The Moment Your 3 Year Old Figures Out Mommy’s Family is Missing.

That moment happened. The one we’ve been dreading since I got pregnant. My sons and my wife were watching The Good Dinosaur. A horrible trippy Disney movie that for some reason made it past Disney editors. My sons are obsessed with it.

There’s a part when Arlo, the dinosaur, is explaining to a human critter what and who his family is. My sons learned awhile ago that their family is Mommy, Mama, Declan, and Jackson (and Rajah and Maddy the cats but they fight over who can have Maddy because she’s more friendly to them).

They are watching that scene, and they are holding pictures of my Aunt and Uncle and cousins, and my parents- Poppy and Ba (Gramma), because they tend to walk around with those pictures and chatter about their family.

Declan looks at his pictures, then he looks at my wife and says, “My famwe Mama, Mommy, Chackson, and Decky, Rara, and Maddy.” My wife says, “Yes, good job.” He wasn’t done though. He looked perplexed and held up his pictures and said, “Who your famwe?” That little three year old brain had put it together. All of these extended relatives were Mamas famwe. So where the heck are Mommy’s people?

My wife responded perfectly and said, “You’re my family. You and Jackson, and Mama.” Declan is too smart for his age. He looked at her, and at the pictures, like he knew that couldn’t be right. So he asked again. And again. And again. Because he’s three and he’s my son. I’ve been told I’m like a dog going after a bone. I won’t stop until I get my answer. Apple doesn’t fall far apparently.

So eventually my wife said, “Well I don’t really talk to my family baby.” He responded, “No talk to your famwe?” and she nodded. Then he became engrossed in the movie and seemed to accept this as an answer.

My wife told me as soon as I got home that night. We were both a little surprised and caught off guard. He’s too young for us to explain this. He’s too…innocent. We don’t want him to know that her family cut her off, left her homeless, has never met them because she’s a lesbian. But he’s also too damn smart and nosey. He’s going to know sooner than we would have liked.

His brother likes to live in happy oblivion. HIs brother accepts reality as it is and doesn’t question it. But he will know too, because if Declan’s talking about it Jackson’s going to be listening.

So here we are. Three years and two weeks into their little lives. That’s how long they lasted without knowing or asking.

It feels weird. Kind of a relief. Kind of terrifying. Sad. The way they will be introduced to discrimination is through the grandparents they will never meet. Not how we would have liked it or planned it. But that’s our reality.

It all feels so stupid. Such an easy fix. Yet so impossible at the same time.

There’s no guidebook for this whole parenting thing. There’s also no guidebook for the whole lesbian mom disowned by her parents thing. It’s a lot of stumbling through. Waiting for the questions to be asked and wishing we had different answers when they are.

Cutting Down the Christmas Tree and Twinning. 2018.

We survived without feeling like anyone hated us for being lesbians. So that’s a step up from last year.  We contemplated going outside our town, even though there are five tree farms in our small little town. But I convinced my wife we could just try another tree farm. The guys working there were incredibly friendly and no one cared we were gay. Thank freaking God. Because we had enough to deal with.

My wife said we have two threenagers. I disagree. We have two three year old boys with my gene pool. It was bound to happen. They both are as stubborn as I am, Declan is as empathic as I am, and Jackson is as manipulative. Because yes, I know how to read people and I don’t use my powers for bad in terms of being manipulative, but at age three, who knows, I probably did. They are impatient as every three year old is, but it’s also worse because patience may not be part of my personality at all. Ever.

My Jackson knows how to melt me. Declan knows he just doesn’t milk it quite like his brother.

So there we are at the tree farm. Now I’m picturing finding the perfect tree, having the boys stand and watch in awe as we cut it down. Then enjoying hot cider in the barn afterward. Yeah I don’t know how I thought that vision would be reality. Sometimes I feel incredibly naive as a Mama of twins.

After a long and cold walk my wife and I found the tree. I called the boys over who were crawling on the ground, chasing each other around, and showing off for two little girls who were there with their parents. They come stumbling over, laughing, and I tell them proudly, “Here’s our tree!” They look at it. Declan proceeds to dive into it like he’s diving into home base, then he cracks himself up and stands up and starts trying to climb it. I’m yelling at Declan to stop climbing the tree as the branches start to bend under his weight and Jackson has completely lost interest and has his back turned and is staring at the girls.

We cut it down (by we I mean my wife) and I had to literally drag Jackson back with us as he decided to throw a tantrum. It was cold. We were all hungry. We had a big tree and a big saw that we had to carry back and herd two hangry boys.

What I’m constantly reminding myself with strong willed twin boys is nothing will be how I picture it and/or how I want it and I need to be okay with that.

At Thanksgiving they barely sat for five minutes at the table and the one group picture I’m literally holding Declan down to the chair. Getting the tree we are not going to have a family moment where we sing Oh Christmas Tree as we cut it down. It’s going to be a mess. It’s going to be running after them, herding them like cats, some one crying, some one hitting, some one climbing, and then just when I think I’m ready to toss them across the freaking tree farm Jackson will come up to me, pull me down to eye level, hold my face in both his hands and say, “Mama, I wanna donut.” Then kiss me and wait for me to say “Of course baby.”

So many people I talk to daily have ideas of how life and moments “should be” and what I’m finding is if I focus on the should’s, it makes me upset at the here and now, and I’m missing it. I’m missing the crazy. Because that’s what it is having twin boys. A whole lot of crazy intermingled with those moment of hands cradling my face asking for donuts.

It’s exhausting. I feel tired all the time since I’ve had them. And I’m sick of people saying innocent things like, “Oh you are getting your tree this weekend? That will be fun with the boys!” or “Christmas will be so fun this year!” or “The boys must have loved Thanksgiving.” I just smile and nod. But in my head I hear this evil maniacal laugh and I’m thinking ‘You want fun? You think it will be fun? Fuck you.’ Because it’s fun but it’s also work. It’s an incredible amount of energy. All the time. And sometimes all that work and energy only gets us a temper tantrum. Which literally makes me want to cry.

There are moments as a Mom when I want to just fall to my knees and say, “You win,” to them. I want to crawl under my covers and go to sleep for a week.

But we trudge onward. Because that’s apparently what parents do.

We get the tree. We put it up. (Well first we hose it down and my wife and I were snippy with each other after the exhausting tree farm experience, so I’m spraying it and it starts to slide down the house and I’m saying ‘grab it, grab it,’ and she’s yelling at me, ‘stop spraying the water!’ which I don’t. So it falls. Then we are yelling at each other as she’s picking it up, and I’m still trying to spray it, the boys are running around with their doughnuts, and then we are cracking up because we realize we are ridiculous)

We appreciate the absolute shit-show it is hanging up the ornaments. I laugh as I pick an ornament off the bottom of the tree, the branch bent to the floor, by not one but a chain of three ornaments one of them made and hung. I made little pizzas thinking they would love them. They of course did not touch them and wanted a year old candy cane they found in the ornament bin.

As I lamented the individual pizzas I came across an ornament that listed all of our names, and I called them over and I said “Look babies, look, it says Declan, Jackson, Mama, and Mommy, it’s all of us.” And they did actually look, and Jackson snatched it out of my hand, and walked around carrying it for the next hour and he and Declan would intermittently hold it up and say, “My famwee” “My famwee” (family). And it was that moment. That moment where I stopped caring that they didn’t stand nicely in front of our tree at the farm, that I had to drag them across the freaking farm screaming while holding a saw, and that they didn’t eat the pizza and I was just content. Content to have my famwee with all its imperfections.

 

“Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History” F*&$ That.

I’m starting to hate that quote. Why is there no quote that well behaved men rarely make history? Because questioning the norms, speaking out, and creating change are all admired in men, but put down in women.

A woman I know who became active and vocal in local politics received a threatening letter, not signed, and her mailbox was destroyed. Social media response ranged from outrage to “Well she was a rabble rouser, what do you expect?” What the fuck?

This letter threatened her two children under the age of five. And by rabble rouser we mean- questioned the first selectman’s process in spending the town’s money all within the guidelines of the town charter and laws. She never actually “misbehaved,” she demanded accountability and dared to question the white men who got their knickers in a twist when she demanded transparency (as is her right according to her town’s charter and laws).

Someone wrote the above quote on her facebook page. And it pissed me off. Because she is behaving. She’s not misbehaving by exercising her right to free speech and demanding transparency in local politics. Which by the way all started because of a local project to re-vamp a playground. A playground people. If we can’t be transparent about a playground we have some serious freaking problems.

I never thought I was a feminist. Because that word has a strong ring to it. A rather violent burning bras type of ring. But apparently even women who just exercise the same rights men do fall under the feminist umbrella. This horrible situation in a small red town in a “blue state” demonstrates the vast chasm within our country. Our problems don’t start at the White House. They end there. They start in our own homes. In our neighbors homes. In our town halls. In the sexism and fear of the unknown that permeates conservative culture.

Many people have stated, the Republicans need to return to the party of Abraham Lincoln, who was one of the first Republicans elected to office. At the time the Republican party stood against slavery. Amazing. Susan B. Anthony was a Republican. She obviously was “misbehaved” and did so in the name of the Republican party. Lincoln states,

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”
Speech to the Illinois Republican Convention, 1858

Instead we as a country have become further divided than I ever thought possible. Polarized. But Lincoln’s right. A house divided will not stand.

But as long as we have people who think that women who protest, who speak, who exist in a manner that is pleasing to themselves; are “misbehaving” then we will continue to be divided.

What is the solution? Stop being douchebags. I mean, for starters, seriously just stop. If a woman speaks out maybe don’t send a letter threatening her family. When a young woman is elected to congress maybe don’t focus on her shoes or her clothes but her brain and her actions. Don’t categorize women engaging in politics and exercising their rights as “rabble rousers” and “misbehaving”. Respond to them as you would respond to a man bringing up the same issues (without the “Who’s dick is bigger” contest).

I’m irritated. Irritated that young girls have to be told they are “misbehaving” in order to speak out, to question, to create change. That we have to be labeled feminists in order to seek equal rights with men. That we have to essentially wear a strap-on to get any respect.

I’m angry that we have allowed this concept to perpetuate generations of young girls. Instead of just stating that Women who make history challenge the norms, push the envelope, and demand the world be a better place.

That women who make history like: Susan B. Anthony, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart, Elizabeth I, Jane Austen, Maya Angelou, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Blackwell (First female physician), Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai (If you don’t know her look her up and watch her on the Letterman special on Netflix. She is quite frankly amazing.), Ruth Ginsburg, Oprah, Hilary R Clinton, and Michelle Obama…etc…that these women were not misbehaving.

They were existing. They fought for their right to exist, to learn, to teach, to write, to love, to speak. They fought for their right to speak. We should NOT view them as “bad girls” because they are some of the greatest women of all time. They were great. Awe inspiring and to demean their accomplishments and existence and survival by putting them on a naughty list is wrong.

Women make history. Not well behaved or misbehaved women. Just women. Great, intelligent, brave, bold women exist now as they have throughout history.

To say it any other way is wrong.

Life With a Nurse

I have the good fortune of having met my wife while working in the emergency department. She was an EMT/tech and I was an RN. She’s been exposed to healthcare. So she gets it on some level when I’ve had a bad day. She’s also been there when kids have died. So she got it when I worked in the ED too.

There are a few core differences to being married to someone in healthcare than to someone who works in an office with no needles or blood.

Let’s start with bad days. When my wife has a bad day…I mean now she works in management in retail. Stressful for sure. But no one walks in bloody and dying. My bad days have evolved from trauma in the emergency department, to insanity on an inpatient psychiatric unit, to a different sort of bad in outpatient psychiatry. I hear horrible stories of abuse, rape, murder, and often it’s not random. The abuse is by a parent. The sexual abuse or predator is a relative. They are horrific, soul-deep stories.

Over time I’ve grown a thick skin. And doing medication management for some people means I won’t hear the actual detailed story. But for my clients I do therapy with. Yeah I’ll hear it.

I also, even in the prescriber role, end up being the first person some one has told something. Often a kid. Often sexual abuse or physical abuse. They could have been in therapy for awhile, and for some reason, it’s just happened a lot, they tell me in our intake. I don’t know why. But it happens. Then I have to tell the parents. Then I often have to tell DCF. Then it totally backlogs my packed day.

So yeah. Bad days in my eleven year career have evolved from death and dying and abuse to abuse but in a different presentation. I’m not collecting the rape kit now I’m helping with the emotional healing after the rape.

It’s heavy stuff. Some times it gets to me. My wife knows. She doesn’t ask anymore because I don’t tell her. Obviously. I can’t. But she knows. She knows because I scoop up my sons and hold them and she sees the tears prick at the corners of my eyes. She sees me on my laptop until late into the night catching up on notes and billing. She knows I’ll put on something hilarious on the tv, or something that will make me cry so I have an excuse to let it out. I’ll pick up more hot yoga classes. I’ll make an effort to connect with a friend for a drink.

The bad days are bad when you are married to some one in healthcare and the recovery can be emotionally taxing on every one if you do not practice self care.

A couple other things: I have a high tolerance for bringing my kids to the doctor and I do a lot of self treatments at home. Which my wife thinks I’m totally nuts to do. e.g. An ingrown toenail. I’m opening that baby up, getting the pus out, and treating that at home. Rashes- unless it’s something I know is bad, we stay home and slap on some aquaphor. Head and mouth injuries- the boys have had a few- with lots of blood. Unless something is dislodged (like a tooth) or a bone is broken, we aren’t going. And the one time I went to an urgent care clinic for asthma that I tried treating at home- well I was taken by ambulance to the ED and evaluated by the ICU doc’s in the emergency department because they thought they were going to have to intubate me. I don’t mess around.

She can’t watch medical shows with me. I can’t tolerate them and she can’t tolerate me. Doctors never do blood draws, and nurses are sorely underrepresented, the whole situation generally just pisses me off. And I can usually guess the mystery diagnosis, which irritates my wife. So we don’t watch them.

I am a human lie detector. I don’t know if that’s a nurse thing, or specifically an emergency department/psychiatric nurse thing. Because all the ED nurses I know are scary and also are human lie detectors. So it’s definitely a thing. It means my clients can’t get away with a damn thing. Neither can my kids or my wife;)

I have interactions with law enforcement and attorneys regularly regarding clients. I’ve had high profile clients and cases and through it all at the end of my day I have to shut it off and go home and make dinner and pretend I’m normal, and that the case on the 5:00 news is complete news to me, not a case I’ve spent all day dealing with. After a day full of what feels indescribable and insurmountable acting “normal” just seems impossible.

Life with a nurse is interspersed with bad days, but it makes the good days that much sweeter. Because I walk with the worst regularly I relish the best. I give so much of myself to my clients that sometimes it’s hard to have anything left for my family.

But the days I have with them means I am present. I am there and I bask in the fun because I know all too well how quickly life can change. There is a darkness hanging over nurses, an edge, because we truly know that life is precious and we’ve seen people waste it, abuse it, lose it, and we don’t take our own for granted. I’ve seen people’s brains and insides. I’ve taken care of people who are murderers, rapists, and I’ve taken care of the victims. Those are things that can’t be unseen or unheard or forgotten. We’ve seen the worst of humanity in every possible way.

In Adrian Monk’s words, “It’s a gift, and a curse.” And it truly is. Nursing makes me smarter, tougher, kinder, more open and more educated. But it also makes me more cynical and more suspicious. Nursing brings out the best and the worst in me, and always pushes me to be better. I can’t speak for my wife, but I can hazard a guess. Life with a nurse is never boring, always a little unpredictable, and lots of fun- because for real, we are pretty fun.

 

 

 

When My Dad Threw Bunkles at My Head.

When I was maybe six or seven we went and stayed at a hotel in Sturbridge Village. It ended up being an absolutely horrific trip for a multitude of reasons. But my most vivid memory from that trip was Saturday night. Looking back I realize it had been a disaster of a day.

But at the time I was in my happy little kid land that everything was fine because my parents did a pretty good job at covering up how bad my Mom’s tooth situation was and how stressed my Dad was because she had spent the day in the emergency department dealing with severe tooth pain and he had spent the day with us. Also, the hotel was hosting a dog show. They had neglected to tell us this ahead of time. So it smelled like dog. Everywhere. So we are all in the room, it’s probably around 9:00 pm and we are about to go to sleep and I can’t find my bunny. His name was Bunkles. 

I looked and looked, and could not find him. I told my parents. Neither of whom wanted to deal with this problem. They also didn’t believe he actually wasn’t in the room. But I cried. So they looked. Couldn’t find him. My dad wanted to wait until morning and go and ask the hotel staff. I cried more. My mom mumbled something through a swollen mouth and my Dad eventually stormed out of the room. 

To this day I don’t know what happened. But he came back into the room about an hour later and chucked Bunkles at my head. Apparently the bunny got tangled in the sheets and was taken by housekeeping with the sheets. The hotel staff had tracked it down; I’m sure with my Dad being super irritable with them in the process. 

I remember being highly insulted at my Dad for throwing Bunkles at my head. I wisely kept quiet though and just turned my light off and went to sleep. It’s a night that’s always stuck with me. Because I remember feeling it was unfair that my Dad was angry at me for something out of my control. I didn’t know they actually took the sheets off the bed at the hotel every day. I mean I actually didn’t know that. We didn’t go to hotels much, and we certainly didn’t have our sheets changed at home daily. My Dad was pissed because he was tired and wanted to go to bed not track down a damn stuffed animal in hotel laundry. 

Now that I’m a parent with two three year olds though, I get it. Because I’ve wanted to chuck stuff at their heads a lot. 

And looking back through adult eyes- the dogs, the tooth, being out of state, dealing with two kids all day, just wanting to go to bed, and having to go track down a white bunny that got lost in a sea of white sheets. Yeah I’d be pissed too. 

Kids have this innate ability to drive us to the edge. Since the time change my sons have been absolutely horrific at night for bedtime. To the degree that we actually had to stop reading books at night because reading nighttime books was adding to the nightly horror. So now I feel like a horrible mom because we don’t read to them at night anymore. 

I also feel horrible because I feel like we should be able to contain them at night. We should be able to wind them down and calmly get them into bed with hugs and kisses and smiles and I love you’s. Instead it’s more like crying, screaming, craziness. Sometimes I’ve been to the point of tears, and they are always to the point of tears. In the midst of this we are trying to potty train them. So occasionally while they are screaming and we are holding them down into their beds they suddenly have to pee pee on the potty and we all get a timeout. But it just delays the inevitable. 

I’m pretty sure I have actually thrown stuff at nighttime in the last few weeks. Because it’s been so freaking miserable. But usually I leave the room, walk to my room, and throw something and yell and punch a pillow. Then my wife goes in. 

Something I always thought was rude was people telling me “Three will be worse than two.” Because two wasn’t so bad for us. It was hard, like every age with twins is, but not horrible. But if the first few weeks of three and bedtime are any indication, I mean those people were not wrong. But did they really need to say that? I will never say it to another parent.

Because to just make that blanket statement is horrible. We are in survival mode and to think it could get worse? That blows.

To the all the three year old mom’s out there. You got this. And if you have to throw something, throw a stuffed animal. They are soft and they bounce. And throw it out the door, not at the kid. Because they will remember if you throw it at their head. And likely write a blog about it in about twenty-five years. 

It’s taken me awhile to write this because it’s not fun. It’s not fun talking about the painful routine that has become life for us in the past few weeks. My wife and I are exhausted and we literally dread nighttime. It’s been bad. A bad few weeks. But for tonight, they went down with minimal fuss, probably because they didn’t nap, so yeah that was awesome. And I’m signing off and going to bed because like I said, we are beat. 

 

Three Year Old Twin Birthday Party. (Queer as F%&*)

Growing up I always thought of my sister as the gay one. Because, well she was, and is, super gay. But apparently I am too.

I know that shouldn’t come as a shock to me because I’m married to a woman, but I never labeled myself as gay. More as a woman who fell in love with a woman, and should we ever break up likely would never fall in love with a woman again. I don’t fit into a box. But then again maybe I do.

My kids turned three. That was a lot for me to ponder emotionally. So I decided to have a big party. And to my surprise every one I invited came. Which meant my house was full of 30-40 people with lots of kids. We hadn’t had parties since we had the boys.

Something people don’t talk about who have twins or multiples is the incredible isolation that occurs when you have more than one newborn. It seems ironic because we doubled our family size but the truth is, twins are a lot. We were exhausted. We had nothing in common with singleton mom’s and in fact wanted to strangle any singleton parent who made ANY comment about having a new baby because for real. Twins are harder. Fact.

The breastfeeding also caused isolation. The boys needed to breastfeed in order to keep up my milk supply. So I couldn’t pump and bottle-feed for the first 18 weeks. It was all my boobs. I couldn’t leave the house. It sucked.

But then time goes by and slowly I began to feel human again. Breastfeeding stopped. Sleep improved (Jackson still got up 5 times last night because his damn blanket fell off but it’s still better). Little by little we are progressing to fully functional adults again.

So we threw this party. I have to get mushy about it. Not usually my style. But there’s some mushiness to be had.

I was introducing people to my mom and I realized literally we have some of the strongest, kindest, most fun people in our lives. The nurse who took my wife in when she was homeless was there, with her partner and her kids. We’ve maintained that relationship for eleven years. And it all started because she literally opened her home to my wife at a time when she barely knew her. A therapist I’ve known for seven years was there with her partner, who my son is obsessed with, and we’ve gone two different roads professionally to end up in very similar situations with very similar clients, and if you had asked me seven years ago if she would still be in life today I don’t know, I might not have pegged it.

A few psychiatric APRN’s I became friends with over time, who mentored me and who I’ve mentored were there. And four of us who all graduated high school together. Again, never would have thought the four of us would be in touch fifteen years later. But there we were watching our kids now playing together.

My bestie was up from Florida, she brought wine, no toys, and I’m like yes she gets it. She knows this is for us not them. Her niece asked her why she was coming to our house instead of celebrating her Dad’s birthday that night. My friend wisely said, “Some day you’ll understand,” instead of bashing her dad for being homophobic, which he is. My friend was explaining to her niece as vaguely as she could that Queer folks have to pick our families sometimes. That my wife had to pick hers, as the one she was given disowned her.

That my family was there, as they always are for us, but that my friends have also been my family. That I need some nurse friends to talk nurse stuff with. I need some high school people because they are the only ones in the world who will totally get me because they know my history. They saw me in my teenage and pre-teenage glory. And most importantly they saw me straight. They knew me as a woman who dated men at one time. And that history is part of my narrative, and only they truly get it.

I also have to say that my friends are freaking fun. There is no one awkwardly standing in the corner quietly. There is loud, there is singing, hugging, swearing, and laughter, lots of laughter.

In this world full of so much negative I have learned how much more important it is to surround oneself with the positive. These are the people who texted my wife and I after we posted the blog about the farmer taking back the firewood from her, and they wanted an address and spray paint and who knows what else. (We didn’t give out the address). It adds a layer of protection and comfort to know that we walk out into the world and face discrimination and hate we have this protective layer of people willing to come forward and stand with us.

It’s so important to find your people. My people are apparently loud, Queer, fun, nurses, lesbians, kinky, bold, and smart. So my sister’s not the only gay one in the family anymore.

Apparently I’m a whole lot of Queer if there is anything evidenced by the people I surround myself with. I feel blessed my sons will grow up surrounded by my crazy Queer friends. Because they are good people. No one better to be a part of their lives.

 

 

Mom Shame and Twin Talk

A few months ago the owner of our daycare approached us and mentioned she felt the boys are behind in language compared with the other two year old’s in their class.

Couple preface statements- We LOVE the daycare. We adore the owner. It’s a wonderful daycare where my two white boys are the minority among kids and teachers which is just amazing. The owner has been in this business for many years and knows her stuff.

Regardless of our warm and fuzzies toward the daycare and the owner it’s like this vicious claw in your gut when some one tells you something’s wrong with your kids. My wife was all type of offended and then she came home and told me and I was instantly on the defense and we both agreed that there is nothing wrong with our kids. That they are perfectly wonderful toddlers.

But it set something in my head. I couldn’t get it out. Still can’t. And to tell the truth, I knew she was right. Why when I’m in healthcare, worked in pediatrics, and am fully aware of child development was I burying my head in the sand?

It’s befuddled me for a few months. But I think I can put a name to it. I felt shame as a parent that something could be wrong or delayed with my kids. I felt like I’m not a good enough Mom because they haven’t developed language at pace with their peers.

There is so much shame put on parents for so much that is out of our control.

Then when we need shaming for not setting limits and not fixing things within our control people are too scared to confront it. I mean I’m not. Obviously. I confront it within myself and within my clients. I said to a client just today, “Look, I’m honest. I disagree with you. I have clinical expertise in this area. We are not going to agree. And that’s okay. But I’m not going to sugarcoat your diagnosis or your prognosis because that would be doing you a major disservice.”

Then I was thinking, yeah, so the daycare owner wasn’t sugarcoating and she wasn’t doing it to shame us as parents. She was doing it as a service for our kids so we can get support if needed to help them develop language.

So here’s the thing about twin boys. Boys develop language slower in general. Then add in they were a month early. Add in the twin thing. And I’m not surprised they are behind. I can tell you they understand EVERYTHING. It’s scary. Jackson is completely Amotivated to speak English because Declan understands everything he mumbles off. So if I don’t get what Jackson is saying, Declan translates. Declan is more developed than Jackson in language because he’s more alpha, and literally they talk to each other and understand everything each other says. Then really they only need to communicate with us and their daycare teacher and we’ve all adapted to their twin language.

The twin talk is totally bizarre. It’s not something I can even describe and I didn’t realize how weird it is until I started to really take notice and listen to them and watch them. They have their own language. It is not English. They have full dialogues about God knows what. Then Declan translates to us for Jackson when needed.

So we’ve started engaging Jackson more, not letting Declan translate. I’ve started making him parrot me whenever I say something to him. It’s helping slowly.

They turn 3 next Monday. I can tell you that it’s been a wild freaking ride. That the whole parenting situation pushes and pulls at me in ways I never quite imagine or expect. I still remember looking at these two little bundles on the futon between my legs when they were four days old thinking, “Holy crap there are two of them,” never comprehending then how life would be today.

I’ve learned about Mom-shaming in the worst ways. I’ve learned about the defensiveness we feel as parents and the ugly side to it as well as the beautiful intense love that only a mom can feel for her son.

When a kid in their class recently asked why there were talking “baby-talk” I had to restrain myself from slapping him. I didn’t respond. But I wanted to say it’s not baby-talk it’s twin talk. And they are speaking it because they’ve been together since conception and they want to talk to each other and I’m going to let them.

It’s this hard balance we have to strike of being parents who allow our kids to develop in their own time at their own pace while also not wanting them to fall too far behind their peers. At the end of the day I decided I wasn’t going to worry about it until they turn three. Which is Monday. Then I decided I’m not going to worry about it until we see their pediatrician in a few weeks.

Then I was thinking how parents come in to see me very defensive sometimes and I think I get it now. It’s hard to hear that there is something wrong with your kid. To be told your child is depressed or anxious or suicidal can make a parent feel shame and fear and defensive.

But if our society was more friendly, more supportive, and more engaging with one another I don’t know that it would feel like an attack. Or perhaps we are trained to take it as an attack on us. I don’t know.

I do know that Jackson figured out where we hid the Halloween candy, I told him it was time to go, he disappeared and came back with both bags and said, “Time to go Mama.” And I thought, that kid just somehow managed to monkey his way to the very back of our counter where he can’t reach from the floor, get the bags with the candy that I hid, and try and bring them to daycare. I’m thinking his brain is working just fine and his language will catch up.

 

BDSM 101.

There’s no BDSM textbook. Well sorta. I mean I’ve looked on Amazon. Here’s stuff I’ve gone over with clients when they are first exploring this world.

The definition is Bondage, Domination, Submission/Sadist, Masochist.

Let’s break it down.

Bondage- Being tied up/restrained. There are actually people who specialize in rope and learn very cool ties.

Domination- Part of a D/s (Dominant/submissive) dynamic. I know every one’s thinking it, the D would be Christian Grey in 50 Shades. But for real, 50 Shades leaves a lot of stuff out.

Submissive- The person in the D/s dynamic who submits to a dominant. This can take many forms and variations in a one time play or a long term D/s dynamic. Submission can evolve into slave/master dynamics and/or Daddy/little or Mommy/little dynamics. They are pretty much what they sound like.

Sadist- Some one who derives sexual pleasure from inflicting pain.

Masochist- Someone who derives sexual pleasure from receiving pain.

That’s a lot to process. So just think about it for a minute.

BDSM falls under the broad category of kink. Within the D/s dynamic there are individuals who identify as a switch. These are people who can dominate or submit depending on the partner or situation. Dominant does not mean male. Just as submissive does not mean female. There are many female Domme’s and many male sub’s.

How did I learn about BDSM? Work. I worked with clients in “the lifestyle” as many Kinkster’s call it. I had a client who identified as a “little” which is part of a daddy/little dynamic. I had to learn about it. Fast.

I found fetlife. It’s super pervy- social media for Kinkster’s (There is pornography on that site so don’t go on it if you’re not able to tune it out or if you find that offensive). However fetlife actually houses amazing writers where there are A LOT of blogs about BDSM and I soaked it all up so I sounded like I actually knew what I was talking about with BDSM clients. Because for real, I couldn’t find a textbook. But I have found two authors on fetlife who actually published some works on amazon.

I also spoke with therapists who specialize in sex therapy and who also work this population of individuals.

I unknowingly built a niche. And it’s fun. What I’ve learned about BDSM dynamics is that when done right, there is a tremendous amount of trust, deep connections, a need for recovery from play, some people with strict rules and definitions, others who are more fluid. Kink is a world in and of itself.

When done correctly BDSM is the opposite of abuse. It is not a reason to commit some one (yes that’s happened to a couple of my patients after they told their previous provider they are in a d/s dynamic). And a provider who doesn’t take the time to understand it is really doing their client wrong.

I remember working inpatient and a patient disclosed they were a masochist in a d/s relationship. I remember my old school Attending just crossed his arms and said gruffly, “You use safe words?” the patient said yes. “You consent to everything beforehand?” patient said yes. My attending nodded, and the interview proceeded. Had I known then what I know now my respect and awe at his acceptance and knowledge in that moment would have been much more than it was.

BDSM is ultimately individuals seeking fulfillment sexually and/or romantically in a way that is authentic for them. It should be consenting adults engaging in a pre-arranged situation or scene that has been talked out with safe words to slow it down and/or halt it completely (Often yellow and red are used. Though some people in the community think that’s too easy?! And they use something random like noodleCaboodle or something weird.)

For people who want to explore their sub/dom/switch/little/daddy/sadist/masochist/top/bottom side…don’t just dive in. Do your research. Understand what should happen, what you are entitled to ask and know ahead of time. Research “negotiating a scene” “aftercare” and “hard limits and soft limits”. Know that there are plenty of individuals who prey on newbies whether you identify as a top or bottom dom or sub. But there’s also a thing called “Sub-frenzy” google that too. It’s real. I’ve seen people get taken advantage of in that state and it’s not safe or good.

There are beautiful and lasting BDSM relationships. There are short or long ugly one’s too.

If you are interested in exploring or starting to explore BDSM do so with caution. You don’t want to be tied up, cuffed, blindfolded, gagged, with some one’s hands around your neck, when you realize you have no way to safe word and maybe this was a bad idea.

The biggest blunders I’ve seen are ignoring your gut, because a person is all into diving into BDSM so they ignore warning signs that this person is nuts. And it doesn’t end well. I hear so many bad stories of people first starting out. Part of the issue being they have no one to ask or talk to about any of this. Because of the stigma society carries toward alternative sexual practices. But we are good with “grabbing a woman by the pussy” when she doesn’t consent. I mean really. Sorry. One political jab. No more.

If you are not into BDSM no problem. But if a friend of yours is…don’t shut them down or shut them out. Because they need support. They feel alone. And if you are that person starting a dive down the rabbit hole…research, find people within the community, find mental health professionals who see kinky individuals. Find support. Positive support. Set boundaries. Stick to them. Be safe. And freaking use a safe word and plan for being gagged and tied- plan for a safe signal (some people will hold something in their hand and drop it if they need to stop for some reason. Be creative).

BDSM can be healing for people, a release, comforting. BDSM is not reserved for the LGBT community. There are plenty of heterosexual individuals who practice BDSM. What I’ve learned is there a LOT of kinks and fetishes. It’s not a one size fits all. It can help heal people, but can also leave deep scars when not practiced appropriately. Basically proceed with caution, know what your getting into, and have fun!

“Diversity is strength. Difference is a teacher. Fear difference and you learn nothing.” Hannah Gadsby

How I’ve come to embrace being called a B*&%$.

To start with not many people have called me a bitch to my face. I’m sure many more have said it behind my back. I used to find it quite irksome. Yes it would irk me (Did anyone get that Two and a Half Men reference?! Love that show).

Then I grew a second layer of skin and got over it.

In case you weren’t aware sexism is alive and well even in the liberal Northeast.

I recently had a client’s husband call me to discuss my “method of billing” a.k.a asking for money owed to me for services already rendered via an electronic invoice. Seemed pretty harmless to me when I sent it to them. He took this tone though, the “Settle back little girl while I explain to you how the real world works with us big men folk doing all the heavy lifting and don’t worry your pretty little head about stuff like billing and money, and by the way how about you put your boss on the phone because I’m sure he and I will compare penis sizes and talk about the futility of females doing math…” I mean he didn’t say that, but that was the gist. I smiled and in my sweetest voice possible I said,

“Sir, I very much appreciate your call, but I find it completely unnecessary unless you have a credit card number you’d like to give me over the phone instead of just inputting it into the invoice I sent you. Was the invoice too complicated for you to figure out? I know some people just are not tech savvy and that’s okay. You mentioned my boss; I don’t have a boss, I actually own this practice, and from where I’m sitting this situation makes perfect sense to me. You owe me money. Please pay me.”

There was silence for a moment on the other end. Then he gave me his credit card number.

These occurrences happen on the regular. I hate to generalize but it’s generally men who come into my office confrontational and attempt to put me on the spot and make me feel intimidated and uncomfortable in my own office.

I’ve sat with more than one man in my office, often the father of a teenage client, who has said “I’m not trying to intimidate you but…”

If I was not a nurse practitioner, perhaps if I was an MD, and perhaps if I was a middle aged white male they would not act this way. But I’m not middle aged or male or an MD.

I have wild curly hair, I wear colorful and sometimes tight clothing, I expect to be looked at in the eye not the chest (though I do have a big chest which I know in our society is called a distraction and should just be hidden…yawn and eyeroll). I do know my shit and thankfully I can say I graduated from an Ivy league school when these lovely gentlemen demand to know where I went to school.

There’s more to me than that moment though of being put on the spot, an entire eleven years of nursing is behind me in those moments and an entire thirty three years of living. 33 is young yes, but I’ve seen a lot.

I’ve held children’s parents as they were told their child is dead. I’ve put IV’s into kids who weren’t breathing and who were on the cusp of life and death. I’ve seen my fair share of death, dying, abuse, neglect, and quite possibly the worst of humanity. So some jerk coming into my office pontificating and waving his phone at me with WebMD pulled up showing me why I’m wrong and he’s right…well yeah I’m going to roll my eyes potentially and then educate you on why WebMD may not know as much as me and feel free to call me a bitch on your way out the door.

I used to be intimidated which was the very goal of several male individuals I’ve encountered in my career. But I’m not now. Because I know what I don’t know. If I don’t know something I have no issue saying it. If I think people need a second opinion I say it. If I think I do know something, I also say it. Take it or leave it. I also have a loyal following of clients who refer their family members to me, their friends, their partners, and that I think is the best compliment I can receive.

I’m not going to shut my mouth because my intelligence makes you uncomfortable. That’s a you not a me issue.

The incredibly painful aspect to this though is the message I received growing up was that an intelligent strong female is a bitch. That there is no place in the world for my boobs when they are attached to a brain and a face and a woman who will point at you in the face and tell you “My face is up here.” (Yes I did that. At the nurse’s station to a resident in front of the entire emergency department staff.) I used to feel shame around my intelligence because it just wasn’t sexy or fun or admired.

That this message has not changed for girls in the past thirty years is freaking depressing. That we elected someone who normalizes sexual assault pisses me off. And no I won’t shut my mouth about it.

I recently watched Nanette (because I literally watch it once a week), a stand up comedy show by Hannah Gadsby. She ended the show by NOT relieving the tension. By making profound and gut wrenching statements and self disclosures and then pointedly saying, I’m leaving you with that tension, it’s yours to hold to feel and figure out. That resonates with me.

I’m leaving people with tension because I’m not going to be quiet about discrimination and sexism. Because what’s most important is that I want to be the role model for some teenage girl who is being told her intelligence is not sexy, that her ideas are too bold, and she should just try and be nicer. Because seriously screw that noise.

Intelligence is hot. There’s a whole kink devoted to it! Sapiosexuals are attracted to intelligence!

My ideas have gotten me a successful business, a beautiful family, and I will continue to think boldly and outside the box because dreaming big is necessary. Be nice? Sure. I can be nice, but I will also call bullshit when I see it. I will play hardball when I need to. And in the words of the great and wonderful Pink: I Won’t Back Down.

Some one online recently told me to not be angry about discrimination. I also think that’s bullshit. Don’t tell a minority to not be angry. It’s rude.

Do I think I should carry that anger all the time and let it define me and let it guide me in interactions with others? No. But when my wife is disowned by her family, when my children have never met their grandparents because of their intolerance, when my wife is told to unpack a carload of firewood because she’s gay, when my transgender teenage clients are told to get out of their homes by their discriminatory parents…yes I’m angry. Yes I have a right to be. Until you’ve walked the walk of a minority don’t presume to think otherwise. That’s called white heterosexual cisgender privilege. Check it.

So what can we do with all this information? Educate our young girls. Don’t stifle them into boxes of pink with bows and niceness. Let them explore all of themselves. Let them be “nasty”. Let them stand for something. Encourage their exploration of their intelligence. Don’t tell them they are pretty when you see them; ask them what book they’ve read recently and tell them they are smart! Don’t define yourself, your daughters, your friends in the narrow confines of “female” in our society.

Let your hair be curly and wild, let your cleavage show, while simultaneously quoting Martin Luther King Jr. and discussing neuroscience. Be brainy, be sexy, and if needed be angry. Because we need to keep feeling angry and not numbed to what’s happening in our country. Don’t be numb. Don’t live in a bubble. Acknowledge the problems.

Be part of the solution.

#VOTE

“But please, please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives. And to all the young girls, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world.” Hillary R. Clinton

 

 

 

 

When a Farmer Told my Wife to Stop Buying Firewood From Him. Because She’s Gay.

We live in a rural area where there are farmer’s who put firewood in bins to purchase on the side of the road. It’s labeled 20$/bin or whatever. My wife went to the same one, right up the road three times. The fourth time, today, the farmer came outside and asked her what she was doing. Clearly she was buying more firewood.

He was upset she swapped one large piece for one smaller piece in another bin. He said he’d seen her there three times before. She hadn’t swapped any pieces before. She said, “Yeah the big piece is too big, we don’t have an axe to break it down further, I’m sorry, I didn’t know, and it was just one piece for one piece…” he cut her off and started unpacking her car. She already had most of the bin loaded.

I asked what she did while he unpacked it. She said she helped him. Piece by piece. Silently. Side by side. Homophobe and homosexual.

He then put some of the wood back into a different bin. Which completely goes against what he had just said. She didn’t argue. She said she could tell he made up his mind before he even came down, and wanted to just get off his property as it felt unsafe.

When you are a minority you get a sense from when some one is just an asshole vs. when you are wrong yourself vs. someone who is homophobic. She said she knew he was homophobic and was looking for a reason to engage with her and cut off her business.

My wife is somewhat naive and very kind. She wouldn’t have misread that. I am very cynical and expect the worse. So I would be one to immediately assume discrimination. She’s not. So if she says it, then it must of been bad.

For her to be in tears when she was telling me. Yeah it was bad.

I don’t know how many more blogs I will have to write about the discrimination that faces my family in a supposedly blue liberal state. I don’t know how long it will take for people to get that this is an issue. It’s not going away. If anything it’s gotten worse since 2016.

It’s a heinous few seconds or minutes when some one lays his cards on the table and then you have to be in their presence. It feels unsafe, scary, and shameful. But I will not own that shame. I’m putting it back on the homophobes. Discrimination and hate is your shame. Own it. Because it was my wife who helped this man unload her car giving him back all his damn wood (yes the irony was not lost on us either) because he didn’t want a lesbian on his property and doing business with him.

These posts are hard to write. I hope they are hard to read. I hope they create change.

To my wife: We are now not supporting a homophobic person’s business. That is a good thing. I wouldn’t of helped him put the wood back which is why you are better than I am.