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.

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.

Mornings with two 2 year old’s.

Every week day morning I am home with the boys. Just as every evening my wife is home with them. I like to complain that mornings are worse because we are on a time crunch to get out the door. But really any time with twin two year olds is a total shit show.

So just snippets from this morning. From the hours of 7 AM when they wake up through 9 AM when we walk out the door.

Me- holding 4 shirts- Jackson needs options. Declan is already dressed standing next to me. Jackson is about five feet away having a meltdown because I took off his pajama shirt and he doesn’t want to put on a new shirt. Me- “This one?” holding up each shirt individually, Jackson with tears, “No!” “No!” Declan- grabs a shirt “Jacky dis one, Jacky dis one,” Proceeds to run after Jackson with a shirt in his hand. Jackson cries and screams and runs away from Declan. I’m still holding up the other three shirts telling Declan to stop chasing Jackson. “Declan, baby, thank-you, Mama’s got this,” I might as well be talking to air, because they are still screaming running in circles with Declan holding up the damn shirt. Then they stop running and screaming both end up in my lap. Then Jackson is pulling at Declan’s shirt, and Declan babbles at him, and they somehow communicate to me that Jackson needs Declan’s shirt and Declan needs the shirt in his hand. I don’t know how honestly, because they don’t speak in sentences. It’s like some weird twin language that I understand sometimes. So I unbutton and take off Declan’s shirt. Put it on Jackson. Put the other shirt on Declan.

This is all after we have established that “Mommy work” (I’m Mama) “Mommy work.” Instead of “Hi Mama,” Every morning it’s “Good morning babies,” “Mommy work?” “Yes Mommy’s at work.” Then one of them might cry or we might be okay and move onto getting dressed.

At the table for breakfast- “Wa wa Mama” “You want water?” “yes.” “please?” “pwees”. I get their two little cups, fill them up, give them each a cup, the look at the cups (they are exactly the same), then they have this whole conversation between each other, sounds like “Jacky,” “Decy, wa wa,” “Jacky, wa wa, No, Mama, pwees.” Then they hand each other their cups to switch them. Then they sit back and sip them. Apparently I gave them the wrong cups. But like seriously. Exactly the same.

Still at the table- “Ca” “Ca” “Rara Rara No!” “Ca Ca”. “Damnit, Rajha get down, guys the black one is Maddy the white one is Raja, not Cat and Rajha.” They scream “Ca” at Maddy, and “Rara” at Rajha every time one of the cats jumps on the table where they aren’t supposed to be. Every morning. Damn cats.

While we eat breakfast I always turn on some music. I have a playlist mixed of my music and kids music. Finally a Mama song comes on. “Mama no, Moana, Moana,” “Yeah but guys this is Pink, Pink is like one of the best artists…” “Mama Moana, Moana, pwees.” Me muttering under my breath that I can’t even listen to one damn Pink song with my coffee as I fast forward to a Moana song.

Inevitably at some point…Jackson screams, “PEE PEE” “PEE PEE” “PEE PEE” and wherever he is has a total shit fit and runs into the family room and lays on the ground to change his diaper. Yes. He knows when he pees, he holds his pee, and no he won’t get on the damn toilet. We are trying. So he goes and lays down, and he waits for me to come change him. And I gotta be honest. Sometimes I forget. So I’m cleaning up the kitchen, packing their diaper bag, brushing my teeth (I literally have toothbrushes, toothpaste, and deodorant in the bathrooms upstairs and downstairs and the kitchen), then I realize I haven’t seen the blonde one for awhile…”Jack-man?” “Mama pee pee.” Fuck. Right. Then I’m like how long has he been laying there? And feeling like the worst mother ever run over to change him and I find him patiently laying on the floor playing with some toy or something with a full diaper.

Getting out the door.

Herding cats. Well herding the boys and yelling at the cats as they try and sneak out the door. Then the boys start yelling at the cats and we have the same discussion. The black cat is Maddy not Cat.

Yesterday I was putting Declan’s coat on, we had already done his shoes and socks, and Jackson who always runs away, actually got within grabbing distance of me. So I grabbed him, pinned him under my legs, finished zipping up Declan’s coat with a writhing screaming Jackson trying to escape. Then I had to lay on him to get his socks and shoes on, while I’m laying on him Declan’s bring Jackson’s coat over and laying it on Jackson’s face saying “Coooooat Jack-y, coooooooat Jack-y”. I get the shoes on. I grab the coat off the even more pissed Jackson, thank Declan, and then while wrestling Jackson into his coat the car alarm goes off. I look up and Declan’s holding my keys looking guilty, clearly having pushed the panic alarm. I pin Jackson down again, Declan comes and gives me the keys, and when I finally get the coat on the car alarm off and stand up, those two cups of coffee hit me, and I’m like if I pee I lose all momentum and we never get out the door, if I don’t pee….well it may come out anyway thank you twin pregnancy.

I rush them out the door, into the garage, one in each car seat. Each with their own car toys. God forbid it’s the wrong car toy. Each with a snack. And then I thank God for remote control car starters as I open the garage, start the car, lock it, run back inside and pee before we head out for the day.

So yeah. To all my co-workers. This is why I’m freaking beat before work even starts.

Yes I love them and thank God they are cute and they give me amazing hugs. And tonight Jackson banged heads with me accidentally, and he rubbed my head with his little hand and said “I sorry Mama, boo boo,” and he kissed my head. It’s those moments that make me forget just this morning I had him pinned between my legs to get his socks on…to bed now only to wake for another adventure…