#COVID-19 · Divorce and Separation · lesbian mom

Reflections on Christmas Eve 2021

Christmas Eve 2021. My kids are at an age where they are starting to be kinda cool. They can laugh at stuff. They can appreciate good music. They can carry firewood. One piece at a time, but still, it’s one big piece now; used to be just kindling. Today I had them fill up the rack inside the garage from the racks outside. I told them 20 pieces each. They can count too which is quite helpful for the firewood.

It was 30 degrees out. They trudged back and forth in the cold. With promises of hot chocolate and the reminders that Santa is watching. They also helped shovel the driveway. That was less successful than the firewood. They helped me feed the cats, and herd the cats away from the dog. They miraculously kept the dog occupied for 40 minutes today while I took 40 minutes to myself on the treadmill. Usually I have to crate the pooch.

We went to my Mom’s and saw extended family outside of my sister and sister-in-law and niece. Literally the first family event with actual extended family since before March 2020. We know about the COVID surge. We took precautions. We all kept staring at each other. Because it’s been so long. But staring in a good way. I unfortunately was on a time crunch because the poor pup can only be in the crate just so long at five months old.

My Aunt and cousin have purebred yellow labs. I of course have my heinz 57 rescue mutt pup Cheetah. But we could commiserate on the new puppy blues. Because that’s definitely a thing. It was a lovely dinner and evening and honestly just a relief to see my Aunt, Uncle, and cousin.

As my sons and I drove home I put on the Sing 2 soundtrack.

The soundtrack is kind of amazing. We belted out the song the Gorilla sings. Then we belted out I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. It was all amazing. And then I started crying. Not sobbing. But tears definitely fell.

I got to see my Aunt and Uncle and cousin once in two years. There are other Aunts, Uncles, and cousins I still haven’t seen and do not know when I will see again. The boys looked at my Aunt and Uncle on Christmas and smiled, and said, “We never see you!” Leave it to the kids to state the obvious.

Their childhood is shaped by this weird isolation. Their experiences are so incredibly different from my own childhood filled with Christmas Eves of Aunts, Uncles, cousins, great Aunts, great Uncles, and tons of second and third? cousins. Whoever was in the general Northeast area in the family would be around for Christmas Eve.

I grieve for what the boys are missing out on. I grieve for my Dad. Because he would be part of my inner COVID safe circle and he would love my dog and he would make horrible Dad jokes and be intrusive and annoying. But he would make the isolation of COVID so much less lonely. He’d probably come over every day just to see the dog.

As I drove home singing Sing 2 wiping away tears with my sons singing loudly I grieved for my marriage. Not because I want to be married to my ex but because I am lonely. It’s incredibly difficult to be a single parent during the holidays. It’s physically and emotionally exhausting and depressing in a way I can’t really describe other than to say if you know, you know.

But I also was happy. Happy to have that moment with my sons where we could laugh and sing and be silly together. It was a beautiful clear night and when we got home, let the dog out, and I put them to bed, it felt right. That night felt right, and that I suppose is the magic of Christmas.

Divorce and Separation · lesbian mom · mom of boys

Privilige and Birthday Cake Slices

Well the boys turned six. I have six year old twin boys.

It also marks a year since my ex moved out. She moved out a week or two after their birthday last year.

This was my last “first” as a single Mom. I had a year of firsts after my Dad died. It was all messed up. This was different. This could be a year of new beginnings not mourning. Divorce definitely carries a sting but nothing compared to the loss of my Dad. I was excited this year to navigate this new existence with my sons to be more present with them in these moments. I didn’t have the stress of my crumbling marriage hanging over every holiday and event. It was actually a relief in some ways.

And it was different “firsts” than when my Dad died. Like it was my first time managing the pool as a single mom. It was the first time stacking firewood by myself. I mean I stacked it often by myself in the past but I had someone else I could ask to watch the kids or help stack the wood while I watched the boys. This year the boys helped me.

I was nervous for the birthday though. Because it’s hard being a single parent. I’m bad at planning. Even worse since doing it alone because I feel like I survive day to day and there isn’t room for future planning. I decided to bring them to an arcade and a movie on Friday, their actual birthday. Then Saturday rented a bounce house…which was amazing…and had their friends over. It all worked out. Grubhub for pizza. And friends and sister who showed up for me with all the things that I forgot (mainly the balloons- my sister, and my asthma medication that I need to breathe- my friend)

It was a long two days. The boys were spoiled. Starting in the arcade with me. By tonight when they came home I was kind of annoyed. They were not acting grateful for everything that they had been given, and were already asking about an expensive present for Christmas.

There followed a physical altercation over a birthday present and I sent them to bed. I did not yell. I calmly told them they were acting completely unacceptable and needed to go to bed.

There were tears. Then when they were in bed they wanted clarification on why I was upset. I started with the fight that had occurred downstairs. I then went into, “You guys are not grateful, your not thankful for ALL that you have. You are such lucky privileged boys. I did not have what you have when I was little. I never got picked up early from school and brought to an arcade, and a movie, and then a bounce house. My parents would not have been able to afford all I do for you guys. And you are just not getting it.”

“So you didn’t do karate?” one of them asked, “No, I didn’t, not until I was in high school and I paid for it with my own money.” Then one of them rubbed his eyes and said, “That makes me so sad Mama,”

An aside- I was not destitute. I played soccer, basket-ball, and I danced for eleven years. But I knew beyond that there was not extra money for say the dance team, extra lessons; now had I been a prima ballerina I have no doubt my parents would have made it work. But while I was a good dancer we all knew this was not going to be a lifetime career for me. We lived in a town though that was white suburban. I didn’t have designer clothes and my house was not a huge colonial so I was made fun of over the years for being “poor” by the bullies based on my town’s standards. I know I wasn’t poor. I know we always had food, and shelter, and our bills were paid, as was most of my college tuition. I had a car when I turned 16 (not a new car, and the brakes failed but…I had a car). I didn’t have to pay for car insurance until I bought my own car when I was 23. So again- I am not saying I was not privileged. Because I certainly was. But I learned early that I needed to work hard to have what I wanted because what I wanted and what I needed are two different things.

My kids…well I wanted to give them opportunities that I didn’t have. That’s why I let them try out karate- and they love it. And it’s good for them. I also still work my butt off for everything that I have. I’ve built my business. I also still have the cushion of my parents- well now my Mom, if and when I need her. I know she’s there for me.

But I digress. So I say all of this to my sons, and I end with, “I work so hard to give you guys everything I possibly can, everything that I may not have had the opportunity to have.” I don’t yell. I say it quietly and sitting on one of their beds. And they both start crying and one of them leans into me to wrap his arms around me and says, “Well you do a really good job Mama.”

I hugged him back, and then I rubbed their backs for a little while and they are now sleeping soundly.

It’s a hard thing. Balancing. I want my kids to be grateful for what they have, I don’t want them to feel like they have to work as much as I did as early as I did, but I also don’t want them turning into entitled little shits.

They brought home the Scholastic Book Fair magazine. I remember every year we would have to be dragged in front of these beautiful mountains of brand new books for the book fair. The same Scholastic Book Fair then and now. Then I would know that I had a one or two book limit. I would always see at least a few other kids with piles of books they walked out of the room with. It seemed unfair. That I could only get my two books, and other kids could walk out with ten or more. I love books. I definitely felt jealous. What I failed to acknowledge were the three kids who left with no books. Looking back now I recognize there were kids living in poverty in my classes over the years. But I never thought about that at the time. I mean I was grateful for the two books I had, but also incredibly envious that I didn’t walk out with ten. I feel ashamed writing this now but it’s true.

So my sons bring home the Scholastic Book Fair magazine and tell me about the kid who got eight books. I asked them if there were kids who didn’t get any. They were unsure. I let them pick out two each. And then I asked them to pick out two for their cousin. Also those books are damn expensive.

I don’t know what the answer is. I know I want my kids to be happy. I want them to be grateful. I want them to work hard and to appreciate that I work hard for what we have. As he wrapped his little arms around my waist and told me I do a good job. I squeezed him so tight back, and said “Thanks baby. I love you.” I’m going to keep bumbling my way through this parenting situation. And hope I produce two functional, humble, not entitled, woke, white dudes. In the process. I’m learning too.

*** The highlight of Friday was stopping at the grocery store because I needed snacks for the party on Saturday. This was after the arcade and the movie. The boys were tired and on sugar highs. But there we were. I said yes to almost every bad cereal they put in the cart because I didn’t have the energy to say No. We were at the checkout with a seemingly cranky woman who pursed her lips and looked super irritated with the existence of all of us. The boys chatted amicably. Told her and the bagger it was their birthday. Asked for gum. I said No. Hard No. Enamel issues in one kid. Then it was, “Well Mommy lets us at her house,” and I put my hand on my head and squeezed my hair to keep from screaming, and said, “Well you can do what Mommy allows at Mommy’s. With Mama no gum.” They put it down. The cashier watched and heard and scanned the single pieces of cake I had allowed the boys to get. One each. Because we didn’t have cake on their birthday. Just movie popcorn and arcade bad food. I was tired and weak. Well the cashier said, “Mmmhmmm, this is where it’s at. Ain’t nobody got no fucking time to make a whole damn birthday cake. Yes girl. This is the smartest thing I’ve ever seen. Single slice of cake for their birthday.” Then we made eye contact. I realized she was actually complimenting me. I realized she was saying this because she realized I’m a single Mom who was tired and feeling judged by my kids and bought them cake on a grocery shop trip at almost 7:00 pm on their actual birthday. I smiled. Truly smiled. And I said, “Yeeeeessss. Ain’t nobody got fucking time for that.”

*** I told the waiter at the arcade I’m a Queer nurse (I swear it came up in conversation, because I’m not some one who overshares). He comp’d my entree. I left him an insane tip for a 40.00$ bill. He was the sweetest little gay dude. Pay it forward to the Queers.

Divorce and Separation

To Everyone, Stop flushing paper towels. Sincerely, Business Owner.

When the third person asked me why I was working Monday I may have overreacted. Why shouldn’t I work? What the hell is going to happen when I go sign the divorce decree? Does a lightening bolt strike me while I’m signing therefore making it impossible for me to function the rest of the day? Why do people keep asking me if I’m working? Yes. I am working the day I signed my decree. I scheduled my patients remotely, and blocked out the middle of the day so I could drive to the mediation office, sign, drive home, and see more patients remotely.

I signed about forty pages of documents. Sitting next to my ex at a lovely glass table in a swanky office in a swanky suburb. We had only done remote sessions so I finally met my mediator face to face and the attorney who drafted the final decree.

But let’s back up to Friday. Because that’s when the true saga of Monday started. I stopped into the office for the mail, with the boys, who had to pee, and the toilet didn’t flush. It could not be plunged. It was late, I had to leave with them. I came back Sunday to try plunging again. Didn’t work. I called the landlord. Maintenance guy came. Plunged it some more. No go. I made signs. A special plumber came on Monday. The day of the divorce decree signing.

I’m not sure what it says that I was literally receiving calls and texts and pictures from my employees, the plumber, and the landlord all about the toilet during the divorce decree signing- it had to be taken off the hole, pipes had to be snaked, I then received a picture of what was pulled from the pipes. 400$ later and two plumbers…the toilet was working again.

I always thought those signs telling people not to flush paper towels were stupid. Because who would flush paper towels when there are trash cans (TWO trashcans in our bathroom)? But I guess people do that. I now have that sign up. I also switched it to a key lock so only employees can use the en suite bathroom; clients can walk down the hall to the toilet the landlord is responsible for.

Even if I did not have clients scheduled I would have been working. That’s what happens as a business owner…you have to deal with a clogged toilet, and look at the presents pulled out of the pipes…as you sign your divorce decree.

It was possibly the most polar opposite of a wedding as I could have gotten. I reflected on our wedding sitting at the table. We were surrounded by friends, family, (and I counted…fifteen couples who were at our wedding have separated due to divorce or death…so yeah morbid), and had good food, good dancing, and overall a great party. In contrast divorce is completed with strangers, no celebrations, and in my case pictures of poop covered paper towels popping onto my phone.

In my case we have to co-parent still, and she moved out almost a year ago. So it didn’t feel like anything monumental. It felt like another thing I had to do. Nothing in my day to day changes at this point. I drove home, got cut off by a car with license plate “SINISTER” who flipped me the middle finger as he almost took out my car. Again, another sign from the universe? I don’t know. I snapped a picture of his license plate instead of flipping him off back, because seriously who would have believed me?

The rest of my drive was uneventful as I mulled over the toilet and Sinister. Two days later it was a full moon and I had therapy with my new-ish therapist. I relayed my divorce signing adventures. I told her I don’t really feel anything, and she reflected I had grieved the loss of my marriage long ago. Which is true.

I always said I wouldn’t have wanted my wedding any other way. It was truly an epic party. I think of it now as a space and moment in time where these 86 people got together on a cold December night, and partied our asses off. Some would lose partners to cancer, others to “irreconcilable differences” as it says on my decree. But for that one night it was all perfect.

Thinking back on my divorce signing I chuckle and think the same as I thought before. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Divorce and Separation · homophobia · lesbian mom

The “Nice” Heterosexual Parenting Education Class Mandated for Divorcing Parents and My Non-hetero Feelings About It…(there are many feelings)

Per the state when two people divorce with children there is a mandatory “Parenting Education Class” that you both have to take. It’s six hours long. In my case taught by two LCSW’s. I’ve talked about sexual orientation as it pertains to me (lesbian mom more hetero-bendable identifying) and I’ll admit I was already salty going into this course because I had recently filled out after school program paperwork where by the end I ripped through the paper when I crossed out “Father’s name” so hard with the pen.

Really. You can’t just put Parent 1 and Parent 2? Really?!

Again, I was already salty. Then I come into this six hour hellacious class where I am taught basic concepts of being nice to the co-parent. And literally it’s a watered down version of what I council clients about daily. Not to say I knew all the content. But let’s say I didn’t learn anything new of value.

However, I will say I was also annoyed the entire six hours because the opener was as follows, “We will be referring to two parents as ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’. We know there can be other ways that families are made and different parenting situations but in our course this is the vocabulary we will use.” That was as close as they came to acknowledging LGBTQ+ parents. EVER. In six hours.

So literally in the first two minutes of the next six hours of my life I’m already told 1. You’re not important enough for us to use gender neutral language 2. There will be absolutely nothing in this course pertaining to LGBTQ parents and families 3. You are not seen by this course and the state of CT that mandates you take this course. Because w cannot even say the words “Two mom or two dad families” and God forbid anyone uses the word transgender.

I wanted the class to end. I wanted to be done before it even began because I felt like I shouldn’t be there taking up space with all the nice straight people. I may not identify as a lesbian but I sure as hell am a lesbian mom because my co-parent from conception is a woman. And you literally in six hours cannot even once use vocabulary that might validate my existence as a two mom family.

I had a lot of feelings. Clearly. Still do. One of the feelings that generally angers me is shame. In those moments I feel myself looking left and right like does any one know I’m a two mom parent? Can they tell? Because in that opener it was made very clear this is not a safe space for me to be.

I was calming down a bit toward the end counting the seconds. When he used an example that drove me right back up to eye twitching insanity.

“…What would be great in that moment is for the Dad to show up and support the Mom. The kid is being disrespectful and really unruly to Mom, Dad shows up and says, ‘you can’t talk to your mother that way’ dad lays down the discipline and takes a stand. That is what a Dad should do in that instance because the kid will really respect the Dad for stepping in for Mom and Mom will appreciate you too dad, you will win big points for this.”

Dude. Not only can you not acknowledge anything other than heterosexual parents but your example is literally the most gendered inaccurate stereotype I have ever heard. It took a lot. I mean A. LOT. to sit there and not 1. chew my lip off 2. keep my big mouth shut.

I needed to take some space. I needed to take a little walk. It didn’t help I had spent the better part of the day also on the phone fighting with my nemesis Anthem. I was wired to fight dirty after dealing with those heinous people all day.

So I didn’t say anything. I’m taking time to reflect. I’m going to say something. I may send a link to this blog. Because I don’t like the feelings I’m having. I don’t like feeling ashamed of the make up of my family because it seems like you are uncomfortable even saying the word lesbian let alone lesbian Moms and gay dads and trans dads and trans Moms. How about acknowledging that some of these divorces are happening because people in heterosexual marriages now want to explore their sexuality and you’ve just shamed them hardcore.

I have feelings of pain because it just feels like the micro aggressions and overt aggressions will never go away and my sons are going into kindergarten and I’m terrified that they will now be exposed to homophobia. As a lesbian mom you do a disservice by pretending we don’t exist. You lumped me in with the hetero mom’s in that class. You made analogies, jokes, and statements geared toward me that had no meaning and were absolutely useless to my lived experience. And you could not even say the words “two mom’s”.

I wanted to stand up and say I am here. I. AM. HERE. SEE. ME. But I didn’t. Because it’s a stupid class that I have to get through to finalize the divorce. But a class meant to support and empower positive coparenting should not overtly state they will be ignoring the entire population of LGBTQ+ parents who are legally required to take it.

Yeah I have a lot of feelings about this. Including but not limited to:

And by the way. Two Mom’s can actually effectively discipline their child without a man. I’ve never needed to be rescued by a man to step in and discipline my son if he’s being “unruly”. My sons live with a healthy dose of fear of me and I’ve never laid a finger on them in terms of spanking or any physical punishments.

I’m consistent. I follow through on what I say I’m going to do. Expectations are clear and I know my sons.

I will be writing a follow up letter to the organization who organizes these classes. The year is 2021. There are many different family make-ups and you do a disservice to people who are being forced to pay for and take this class by just a blanket statement that you recognize we exist somewhere out on earth but we won’t exist in the context of your six hour class.

Because that my friends is homophobia. Big bad homophobia. It’s micro aggressions and it’s shaming and it’s a symptom of minority stress where we know we are in an unsafe space and we struggle the entire six hours with do we tell them or do we not. Are we physically safe if we tell them. Etc. Etc. I’ll say it again for friends in the back- not acknowledging us is homophobic. Not acknowledging that our coparenting is going to be maybe different from heterosexuals that’s also a micro aggression and just plain ignorant.

Do better. Be better. And be the voice in the crowd saying I AM HERE. Even if it’s after the fact. Because in the moment I would have been unpleasant. Afterward with time space and objectivity is totally fine. I’ll keep y’all posted.

Divorce and Separation · lesbian mom · mom of boys

All the Socks Everywhere (Single Mom-ing Adventures)

My sons wear mismatching socks. Well one son in particular will purposely mismatch his socks. So I never have great success matching them when I fold laundry at baseline. But in the past few weeks I noticed I was finding single socks all over the house. They were everywhere. I would bring both my sons to where the offending sock was and ask how it got there, why it was there and not in the laundry, and they both swore up and down it was not them.

It was getting ridiculous. Why was I finding socks literally everywhere? We had lectures that ensued about putting our dirty clothes in the laundry.

There were several reasons to assume it was my sons. Starting with we are the only three people living in the house. We also have a pool and they seem to undress wherever they are standing at the very moment I ask if they want to go in the pool. Often it is in their playroom, the family room, kitchen, etc. Basically everywhere but in their room next to their hamper. We have a hamper on the main floor for this very reason.

I was getting annoyed. At first it was one sock randomly. Now it was socks everywhere all the time. And the worst of it was the boys were adamantly denying it was them.

We were all watching tv one night on the couch and I heard Scooby making a weird meow. The meow she makes when she’s trying to kill a bug. Minutes later I heard her hop slowly down the stairs meaning she had something in her mouth. I got up to investigate dreading what present she would have for me.

There she was. Sock in mouth. Dropped it at the bottom of the stairs as I approached.

She progressed to leaving socks in her water bowl. The socks sop up all the water so she has nothing left to drink and I have a sopping wet sock to deal with.

Understanding dawned. They were always present after I got home from work. I hadn’t worked from home in a few weeks and since getting the kittens last July I worked from home exclusively. The boys came running over in time to see the offending sock. We all started laughing and I apologized for blaming them for all the socks.

Yesterday, “Jackson, why is your outfit still in the entryway? I asked you to put it in the hamper!” his response was a shrug and, “Musta been Scooby Mama.”

Sometimes as a single mom and business owner and mental health practitioner during a pandemic I feel like I am running and running but it’s a treadmill because I feel like I’m working so hard but frustratingly stationary. It feels like the hamster on its wheel.

I feel like I’m being punk’d at all times because seriously. The damn cat outsmarted me for several weeks. Not just once or twice. Weeks. Every day. And literally as I wrote this she put a damn sock in her water bowl because it’s almost time for them to eat and she’s annoyed with me for not feeding her immediately.

Where she gets the socks I have no clue. But I won’t be surprised if she found a way to open our sock drawers. Because it’s not like we leave them all over our rooms for her to nab.

The days can seem repetitive and yet just as intensely hard as the day before which leads to sometimes a sense of dread or just odd acceptance that tomorrow will have hard moments too or rarely hope that tomorrow may be a little easier.

People say things to me like, “I could never do that,” “You are so motivated,” “I would never have been able to paint the fence…be a single parent…do it alone…work so late on at night” etc. etc.

I know these statements are meant in admiration but I have started replying with more than a polite smile and nod. Because there’s a part of me inside that is screaming. I got a quote to paint my fence and deck…four thousand dollars. I’m paying for a divorce, the pool needs a new cover, and ya know a mortgage and bills that I entered into with dual incomes is down to one.

So I painted the fence and the deck. I’m not done yet. But July it rained every day. I will finish it. I don’t have a choice. It has to get done so I do it. I couldn’t stay in a marriage any longer that was bad. So here I am a single parent. Did I have kids expecting this to happen? No. Can I just stop parenting because I’m in the middle of a divorce? No. I love my kids. I would never let them suffer because of my choices.

Working late is not a hallmark of how hard I work. I mean I work my ass off. But if I had something else to do on a Saturday night I would do it. But lately, my sons get picked up at 5:30 pm and I feel like I just crash and burn. A friend texted me the other night and I was doing work and she said she was so proud for how hard I work and I cried.

It’s a lonely business this divorce single parenting stuff.

Sundays I started booking a couple therapy clients. I tell NO. ONE. Because then the floodgates would open of patients wanting weekend appointments. But it’s two hours and it forces me out of the house. I hit hot yoga in the morning before the clients. Then I’ve got half my day done. Laundry and house stuff usually takes up the afternoon. Distraction is key to being away from my kids.

I check in with friends. I make plans. I stack firewood. Hang new curtain rods. Hang blinds. Next on my list is replacing the lightbulbs in the entryway. I think I may need scaffolding to reach it…so that will be interesting. My friend recently reminded me of all the color in my old house. This house has remained cream and light colors. I may start painting it. I am planning and preparing mentally for Winter number 2 of pandemic isolation.

Rationally I know life is good right now. I have so much to be grateful for. My sons and I got stuck in the rain yesterday and we laughed and played (until the clap of thunder directly over our heads) at which point we screamed and wildly ran back to the car. And I am grateful for them so much. I know I’m not on a wheel. I’m on a path. I just wish I could see past the horizon sometimes.

(You can end here. The rest is an aside. But I was too lazy to make a second post. I mean it’s still a good read though.)

I was doing therapy today with a client, and I was on my A-game. We had just had a session mid-week and there was something about it that kept nagging at me. I opened with that, and my suspicions were confirmed which led me down the path of leading the client to cathartic tears. (It wasn’t my intent to make client cry, never is, but we had some stuff to unpack so it happens). As client cried, I sat, waiting, and doing cheers in my head for getting us there, (I know it’s weird that in my field it’s sometimes a win when people cry), and we were both sitting with the clients realization and then I heard a pecking at the window. I looked over and there was a little bird pecking on the window. I’ve been in the office since June, and have never had that happen. The client laughed through tears and was touched by the bird’s presence. It stayed for under a minute, but long enough we got to really see it.

My Dad had a tree of life. Big green maple with a ton of bird feeders and suet traps. There were always birds and squirrels and he had bird books and would look them all up. He would run out and yell at the squirrels. I thought, I see you Dad. Thanks. I know you’re checking up on me. Because through all the shit of the last year I still miss my Dad. He would have helped me paint the fence. He would come watch the boys for me. He would tell me not to work so hard and take care of myself. He’d probably annoy me by asking questions I don’t want to talk about and making a mess with the paint somewhere, and feeding the boys crap. He’d ask me to come over on Sundays and make me his eggplant parmigiana which I love or he’d try and make something I detest thinking I actually like it and get annoyed when I remind him for the millionth time I don’t eat mayonnaise or meat.

But I’d take it all.

#COVID-19 · Divorce and Separation

When Life Feels Good (During COVID and Divorce)

There are certain moments in life that feel right. The last few years those moments felt few and far between. Some one asked me recently if I missed my ex. Some one else asked me specifically what ended our relationship. Those are some loaded questions. People who know me know I am uncomfortably direct and honest with myself and others. I did some introspection and answered honestly.

I miss feeling not alone. I miss having some one who gives a shit as to why I’m running late at work or having some one who even knows when I work. I miss getting a checking in text from some one who cares how my day is going. The little things that people in pairs take for granted. That’s what I miss.

Do I miss our marriage and relationship? No. I don’t. Because toward the end we were both miserable. I would never go back to that. I do miss having some one. Between being a mom to twins and running a mental health practice I deal with a lot on a day to day basis. I essentially hold it all. I feel like I hold up everyone else and I have to just keep on holding myself up too. Because there’s no time or space to fall. I miss having some one who could catch me if I felt like I was falling. But somewhere in our relationship we lost that. So no. I do not miss the last year of our marriage.

What ended it? I answered “What ends a 13 year relationship? It wasn’t just one thing. It can’t be pared down to a pretty one liner. And honestly now it doesn’t matter. Because the end result is that it is over.”

A few weeks ago I walked into our new office space and two of my employees were there seeing clients, there was a client in the waiting room and I could hear our office manager on the phone with a client in the back office. We had our yoga music playing on the tv in the waiting area and all my gay books were on the coffee table staring happily at me. I stopped and took a breath and smiled. I thought here are all of these people employed because I built a business. Clients getting mental health treatment because I had a dream. Some times running a mental health practice is the least crazy part of my life. Ironic I know.

It felt right in that moment. Through my dad’s death, through COVID, through a divorce I’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into that business. I’ve had weeks I couldn’t get paid. I’ve interviewed many, many, clinicians. I’m selective in who I’ve hired and I’ve been burned in many ways. I kept going.

To date we’ve provided services to over seven hundred clients and rough estimate is that half are Queer identifying. I walked down the hallway at our new suite of offices with the noise machines whirring, the music playing, and distant muffled voices of providers and patients. Then the not so distant voice of my admin as I went to shut her door as she now yelled at an insurance company. I felt pride. I did that. I made this happen. I fought through grief, hate, discrimination, a global pandemic that shut down in person visits for a year, and so much more to keep it going.

I take being an employer seriously. I never want my employees feeling like the way I’ve felt working at other agencies and hospital systems. It’s easy to devalue employees. I find it’s harder and more rewarding to support them. I still have hard conversations at times. We don’t always agree. But this weekend, I had them all with families in tow at my house by the pool. It was another one of those moments.

Smiling, laughing, swimming, and genuine enjoyment of each other and our families. It’s a beautiful thing to build a business that serves clients. It’s even more special to build a business that has employees who feel valued and happy to spend a Saturday hanging out with each other and our crazy kids and partners.

It was another moment that felt right. We all know we do hard work. When we walk out our office door it makes a difference to be surrounded by people who you want to work with. Who bring you up instead of pull you down. We have all been in bad work environments. Building a good one was just as much my mission as building a great practice. We are not all cookie cutter. Every one is a little weird and has stories and after seeing us all in swimsuits we mostly all have tattoos. But I like weird and backstories and tattoos. I am all of those things. So it works.

After a lot of bad moments since 2019, it feels good to know that through the bad I can still build good.

Of course I ended the day explaining to my sons at bedtime not to be scared of getting a new parent because all the sudden they realized that I could apparently get married again, give them a new parent, and in Declan’s words, “And it better not be a man Mama!” Wow. Judged by my 5 year old. I said, “No one’s lining up baby so don’t worry.” Then he got into bed muttering, “Well no one better line up, and not a man, Jackson imagine if Mama marries a man?” Those are stick my palms in my eyes moments and try and kiss them goodnight and run out of there.

To all my people who keep showing up for me and for my sons, with wine, sushi, zucchinis, folding laundry, helping me move my office, and continuing to invite me places even though I’m the third wheel now…Thank-you. I would not have survived the last year without you. Life isn’t perfect. Life is change.

Divorce and Separation · homophobia · lesbian mom

Happy Pride & Why it’s Important to Me

Pride month.

An administration that recognizes Pride month. Amaze-balls.

Why is Pride month a big deal? Why do we need Pride month? Why can’t you have heterosexual day or month? Blah blah blah. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We literally live in closets. For one month we can be in public spaces and not be scared to hold hands with partners. We can be at parades where we see and are seen. We can be unequivocally and unapologetically who we are. We get one month to be comfortably out. The rest of the year there are not many spaces we can all be comfortably out. Visibility is important.

Let me tell you some stories. I have a trans client whose Mom has been intermittently transphobic and had a hard time coming to terms with her son’s transition. It brought tears to both our eyes as they recounted their Mom at the NYC Pride parade, wearing a t-shirt that said, “I love my trans son” and a random trans female walking out of their spot in the parade. Beelining straight for my clients Mom and asking for a hug who enthusiastically gave her one. That moment still brings tears to my eyes. I wasn’t even there.

Pride allows us these moments.

I have many clients who first saw other people like them at Pride events. “I didn’t even know people like me existed, then I went to my first Pride parade and was like wow. I want to be them.”

I know people who were physically assaulted when they came out to family. I know people who were sexually assaulted and physically assaulted for just existing as they are. Pride allows all of us a place to find love, acceptance, peace, and most of all hope.

Have you ever been physically or sexually assaulted because you identify as heterosexual? Likely not. You can exist in any space without fear of being victimized because of your sexual orientation and gender identity. That’s why you don’t get a month. Because you get every freaking day.

I saw a guy for a few dates. At the second date he 1. expected I would have sex with him. 2. Wanted to know when we could have a threesome. 3. Was annoyed and perplexed when I declined both options and told him where he could stick it. He made a lot of assumptions based on the fact I had been with a woman: he thought I would hop into bed. He also thought I would want to hop into bed with both genders. Obviously. He didn’t get a third date. Would he have acted that way with a heterosexual woman? My guess is no.

The best part of Pride month for me this year is my practice. I spent June 1st in my brand spanking new office. It was built for us. There are four offices, a waiting area, kitchen area, and bathroom. The Landlord designed it with me, tolerated my multiple significantly more expensive demands, and now we all have windows. We all have sheetrock ceilings and heavy doors and the more expensive soundproofed sheetrock. We also have excessive numbers of outlets, dimmers on all the lights, and a thermostat for each individual office.

I commissioned an artist to make a “super classy, super Queer, not stupid, no unicorns, but obviously gay, massive painting” for a wall in the waiting area. She laughed when I said not stupid. She said, “I actually know exactly what you mean. It can get excessive fast with the rainbows.”

It feels amazing to own a space, make it mine, to have built a practice of people who are on board with the super Queer mission of the practice. One of my employees was there decorating and said she didn’t buy a print because she thought maybe it would be too much in terms of too gay. I told her if any one thinks it’s too gay friendly they are not meant to be at this practice. She agreed.

I want my practice to embody Pride month. I want that energy of hope and acceptance to be oozing out of my group. It’s incredibly freeing to be able to pursue this without any boundaries or people trying to hold me back.

I’m surrounded by Queer people. Which means I have been touched by homophobia and have witnessed transphobia firsthand. I hear about it all second hand also. My best friend and my sister are both lesbians. My ex is obviously a lesbian. I’m pleasantly curved. I have other Queer folks in my family and many many more in my friends. Then there’s my clients. I looked at my day recently and 8 out of 12 were Queer in some way. I remember smiling. I built it. They came. I love it. Pride month brings visibility but it also brings up the dark side. It brings up Stonewall. It brings up all the LGBTQ individuals who have been victims of hate. It reminds me of my sister sinking two foul shots at our state finals as the opposing crowd chanted “DYKE DYKE”. It reminds me of countless restaurant experiences of being stared at and talked about sometimes quite overtly. It reminds me that my sons have never met their grandparents on my ex’s side.

Hate drives homophobia and transphobia. The opposite of hate isn’t love. In this case it’s acceptance.

Nothing prepared me to date men again and realize after the first date why it felt so different. It wasn’t because it was a man. It was because I didn’t have the constant worry and hyper-vigilance that comes with a same-sex relationship. I was relaxed. I didn’t think the waiter or the people on the street or at the restaurant would come after us. I could let my guard down. The external minority stress was absent. I remember feeling relief. But also such deep sadness and grief. That stress was there every time I went out with my ex. It was such a part of us that I wasn’t even aware of it until it was gone. Minority couples do not go through less stress. They go through more. Because on top of normal couple stuff we have to worry about being targeted every time we step out the door.

Pride month is important because it’s the antithesis of every other day of our lives.

Be you. Love you. Happy Pride Month!

Divorce and Separation · Mental Health Stigma Suicide

What Not to Say to a Queer Woman on a Date

My therapist is closing his practice. Ugh. Took me nine months to find him. Because let me tell you how hard it is to find a therapist when you work in psychiatry in a small state. I share clients with far too many therapists.

I have until the first week in July and I told him we have until then to cure me. Because lord I don’t want to find another therapist. Then I was having coffee with a therapist so we could meet; and it was AMAZING to meet another human adult person in person without fear of dying of COVID. Thank-you vaccines. It was literally the first time I’ve done something that I used to do pre-COVID. Meet with a therapist who I share a lot of clients with. I suppose it’s considered networking but also generally common courtesy just so we can get a feel for one another. Not actually feel one another. Get your mind out of the gutter;)

So I was having coffee with him and I told him how my therapist is leaving. Sigh. And he started trying to fix it and name therapists for me, and I’m like wow. I can’t. It’s too soon. I haven’t broken up with my current therapist yet.

So let’s talk about online dating as a former lesbian. I know I’m not a lesbian. Any one who knew me before my wife knows I’m not a lesbian. But apparently having an ex who is female, as a female, makes men assume I am 1. a former lesbian who had a “phase” 2. Into threesomes 3. In need of “dick”…?

So let me provide some education here. If you ever date some one who used to date some one of the same gender or opposite gender or whatever; don’t say stupid shit.

When I train therapists and APRNs who ask for supervision related to seeing transgender clients I say the number one thing to know is “DON’T BE A DOUCHE”. I don’t yell it. But I repeat it a few times. Now I say the same thing to men trying to date a woman who used to date/be married to a woman. Don’t be a douche.

Don’t assume my sex life was lacking for the last decade I was with a woman. Because it wasn’t. Don’t assume I have not been with a man. Don’t assume I need a dick. Cuz yeah. There’s been toys around for a long time friends. No one actually needs a penis. Well except men I suppose. But even that’s debatable.

I learned quickly not to disclose my ex’s gender when chatting with prospective dates. I didn’t even disclose on a couple first dates because of disastrous responses. If there was a second date. Which there weren’t many. Then I would say her gender. Then I would still be asked pretty horrendous and invasive questions. I would also be fetishized in this creepy way. Imagine telling some one you have an ex then having them ask you how you had sex (because apparently some men don’t know how two women have sex?!), how you conceived your children (whose sperm and how it got into my uterus were common themes), and everything else you could possibly imagine being asked.

If you’re purely straight you have not had to deal with this. Because straight people generally know how a female becomes pregnant and they wouldn’t want to know about your previous sex life. I’ve been working on a presentation about LGBTQ mental health and I’ve read several articles that detail how bisexual individuals have the highest depression and suicide rates among the L’s and the G’s. I kinda get it. I mean I’m not suicidal. And I’m not depressed. But for some one more fragile and less secure entering the dating scene having been with both genders sucks. The discrimination is real.

I’ve talked to my therapist about it. A lot. Then I deleted the dating apps. Solved the problem. That was not his advice at all. But it worked for me.

I didn’t ever think dating would be this complicated. But I guess not every one has as fluid an understanding of sexuality as I do.

To clarify: Just because I’ve been married to a woman and am now dating men does not mean I want to have a threesome. It also does not mean I have been yearning and or significantly missing penis in my sex life. It also does not mean I had a phase. It means I fell in love with some one and then fell out of love with them; to diminish a decade of my life including a marriage and children to a phase is demeaning and insulting.

I think I’ll just send a link to this post to any prospective dates. lol. Not kidding though.

Overall life is good. My sons are good. My divorce is progressing. My business is growing. And the dating thing…well I know what I’m not looking for.

#COVID-19 · Divorce and Separation · homophobia

“Yeah It’s Been a Little Rough”. 2021.

I feel like 2021 is just a wicked continuation of 2020. It’s been an emotional roller coaster for me. Watching the Derek Chauvin trial has been horrific. Death doesn’t frighten me. I’m intimately acquainted with death of all kind. Traumatic, planned, old, young…personally and professionally I’ve known death of all kinds. George Floyd’s death gets to me. It was so preventable. It was traumatic.

You ever watch Bad Boys II Marcus- “This has got to be the worst most emotional cop week of my life.” Mike- “Yeah it’s been a lil’ rough”. If you are familiar with Marcus and Mike you know that is the expected reaction of each to a horrible week of people being murdered and trying to crack the biggest case of their career.

I feel that. I feel Marcus’ drama and Mike’s calm acceptance. I feel like a constant mix of those two. I watched a documentary about systemic racism told by a white man who was descended from slave owners. He said, “Doing nothing was not option,” very softly and humbly but looking directly into the camera as he explained why he was making this documentary. It’s his reckoning with his families relationship with slavery and human trafficking. Parallel to his story is the narrative of a Black man who imparts such wisdom about white supremacy and the system that exists. I couldn’t look away when he spoke and I replayed his scenes several times to really hear him.

One of his quotes that hit me is below:

“Something has to happen in your mind for you to look at a person or child and say well that’s gonna be sold to Mr so and so and you never look at them as human and that’s what this country is built on. The Indians were treated that way…we want it and we have a right to take it. So you gotta do something in your mind to treat people; humans that way. You make them heathens, so you can treat them any way you want.”

I never learned about the Tulsa massacre in 1921 and it angers me. I hold a deep anger at the white education I received and I fear the white education my sons will receive and know I will have to provide them extra curriculum. Why didn’t I learn about Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with a young female slave? She was a child. She had his children. Because it doesn’t suit white people to educate white people in a way that paints Black people as victims and survivors. They don’t get to be the heroes of their own stories.

Why did I not learn about the violence that white people have perpetrated against Black people since the days we first landed in America? Has it escaped no one that if perhaps any of these white police officers had any education about systemic racism that maybe they would not have killed innocent Black people? Why did it take until 2021 to hold a white police officer accountable for the death of a Black man?

I treat police officers. I treat young Black men. I treat young Black boys. It’s been a little rough.

Add in some of the toughest most anti-trans legislation in at least 33 states. I treat transgender clients. I am Queer. I can’t possibly describe the disgust, fear, pain, visceral pain that I feel when I see these bills becoming laws. The law in Arkansas targets children. Children with higher risks of suicide. Children across the country are seeing these laws pass. Children with transphobic parents are being pushed further into the closet. Or closer to running away and being homeless.

The mass shootings. Suddenly are rampant. In the town where my practice is located there was an active and armed shooter.

The environmental and cultural stress happening right now is indescribable.

Add in divorce, online dating, mom of twins, and owner of mental health practice during a global pandemic…yeah. 2021. I feel like I’ve been punk’d.

There are moments that make me remember I am just a Mom and life feels chaotic in a normal type of way. Like when I was talking to one of my employees about a rather serious case, and one of my sons started screaming as if he were dying, and came running in, still screaming to the degree that I thought there would be a bone sticking out somewhere…but he showed me his shoulder. Which now sported a bite mark. I had to hang up on my employee because 1. he was screaming 2. I had to deal with one of my sons biting my other son because as I would find out the biter didn’t want the bite-y to take the pair of Spiderman in the Memory game they were playing together.

Another day I was on the phone with a therapist collaborating on a different tough case and I ran around the house trying to get the boys ready to leave for school, and I’d intermittently hit the mute button so I could yell, “GET YOUR SOCKS ON” Son- “WHY ARE YOU YELLING???” Me-“BECAUSE I ASKED YOU NICELY FIVE TIMES AND NOW I’M ANNOYED!!!!” un-mute, “uh huh, yes I totally agree” in my most professional voice.

I literally should be a reality show.

I was crying watching the phone call with Biden with George Floyd’s family. Because he sounded sincere and because it took their son being publicly murdered for the President to speak with them. It just all sucks.

I hug my sons. I try and teach them right from wrong. I try and teach them not to be colorblind but to see color because diversity is a strength. I mean right now we are working on not biting and handling losing at Memory…so baby steps.

Don’t look away. Don’t bury your head. It’s so hard. So painful. But we can’t pretend it’s not happening. Racism. Transphobia. It’s all happening. Don’t look away. And 2021…just keep bringing it. I’m still here.

Divorce and Separation

Silver Sequins

About twelve years ago I went to Lilith Fair. Back when we could gather in large crowds and not fear catching a life ending disease. Back before kids. Before my master’s program. Before marriage. And definitely before divorce. I attended with my sister, her now ex-wife, and several of her now ex-friends, and my soon to be ex-wife not even wife then. Simpler times.

It was before I finally admitted to myself that I can live the rest of my life without a live concert unless it’s in a theater with wine or champagne at intermission. Yes. I’ve become a snob. But 23 year old me was not a snob yet. I was okay tail-gating on a hot day. Sweating. Dancing in the sun. Using port-a-potties and drinking too much beer. We sat on the lawn and watched as the great and beautiful Sara McLaughlan came on stage. She was so far away I couldn’t see her face except when I looked at the large screen.

She has a quiet grace and confidence that spoke to me. She never compromised her art to be popular. I feel that. She’s an Aquarius like me. I feel she and I would understand each other. It’s an Aquarius thing.

I remember she wore a top with silver sequins and she was probably in her 40’s and me in my 20’s had no idea what she meant when she sat down and tried to explain the song she was about to sing. She smiled and with a freedom I understand now, but not then, she said something to the effect of, “It’s about where I was,” and she paused and smiled and said softly, “And I’m so glad to not be there anymore.” So simple. So pure and honest.

At the time I know she had separated from her partner and they would subsequently divorce. I was entering into a relationship then. I was just starting my career. I was naive and happy and dumb. I don’t regret that moment sitting on the grass pleasantly buzzed with friends, family, and my girlfriend. It was a great day and a great night and it captured what you feel as you stand on the precipice of life.

I’m glad I remember her silver sequins and how I thought I want to look like that when I’m 40. And I’m glad I remember the peace and calm that she emanated as she told a crowd of hundreds of strangers how happy she was then. How she had been through something. She survived. She thrived.

I’ve thought about that moment many times over the past decade. But more in the last five months since we separated. There are so many people who feel sad for you when you say you are going through a divorce. Or who assume I am unhappy or who assume this is a bad thing.

I just think of Sara in her silver sequins. Smiling. On the other side of whatever she had been through saying she was grateful for being through it. I’ve felt grief. I’ve felt sad. I’ve felt hurt. I’ve felt anger. But I’ve also felt peace. I haven’t worn silver sequins. But I have worn jeans. Actual jeans. That fit. If you’ve been living in the COVID world for the last year you understand why that’s a big deal. I’ve also worn new underwear. Because sometimes you have to start with your underwear to feel like a true new beginning.