Marie Holmes

New York-based writer specializing in parenting topics.

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How to break it to kids that the family is moving (or other hard news)

As I scurried down the street towards my son’s school—his beloved school, where he’d been in the same class as his best friend from kindergarten through 5th grade—my stomach clenched with the knowledge that I was about to deliver a devastating blow: he’d be starting at a new school in September. I was carrying a pack of peanut butter cups, his favorite, in the hopes that it would soften the impact somehow. He stepped out onto the sidewalk and saw me right away, waving my hand. “What are you d

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How To Celebrate Mother’s Day as a Two-Mom Family

Queer folks approach parenting with a great deal of inventiveness. We write the rules as we go, and the wonderful result is the creativity we display in constructing our families. There’s so much variety, including in the names our kids call us. There are many ways to celebrate Mother’s Day when both parents identify as some variation of "mom." Approaches to the day, however, tend to fall into one of two categories: giving mom a break or celebrating together as a family. Sometimes, all mom wan

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I’m Teaching My Kids to "Say Gay," And Hoping For a Freer Future

The other day my 8-year-old daughter was writing in her journal, listing the characteristics of each member of our family (including the cat and the dog, of course). She noted age, race, pronouns, and sexual orientation. Our favorite colors may have also made the cut. When it came to her sexual orientation, and that of her 12-year-old brother, she carefully penciled in big question marks, explaining, “Because we don’t know yet.” In my mind, this was a sweet moment shared between a first grader

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I'm a gay teacher. You can tell us not to say 'gay,' but we'll find each other — even in school.

• In my experience, gay kids will find and support each other. • Even if it's not at school, thanks to the internet they can find the support they need. In middle school, I had a Spanish teacher who was young and friendly, and I probably had a crush on her, though I couldn't have articulated that at the time. One afternoon, she was describing a night out at a club in which she had seen two women dancing with each other. This bothered her, she said, even more than she thought it would. She did

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What Not To Say To Someone Who’s Undergoing IVF

When a friend is in the middle of IVF, you want to acknowledge what they’re going through, but you also don’t want to say something you’ll regret. In an attempt to be helpful, and because so often people get uncomfortable or nervous and just start babbling, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers often say things to people undergoing IVF that are hurtful. As Chrissy Teigen has pointed out, simply asking someone if they’re pregnant can cut pretty deep. Remember that someone undergoing IVF is oft

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What If Pre-K Isn't The Answer?

It might just be true: sending our kids to pre-K may be doing more harm than good. With a title clearly intended to evoke disbelief, a recent New York Magazine piece, “What If Pre-K Actually Hurts Kids?” discusses recent research showing that the benefits of attending pre-K are short-lived, and that they disappear and even begin to reverse as children move up through the grades. If you’re someone who has rearranged your schedule to accommodate preschool tours, navigated applications and wait l

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I'm a teacher isolating because I got COVID-19. It threatens the sense of normalcy our household had finally restored.

• I'm a teacher and a mom of two school-aged kids. • The past two years have been filled with disappointment for my children. • Now that I've tested positive, the little normalcy we had is out the window. It started as a tickle in the back of my throat. "It can't be," I thought. Two years into the pandemic, vaccinated and boosted, was I getting COVID-19? Students and teachers had been dropping like flies with infections in the week leading up to winter break. My wife and I had planned to tra

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What’s In A Name? How Queer Families Choose to Call Themselves

One of the awesome things about being queer is that it frees us from certain social expectations. When we do make stereotypically heteronormative life moves, like getting married or becoming parents, it’s more likely to feel like a conscious choice rather than the fulfillment of some predetermined script. My wife and I got married in Connecticut in 2009 because it still wasn’t legal for us to do so in our home state of New York. We wed while I was pregnant with our first child, in the hopes tha

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8 Simple Things You Can Do at Home to Help if Your Student is Struggling in School

The luster of the first day of school has surely worn off by now, and families have settled back into the daily grind—including some facets of pre-pandemic life that we may not have missed, like early mornings and traffic jams. It’s a challenging transition for everyone. Kids who were kindergarten students in the spring of 2020 had only six months of regular instruction before moving into lockdown, and now they’re in second grade. So, it comes as no surprise that some of these kids are showing s

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5 Ways to Determine If Your Child Would Benefit from Summer School

Answer these 5 questions to see if summer school is right for your child this year. The words “summer school” can invoke draconian misery—and are often uttered as a threat from a teacher or parent. But after more than a year of pandemic shut-down, summer school, like many things, looks very different through COVID-colored glasses. There are many reasons summer school makes sense this year. For one, parents are worried about learning gaps. Whether their kids have been remote, hybrid, or in scho

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Beyond The Makeup Aisle

At the drugstore, I usually have both of my children in tow, and they usually run straight for the toys, followed by the candy. But today it’s just me and my two-year-old daughter, and the first thing she sees are gleaming rows of nail polish: pink and peach, red and purple and even blue. An entire rainbow, right there at the level of her gaze. She turns and finds the lipsticks, and then the eye shadows. She grabs one bottle, then a compact, and another, focusing intently in order to hold each o

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Breasts half empty or half full?

Did you know? The poster on the wall on the doctor’s office beckoned, Breastfeeding reduces your child’s chances of . . . a list of illnesses followed. It was a long list. I cringed and looked away. I was there for an ultrasound, my baby still kicking in my belly, happily fed through our placenta. I hadn’t started breastfeeding yet, of course, but I already had a sinking feeling it wasn’t going to work out for me. My breasts hadn’t grown at all during pregnancy, and I had little faith that they

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Doing it “right”

I was wary of making a birth plan. I knew that the unexpected is par for the course in childbirth and was afraid that the more demands I made, the more I was tempting fate. I had already been so lucky, pregnant with the last embryo (number 18!) from our second round of IVF after two tumultuous years of trying. As the weeks wore on, my belly swelled, my back ached, and my resolve to have the birth I wanted took solid form. We switched to a doctor with a very low C-section rate, at 4 percent. I b

Perspective | No, I don’t have a minute to be a more productive parent

No, I tell my son. We don’t have time tonight: There is homework to do, quizzes to sign, instruments to practice, small hands and feet to wash — and somewhere in there, I need to provide a meal. “But it doesn’t have to be this way,” a thousand helpful Internet advisers tell me. There are shortcuts. It’s not that there isn’t enough time, they say, it’s that I’m not effectively using the time I have. You see, I’m squandering. I sleep. I exercise. I read long news articles. I am a terrible thief,

Perspective | In birth certificate decision, Supreme Court reaffirms the story of our family

The Supreme Court this week reaffirmed its 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage, to the great relief of queer parents across the United States, many of us still decked in beads and stickers from last weekend’s Pride festivities. The right of a spouse to be listed as a parent on a child’s birth certificate is indeed one of the many rights and privileges granted by marriage, the court found, reversing a decision in Arkansas that had denied this right to married same-sex couples, citing “bas

Another presidential election rolls around, and I’m celebrating my ‘Obama baby’

I will never forget the night of Nov. 4, 2008: Feeling an electric rush when the results were called, seeing American flags unfurl and realizing that for the first time I wasn’t cringing at the sight of them, hearing through the open window what I can only describe as a roar of joy coming from Harlem, 20 blocks to the north. There were other things about the evening that are noteworthy only in hindsight. At the results-watching party we attended, I kept returning to the savory snacks and wasn’t

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What I Wish I'd Known Before Giving Birth

After my son was born, I lay flat on the delivery table, staring up at the dotted ceiling tiles. I could hear the clinking of the doctor's instruments down below, repairing what I would later learn was a third-degree tear. I noticed a window, and the darkness outside. I heard rain beating against the glass. For the first time in 20 hours, I formed a coherent thought: That was it? That was the birth experience I had been waiting for? I wished, already, that I could go back in time and do the who

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My Breasts Never Grew, But I've Forgiven Them

I can still see the rosy pink shade of the tee-shirt I was wearing the afternoon in fourth grade when I stuck my face down into it and made an incredible discovery: I had boobs. Or the beginnings of them, at least. I could hardly contain my excitement. These little buds, I thought, were the first hint of the real woman who would emerge from my awkward girl's body. I would be tall and lean, and my breasts would perfectly fill out the most elegant dresses. I would be the sort of woman who stopped

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How Raising Children Has Made Me Question My Religious Beliefs

One afternoon last summer, I was walking through Central Park with my kids when a couple of overdressed young men approached us. I had an inkling of what they were peddling, and tried not to make eye contact. "Excuse me, ma'am? What are your religious beliefs?" "Um," I stuttered, taken aback by such a direct question. Couldn't they just hand me a pamphlet or something? My mind flipped through possible responses. Our family belongs to a Presbyterian church, and it's where we send our children t

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When This Happened, I Suddenly Stopped Caring About My Weight

I wanted to carry a baby like I wanted to be thin: for longer than I could remember. When my partner, Sarah, and I began exploring the possibility of me carrying our child, the whole project seemed tailor-made for my obsessive need for body control. I began to track my basal temperature and check my body for other signs of ovulation. As it turned out, other than my period blood, there were none. Something was up. We booked an appointment with a fertility specialist who immediately told me to sto

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