lesbian mom · mom of boys · Uncategorized

The “D” word. No not #$@%.

No one posts on social media when they get a divorce or have a break-up. Eventually pictures of the person and a new person start popping up. At least that’s how it’s been on my feeds. I only have about three hundred FB friends so it’s definitely a skewed sample size.

There is no divorce rule book and there is such shame and stigma and pain around it that we cannot discuss it openly. It’s funny because most people would think that divorce is the opposite of wedding. Whereas for me divorce provided the same hope that a wedding does.

We were both unhappy and ironically she moved out the night before our thirteen year anniversary. Also ironically I have COVID to thank for a few things. COVID delayed and solidified my decision and actually helped bring me a lot of peace around my decision.

I feel sad for my sons but I feel relief and hope for myself. Then intermittently I feel this tremendous grief that sits like a pit in my stomach

Our marriage was never abusive or horrific but to live in unhappiness is taxing for everyone.

The why isn’t important though. It’s the how. The how to tell everyone. Who to tell? Who to let just figure it out on FB as we slowly start to separate our lives. When to tell our sons and how. I’ll admit that was the one time I broke down seeing them break down. I think it was confusing for some people I told because I didn’t present my now ex as horrible. I didn’t give details I just said we were separating. I remained very neutral and still do.

It takes me awhile to get somewhere emotionally. By the time I’ve announced it I’ve already been through the anger/hurt/resentment and all that’s left is a sadness that we couldn’t be saved because God knows we tried.

We’ve talked a lot about co-parenting the boys and remaining amicable and it’s hard to trust that we both will keep our word but we don’t have any other choice but to trust each other during a time when we really shouldn’t or perhaps can’t fully.

I’ve treated clients who are divorced. Clients who are divorcing. Clients who are children of divorce. I’ve seen the worst and the best of people through and around divorce. People who knew asked me how I was doing. I didn’t know how to answer. Because I’m deeply terrified of being a single, self-employed Mom. I’m hurt, so deeply hurt that a thirteen year relationship is ending. I’m hopeful because I can start healing and so can she.

I miss my Dad. I wish he was here to give me a big bear hug and tell me it’s going to be okay. I’d have been able to tell my Dad the truth and I’d have been able to cry with him. He was one of the few people I trust.

I miss my best friend because again thank you COVID. Having an out of state friend is rough right now. I miss all my friends near me because with the numbers now I can’t really even see my friends close by.

There is a lightbulb that needs to be replaced, a bathroom faucet that needs to be replaced, and about a 1/4 cord of wood left to be stacked. As I was stacking the first 1 3/4 cords I kept thinking how this all on me now. The lightbulbs. The faucet. I’ve replaced faucets. But I can’t find my stupid wrench piece thingy. No I don’t know what it’s called but I know what it looks like and how to use it and I know that faucet’s going to be a pain to replace because they always are.

Pretty sure my Dad made up names for his tools. So when I go to Lowes and ask for the stupid wrench extender piece thingy I may just start balling. Or laughing. You never know. It’s a complete roller coaster ride one second to the next.

The other one that stumped me was family photos. We have a lot of family photos up. Do I take them down? Do I replace them? Do I leave them up? Do I clump them ALL into the boys room? Is that too morbid? Again. No guidebook. It’s not like I want to erase her from our lives. She still their mom and after the acute horrible pain phase I hope she’s still my friend.

Then people who knew me before her have already asked if I’d date men or women. I’m like, yeah so I’m bringing three cats and two kids to the table…not sure I’m going to have many takers of any gender.

I asked myself many times whether I should write a blog about this. Because my kids will read some day. I didn’t want them to come upon anything painful. I also bought into the stigma around separation and divorce. I felt shame. I felt fear. But then I remembered my clients. I have some of the strongest and most resilient patients who have been through so much worse. I thought if they have the strength and fortitude to face what they face then I should dig deep and find my own.

My cousin said it was good we separated before we got hateful and angry. She wished more couples would recognize when they were done and not try and stick it out and let the hate build. I knew that my friends and family would support me. Without a doubt I knew. Any hesitancy I felt in telling people was simply because I didn’t want to rehash it. Because how do you explain the end of a marriage? It’s not one thing. It’s years of things. Often those things are deeply intimate and really only my wife and I know the full story and we are the only two people who ever will.

There’s something powerful in that but also scary. Our friend who sort of introduced us thirteen years ago came and helped her load the moving truck. Then we all had dinner together. It was this weird full circle moment. We were all older. Hopefully wiser. And still all friends. We ate Indian food. It felt like one of those moments in a movie where you know nothing will ever be the same again.

I’ve listened to Andra Day’s “Rise Up” about a thousand times. Imagine Dragons “Rise” same. I should make a playlist with just those two songs on repeat. I’ll name it “Divorce blows.”

I’m not sure how much I’ll write about divorce. Because it is still raw and painful and intimate. But I felt it was important to write about at least once. Because it’s not a failure. It took incredible strength to end it. It’s not just ending. It’s also a beginning. And more people should know that; feel that. I’ll find my wrench extender thingy or buy a new one. I’ll fix the faucet. Maybe cry. Maybe laugh. My adventure is just beginning.

#COVID-19 · lesbian mom · mom of boys

To All the Moms.

When I started in private practice I didn’t think much about specializing. I thought clients would come see me. They did. But, as I’ve said before, I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s fine. Over the years I’ve learned that there are certain groups of people who like me and do well in treatment with me, and there are others who really don’t like me which gets in the way of their treatment.

Lesbians…oddly enough don’t always like me. I shouldn’t say all, but probably 3 out of 4 don’t stick with me. Transmasculine lesbians tend to stick with me longer than others. Trans people obviously stick with me as they make up a significant portion of my practice and I love treating them. Non-binary individuals are also my jam. I love a good non-binary autistic person. They are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.

There are a few specialties that developed with me kicking and screaming- like postpartum and peri-natal mental health care. When I started I had a number of 20’s females…they all eventually got pregnant…and when I insisted I refer them to some one with actual peri-natal experience they 1. refused to leave and 2. I couldn’t find any one with peri-natal specialization. So yeah. I did a lot of research and got supervision and tips from the old school psychiatrists I worked with inpatient at the time. They saved me. Now I see a significant number of pregnant women and post-partum mood disorders. I begrudgingly admit it’s a specialty of mine that I am now rather good at.

The one specialty area I didn’t see coming were Moms. Because until 4.5 years ago I wasn’t a mom. Then I became a Mom and still felt I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. But I have a lot of Moms on my caseload. Moms of young kids, under the age of ten are the most common. I mean a lot. Out of 500 clients at least a 1/3.

I hear a lot about Mom-ing. It’s taught me a lot. Now that I have my own kids I often hear myself reflected in their moments of vulnerability. Fears that they are not loving enough, that they are too short with their kids. I’ve heard the worst parenting moments from people who are too scared some times to even tell their own spouse for fear of judgment. But I hear it through hitched voices as tears stream and I often feel my stomach clench with empathy.

This past weekend I had probably one of my worst parenting moments not in terms of my behavior, because I was quite proud at how calm I stayed, but one of my sons had to be dragged off a playground literally kicking and screaming in front of far too many people. All while he and I were wearing masks. Nothing like a screaming child, me sweating dragging him, through a hot mask that in that moment makes it feel 10 degrees hotter and 100% more claustrophobic.

That was only the tip of the iceberg. The car ride. Then we got home and he got sent to his room and it morphed into a couple hours of torture for us all. I did lose my shit at some points during the hours at home.

In the midst of the home debacle my other son- who loves keys- threw his hands up in frustration and said, “I can’t find my freaking keys!” I feel their speech delay is somewhat voluntary. Because I swear they always pronounce the bad words completely correct. And yes I’ve said that while looking for my keys. Many many times.

What I’ve learned as a trusted ear for parents in their darkest moments and as a parent of twin boys is that I never judge parents for even their worst moments. Because it’s hard. It’s hard at baseline. Add in a pandemic, months of homeschooling, working from home, no break from our kids ever…and yeah. It’s been rough for parents. Myself included.

I’ve obviously never had a parent tell me about blatant abuse because I would report that. I have had parents tell me about their yelling, their irritability, their short temper, and their struggles to be a good parent. I have a somewhat standard line that I use when people ask me if they are a horrible Mom.

I say, “Does your kid know you love them? Do you apologize after? Do your kids miss you when they have to go to school? Do you kiss them good-night? Do you tell them you love them? Secure attachment with a parent and child is achieved by the child knowing that you will be there for them. Kids forgive so much because they just want to be loved. Do they know you love them?” At this point if they aren’t crying already they start. And they all say their kids know they love them. They hug after a fight, they apologize. I think saying sorry is important as a parent. I have apologized to my kids before for yelling. I’ve hugged them and kissed them and explained I shouldn’t have done that.

They hear that. They see the example set that I own my mistakes and are more willing to own theirs.

We are all just trying to survive this parenting journey and it’s not okay for Mom’s to feel judged. We all do. We all feel like horrible parents. Because we go on Facebook and Insta and see posts and stories of smiling kids and smiling Moms and we think, yes they have it all together. Why don’t I?

But I promise you that no one has it all together when parenting kids. Especially not during a pandemic. As I dragged my son off the playground with my other son carrying his brother’s shoes that had been kicked off and flung…I wanted to cry, scream, and hide. But I didn’t. I kept dragging him to the car. When he kicked the seat and screamed he would break the car I eventually told him I would call the police unless he stopped. Again, not my finest moment, but he stopped.

It was a horrible day. I actually needed the next day to recover and so did he. Today when we were at a farmer’s market and I told him we had to leave he started to get angry, and I flashed back to the playground and I almost panicked, I felt it building up. But I held his hand and kept talking and reminded him how good he was being and how I knew he didn’t want to leave but we had to go…and on and on…he didn’t escalate. By the time we got to the car he was fine with leaving. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Then tonight we sat cuddling watching Peter Rabbit under an afghan. We laughed and with his head resting on my chest I knew he felt loved and supported. I know we will have hard times with him because he’s a challenge to parent. I know all my clients who are Mom’s have challenging parenting jobs. We all do. I ask instead of judgment spread support. Instead of judgment offer kindness. I’ve told a few people about the playground, and they’ve laughed and told me of their own horrible parenting memory. It made me feel better to know that I’m not the only parent who has been through that. We need to lift each other up instead of putting each other down.

To all the Moms my only advice is to let your kids know you love them. Apologize when you are wrong. Hug and kiss them good-night. And remember that you are not alone.

As an aside…I was on the phone with a friend sitting on the couch, and as we tried to have a serious discussion I watched the pumpkin appear suddenly in the air and then slowly descend from upstairs into the entryway….I had to intervene when one boy came down the stairs and started to try and hit it like a pintata while the other one held the string. #momofboys #thanksGrammafortheHalloweenbaskets

The magical descending pumpkin

lesbian mom · mom of boys

The Struggles of Parenting

It’s been a better 2020 so far than 2019. However, our sons have been sick every other week it feels like. They have been as sick this Winter as they were the first year of daycare. It’s been rough. We all are sleep deprived. Because God forbid the fever spikes in the middle of the day or Croup or vomiting or any other one of the hundred illnesses that have run through our house this Winter.

Nope it’s always in the middle of the night when shit hits the fan. Sometimes literally. Then we have an argument in the morning about who has to miss work. She’s at a new job, trying to make a good impression, of course since she started, we’ve been battling the plague like we are ground zero of the infection.

I own a practice and if I don’t work I don’t get paid. Clients also don’t like it when I cancel- rightfully so- as a result I run the risk of losing clients if I cancel them even once.

So with one of our sons sick (also God forbid they get sick at the same time- always consecutive never concurrent) we argue because we are both essentially terrified of losing our jobs because of canceling to take care of our son.

Our society is messed up. Parents shouldn’t feel this way. Pressured to go to work because if we don’t we will lose our job. That has never been said to us to be clear. But we know how it goes. Too many absences means unreliable. Unreliable means bad employee or in my case bad provider.

Then I get asked by any one who finds out that one of them is sick “Did you bring him to the doctor?” My answer is a resounding “No.” Well not always. Croup in one of my son’s can get very bad. So after the first night (When many people would likely call 911 but we stand outside in the cold and give him popsicles until his breathing improves) we do call the pediatrician and bring him in to get a prescription for steroids. I do have a respect for airway issues.

But for everything else. Nope. Viral illnesses happen. I understand that. Fevers happen. Vomiting/diarrhea happens. Unless they are severely dehydrated or still spiking a fever after a week or are compromised with their breathing in some way…we can manage at home.

I’m a nurse practitioner and worked as a staff nurse in a pediatric ED for over six years. Also I don’t want to be dragging my sick miserable kid to sit in an office for half an hour while we wait for the provider who is likely running late. Torture.

It’s also great that these weeks of illness still require us to pay full tuition at daycare. So one of us misses work all week, we don’t get paid, (My wife doesn’t have PTO yet as it’s still a new job), but we still pay full tuition at daycare for a kid or two who are not actually there.

When we said we wanted to be parents I didn’t really think about this part of the deal. Cleaning up puke. Shampooing the carpets. Taking care of sick kids. The stress of missing work and the ensuing financial stress that causes. As well as the stress of worrying that we will lose our jobs because of missing time.

That entire chapter of parenting was left out by anyone who ever told us we should be parents.

Today was another sick day. We finally asked my Mom to watch him because we were both feeling we couldn’t miss more work and the sick one wasn’t horribly sick anymore- not puking, no fevers, for over 24 hours, just still not himself.

The parenting struggle is real. Today required more juggling and taking the healthy kid to daycare while coordinating with my mom for sick kid. Also then worrying and feeling incredibly guilty for being the parents who can’t stay home and take care of their sick child.

But I’d feel worse if one of us lost our job and couldn’t pay the mortgage.

So there’s that.

These days feel like a lose-lose for us struggling middle class parents.

I find myself wishing for the teenage years when they can be left home alone. Then feeling very guilty for not “enjoying” them at this age. Feeling guilty that I was not home with him today.

I remember doing IVF and thinking I just want a healthy baby. I didn’t realize that baby-hood was only the beginning. Parenting hasn’t even begun when they were babies that was more basic survival.

I didn’t go to hot yoga last night and I had to cancel my therapy and acupuncture. Those all seem very first world problems. But they are actually my way to cope with the stress of life. So to miss all three in one day was not good for me either.

But I had to stay with the sick kiddo and at night he had a fever and he wouldn’t go to sleep unless he was in my bed with me in it. So I got into bed at 7 PM. It was kind of nice I’m not going to lie. Had there not been a sick kid with me I would have probably had a great night of sleep.

Anyway. I’m exhausted. My wife’s exhausted. We are crossing our fingers he can go to daycare tomorrow. But have my mom on standby again. At the end of the day we do our best to give them everything, but still go to sleep thinking we haven’t given them enough.

I guess that part of parenting. Giving your all and battling insecurities that it’s not enough.

I’m also ignoring the fact that the most qualified candidate is an intelligent woman who’s doing crappy at the poles losing to two other 70 something year old white dudes.

On the plus side…I have a stockpile of Purell which my business partner made fun of me for buying in bulk when we opened…who’s laughing now?! #CORONAVIRUS #NURSESARETHEBESTATHANDWASHING

 

lesbian mom

Surviving my First Birthday Without my Dad

This week I’ve been rundown. I’ve been feeling the stress at work. I’ve also been missing my Dad. I felt like I used to feel approaching the 6th every month since he died on April 6th. I kept thinking, it’s not the 6th, so why am I so raw? Oh right. My birthday.

My birthday serves as not just another first that I have to get through in the year after his death, but also a reminder that I lost my Dad before I even turned 35. I reached an age that my Dad would never see me in. The last time he saw me I was 34. For some reason this just seems monumental to me; to reach an age he won’t ever know me during.

My Dad was a goofy guy. Every year on my birthday he called me and sang Happy Birthday. My Dad had a horrendous singing voice. I mean super awful. It was better if I could pick up the phone and hear it live. Because if I let it go to voicemail he would sing Happy Birthday, loudly and off key, as per usual, then leave a long rambling message starting with “Hi! This your Father! Your Dad! Happy Happy Birthday…” and then would devolve into another song this was completely made up.

He would talk and sing until the voicemail cut him off usually.

As I said, it was better to pick up and get it live, so he would only do the one rendition.

This morning we all went to the playground. Then I went to hot yoga. On my way home I found myself crying. I forget what song came on in my car but it suddenly hit me that I wouldn’t be getting a phone call this year. No horrible rendition of Happy Birthday.

It’s these little things that we take for granted that I miss the most. Not everyone who knew us knew that was a birthday tradition. I never even thought of it as a tradition until it wasn’t going to happen this year.

I received many Happy Birthdays from my friends and family this year. But no call from my Dad.

Grief is a funny thing. Unpredictable. I never know what memory will trigger it. I knew my birthday would be hard. I didn’t know it would be hard because he wasn’t going to call and sing to me.

It seems like such a stupid thing to cry about. Such a small thing to miss. His singing voice was truly bad. But it wasn’t about the singing. It was about my dad making me a priority and having fun and doing something silly to make me smile.

By the afternoon I was feeling okay. By the evening when some friends came over and my Mom I was feeling more positive. I don’t mind turning thirty-five. Aside from the term “advanced maternal age” now applying to me there’s not anything scary to me about aging (I’m not having more kids I just find that label moderately horrifying if I were to have more kids).

We had a nice meal and gluten free cupcakes which were surprisingly delicious.

If my Dad were here he would have sang. He would have enjoyed the food and I would have not realized how precious every second with him was. Because it wasn’t until he was gone that I truly appreciated his Happy Birthday renditions which to me would be the sweetest sound I could of heard today.

It is with grief and also hope that I enter thirty-five. I grieve my dad. But I have hope that the grief will ease. Hanging out with my kids and my family and friends eases the grief and helps easing into a new chapter without my Dad more bearable.

homophobia · lesbian mom

Homophobic In-laws and Fixing the Broken Doggy

This week has been rough. Clients/family/adulting (in the form of medical bills, taxes as a business owner etc.)…tough…along with restarting intermittent fasting hardcore. Which makes me rather cranky. In the midst of hell week…a call from my wife’s family.

My wife’s company gave out Fitbits in order to track our steps and exercise patterns. They will put extra money into our HSA if we hit certain goals. So yeah. If you’re familiar with fitbit you know that they apparently vibrate when you haven’t moved in awhile?! Now not only am I making dietary changes like intermittent fasting and paleo based diet but I have a watch that vibrates to tell me that I am sedentary. Awesome.

It’s generally guaranteed to start vibrating during that intense moment with a client when they are revealing something super personal and vrrrmmm vrrrrmmm vrrrrmmm “you haven’t moved in awhile!” And I’m thinking this damn watch has to go.

I work as a nurse practitioner with 30 minute appointments for medication management follow-ups, 60 minutes for therapy, and yeah I’m booked through February so there’s a lot of back to back appointments with me only moving to walk some one out and the next one in.

But thanks for the reminder that I haven’t moved.

I have bumped up hot yoga to 3 nights a week again. Which makes me feel less bad when that damn thing vibrates.

This week also started every morning with my sons as a shit-show. Yesterday Jackson slammed Declan’s fingers in the bathroom door- it was an accident- but no less horrible. Screaming. Bleeding. Swelling. Meanwhile in my head I’m like, ‘I need to make my smoothie and we have to leave in twenty minutes!’ We had to call my wife, and my Mom via FaceTime to tell all his people his sad story and show them his swollen bleeding fingers.

He recovered and I got to make my smoothie.

Friday morning was show-and-tell. Me- “Don’t bring that it will break!” Him “I’m bringing it, it won’t break Mama I promise!” Him at 6:30 tonight when I come home, “Mama! My puppy broke!!!” Me- “———” Me in my head “Mother&$^#&@*$&*@$*###&&$$*#(@&&”

Let me add a little lesbian content (That’s a Hannah Gadsby reference if you still haven’t watched Nanette stop reading and go watch it, we can’t be friends until you do) my wife’s family disowned her 13 years ago now.

Then in this lesbian mom’s group I’m in some one asked how to cope with watching your partner deal with being disowned by her family. Too many responses. Too many of us have experience with this. My response was there’s nothing you can do. Keep your opinions to yourself. I didn’t share my opinions until we had kids. Then it was, they are either in or out. None of this pussyfooting bullshit. I don’t walk a line. I pick a side.

They didn’t impact me emotionally. But they weren’t going to be in and out or set up false expectations to our children. My boys either have a second set of grandparents or they don’t. Her parents have consistently chosen the side of intolerance and hate under the guise of religion.

What irks me, yes irks, is their consistent statements that they are “praying for us” to be brought over to “God’s plan”. Because I’m always thinking, “What if you’re wrong and THIS, this amazing life we have, is God’s plan?!”

I could go on. And on. But I won’t. Well maybe a little because yes that was said this week. The we are praying for you line. It’s also rather mean-spirited because if their prayers were truly answered our family would be split up. If we “followed God’s path or plan or whatever” we would both be heterosexual, divorce, and preach against gay marriage. That seems counterproductive and insulting. To everything that we are.

Suffice it to say, love your kids. Unconditionally. Even if they bring the stupid overpriced breakable puppy, that they painted in a stupid overpriced paint your own pottery shop, to daycare for show-and-tell when you explicitly warned them not to do it.

I glued the stupid puppy back together. I’ve had to chip off certain pieces with the biggest knife in our house (because the little knives didn’t work and weren’t sharp enough), glued my fingers to the stupid puppy (it’s gorilla glue, and trying to make nice seams)…but I still love those kids.

I’m also approaching my first birthday without my Dad. Yeah, I would never waste one second with my kids. I want to be in their lives until they tell me to go away, and even then I’ll come back.

We have our challenges. We butt heads. But their sexual orientation and gender identity wouldn’t make me turn them away, it would make me love them harder/stronger/more protective. Instead of kicking them out why would I not feel the need to protect them more?!

I will never understand my wife’s family’s decision. To cut her off and throw her out. To then continue homophobic views after she’s a Mommy and after we have two beautiful sons. I continue to pity them and the live’s they miss out on and I also continue to pray for them to see the light and love and acceptance of a God so different from their own.

I have no regrets in my relationship with my Dad. My only regret is not having more time with him. I knew with his last breath that he loved my sister and I. I knew we were his life. I knew that because he waited to die until she left and I was in the other room. He even tried to greet me and my sons with a smile the day he died.

I hope I have many years until my own death, but when it comes I will meet it with no regrets in my relationship with my sons. Because I choose love. I choose tolerance. I choose to accept rather than cast aside. I choose to learn from my parents and my wife’s parents. My parents accepted and loved.

I choose to pass on the legacy of love. Nothing less.

So I fixed the puppy.

Followed by a discussion about them listening to me when I veto a show-and-tell decision.

 

 

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Yes it’s freaky looking

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The Broken Puppy Glued back together

lesbian mom · mom of boys

The Boy and My Cat: Temper Tantrums and Reconciling

This morning my sons both wanted to bring their backpacks to daycare because it is show and tell on Friday’s. My boys each are stubborn in different ways. It’s my blessing and my curse. Stubborn kids. I was once a stubborn kid. Now I’m a stubborn adult. Se la vie.

Jackson is a special kind of stubborn. He has preconceived notions about basically everything, that can never be predicted by me or my wife, so we go in blind to every interaction with him.

This morning, as I do every single morning of the months of November-March, after we brushed our teeth I told them to put their coats on.

Jackson had a shit-fit. Apparently he couldn’t possibly wear a jacket and then appropriately wear the backpack. Through screaming and wailing it was relayed to me that somehow wearing a jacket would impede the backpack wearing.

Fine. Don’t wear the jacket. I’ll just bring the jacket. Well that added to the epic meltdown already happening. In the midst of this I also said I would get his Spiderman fleece instead of his big puffy jacket, because the Spiderman fleece would allow for less puffiness and better ability to have the backpack straps on.

This led to more screaming. I ran upstairs. Grabbed the Spiderman fleece. And as I was coming down the stairs and yelling for him to get out to the garage to put his shoes on I hear Declan scream. A surprised and pain scream. I went to the door to the garage. Declan came toward me crying that Jackson hit him in the head with his backpack. Declan looked especially pathetic.

I essentially lost my mind. I went to the stairs where Jackson was sitting, now with his arms crossed looking up at me in fear wondering if I would actually kill him now, I grabbed the backpack, chucked it in the house, and told him to put his shoes on and get in the car.

Of course Declan moved and the backpack that I threw, brushed his hand, and he started crying again asking why I threw the backpack at him, holding up his hand saying it hit his hand.

We were also running late now.

So I’m trying to take deep breaths. Both kids are crying. Jackson finally gets in the car coatless. I have the Spiderman fleece and throw it in my front seat. I hug Declan and tell him I wasn’t throwing the backpack at him, and I was very sorry it brushed his hand. Kissed his hand.

And coddled him into the car. Where he proceeded to recap the events of the last ten minutes and would intermittently say, “Jackson still crying Mama.” “Jackson stopped crying now Mama.” “Oh he started crying again Mama.”

I took deep breaths and put on Frozen II and then Indigo Girls and tried to center myself.

I had grabbed the PJMask toy Jackson wanted to show at show-and-tell so he would still have that. When he stopped crying and I stopped wanting to toss him out of the car we had a discussion about not hitting our brother or anyone in the head with a heavy backpack because it could cause serious injury. With Declan chiming in, “But I okay Mama.” “Yes but what if it hit you in the eye? That would have been bad.”

Then I apologized for throwing the backpack inside. But said people who hit other people in the head with backpacks do not get to bring backpacks to school for show and tell. There were apologies by Jackson to Declan for the head injury and to me for yelling at me and for essentially being a little shit. I also explained that the minimum of bringing a coat is a thing that we do in the Northeast in the Winter. That his teachers would be upset if I brought him to school with no coat.

When I got him out of the car at daycare and hugged him and set him down, he shivered and said, “I so cold Mama,” and immediately asked to put the Spiderman fleece on.

I was thinking a lot of things in my head in that moment. None of them G rated or PG or even PG-13. But I calmly put on his Spiderman fleece. I got Declan out and we went into daycare.

Show-and-tell was a success and when I got home I asked Jackson if he told my wife, Mommy, about this morning. He said yes. My wife said, “He said you threw his backpack.”

I shook my head. Of course that’s where his version would start. Not the fifteen minutes of his own screaming and meltdown that led up to it.

This is life with four year old twins. By the time I’ve walked in the door at work and the woman across the hall greets me I feel like I’ve been through hell. I told her the whole sad story and she was hysterical laughing. Then I started my day with clients.

These boys. These moments. They are chaotic and crazy and I literally can’t make it up. Because I don’t have too. The reality is nutty enough. Then tonight Jackson snuggled with Rajha. Rajha is my cat. Moreso then Maddy. I mean they are both my cats. But Maddy has warmed up to my wife and my sons very easily. She’d be fine without me. Rajha, not the case. She’s obsessed with me. She is actually poking her head over the computer screen at this very moment trying to figure out why I’m paying attention to the computer and not her.

Tonight, when I saw Rajha with Jackson, looking resigned and somewhat content, I thought wow, that little shit. In one day he’s made me lose my mind with anger and frustration and then completely melt me as I watched him finally win over my cat. He’s been trying to get her to like him since he was born. Tonight she laid with him.

It was a sweet moment. About as sweet and lovely as this morning was ugly and chaotic.

Kids. When people say there’s no handbook they mean it. It’s not just handling the bad moments. It’s reconciling the bad moments with the good. It’s being able to move past this morning of horrible-ness to have an evening of happiness. It’s wanting to toss him out of the car this morning and then snuggling with him in bed tonight kissing his nose and smiling and telling him I love him so much. That’s a lot of emotion in one day. For me and for him.

In case I didn’t portray this morning badly trust me. It was bad. So extra.

Tonight. So good.

Tomorrow? My best guess…chaos…crazy….and at some point some magical moment of love…which is why I keep them around. Those little lovely moments where I melt and realize I’ve created these two humans who are totally awesome in so many ways and who reach my heart in ways that no one else can.

lesbian mom · mom of boys

Moments that Make a Parent

We made it through Christmas. I hosted family here Christmas eve, had an asthma exacerbation requiring a lot of steroids and breathing treatments, croup in one of my kids with stridor at 1:30 AM….my wife then got diagnosed with Influenza A…and the list of fun goes on!

Overall Christmas Eve was a lot of work but nice and Christmas morning was fun even though I was exhausted and couldn’t breathe. That night found me standing outside holding my son while he took deep gasping breaths in the cold air waiting for the coughing and breathing to ease. I wore a long sleeve t-shirt and my underwear. It was freezing.

I heard a loud seal cough and that gasping raspy inhale from down the hallway. I didn’t think about getting some sweatpants on. I just grabbed him and carried him down the stairs and outside.

My wife brought him a popsicle and eventually his breathing eased enough that we could go inside into the warmth. I remember thinking as he was clutching his arms and legs around me and resting his chin on my shoulder that this moment is one of those parenting moments.

It’s done in the dead of night. Freezing cold. I didn’t freak out because I treated a lot of kids over the years for croup. Always the same thing. Bring them out into the cold air and/or give them a popsicle. If they still have stridor, then bring them into the emergency department.

I knew the drill. I wasn’t scared. I was exhausted yes. Fighting my own asthmatic cough yes. Freezing yes.

That moment you get to be the rock. Adulting in a way that provides a safe space for your kid when they can’t breathe and they are scared and have no idea what’s going on or what to do for themselves.

As they get older we get fewer and fewer of these moments.

I remember thinking of my Dad in that moment. I thought Christmas would be really hard without him this year. It wasn’t easy. But I was not overcome with heavy grief the whole time. It was more intermittent pangs. It wasn’t until I held my son, all 43 lbs of him, in twenty degree weather waiting for his breathing to ease. Rubbing his back and telling him he would be fine.

That’s when I missed my Dad. Because I would never have a moment where he could be my rock ever again.

It’s not always the big holidays that bubble up the grief of losing a parent. It’s those small, unsung moments, where I’m the Mama and my son needs me. Knowing if I ever need my Dad, I won’t have him there.

So many of my friends have lost their parents this year. My facebook feed filled up with beautiful family photos in front of big Christmas trees, with captions like, “Merry Christmas, Miss you Ma,” or “Missing my Dad this Christmas, blessed to have my children to keep me busy.”

Somehow I’ve reached the age where many of us have young children, and many of us are losing parents. It’s not what I imagined the defining feature of age 34 would be, but here we are.

Losing my parent has made me grateful for these moments as a parent. I want them to be instilled in my kid’s memories. These moments that I was their safety net. I want them ┬áto have those so that when I am gone one day, hopefully many years from now, they will find themselves with their own kids and remember how I made them feel.

Safe, protected, and loved. If that is the legacy my Dad left me and I leave to them to pass on to their own kids; then I think we are doing alright. The grief becomes almost easier to bear because I know I’m passing him on to them in the best way I can.

 

lesbian mom · mom of boys

5 Things I’ve Learned in Four Years as a lesbian mom of twins.

  1. I’m going to jump into this because I hate those blog posts that say they are a recipe and you have to scroll through ads a mile long and some personal story that no one cares about to find the damn recipe. Anyway. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that being married to a woman has nothing to do with how we raise our kids. Our sons are normal, monstrous, horrible, temper trantruming, sweet and loving four year olds. They breast fed the same as kids raised by straight parents. They learned to walk, talk, and potty train exactly the same as kids raised by heterosexual parents. They say that they love us, and we say we love them. On the regular. They’ve figured out they have two moms. They’ve figured out that some kids have Daddies and not Mommies. They don’t care. Neither should you.
  2. Consistency is key. If you say you are going to go home if they act out one more time. Go home. After they act out one more time. It seems simple. But I hear so many empty threats made by parents. Then they complain their kids don’t listen. If you can’t tell I’m eye-rolling. Hard. I’m not a perfect parent. I lose my shit. I swear in front of them. And I still put on Jackson’s socks because he freaks out if I don’t even though Declan’s been putting on his own damn socks for months. It’s one of those battles I’m just not going to fight. Declan talked back to me twice. He hasn’t a third time. Because he didn’t like the consequences that happened after time number two which he was warned of after time number one of talking back. Be consistent and follow through no matter what. Trust me.
  3. Take time for yourself. Everyone says it. Few actually do it. Hot yoga makes me a better mom. Taking the time to get myself on my mat and exercise in a space where people know me as just me, not as a Mom is empowering. It reminds me who I am. I own a business and am self employed. I work hard. I want my sons to be proud of me. It’s not selfish to take time to be yourself. After being pregnant, giving birth, and nursing there was never a time I felt so out of control of my body. It didn’t feel like it belonged to me anymore. It took me some time, and I’m not done yet, but it’s definitely back to feeling like mine.
  4. My life will never be about me ever again. (See above. Hence the importance of time for me). When I was hospitalized for my asthma all I could think of was being with them. And as soon as I got home those babies were all over me. When my Dad died I didn’t get time to grieve. I went to work that week and Mama’d just like every other day. I don’t get time off from being a mom no matter what is happening to me personally or professionally. It’s incredibly draining emotionally and physically. It wasn’t healthy for me to not have time to grieve. But I had no other options. Self-employment doesn’t come with PTO/vacation days. I needed to work. The boys didn’t need to see me as a wreck. I had to keep it together around them. I know that will get easier as they get older. At least that’s what I tell myself. Every day. It’s not about you anymore! Get over it. Don’t be a martyr about it. Because thats annoying.
  5. Don’t listen to anything anyone ever tells you about parenting. I received so much bad and unsolicited advice from people about parenting. People who had never even met my kids. They potty trained at 3.5. We went without diapers one day. When we felt they were ready. People had been telling us to do it from age 2! They were not ready at age 2. They were not ready at age 3. They were ready at 3.5. They’ve had minimal accidents and no pull-ups ever overnight from the start. I knew my kids. I knew how they would be able to handle it and when. I shut every one out. I did what was best for them. Would I have liked to not have diapers in my life a year sooner?! Absolutely. But my kids weren’t ready then. People asked why I was bringing them to the dentist so early. Guess what, Declan has an enamel deficiency. I brought them very young because I felt like he had some plaque in his teeth and I thought it was weird. The dentist told me I was right and had I waited he would have a mouth full of rotting out teeth. So yeah. Don’t listen to anyone but your own gut. You know your kids. Tune out everyone else.

Mostly I’ve learned to just survive, don’t judge other peoples parenting even when they are giving you really bad advice and not following through on multiple empty threats…yes even then don’t judge. Because we are all just trying to get through the day with happy and healthy kids.

I feel grateful for the last four years. I feel incredibly blessed to have these boys in my life.

Oh and one more thing. NEVER tell a parent who has a two year old that “Three is so much worse” or any other age combination in there. Because that’s wrong on so many levels. You don’t know what they are going through. They may be hitting rock bottom and you are kicking them when they are down. Every stage is different. Three’s were not harder than two’s in some ways. In other ways they were. Don’t spread negativity about parenting, we all know it’s hard. Maybe be supportive and positive.

My business partner has twins who older than my boys. She’s never told me how bad certain stages sucked. I appreciate that about her. She’s given me goals- once you make it through…it gets so much easier! She provides me with hope that life gets easier. Do that. Spread hope.