lesbian mom · mom of boys

“I Used to Have Fun…” A Mom’s nostalgia.

There’s this scene in Mamma Mia where Meryl Streep looks wistfully at the sky in her overalls as she wanders around doing repairs and paying bills and says nostalgically, “I used to have fun…”. The context being her 20 year old daughter is there with her friends and they are having fun.

When I first saw Mamma Mia I was 23 and…I was having fun. Honestly I started having fun when I was fourteen. I partied hard in high school. I actually partied less in college than high school…not to say that I didn’t party though. Then my 20’s, well the first half of them, was freaking phenomenal.

I know this sounds bad coming from a mental health professional- but in this post I’m just a woman. And I don’t regret one freaking hangover or bar fight or spontaneous dance on a stage with two gay boys who totally choreographed with me in my hat…because I had a good freaking time.

Then my 30’s came along and boom. Kids. Dad died. Divorce. Kids. Work. Kids. Work. It became super un-fun. Okay well still fun, in very different ways.

My 20’s were filled with pee your pants laughter. And not because I had a weak bladder due to carrying twins. But because the shit I got into was that hilarious. Especially when we filmed it. Which we did. Often.

I still don’t regret any of it. I don’t regret falling on my butt in an icy parking lot in front of about 100 people on my birthday after drinking prosecco with some of my best friends at the time and then sliding on my stomach over to my friends car because I was too scared to try walking again. I don’t regret filming me and another nurse in the bathroom at a staff Christmas party doing…well things…and then going out to show literally every one at the party…I don’t regret the many times I went skinny dipping-everywhere I could-, and the dancing. All the dancing. OH and even that time I fell down the stairs, didn’t drop my drink, and then yelled “Lesbian sex is awesome” in the middle of the gay bar.

I don’t regret the five years of attending the “herbal conference” in New Hampshire where we brought tents, danced around a fire, ran through the woods and the lake and “studied herbs”. We were told repeatedly we could not dance or swim naked. That place was wild.

Right now my life has less raucous fun. And it has less people in it who I had that fun with. Which sucks. But se la vie right? People move. Friendships change.

There is fun and laughter now but different fun and laughter than in my 20’s and I am damn glad I had my 20’s to make me into the somewhat serious 38 year old whose eyes twinkle with restrained laughter when my 20’s clients tell me about their hijinks. Because internally I’m like…I got you beat.

And that pee in your pants fall on your butt dance on the stage 20 something is still in me. Waiting to re-emerge when I’m through this serious Mama phase.

When I first saw Mamma Mia I remember identifying more with 20 year old Amanda Seyfried. Falling in love. My future ahead of me. But now at 38, I saw Meryl Streep say that line and I was like damn. I feel that. When did I become the parent in all these movies of my youth? Age 30 and 11 months. That’s when.

I spend my days treating the mentally ill and supervising employees. I spend my afternoons, evenings, and weekends parenting two seven year old boys. Not a lot of time for raucous fun. I spend it dealing with school about whichever boy is not listening this week or acting up on the bus or presenting at the assembly. I chauffeur to karate and basketball. I became this Mom Boss lady and while I love the confidence and not give a fuck attitude that my 30’s brought I can’t help but every so often stopping in the midst of a moment with the boys and thinking wistfully to the Summer fling when I was 22 that led to an embarrassing I don’t remember you moment when he moved in with a friend…or the Halloween parties, or, well everything wrapped up in that moment “I used to have fun….” because yeah Meryl. I feel that. Hard.

There was also a stripper.

And sharp-ied mustaches.

I think the dancing on stage with the gay boys was the best though. I think they were actually getting paid to be there and I sorta hopped up with them and we all gelled so the club people let me stay. It. Was. Amazing.

Halloween NYU. Epic.


Nurses & Trauma Bonding

A friend from the emergency department opened a witchy store right near my office. I had messaged her and told her I’d come by and get some gift bags for an employee dinner coming up that I’m giving for my employees. So I went, I brought the boys, I hadn’t seen her in several years, but I got the gift bags, the boys had fun, and later that night I was with a friend at a sushi dinner.

I told her and her husband about the witchy store experience and the gift bags with many items that can ward off bad/negative energy for my employees. She asked if I was close to the owner. I said no, not now, but it’s like when you see a kid die together, no matter how long ago it was, there’s a bond there, and it just feels right to support people I worked with in the ED. My friend is also a therapist of course, so she says, “Oh, you guys have a trauma bond,” and I am also a therapist in my psych nurse practitioner way and I sorta nodded like, well yes. Yes we do. Then my friend did the therapist head tilt and I was like shut it off. We don’t therapize over sushi.

It’s hard to describe a trauma bond. But if you’ve had one, you know. I didn’t like everyone I worked with in the ED. I worked there for seven years. The last year being roughly ten years ago now. And I know for sure not every one who worked there liked me. I get it. I can be a lot. But, and this is the trauma bond part, if I was walking down the street on the coldest day of the year- around here that can be below freezing- if I walked into the person I disliked the most and vice versa and I didn’t have a coat and they did and I was shivering and cold they would still take their coat off, give it to me, and try and help me get warm. And I live in a generally unfriendly state…no one else is going to be stopping to give up their coat. Trust me.

I know some of them are reading this. And I know they may be thinking of certain people thinking no way in hell, but really think about it. Any of us would give the shirt off our back for some one we stood next to while a kid died. Because it wasn’t just about the deaths. It was about keeping each other safe. Holding each other’s emotions. And the causes of death. The abuse cases. The sudden arrests. The police. The assaults. We held each other up through some crazy heart breaking cases while being pushed down on by management and being told there is no room for raises while the board gets million dollar+ bonuses.

That’s what bonds us. The chronic stress. The vulnerability. The rawness. The night shifts. The affairs. We know a lot of stuff about everyone we worked with. A. Lot.

If hospital systems embraced these bonds, acknowledged them, and honestly if they manipulated them, they could have the most loyal and lifelong employees possible. Instead they just keep pushing nurses down and eventually we break and leave.

Being an employer has taught me incredible lessons about myself and about employees. I’ve learned that anxious employees are amazing. And I say this for many reasons and with complete love. Anxious people tend to want to please. So they get their notes done, they drop their charges, they show up for sessions early, and if they have to cancel I know it’s for a solid reason without them even telling me. They are very hard working and get everything done that needs to be done. I’ve also learned that I make anxious people nervous and I have to use a filter and work really hard, to…well to be less myself with them. Because they’d all leave if I was direct and myself.

I had a short exchange via chat today with an employee, and I was in the middle of a phone call and four other things, so my answer to her was short on the chat. Not short rude- just my normal shortness- to the point, nothing extra. I had to pause. Go back. Write a longer message explaining I was in the middle of five things, it’s me not her, I’m not mad, etc. type of message, and I got a response “Thank you so much for that, you saved me an afternoon of ruminating about this.” Five years ago. Before employees. I would never have sent this follow-up message.

But I’m never too old to learn. I have always said and will continue to say I want to be the boss I never had. I had to expand that to say, I want to be the boss you never had either. Because the people who work for me are not me. I have to approach everyone as an individual and recognize their strengths and weaknesses and anxious people- freaking phenomenal employees who need more reassurance than I am used to or was comfortable giving. It’s been a learning curve. But damn if I can figure out why the heck can’t large hospital systems?

I can only hope my employees won’t leave their work tenure with me with a trauma bond. Just a fun, friendly, co-worker bond. The work we do is hard enough. We shouldn’t be traumatized by our work environment because of our employer.

To all you ED nurses creeping on my blog- the term is Trauma Bond. Get a therapist. They can handle your shit. Trauma bonding can be intense maybe intoxicating for some. But it messes you up. You know it. Get help. There is no shame in mental health help. Therapy helps. I’ve been on both sides.