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.

Lesbian Mother’s Day

Having two mom’s makes the whole Mother’s Day situation interesting. First off, is daycare or preschool or school going to let my kid make two Mother’s Day crafts? Luckily we have twins so they each make one and it works out. I know lesbian couples who’ve had to fight with the school system to allow their child to make two Mother’s Day cards.

Then there’s also just the logistics of Mother’s Day with twins. There’s no Dad to sort of coordinate the “Mom” having a special day. It’s special for both of us. And the boys are two. So really what am I expecting? A hot yoga class and take-out that my parents are buying for us.

Not a bad way to spend the day, but surrounded and covered by two year old snotty nosed eye crusted boys is how we spend every day! The lesbian’s I know actually say Mother’s Day is not a big deal in their families. Likely because they’ve hit the same snags we have, and over time it’s just not developed into much of a holiday.

For many in the LGBT community, such as my wife, it is also a painful reminder that we don’t have her Mom in our lives because of her Mom’s religious beliefs. The boys are missing an entire side of the family and my wife has been an orphan since the age of twenty. This year, it’s also a reminder that my Nana died in November. Bittersweet is a way I like to describe Mother’s Day around here, and in many LGBT households.

For me, I’m a mom every day. I worked really hard to be a Mom, and I don’t regret a second of it. My kids are not at an age where they have a clue about Mother’s Day. Except that they want the cards they made us, likely to destroy, and I keep saying no they are Mama’s and Mommy’s and I keep being told, “No dat’s decie’s and Chackie’s” (Declan and Jackson).

We do the Mom thing 24/7 around here. Kissing boo boo’s, putting drops in green eyes for pink eye, holding them when they are sad or feverish or just looking for some loving. We give baths, pick up the 35 lb two year old like it’s nothing, read Goodnight Pirate at bedtime, and a million other things in the day to day.

We love being Mom’s, but at this point Mother’s Day will be just another day. But perhaps with some tears over the Mom’s we have lost by choice or not.

I’ve been asked in the past when or how I made my “lifestyle choice” by religious assholes. Obviously it offended me. But the older I get, the more discrimination I witness, hear about, and experience, the more I think this is a choice.

It was a choice for me to marry my wife. Thank-you Supreme Court. It was a choice for my mother-in-law to never be in our lives. It was my wife’s choice to live authentically as herself at age twenty knowing she would be leaving behind everything and everyone she ever knew. It was my choice to sleep with her. To fall in love with her. To continue to share my life with her on a daily basis. And it sure as hell was a choice for me to choose to be a Mama with her as my partner Mommy. It’s a choice to raise our sons in a two mom household surrounded by love.

Mother’s Day means different things to different people. Don’t create assumptions within the LGBT community about what it means to us as individuals. We have all experienced pain and unfortunately it has often been at the hands of those who are supposed to love us most.

For my wife and I, like I said, take-out and hot yoga. And two year old twins. And my Mom and Dad. For that we are lucky and thankful.

Post-Partum Hormonal Crazy

I see a lot of women for post-partum stuff. I say stuff because it’s almost never just straight depression. Often it’s anxiety, high high levels of anxiety. It’s anxiety that something’s going to happen to the baby, anxiety that something will happen to their partner, anxiety they are going to be bad parents, finances, work, etc. They often can’t sleep and they often feel very irritable. They love their kids and they feel horrible that they are so anxious and irritable. Then they feel even worse when they ask how long it’s going to last and I tell them maybe a year. Because honestly I’ve seen it last that long. Medication can take the edge off, and help with sleep, but the mood stuff can literally last a year. I don’t sugar coat it.

When I was post-partum I was breastfeeding premature twins and recovering from a C-section. So yeah. I was a little nuts. I was anxious I was tearful and I was literally overcome with this new emotion of love for these little beings who were completely dependent on me. Literally. They were allergic to formula. Breast milk was the only option.

I’ve thought a lot about that time period and I see Mom’s through it, and then they have toddlers and that brings a whole new level of crazy. Toddlers still wake up at night when they have to pee or when they peed through their diaper or if they get scared or if they are sick. So literally we still don’t sleep through the night ever and now we have these bigger beings who are still dependent on us but who are trying to be independent at the most inconvenient moments.

So these mom’s come in when they have toddlers and are like “I’m still crazy.” They are less crazy then before. They are sleeping better, maybe having sex with their partners, and less anxious but still emotional. Still crying at Peter Pan if they have boys and worried about their girl becoming too girly or too feminist. The more I’ve thought about it and the more I’ve experienced it the more I think it’s not just about being post-partum.

I remember talking to a friend when the boys were a month old and saying that I couldn’t even internalize the immense amount of emotion I experienced in the last month because it would break me. I went from having a partner who I loved to having not just one but two little people who were stealing my heart piece by piece from the time they were implanted in the womb. I think over the past two and a half years at random times pieces of that intense love hits me and is slowly internalized.

Over time I am processing the love of a mother for her son. Times two. But it’s not that it ever becomes manageable. I just become more accustomed to having it around. Because I’m always afraid. Afraid something will happen at daycare, they will fall off the big slide at the playground, they will choke when they eat an apple, and I don’t know, a million other things. The fear and anxiety can be overwhelming if I really pause and think about it. The fear for their futures and for their relationship with each other and with us.

New Mom’s I think see other mom’s and maybe their own Mom’s and see them being totally calm and collected and not obsessed and anxious over everything having to do with their child. Because with time it becomes less present, less intense, perhaps more manageable. But even at my age I know if I’m upset and I tell my mom she will be upset too. So it’s not like getting through the first year makes everything all better. It just maybe makes the intense emotions less intense, perhaps better able to be compartmentalized. But then the damn kids start moving and all these new anxieties start.

In general as humans we aren’t good at vocalizing how we feel and emotion can be seen as weakness. But I know Mom’s are having them, because I am, and because they are in my office crying every day.

Instead of pretending life is great and going by the facebook family of four smiling with no problems, maybe start talking to other Mom’s about real life. Real feelings. Because you will likely find validation and that the addition of a life to a family let alone two at a time is hard, intense, and literally can make you feel crazy. And that’s okay.

Lost Boys

Before I became I mom I could watch Peter Pan and Newsies with no issue. I even found them enjoyable. But since I had the boys, I find that I can’t get past the lost boys. In Peter Pan there are these little dudes dressed in animal costumes and they all are yearning for a Mother. Newsies…children working so they don’t starve. Most are homeless and orphans.

Those movies literally break me a little bit inside. I can’t stop looking at my sons and touching them and hugging them and kissing their heads, telling them I love them. Then sometimes my eyes well up, and Declan looks at me like I’m nuts. Jackson likes to ignore anything going on around him. Then I have to walk away.

If you aren’t familiar with Newsies it’s about boys who sell newspapers who go on strike. There are great songs, and in one they chant “Strike, Strike, Strike,” so now my two year olds run around pumping their fists saying “Stike stike stiiiiiikkkke”. It’s funny because I grew up watching Newsies and was totally obsessed with it also. But it’s not funny because then I just picture my sons alone and starving and fighting to survive.

I know it still happens today because I see it in my work. I talk with kids who have been beaten and who maybe still will be going home to face being beaten. I talk with kids who make a choice between being homeless, going into the system, or going home to be abused. I talk to adults who have survived a childhood of abuse and/or homelessness and neglect. These are our neighbors and our friends who maintain a careful facade to avoid interaction with authorities. Then when I do call authorities they often either refuse to investigate or investigate and do nothing preaching family unity and maintenance.

Some people survive being lost and eventually find themselves and becomes these amazingly resilient individuals who do amazing things with their lives. Or even just ordinary things. These are people you see at Christmas parties or perhaps are your kid’s teacher or coach. We are all surrounded by survivors. I know because I have the privilege of hearing their stories. So often I find myself saying, “Look at how far you’ve come. You are epic.”

But there are those who are lost who remain lost, who perhaps get into drugs and live and die on the street.

The family of two lesbian mom’s and their adopted children who drove off a cliff. Their history is that of failures by the system to come to the rescue of their children. Could you not see the fear and anguish in that viral photo of their son clutching a police officer? So close to help, but so far.

For now, my sons will continue to watch Newsies but I’m taking a break from Peter Pan. The skunk costume gets me. I hug them every chance I get, and I pray they will never be lost.