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

 

mom of boys · politics

Visiting the “Scary” City with Twins

I’m going to preface this with a few things. 1- We moved to the suburbs from a city- where we loved living, but while I was home on maternity leave there was not one but three home invasions all within a block of our house. One of the houses we shared a corner of our yard with. I was home alone for 14 hour stretches because my wife worked an hour away. I had visions of armed intruders coming while I was breastfeeding twins with no defense.

My car was broken into one night. And with my sister and I standing ten feet away some one came running toward her running car to try and steal it. So there were a few things that led us to move.

2- I didn’t want to live in a space as rural as we do. But we fell in love with this house and pool and the house we lived in for nine years was very close to the neighbors. I’d be cooking in the kitchen and suddenly a neighbor would be literally in our window chatting with me if it was open. My wife didn’t want that anymore. So now we have over an acre of land to separate us from our “neighbors”.

The trade-off of space and a pool was a white Republican town. I’m not sure we will stay but here we are for now. We had to move daycares too. We are now in much smaller and more suburbia type daycare with far less diversity in the teachers and kids. Previously my two little white boys were the minority. I liked it that way.

By moving here I knew we’d have stuff to deal with. But Sunday morning caught me by surprise.

Declan named the closest city and said, “It’s a scary place!” I was surprised that the name of the nearest city was in his vocabulary and also that he had formed an opinion about it. My wife facepalmed because she knew this was going to lead into an angry rant about ignorant white people by me.

First we asked where he heard this. But as he noted my intensity and interest grow Declan stopped talking. My wife and I hadn’t made this statement so it had to be some one at daycare.

I went into my rant. “It’s not scary. I work there at the hospital. You were born there!” my voice apparently was rising and my wife tried to calm me down, and I said, “No, this is all because of ignorant freaking white people in this area of our freaking state who think that “insert name of city” is bad because there are Black people there. Freaking racist bullshit.” Declan then started talking about stickers obviously trying to change the topic of conversation. Yes I swore in front of my kids. I was pissed.

I interrupted him. “We are going to ‘city name'” They looked at me surprised, Declan said, “Today?” I said, “Yup.” So we went.

It’s not a particularly big city and in my humble opinion not scary at all. As with all cities there are parts and bars that you should avoid after midnight but what’s interesting about working inpatient psychiatry is meeting all the homeless people that live in the city. I generally see several people I’ve taken care of walking the streets and the green and receive waves and nods so I never particularly worry about my safety. I’ve generally met the “Bogeymen” on my unit. They aren’t scary. Just ill.

We walked the streets. We had lunch at a restaurant with live music and chocolate chip pancakes. We saw people of all ethnicities and most importantly we showed the boys that though different from our sleepy town it is not scary and we were not scared to be there.

Considering we live in the Northeast there is significant racism in our “liberal” state. I will not be raising my white sons to fear a place or people because they look or seem different than us. We told them repeatedly that they could tell their class we went to the city and it’s not scary. I hope they did.

Going downtown is challenging because of parking and you know…twins. But we will have to suck it up and do it more frequently in order to raise them with the mentality that suburbia is not the only way to be or the right way to live or the better way.

As I said we are both unsure of staying here. Safety wise we are better off than where we were. But diversity and raising our sons in such a Republican white town, I don’t know that we are better off. The home invasions were real and scary. But white suburbia is apparently just as scary to me.

I don’t know the right answer. I just know that last Sunday we had fun in the scary city.

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.