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.

 

 

 

The 24/7 Shadow of A Homophobic/Transphobic/Racist/Sexist Administration on One Lesbian Mom.

I feel like every day there is so much happening that is appalling and terrifying. Today #45 lied about the “caravan of migrants” headed toward the US boarder and announced that his administration is pursuing discussion around getting rid of transgender definitions. Which is mind-boggling to me. It’s like saying we are going to get rid of the label female or male. You can’t just get rid of an entire population of individuals.

There is not a moment in my day that the shadow of a homophobic, transphobic, sexist, and racist administration running my country is not hanging over me. The worst part, and why those shadows never fully leave me, is because I don’t know who supports them.

Sometimes I do. I mean the big ass #45 sign’s give it away some times. But then there are surprises. The farmer across the street who is in the heart of Republican country put a lawn sign out for a Democrat. I was always scared of engaging too much with him because I thought he would not be accepting of our family. Though he has been nothing but kind to my family. Then I feel bad. Because I’ve missed an opportunity to engage with my neighbor due to my fear that he was another conservative farmer in my town.

Then I drive by a person’s house I know and see a Republican sign out front. And I’m thinking, wow. What. The. Fuck.

In the past I have always tried to be open and understanding of people’s views even when different from my own. But there is something different in the air for me now.

The further polarized the Left and the Right become the more I cannot ever agree with the Right. There are a few issues I consider non-negotiable: LGBTQ rights. This isn’t just about the right to be who we are, this is now about protecting my family. There are faces to this LGBTQ rights- they are my two sons, my wife, my niece, my sister-in-law, and my sister. These are real people. People I love and us all having full rights equal to heterosexual’s is 100% necessary and non-negotiable. For any one who thinks otherwise say it to my face. Please. Because to date, no one has. Say it to my two almost three year old son’s faces. Look into their eyes and say they don’t deserve rights and protection.

To hide behind religious rhetoric honestly just pisses me off. “Well they shouldn’t pay for the sins of their parents.” “I don’t hate you I just cannot accept your lifestyle.” “If you were just roommates it would be fine.”

These are things people have said to us. So basically because we have lesbian sex in the privacy of our home we should be discriminated against? I mean clearly they’ve never had lesbian sex otherwise they would definitely think otherwise;).

The other stuff I’m non-negotiable on is abortion and the right to choice, birth control being accessible to women (you know in order to avoid abortions. Freaking morons), immigration, increasing access to healthcare, decreasing the control pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies have over healthcare, and the tiny matter of gun control.

I stated “immigration” as if every one would just know what I mean. It’s a hard topic. I see refugees brought here through programs that only offer support for 4-6 months then plop. Deal with life in the USA. Then these individuals have to have jobs and pay rent and navigate society when they can barely speak English, look like they are from the Middle East, and face instant discrimination. Do I think this is the right way? No. I’ve seen it totally backfire and cost our states and federal government thousands of dollars. Is there a perfect answer? I don’t think so. I think the United States of America is this huge melting pot of imperfect shitheads who are all descended from immigrants and/or native Americans. So to block out more shitheads when we have built our country on their backs? That doesn’t make sense to me.

I am descended of Irish and Swedish immigrants. My Great-Grandmother came from Sweden in her teens and my great-great grandparents on my Dad’s side came from Ireland. Both sides of my family worked to integrate into America and here I am. An Irish-Swedish-American-Lesbian-Wife-Mom-Nurse. Take that #45.

Abortion. I couldn’t have one personally. But I firmly believe in a WOMAN’S choice.

Birth Control. For real. I can’t even believe this is a topic for debate.

Guns are bad. Keeping it simple because we have stupid people running our country. Our ancestors who made the constitution were not thinking of machine guns when they said a right to arms. They were thinking of the freaking Revolutionary War they were fighting and England’s intent to take away their defenses. They were thinking of single load rifles. Not M16’s. They were thinking of war. Not classrooms full of our babies. They would be ashamed of the way guns have evolved and that we are one of the few countries to not protect our citizens from them.

Healthcare. That’s too much to tackle today. Maybe tomorrow. Suffice it to say our system is broken and is run by millionaires on the backs of people living paycheck to paycheck.

These are my non-negotiable’s. These make it very difficult to meet in the middle with any one who identifies as a Republican. Because they do not come to the middle either. The argument could be made for us to both meet in the middle. But as I said. These are non-negotiable for me and I don’t see that changing. And I would never give up the rights of transgender individuals in order to keep the LGB rights. We are all on the same side, same team, and I will stand for everyone who identifies anywhere within the LGBTQ spectrum.

So this is where we stand. A divided nation. Right and Left. Nurse. Farmer. Millionaires.

These thoughts and shadows feel hopeless. But then I have moments. Watching my son’s learn to ride their bikes this weekend. Laughing with my sister as we put the bikes together. Watching my niece with my son’s. Seeing that they don’t know that their families are “not normal” and having hope that our children can do better.

That’s one of my son’s in the picture. Kissing his bunny. Because all he knows is love. Thankfully at this age he has yet to encounter hate. Love is innate. Hate is learned. One day he will know it. I’m sure. But for now I relish in his kisses, his snuggles, and their endless, positive, and hopeful love.

 

 

But Why Are Kids So Anxious?

When I tell people I work in psychiatry and the majority of my roughly 400ish patient caseload are teenagers…I usually am asked a bunch of questions. The people asking are usually adults over the age 35. And the majority of adults who lead up to “But why are kids so anxious these day? Or so depressed? In my day we didn’t have all this school avoidance and depression. It must be the social media.” Or something equally enlightening.

Now I am only speaking from my little corner of the world and it likely is not generalizable to the entire population of teenagers. But here’s why the kids I’ve sat with say they are anxious and depressed enough that I usually start an anti-depressant (while ensuring they are engaged in therapy because I am a firm believer in both therapy and medication working together).

“I’m scared I’m going to get killed.” “I’m scared of a school shooting.” “I’m scared I won’t see my Mom again.”

Really sit with that for a minute. Because it’s not uncommon for me to hear this. Kids are scared of going to school and being killed.

And why shouldn’t they be? What have we as a society done to reassure them that they won’t be? We’ve created active shooter drills where they hide in closets and crouch behind desks. How terrifying that must be to think the only thing between me and a bullet is this desk.

I graduated high school in 2003. 9/11 happened my sophomore year. I lived about ninety minutes from NYC. One of my classmates went home without a Father that day.

Aurora, Sandy Hook, Pulse, Parkland, etc.

When I looked up a list of school shootings since 2003- well there have been 36 in 2018. 36. Sit with that number.

How can we expect kids not to be anxious?

Everyone younger than I am has grown up in a time when school and mass shootings are accepted. Our society isn’t even shocked by them anymore. They make the news for a week max, then we move on with no change.

Sandy Hook- the gun laws in Connecticut are supposedly some of the strongest in the nation, and I can tell you they suck. They do not keep guns out of kid’s hands. As just last year there were two teenagers playing and one shot and killed the other one accidentally. Guns are still here, even in Connecticut where a classroom full of our babies were killed.

Then let’s talk about social media. There are articles about these shootings posted all the time. Articles about how are society is moving toward The Handmaid’s Tale style life because our administration sucks. Articles about missing children, sexual assault, not to mention actual discussion and cyber bullying with their peers.

Then there’s the percentage of my clients who have been sexually assaulted and have not told any one. Ever. Because they knew the perpetrator, perhaps a kid in school with them or worse a family member. It’s rampant.

Throw on the massive workload at school where they are forced to be glued to screens for hours a day, regular pressures of sports and college applications, identifying as lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender in a time when we have the most homophobic administration imaginable; and being the generation to look at possibly the highest college tuition fees in history…yeah I’d be anxious too.

Teenagers today are NOT like teenagers twenty or thirty years ago. So don’t compare them to yourself. They are facing more danger and more pressures than we could ever imagine.

I went to school when Columbine happened. I remember making plans in my head as to how I would hide or escape. But it never stopped me from going. I remember talking to friends about it, but we never thought it would actually happen at our school. Well it’s happening in real places and real people are dying.

Instead of asking why kids are anxious we should be asking how can we as the responsible and intelligent adults in our society help them be less anxious? How can we make them feel safer, supported, loved? And why haven’t we started to do this already?

When a Teenager Called me “Wonderwoman” and My Twins Figured Out We Are a Family.

Two amazing things happened today. A teenage girl client of mine who struggles with self-esteem looked at me when I went to get her in the waiting room. I was wearing black leggings, black boots up to my knees with a short heel, and a green sleeveless top, loose-ish. It was humid today so my hair was a little (meaning a lot) wild. She hadn’t seen me in six months. I’d done a lot of hot yoga and eating quinoa salad since then. She smiled big, and said, “Wow you look like Wonderwoman! You are so cool.” I was taken aback. I just watched Wonderwoman last week. She was absolutely fabulous; obviously. Gorgeous, courageous, outspoken, strong, and very smart.

So in my head I was like Yes! Score! I AM WONDERWOMAN!!!

Outwardly, to my client, I smiled, said “Sweet, thanks,” and literally did a karate kick which caused us to both crack up.

I think as women we are always pressured to be better, look better, eat better, exercise more, talk less, wear more make-up, wear less revealing clothes…etc. etc. etc. And I’m at a point where I’m thinking, if the white dudes in this country get to do and say whatever the hell they want…hold my beer. I got this.

So I didn’t let my girl see me doubt her or me. I strode forward with confidence and I hope to be that woman that girls look up to. Through showing my intelligence, being opinionated, and wearing what I want, doing what I want, and being who I am meant to be…well that’s the message I want them to get. And she did. Which was profound.

If every single woman in the USA identified with Wonderwoman we would all be better off. She runs into the fray when she’s being told to avoid it. She fights for the innocent, and she does not turn from the darkness. We need to be the light in a sea of darkness.

The other thing that happened today is my sons discovering they have a family. They were watching The Good Dinosaur (horrible Disney movie that clearly was made by someone who was tripping on drugs, but for some reason my son’s are obsessed) and the dinosaur Arlo, made the little caveman human, understand that he had a family who he missed and was trying to find.

My sons’ said, “His family,” and I said, “Yes, and who is your family?” They both looked at me. “Me, Mommy, and Jackson,” I said to Declan, and then I could see the lightbulbs going off and Jackson said, “Mama, Mommy, Decky, my fami-we”,  and I’m holding back tears of course, and I say, “Yes baby, we are all a family,”

Then they kept repeating it. Pointing at my wife, me, and each other, smiling, and laughing, and saying “Fami-we”. And I’m thinking, they are not even three and they get it.  Why the hell is it so hard for every one else? How could any one see that moment with my twins and my wife and think we are not an actual family because there are two Mom’s. Because if any right winged conservative tried to explain to my sons we are not a real family; my sons would stare at them like they were nuts and then continue on with the knowledge that their Mom’s and their brother is their family.

These moments in life last less than a minute maybe. But these are the moments of light that I cling to in these days of darkness. When sexual assault is normalized. When racism and homophobia are praised.

I embrace being called Wonderwoman because she stepped outside the boundaries of being a woman. She broke through people’s expectations and fought for what is right. And I will continue to fight for my family. Because my two year old twins get it. So I have faith that some day all people will understand that we are a family.

It’s not just love that makes us a family. It’s the bond that comes with the 2 AM puking. The year of breastfeeding. The cradling after a boo boo. The being there when they wake up, when they go to sleep, and every other second in between. The bond of family is the screaming in time-outs and the hugs afterward. It’s them knowing that we are their constants since conception.

We feed them, love them, provide for their every need. Our boys know that we are their family because they watched this stupid movie and they see the baby dinosaur work the whole time to get home to his Mom. They made the connection that they would want to be with their Mom’s too.

The boys get that we are a family because they lay their heads on our chests when they want a “big hug” and we tell them we love them every day and they know even when we lose our minds from the whole toddler twin thing, that they are loved. My son’s know we are all a family because we are all better when we are together.

 

How my twins and my whiteness got me out of two tickets.

I’m not saying this with pride. But on days like today, when they brought me to tears and I brought them to tears. Well I need to think about something other than them flooding my kitchen with the damn faucet when I was in the laundry room for maybe two minutes. And how Declan wrenched my freaking back because he didn’t listen to me, climbed too high at the playground, and then let go and fell and I caught him in one arm…all 37 lbs of him. Yeah that freaking hurt. It was a bad long day for all of us. So this blog post is not about that, it’s about something bigger and deeper.

The first ticket they got me out of…I was using my cell phone…on speaker phone about three or four years ago, when I was pregnant with them. Very pregnant. I had a big Jeep Grand Cherokee. The cop pulled me over literally as I was pulling out of the parking lot from work. I had some one on speaker and was switching it over to bluetooth and bam. Red lights.

I explained I was switching to bluetooth but I literally just got into the car. He asked for my registration. I looked at him and explained, “I have to get out of the car to get it. It’s too far, and I can’t reach the glove compartment because I’m pregnant.” This was not a lie. I actually couldn’t reach it over the belly. I leaned over to demonstrate.

The cop looked disgusted. Because who wants to make a pregnant lady get out of her car in the 90 degree heat, behind the psych hospital, and make me walk to the other side to find my registration. He knew it was going to be a shitshow. He asked me if I worked at the psych hospital, I said I do, I’m a nurse practitioner. He facepalmed. Because he knew that my co-workers would likely either be watching or coming outside and then berate him for making the pregnant lady waddle around extra in the heat. He likely brought patient’s to us. He knew my co-workers are mouthy.

He asked me to show him the bluetooth working, which I did. Then he said, “Just go.” but not a nice Just go. An I’m disgusted with this whole situation type of “just go”. I drove away.

Flashforward to Thursday. Yes the day after I wrote the horrible blog post about my horrible week leading up to Wednesday. Thursday morning I got pulled over for speeding. He said, “You were going 50.” I said, “Yes, I know I was, my bad, but I mean it’s a 40 zone…” meanwhile the boys are saying “Hi, Hi, Hi….” on and on until the officer says “Hi” back. He was youngish and smiling at me. It takes me awhile to register, but I think he was flirting which is weird because he clearly saw my twins in the backseat. I’m not used to being flirted with as a Mom.

He replied, “Actually it’s a 35 zone.” I said, “Well shit. My bad.” Because I did actually think it was a 40 zone. Then the boys get louder, and Declan says, “I scared Mama,” and I’m telling him it’s going to be okay, and then I look at the smiling police officer and do my best to look apologetic, and he asks me if I’ve gotten tickets before, and I say No. In my head I think ‘because I’m a nurse and I was pregnant’ but whatever. He lets me go, and tells me to have a “very nice day,” with a huge smile and a wave to my boys.

Now I’m thinking am I being punk’d? Because who gets out of a ticket with a smiling police officer? Then I think, well I’m a white woman with two toddlers in the backseat, in a nice car, wearing nice clothes, and then I’m like Fuck. White. Privilege.

I didn’t want a ticket. And is this only the second one I’ve gotten out of in my life? No. Unfortunately not. But the point is I’ve gotten out of them. And had I been Black or Hispanic or a man would I have gotten out of them? Hell no. I know I wouldn’t have. Had any of these officers known I am married to a woman…would I have gotten out of them? Who knows. I generally don’t wear my wedding ring to work so both times there was no obvious sign I was married.

I don’t know how to change this. Because, well for one thing I don’t want the damn ticket. But neither does any one else regardless of race or gender. It didn’t feel like a win as I drove away. It felt like a, shit, I suck so bad for using white privilege in this moment without even being aware I was using it. But that’s the point right? That’s why people who are not white get so pissed at white people for not even acknowledging that we have privilege and that we use it. It didn’t even hit me fully until I was pulling up to daycare. Where thankfully my two white boys are the minority.

I got out of the car the same time as a Black family, and that’s when it hit me. I thought what if it had been them who got pulled over? A Black Father and his daughter. Would he have gotten out of the ticket with a scared toddler making a scene in the backseat and a winning smile in the front? Probably not.

I’m not going to pretend I could possibly understand what it would feel like to a Black man to be pulled over by the police. Or a Black woman. I can’t. I can imagine it is fear and vulnerability though. The fear and vulnerability I’ve felt when I’ve been with my wife in conservative areas. The fear and vulnerability I’ve felt as a woman when I’ve suddenly realized I’m in an elevator full of men. I felt fear when I got pulled over. But not fear for my life. Fear of a ticket. A piece of paper, money, the hassle.

I can’t imagine being pulled over and fearing for my life. But I know that is the reality for many.

Like I said, I don’t have the answers, but I know this is a problem.

I always call out heterosexuals for not using their heterosexual privilege to advance LGBT rights. Well I’m not about to not call out myself when I’m using white privilege to my advantage without using it to advance the rights of all Persons of Color. This is a conversation that the hate in our country has sparked: finally. If there is anything good that comes out of the asshats in DC it’s the conversations around race, sexuality, gender identity, and that yes white privilege does exist.

As I said, I don’t have all the answers, but I will not remain silent or put my head in the sand and not acknowledge the problem. And that I too am a part of it. These are hard times and hard truths. But, perhaps Prince Edward says it best to Heath Ledger in A Knight’s Tale, “But you also tilt when you should withdraw…and that is knightly too.”

I know now is not the time to withdraw but tilting puts the knight at risk. It is a true fighter though, someone who weighs the options, knows they may fail, but tilts anyway. This piece was uncomfortable to write for me. Because it makes me examine my faults. No one likes to do that. But until we do nothing will change. So here I am, laid bare, tilting when perhaps I should withdraw.

I also know I need to switch to bluetooth before putting the car in motion and apparently I need to be more aware of speed limit changes on back roads. My bad.

p.s. the picture- of course they had to hold hands and walk down the brick path at the playground today after he wrenched my back, and look all cute and stuff. They know how to play me.

 

 

 

 

 

Four Days with Twin Toddlers: Puke, Bees, Emergency Department, and Thunderstorms…

It’s literally only Wednesday.

Let’s start on Sunday.

“Boys we are going to a big store, and you can’t jump on the couches, we have to be good boys in the store.” They looked at me and nodded. Then came the furniture store. They ran around like maniacs. I finally rounded them up in front of me, “Guys, what’s going on?” My Declan, “Mama say no jump. We run.” Perfect. Played by my two year olds.

Followed by a trip to the diner where my Declan started acting sick. He nestled in on my chest, and started to look pale. I’m thinking shit. We have got to go. The week before his brother had acted the same way about a half hour before he puked. So I take him into the car. We sit and wait for my wife and his brother. He just lays on me like when he was a baby. It was actually a beautiful sweet moment. Followed by us trying to fly home, but not beating the puke. He threw up in my brand new car. Not a little bit. A LOT. We pulled over and stripped him down. It was in his hair, on my shirt, my legs, his legs, his shirt. My car. All over my car.

We made it home and survived Sunday. And tried to clean the car.

Monday: Declan was feeling much better. They are home with me on Mondays. I brought them to the town beach where we were going to meet my mom. I stopped and got them doughnuts. We pull up to the beach and I get them out and we go to the playground. There are a few yellow jackets flying around. Then my mom arrives and I give them each a half doughnut. We are swarmed. 4-5 yellow jackets dive bombing each individual. To the point we are all running, then I take the doughnuts, throw them toward the water. The boys are screaming, the seagulls go nuts, we get to the car. The boys are yelling, “Mama not nice!”

I’m not kidding. This is actual reality. The seagulls screaming. We were screaming. Then I finally get in the car, doors closed, and there’s a damn bee buzzing around. Boys start yelling, “Bee NOT NICE” and I’m opening the doors and windows trying to swat it outside. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to leave, car shut tight, faint vomit smell still lingering…bee free.

Tuesday: Thunderstorms after bedtime but right at that sweet spot when they weren’t sound asleep yet. Yeah. That was horrendous. Me sitting by the crib and them falling asleep but magically waking up every time I try and leave the room. SO much thunder.

Wednesday: This takes the cake. I get up, shower, dress. Get the boys up. They go in and pee pee on the potty…yes we are doing that now most of the time…but still wearing pull-ups. I walked with Declan to his room, changing his pull-up, I look up (less than 60 seconds have passed), there’s Jackson on the counter that he’s never been able to reach with the childproof cap in one hand, the bottle of Benadryl in the other, gulping it down.

I’m pretty sure I screamed. Then I was next to him grabbing the bottle, I almost flung it, but realized that was totally irrational and needed to take a picture of it. I took a pic, I think I was still yelling because both boys were crying, then I’m sticking my finger down his throat, he gags, refuses to puke. Of course now he’s really sobbing, then I’m screaming at my wife on the phone because she doesn’t remember the volume that was in the Benadryl bottle from, I don’t know, 8 months ago whenever we used it last.

This is when knowing too much as a former pediatric emergency department nurse sucks ass. I think I should call 911, then I think, they will take me to the nearest hospital which doesn’t have a pediatric specialty. Nearest pediatric hospital is 25 minutes away. And if I call 911 what do I do with Declan? I’m there alone with two kids. The ambulance won’t let us all ride with them.

I quickly made up my mind. Onset of liquid Benadryl will be about 35 minutes. I threw some diapers in a bag grabbed some cereal bars and threw the boys in the car and drove. Didn’t count on rush hour traffic. Took a solid 35 minutes. His lids were heavy by the time I pulled in.

Now I can tell you that drive, that 35 minutes was pure torture. I couldn’t cry, because they were already upset and I was trying to calm them down. I gave them their bars, and literally called myself the worst mom in the universe in my head a million different ways a million different times. I was picturing every kid who overdosed I ever took care of…yeah those weren’t pretty images. I kept asking my son if he was okay, he kept getting more and more cranky and tired looking.

We pulled up, my wife met us there, and I walked in to see the smiling face of a nurse I used to work with in the other children’s hospital. “Hi! It’s okay. It happens.” My eyes welled up, and I was so relieved. Relieved I made it there, relieved to see a friendly and familiar face, and that my baby was in the right place if he was going to have any type of reaction.

It was actually an easy Emergency Department visit. We watched a movie and they monitored his heart rate. He took a nap curled on my chest, and walked around like a drunken sailor when he woke up. It was kind of funny but also made me cry to see him walking drunk. Worst Mom ever award. I’m a freaking nurse. And my kid got into medication. I can’t even process that right now. I can say the healthcare providers we saw were great, and never made me feel like a bad Mom. They provided constant reassurance that these things happen, and twins, but seeing him so tired and out of it. That broke me a little.

We came home. He recovered. Acted fine by dinner time. And then Declan says, “No drink medicine,” I say, “Yes baby, that’s right, no drink medicine,” Declan says, “Unless it’s in a cup.” Facepalm.

I am dreading Thursday. But really what else could possibly go wrong…