#COVID-19 · mom of boys

Karate Class & Masks

There’s something about karate class. I’m either falling out the door or, like today, my kids are mask-shaming another kid, whose mom then looks appalled, and my kids may or may not have said her kid was stupid for not wearing a mask. At which point my mouth was dropped open (behind my mask) and I was desperately trying to pull my kids back from unmasked kid, while avoiding eye contact with unmasked mom who was uttering, “It’s…a…CHOICE!” And I was muttering, “I didn’t say people are stupid I said not wearing masks is a stupid choice.”

Then I have to explain to my kids after class that while we may exercise our rights to wear our masks other kids may not, and we cannot make them feel bad for not wearing one. “But Mama that means they are stupid doesn’t it?” “And stupid is a bad word right Mama?” chimes in the other one.

“Did I actually use the word stupid? I don’t think I did.”

They are both nodding emphatically. Yes. I did. But again. I didn’t mean it makes a person stupid. It’s just a stupid choice. Uneducated. Ignorant. Okay stupid.

Then I’m texting one of my friends and one of my employees because they have been with me from the start of karate class adventures. They both basically said the boys are passionate and they love them and the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

It’s an odd thing. To sit in a waiting area of mom’s whose kids all thing the sun and moon revolve around us and to be teaching our kids such different things. Then there they all are, doing karate together.

I coached their basket-ball team this Saturday. At 8 AM. On a Saturday. The day after I got my COVID booster. I’ve had better times. But I’m glad I was there representing because I was the only female coach out of six parent volunteers. Twenty kids. Co-Ed. All in kindergarten. At the end I looked at another coach and said, “Well we have no where to go but up from here.” He laughed and agreed.

Basket-ball requires masks. So that was good. And all the kids did great with them. What I found interesting was the girls were far less aggressive than the boys. Then of course I’m friends with therapists, so I tell one of my friends my observation and she says, “Well do you think that’s because girls are socially conditioned to be less aggressive than boys? And boys are given societal permission?” That’s the thing about being friends with therapists. Being friends with therapists is a freaking trip.

There I am saying girls just need to toughen up, and then she drops this thought provoking bomb on me and I’m like well damn. I dunno. Then I get all introspective and think, I never felt conditioned to be less aggressive, in fact I was aggressive as hell from day one in basket-ball…so what does that say about me?

So do the girls all suck because of societal norms and expectations? I do live in a super red town and maybe girls here really are told to be girls. Whatever the hell that means. But then I’m thinking there are only twenty kids signed up for basket-ball. They keep it low because of COVID. So this is a small sample size. Though my town is small. But maybe there are other girls in town who are aggressive and they just are not playing basket-ball.

Then I think this is why I always have problems with other people. I’m intimidating, unapproachable, and blah blah blah. Said every manager ever. My response was always if I were a man would you be saying this. Their answer was always an awkward introspective silence. See I can pull out my therapist ju ju too.

Here’s my conundrum. I’m raising two white boys. Who clearly have my passion, drive, and lack of any hesitation to confront some one about what they think is right or wrong or whatever. They did the same thing last week at karate about the vaccine. But I intervened before the other kid’s mom heard. The thing is, I’m teaching by example for my sons to be somewhat confrontational. And as a white cis dude it’s different. But I don’t want to censor myself.

In other words. This single parenting situation is tough. I have to teach by example. But who and how I am as a Queer woman is different than how they should be as white cis ?straight dudes. I’m making assumptions based on them saying (age appropriately) girls are gross but they want to marry a girl. (Though one of them asked to marry me recently which I wholeheartedly accepted so all those other 6 year olds can just back off). Then I think should is a strong word, and how do I teach them to harness their power for good? Because the two of them standing in front of a maskless boy and pointing their fingers at him telling him he should wear a mask and people who don’t wear masks are stupid….that’s not what I’m going for. But honestly, wear a freaking mask. It’s hard. Because it’s not the kids fault his parents are making uneducated decisions.

Pandemic parenting 101. Wear masks. Don’t shame another kid for not wearing a mask. But, acknowledge that your kids will likely hear you say other people who are unvaccinated and not wearing masks are stupid and endangering everyone else in society and essentially slapping healthcare providers in the face who are working the front lines (AKA me and clients I treat and all my friends who are healthcare providers). And then will repeat that to unmasked individuals at karate class.

Then make a plan for how to survive karate class sitting next to that kids parent.

mom of boys

Welcome Cheetah. The dog.

The last year of my Dad’s life he kept talking about how he should have had a dog. The man fought in Vietnam and especially after retirement had serious issues with the military. He had a whole lot of family stuff happen. I mean. A lot. And his one regret…not having a dog. That has been a niggling thought in my head for three years. When my cats died in 2020 I brought up getting a dog. But my ex, at the time my wife, did not want a dog. She actually said she would leave if we got a dog. In retrospect…that was a missed opportunity. But here we are. Two cats. Two kids. Single Mom. And Pup.

Her name is Cheetah.

I had no say in her name. See above (two kids).

Now within the search for my dog I was adamant that I wanted a dog that could be a therapy dog, I wanted a mutt, I wanted to rescue, and I didn’t want a pitbull.

I’ve learned a few things about dogs since adopting one. Pitbulls are terriers. So a “terrier/hound” mix could actually mean a Pit mix. I did not know that before I happened to fall in love with a “terrier/hound” mix.

I applied to 4 or 5 rescues. Which by the way, is stressful. Then I waited. Then I heard from a few. Then I waited. I kept saying I would wait for the right fit. That I wanted a dog who is good with kids and cats and overall fit was more important than rushing it.

Then I got a call about a dog I found online. She wasn’t necessarily my first choice. But by the time she came through I had been in contact with a few shelters/rescues and I was basically going to agree to anything. I agreed to meet her. The foster mom texted me pictures and sang her praises. She was not totally cute in the pictures. I mean she was in a smushy dog face kind of way. I showed the boys, and Declan said, “She looks so sad Mama! She needs a family. She should be part of our family.”

Cheetah after our first in-person therapy session

The foster mom brought her over the night before Thanksgiving. She was exuberant to meet us. She licked Declan’s head. She does a tail wag with her whole body. The woman handed me the leash, and said a somewhat tearful good-bye to Cheetah. Then left. Cheetah watched her drive off and then was instantly immersed back in the chaos of our family.

She was perfect on Thanksgiving. I’ve never actually worried at all about her being with my sons. She gets hyper as puppies do, but she would never hurt them. She did try to nip my sister’s min-pin, which I still feel really bad about. But we are working with a trainer now who is socializing her. We’ve gone on walks at parks, and she loves people. She loves other dogs less; which is honestly fine. I don’t love other dogs either.

She loves kids. I’ve had her around a number of kids and she’s a gem.

Cheetah and her Boys

She is without a doubt a Pit mix. The vet, all 6+ feet of him, got down on the floor with her, grinning from ear to ear, as they tussled together. He couldn’t get enough of her. My friend met me recently and I brought Cheetah, and she clearly was happier to see the dog than me. It’s been three weeks and she’s stolen the hearts of most every one she meets. Including my patients on telehealth who see her now on camera. We even did a therapy session live, and she did excellent.

It’s been hard. Every walk. Every accident. Every second; it’s all on me. Takes a month to adjust to a new home. Takes six months to make a new routine permanent. We are now one month in. She feels comfortable. She feels at home. She sleeps in bed with me every night and we now have an understanding that she does not come past the center line of pillows until after 6 AM. Somehow she knows when it is 6 AM. On the dot.

Cheetah and Declan

We found a trainer, a groomer, and a dog walker. The groomer was the fifth? person to slam it down my throat that she is a pitbull. I was sort of trying to deny it. Referring to her as a mutt. The groomer said, “She’s a pit mix. Pit dominant.” I smiled and said, “Can you still give her a bath?” She laughed and said yes. She pointed at a little fluff ball in a crate waiting for her bath and said, “I’d take a pit over that little fluff ball any day.” The tiny ball of fluff then growled at no one in particular.

That was hard though; leaving her at the groomer. I know she wasn’t sure I’d come back for her. She’s five months old and she spent the first 4 months being shuffled from South Carolina, to CT, to a foster, then to me. Her butt wagging when I came back for her was fierce. When the dog trainer took her for the morning, she was unhappy, to put it mildly. When they finally got back in his car and drove to our meeting spot, she refused to get out with him and fell asleep in the front seat. She didn’t get out until I got there. Again, I think she was worried I wouldn’t come back for her. The foster had her for two weeks. We’ve now been the place she’s stayed the longest in her whole little life.

The cats. Ginsburg and Scooby Doo (Scooby the cat and Cheetah the dog. yes I get the irony. Again, I had no say in these name choices. I got to name Ginsburg who is a respectable cat with a respectable name!) So no one has tried to kill the other yet. Cheetah wants to sniff them. The cats sort of let her. Then run away. I haven’t let them all loose together yet…waiting for no Christmas tree as I have this vision of all three of them diving behind it. They did all sleep on my lap or lap adjacent on different occasions. I am hopeful they will all be harmonious. No red flags so far.

And why would I not end up with a pit? I spend my life championing minorities who are misunderstood, misrepresented, and maltreated. Once I accepted it, I realized of course I have a pit mix. How could I have anything else but the most misunderstood, misrepresented, and maltreated breed of dog? The vet called her a “Heinz 57” because she’s some of everything: lab, hound, boxer, rhodesian, etc. He also said if he had to tell a tech to go get her from a crowd he’d say, “Red pit”. She’s a love. She’s going to be a therapy dog. She hates the rain and the cold. She snores.

Welcome Cheetah:)

Cheetah and Ginsburg…adjacent

One of my friends told me I was matched with this dog for a reason. That she needed me and I needed her. I told myself I was getting her for the boys but as she snores softly on my lap as I write this, I know my friend is right.

mom of boys · politics

Lessons at Home re- Racism

There has been a lot in my life in the past month. Puppy. Kids. Business. Life. But two moments with my kids stick out. One- they brought home these pamphlets about the Declaration of Independence. It had pictures of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams on page 1. Along with a picture of the Bill of the Rights. There was a caption explaining that these documents gave “everyone freedom and independence”. On page two there were pictures of white and Black people all sitting, smiling, reading books, talking, etc. No caption.

It was weird. I asked the boys about it and they said yes we learned about Independence and that every one in America was free. I sat down with them on our couch and I said, “We need to talk about something important.” They looked intrigued, and I went on to explain that DOI and BOR did not in fact make every one free. That people with Black and brown (at which point Declan said, “And tan?”) color skin were not freed by these documents. In fact they would not be freed until about one hundred years later during the Civil War.

I pointed at Thomas Jefferson’s picture and said, “He actually owned slaves, and actively worked to ensure slavery would survive.” The boys now looked awed and somewhat confused, and I could see the wheels turning, and they definitely knew this was important and maybe even secret adult information that I was letting them in on.

We talked some more about it, and they named the one kid in their class with “brown skin” and I said do you think it’s scary for that person to be in a class with all kids who are white? They thought about it, and said maybe. I said being different can be hard, and it can be scary. You guys have two mom’s and that’s different from most other kids in your class.

We had a long discussion, as long as six year olds can tolerate anyway, and I don’t know if I did it “right”. In fact the whole time I was struggling with how to word things, and how much to tell them. But I kept putting myself in the shoes of Mom’s of Black children. They don’t have a choice. They have to have much harder conversations than this one. And I don’t want to raise kids who are “colorblind”. I want to raise kids who see color, who understand racism is real, and who will hopefully, actively work to dismantle racism instead of taking part in it.

I have a print of Ruby being escorted into school on that day when she, as a child, faced down segregation. It hangs on the way toward my home office. A couple weeks later one of my sons asked me about it, and asked why we have that print. I told him, because I like it, it inspires me to be better because Ruby was just a child and she had to face such hatred and at a time in her life that should have been full of innocence and fun she was faced with brutality and hate. I explained the importance of Ruby and her bravery and I pulled up a picture of Ruby now as an adult. To which Jackson said, “So now she’s old people’s?” I mean. I guess. She’s older than she was. The point was that she’s alive still. This was recent that Black people did not have the same rights as white people. That was a mind-blowing fact to them.

Our curriculum is whitewashed and my town voted a board of education slate that are Republican, and who have publicly stated on social media that they don’t believe racism exists. Racism is like science. You don’t have to believe in gravity to fall on your ass. Racism exists whether you “believe” in it or not.

You ever see Bad Boys II? There’s the moment when Martin Lawrence realizes he’s going to have no help from authorities to rescue his sister. Will Smith sees it. You can see their countenance change. You see them walk away with this look that they are resolved in a decision. Will Smith’s next line is “We just gonna have to do it on our own,”. Then you see all these cops and agents one by one follow them out.

That’s how I felt when I saw that pamphlet. I’m just gonna have to do it on my own. Because our education system has not evolved since I was in school. I know what I learned. I know what I’ve had to do to unlearn it. I’m not going to let my kids wait until adulthood until more Black people are killed to discover for themselves what systemic racism is, how we participate in it, and steps we can take to stop it. It’s hard. I’m sure my home lessons will cause some interesting discussions in their classrooms as they get older. I’ve never told them not to discuss these lessons at school. I’ve never encouraged them to either. I’m just winging it.

Ruby will continue to hang on my wall. Hopefully she will inspire my kids as much as she inspires me.

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.

mom of boys

Parenting Gems…Six Years In

My cousin had a baby recently and my sons are approaching their sixth birthday. It’s all had me reflecting on my life in the past six years. It’s been a roller coaster honestly. Twins, started a practice, lost my Dad, divorce, moved to a rural town from urban city, went from paired Queer mom to single mom co-parenting with lesbian ex. Tried to date. Global pandemic as a front lines mental health nurse practitioner. Made some new friends, let go of some old ones. I always thought my twenties would be the decade of the most growth and change but honestly my thirties clearly said, “Hold my beer”.

Through it all I’ve had these two little boys watching me, learning from me, testing me, teaching me, and permanently changing the trajectory of my life. IVF sucked. But the enduring light at the end of the tunnel was the thought of a baby. Then I got two. Then they became non-babies. Honestly I do not ever need to do the baby stage or toddler stage again. Because little did I know the blinding ray of light at the end of the IVF horrible prickly tunnel is these two little men. Not babies. People. Individuals. I love them as individuals. I love seeing the best and worst parts of me reflected in them. They are this epic mirror into my soul. I started out wanting babies. But every day I wake up so grateful for these two boys.

I think what I learned the most is people love giving advice. Unsolicited. All the time. Even when our lived experiences are wildly different. I have been VERY careful to not give ANY advice to my cousin. At all. At any point on her journey to parenthood. Because she’s a smart, capable human who has a different lived experience than I do. But I will share some gems. Because if I had known some of this stuff six years ago it may have helped.

  1. Don’t let any one tell you when to potty train your kid. Don’t get scared if your best friend’s kid is some potty genius freak using the toilet at 18 months. Your kid will use the toilet. Let them do it on their timetable. Mine weren’t fully trained until just under 4 years old. I let them lead. It was generally painless except maybe a few times chasing Jackson around so he wouldn’t poop in the corner of the house.
  2. If your kid doesn’t talk by a certain point your pediatrician will tell you to get interventions. My sons were late bloomers with the talking. They had twin talk, and still do. We would be with other two year olds who spoke in complete sentences and I’d think my kids had some horrible disability. They didn’t. They are fine. My daycare instructor asked me to go to the pedi when they were three. We did. They got a speech eval. They did fine. If your kid needs interventions they are there for you. If you have concerns don’t ask strangers on social media. Check with your daycare teacher or nursery school teacher, and pediatrician.
  3. Your kid may or may not sleep. And if they sleep for a few months they may stop sleeping for the next few months. You will be up at 4 AM googling how to get a baby to sleep. You will google “sleeping patterns in 9 month olds, 10 month olds, etc.” If you ask ten people they will have ten different answers about sleeping patterns in kids. My kids didn’t sleep through the night consistently until they were eighteen months old. They still wake up with nightmares, the stomach bug, or whatever fresh hell decides to surprise me at 3 AM…though it is fewer and far between. Accept that you will feel tired. For a long time. Do the best you can.
  4. Kids get sick. Babies cut teeth. Babies have food intolerances. You may have a lot of front ended visits of pediatrician well and sick visits for the first year or two. Sometimes I found the pediatrician helpful. Sometimes not. I thought my son was cutting teeth at ten weeks, the pedi told me there was no way it could be that early, a tooth literally broke through that night. Trust your gut. You know your kid best.
  5. Bring them to the dentist after they have some teeth. No one ever really told me to start going. I just scheduled it because they had teeth. Found out one of them has an enamel deficiency. Again. Trust your gut.
  6. At some point they will eat chicken nuggets and french fries. There is no avoiding it. Gear up. One day I opened my cabinet and saw Chips Ahoy, Pirate Booty, s’more Granola bars, and every other treat I never thought I’d be giving my children…I became that Mom. So will you. It’s okay. They still eat apples and strawberries too.
  7. At some point your four year old will see something PG-13 on tv. It’s unavoidable. Be ready for some questions depending if it is boobs or murder.
  8. You will be asked about penises and vagina’s. No matter how much you prep, or how prepared you should be (aka Psych NP who specializes in sex positive mental health treatment) you will stutter and say something that sounds like your grandmother speaking. Recover. Approach the conversation again later on your terms and try and provide some objective age appropriate education…it’s all good.
  9. There will be playground interactions with other kids and parents that suck. I have been that Mom who has gone and demanded the huge rock from the kid who is not mine, as my own kids watch horrified that I am disciplining a kid who is not mind, because he’s been throwing it at all the kids including mine. I then marched my butt over to his parent with gi-normous rock and hand it to his parent, explain the situation, explain I’ve already told her child I would be dragging his butt over to her next if he threw any rocks again, etc. You gotta take a stand some times. It’s uncomfortable for me, my kids, and other kids and their parents. But it’s also setting the example of right and wrong. Playgrounds provide life lessons. Don’t run away from them; lean into them.
  10. Babies are always the goal of pregnancy. But what I’ve learned and what I encourage you to hold onto is that babies grow into individuals. They grow into these people that we have the privilege of shaping. They are watching everything you do. They will emulate you. They make me be better because I want them to be better. Babies are the tip of such a large iceberg. Sometimes I think they need me more now than when they were babies just in very different ways. When I bring them to karate, and they learn a new move; they slyly look over to see if I’m watching…that moment. That’s when they need me. We make eye contact, I give them the thumbs up through the glass, and smile, or clap and though they can’t hear me, they know I’m there. They try harder because they know I’m watching. Put down your phone and watch karate class. Because you will miss those moments. You will miss how much they need you.
  11. They will have opinions VERY quickly about Halloween costumes. Pick wisely your first two years. It will be the only opportunity for you to be in control of the theme.
  12. If you have stairs they will fall down them. Maybe not fully, maybe not until they are five. It will happen. Don’t panic. Maybe put carpet on your stairs.
  13. Almost forgot…parenting in a pandemic is the literal worst. Do the best you can. Make decisions you are comfortable with even if you think they are horribly irrational. Nothing we decide will be right. Tune out the static of non-pandemic parents advice. Tune out FOMO and go with your gut (and science. Please go with science too.)
  14. Place deoderant and toothbrush/toothpaste everywhere. Car, purse, kitchen, office.
  15. Have a discussion about little people/dwarfism. Do not wait until they see someone in public to educate. It will not go well.
  16. Call tampons and pads “Mamas bandaids”. Or something innocuous. You have to trust me on this one. Whatever you call them will be yelled publicly at some point.
mom of boys

“Boys Will be Boys”

I’ve received the feedback from society since I can remember that girls are “less than”.

I remember asking my high school basketball coach why the football team had an entire weight room and gym- and they hadn’t won a championship for over a decade- while the girls teams had access to nothing, practiced with old basketballs, old uniforms, and we won the state championship my Freshman year. We won shorelines multiple years. The volleyball team won the state championship year after year, but they also didn’t get new uniforms, new balls, or their own gym.

The athletic director at the time was an alcoholic, my freshman history teacher, and generally a misogynist that consistently prioritized the boys sports and provided boys sports teams with more resources than the more deserving, in my humble opinion, winning girls teams. He was also a bad teacher.

I was at a charity softball tournament recently and I saw a big sign with that particular athletic directors name, “The ‘John Smith’ Field”. I was like what. the. fuck. They named a sports complex after the alcoholic misogynist. I tapped my sister on the arm, and she nodded, and she wasn’t surprised. That’s how small suburban white towns roll around here.

Then of course I became a nurse. Female dominated profession that is marginalized, undervalued, and consistently gaslit by management. Then I became a psychiatric APRN. The general message to me was that I was not a doctor (Which I knew…because I chose to go into a NURSING master’s program), and working in a field and ultimately a hospital, dominated by old white dudes. I didn’t feel like I fit in, was valued, or had worth until I went into practice for myself.

I love my work. I love that I can own a practice. I love that I have created a female owned business with many female employees, who I treat as I was never treated by an employer. Ever.

But I still have to walk around in society as a female. Which is mostly fine but often not. For example, I literally had to stop going to a liquor store because the owner was too friendly. To the point I had to be unfriendly. I go to the liquor store about once every two weeks. In the Fall and Winter I buy a bottle or two of Malbec or Merlot. Sometimes I go wild and get a chianti. In the Summer I usually do white wine or a gin and tonic or a tequila and soda. I don’t drink every day. I have a glass of wine maybe 3 nights a week. I don’t drink- vodka, dark rum, whiskey, bourbon, and probably many other things. I know what I like. Don’t mess with me.

So the owner of the local liquor store literally would follow me around the one aisle of red wines talking to me about “pomegranate liquor”. I should try it. He will give me a sample. He thinks I should really really really try it. Don’t I like pomegranate liquor? He literally went on and on. This occurred three times I was in there. Then the last time he asked how I liked the pomegranate liquor. I literally never tasted it and repeatedly had told him I would never taste it. I stopped dead in my tracks, “Look, I come in here like once every two weeks. I buy two bottles of red wine. I hate pomegranate and it’s not liquor it’s vodka. I don’t drink vodka. Just let me buy my two bottles of red wine and leave.” Mind you, every single other time I’ve been in there I have stated that I am just there for a couple bottles of wine. This was not news. But I had to stop, make eye contact, and set a firm, non-smiling boundary. At which point he threw up his hands, and muttered something in another language, then checked me out clearly annoyed and butt hurt.

I left and found an online delivery service and ordered a bulk order of wine. I’m set for a few months and when I need more I’m ordering online again. Later that day I went into a gas station because the card reader wasn’t working at the pump. The guy’s eyes lit up and I know that look, it’s a fresh meat I’m going to flirt with her look, and he proceeded to smile ask me if I was single, what I’m doing there, etc.

These interactions do not leave me flattered. They leave me feeling annoyed and insulted. Can I just buy the damn wine? I’m running on fumes just let me fill up my damn tank. These are only two examples in one day of my life of 36 years. I’ve had countless interactions like this, and honestly the only time I didn’t was in the two or three years after I had my sons and was still overweight. It was kind of a nice time and I didn’t even realize the lack of creepy male attention until it started again when I was fifty pounds lighter.

The annoying part about all of the times I’ve had to set boundaries is the male’s instinctive defensive response when they then say I’m a “bitch” or “cold” or whatever clever new insult they derive from me relaying that I actually just want gas. wine. I don’t mentally track these encounters but I would guess that I receive unwanted, unsolicited, and/or creepy male attention at least weekly- more or less depending on how much contact I have with the public.

The rub of it all is that I’m raising two young men. The other day Declan was telling Jackson to stop touching him and Jackson kept going, as brothers do, I went, pulled them apart, and we talked about boundaries, and how it is very important that we do not touch or talk to people if they are asking us not to. That we respect boundaries and we don’t make other people feel bad about boundaries. I’m not sure how much of it they understood. But we will continue this same discussion over and over until it sinks in. Because my sons will not be the creepy dude telling me I have pretty eyes while I’m trying to just pay for an oil change…because that wasn’t awful at all.

I keep getting this message, overtly, that women should suck it up, and accept male attention because if and when we set boundaries its upsetting to them. We should accept that this is the way of the world. Well that didn’t work when I was 14 talking to my coach about fair allocation of resources, and it doesn’t work now at 36. I will not accept this treatment by the opposite gender. I will continue to set boundaries.

It’s exhausting and at times scary. I will also address this in raising my sons to accept No as an answer. To respect boundaries. To read non-verbals that if I’m ignoring you, stop talking to me and stop following me. These behaviors by men are not cute. They are not fun. They are creepy, scary, and tone deaf. Do not be this person. Do not raise your kids to be this person. Do better.

lesbian mom · mom of boys

Stacking Firewood Before the Storm

I get two cords of firewood delivered every November. Then it takes me a month or so to stack it all. It’s usually thirty degrees or less and some times it snows. This year the two cords were delivered on Monday. I thought “This is great, I’ll have all Fall to stack it, it won’t be snowing, I won’t be cold, no rush. Great!”

Thursday we start hearing about a hurricane. Friday we are told a cat 1 will make landfall and there will be “rain of biblical proportions” and to “protect life and property at all costs”. I mean the drama.

I take in all my pool furniture and I stand staring at the wood pile. It’s taller than me. By a lot. And then I’m picturing logs becoming torpedoes in 80 mph winds. So Friday I start stacking.

It was 88 degrees and what felt like 100% humidity here. I was dripping sweat. My sons came out and helped. It was honestly the cutest freaking thing. Those little dudes walked dutifully with me back and forth with the wheelbarrow as we filled it with logs then stacked the logs in the garage and on our stands outside.

I did promise them money and they negotiated up to 20$ “paper money Mama, not the coins”. At one point one of them stopped and looked at me and said, “You’re a good Mama, you’re doing a good job.” Through my huffing and puffing I tried to smile and say thank you. At the end of Friday’s stacking we jumped into the pool and I took them for ice cream. At some point my neighbor stopped over with his wheelbarrow and helped with a few loads. Unasked and purely because he’s kind.

The boys asked if I was paying him. We laughed, and I said no, sometimes people are just kind. He has daughters in their 20’s and I think he was imagining them attacking that woodpile by themselves.

Saturday came and it wasn’t any cooler or less humid or less dramatic with the forecasts. Back and forth we went some more. The boys still helping, and trying to angle for more cash. I mean they are good at bargaining maybe law school is in their futures.

By Saturday evening there was less than 1/2 cord left on the driveway which was secured under a tarp with stakes and 80 lb deck umbrella stands.

By Sunday night we had received a lot of rain, a few gusts maybe up to 40 mph, and otherwise a dreary day. No firewood torpedoes thank goodness and no cat 1 hurricane in sight. So that was anti-climatic but I’ll take it because I wasn’t looking forward to no power for a week.

Sometimes it is in the monotony of a task like stacking firewood that we have the most meaningful times with our children. In a simple act they were taught many lessons.

They were taught the importance of preparing for a storm, they were taught we don’t quit at something even when we are dripping sweat, cranky from the heat, and our muscles are screaming. They learned the kindness of neighbors can be just that. Kindness. Without motive. They learned that Mama can handle a pending crisis with general calm and determination.

They were told at one point they had reached their maximum reimbursement of 20.00 each and they could stop or not it was up to them. They both went silent with their bargaining and trudged onward with me even though they wanted to come inside and watch tv. I told them they could and I wouldn’t be upset with them. It had been a long hot couple days, and I sincerely told them they could go inside and be done. But they knew I wasn’t done and didn’t want me to be alone.

They could have stayed inside watching tv. They could have played in the yard with the sprinkler. They could have ridden their bikes on the driveway. But they worked hard. They took pride in their work, and I praised them constantly for how well they were doing.

Stacking firewood is not sexy or glamorous. I broke a fingernail. My hands and arms and abs and legs are sore. I literally was soaked with sweat. Dripping like at hot yoga. I smelled. They smelled. There were ants. Pincher bugs. Spiders.

Kids watch us. They see us. When Declan told me I was a good Mama I melted inside. I don’t think he was saying I’m a good Mama because I stack firewood. He said it because he knew it was miserable but I persevered. I didn’t complain. I stayed positive and kept talking about how great it will be to jump in the pool. He said it because in that moment he admired me.

Now that I’m not dripping sweat and trudging through flying ants with wheelbarrows full of firewood I think back to that moment when we made eye contact and he said that and I smiled and said “Thanks bud. I love you.” And Jackson said, “What about me Mama?” and we laughed and I said, “Love you too buddy”. Then we had a second where we all just beamed at each other then I leaned over to throw another log into the wheelbarrow.

It was less than five seconds. That one moment. Treasure the moments. Teach through experiences. If parenting has taught me anything it’s to appreciate the moments. Because in the next moment I was probably yelling at them to stop fighting. Parenting also has taught me how much they see us. For some one who likes to remain on the periphery and not be the center of attention, it’s taken some getting use to for me. Two humans have their eyes and ears on me at. all. times. It can be a lot for an introvert.

Stacking wood can seem unimportant but they learn lessons from everything we do. Everything we prioritize and don’t; they see. It’s a huge responsibility- these little humans. Sometimes I feel like I’m doing everything wrong. But in that moment, by the woodpile, seeking their admiration even if just for a second, I felt like yes! Mom win.

(The meme/title picture is just because it made me laugh. Jackson in particular and I have had that exact scene regarding dinner. I told him he didn’t need to eat it but that it would be there in the morning for breakfast. It was there in the morning for breakfast. He ate it.)

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 · mom of boys

Single Mom-ing it…COVID style

I’ve been slowly moving into single mom life as a business owner and mental health nurse practitioner. I gotta be honest it’s a bit of a roller coaster. I treat single mom’s. I am friends with single mom’s. I thought I had some understanding of life as a single mom. I sorta did. But there’s nothing that can prepare you for the utter exhaustion. The compromise of never having laundry folded unless my mom comes and folds it because I would never have any time snuggling the boys on the couch if I did all the things that needed to be done every day all the time. (And my mom can fold laundry way better than I can. It’s not one of my strengths.)

Single mom life is depending on grocery delivery services and being brought to tears when they don’t have something I ordered that I need for a recipe knowing there will be no time or space for me to hit a grocery store between now and said event requiring the baked item. There’s no running out to the store at 8 PM after bed time. Missing one item from a grocery order seems so stupid. I should get over it. But it’s always the little things that push me right over the edge I feel teetering on some days.

Single mom-ing it is making medical appointments and oil change appointments for myself. Then rescheduling them three times because daycare closed, one of them is sick, etc. I forgot a work conference recently. It was a day the daycare was closed. It was a rather horrendous day with them. I was never this person who reschedules appointments three times, misses a work call, and doesn’t have all the ingredients I need which leads me to buying a baked good item instead of making it.

I recognize how silly those things sound. What I haven’t mentioned yet are the nights of bad dreams, the nights of asking why their parents are separated, and the 24-48 hours a week without them when they are with my ex. It’s like a roller coaster of emotion every week. I love them. I don’t want to be angry or irritable because I’m overwhelmed. I get so tired if they have bad dreams or bad nights and crawl into my bed and then stick both their feet in my back. Then add on COVID and the random daycare closures, COVID tests, and general isolation etc. Super fun.

One of my good friends has also been through a divorce and single parenting adventure within the last year or two and it is validating when I text a minimal sentence about life sucking and she responds yup. Because I know she gets it. Because I know she knows that I know life doesn’t suck. It’s just hard. And it’s hard to act strong all the time. Because I can’t not be strong for my kids, and my employees, and my clients. I have a wall of strength up 100% of the time including at 2 AM wake-ups and it’s freaking exhausting.

I think the most frustrating part is that society puts these expectations on single mom’s to be Superwoman. It’s the expectation and if you don’t live up to it then you are lazy, dumb, sad, etc. If I don’t show up with a smile saying everything’s fine then people wouldn’t know what to do or say and they’d be uncomfortable. Because we as a society are uncomfortable with other people’s pain.

We have isolated ourselves to the point where we lack community unless we forge it ourselves.

I am grateful for my own community of friends I have forged over the years. I feel lonely, but I know I can pick up the phone and call any one of my friends or family and I could have somewhere to go, some one to talk to, and if I wanted it, some one to grab a drink with. I have friends I share my location with if I meet some one from the horrible land of online dating. That’s a whole other blog post. Or several. I think so far though the best line at a first meet was, “We should be in a motel room fucking right now.” Because honestly. What woman doesn’t want to hear that on a first date? From some one with more degrees than I have. Awesome. I told him he was on the wrong app; He should have used Tindr or paid for a hooker. (There was not a second date and no I did not join him in a motel room and this is not a judgement against people who go to a motel room on the first date. You do you boo).

But I digress. My point to that was I have friends I trust and who are totally there for me. I know there are so many single parents who don’t have that. Who are completely isolated. I feel for them. Hard. My sister-in-law said today she never understood the intensity and importance of parents around nap time until she became a parent. Same for single parenting. I never understood the nuances and the highs and the lows and the dichotomy of feeling like you never get alone-time while feeling incredibly lonely at times.

Don’t go around pitying every single parent you know now. Just connect with them. Be a person to them. Because that’s the one thing I’ve learned. I need people. Friends. Family. Even horrible first dates. Connection is mandatory to survive this life of feeling alone.

Those 24-48 hours a week without my kids are painful. My friend with split custody told me to distract myself. It will still hurt. But it will help. She wasn’t wrong. Distraction is key. Invites to stuff with kids even when I don’t have my kids also help. I still see my sister/sister-in-law/niece on days I don’t have the boys. Don’t stop inviting single parents when they don’t have their kids. On the flip side keep inviting them to couples stuff. I don’t mind being a single person at a couples get together. It would bother me more to be left out by my good friends.

And finally my last word of advice is to be a person they can not be smiling and strong in front of. Not that I feel the need to cry or scream or break down on the daily…because I don’t. But being able to be real and say yeah sometimes I’m not okay has been crucial to my own mental health. I am so incredibly fortunate to have friends who are okay with me not being okay. I know not every one has that. I have never realized the utter gut wrenching importance of having those people until this past year. Be that person for some one else. We need you.

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.