Life Without My Dad.

No one prepares you for the morning you wake up and are slammed in the face with the fact that today is your dad’s funeral. A part of me wanted to get it over with and another part of me wanted to run far far away. But I did it. I wore a black dress and cried a lot and hugged a lot of people I didn’t want to touch. But I did it.

I’ve been going to hot yoga at least 4 times a week, usually I go only 2-3 but I realized that I needed that hour to zone out. Because what’s been also difficult is dealing with my kids. Twin three year olds actually don’t care that my Dad died. They still want my attention, my love, and energy. Lots and lots of my energy.

Hot yoga gives me space away from them, away from my phone, and the world. Where I can just feel my feelings and if there are tears that mix with the sweat no one notices and if they do they don’t care. I’ve been doing hot yoga for roughly fourteen months, and until three weeks ago when my dad passed I didn’t realize how incredible it has been for my mental health.

Before now it was a workout but the last three weeks it’s been this sort of emotional cleansing. I only told two of the instructors that my Dad died. I went to a class the day after he died and I told that instructor later in the week when I saw her again. I didn’t want them to treat me any differently or feel awkward if they didn’t know what to say.

I credit hot yoga with my ability to function and move forward step by step over the last few weeks.

I realized at one point that I don’t have pictures of my Dad around. I mean there were a couple, but mostly it’s pictures of the boys in our house. I went to Rite Aid to print a couple 8×10’s- one of him in his military dress uniform and one of our entire family. It was a disaster. First it stopped uploading with a usb cable, so I uploaded a second time, then in the middle of printing the printer stopped working and the staff had to replace the cartridge and paper, then it erased my order again…

I mean literally anything that could go wrong went wrong. Including my twin three year olds screaming and running around the store.

Yes we were that horrible family who everyone is wishing would leave. When the worker came over for maybe the fifth time(?!) my eyes welled up and I said, “Listen I’m just trying to print literally two pictures of my Dad who died two weeks ago. Could you just get it to work this time?”

She gave me two coupons so I paid one dollar for both pictures, and apologized profusely and said, “We’ve all been there honey,”.

It’s true. When I talk to some one who has lost a parent it’s very different from when I talk to some one who hasn’t. There’s an understanding among those of us in this horrible little club of kids who’ve lost their parents that it’s just awful and nothing can ever really prepare you for it.

Even when the dementia was setting in, he was still there, I still had a Dad. Now I’m Dad-less.

The pictures printed eventually and I framed them and hung them in my house. When I walked by one tonight carrying Jackson to bed, I said “Look baby, say good-night to our family, good night to Poppy and Grandma,” and then named off my sister and her wife and our niece. Everyone in the picture. He looked at me, and looked at the picture and then kissed my cheek and my eyes welled with tears as I walked him up the stairs.

It feels comforting to me to say goodnight to my dad still.

My yoga instructors often talk about transformation and how going into a pose you will not come out the person you were going in. Embracing the pain and sitting with the uncomfortable will teach you how to tolerate distress.

I certainly am not the same person I was three weeks ago. I am transformed. I feel like I’ve gone deep into the pose and am trying to work my way out of it. Some day I will.

When I see the picture of my Dad in his dress uniform I remember all the times I hugged him and laid my head against his chest and felt those buttons push into my head. I remember the scent of him.

I loved hugging my dad as a kid. It was safe and warm and there were many times I hugged him in uniform. The fatigues had a different smell and feel than the dress. I see him dressed for the military and all I think of are the hugs.

 

How I Talked to my Three Year Olds About Death

My dad died last Saturday. He was ill for the last couple years, with a steady decline in the last six months. It was horrible for me to watch and even more horrible for me to contemplate explaining this to my sons.

Saturday came and he was on in-home hospice care. We brought the boys over and spent the day there. I do not regret this because the boys got to spend the day with our family and we all surrounded my dad with love the day he died. He even opened his eyes and smiled when Declan came in and said Hi Poppy when we arrived in the morning.

My boys are very intuitive and they knew Poppy was sick because he was laying in my parents bed, and not talking to them. They were timid at first being in the room, and then as the day progressed and they were outside running around with their cousin and we were all acting as normal as we could…they started running in and out of the room to check on Poppy.

Jackson left a purple flower on his bed.

Later in the evening they left and Jackson said “Good-bye Poppy” loudly.

About an hour later my dad died. I think he waited for them to leave.

Then we had to figure out how to tell our sons. Poppy was a constant fixture for them for three years, and toddlers have a concrete vision of our world.

Sidetrack: My cousin sent me what I refer to as “Death books” about three weeks before my dad passed. They are children’s books specific to speaking about death. I hadn’t looked at them yet because I wasn’t ready to and my wife and I joked about the “Death books” as they came prior to us coming to terms with the fact that he was dying. I pulled them out of the box and held one up and said, “Look babe, they got their first death books!” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I finally visited the death books and talked to my sister and sister-in-law about how they talked to my niece. They used the heaven version and that she has guardian angels. The books did give me some good language to use and I agreed with the tactic of being concrete, not saying “he went to sleep and won’t wake up” because that seems like a set-up for a phobia of sleep.

We are not religious. But the heaven/sky/angel version of death is a positive one. I’m down with that. My wife came into my room the morning after Poppy died and told me she tried telling Declan about Poppy when he asked to go see him.

Declan came trotting in after her and said, “Poppy in the sky Mama?” So for lack of  a better explanation I said “Yes”. He’s in heaven which is I suppose in the sky. He accepted that and we moved on for the day.

Later in the evening though he and Jackson brought up Poppy, and Declan again asked about the sky. I told them that “Poppy’s body stopped working. He was very sick and sometimes when some one is older and sick their body stops working. So we would not be able to actually see Poppy or talk with him, but that he is watching over us all from Heaven.” I did use the term “died” at one point, I think later in the week.

They seemed to accept this. And since Saturday they’ve asked about it, and we’ve sat and talked, and I’ve cried and my wife has cried in front of them both, and we say, “We miss Poppy, and it makes us sad, and it’s okay if you are sad too.” And they generally give us hugs and move on.

Then today in the car Declan said, “Poppy’s body was hurting?” I said “Yes baby, he was hurting,” and then Jackson said, “We go see Poppy and Ba? I mean, we go see Ba? (Ba is Gramma)”. And I burst into tears. Because he gets it. He gets that he won’t see Poppy again. Then Declan asked me if my body was hurting, and I said “No baby, and Mommy’s isn’t either.”

Gramma came over last night, and they told her Poppy was in the sky, and she agreed. Her being here alone I think cemented it for them that we wouldn’t see Poppy again.

Grief is heavy. So heavy it feels like a weighted blanket on top of me all the time. But to grieve and have small children is awful. They rip off the band-aid every time it starts to stick a little. They don’t mean to, but they randomly bring up Poppy and they catch me off guard and it’s like a knife to the heart every time.

I’m glad that they understand and I feel like we have a parenting win with this whole explaining death thing to two toddlers. But as a daughter who lost her Dad, it’s incredibly painful. Because when they ask about Poppy I’m supposed to be a strong Mama, when really I just want to be a daughter crippled with grief. But I can’t be.

This is the stuff no one tells you about parenting. My heart goes out to any parent who has lost a loved one who has small children because to keep showing up as a parent in these dark days is the one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

 

No Heat. No doorknobs. Purple Flowers. The Death of my Dad.

I got the call from the hospice nurse there was a sudden decline and went after work to my parents house. The two nurses and an aide were there as well as my sister and sister-in-law and Mom.

I had to pee.

Preface: My Mom decided to replace all the interior doors a month prior to my dad’s decline.

I went to one of two bathrooms at the house and when I went to close the door I realized there was no doorknob. Just a big hole where the doorknob should be. It also would not stay closed. So I shoved a towel in the hole and shoved some more on the floor to help hold the door shut. Then I peed.

I relayed my doorknob issue to my mom at one point and she agreed that there were in fact no doorknobs on any of the doors yet. The towels did the trick though.

Then we were all sitting around my dad’s bed. Watching him labor to breathe and we realized it was rather chilly. The furnace died.

After we made that realization there were a few seconds of silence, and I broke it with the statement, “No heat. No doorknobs.” Another few seconds of silence and then we all cracked up laughing.

The problem with being a nurse who has worked with the dying is I knew the timeline. I knew when I saw my Dad that night with the heat and doorknobs that it wouldn’t be that night.

I told my wife I predicted another 24 hours. And exactly 23 and a half hours later he passed. His color was still too good that Friday night and his skin still looked normal-ish, and roughly 22 hours later his skin looked different, darker, the pre-death look. And his breathing was more ragged. He also had the smell. The smell of a dying body is distinct.

I went home Friday night and took my time getting ready the next morning. With a feeling of foreboding I took a shower and picked out my clothes carefully, because what does one where to the death of their father? Black? Pastels? Casual or more formal? It was bizarre that I was even thinking that but I was. Then we got the boys in the car and my wife took her car too, as they would leave earlier than I.

We were driving up a main route and I saw a car coming toward me with flashing lights. It was a long line of cars with flashing lights, they all had a orange signs in their windows, “Funeral”. It wasn’t lost on me that the universe placed a massive funeral procession across from me as I drove to see my Dad for what I suspected would be the last time.

It was a long day. We kept it as normal as possible for my kids and my niece. We all played outside in the backyard, we had the boys nap in their sleeping bags in the guest rooms and we made sandwiches for lunch. All along though my dad was in their room, on oxygen, not conscious, and laboring to breathe, as he prepared to die. The boys and my niece would randomly run in and out of his room and ask about him sleeping and being sick.

At one point outside the kids were picking little purple flowers and putting them in our hair and their hair. Later I walked in to check on my Dad and my son Jackson had apparently placed one of the purple flowers on the bed with my dad just at the tip of his fingers.

I saw it and smiled and told my Dad it was there and we left it there all day until he died.

He waited. He waited for my kids and wife to leave; he waited for my sister and niece to leave, and for my mom’s friend to come and be with her. He always told me that he preferred me with him whenever he was admitted to the hospital. Said I was the most calm.

He knew I was the one who would handle him dying. That I wouldn’t’ want my kids there. That I would make sure he was comfortable.

I had this sort of detached feeling that whole two hours at the end. Like I knew it was coming but couldn’t process it or verbalize it at all. I just ran through the motions of existing and being aware of his increase in agitation and giving him more pain meds and telling him it was time to go. My mom and her friend and I sat chatting in between checking on him and trying to eat dinner. Trying to be normal.

My sons knew something was up that day. Especially after nap time. They were irritable and hyper. When they went to leave my son Jackson, who never says good-bye, ran into my dad’s room and said, “Bye Poppy,” very forcefully and purposefully. He stood there with me and looked right at my dad and repeated it, “Bye Poppy.” Then he looked at me and I said, “Good job baby, he’s sleeping, but he heard you,” and then Jackson marched from the room ready to go.

Somewhere in his little heart he knew.

Later that night I came home and smiled thinking of this morning when I picked out my outfit and I peeled it all off and put on the flannel button down I took from my dad’s closet before I left my parents house.

My Dad’s death is devastating to me, but watching him live with dementia for the last two years was was equally devastating. It’s been bittersweet on so many levels. I miss him, but I missed him before, as the disease took his brain and personality. I wish for more time with the man he was but I also wish him peace as he was suffering.

When I saw that he wasn’t breathing and knowing I had just been in the room not ten minutes earlier and I had been telling him it was okay to go for the last day; it was an acute pain and grief such that I never felt before. But I’m glad I was there for him. I’m glad he’s at rest.

What I will remember of my dad’s last day is the way he smiled when he heard Declan come in and say “Hi Poppy,” very loudly. It was the last time I would see him smile. I will remember a small purple flower on his bed left by little hands saying good-bye in their own way. I will remember curling up in my bed in his thick flannel shirt.

I will remember his death because it was a few days of waiting, but that was after two years of watching him slowly slip away. I hope that after this acute pain fades I will not think of his death but of his life. My Dad’s life revolved around loving his family.

I am at peace knowing the love of his family surrounded him in his death.

With much love…rest easy Dad.

At Home Waxing and Balloon Disasters…Mom Life

I went to the hairdresser today. Couple things happened when I had my boys. They started giving me gray hairs. Too many for me to ignore. So I started dying my roots and highlighting. I also developed an affinity for waxing. Lasts a long time and my pain tolerance sky rocketed after carrying and delivering twins. I go see some one who waxes upper legs/bikini line every 6 weeks or so. But some times I do a touch up in between visits.

There I am. Wearing a bath towel, in the kitchen, hair in a ponytail, boys watching a movie so I have about ten minutes before they lose interest and require my attention. I had waxed a few spots on my legs before, but none up close to the bikini line.

I realized that my mom pooch from carrying twins (which is smaller now than it was, and hopefully with enough hot yoga will continue to shrink) was interfering in my waxing. However, hot yoga gave me enough flexibility to contort myself into a crazy position with my head practically in my crotch and my hands trying to spread the wax, hold the pooch out of the way, and then put the paper on and….then I realized my hair was stuck in the wax.

I tried flipping my ponytail up and then I had to let go of pooch, pull hair out of wax on leg, towel dropped, I’m naked, swearing, and in walks my wife. Literally I’m hopping around the kitchen going “Fuck this fuck fuck fuck” trying to pull the wax out of my hair, dropped the towel, and she looks at me, shakes her head, and keeps walking.

So I grab the meat scissors. Because obviously I couldn’t take the time to walk ten feet and get real scissors and I cut the glob of wax out of my hair along with a couple inches of my hair. One problem down.

Then I wax the spot on my leg, almost in tears at this point but trying to laugh about it. Then my kids come over and ask what Mama is doing, I’m struggling with the towel, and then I drop wax all over the floor. It didn’t improve from there.

A couple weeks later my wife asks me to not wax at home anymore. She says I can’t handle it, and neither can our kitchen. To her credit she said all of this with a straight face.

I’m at the hairdresser’s today and I tell her I need a trim. Then I hold up the bunch of hair that is about two inches shorter than the rest. I tell her it was a wax disaster and not to ask any further questions.

I can still see the boys faces, total bewilderment and I’m thinking, this is what makes a family. These moments when I’m such a freaking mess. No one else in my life sees me like this. Not that I would want any one else to see me with wax in my hair, naked, and swearing in my kitchen, but my point is these are the moments that make family. They are intimate, raw, and incredibly vulnerable. I can laugh about it now, and I cracked up telling my hairdresser.

It was a bad night and the damn balloons (about a week old) were still high on helium, weighted down with little hearts. I was sick of tripping over the balloons because I told the boys they couldn’t have them in the family room, so they would park them between family room and rest of house.

I tripped on Jackson’s three times. I told him all three times to get the balloon into the toy room. The fourth time I picked up the weighted balloon and tossed it into the playroom while yelling, “Move your balloon now!” Which was stupid because I was moving it. But I was losing it that night. They were wearing me down.

The boys were right there. Watching my meltdown me throw the balloon into the playroom. It somehow managed to skid over one of their little wooden chairs and much to all of our horror we watched Jackson’s balloon get torn clear in half. It caught on something on the chair and literally just completely ripped silently in half. Then it floated sadly to the ground in multiple pieces.

The three of us looked at each other. Then Jackson burst into tears, “My balloon Mama! Not Nice Mama!” And a whole litany of name calling and blaming me. How to explain to a three year old that I actually did not mean to do that at all, and I could never have predicted that if I tried. I felt like the worst human in the world. I tore my three year old’s balloon in half. I thought he had recovered though and we were putting it to rest.

But today, two weeks later, we were driving home from daycare and Jackson said, “Mama, you hurt my Elsa balloon,” and I had to say, “Yes baby, I did. I’m sorry.”

He wasn’t upset, just stating a fact.

The boys see me at my worst and I hope they also see me at my best. I guess it’s how we all react and recover from our worst that shapes our bond and love for one another.

My wife and I were just us for ten years. It’s taken such incredible adjustment for us to add two little beings into our life. But moments like the wax and the hair, that makes me feel like me. I’m being myself with them, and that’s such a relief. Because while they were newborns it was hard to be any one at all because we were so sleep deprived and before that pregnant so it was like I didn’t have my body to myself. And adjusting to two new people in our lives who are solely ours has been one of the hardest and best things I’ve ever done.

So yes. I’m sorry boys. Your Mama is so smart in some ways, and so incredibly dumb in others. I own and operate a business and can bring pretty much any one to tears if I pull out my psychiatry skills. But I can’t wax my upper leg without cutting out a chunk of my hair. I have what I thought was incredible patience, but apparently not for tripping over balloons. And I seriously had no idea or intention of ripping it in half.

But I wouldn’t change these moments. Because I want my sons to know me and love me as I am. Just me. Because I want to know them and love them with all their imperfections too.

But for God sakes just move the damn balloon when I asked and then we could all have been spared the balloon murder. For real.

“Why Do the Boys have Two Moms?”

The question was asked innocently by one of their three year old friends. Actually the specific friend whom they shared an office with while I was pregnant and her mom was pregnant. We worked together and delivered three weeks apart.

She asked once before. About a year ago, “Where’s the boy’s daddy?” and her mom fielded that one, said, “Some people have two mommy’s and some people have two daddy’s and some people have a mommy and a daddy,” she looked at all of us, and said, “Okay,” then kept playing with the boys.

It caught me off guard being asked again. I thought we covered this a year ago. And this time it was a different question, “Why do Declan and Jackson have two moms?”. It was directed to me this time, not her mom, so I repeated the question loudly for her mom to hear while I also gave myself time to compose an answer. “Um, yeah, they are just… special?” I sorta shrugged and looked at her mom like ‘please God help me,’ and so she said what she said a year ago, “Because some people have two mommy’s.” Then she named a kid at daycare with two daddy’s and then their little friend nodded and walked away.

I had no answer ready for that question. Why do they have two mommy’s? Declan’s answer would be “Why not Mama?” or something equally philosophical.

Jackson would probably laugh and shrug and run away. Avoiding all confrontation.

I mean our answer is because we fell in love. Cliche yes but true. Do kids of single mom’s get asked why they don’t have a dad? I’m sure they do. But perhaps being abandoned by a parent is more acceptable in certain circles than having two loving parents of the same gender.

I was highly aware of the fact that this was not my kid asking. So I didn’t feel right saying “because we fell in love,” or something else that established my wife and I as in a relationship. Because who am I to teach some one else’s kid about sexual orientation?

It gave me a lot to think about as I’m sure she won’t be the last kid to ask us this question. And in that moment what the hell do I say? I think her mom’s answer was good. “Some people have two mommy’s and some people have two daddy’s and some people have a mommy and a daddy.” I think that works. I just now have to remember it and not get all flustered in the moment.

I also think it’s fantastic that my straight friend had the best answer and was the most calm about the question and came up with the best most coherent answer. She’s woke. Obviously.

I apparently am not. Because I literally could not come up with a legitimate explanation why my son’s have two moms. Let me tell you, when I blabbered out “because they are…special?!” all I could think of was that scene in Elf when they say, “You’re not a cottonheadedninnymungins, you’re just…special.” Will Ferrell’s face falls because he knows it’s not good to be “special”.

So that’s a no-go in the future.

But let me tell you. This is the shit straight people don’t think about. They don’t wonder about being asked by other kids, “But why does little Jimmy have a Mommy and a Daddy?” They don’t worry about being the ones to expose other children to other sexual orientations other than heterosexual. And this is an example of internalized homophobia.

Internalized homophobia is carrying the hatred and discrimination of society within the individual. I clearly carry some internalized homophobia because I’m worried about “exposing” other people’s children to my family. That’s messed up. That shouldn’t be. I should not feel shame or fear of offending others just by existing with my wife and kids. But I do. Because we live in a society where hate is real and homophobia is literally down the street from us.

I have internalized homophobia from existing in a society that looks down on homosexuals. From hearing in the media and being told to my face that my family is less than other families because my son’s have two moms.

There will be so many more moments that come up raising kids and explaining our family. I do not know how I will handle them. But I know that surrounding myself with friends who accept my family make-up and defend it…that is a strength. Surrounding my children with accepting and loving people is a first step in combating the hate we have yet to face.

 

Picture- from 2016 at age one. It was freezing and they were day one post vaccines. Cranky and cold…good times!

 

F*$# Dementia.

I haven’t been writing as much lately because I’ve been trying to cope with watching my Dad decline further into the grips of dementia.

I keep trying to write about other stuff and it just falls flat. Because I’m thinking about this.

There are a lot of different ways people cope with grief and illness. My Dad is not dead, but I grieve the man he was because that man is already gone.

Grief is a fickle bitch I’ve decided.

I have a few family members who face death and grief and illness head on. I walked into one of my aunts houses several years ago, and she was baking bread. I asked what it was for and she said for one of my Great Aunt’s funerals. I said, “She died?” She hadn’t died. My aunt was just preparing.

I am not the face head on type; more of the avoidant and detach variety.

I find it incredibly painful to see my dad now, but I do every week at least and I bring the boys too because it’s important that they have this time with him. But the rest of the week I try and turn it off. Focus on my wife, the boys, and work. Don’t think about it. But then I have the song in a playlist of Tangled Up Puppet by Harry Chapin. My Dad and I danced to it at my wedding.

That is one of the my best memories with my Dad. I feel incredibly blessed that he was in good health that day, that he was so happy and proud, and that we got to rock it out on the dance floor together. We are both corny and crazy and we both had so much fun dancing. So that song will come on while I’m driving in the car to daycare to pick up the boys and I get there and I sit in the car and I remember that guy, my Dad, and my eyes well up as I think my boys will never know that guy. They will miss out.

Something will happen and I’ll think, I bet I can fix that, at my house, and I think, I should call Dad…and then I remember. He can’t help me fix anything anymore, or lend me his tools, or bitch that he loaned me his tools and I haven’t returned them. I miss it all. The good and the bad. I miss fighting with him. Because that man and I could argue. It was ugly sometimes. It takes us both a long time to reach our fuse. But when we do. Watch out. I definitely got his Irish temper.

I’ve also been called a redhead twice recently. I think that’s weird as I have brown hair.

That’s an aside though.

He and I clashed over just about everything at one point or another, but we were also incredibly close and I can and likely did say just about anything to him over the years. It also just hurts me and makes me angry that I saw him today for St. Patrick’s Day, and it wasn’t the normal jovial celebration. I’m not sure he knew it was today. St. Patrick’s Day was always his day. The Irish dude who married into a family of Swedes. He didn’t own any other time or day but this holiday.

I was talking about it with my family and some one said they wish for more time, and I said I would give anything to have one more moment with him lucid and the man he was pre-dementia. But this man with Dementia is suffering, and it breaks my heart to watch.

To reconcile those feelings is insane. Because I don’t want him to die, but I don’t want him to suffer.

So fuck dementia. As you slowly take my Dad I flip you the bird. Because honestly that’s what my hot tempered Irish Dad would want me to do.

p.s. The pic is because I am confused by the redhead comments, and I knit my first hat! Yes I made the hat! I also realized I knit more when I am stressed. So I’m sure this is only my first of several hats.

 

 

Why I’m Pro-Cop.

I didn’t realize until I reached adulthood that people could be anti-cop. I didn’t know about racial profiling, and I didn’t know about the murders of defenseless African American teenage boys. And yes. That is white privilege.

I didn’t know that there are police officers who treat psychiatric patients like criminals or worse like animals. And I didn’t know that there were police officers who questioned women’s rape stories as stories and not as fact.

I also didn’t know the large number of people who identify themselves as “anti-cop”. But I do now. I have a smidge of understanding now having witnessed horrific behavior by police officers in the emergency department and on an inpatient psychiatric unit. I know  a psychiatric patient who died because a police officer tased them to death, and I know that killed me inside a little.

I know countless stories from my clients of negative interactions with police officers in their professional and personal lives.

I know that I am not a Person of Color and will never know the fear that community has ingrained in them from a young age because of racial bias and racial murders and I also recognize that is privilege. I don’t have a solution for that in this moment. But I think it’s important I acknowledge it.

I know I was shocked the first few times I had clients make disparaging remarks against police officers in front of me, and it was work for me to keep my mouth shut and not challenge those beliefs because that’s not my job or role. Instead I try to understand their narratives and journeys and how they came to this space of distrust and fear.

But I also know that there are a lot of police officers. According to stats on a government website there are roughly 750,000 officers at any given time in our country. That’s a lot of individuals. Within any large number of people carrying guns there are going to be bad people. People who make bad decisions. And mistakes.

But I’m not trying to convince you to be pro-cop. I’m just going to explain why I am. Because it’s something I’ve struggled with; trying to reconcile my own experiences positive and negative, and the negative experiences- including murders and wrongful deaths- of others.

When I was eight a police officer lived on my street and played football every day with all the kids. His parents still live there and we have now known him and his family for over thirty years. When I was growing up a girl around my age had a father who was a police officer- he was at one point my basket-ball coach. When I was sixteen I got into a car accident (I was driving and going straight and a car turning left rammed in the drivers side of my car).

The responding officer was my DARE officer when I was in fifth grade. He saw the cut on my head, saw that I was terrified, in shock, and alone. I basically fell into his arms sobbing and looking back I can see that the other driver realized he was screwed.

I have seen detectives come in to detect shit (Shout out Bad Boys II;) while working in the ED and inpatient. I have been in the room with them when they see the body of an abused child for the first time and seen the horror and weight of it on them as they leave. I’ve worked with law enforcement around sexual assault and rape cases and seen them work their ass off to get enough evidence to prosecute the perpetrator and not rest until they know they’ve done everything they possibly could do for justice.

I’ve worked with officers who are just as infuriated and injured as I am when we don’t see justice done to perpetrators.

I’ve seen officers go above and beyond to protect and serve children and victims.

As I said, I’ve seen the bad side. I’ve experienced the bad individual police officers. But I’ve seen the good too. I’ve seen the fighters who fight for those who are weaker, for those who are considered “less than” in our society, and those are who I respect and those are who continue to solidify my outlook on police officers.

Law enforcement officers have, in my opinion, the hardest job available. They are underpaid, understaffed, hated in some cases, and yet they continue to press forward. There is corruption, there is greed, there are horrible outcomes including wrongful deaths that should not be excused or ignored.

But as a society we depend on law enforcement to serve and protect. And in my own personal experiences the serving and protecting I’ve witnessed gets me in the gut. Because it is authentic and honest and something I truly admire.

To reconcile the death of a psychiatric patient who was wrongfully targeted and tased with my experiences with other law enforcement has been the most difficult for me. Because that person did not deserve to die in that manner. But for me, hope springs eternal and I chose to incorporate a DBT skill to stop wracking my brain about it. It’s called radical acceptance.

I decided I am going to radically accept the world the way it is in this moment for me, and that means there is a grey area. There are good cops and bad cops quite literally. And I refuse to let the wrongful actions of some overshadow the brave and solid work of so many others.

Last thing. I know that every one has different personal narratives and you may strongly disagree with everything I’m saying and that is your right and privilege. Like I said, I’m not trying to change your mind, I’m just making peace with my own.

Why Passive Queers and Queer Allies Irritate Me.

When I was visiting my cousins this past weekend I went off on an angry tangent about Ellen Degeneres’ special Relatable. I stopped myself mid-sentence and channeled some Hannah Gadsby, “I’m angry. Little bit lesbian happening right now.” We all laughed but I kept thinking about it. Why did her special piss me off?

Then I figured it out.

She interviewed Ellen Paige and talked about how she admired Ellen P.’s activism and that she (Ellen D.) basically tries to keep her head down. Which is extremely evident in her Netflix special. She references being fired and having her sitcom end and that’s about it. She then acknowledges publicly that she’s trying to keep her head down.

I’m not down with that. Here’s why.

I own a business. It’s my livelihood. It pays my mortgage and feeds my family (not literally, I get taxed, calm it down). If my business goes under my family would be in trouble. I have a business partner and we are in it together for sure. But I market myself as a Queer provider. I’ve put it out there that I am gay that the business is owned by a lesbian and that I want to help the Queer community.

I risk homophobia affecting the business I bring in because I put it out there loud and clear who and what I am. I do this for a reason. I do this because individuals within the Queer community feel comfortable knowing I am one of them.

Because the first few times long term Queer clients found out I had a wife they were pissed I hadn’t told them sooner and relieved that they were truly in a safe space. They knew that even if I had not walked in their shoes I could identify with their narratives.

When they tell me about their parents disowning them I can truly understand that pain as I’ve born witness to it with my wife for eleven years. When I tell them I won’t let them be homeless if their parents kick them out, they believe me, because they know I would give them the shirt off my back if needed.

They know that because I risk my family’s stability by out-ing myself as Queer within my business. They know that because I’ve treated Queer individuals at wicked reduced rates, even pro-bono, and when a transgender or non-binary client calls for an intake I make it happen. I stay late, come early, give up my lunch break, because I make them my priority.

And guess what. I’m not the only one. I know of several Queer provider’s who put it out there and who have faced harassment because of it. I know I have lost clients over the years when they’ve found out I am gay. But I keep going. Because the look of relief and comfort on my Queer client’s faces when they realize I’m one of them…it’s just too good too gut wrenching to give that up just so I can “keep my head down”.

Why do I get pissed about Queer individuals and allies who say they are allies or Queer but then put their heads down? Because our opponents have their heads up. They have their heads up and they are yelling loudly. They are working very publicly against us.

I know the vulnerability and fear that comes with coming out as a business owner and practitioner. I get it. I do it anyway. Because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the right thing to do to make myself vulnerable in order to help advance my community. Because it makes my business not just women owned and operated, but also lesbian owned and operated.

Any Queer owned business is a step forward for our community. It cements us in the tapestry of towns and cities and people’s lives. Any Queer individual not using their platform to advance our community…I don’t have time for that. Yes it’s scary. Yes it’s dangerous. But silence is more dangerous. With silence comes complacency. With complacency we get #45 and the most homophobic transphobic administration of my lifetime.

So step it up Queers and Queer allies. We need your voices. Your talent. We need you to take a stand. We need those equality stickers in your windows. We need the pride flags out front of your businesses. Take a stand.

Because by keeping your heads down you are complicit.

Houston the Poop Has Landed…Watching my Twins Grow.

As any one who has potty trained knows pooping in the potty is the ultimate goal. The peeing seems to come easy. The pooping is a chore. Well today one of my sons pooped in the potty three times and it was amazing.

He was incredibly proud and though we will still be wiping his butt for many months to come, if we can move toward underwear and away from diapers that will be the start of a new era.

Twins are hard. At least mine are. These monumental occasions are exactly that. Monumental.

I was walking up our stairs recently and I realized we never put the baby gates back up after a furniture delivery a couple weeks earlier. Monumental. No more baby gates in our household. Soon no diapers.

I never truly understood the word bittersweet until I had kids. Every monumental step forward also means we are leaving behind a time and a place with them. They want to put on their own socks now and they are leaving behind toddlerhood looking more and more like little boys.

We are not having more kids for a variety of reasons including but not limited to my ob-gyn telling me I’d be risking my life if I got pregnant again. Not worth it. So while I am relieved to see them growing and learning and becoming I mourn that I did not have those precious baby moments with just one at a time. That while Declan was smiling happy and we could have had a day out together when he was just ten weeks, Jackson was screaming with colic all day.

I feel cheated at times. Logically I know that I am actually blessed but resentful that we were exhausted and didn’t get to enjoy our newborn days like a singleton can. I remember standing in line going on three days no sleep and my c–section scar was still sore, and there I was at BabiesRUs I don’t even remember why. I was surrounded in line by young moms with one baby strapped to their chests. It was literally three or four of them.

I remember wanting to cry because my boys were home, as I could not get them out of the house due to colic and there being two of them. I couldn’t lift the car seats alone still. I wanted to scream. I have twins. F*&$ you all with your one kid at a time life.

I love seeing them grow but I hate feeling like I’m just surviving for much of their infancy and toddler years instead of enjoying every precious moment.

But I don’t like feeling regretful and I don’t regret them. I just at times yearn for a singleton experience while knowing I’ll never know that.

Today I will relish in the small victory of poop in the potty. And the victory of making it to Quincy Market in downtown Boston with my cousins. We don’t dare go to a city unless we are 4:2 adult to children. We all survived and we all got to eat and walk around Quincy Market.

There will be more victories to come and with each step forward we say good-bye to their dependence on us. Parenting and therapy. It’s the only two jobs where we want our clients to leave us. How incredibly painful to let them go.

Declan put on his socks and shoes and zipped up his sweatshirt. I almost cried. I asked Jackson to put on his socks, and he staunchly shook his head and said, “Mama do.” Now, he can do it. Probably faster than Declan. But that little man is 1- resistant to change of any kind 2- incredibly empathic. I think he knew I was having trouble watching them grow up in that moment so he ordered me to still put his socks on.

I mean. It helped. I stopped tearing up and as he swung his feet around avoiding the socks I started muttering under my breath about when will he learn to put his own damn socks on. Parenting is a conundrum. All these feelings all the time. When I see parents who are struggling emotionally I always say, How could you expect to not lose your mind at some point in this journey?

I relish in the moment of bedtime when Jackson rubs my cheeks with his hands and sniffs my arms and gives me butterfly kisses and tells me all his secrets. Declan asks me to snuggle him and I always do. I hang onto these moments; knowing that soon we will leave these days behind…as we should.

Disney and Three Year Old Boys

We were watching Snow White with the boys. They insisted after seeing a Princess Book of mine and seeing a princess they hadn’t seen on the tv before. They wouldn’t leave me alone about it. I had a lot of feelings about Snow White.

She’s fourteen! That’s disturbing to me. I didn’t want my sons seeing a fourteen year old dealing with a Prince and marriage. Cue me shaking my head and massaging my temples. Fourteen! But they were insistent. They being Declan. He’s obsessed with the Princesses. We will come back to that later.

Here’s the thing. I treat a lot of fourteen year olds. They are just babies. And I know that when we only lived to age forty then fourteen was kind of old. But we live to one hundred now. So fourteen is wicked young. Also Snow White is white. Really white. I try and get them to watch Tiana and Mulan and Moana…which they do…because for God’s sake can we get some color in there?! Apparently only white women were pretty and marrying princes in the past.

Anyway, I let them watch it. The Queen is freaky. I forgot how freaky. And Snow White was young. Freakishly young to me. Twenty years younger than myself actually.

So I’m thinking we are ruining the boys and then at the end when they get married, Declan says, “I Sleeping Beauty. I marry a prince.” I said, “You’re the prince and you are going to marry Sleeping Beauty?” sorta puzzled. He adamantly shook his head, and laid back into the couch as he calmly said, “I Sleeping Beauty Mama. I marry the Prince.”

First off Dec, we were watching Snow White. He apparently thinks Sleeping Beauty is better. Second, I got bigger problems than an underage bride. My wife and I looked at each other, then I pounced on him and tickled his belly and he giggled and laughed, and I said, “Baby, whoever you are and whoever you marry, I love you. I love you no matter what.”

Then we laughed and played. What’s interesting is Jackson knew he was not Sleeping Beauty and in fact just watched the interaction with Declan and I. Which is uncharacteristically quiet of him.

Then I’m thinking, whatever and whoever they are I cannot imaging living without them. The number of Queer individuals I treat who are cut off from their parents because of their Queerness is heartbreaking and as a Mom I will never understand or condone it.

I thought I sorta rocked that moment as a Mom. Because seriously in twin Mama mode we are just trying to survive. Gay/straight/boy/girl/queer doesn’t matter. Let’s just make it to the other side of twin childhood in one piece.

But then I’m googling Disney Princess ages and Jasmine is 15?! WTF?! I thought they were at least eighteen. Wow. Disney epic fail!

What is my point? Love and accept your kids. No Matter What.