am trying to do my best writing and drawing for the privilege to be able to represent a voice for the gay Christian community, and for younger me. ALL. THE. FEELS.
Children’s Bookshelf also shared my book deal in their list (below), and I still can’t believe this is happening. But it’s been a long road, so I’m going to celebrate each milestone! (In a perfect coincidence, I was having a dance party with the kids when the tweet came in! 😆) Click image for link.
Stay tuned for updates as I continue to work on it!
Sometimes being an artist for a living and a hobby can get tough. I often struggle to get out what’s in my head, and I am usually (always) super critical of myself and my work. I don’t often feel like what was in my head was successfully transmitted to the screen or paper… but I’m learning to be easier and more encouraging towards myself! Perfectionism is a tough & bumpy road.
When I have a big deadline looming ahead (as I do now), I feel frozen and overwhelmed. I start to doubt myself and feel creatively stuck. When this happens, I tell myself (usually Tams will tell me!) to take a break and go write. It helps to clear my head and be creative in a way that flows much easier for me.
Here’s something I wrote about parenting two years ago, and this morning while on a much-needed break, I edited it. (I’m also trying not to judge or assess it!) Hope some other parents out there can see themselves in the words. ❤
it’s a small warm hand on your neck
it’s sticky items in your pocket
it’s moments of no patience, then immediate unbridled love
it’s wiping big tears away, then chasing joy around the corner
it’s overwhelming doubts if you can do this
it’s big eyes staring silently at you to love them
it’s no answers, yet all the questions you never thought of
it’s sitting down to eat, and never getting to eat
it’s deep breaths & pep talks & breakdowns
it’s playing dress-up & funny dances & being silly because that’s all there is
it’s a little hand reaching up for help, knowing you’ll grab it
it’s a tiny toddler plopping themselves in your lap
it’s no personal space, fingerprints on your glasses & stains on your clothes
it’s a rollercoaster of emotions, then a gentle gliding of a canoe
it’s never feeling ready, yet somehow you already are
it’s rediscovering soft sheep’s wool, the joy of a puppy playing & the crunch of leaves
it’s letting your soul be fueled by the small voice calling “Mommy?”
it’s holding tight onto the big hugs until they let go
it’s learning to let go and see how much they teach you
it’s that feeling that you are a little being’s everything
it’s unbelievably hard
it’s so beautiful you ache
it’s all so worth it
…………….. it’s being a parent
Stacey Chomiak © 2020