From Diapers to Dyke March (Happy 6 Months Undercover In the Suburbs!)

My First Dyke March - NYC 2012

Last Saturday I did something I shouldn’t have.  I took my kids to the summer celebration of our mothers of multiples club.  Sometimes I feel like one of those rats in a cage that keeps electrocuting itself over and over, never learning where to go and where not to go.  In my defense, I wanted to do something fun with my kids that morning, but I somehow managed to block out yet again how out of place those moms make me feel.  Yes, folks, for those of you who’ve been around long enough, these are same moms from this post about being a closeted egalitarian parent.

As soon as we got to the “celebration,” I started to feel twitchty.  I saw some people I knew.  They weren’t very friendly.  I took my kids out of their stroller, but they were acting strange.  Typically if I let them loose on a playground, they run in two different directions nonstop until I beg for mercy.  But they just stood there.  I parked them both on one of the landings of the jungle gym.  Again, they just stood there, looking around sheepishly and clinging to me instead of being right up in the big kids’ faces as usual.  Could it be they were uncomfortable too?  We sat there for a good long while, with no one coming up or acknowledging us except to ask if I wanted my 18 month-olds to have an Italian Ice off of a truck.  They paused long enough to act like I was a horrible, depriving mother when I said no, then moved on.

While I sat there, looking around, I was reminded of everything about these people that made me feel icky inside.  It was just like being in high school again.  I was surrounded by rich, white, heterosexual and gender normative (at least in performance) folks who have no concept of their privilege.  Look, I’m white myself.  I’m cis-gender, and most people probably see me as heterosexual too.  But there are just so many of them, and they’re all the same!  They seem to have no idea that there’s a great big world out there beyond their little corner of suburbia.

How come none of them were divorced?  How come none had same-sex partners?  Where were the single parents?  Where were the moms of color?  Where were the parents who don’t feed their kids McDonalds?  Where were the moms and dads who head to BDSM clubs or go out swinging when the kids are in bed?  What about the parents who are too busy doing cool stuff, or too poor to keep their lawns perfectly manicured and their houses freshly painted?  What about the moms with tattoos?  And where were the other egalitarian parents?  I’ll tell you where those parents were.   Anywhere but there.  Duh!  They wouldn’t feel very comfortable there either!  They just weren’t running around getting electrocuted again and again like me and those rats in the undergrad psych lab.

The dads were at this event too, which was creepy – not because I don’t think dads should be at kids’ events – quite the opposite.  It was blatantly obvious that playing with their kids was an unusual and not totally comfortable experience for these dads.  They were trying really hard… too hard.  Have you ever played on a playground with your kids before, I wondered?  It was like they were giving off this I’m not a real dad but I play one on tv vibe.

A few hours later, after I dropped my kids off safely at Grammy and Grampy’s, I emerged from Penn Station in New York City.  As I stepped out into the midtown chaos, I felt my whole body sink with relief.  I could breathe again.  I realized I’d been feeling all clenched up since that morning.  I looked around.  It was as if every kind of person in the world was on that street.  I looked down the block and saw the two gay boys I was meeting waving to me.  I whipped out my pride flag.  Good riddance rich, white, cis-gender, heteronormative, child-obsessed, icee-pushing mommies.  I needed a stiff drink and a good old fashioned Dyke March.

Dyke Marchers

Later that day I marched in the NYC Dyke March with my husband Seth.  Only the most accepting, loving, comfortable-in-his-own-skin husband would accompany his recently-out-as-queer wife to something called a “Dyke March.”  It wasn’t Seth’s first choice of Saturday activity, but he approached it with an open heart and mind, and didn’t complain a bit.  For those of you who’ve never been to a dyke march, I’m no expert, but it appears to be a female-centered and more political, or at least advocacy-oriented event, than the pride parades, that’s meant to bring visibility to the female queer community.

I’d like to say I felt totally free at that march – like I could finally be myself, the way I couldn’t at that horrible kiddie party.  But the truth is, my suburban mother identity felt as squashed there as my queer/rebel/feminist one had that morning.  Let’s face it, there isn’t a lot of representation of moms, or of queer women partnered with men, at events such as this.  Was a suburban, pansexual, feminist, socially deviant mom as out of place here as I’d been that morning?  Probably.

So I still don’t have a place where I can look around and see myself reflected back in the faces of others.  I still don’t have a place where there’s room for the full breath and depth of my identity, where nothing is assumed (not that I’m a more involved parent than my husband or that I would rather talk about my kids than my career.  And not that I’m a lesbian and the man next to me is my gay male buddy). What I do have is a partner and a few friends who can witness all those parts of me, and still look at me and see a coherent whole.  More importantly, I can do that for myself.  I can walk into a room of mommies and not feel quite as closeted as I did when I wrote about feeling closeted at playdates.  I now know who I am as a mom, and I know not being like other moms doesn’t make me a bad one.

I’m not a bad mother because my career gives major meaning to my life in addition to my family, because I cause trouble on the internet while my kids are stuck in their high chairs eating, because I go out with friends, because after a certain amount of time on mommy duty I need a break, a long break, in order to maintain my sanity, because I read books, or even because I have a filthy potty mouth and a dirty mind.  I know now that I need all those things.

You’d better believe after a weekend of dyke marching and pride parading, I was thrilled to go back to my little snugglets, recharged and ready for their twinsane toddler antics.  I guess balance is the best we can ask for.  Time for changing diapers and time for dyke marches, so that even if we don’t feel completely visible in any one place, we can feel close to ourselves and not lose that.

I need time with my kids – I need to be attached and connected to them.  I also need my relationship, my career, and something for me that makes me feel whole, that reminds me who I am even when so much of my life and work feels like it’s about caring for others.  That something is right here.  When I look back at my blog posts, I do see myself reflected back.  I have created this space where I put all the parts of me together and try to make sense of it all, like here, (and yes, I see the irony in the fact that none of ya’ll know my real name).  I can’t completely blow my cover – otherwise I wouldn’t be “undercover” anymore!



Your Faithful Spy, Lyla

 Copyright 2012,, All Rights Reserved.


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Facebook Fail – Outed by Mark Zuckerberg and The Huffington Post

I learned some lessons this week about blogging “anonymously” while “technologically challenged.”  A few weeks ago, I asked the few friends who actually know about Undercover in the Suburbs to “like” a post of mine that appeared on  I foolishly did not realize this would appear in their news feeds.  I found out this week that my friend’s colleague, mother-in-law, and husband all read my post after Facebook announced she had read it.  The first two don’t know me, but of course her husband put two and two together and found my blog.  Outed.  Fail.

The next day, I was checking traffic to my blog and noticed a very pronounced spike.  When I checked to see how all these people were finding my site, I saw the words Huffington Post in several of the referring links.  My heart stopped and raced all at once.  Could it be?  I clicked on the link, and there was my article!!  I was thrilled and horrified all at once.  MY article on HuffPo!  Ah, but did it have to be my article questioning compulsory monogamy, and on the “weddings” page no less?  As I read through the comments I felt ill.  I came home from work that night in quite a state.  “Are all these people right about me?” I questioned Seth.  The comments triggered my deepest fears that my writing and self-exploration is a selfish pursuit that’s going to harm my family.  After reading through the comments, Seth assured me I was only attending to the most negative comments and that most of them were perfectly benign.  Still, I had had no preparation for exposure to such a mixed audience.  I was used to respectful debate, not personal attack.

“This woman is a certifiable loon.”

 “This post is a break in the emotional intimacy of your marriage.”

 “This article is me, me, me…”

 “She needs a shrink, oh I forgot, she is one… I guess I would not go to her for help.”

 “She might need a whole gaggle of shrinks to fix what’s broke.”

 “No mention of the husband of kids, they are collateral damage to her mental weakness it seems.”

 “Sounds like she wants some beaver on the side, and Seth isn’t going for it.”  (Have to give this one credit for being humorous, albeit offensively so)

 “Maybe it’s just me, but this lady seems selfish and immature.”

One of the things therapists often helps folks with is distinguishing between thought and behavior.  It may seem obvious, but at times the two can become quite entangled.  There is a difference between questioning the societal norms that lead people to marriage and monogamy, and actually straying from your marriage (assuming monogamy is the agreement between you and your partner).  I guess using myself as an example in the post runs the risk of eliciting reactions to me as a person.  Of course, if you take the post literally and not as a personal essay questioning a societal script, you would be concerned about my husband and children.  However, I also have to ask myself how much of the reactions relate back to the expectation that women/mothers be focused on their families and completely satisfied with that focus.  My husband and children are my #1 priority, but they are not my only priority, and I believe as a woman I should be able to write many articles which don’t consider their perspective at all.

Later this week I received an ominous email from a friend.  It was innocuous enough, asking if we needed him to babysit on a certain day – except – it referred to me as “Lyla.”  Not knowing where he had seen this, or who else knew, I panicked.  I wrote back demanding he reveal the source of the leak.  This time The Huffington Post and Facebook had conspired to out me.  I had simply loaded the (Huffington Post page) where my piece was published.  Later, I saw reported in my Facebook news feed that I had read it.  I deleted that from my feed, but it was too late.  There was a hole in the dyke (no pun intended).  I simply clicked on a page, and I was outed.  I feel like Facebook knows where I am and what I’m doing at all times.  If I don’t tell them someone else does.  Damn you Zuckerberg!  He knows and sees all, and reports on it to random high school classmates, my very Catholic, republican cousins, my mother’s friends, my ex co-workers, my DAD.  Who else saw that post on my news feed and found my blog?  Dad, are you there?  I’ll never know.  My brother says I gave HuffPo permission to post that on my news feed.  When?  How?   I feel like I’m going to look at my news feed one of these days and see “Lyla Cicero masturbated.  9:30 a.m.”  Jeez!

Okay reader, I know what you’re thinking.  First of all, ‘seriously, you don’t know these things can end up in your news feed?’  And secondly, ‘you have broadcast your personal thoughts all over the internet, and you expect no one to find out?’  The truth is I am quite conflicted about being open about many of the things I talk about here.  On the one hand, I’m thrilled and amazed that people want to publish my writing, and that people resonate with the topics and can relate to my experiences.  On the other hand, I’m feeling like what started as a pin prick could turn into a gushing wound with no way to stop the bleeding.

What’s done on the internet is done.  Just by publishing that piece suggesting people consider polyamory before marriage could create limitations for me in the future.  One need not look far to see the ways in which prior statements and opinions can impact folks later in life.  And then there are my conflicts about coming out.  Here I am writing about how invisible and unseen I feel, and yet, the idea of friends and family finding out scares me.  I mean anyone could be reading this right now, even my great aunt the nun.  She already picks fights with me about gay marriage.

So as all this was happening I realized I need to thicken my skin.  I need to be able to stand behind what I’m doing and practice what I preach.  And besides, if I’m putting all this stuff out there I must want people to know.  I do want to be seen.  Making an anonymous blog and trying to get posts published elsewhere is like leaving my journal out and then being mad that my parents found it even though I secretly wanted them to.  I have to ask myself, isn’t there a part of me that wants to not be “undercover.”  Then I can just know once and for all what the reactions will be.  If folks will be disgusted by the things I think about, the way I identify, and think I’m a horrible wife and mother, so be it.  And who knows, maybe I’ll be surprised at how many are accepting.  After all, Zuckerberg, some of the people in my life know me a little better this week due to your not-so-subtle attempts at world domination.

Besides, I have already encountered some amazing people through blogging who are enriching my life, in some cases in person, and in others from thousands of miles away.

Just a small sample:

Fellow twin mom Deborah Siegal writes “Note to Self:  Must Meet Lyla Cicero one of these days,” and links to my post on her blog.

Made-in-Italy writes on Tumblr in a post about “coming out as a feminist mamma” stating, “Lyla Cicero, who blogs at Undercover in the Suburbs, has nailed how I feel as a feminist mother living in Italy in this post at Offbeat Mama.”  She goes on to quote my article, ending her post with “I’m with you sister!”

Another reader writes in an email “I feel like you give voice to many of my thoughts and feelings in very articulate, mindful ways (and this from a man).”

Kate the Great writes on offbeat mama, “I could have written this myself.  But now I don’t have to, because you said it so well.  Thank-you.”

Being undercover is risky, but for now, it is worth-it.

Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved.



Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Lyla Cicero