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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

But Why Are Kids So Anxious?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aurora, Sandy Hook, Pulse, Parkland, etc.

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

How can we expect kids not to be anxious?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

It’s literally only Wednesday.

Let’s start on Sunday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Terrible Truth About Pooping with Toddlers.

Everybody poops. So let’s get that out of the way. It’s just not something we generally talk about as a society (unless you work in healthcare in which case we are ALL aware of our poop schedules including when/where and if there’s enough roughage in our diets…but that’s another story).

There are many things no one tells you when you decide to embark on a parenting journey. One thing was the no sleep and exhaustion that just takes over your body for years. Another thing is that you will never poop in peace again. Or at least not for a decade or two.

Starting when they are newborns. Because they will inevitably start screaming mid-poop. And there’s nothing you can do. Because seriously, mid-poop. Nothing else to do but let them scream. It leads to a lot of not relaxing, stressful poops. Which is the opposite of how a good poop is supposed to feel.

That quintessential image of a person on the toilet with the newspaper. Ha. Good luck with that. More like, an inner dialogue of, ‘Shit, get out, get out, please be an easy one or two wipe clean-up, they are screaming, shit,’ And an outer dialogue of “Okay baby, it’s okay, Mama’s coming, stop crying pllleeeeaaaaase.” They never stop crying. Until you are done.

Then they get older and bigger. They understand what poop is. They learn to flush toilets. They also start walking, talking, and the worst….opening doors.

So sometimes I try and sneak away, say “Mama is going pee pee” while they are eating breakfast. Thank God they are obsessed with breakfast. It can buy me a few minutes. Then, with two two year olds you have a couple options.

1- Door closed and locked and deal with banging and yelling that ensues because God forbid they not be allowed into a space where I need to be for just a few minutes.

2- Keep the door open. Allow one or two toddlers to join me, chat and babble while you are pooping, and then fight and beg to have them leave the bathroom so you can wipe.

I guess the third option is to just allow them to stay there while you wipe. But then they inevitably try and look into the toilet while you are wiping or they want to hand you toilet paper, or they are trying to flush the toilet, or they decide in that moment to wash their hands and want your help…trust me, get them out at the very least while you are wiping.

Trust me. A lot comes along with kids. What no one tells you about is that you will never poop in peace. Ever. Again. So enjoy the silence, the closed doors, the magazines, the time on your phone scrolling facebook or whatever it is you do with those moments on a toilet. Treasure the quiet relaxing poops of today.

Because if your future holds children, you will never know that peace again instead just accept your poop time will be anxiety-provoking with loud little people screaming or banging on the door, and if you keep the door locked and you have more than one…occasionally you may come out of the bathroom to find one of them bleeding and guaranteed on a daily basis one of them will be crying and blaming the other kid for hitting/kicking or taking a toy. It’s a gamble either way.

To toddler parents everywhere….May the Force Be With You.

To future toddler parents. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

 

 

How the Right Thinks We are Being Manipulated by the Left. And Why I’m Fine With That.

I got into a spirited discussion with someone online regarding the Kavanaugh hearings. I actually watched the hearings. He didn’t. I read the transcripts. He didn’t. I’m a lesbian. He’s a cis-hetero white male. He emphatically stated that Dr. Ford was a liar. I emphatically stated that ultimately I could give two craps whether she’s lying or not. It comes down to blocking Kavanaugh from the SCOTUS. Because I watched his performance and I was less than impressed. He did not comport himself with dignity, grace, humility, non-partisanship or neutrality. I personally feel these are all needed to serve on SCOTUS. So if Dr. Ford’s allegations stop him from serving. Then go on with your bad self.

This online troll then accused me of being okay with lies as every Leftist is, as long as we get our way, and that the legalization of homophobia wouldn’t possibly change the treatment my family receives from our society.

I gracefully exited this debate with a have a nice day, and until next time. There were a few statements he made that angered me. I didn’t like that he would presume to know what would happen to my family should legalization of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity occur federally. Because that’s what we are facing from this administration.

In case any one hasn’t figured that out yet.

It’s a thing. It’s part of their agenda. It’s already legal in several states in the South and midwest and I know personal stories of individuals and families in these states who have been victim to these laws.

No offense to white dudes. But you have no idea what it is like to live in fear. Fear for my safety. Fear of discrimination. Fear of losing my job. My house. My friends. My family. All because I’m married to a woman. These fears are NOT unfounded. My wife’s family has no contact with us because we are gay. We have been called dykes. We have left bars because we felt unsafe. We will never vacation in Alabama. Or Louisiana. Because those states have legalized discrimination.

So if the democratic party is “manipulating” public opinion to oppose K. I say it’s about time and thank-you Dem’s for finally taking a stand.

I will also say to any Republican out there. That lying is not unique to the Democratic party. Um….Chris Collins, Russia, Scott Taylor, Duncan Hunter, Rod Blum, the Iraqi invasion, and for real do I even need to say Nixon? Lying is not owned by the Left. It’s actually likely present equally on both sides. And quite honestly whatever protects my family…affords us safety and allows us to continue to live as Americans in our home. I’m down with.

At least I’m honest about it. Unlike trolls who act like all R’s are these self righteous God fearing non-lying individuals. Ha. That would be unreal.

So to the Right. Yes the Left lies. You do to. The opposing argument would be that your just trying to protect your family, just as much as I’m trying to protect mine. Here’s the thing. In protecting mine I’m not taking away your rights. Your rights stay the same. By protecting my family and by not legalizing homophobia all you white straight “normal” families are still legal too and still not able to be discriminated against. Me standing for mine doesn’t hurt yours. But you standing for yours…could destroy mine. Could endanger mine.

We, the Queer community, already live in fear. So yes, I would beg, borrow, lie, and steal to protect my family. If Dr. Ford is lying that’s not good. But if K is lying. And he lands on the SCOTUS. We should all be living in fear.

There are people who’s minds will never change. Just as mine won’t. Do I think the Left is fiscally responsible? No. Do I think they are the pillar of morality and values? No. But do I think that the majority of them will stand for my family. Will fight for our protection and not our disintegration. Yes.

And that is why I take the bad with the good. I choose to stand by people who yes have lied. Just as the Right stands with some one who publicly stated sexual assault of women is okay and who surrounded himself with people being investigated for treason and collusion with Russia. Our not-friend. We could trade barbs all day.

But at the end of the day I still will stand for those who stand for my family. Nothing will change that.

 

I used a picture of my boys. Because K. kept  bringing up his daughter. Well these are my sons. These are the victims of homophobia and discrimination. This is bigger than K and his family. This is about so many families so many children. Mine included. Don’t lose sight of that. I wish no harm on any one’s child.

Raising Boys and Toxic Masculinity

I was watching this show on Netflix with Tony Danza. I’m a Tony fan. There was this scene though that made me turn it off. Tony’s out at a bar with a group of friends. A beautiful model walks in and sits at a booth alone. Tony gets up and struts over to her, and sits down in the booth. He then propositions her. She says No. The scene goes on far too long with Tony continuously asking her to give him a shot, making sexual innuendo’s, and the girl continuously saying No, trying to avoid eye contact, wishing he would leave. He eventually gets up and struts back to his table and says something like, “She’s not my type,” and everyone laughs.

I don’t think it’s funny. That to me is toxic masculinity. Because he’s a man, and she’s an attractive female, he has the right to make her uncomfortable by asking and propositioning multiple times instead of walking away the first time she said no. It was supposed to be funny. I felt my stomach churning and my skin crawling.

I’ve been that girl. Not a beautiful model unfortunately, but the girl being asked by a guy and being told No, and then being asked and asked until I have to be rude and then I’m called a bitch or whatever. When really it’s on the dude.

Walk away when a girl says No. Respect the No.

My wife and I have been harassed and hit on at bars together, and we’ve told men we are married, we have no interest, and they continuously have approached us. To the point I took a swing at one guy (Back when I was young and impulsive and way before being a Mom, because I would never advocate violence!!). But his disrespect of my No’s repeatedly, following me around the bar, blocking my path from the bathroom when I didn’t know he followed me there. These are all times that my No has not been respected and the man who I’m saying No to gets angry, defensive, and even more vulgar instead of just walking away.

Tony Danza was possibly the most unattractive man I have ever seen in that scene. I will never watch another episode of that show. Toxic masculinity is a term I don’t like. Because I want my sons to have positive masculinity. I want them to embrace the aspects of themselves that are masculine. But if they ever disrespect the first No from a girl. I will kick their ass.

Part of being masculine is being able to walk away with grace. Positive masculinity is respecting a woman’s No and smiling, and saying, Have a good night, and walking away. Not pursuing and pursuing and devolving into a defensive ass.

Raising a man is complicated. Masculinity can be carrying oneself with confidence but not being aggressive. Standing up for oneself and protecting others, but not demeaning others or protecting some one who doesn’t want or need protection. It’s being honest but not rude.

Our society wants a man to have the dominance of John Wayne, the mystery of Johnny Depp, the beauty and humor of George Clooney, and the dignity and intelligence of Barack Obama. We have set up these impossible standards while also demeaning masculinity by putting the word toxic in front of it. Without actually thinking about how as a society we actually prize masculinity just not when it crosses into sexual harassment and sometimes even when it crosses into perhaps what’s considered demeaning of feminism. It’s freaking complicated. And a lot as a Mom of boys to consider.

I’ve always considered myself a feminist. I marched in the ProChoice rally when Bush was President. Rode overnight on a bus from upstate NY with no one I knew. I saw it on a  bulletin board, and I called the number and they came and picked me up. One of maybe thirty-five liberals in upstate NY. I’ve stood for girls and women personally and professionally. I’ve had my job threatened when I brought light to the rampant sexism at a hospital I worked at. I take a stand when needed, and always hope to shine light into the darkness.

So color me surprised when I popped out twin boys. What the hell was I supposed to do with them? Turns out I fell in love with them. They force me to re-examine my beliefs about masculinity. They force me to question the term Toxic M. and their very existence challenges me to do better. What I’m learning and exploring is not a battle between men and women but just an embracing of healthy femininity and healthy masculinity in whatever form that takes for people.

I will foster confidence and intelligence in my sons. But I will also instill in them respect and consent and the beauty of a man who can walk away with grace from rejection. I won’t teach them that all masculinity is toxic. Because I disagree. But I will help them explore masculinity that can pair with femininity and not squash or diminish it.

It’s a tall order. But I’ve always been up for a challenge. And if in forty or fifty years they are up for a nomination to the Supreme Court. I’ll sleep easy knowing there will be no skeletons in their closets because they were taught better. No means No. Start it young.

I am lucky to have examples of positive masculinity in my life over the years. The bad have left scars but the good, well they give me hope for my sons. There are positive masculine men out there. I am related to some, treat some as clients, and know some as friends and colleagues. To the positive masculine role models out there. Thank-you. Just as we need strong women; we need strong men. Because they will help set the example for our young boys. Examples we desperately need in this reign of toxic men.

 

 

**** the picture was five years ago. My Dad is a Vietnam Veteran who was MIA and experienced and witnessed the horror of war. He then spent his career in the army National Guard. My Dad would essentially walk through fire for me if I asked. That’s something I always knew. I sort of thought all men would be as respectful, caring, and protective like my Dad. Unfortunately I was wrong, but I can say he is an example who is part of our lives of a great man for my sons and I.

Humiliating Mom Moment #1001…

The boys have started figuring out who are boys and who are girls. About 50% of the time they get it right. They’ve essentially got it that Mama and Mommy and girls, and that they are boys.

So we are at the playground today. Just the three of us, my two little white toddlers and I. It’s attached to a soccer field. A car pulls up and an African American gentleman gets out and starts to do laps around the soccer field. He has headphones in, and we waved at each other when he got there, as we are in a small town, and it seemed polite to do.

My boys started playing on the bleachers, and as he rounded the field again they started waving and saying “Hi Boy!” “Hi Boy!” They were thrilled that they recognized that he was a boy.

Major freaking facepalm and my jaw literally fell open.

My Uncle had been over the previous weekend and we had gendered him and my Aunt as boys and girls. I never even thought to then educate about the appropriateness or not of referring to people as boys and girls. Because it just never entered my head to prepare for that particular situation.

He had headphones in, and as I was running frantically toward the boys on the bleachers to say we don’t say “hi boy” we say “hi sir,” he just waved and smiled good-naturedly, I’m not sure/I pray that he did not hear the “hi Boy”. Because holy shit it was like my worst nightmare came true. I was raising two racist white boys.

So then I had to explain to two two-year olds why we don’t say Hi Boy. Without saying, we specifically don’t say Hi Boy to a Black man because of the degrading and racist connotation that it carries.

“Baby, we say Hi Sir, okay? No Hi Boy.” Declan- “but he’s boy” Me- “Yes I know he’s a boy, but he’s a grown-up, so we say Hi Sir,  Hi boy is not nice.” Dec- “Hi Boy not nice?!” he looked totally incredulous. I at this point am getting sweaty and my heart is racing and I realize I’m getting nervous explaining this. This Mom-ming thing is hard. “That’s right, Hi Boy not nice. Hi Sir is what we say.” He stares at me. Jackson has already lost interest and is back to banging on the bleachers.

The man rounds the field again, and I’m like good God could the boys just go on the damn slides way over there? Why do they want to clonk around on the bleachers? He runs by and the boys look up and say “Hi Guy,” “Hi Guy,” they both look at me for approval. I just shake my head and thank God he has headphones in. “Guy” was never part of the conversation. We will be practicing “Hi Sir,” a lot.

These are the moments that define us as Moms. It’s not how big the birthday party is or how many presents they get on Christmas. It’s handling a total shit moment with grace and explaining and being honest without being mean. It’s not their fault they didn’t know you can’t say Hi Boy. It was mine. It’s something that you just know right? No. Actually some one had to teach it to you at some point. It’s making a human instinctively show others respect and know their history and it’s hard…and downright humiliating at times.

 

 

Those Moments When You Mom Judge the Hell Out of Yourself…

This morning the boys were driving me insane. I mean that literally. I locked myself in the bathroom to take a minute, look in the mirror, remind myself I am a living breathing human being and try not to cry.

For those tuning in for the first time I have two and a half year old twin boys. It’s just my wife and I. I am home alone with them every morning, and she is home with them in the evenings. Some mornings are fine. They can be charming and sweet and loving. They lull me into this false sense of security. Then a morning like this morning happens. It reminds me there is actually a living breathing monster in both of them. These monsters’ sole purpose in life is to make me lose my mind.

I’m not being dramatic. They drove me to my limits. But I emerged from the bathroom thinking I could make it. I walked back into the kitchen and sat with my one son Jackson while he finished his cereal. I heard my other son Declan making noise in the other room, and I thought he was climbing the stairs after I had explicitly told him No, multiple times, to his request to go upstairs.

I essentially lost control and yelled, “GET OFF THE STAIRS” as I quickly rounded the corner. I mean picture crazy bloodshot eyes, claw growing out of my hands, and my hair suddenly shooting out sparks of electricity….I came into our foyer only to see my little man standing, not on the stairs, but in front of the toy chest. Being good. His bottom lip jutted out at the exact moment my hands flew to my mouth and I was horrified by my insane yelling and stomping that he didn’t deserve.

I ran over to him, plopped myself on the floor and opened my arms. He came over to me, and hugged me tight, and I rubbed my head against his, and said “I’m so sorry baby,” as he breathed heavy and held back tears. I’m holding back my own tears at this point and laying kisses all over his head. He still clung to me, and we just sat there on the floor in our entryway holding each other.

I yell sometimes. But that yell was the Mama’s pissed yell. It was the I’ve reached the end of my utterly frayed rope yell. He knew it. He knew it was a different sort of yell. He’s only two and a half, he doesn’t sit still for thirty seconds, let alone hug me and let me hug him for at least two minutes.

There are these moments as a Mom that make me hate myself. That was one of them. I could see in his face in that moment as I rounded the corner that I hurt his feelings. He could see on my face that I was angry and then horrified at my own mistake.

These are uncomfortable moments. We all want to be Facebook happy smiling mom’s with perfect kids and families. I hear it all the time from clients. Mom’s who feel guilty for yelling or losing it. I don’t lose it every day. My kids are certainly not scared of me.

I always tell them I love them. I give them hugs and kisses whenever they are within arm’s distance. And tonight, after we put them to bed, he started crying and he wanted his “Mama” that’s me, Mommy is my wife. I held him and he told me what was wrong, and I kissed him and put him back to bed.

My sons make me better. They make me stronger. They make me more sensitive and a little more crazy. They make me feel like the worst human in the world, and in the same day, they make me feel like the most worthy and best Mama alive.

I’m not a perfect Mama. But I love my kids, and they know it. Try having two two-year olds. Then try not ever yelling. Seriously. I’m learning to lighten up on myself. That all Mom’s need to lighten up on themselves. If your kids are loved then cut yourself some slack. We are allowed to lose it sometimes. Because kids are rough stuff. So is Mommy-ing.