Month 3 Dad-less

A lot happened this month.

We switched the boys daycare. We made progress painting our fence around our pool…we started in June. It’s kind of a horrible Summer project but needs to be done.

And we passed the three month mark since my Dad died.

I’ve been super irritable. I kept blaming PMS but then I realized it revolved around July 6. The closer we got the more irritable I became. Then it came and now it went. Still irritable but less so. More just sad.

The thing about Dementia is that you sort of grieve the person when they are alive because you lose pieces of them along the way, but the shitty thing is that for me at least, I also walled off some of that grief because he was still alive. I wanted to enjoy as much time as I could and not dwell in the morbid thoughts of him slipping away.

It was hard and I think I’m paying the price now. It’s like I’m double grieving.

I’m grieving the Dad I had in the last two years because it wasn’t the dad I knew for the 32 years prior. I’m grieving the loss of those two years. That my last times with him were with him fighting an illness. I saw him fall, I saw him have a stroke, literally in front of us at my niece’s birthday, and so many other things that signaled decline after decline and it was heart wrenching.

Death sucks regardless and I don’t know which is worse. Losing them suddenly and unexpectedly or watching them slip away into nothingness slowly.

The boys talk about him less. But we were looking at picture books from when they were babies and there were a ton of pictures of Poppy holding them as babies. He was generally okay when they were born; started to really decline when they were about 10-12 months.

There are so many times I think oh Dad would be playing with them with this toy right now, or Dad would want to know about the new daycare, or Dad would be helping us paint the fence. Because that’s the kind of Dad he was.

The other crazy shitty incredible thing is he was a twin. His twin is still alive and well living in Florida. My Dad and his twin and actually their younger brother too, they all looked incredibly similar. I just think/know my Dad would get such a kick out of all the crazy antics my boys get into because he would see himself and his brothers in them.

The last week or two has been rough. I don’t know why all the sudden it’s hitting me hard but it is. Maybe because we are also now in his birthday month. It was always fun because he made a big deal about his birthday being my half birthday. Because it is. Half birthdays are cool. Don’t knock them.

Time is supposed to make it easier but it’s not. It’s making it more painful.

Because I keep seeing all this stuff happen in my life that I can’t share with him. That I will never share with him. That my sons will never share with him. And it sucks. That he won’t ever see them past the age of three just sucks. It’s like the more time without him the more stuff I have to tell him, and the more I have to accept that he’s just not here.

People told me losing my Dad wouldn’t get easier. They were right. It doesn’t.

I also don’t think I ever discussed the Office with him. He would have loved The Office. I don’t know if he even ever watched it! I feel remiss in my daughter duties for never having this discussion with him. We watched a lot of sci-fi and bad 80’s action movies together. Star Wars and Mel Gibson and stuff. We had similar tastes. I’m sure he would have loved The Office. Dwight would have been his favorite.

Update on waxing- I have an at home situation set up. I was literally laying on the ground  in my bathroom with wax on a delicate area of my body thinking, “My friends will be here in thirty minutes. I’m still going to have wax on me because it hurts too freaking much to pull it off and I’m literally going to have to have one of them pull it off.”

I screamed and cried and writhed around on the floor in the bathroom but I got it off. I told my friends. They think I’m nuts. As does my wife. I mean I got it off…

******In the picture I’m wearing one of my Dad’s button downs. I took many of his shirts and ties. I have been wearing the button downs to work and actually getting a lot of compliments on them. But that face is me trying to hold back tears as I take a photo before work knowing I’m wearing my Dad’s shirt and that he won’t be wearing it again.

 

Eating For Endometriosis

If I could eat whatever I wanted I’d have my Dad’s oatmeal pancakes for breakfast (with chocolate chips), chicken cutlet sub or egg salad with lettuce and tomato on whole wheat for lunch, and spaghetti with meatballs for dinner or fettuccine alfredo with broccoli. Then maybe a chocolate chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge and peanut butter.

Now if I actually ate all of that in a day I’d likely feel super shitty in every way the next day. Oh and probably throw in a glass or two of wine. Forgot about the alcohol!

Around the time I had my two surgeries, so roughly ten years ago, I was exploring every possible alternative treatment for endometriosis. I learned it was a chronic illness and actually would never really go away…I needed alternative means to try and take control.

I read a great book, which I still have, by Dian Shepperson Mills, called Endomestriosis: A Key to Healing Through Nutrition. She is British so there were recipes with “aubergines” in them and I didn’t know what the hell that was. She also talked about inflammatory foods which I had never learned about before. I had a degree in nursing at this point…no one ever taught us about inflammatory foods. We learned nutrition based on the food pyramid. Shaking my head now.

She advised cutting out dairy, wheat, meat, and sugar. So basically everything in my diet. And alcohol. Over the next ten years I would try all variations of these dietary changes. I did cut them all out at one point. I remember that month of pain from endo and withdrawal from every food I ever ate.

I’ve perfected gluten free baking. It only took about five years to get that down. I now have a great flour mix that allows me to enjoy baked goods.

I slowly learned that gluten free, dairy free, and mostly meat free (some times chicken), with fish included, and low sugar is the best to keep my symptoms controlled.

It totally sucks at times though to be so restrictive. I’ve had epic meltdowns in restaurants. Well not in, but in the car afterward. We scour the menu before we go anywhere now to make sure there are options for me. When people ask if I have a food allergy I just say Yes, because I am sick of explaining that no I don’t have an anaphylactic reaction but I will be in crippling pain for a few days after eating wheat or gluten or dairy.

This year off birth control and doing hot yoga I still couldn’t lose weight though. I also was having a lot of pain and realized my PCOS was back as I now had several cysts on my left ovary. I was eating too much sugar and meat. I was eating a lot of what the boys were eating which was not good for me.

I met with my OB and she confirmed the cyst diagnosis I already had given myself. She did it by ultrasound; I knew I had cysts based off thirty four years living in this body. She offered me a lot of pharmaceutical and surgical options. I shook my head and asked her to order some lab work and then I left to go back to my roots of nutrition for endometriosis and PCOS.

When I examined my eating habits and my lack of weight loss I realized I was eating healthy-ish but not a true anti-inflammatory diet.

So I prepared my wife. She’s been with me through many cleanses before. She knew what to expect. No alcohol. No sugar. No gluten. No dairy. Lots of kale smoothies and this time I was allowing myself seafood because it has specifically been linked to lower PCOS symptoms.

Off I went. Two eggs over easy in the morning usually over sweet potatoes or veggies from the night before. Or with cooked salmon or homemade sausage (Whole 30 recipe). Lunch- Smoothie. No snacks. Lots of water. In the smoothie- kale, avocado, banana, frozen strawberries or frozen peaches, maybe a tablespoon of peanut butter, and maybe unsweetened cocoa, and definitely unsweetened almond milk. I fill up a 32 oz nalgene bottle with it and that’s my lunch.

Dinner- Generally another smoothie. I always change up the fruit or greens but there’s always an avocado. If I have “real food” I have grilled squash or sweet potatoes and fish like salmon or haddock. Sometimes I throw scallops and frozen veggies into a pot on the stove with olive oil and Old Bay seasoning.

You get the picture. No snacks. Veggies. Fruit. Seafood. Eggs. Lots of water. No alcohol.

The first week sucks ass. The first two days I’m always hungry. The third-fifth day I want to kill some one. The sixth day it becomes more manageable. That’s where I screw myself sometimes. Just when it’s getting easier a weekend pops up and I think, hmmm, I’ll have a drink or a dessert because it’s my cheat day. But cheat days don’t work for this.

Because the super annoying part is I see results. I am losing weight. I also feel better. I hadn’t gotten my period for over a month as often happens with PCOS, five days into my crazy new diet plan I got my period. No pain either. So yeah. It’s infuriating because it works. It’s amazing because it works.

I feel better now that I’m not starving all the time because my stomach adjusted and now I actually crave smoothies and feel full after them. I feel better now that I’m not in nearly as much pain. The cysts are gone. I don’t need an ultrasound to tell me. That constant feeling of pressure and fullness is gone. So yeah. Kale. My new bestie.

It’s nothing I haven’t done before. I keep telling myself I’ve actually been more restrictive in the past. But sometimes I just want to toss the damn blender and eat some chicken nuggets and fries and chocolate cake. I just want my body to not be my enemy. But that’s all self pity.

Endometriosis and PCOS force me to actually treat my body better than I would without a chronic illness. Do I yearn for an egg salad sandwich on real bread? Yes. But I love living without pain more. Does it irritate me that I can’t eat what I want when I want? Yes. But I begrudgingly appreciate the accountability this disease forces me to take over my choices and my nutrition.

Not one doctor of the many I’ve visited has ever told me to read Mills’ book. Yet among Endo people it’s a well known valuable resource.

I practice Western medicine. But I know firsthand it’s limitations.

Here’s to my nutrition and to yours. If you think you can’t…make it past day six and seven…then you can. Promise.

What I’ve learned the most is not all restrictions were right for me. I really had to feel it out and figure out what foods aggravate and what foods heal. That is very individualized. Some people wouldn’t tolerate eggs or seafood. For me they work. Get to know your own body and yes restrict so you can add slowly back in to see what makes the pain worse. It’s a horrible experiment. But worth it.

“Believer” (and why I sobbed through the entire thing).

I watched “Believer” tonight. Bad move. Long week. Lots of Queer clients. Then I watch a documentary about Queer people killing themselves. I mean not technically about them killing themselves, well sort of, mostly. It’s about the lead singer of Imagine Dragons and his journey toward activism for the Mormon church to be accepting of LGBTQ members.

I actually was very aware of the Mormon stance on Queers. Because generally all churches don’t like us. They are one of them. Through the course of my career I have encountered Queer youth who are Mormons whose parents don’t know they are Queer because they know they will be excommunicated and likely disowned if they come out.

I did not know the back story to Imagine Dragon’s lead singer’s activism. It’s intense. He pushes himself in this documentary to limits. And people die. I sobbed. My wife came out of the shower and I was about forty-five minutes into it and literally sobbing. She looked at the screen and saw him singing, and I was like no, no, it’s so much more than him singing. People committed suicide. Kids are dying. You just walked in on a clip of him singing so I look totally crazy right now.

But I couldn’t actually say that because I was crying. I sort of just waved my hands around and tried to talk between sobs.

She didn’t really react because I think she’s used to my twice yearly break-downs after a tough week.

Eventually I explained and pointed out all the people who lost family members so I didn’t seem quite so dysregulated.

This documentary is different because it shows the struggle of an ally. It shows the “it’s not my problem because I’m not gay” attitude and why that is not okay. Why allies need to stand just as loud if not louder for the Queer community.

When I’m feeling like I am burned out because I can’t take the homophobia and discrimination and transphobia stories that I hear, witness, and experience daily at my job, it’s those stories. The story of the ally who stepped up and spoke out that remind me I’m not in this alone.

There are testimonies by people who leave and/or are excommunicated from the Mormon Church due to them being allies or them being Queer and out. One person who was excommunicated due to speaking out says to the lead…You must know that quote, that evil only exists when good men do nothing.

I keep seeing stories about the migrant families flooding my newsfeed. My heart aches for them, but all I can think is LGBTQ people will be next. What if they ever come for my family? LGBTQ people are persecuted all over the world and discriminated against daily in our own country.

It’s like there’s only just so much space in my head and heart for heartache and I’m spending my energies on the Queer community and there’s just no room for anything else.

We recently switched daycares and when we were looking for new ones we had to ask “Have you ever had a two mom family?” and wait with bated breath for their responses. I recently started using a new pool guy, love him, first time I mentioned my wife though I wasn’t sure he’d come back. He did. There recently was a debate in my lesbian mom’s group about donor sperm and half siblings- add it to the list of my worries. We started a farm share. I’ve gone to pick up. My wife has gone to pick it up. Not sure if/when they will put it together that we are married and if/when we will find out if they are homophobic or not. We are about 50/50 for farms in the area.

That is a small list of the last week. The last week of experiences when I worry or fear because I’m married to a woman. I’m a grown, educated, confident, intelligent, working woman. Imagine the fear and vulnerability in a sixteen year old. Ten year old. Twenty year old. They are out there. Our Queer youth.

We need allies. Step up. Speak out. The exact quote is:

“It has been profoundly said, and how true it is, that the only thing necessary for evil to exist is for good men to do nothing,” Edmund Burke

 

 

 

Put it All Down and Choose Your Kid

I pulled out my laptop tonight when I finally sat down because I wanted to get some work done and then write. I thought the boys would be at the kitchen table eating. There was a movie playing. I relished this moment of sitting by myself opening my laptop to do what I wanted to do when I noticed a presence on the ottoman.

Jackson was leaning into my legs and trying to make space for himself. The last thing I wanted was to give my space and time up. But I folded my laptop shut and asked, “Do you want to sit with me baby?” And as soon as the laptop was off my lap a little blonde boy had taken its place.

He snuggled into my chest and sat/sprawled on me for the next forty-five minutes until it was time for bed.

He chatted with me the whole time. He laid his head on my chest and let me run my fingers over and over through his hair.

Had I ignored the little presence at my feet and stuck my head in my work I would have missed that.

I hear every day at my job from kids whose parents work all the time or who are on their screens all the time. Kids notice. They remember. I’ve had twenty year olds tell me they had no quality time with their parents and that’s the reason they don’t go home for Summer breaks now because what’s the point?

I had already spent the entire morning and afternoon with my sons. And the whole weekend. I was feeling spent. I had escaped for four hours of work today only and still had more to do for my practice.

But there will always be work to do. There will always be one more reason to check my phone, my e-mail, my messages. But there won’t always be a little boy nudging my legs to make room for him because he desperately wants to spend the next forty-five minutes on my lap.

We went to Pride this weekend in the small city near our town. There was a transgender teenager standing next to us for drag queen story time, she was standing with her mom. The drag queen read the book “Red” about a crayon that identified as red but was in a blue wrapper. The teenager standing next to us started crying and said, “I’m crying because of a stupid crayon,” and their mom hugged them and we all knew it wasn’t about the crayon.

I want to be that Mom. I want to be the one that can be there hugging my child during times of fear and adversity. I can’t do that if I’m choosing my phone or my laptop or my work over them. I can only do that if I put it all down and choose my son.

Choose your kid. You will never regret it.

Pride Month and the Rainbow Flag. F*&$-ing #45.

I feel I’ve been inundated with articles about the protests and scares at Pride events. The assaults on lesbians and gays and transgender individuals are mounting. The President tweeted something ridiculous and hollow for Pride month yet his administration won’t fly a rainbow flag. So I wonder why our citizens who are homophobic feel empowered? It’s not rocket science.

I actually know gay and lesbian individuals who voted for #45 and it boggles my mind. I’ve written many blog posts about this homophobic administration. I’ve written many blog posts about being discriminated against in my personal life.

Never have I questioned attending a Pride event in the past. Never did I feel my safety would be at risk until this administration.

It’s a constant grind to be among a minority. There are emotions and energy invested in it that I’m not even aware of sometimes.

Let me explain why the administration of shitheads refusing to hang the rainbow flag is a big deal.

I went to hot yoga tonight and I was driving home and the little city my yoga studio is in is having it’s first Pride event this weekend. There were rainbow flags lining Main Street. Then I got to the end of Main St and I turn right, and at the stoplight directly in front of me is a church I’ve driven past hundreds of times. On their wall they had two huge rainbow flags, one just a flag, one with a saying of acceptance and love.

I smiled all the way down Main Street and the car behind me honked when I creeped by the church trying to read the sign and smiling like an idiot.

Because the rainbow flag is a signal. It’s a signal that I’m safe. It’s like a Christian seeing a church as sanctuary. I see the rainbow flag and I know I’m in a safe space. I know my family is accepted and loved and I can be myself and if any one tries to mess with us I know there are people here who will have our back.

It’s so much more than just a flag. It’s a beacon of light in the dark. I see a rainbow flag and I’m at ease. So to have the administration refuse to fly them sends me the signal that they do not have my back. They are not a safe space for myself or my family. If they are not with us they are against us and that immediately causes me to have my guard up at all times with anyone who voted for this very homophobic administration.

To anyone who is not a minority you will not get this. You will not understand walking around with a pit in your stomach because you know you’re in a conservative area and you fear for your safety merely because you are walking with your spouse.

You will never know what it’s like in that moment to see a rainbow flag however big or small and feel a wave of relief because you found an ally.

To walk in the shoes of a minority is to walk with fear. Always.

To truly be an ally is to take away that fear even if just for a moment.

To all of the Queer community I see you. You are beautiful. Rock it for Pride month.

 

Twin Three Year Olds, Two Moms, and One Dentist

My wife had to work. So it was up to me to manhandle the boys at their cleanings by myself. It started out okay. Declan was very compliant laying on top of me and while nervous at times with all the poking and prodding he basically did a good job. Jackson sat calmly, occasionally saying “I not get my teeth cleaned Mama!” clearly disgruntled about having to go next.

He clung to a stuffed dinosaur and oversized toothbrush and would clean the dinosaur at times.

Then we switched. Declan cannot handle the freedom of an open room with shiny appliances and Jackson cannot handle anxiety.

I turned on my phone and played Netflix for him. Declan cried that I hadn’t played it for him and in his attempt to watch stood on the chair behind me. I did not see this otherwise I would have told him to get down.

Well he got down on his own. Loudly crashing to the floor and our dental hygienist was not amused. Neither was I. Nor Declan. He’s sobbing. I still have Jackson on top of me calmly waiting for the cleaning to finish. Finally calm while Declan’s screaming.

Declan was then instructed to sit and not move from the chair. He didn’t technically. But his feet were swinging as he tried to get the wires. I mean just picture the worst mess you possibly can imagine in a dental hygienists space. That’s what was happening in that moment. I was trapped under Jackson and our perky dental hygienist was trying her best to stay perky.

When the dentist came to check them she mentioned something about Declan’s teeth. When she walked away I wanted to clarify, and the hygienist asked me, not terribly nicely, “Um who are you?”

Excuse me? “I’m their Mom…” I said puzzled. I mean what other human being on the planet would subject themselves to a dentist visit with twin toddlers? I’d have to be related to them.

“Well they keep talking about telling Mommy, so I’m just confused,” she said.

“There are two Moms,” I replied. At this point I was perhaps glaring at her, because I was annoyed at this entire line of questioning. And our two normal hygienists know me and know my wife and know the boys. So I know that it wasn’t her fault that she didn’t know we were a two mom family.

But once I said that, “There are two Moms,” there was an awkward silence and she didn’t apologize. She did the lip pursing thing that I am familiar with. It’s the “Oh shit it’s one of them,” looks.

I suddenly wanted to be out of that chair. Fast.

Some people reading this will immediately think I’m overreacting. You’ll think, well maybe she just didn’t know how to react.

I’m not. And she didn’t know how to react true. But she didn’t react the way accepting non-homophobic people react. There would normally be an awkward laugh, and then, “Oh okay I’m so sorry, they just kept talking about their other Mommy, so I was confused,” or something similar. It’s happened before. Several times.

It’s also happened this way. Where some one makes it known. With an upturn of their eyes and a downturn of their mouth and no smiling or awkwardness. Just understanding of what I am and not liking it.

It seems fitting that during Pride month the dentist office I’ve gone to for the last nine years and never felt a smidge of homophobia should suddenly become a place that may not be okay for us.

This is one of those things that lesbian moms deal with. Do we just not go back at all? The boys really liked her, do I swallow it down and bring them back to her because they really liked her and she had a nice way with them? Do I call and say something? Do I let it slide because it’s once every six months we go there? It wasn’t overt so what would I even say if I called…”She made a face and didn’t smile about me having a wife”?

That last paragraph is the crux of what makes being a lesbian mom different. It’s why I feel best in my facebook group Lesbian Moms. It’s why I feel safest in a room full of gay.

It’s the decisions we have to make and the questions we have to answer that heterosexual people don’t have any clue about. It’s why we get a month. Not just a day. Because what terrifies me the most is the thought of the boys older, wiser, and aware of the lip pursing look. The look that says I’m not down with what you are.

When will the first time they notice it be? Who will it be? What do I want them to see me do? I am setting the example for them and I don’t want to let things slide but I don’t want to make a situation worse for them. No one told me about these decisions before I had kids. I’m undecided currently. I’ll keep you posted.

 

But Why do the Queers Get a Month? (Said in a super whiney entitled voice)

Sometimes I read the comments on Pride posts. Mistake. I know. People are mean and hateful and discriminatory. For real though could they come up with anything different from “Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve”??? It’s so outdated and used up. Y’all need some fresh homophobic material.

One comment on facebook I read asked why we don’t have a month for Veteran’s Day, only a day. I thought that was a valid question. As I respect Veteran’s seeing as my Dad was one.

Here’s my response. I did some research so pay attention.

First off the last time the draft was enacted was Vietnam. Roughly 25% (648,500) made up the number of soldiers drafted who actually set foot in Vietnam. Roughly two million were drafted in total but of those only 648,500 set foot in Vietnam. Draftees accounted for  30% of deaths roughly 17,700.

Those are bad statistics. Because really no one should die fighting for a cause they were involved with involuntarily.

I promise you that 100% of individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, etc. identify this way UNWILLINGLY. Yes the Queer is not something any of us would choose to be.

In 2016 it was estimated roughly 4-5% of the population identify as Queer. That’s over ten million people. Other estimates are as high as 9% of the population. The Colorodoan ran a story in 2018 based off a review of hate crimes they did separate from the FBI’s statistics (which are incredibly low). Transgender and non-binary individuals made up more than 45% of the deaths in those files starting in 1998 through 2018.

Gender not normals are not safe in the United States. Their total projection was that over 600 LGBTQ individuals have been killed in the last two decades in the the United States.

We are not in a time of war. We are living our lives, with families, jobs, and homes. We are unsafe in our own backyards though.

Secondly for the traumas that Veterans have endured, which are many, they have an entire healthcare entity dedicated to Veterans health located in every state. Accessible to all Veterans. Is it a perfect system? No. But it exists.

The LGBTQ community often delays care due to fear of discrimination. They have higher rates of suicide, mental illness, and untreated medical illnesses due to lack of access to care.

Veterans are now held up high in our society. I for one have only seen them treated with respect if wearing their uniform in public and we as a society have thankfully changed our attitudes toward them so they are accepted and not blamed for wars that they have no control over.

The Queer community hides in fear. We were slowly emerging from the shadows when our country voted in one of the most openly homophobic administrations in recent history.

We live next door to neighbors with #45 signs. We know what that means. That we are not welcome there.

We know people who have been assaulted, spit on, fired, and not hired for jobs due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Veterans don’t have a month because they can live safely if they are heterosexual.

We have a month because we have been disowned, kicked down, told we are going to Hell, told we can’t have children, told we can’t get married, told our spouse has no legal standing to the child we have born and raised together, told that we are less than, that we are freaks, that we are deserving of the rape, torture, and murders we face.

We have a month because even in this month we are killed. Because Pulse happened in 2016. Remember Pulse? The deadliest shooting in our history and specifically targeting the Queers.

Because it took until 2003 for the United States Supreme Court to rule that sodomy could no longer be used to charge people for crimes (a case that shockingly originated in Texas). Because it took until 2015 until we could marry and even that does not protect our partner’s parental rights when we have children.

We have a month because we are still fighting to just exist.

Until that day; when we can exist without fear, on that day, then you can take the month back and give us a day.

Google “LGBTQ deaths in America”. Then ask me why we have a month.

 

My First Dad-less Memorial Day (And Power-Washing and hot yoga).

This Memorial Day I didn’t think would be a big deal. I thought it would be like all the of the past ones that I’ve experienced. But while I was power washing the cement around my pool (and yes that was an amazing experience and firmly cemented the fact that I’m an adult because I love power-washing) and painting the fence I missed my Dad.

I keep promising myself and I keep trying to sit down and write blog posts about something other than my Dad but I always come back to him. It’s been just under eight weeks since his death and I did not think that Memorial Day of all weekends would be hard. But it was.

He loved the power-washer. He loved to paint. He would have laughed so hard at Jackson running and peeing directly in the walkway to the pool. He would have helped me power-wash and we would have squabbled over pretty much everything that day because we both would have wanted to be doing the power-washing not the fence.

I also remembered every single Memorial Day parade I marched in with him and all the parades I saw him march in.

I walked into work this morning and the woman who is in the office down the hall from mine said “Hi,” and I burst into tears. She didn’t quite know what to do because we don’t generally have that type of relationship but she gave me a hug and we talked about my Dad.

I was with my Mom and sister and our kids and spouses all weekend also which was good. But it was such a keen absence. I thought Father’s Day would be hard or his birthday and Christmas. Never did I envision falling to pieces over Memorial Day.

This is the stuff our society doesn’t talk about. The grief that is ever present and unpredictable. I had been doing well. But little by little this weekend wore me down. Worst of all I couldn’t make it to hot yoga until today. Where I cried during the end meditation quietly.

It clears my head though and I landed this sweet arm balance recently and one of my instructors loves this particular arm balance and I knew she would be stoked about it and she was. She put it in about four times tonight. I know yoga’s not about the arm balances. But for me it’s about the journey I’ve taken to get into that arm balance.

Eighteen months of building my core and my triceps got me into that arm balance.

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Arm balance. My head is not on the ground.

Last week one of my teenage clients who is hard to engage sometimes; well I showed them the arm balance. In dressy jeans, my Dad’s pink button down, and heels. It broke the ice. We talked about transformations and moving into something slowly and learning that in the hardest poses the greatest transformations happen.

I admit I am shameless and will do literally anything to get a teenager to talk to me in therapy.

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My Dad’s pink button-down

It was in these arm balances tonight I thought about my Dad and Memorial Day and power-washing. I realized I needed to write another blog post about it. I tried very hard to write one about farts and hot yoga, but it just kept falling flat even though I know there is a hilarious post in there somewhere about farts and hot yoga. I mean how could there not be?

But it will have to wait. Wait for the grief to lift and for me to exhaust myself with thoughts about my Dad.

 

 

** Picture for the article is my wife and Declan. Just a candid shot I got of them this weekend when Declan needed a hug. Be still my heart!

Twelve Hours With Twins (while running a mental health practice)

My wife worked 7AM-7PM today. So I was on boy duty all day. They are three and a half.

Sometimes my wife says things like, “I wish I had Mondays off every week,” like it’s a freaking vacation. I work four days a week, five days (Saturday Mornings) every other week in order to have Monday’s “off”. I stay home with the boys, do administrative work for my practice, often call about ten to fifteen clients back per day, and bring the boys to whatever appointments they are due for.

Today was like every other Monday filled with drama and emergencies I could just not foresee.

Declan woke up cranky and wanting to cuddle. He then laid on the couch and fell asleep, which has actually never happened before ever. So I knew he was sick. Waited for the puke to come (but also texted with a nurse friend because I thought he might have some acute illness that only happens to kids I saw in the emergency department but haunt me as a Mom so she reassured me he didn’t have a weird random illness that would kill him. Just the stomach bug that hadn’t hit fully yet).

Meanwhile his brother Jackson was not sick and was not understanding that his brother was sick. They constantly talk to each. I mean constantly. I didn’t realize how constantly until Declan was asleep and not responding.

I was returning phone calls and cleaning up the kitchen and could hear him, “chatter chatter chatter…DECLAN…chatter chatter chatter DECLAN…..” and each time Jackson would pause then remember Declan was sleeping, then walk toward him to shake him and wake him up, at which point I would either yell or hand gesture wildly and silently while I was on the phone with a client or prospective client booking appointments.

Jackson is an evil genius. He knew when I was on the phone I would not yell at him to leave his brother alone. So he waited until I was on the phone to do his worst to try and get Declan to wake up, which would result in me vaulting myself across the couch blocking him from Declan making my most stern facial expression and waving my arms while talking calmly, “Sure, yes, I specialize in seeing transgender individuals…yes I know your therapist she’s wonderful, so glad she referred you to me…” etc.

Then the guys came to open the pool. I was shocked. First; because they were on time, second; because the owner was with them and he actually knew what the hell he was doing. We needed some repairs done and the last two pool companies I dealt with were  awful in many ways.

So Jackson is now diverted by the pool opening and yelling at the guys opening the pool to look at his watch through the screen door. Declan is still sleeping. Jackson continues to yell to him to come see the pool.

I go outside with pool guy in order to assess the filter with him and as he explains the damages Jackson walks outside. Then a sleepy eyed half dressed Declan follows. Leaving the screen door wide open at which point one of my cats runs outside. I’m yelling at the boys to go inside, which they don’t, I’m scooping up my cat who is addicted to grass so she’s furiously eating blades of grass before I grab her, I toss her inside, shut the screen door, come back down to pool guy where the boys are. Declan starts heaving.

Finally. The puke came. I grabbed him, carried him three feet away from the pool filter and the fence so no one would walk through the ensuing puke. Then he puked. The pool guy was not phased, and said he has a two year old at home, and then proceeded to explain the filter issues with me while I’m holding Declan who was still puking and Jackson stood watching.

I walked Declan back inside carrying him deadweight in my arms. He’s forty pounds.

We walk inside and the power goes out.

Pool guy had been flipping some switches so we checked the breaker and such and it was out. I checked online and there was an outage in our area. Estimated time to fix it two hours.

No storm. No wind. Just an outage directly after my toddler puked specifically because we have a well pump, a dirty pool, and no way to wash the puke off his shirt.

So I stripped him. He screamed. He wanted the damn bear shirt he was wearing.

I set up the kindle which had 18% battery and left him watching The Fox and the Hound while I went outside to finish the filter discussion.

At some point the damn cat got out again.

It was 80 degrees here today.

I was hot. I was sweaty. I couldn’t access my freezer or ice or water for two hours. I still took calls from clients and scheduled two more intakes. Thank God for Hot Spots. On phones. Not actual literal hot spots. Because I was miserably hot.

Remember I have an employee now? In the midst of Declan puking, the pool guy, the power going out, she was texting me with technical and clinical questions about her clients today including but not limited to issues with wifi, our credit card processing machine, and clients.

As I was looking at the dwindling batteries on the kindle, my work phone, my iPhone, and my laptop the power magically came back on.

Declan was now drinking water and the next few hours went okay. Well except the screaming match when I laid him down for naps because he still wanted the damn bear shirt. He just can’t let things go. It always escalates with him because there’s no steering him away from it and he doesn’t let it go until I lose my shit.

He also insisted on sleeping in my bed because he was “sick”. Which I agree he was.

So they napped. I spent an hour on the phone with therapists collaborating about patients.

After naps we played outside in this awesome sprinkler pad. It was an hour of fun.

Then it started. They wanted to swim in the pool. They didn’t understand it was still green, still clearing, not ready. They both freaked out when we had to come inside and that led to another twenty minute show down between us all. Which culminated with Jackson taking one of these stakes we have for a game of giant croquet, and staring me in the face as he slowly pushed the pointy end through the screen door and made a hole. In our screen door. Kind of a big hole.

Perfect. I may have lost my mind a little.

After timeout for Jackson for making a hole in the door we made muffins with them in their underwear. Because epic showdown three of the day was Declan wanting his unicorn pajamas and they were not dry yet. The two hour power outage slowed down my laundry progress.

Crisis call from a client in the midst of the unicorn pajama showdown.

“Yes I can definitely meet with you this week,”

Mute the phone. “For the fifth time YOUR PONIES ARE IN THE DRYER! THEY ARE NOT READY YET!”

“Yes and bring your family, yes totally fine if we do a family session,”

Mute the phone “I WANT MY PONIES MAMA! I WANT MY PINK PONIES MAMA!”

…and so on and so forth. At some point I waxed a spot on my upper thighs that was bothering me. And yes I’m not supposed to open the wax anymore. But I did. And I didn’t grab a strip. So I was running through the house for the strip with the hot wax already on a large area of my upper thigh and the boys saw me run by and said, “Mama what happened?!” Then they witnessed me waxing the large area on my upper thigh because the strips were in the kitchen and I said, “Mothefudgenuggetfudgersfucking fuck I swore,” as I tried not to swear in front of them.

They basically ignored me and went back to watching the dinosaur show I had on for them.

Fast forward to bed time. The whining and the meltdowns were escalating after the muffins and I put them into bed early. Epic meltdowns. Why? Declan wanted his pink goggles. God knows where he put them. I looked. I truly looked. I could not find them anywhere. Jackson didn’t want to go to bed just in general and kept counting to 3 to mock me. “1…2….3!”

I found the stupid goggles thirty minutes later and brought them into Declan. They were in the bottom of a full laundry basket of clean laundry?!

Every night before bed I say a yoga thing with them, and for roughly ten seconds they pulled it together for that, “Sky above, earth below, peace within. Namaste.” Then I bow my head with my thumb knuckles at my third eye (Center of forehead).

Then Declan whined and said, “No want MamasDay Mama!”

At the end of these days I don’t know how to feel. I feel raw, edgy, irritable, then angry that I feel that way. I try to remember the positives about today. The sprinkler was fun. The pool opening happened and went really well, I mean minus Declan vomiting during the opening…the power went out, but it came back on. Thank God. And I got to spend the day with my boys. For better or worse.

Moral of the story. Definitely not a vacation or a “day off”. More like a day at home in hell with occasional moments of happiness and peace interspersed with hours of hell. But for some reason our human brain remembers more of the happiness and less of the hell. Survival tactic I think.

p.s. the saga continued with Declan pooping after bedtime, my wife helping him, he peed on the unicorn pj’s and had another meltdown because she made him change into new bottoms. “But Mama said yes!” I could hear screamed down the hallway as I hid cowering in my bedroom.

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Declan asleep about forty minutes before puking

 

Funeral High Heels

I have struggled with writing recently because I feel so heavy with grief. Sounds cliche or weird but it’s true.

I could write about the law in Georgia but I literally can’t wrap my head around the fact that it is now reality and there are a population of women in Georgia who are having their rights to their own bodies stripped from them.

I could write about the two hours I spent at the AT&T store today to fix the mistakes made in a 45 minute phone call last week. Much of the time today was more pleasant discussing last nights episode of Game of Thrones with the sales guy. He predicts Danaerus will kill Jon Snow. I predict Arya will kill Danaerus and Sansa will end up queen with Jon Snow ruling the North. Tyrryon? Death. I’m just not sure how.

But it all falls flat because most of my thoughts have revolved around my Dad dying. Because before my Dad died my best friend’s Dad died in January. Then two weeks after my Dad died my business partner (and friend)’s Dad died suddenly. Everything bad happens in threes. I just didn’t know it would be three dead Fathers.

The last time I saw my best friend’s Dad was on Christmas Eve. The last time I saw my business partner’s Dad was at my Dad’s funeral. And the last time I saw my best friend’s mom was at her husbands funeral. Too many Dads. Too much death.

It makes me contemplate my own mortality; and that of every one elses. So you see why I haven’t written. My mind is in a dark place.

I asked my mom about the urn at some point, as my dad was cremated, and she told me that they wouldn’t have an urn. It would be a “biodegradable container” that would be buried on church grounds in their memorial garden. My sister and I sorta looked at each other, and didn’t say anything, well I think I repeated the “Biodegradable container” part because it sounded like we were talking about coffee grounds or something.

We had dinner with my cousin the night before and she was raised Catholic, and I preemptively told her about the container. She also took it in stride. Sorta. She in her Jersey way said, “A what? What?! Wait what?!” then asked why we weren’t scattering him somewhere and I had asked that very question, my Mom said they decided they didn’t want to do that because “We don’t want to blow all over each other if it’s windy.”

I mean it’s a fair point.

The day of the funeral it was raining. We walked outside with umbrellas with the pastor carrying a rather large nice looking biodegradable container. Without much preamble and with very little circumstance he tromped through some leaves and plopped it into the ground in a hole while we all stood watching and standing in the mud and rain.

My Dad could have asked us to do any number of things with his ashes. He chose to be buried anonymously as the grave is not marked, it is just a large memorial garden with a plaque when you first enter with the names of those who are buried there listed.

He picked this so I couldn’t say anything about it, though I did have many thoughts about it. The plopping of the container into the hole was a bit much for me, as I had only been to funerals when one was lowered slowly into the ground or at memorial services where we did not see the actual burial. But it was as my Dad wanted it to be.

He liked his pastor, and he wanted his family there, and as soon as he was in the ground by the church he loved; it stopped raining. My business partner, and my friend, told me much later that during the funeral her dad sang each song and each verse without ever looking at the hymnal, he knew them all.

She clung to him crying and she remembered thinking, “What you wouldn’t give to be able to hug your dad right now.” And she was right, but she also didn’t know until two weeks later how incredibly prophetic that thought was.

I didn’t truly break down until I saw my best friend’s Mom. I’ve known her since I was 14 and like I mentioned, the last time I saw her was at her husband’s funeral in January. It was all incredible heart breaking and like fate had dropped us all together all those years ago so we would all have each other during this horrific year of loss.

I don’t remember a lot of my dad’s funeral. I cried a lot and people spoke to me and I spoke to each person who came in uniform and thanked them for coming for my Dad. They were all extremely nice and so open about their memories of my Dad. I know I wore high heels that I love and a dress that will forever be my Dad’s funeral dress.

My Dad took many secrets to his grave and I thought when I was younger that I wanted to know them all. That I knew he had a past and that I knew he even had a past family. I wanted to know everything. But when he died I felt like everything that needed to be said had been. That I knew all I needed to know. That for 34 years he was obsessed with being my Dad and I will be forever grateful.

I realized the things I didn’t know I didn’t need to know because they weren’t important to our relationship. I always say actions speak. He gave me 34 years of actions that spoke of his love and dedication to me and my Mom and my sister and that’s all I needed.

Grief makes you think about everything past and present and future. I hope for a future without the weight of this grief. But I long for my past with my Dad.