Feeding the Birds (a half eaten doughnut). One Legacy of my Nana.

My Nana died last November. She died the day before my son’s birthdays. She loved birthdays. So I’m thinking it was her way of letting them have their day. She was quite ill at the time. It was bittersweet to witness her passing.

She was rather particular about certain things. We always used the good china for holidays, church on Sunday’s, we always brushed our teeth before breakfast (yuck), and she always gave us three kisses goodnight when we slept over, “Good night” kiss, “sleep tight” kiss, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” kiss, and “I’ll see you in the morning.” She loved ice cream, and we often found ourselves at Friendly’s for chicken fingers with french fries and ice cream. I’m sure our parents loved that.

Every time we went anywhere she got french fries. Not for herself, I mean, she’d have a few, but then she’d tuck the rest of them into a napkin and place them in her purse. Yes all types of oily and if they were mine covered in ketchup. She would bring home any type of carb left on the table anytime we ate wrapped in a napkin, “For the birds” she would mumble as she carefully placed them in her BIG purse that seemed to have never-ending supplies of tissues, tic-tac’s (orange, white or green), and yes old french fries. Even if we were on vacation in New Hampshire, she’d still take the fries. Then she’d save them and bring them home at the end of the week. Weird. I know.

Every morning she always threw seed and old french fries out to her birds. Her deep backyard would fill up with birds of all kinds; the majority being big black crows though, and they would chow down. I had to hand it to her, she built a large and loyal following. But seriously, some times we would be at super nice restaurants and she’d still tuck all the leftover bread and fries and potatoes into her purse. Kind of embarrassing. People didn’t know it was for the birds, it could have just been her idea of a doggy bag.

We all kind of tolerated it even though we would roll our eyes and pretend it wasn’t happening. Especially when she’d reach over and not even ask if we were done with our fries. She would just assume we hadn’t touched them in the last two minutes, I’d look down, and they’d be gone.

Fast forward twenty something years. My wife had a bird feeder. It broke. But again, she had built a loyal following. So she continued to put seed out on the lawn. Then a few times I’ve noticed that I have almost involuntarily thrown out some leftover carb products. Then today we were at a nearby orchard that sells doughnuts. Jackson handed me a half eaten doughnut. Without even thinking I wrapped it in a napkin and stuck it into my purse.

We drove home and I went outside with them. I went through my purse to find my phone and found the doughnut. It was this moment like, shit, am I really going to do this? Am I really going to go outside with the half eaten doughnut and feed the damn birds? I’m totally not that kind of person. Not because I don’t like birds or anything, but simply because for so many years we thought my Nana was a little kooky for doing it.

Well as I type this I am watching a collection of big crows eating the pieces of doughnut I threw out there today. And it’s with some pride and warmth I feel connected to that kooky part of my Nana, and with some embarrassment I admit to the world that I did indeed and probably will again, save food for the birds. I mean it’s better than letting it go to waste…right? I can imagine the look on her face today as she watched over me as I threw the doughnut out onto the lawn. A smug smile and perhaps a chuckle with a nod of approval.

My boys at some point will likely be old enough to roll their eyes at me and tell me to not do that in public some day when we are at a nice restaurant. I’ll just smile at them as I tuck some fries or potato into a napkin and stick it in my purse for the birds.

They won’t remember my Nana, but they will know her.

In these uncertain times and after a week of treasonous statements and unrest, it is these small moments that remind me some things won’t change. We can still have love and family even while we as members of the LGBT community live in fear of what’s to come.

 

Why Two Married People Need to do a Second Parent Adoption. And How No One in Tennessee Will Represent Them.

My wife and I are both on my son’s birth certificate. We also live a generally LGBT friendly state. So if I die my wife would likely have no issues retaining custody of my children. My family wouldn’t fight her for the boys, and frankly I can’t think of many people who would actually want twin boys after they spend maybe ten minutes in my house…but that’s beside the point.

In other states such as Oklahoma and Tennessee- a couple things to know. It is legal to discriminate against individuals based on their LGBT status. It is legal for an extended family member or even an anonymous sperm donor who gave up parental rights to sue a Mom or Dad for custody in the event of the death of departure of the second “birth” parent. So to be fully protected in one’s parental rights a second parent adoption- meaning the Mom or Dad who is NOT biologically related to the child even if they are on the birth certificate- is absolutely necessary. It is also necessary in the event of divorce.

Picture this- two mom’s. One gives birth to a child while married to second mom. Second mom is child’s mom in every way. Biological mom divorces and leaves non-bio mom. Non-bio mom seeks joints custody in the divorce. If she lives in TN the judge may very well say you have no legal rights to this child. Doesn’t matter that you’re on the birth certificate. You did not birth them. Your ex-wife does not want to share custody with you. So peace out. Never see your child again.

This happens.

Really let that sink in. Imagine as a Mom or Dad in a heterosexual co-parenting situation. You would never just imaging that your co-parent would never see their child again. I would never imagine saying to my wife who has literally been there since conception that she cannot see them again and has no rights to them. But that’s happening. In TN and Oklahoma and all those other douchebag intolerant states. It’s going to happen more perhaps even federally if SCOTUS changes the way it’s planning on changing.

My message is this- do NOT think there is no discrimination. There is. I’ve heard from a family in TN who is seeking a second parent adoption. They have called every attorney within an hour of them. Not ONE will represent them to do a second parent adoption. They have all cited religious beliefs as their reason. So this family who is desperate to just protect their rights as Mom’s cannot even find someone willing to help them. And this is ALL legal. They went to the Human Rights Campaign and never heard back. Because their case is actually low priority because there is so much worse discrimination going on in our country right now.

Imagine calling every single attorney within an hour radius of your home. NOT ONE. How would that feel to know that all of those individuals would not represent you for something as simple as a second parent adoption. What about if they actually needed representation for a criminal matter or a lawsuit? Who would help them? The answer is no one.

No one has stepped forward to help them.

How incredibly painful and isolating and terrifying.

There are so many stories like this. So many families who are scared to reach out for help when they need it because they have been told politely or not so politely to fuck off so many times before due to other people’s “religious beliefs.”

This makes me sick. It should make you sick. If you voted for #45 it should literally make you vomit. These are your neighbors at the very core just trying to protect their families.

If anyone knows an attorney willing to help families with second parent adoptions in the states of Tennessee or Oklahoma please message me. Those particular states, unlike CT, require a family to be represented by an attorney. It’s another barrier they put up for LGBT families.

These are desperate times for the LGBT population. We need allies.

 

Hot Yoga. Twins. And Freaking Kennedy.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately. As per usual.

I am trying to ignore the fact that the Supreme Court may change the course of my life permanently. I’m trying to forget the fact that democrats were major pussies when Merrick was up and didn’t play hardball like the Republicans have been doing now. Pisses me off. Now is not the time to be polite. These decisions can become life and death. Back ally abortions killed women. Hate and discrimination kills people still. Though I vote Democrat the party itself is pissing me off as much as the Republicans. Because freaking fight. At least that’s how I feel. I’m not a half ass kinda girl. I’m an all or nothing kinda woman. When I believe in something I will fight for it. Passionately and with all I’ve got.

Off and on since my teens I’ve taken yoga. It always was nice in the moment but afterward I’d be like okay I need to go work out now. As I got older and had more stuff on my plate I didn’t have time to go to yoga then go to a real workout. So yoga fell off to the wayside. Also all the laying on the ground at the end for 20 minutes or whatever just irritated me. I’m not good at meditation nor do I really feel the need to be.

After I had the boys my body was a hot mess. Still kind of is. But less so. Then after a year of breastfeeding. Wow. Even more of a hot mess. I worked with a trainer, hit the gym, but I just wasn’t feeling it. One day in January my wife and I did a date to a hot yoga class. It was amazing. Totally crazy workout that makes me still want to die/puke/pass out on the regular and so intense that I can’t think of anything else because my brain is occupied with the fight to survive the next hour. And we only lay on the floor for 5 minutes at the end tops, and cool music is playing. Not weird meditative crap. And I’m so spent from 55 minutes of craziness I can actually lay there and just zone out.

After that first class I was like. Wow. I found my home. It’s not Bikram. It’s Baptiste style. In a basement type studio with heat set at 94 degrees and humidity to 45%. It’s often hotter and more humid by the end of the class.

I’ve dropped pounds and inches. I even dropped a cup size. Amazing. I bought my first C cup bra ever. I’m just freaking amazed. I gradually increased from once a week to twice a week to three times a week, to sometimes four if I’m not dead.

That hour I take for myself has been life changing. Not only am I feeling better about my body in general but my brain can shut off. I can actually not think about the Supreme Court fuck up and now totally fucked up future of SCOTUS. It’s like it brings me back to the basics. Survive. Survive this hour. That’s pretty powerful.

I leave covered in sweat. I mean my clothes are soaked. The hot yoga towel I put over my mat is soaked. I realized I was making progress when I could make it the first fifteen minutes without sweating yet. I can also do Crow pose which is cool. I can sort of do inversions. But I’m not safe enough to do it in that tiny little room as I would probably kick my neighbor or something.

No one at hot yoga knows my story. The teachers I go to the most frequently know my name. One of them now knows I have twins. I told her last week. But I had been going since January and could just go in and not be me. I could just be a person doing her thing in hot yoga and leave. Not a Mama, not a nurse, not a lesbian, not a business owner. Some one actually thought I was a local college student. I didn’t correct them. Because I’m like wow. I’m freaking old. If you think I’m 22 I’m down with that.

It’s been my own personal journey and is ongoing. I continue to see improvement in my flexibility, my poses, and overall my weight and body. I have muscles in my arms I didn’t know existed. Most importantly I have hope. Hope that I will be myself again somehow. I leave feeling lifted, feeling that no matter how dark things may get, no matter how fucked up SCOTUS will become, that we all have this innate drive to survive. I found mine. Connected with it. Powerful shit.

The world has withstood worse tyrants and worse times than this asshole and every other asshole who supports him. We will survive too. We just have to connect with our drive to do so. It’s there. Promise. Go to hot yoga. You’ll find it. Just don’t talk to me if you find my studio. That’s my zen time. And I generally can’t breathe and I may puke on you. Ha. Yeah.

Fear and Vulnerability

Vulnerability: (I had to dictionary.com this shit to fact check) So per Dictionary.com…

1. capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt; as by a weapon.

2. open to moral attack, criticism;

3. open to assault; difficult to defend.

Fear: Again per dictionary.com

  1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
  2. a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.
  3. concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone’s safety.
  4. reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God.
  5. something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of: Cancer is a common fear.
  6. anticipation of the possibility that something unpleasant will occur

I’ve wanted to write a post about this for awhile. But haven’t figured out how. Also sort of hate being vulnerable so the idea of writing a blog post about it made me feel uneasy. But it’s important and I don’t like being scared of something. So here goes.

I think we all know instinctively what being vulnerable feels like but we may not be able to put it into words. Hence the dictionary.com situation. I knew that it feels scary/raw/open/fearful. I know how it feels because every single time I tell someone I’m married to a woman I feel it. Which is almost on a daily basis. Think about how many times you reference your significant other and/or children. On a daily basis right? Think about how safe and secure and without hesitation you feel every time you mention your husband or wife if you are in a heterosexual relationship. Think about mentioning your children a hundred times a day to anyone. That you don’t think twice about it, and then maybe you share this heterosexual moment of kinship about their Dad’s or their Mom’s or whatever.

I don’t have that.

I tell people I have twins and they ask if my husband helps out a lot. I say I have a wife. Then I wait. I wait for acceptance or not. I make that statement and I am vulnerable to attack on my person and on my marriage and on my business. Because I do own a business. It is woman owned and yes Lesbian owned. So take that:)

But for real. That maybe 5 second moment that I experience on the regular is the most fucked up/vulnerable/fear inspiring/awe inspiring moment. And no offense but hetero’s you just can’t comprehend.

Every single time I talk about my family I put my safety at risk. I put myself at risk.

EVERY LGBTQ individual who comes out to any one at any time makes themselves vulnerable in that moment in a way that only a minority who knows hate and discrimination and murder can know. It can literally be life ending. Sit with that for a second. Freaking deep right.

So honor that moment when someone has the courage to come out to you. Because they may look cool and calm but inside they are waiting. Waiting to see which way you will swing. They are vulnerable in that moment. Vulnerable to fear, hate, and love.

I won’t stop putting myself out there. I won’t stop writing a blog post that outs myself and my family. Because ultimately though the word vulnerable makes me a little squeamish I know the big picture is more important. The big picture being that there are LGBTQ individuals who have died after coming out. There are LGBTQ individuals who have been horribly beaten. Yet they still walk the walk. They still talk the talk. They have embraced the vulnerability and the fear and given it the middle finger. I am happily and fearfully and lovingly joining them.

Rest in peace. All those who have died to be LGBTQ freely. PRIDE month in the USA for me means being proud of all those individuals who have stood up for our rights and died for them. We will carry on.

 

Being Boxed. A Rebellious Nurse.

So I started writing a blog post awhile ago about all my LGBT clients who felt stifled by their families growing up, that they had to conform themselves into this box that their families and societies placed them in.

Then once again the state of our nation hi-jacked my fun and emotionally impactful statement about LGBT youth being put into figurative boxes. Because we, as a nation, literally started putting children into boxes. What the fuck.

I swear to God if #45 hi-jacks one more of my blog posts…

Because I can’t write about fluffy shit- and by the way LGBT youth being made to conform into something they aren’t isn’t exactly fluffy- when there are children suffering. The thing about it is that they are suffering needlessly.

#45 has been made the villain. But the true villains are all the assholes sitting by with their thumbs up their asses as this happens. Every member of congress who is not speaking out against this, every business, every organization that is remaining silent is complicit. Me, writing a blog post about being boxed, and literally not mentioning it, would have been just wrong. Homophobia and non-acceptance is a reality. So are children being put into cages. Actual cages.

I look at my sons. I think if I had to do something to get them to safety I would. I would literally do anything. Then if I got them to safety and someone tried to take them from me I would literally need to be killed. Because I would fight. I would fight until I was dead if someone tried to take them from me.

The idea that our nation is locking up innocent children and tearing them apart from their parents literally feels like a punch in the gut. If I actually sit and think about it and connect with those feelings it makes me feel sick. The sickest part is the number of politicians who haven’t spoken out against it.

The American Psychiatric Nursing Association released a statement saying to basically cut the shit. I was like, YES! I knew I made the right career move joining the ranks of psychiatric nurses. One of the comments said, “APNA should stick to nursing.” And I smiled and thought, if there is any one more in need of a nurse right now it is these children. Nurses are advocates, caretakers, trusted members of society. These families need nurses speaking up and saying cut the shit. Nursing is taking a hard line against wrongdoing even when it presents as being rebellious. Rebellious nurses make changes.

Rebellious nurses call out racism, homophobia, sexism, immoral and unethical decisions. Rebellious nurses have led the marches and made up the ranks and will continue to do so. Rebellious nurses don’t stay in boxes and we sure as hell don’t keep our mouths shut. We do “stick to nursing” though. Nursing is caring, compassion, advocacy, and fighting the fight.

Thank-you APNA and the ANA for making statements against this horrendous situation. I am with you.

SCOTUS and LGBT Allies Walking the Walk

I was all set to write this really cute blog post about how my two year olds think I’m their pet. (“Come Mama”, “Sit Mama”, they expect me to eat whatever they put in front of me, and sometimes they make me beg after yelling and asking nicely don’t do it.) It was going to be really funny. Then I saw the headlines. SCOTUS sided with the damn baker. If you don’t know what that means Google it. Educate yourself.

Now what it does not mean is that people can discriminate against LGBT individuals nationally. HOWEVER, seeing as over half the country voted for #45 I know that unfortunately half or more of the country is not very intelligent and they will not read the actual SCOTUS ruling they will just see this as their rightful opportunity to be louder and more discriminatory toward LGBT individuals and families and they will feel justified in doing so because the SCOTUS said it’s okay…(which they didn’t. Again read the ruling and educate yourself.)

What I’ve been saying since I started writing this though is that people who identify themselves as allies of the LGBT community need to walk the walk. I’m going to explain what that means in case you don’t know.

It means more than just putting a rainbow flag over your profile pic for Pride month. It means more than commenting on FB posts that are homophobic.

Let me teach by example. I own my own mental health practice. I have let it be known to my clients and colleagues that I am an out provider and that I’ve got the backs of all LGBT individuals. That means when I get a call from a transgender identifying individual I stay late, I come in early, I work on my day off, in order to expedite their intake. Will I do this for a heterosexual individual? No. Because they have heterosexual privilege. They didn’t have to wait weeks, months, or years to find a transgender friendly provider. They didn’t have to call a dozen places and be asked what transgender means or what their “real name” is. I’ve seen transgender clients for almost pennies because they didn’t have insurance. And in doing so I’ve built a reputation among the trans community as being a trans-competent and trans-friendly provider. Same for gay men, lesbians, drag queens and Queer identifying individuals. I’ve walked the walk. I’ve gone to bat for my people and they know it. I’ve also seen such interesting characters and the secretary in my building has mastered a deadpan expression no matter who walks in.

I do this because I’ve always been a fan of the underdog. I worked in the two most hated areas of hospitals. Emergency department and psychiatry. Those people who have been opposite me in an argument or in seeing my advocate for patients know that I am loud but that I have strong silences. I also tend to get my way. So trust me, you want me advocating for the most unprotected and vulnerable population in our country right now. But I can’t do it alone.

By walk the walk I mean if you know the corner store is owned by a homophobic family or person but you buy your coffee there every morning anyway because the closest coffee shop beyond that is 30 minutes….buy a freaking keurig or drive thirty minutes. Know who is homophobic (ah hem Home Depot and Chick Filet and Barilla past) and stop frequenting their businesses and stop buying their products. Living without Home Depot has been rough at times but we survive. Don’t just talk the talk with your “love is love” crap. Put your money where your mouth is.

And stand up to your family and friends in person NOT just on social media. If you hear them use dyke and fag terminology: speak up. Don’t remain quiet because it’s easier because you are complicit. It’s hard. Been there. I was recently at a picnic and some one started talking about transgender people and how they just didn’t get why “they need to do that, why can’t they just be happy with what God gave them?” I could have shut up and turned away and started a new conversation with some one else. But that would make me complicit. And if I could just educate one person and change one person’s views it can make a difference. So I didn’t turn away. I took a deep breath and did a down and dirty transgender education session in less than five minutes. It went fine. There were no punches thrown and we both felt safe expressing our viewpoint and experiences. I could see movement toward understanding and while I didn’t want to talk work at a picnic how could I not address that?

Don’t call yourself an ally unless you are ready to walk the walk.

When you do, don’t expect thanks or praise- I sure as hell didn’t. I mean I’ve been thanked and stuff and that’s great but at the end of the day it’s the right thing to do and actions speak. I didn’t get my education to take care of rich white heterosexual entitlement. I got my education and my license to help those in need. The LGBT community is sorely in need right now.

I personally will not turn down friends, but at the same time only put out your hand if you know what you are truly offering.

Mommy-ing with chronic illnesses

I often see clients who are suffering from depression/bipolar disorder/PTSD, etc who have young children. And their number one concern that brings them to tears is the thought that they are not the best Mom they can be because of their illness. Because sometimes they are short with their kids, or don’t feel like they have the energy to deal with them, or put them in preschool three days a week even though they are stay-at-home mom’s and feel guilty about it but need a break.

I’m not a big self-disclosure type of person. So I usually don’t disclose to clients that I literally know exactly how they feel. But I’m saying it here. I get you. I have severe and sadly in the past year uncontrolled asthma as well as endometriosis. The asthma, eh it’s okay, when I was on prednisone for six weeks and I turned into a lunatic then I felt bad for my kids. But I usually can power through the whole not breathing thing better than the endo. For those who are unfamiliar endometriosis is an autoimmune disease that causes growth of endometrial tissue in other parts of the body where it’s not supposed to be. Symptoms are generally pain, hemorrhagic cysts (bleeding cysts), infertility, bowel issues, and it’s even been found on people’s lungs which causes breathing issues obviously. So yeah it’s no picnic. There’s no cure. I’ve had two surgeries already and not looking to have a third.

Before I became a Mom I could take a nap. Cancel plans. Take a narcotic pain medication to ease symptoms to be able to sleep. Now…I power through. The pain’s still there. The fatigue that comes with it. The cysts that cause really freaking bad pain. Have I curled up on the couch in front of Moana with a heating pad and felt like the worst mom ever? Yes. Have I been brought to tears when one of them unknowingly kicked me in the abdomen right in that sweet spot where the endo pain lives as we were having a tickle fight? Yes. Have I grimaced when I bent to pick them up and fought back tears as I held them in my arms when they cried? Yes. Have I ever told my wife or kids that I am in pain? No. She knows, I mean, she’s know me for eleven years. She knows when I”m hurting. But I don’t want the boys to think I am anything less than their Mama. I want to protect them from this as much as anything.

Mommy-ing is hard. Mommy-ing while trying to battle your own demons. Girl Rock On. I tell my clients, “You are the best and most beautiful Mom your kids would ever want. So don’t beat yourself up about needing a break from them or taking your own space. You have to take care of you in order to take care of them,”

But I know from experience. It’s wicked hard taking care of me while also trying to take care of them. Naps? Ha. Pain meds? Not happening. I don’t even want them in the house in case the boys find them and take them by accident (former ED nurse paranoia I know). Just have to settle for Moana and a heating pad with the monster’s, I mean boys, running in and out of the room, yelling, occasionally hitting each other and crying, and some times just cuddling up against my side and pointing at the heating pad and saying “Mama boo boo?”

When it’s “Not my problem”

One of my most painful memories from the emergency department was a mom dropping off her toddler and claiming the Safe Haven law. She walked out in tears. Refused to give us her name. Did leave the child’s name. We were able to track down family members. And DCF. And the police. Eventually there were about ten family members in the room with this drooling babbling almost two year old. The DCF worker was trying to establish who would take the baby among the ten adults present. The room went totally silent. Then it was like a buzzing of bees. “I have kids already,” “I’m in school,” “I work full time,” etc. etc. Not one of those family members who so quickly came down to the ED took responsibility for that beautiful baby.

If you’ve read my blog you know I really try my hardest not to judge other people. Because being judged is not fun. But in that moment I was judging the crap out of that family. Especially now that I have kids and a niece. If I got a call that my niece needed a new home you bet your ass I would be there in a heartbeat. Because she’s my family and she is my problem to solve. I have two year old twins. Would I want another child if I had a choice? No. But I would never let a family member of mine go into state custody over coming to live with me. But that’s how I roll I guess. I have a deep sense of loyalty to my family and my friends. I’d make it work. My wife jokes because she thinks I’ll just come home one day with a stray kid. Because she knows if I was in that situation I’d grab that baby and be like I got you.

How many times a week do I sit with a kid who is being bullied. Who tells me the teachers know, the other kids in their class know, and no one does anything. I believe them. Been there. At what point will we teach our children to step up and say “Stop.”

The level of indifference in our communities astounds me. Facebook groups are incredibly active regarding social justice, yet my wife and I still got severely side-eyed big time in a more conservative part of our state recently at a Job Lot with our kids.

Within the past couple months someone in a FB group I’m in wrote about why Christians receive a bad rep and that it’s not fair. It rubbed me a certain way. Not because I am anti-Christian at all. But because it felt like a white person complaining about a Person of Color being suspicious or skeptical of a white person. It’s easy for a person of Christian faith to say “But I’m not homophobic or racist” talking the talk. It’s the whole walking the walk that gets more complicated. Who’s going to stand up for a lesbian family being discriminated against? Especially if the discrimination is subtle. I can remember so many times facing discrimination and it wasn’t private it was very public with good people sitting by and watching, hearing, and remaining silent.

I offend people sometimes because I don’t shut my mouth when it is socially expected to do so. But I’m not going to change that because there have been too many times when no one opened their mouth for me. So I will continue to call people out on their bullshit. I will loudly call out discrimination. I will set the example for my children to not turn the other way when kids are being bullied in front of them. I encourage you to do the same.

Silence makes you complicit.

Silence is easy. Speaking up and fighting the fight is tiring and scary. But I keep remembering that little baby on the stretcher surrounded by people who would end up walking away from him. Breaks me a little. I won’t be that person who walks away.

13 Reasons Why it Still F*&%$ With My Head…

Hey it’s me. The blogger. Season 1 of 13 Reasons Why (On Netflix) was horrendous for me to watch. I had to because all my freaking clients were triggered by it. And I then had to tell their parents to watch it. Then I had to meet with their parents about it and explain that yes shit like this does actually happen. Yes there is this secret teenager world and yes bad shit happens in it.

  1. Most disturbing scenario for parents…my kid is being bullied or my kid was brutally assaulted and they were told by the school their kid would NOT have to see the perpetrator. But guess what they do. They end up in the same classes. They end up on the same freaking stage at graduation. ALL the time. I see it every day. It sucks. It feels so wrong and it feels like the anger of the victim and the shame of the victim is forgotten or invalidated or both.
  2. Sexual assault and date rape happens. Then these girls have to go to school and see the guy that did it. For maybe another four years. They may never tell me the name of the perpetrator. They may be telling me for the first time ever. They tell me quietly, with shame, with tears, and there’s nothing I can do. It’s the most powerless feeling in the world and when I tell the parents they feel that times a thousand.
  3. School systems are systems. They want kids to come and learn and behave and leave. They don’t want to have to pay for anything extra. They will not assume responsibility for the bullying in the halls, bathrooms, lorckerrooms. They will turn a blind eye as a child is punched in the head repeatedly in front of them.
  4. Guidance counselors are human. They don’t always provide guidance in the best interest of the student but rather in the best interest of the school. I’ve experienced this as a student, as a provider, and now as a viewer.
  5. Teenagers have this completely insane superpower that no matter what crazy shit is happening they can still compartmentalize, put it aside, and go have fun and make out at a movie theatre. Let them. They need it.
  6. Teenagers literally think no one else has ever felt the way they are feeling. No matter what you or I say nothing will change their mind. So just let them feel it.
  7. We all knew the kids in my school who had abusive parents or whose parents get high. Teenagers now know the same shit. But there’s that whole code of silence. So don’t ask them, because they likely won’t tell you a damn thing. But just know that they know.
  8. Social media bullying happens every second of every minute of every hour of every day. The shit kids today, starting as young as they can hold an iPhone and download snapchat, have to cope with and defend themselves against is incomprehensible to all of us who grew up with flip phones. When I tell parents to look through their kids insta, finsta’s, snapchats, kik’s, WhatsApp, and to look for apps that are blockers to parental controls, they generally stare at me like I have three heads. If you have a child with a smartphone you need to know what these things are. You need to go through your kids phone. And it terrifies the shit out of me that NO ONE does this. Also, take it out of their room starting at 6 pm or 8 pm. Jesus grow a pair and give them a break because they won’t give themselves one. They need you to parent their phone use. I am so careful about not judging parental decisions but this is the one space I do. Take their damn phone. They need you to.
  9. Teenagers don’t use condoms as much as they should. It’s terrifying. I’ve had so many teenage clients have abortions and have babies. Buy them the freaking condoms instead of putting your head in the sand.
  10. Athletes are prized and placed on a pedestal. Every other child in school who is good at drawing, writing, singing, acting, dancing, etc. They are all made to feel less than. Even though they are the ones that go on to become politicians, teachers, nurses, doctors. They are the kids that become something. Yet they are defined as being less than for the first eighteen years of their lives because they can’t kick a freaking soccer ball. Athletes get away with shit other kids don’t. I know, I was one.
  11. Guys are allowed to fuck a lot of girls and not be called whores. They are allowed to sleep around and still shoulder up to high school administrators and parents and get scholarships. Girls who have sex with even one person can be labeled as sluts, whores, and are treated essentially in the opposite fashion.
  12. One of the top two reasons this show fucks with my head is because it is so true to life. And because so many people watching it like to believe it’s not true to life. I’ve seen literally every single one of these scenarios play out in reality whether in my own life or in my career with my clients. If I could have chosen to not watch this damn show and to not have it come out with two seasons I would have. But I don’t like looking away from shit, and so many of my clients were talking about it, I had to watch it. The guidance counselor takes the blame for every adult who missed that girl’s cry for help. Yes I’ve been an adult in a kid’s life listening to their cry for help and telling them not to kill themselves. I’ve also been the kid, struggling to help myself and help my friends questioning if I had any friends at various times, and questioning whether we should all live another day.
  13. The top reason this show fucks with my head is because I have two toddlers. They will one day be teenagers. They will see abuses, drunk people, high people, bullying, they will potentially be bullied or God forbid bully some one else. They will have smartphones that I will spend my life monitoring the shit out of. They will be these vulnerable beings who think they are adults but are still kids and they will cause me to battle parenting them, loving them, and falling asleep every night praying they choose to live no matter what they face.

When Mom’s Aren’t Good Enough.

Every time I drop them at daycare and one of them cries.

Every time I talk to a stay at home mom who is miserable.

Every time I talk to a Mom of a teenager in trouble who cries questioning and doubting every choice they made starting at birth.

Every time I make a choice for myself that is ultimately always for my family to be better or more stable.

I think maybe women are so used to negative self talk that adding in Mom guilt on top of body shaming, work guilt, food guilt, friend guilt, family guilt, etc. just isn’t a big deal.

But it is. I see it eat away at people. I also think it’s bullshit.

Some Mom’s want/need/have to stay at home with their kids. I did for eighteen weeks when they were born and I wanted to die. So I’m not one of them. Neither is my wife. My sons love daycare, and they go four days a week and are home with my wife and I the other three. They only went three days for the first year. But I shouldn’t have to defend our decisions. Because even if they went full time from the start that should be okay.

But for some people it’s not.

I love my kids. I love my wife. I love my career. I don’t want to sacrifice any of it. I want my kids to be proud of my accomplishments when they are old enough to understand them. I want to set an example to strive for great things. Can a stay at home mom do this? Yes. Absolutely. We are just coming at it from different angles.

I don’t want to be forty-five watching them leave for college and look at my life and my marriage and realize being a Mom has defined me. I want to define being a Mom on my own terms. I want it to be a part of who I am, but not the entirety of who I will be. And I don’t want to be made to feel guilty by any one else for feeling this way. I want more experiences jumping off piers in Mexico. Without my kids there.

I see women on the other side. College, moved away, in another state, side of motherhood. It’s not pretty. It’s ugly. There is soul searching, sometimes marriages end, and women try to rebuild themselves.

From the time they are born we are made to question ourselves, feel guilty: formula/breastfeeding, solids at six months or twelve or three, rice or oatmeal, circumcised or not. Then it’s what daycare, what preschool, and God forbid their preschool doesn’t serve organic milk and antibiotic free carrots and hummus. Then what kindergarten, you want to keep twins together? What? The what sports, activities, band, arg. It goes on. So many ways and reasons to feel Mom guilt. So many expectations by society.

But in the end, I’m not going to give in. I’m a woman first and foremost. I’m not going to be taken over by the woulda coulda shoulda’s of parenthood. Because we are doing the best we can, as I’m sure most other Mom’s are too. So give yourself a pat on the back. Your kids are alive? Asleep? Mostly clean? Fed? A freaking plus.

And we deserve extra credit today for allowing them to run around the yard naked after they stripped to nothing as we pulled dead worms out of the pool vacuum. I mean seriously. We love our kids.