#COVID-19 · politics

Pandemic Journal Entry #2- But Where Did All the Yeast Go??

In an ironic and rather cruel twist of fate I found a use for all the fabric I’ve saved for ten years. Most of which I used to make my own scrub tops back in my emergency department days. I started making fabric masks.

Apparently the United States of America supposedly, one of the most advanced countries in the world, doesn’t have enough masks and PPE (personal protective equipment) for a pandemic. We also outsourced all our manufacturing to China (They also were hit with the pandemic worse and first) so…yeah. Essentially the hospitals here are fucked.

The CDC and JACHO and DPH…all the most dreaded initials in healthcare…have now declared that wearing a bandana is “okay”. Let me put this in perspective. About three weeks ago these were the SAME initialed departments that were ding-ing hospitals nationwide for nurses keeping their water bottles “at the nurse’s station”.

I hope everyone wearing a bandana at work today eats a damn pizza at the nurse’s station.

The jury is out if cloth masks do anything. There are studies showing they don’t.

But of course because I’m smart and a nurse and have had to wear these masks for twelve hours on end I am a step ahead of the average “sewist” (someone who sews a lot? I dunno my Aunt used the term and it sounded official). I started sewing. Something I actually haven’t done much of since the boys were born.

I still got it though. After a first crappy mask. I got the hang of it. I make them three layers- cotton, thick fabric, cotton- with an opening at the top to slide in either a surgical mask or a HEPA filter. I’m using framing wire to make the nasal bridge part malleable and more snug.

I’ve also learned where to make a cinch (yes that’s a sewing term that I actually knew) in order to make it more snug to the nose and jaw. I also practice talking and breathing while wearing it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried to open my phone with face ID only to realize I have a damn mask on. They are comfortable. They are breathable and they are better than a bandana. I told my wife I should patent this shit.

But I won’t. I also saw some lady charging for them! Screw that noise. Any nurse I know can have as many as you want.

But while I’m making them I’m just thinking Fuck you CDC. Fuck you #45. No nurse on the front line should have to wear a fabric mask. Why don’t we have enough N95’s? Why are you risking the lives of the only people in the world who can save every one else?

Critical care nurses are not common. We have years of training and experience and most of us leave the game because on a good day it’s taxing. During a pandemic…yeah we don’t want to be near it.

But I would go near it if you had PPE. But you don’t. So you can’t pay me enough.

Yesterday the boys and I went for a 1.5 mile hike together. Only the state parks are open right now. No playgrounds. And there are talks of closing the parks. Please GOD NO! We literally would have no where to go with them. Maybe not literally. We have a yard. Try explaining to a 4 year old why we couldn’t go to a restaurant though. It was rough. He does not believe me when I tell him they are all closed.

We officially have no childcare this week because our baby-sitter’s told us they are abiding by the governor’s order to stay home which is totally valid and I’m not knocking at all. My wife and I had a pow-wow and made the decision that my wife will stay home from work (her store is still open as it is considered essential) so I can still see patients.

I’m worried all the time about everything.

Today was yeast. I bake bread or pizza dough every weekend. I used my last two packets of yeast today. Apparently every one decided that we will not have access to bread?! So there is no yeast anywhere. Not online not in stores. My wife went to over 8 stores before she found some. I know all y’all are not out there making homemade bread. Because every time I make it literally no one has ever even seen homemade bread before.

So where the hell is all the yeast going?! I don’t know. With the toilet paper I guess.

Anyway I made my cinnamon swirl bread today. My wife is stopping work this week so we will be down an income. I volunteered to provide telepsych services for the state of NY due to COVID-19. I also got an e-mail stating any one on a biologic should be excluded from direct patient care…I am on a biologic for my asthma (yes it’s that bad)  so that made me feel validated in doing remote work only. I don’t want to die. I probably would if I got this virus.

We are heading into the week where we will really feel the pandemic. Our numbers are growing. We are at the part of an exponential curve that is climbing with no end in sight to the top. It’s the scariest part to the curve. I tell people with panic symptoms that panic attacks always peak. There is always a time that is the worst after which they start to come back down. This isn’t a panic attack though. These are human lives.

Hang in there America. Shit’s about to get real.

 

 

******Also in case any future person is wondering politically what is going on during this pandemic…Our President sounds like an ass. So nothing new. The senate Republicans are idiots, got exposed, tested positive, and now they need the Democrats to agree with them for votes because too many are absent and they don’t have a 60 vote majority anymore. Can we get a new Supreme Court Justice NOW! In case you didn’t understand- The Republicans are acting and sounding like idiots and as a result are testing positive for COVID-19. The D’s are doing their thing. Squabbling and bitching that the R’s suck and not really getting anything accomplished.

 

Uncategorized

How I Mom Like My Dad…Reflections as the Boys Turn Four!

The boys turn four tomorrow. We brought cupcakes to tumbling this weekend. Had my family and a few friends over on Sunday and cupcakes to daycare today. Forty-eight cupcakes. Two birthday cakes (one with Spiderman on it that I made I felt like a pinterest Mom!).

I’ve learned a few things about how I Mom. I’d like to think I’m okay at it. I mean they are alive and happy and generally potty trained. They ask to snuggle with me all the time and they seem to enjoy my company even though I put them in timeout when they break the rules.

I basically Mom how I live. For example, I’ll make it to hot yoga class before they lock the door. But I’ll roll in dropping my towel that I just pulled out of the dryer and as I billow it out over my mat inevitably a pair of my underwear falls out. Not the plain black ones. The lacey thong that I wear once a month or less that I only wear when I literally have no underwear left.

It’s happened. Twice.

Considering I don’t wear the lacey thong more than four times a year. I’m mildly cursed.

Same thing with how I Mom. I’ll get to daycare on time before the Halloween parade starts. I may forget their sheets/blankets and they never have extra clothes there that fit. Which means today Declan had an accident and came home in his bathing suit bottoms. Because it was the only change of clothes he had there.

I’ll remember the check to pay for them to be there. But I’ll fill it out in the parking lot.

I iron their pants and shorts and our cloth napkins. And sometimes my sheets. But I am up until midnight every year on Christmas Eve and their birthday and Easter. They don’t have Easter baskets. I forget. Yes I forget major holidays that fall on the same day every year. Maybe not the actual holiday. I just don’t realize how quickly it comes. Then it’s the 24th and I’m like holy MF I am screwed.

I’ve actually had dreams of shopping on Christmas Eve. Maybe nightmares.

But they know if I say I’m going to do something we do it. When I say we are going to bake cupcakes it happens. When I say they will get to go to the store the next day it happens. Follow through is important in parenting. Both positive and negative. They know if I say they will go to bed early if the nonsense doesn’t end now…they stop the nonsense.

As I threw my towel out tonight at yoga and the freaking underwear flew out, and I fell leaping to grab it before the full class of people looked and saw- half of them did. I thought, wow, I’m a Mom. I’m responsible for two other humans and there’s my thong on the yoga mat.

It’s how I roll.

My Mom is very organized. She would never have been up wrapping presents the night before Christmas. She still has our Easter baskets from our childhood. Actually I think maybe mine’s in my basement.

She decorates for every season. I was looking through birthday pics from last year and saw our pumpkin candelabra from the mantle that we got last year and yelled at my wife asking where the hell it was this year and why she didn’t grab it when I asked her to grab our one Halloween decoration that I remembered.

She looked at me like I was nuts with no recollection of ever grabbing the witch/cat candle thing. She did. I swear it. Because it’s on the mantle. And I didn’t grab it and I know we did put it away last year.

Anyway. I’m that kind of Mom. My Mom often says she doesn’t know where I came from. With my last minute planning yet OCD ironing. I appreciate my Mom. A lot. She went and dealt with a birthday gift return/exchange when I realized I bought boots a month ago two sizes big- but they grew three sizes in a month. So I needed two sizes bigger than I got.

Anyway. She dealt with all of that. When I have a specific task my mom is good for the follow through. I appreciate that about her because I know that is not at all part of who I am.

I would have kept the wrong sized boots in the car for about three months with the intention of returning them, then met a mom of twins (because I swear to God they drop in front of me ALL the time- not kidding! It’s like I have a magnet for twin moms) who was in need of boots for her kids and would have just given them to her. Leaving my sons still bootless and me without a birthday present for them.

I met a twin mom. She did my pedicure. I brought her our stroller used maybe twice. Because my wife left ours in a parking lot right on the cusp of us not needing one…yeah long story. Anyway almost new stroller and pac-n-play delivered to her the next day. It just feels right sometimes to pay it forward.

I know how much being a twin Mom drains you. Physically, emotionally and especially financially. It would have been nice to sell the stroller for a hundred dollars or something. But it was nicer to have her hug me with two kids in her belly and thank me and tell me how she raved about me to her husband.

Some day someone will pay forward a free babysitter for a night to me. Just throwing out there to the universe.

So I’m not perfect. I forget some stuff and obsess about other stuff that other people feel is not important to obsess about. I walk around naked sometimes and the boys are getting to an age where they tell me to get dressed. I do. Get dressed I mean. But I’ve also put them in time out holding up my towel because they hit each other while I was in the shower. It happens.

I procrastinate. I make a fool of myself. But mostly I love those boys.

I may look like my Mom. But I’m my Dad all the way. When I forget stuff. When I lose my temper. When I bake with them. Even when I’m ironing. I picture him standing at the ironing board. Talking to me. Sometimes yelling at me. Likely deserved. And I feel okay about it. Because I loved my Dad so much. I miss him. And if I parent like him. I’m good with that.

I miss him on my son’s birthday. Because he should be here with us. He should see his grandkids turn four. And I know he is from somewhere else. But I wish he was here. When I’m ironing of all things…I feel like he is.

Exo%0OhVQVe%6SmzF8aPSg

Uncategorized

Tumbling Class With Twins.

I am lucky to be related to some one who owns a dance studio. We enrolled the boys in tumbling.

They actually sat and watched my niece’s entire recital last May. When I asked them if they would want to do the tumbling class, like “those kids on the mats on the stage,” they started doing somersaults and were an enthusiastic yes.

I watched them smiling go into the studio with their instructor and I sat on a bench in between two women I went to high school with. I say high school. But in a small town (graduating class of 150) with very little movement in and out…we knew each other probably from the age of 5-ish.

They were actually two girls on softball, basket-ball, and soccer teams with me and each other at various times throughout our entire childhood. I wouldn’t say we were close friends, but we were close in a way that people who grow up in a small town playing sports with each were. We saw each other sweat, cry, and bleed over the years of playing sports together.

Their parents coached me at times and at other times my parents coached them. We gave each other rides and we knew each others strengths, and weaknesses. It’s hard to describe the bond of a small town. It’s like this connection that we all wish we didn’t have yet can’t possibly imagine living without. Or maybe that’s just me?!

Anyway. There we sat. It was surreal. We were all watching our kids on monitors. My sons and one of their sons were in tumbling together, and on another screen was the other one’s daughter in ballet class. We were relaxed in the way that people who know each other from the age of 5 can be.

“When did we become the Mom’s?” I asked as I sipped my coffee from my travel mug. We all leaned back against the wall staring straight ahead at the screens.

“And at dance class?!” one of them said in bewilderment and mild disgust.

“With boys no less,” I added laughing.

We were all female athletes. Now I danced for eleven years. So I didn’t think it was weird being at dance class. Well maybe…considering I have two sons.

But the girls I was with, and then in walked my sister, also a female jock, concurred. None of them could have imagined the pink sequined girls they bore. We all laughed and then sat back again and with a few questions and answers we were caught up on the last twenty years.

I sat there between those two thinking this is the most surreal moment. Watching our kids in dance class. Twenty years after we had played all the sports together with our moms and dads on the sidelines.

I generally have mixed feelings about living within twenty-five minutes of the very small town I grew up in. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. That moment though. Was cool. I’m glad I could share my bewilderment at the how the hell did we get here with people who get it because not only did they experience it themselves, but we experienced it together.

The older I get the more I realize how precious it is to have people in my life who knew me before kids. Before mental health nursing, before nursing in general. People who knew my Dad. People who knew me as a kid. Not just because I was younger but because it’s a part of my narrative that is important. Now more than ever after the loss of my dad.

It’s important that I know people who know I have a wife. Who know my sister has a wife. Who’ve known my sister was gay since high school. Who don’t care. Who have still maintained relationships with my sister and I regardless of the gender of our spouses.

These people are important to me. So when I said good-bye and one of them said, “See you next week!” with a smile…I smiled back. It felt like huh oh yeah, I’ll see you every week now, just like before when we were on teams together. It felt normal. It felt like the last twenty years hadn’t even happened and we should bring a soccer ball and kick it around outside while the kids are in tumbling.

I might do that. Keep an eye out for that blog post. They would probably kick my ass.

Small town suburbia has pro’s and con’s. Pro: people know you. Con: people really know you. As I get older I appreciate the pro’s more than the con’s. I appreciate the connection with people. I appreciate that they knew my dad before dementia took him. I appreciate that they knew me before I became wife/Mama.

I appreciate that they don’t judge me because we all know all each other’s stuff from growing up together. We all just know.

 

 

 

**** The pic is the boys with one of our cats, Maddy. Maddy loves the boys. She is 17 and she lets them torture her daily while she purrs.

 

 

Uncategorized

A Night Without Puppy.

This has been an emotional couple weeks. I had a bracelet made for my sister, and a pendant necklace made for me from two of my dad’s military items- dog tag bracelet and pin turned into pendant.

I cried at the jewelry store. I mean not full on sobbing, but tears coming out of my eyes for sure. The lady was nice. But I’m sure also horrified. I’m planning a new tattoo and also has some part of my Dad to it. It’s a full moon so work has been crazy. Yes. That’s an actual thing. I can also always tell when Mercury is in retrograde.

Throw in searing temperatures with an asthma flare-up and I’ve about reached my max. Then Declan forgot his Puppy. He actually calls him Cry-Puppy. Not sure why.

I heard him cry, run to my room, and then tell me through sobs that Mommy (my wife) forgot Cry-Puppy at “New school” because we also started a new daycare this month…hence why Cry-puppy was at daycare. I was letting him bring it because it was a new place.

Honestly I think I’m more anxious about the new daycare than the boys who seem to have adapted beautifully.

Anyway. He’s sobbing. It was bedtime. We couldn’t get Cry-Puppy that night. I started thinking about how we could fix this and now my wife and Jackson were both sitting on the floor with us watching Declan cry. I thought a couple things. We are a real family. It’s weird.

It hits me sometimes when we are all sitting together and all clearly feeling Declan’s hurt. Jackson was somber, my wife had tears in her eyes, and there are these moments we have connections like this that I realize we are growing and connecting as the boys get older.

I remember Russell. Russell was one of my top two stuffed animals growing up. He also somehow survived college, multiple moves, and I told Declan that he could have something really special instead of Cry-Puppy tonight, and I pulled Russell out of my dresser drawer.

Declan could see Russell was old and loved and worn. So he knew I wasn’t lying when I said I’d had him since I was his age. He called Russell a “she” and I didn’t correct him (even though obviously Russell is a boy bunny) and he called “her” “Bunny” not Russell. I also let that go.

He then held up Bunny and said, “Mama, she doesn’t have a tale!” I told Declan I loved her so much when I was little that her tale sorta wore down. At which Jackson ran horrified to his room and checked all his bunnies to make sure they still had tales, and then he showed me all of them as if to say, “I love my bunnies and they still have their tales…” rather accusingly.

Declan cuddled with Russell and slept soundly through the night. The next morning we found Cry-Puppy at “New school” and all was right with the world.

Tonight Declan brought Russell back to me and said, “Mama you have to sleep with Bunny tonight. Bunny back in your bed now.”

So here I am laying in bed next to my stuffed animal that slept next to me through many years of my childhood and there’s this full circle feeling happening.

These moments that we move through as a family strengthen my love for my sons in ways that I can’t really put into words. They make this morning when Declan found scissors and cut a big chunk out of his hair…slightly more bearable.

Uncategorized

Put it All Down and Choose Your Kid

I pulled out my laptop tonight when I finally sat down because I wanted to get some work done and then write. I thought the boys would be at the kitchen table eating. There was a movie playing. I relished this moment of sitting by myself opening my laptop to do what I wanted to do when I noticed a presence on the ottoman.

Jackson was leaning into my legs and trying to make space for himself. The last thing I wanted was to give my space and time up. But I folded my laptop shut and asked, “Do you want to sit with me baby?” And as soon as the laptop was off my lap a little blonde boy had taken its place.

He snuggled into my chest and sat/sprawled on me for the next forty-five minutes until it was time for bed.

He chatted with me the whole time. He laid his head on my chest and let me run my fingers over and over through his hair.

Had I ignored the little presence at my feet and stuck my head in my work I would have missed that.

I hear every day at my job from kids whose parents work all the time or who are on their screens all the time. Kids notice. They remember. I’ve had twenty year olds tell me they had no quality time with their parents and that’s the reason they don’t go home for Summer breaks now because what’s the point?

I had already spent the entire morning and afternoon with my sons. And the whole weekend. I was feeling spent. I had escaped for four hours of work today only and still had more to do for my practice.

But there will always be work to do. There will always be one more reason to check my phone, my e-mail, my messages. But there won’t always be a little boy nudging my legs to make room for him because he desperately wants to spend the next forty-five minutes on my lap.

We went to Pride this weekend in the small city near our town. There was a transgender teenager standing next to us for drag queen story time, she was standing with her mom. The drag queen read the book “Red” about a crayon that identified as red but was in a blue wrapper. The teenager standing next to us started crying and said, “I’m crying because of a stupid crayon,” and their mom hugged them and we all knew it wasn’t about the crayon.

I want to be that Mom. I want to be the one that can be there hugging my child during times of fear and adversity. I can’t do that if I’m choosing my phone or my laptop or my work over them. I can only do that if I put it all down and choose my son.

Choose your kid. You will never regret it.

Uncategorized

Twelve Hours With Twins (while running a mental health practice)

My wife worked 7AM-7PM today. So I was on boy duty all day. They are three and a half.

Sometimes my wife says things like, “I wish I had Mondays off every week,” like it’s a freaking vacation. I work four days a week, five days (Saturday Mornings) every other week in order to have Monday’s “off”. I stay home with the boys, do administrative work for my practice, often call about ten to fifteen clients back per day, and bring the boys to whatever appointments they are due for.

Today was like every other Monday filled with drama and emergencies I could just not foresee.

Declan woke up cranky and wanting to cuddle. He then laid on the couch and fell asleep, which has actually never happened before ever. So I knew he was sick. Waited for the puke to come (but also texted with a nurse friend because I thought he might have some acute illness that only happens to kids I saw in the emergency department but haunt me as a Mom so she reassured me he didn’t have a weird random illness that would kill him. Just the stomach bug that hadn’t hit fully yet).

Meanwhile his brother Jackson was not sick and was not understanding that his brother was sick. They constantly talk to each. I mean constantly. I didn’t realize how constantly until Declan was asleep and not responding.

I was returning phone calls and cleaning up the kitchen and could hear him, “chatter chatter chatter…DECLAN…chatter chatter chatter DECLAN…..” and each time Jackson would pause then remember Declan was sleeping, then walk toward him to shake him and wake him up, at which point I would either yell or hand gesture wildly and silently while I was on the phone with a client or prospective client booking appointments.

Jackson is an evil genius. He knew when I was on the phone I would not yell at him to leave his brother alone. So he waited until I was on the phone to do his worst to try and get Declan to wake up, which would result in me vaulting myself across the couch blocking him from Declan making my most stern facial expression and waving my arms while talking calmly, “Sure, yes, I specialize in seeing transgender individuals…yes I know your therapist she’s wonderful, so glad she referred you to me…” etc.

Then the guys came to open the pool. I was shocked. First; because they were on time, second; because the owner was with them and he actually knew what the hell he was doing. We needed some repairs done and the last two pool companies I dealt with were  awful in many ways.

So Jackson is now diverted by the pool opening and yelling at the guys opening the pool to look at his watch through the screen door. Declan is still sleeping. Jackson continues to yell to him to come see the pool.

I go outside with pool guy in order to assess the filter with him and as he explains the damages Jackson walks outside. Then a sleepy eyed half dressed Declan follows. Leaving the screen door wide open at which point one of my cats runs outside. I’m yelling at the boys to go inside, which they don’t, I’m scooping up my cat who is addicted to grass so she’s furiously eating blades of grass before I grab her, I toss her inside, shut the screen door, come back down to pool guy where the boys are. Declan starts heaving.

Finally. The puke came. I grabbed him, carried him three feet away from the pool filter and the fence so no one would walk through the ensuing puke. Then he puked. The pool guy was not phased, and said he has a two year old at home, and then proceeded to explain the filter issues with me while I’m holding Declan who was still puking and Jackson stood watching.

I walked Declan back inside carrying him deadweight in my arms. He’s forty pounds.

We walk inside and the power goes out.

Pool guy had been flipping some switches so we checked the breaker and such and it was out. I checked online and there was an outage in our area. Estimated time to fix it two hours.

No storm. No wind. Just an outage directly after my toddler puked specifically because we have a well pump, a dirty pool, and no way to wash the puke off his shirt.

So I stripped him. He screamed. He wanted the damn bear shirt he was wearing.

I set up the kindle which had 18% battery and left him watching The Fox and the Hound while I went outside to finish the filter discussion.

At some point the damn cat got out again.

It was 80 degrees here today.

I was hot. I was sweaty. I couldn’t access my freezer or ice or water for two hours. I still took calls from clients and scheduled two more intakes. Thank God for Hot Spots. On phones. Not actual literal hot spots. Because I was miserably hot.

Remember I have an employee now? In the midst of Declan puking, the pool guy, the power going out, she was texting me with technical and clinical questions about her clients today including but not limited to issues with wifi, our credit card processing machine, and clients.

As I was looking at the dwindling batteries on the kindle, my work phone, my iPhone, and my laptop the power magically came back on.

Declan was now drinking water and the next few hours went okay. Well except the screaming match when I laid him down for naps because he still wanted the damn bear shirt. He just can’t let things go. It always escalates with him because there’s no steering him away from it and he doesn’t let it go until I lose my shit.

He also insisted on sleeping in my bed because he was “sick”. Which I agree he was.

So they napped. I spent an hour on the phone with therapists collaborating about patients.

After naps we played outside in this awesome sprinkler pad. It was an hour of fun.

Then it started. They wanted to swim in the pool. They didn’t understand it was still green, still clearing, not ready. They both freaked out when we had to come inside and that led to another twenty minute show down between us all. Which culminated with Jackson taking one of these stakes we have for a game of giant croquet, and staring me in the face as he slowly pushed the pointy end through the screen door and made a hole. In our screen door. Kind of a big hole.

Perfect. I may have lost my mind a little.

After timeout for Jackson for making a hole in the door we made muffins with them in their underwear. Because epic showdown three of the day was Declan wanting his unicorn pajamas and they were not dry yet. The two hour power outage slowed down my laundry progress.

Crisis call from a client in the midst of the unicorn pajama showdown.

“Yes I can definitely meet with you this week,”

Mute the phone. “For the fifth time YOUR PONIES ARE IN THE DRYER! THEY ARE NOT READY YET!”

“Yes and bring your family, yes totally fine if we do a family session,”

Mute the phone “I WANT MY PONIES MAMA! I WANT MY PINK PONIES MAMA!”

…and so on and so forth. At some point I waxed a spot on my upper thighs that was bothering me. And yes I’m not supposed to open the wax anymore. But I did. And I didn’t grab a strip. So I was running through the house for the strip with the hot wax already on a large area of my upper thigh and the boys saw me run by and said, “Mama what happened?!” Then they witnessed me waxing the large area on my upper thigh because the strips were in the kitchen and I said, “Mothefudgenuggetfudgersfucking fuck I swore,” as I tried not to swear in front of them.

They basically ignored me and went back to watching the dinosaur show I had on for them.

Fast forward to bed time. The whining and the meltdowns were escalating after the muffins and I put them into bed early. Epic meltdowns. Why? Declan wanted his pink goggles. God knows where he put them. I looked. I truly looked. I could not find them anywhere. Jackson didn’t want to go to bed just in general and kept counting to 3 to mock me. “1…2….3!”

I found the stupid goggles thirty minutes later and brought them into Declan. They were in the bottom of a full laundry basket of clean laundry?!

Every night before bed I say a yoga thing with them, and for roughly ten seconds they pulled it together for that, “Sky above, earth below, peace within. Namaste.” Then I bow my head with my thumb knuckles at my third eye (Center of forehead).

Then Declan whined and said, “No want MamasDay Mama!”

At the end of these days I don’t know how to feel. I feel raw, edgy, irritable, then angry that I feel that way. I try to remember the positives about today. The sprinkler was fun. The pool opening happened and went really well, I mean minus Declan vomiting during the opening…the power went out, but it came back on. Thank God. And I got to spend the day with my boys. For better or worse.

Moral of the story. Definitely not a vacation or a “day off”. More like a day at home in hell with occasional moments of happiness and peace interspersed with hours of hell. But for some reason our human brain remembers more of the happiness and less of the hell. Survival tactic I think.

p.s. the saga continued with Declan pooping after bedtime, my wife helping him, he peed on the unicorn pj’s and had another meltdown because she made him change into new bottoms. “But Mama said yes!” I could hear screamed down the hallway as I hid cowering in my bedroom.

58005045366__f7232de0-75d4-4a60-b7e7-4cf3d6c3a6f9.jpg
Declan asleep about forty minutes before puking

 

Uncategorized

Disney and Three Year Old Boys

We were watching Snow White with the boys. They insisted after seeing a Princess Book of mine and seeing a princess they hadn’t seen on the tv before. They wouldn’t leave me alone about it. I had a lot of feelings about Snow White.

She’s fourteen! That’s disturbing to me. I didn’t want my sons seeing a fourteen year old dealing with a Prince and marriage. Cue me shaking my head and massaging my temples. Fourteen! But they were insistent. They being Declan. He’s obsessed with the Princesses. We will come back to that later.

Here’s the thing. I treat a lot of fourteen year olds. They are just babies. And I know that when we only lived to age forty then fourteen was kind of old. But we live to one hundred now. So fourteen is wicked young. Also Snow White is white. Really white. I try and get them to watch Tiana and Mulan and Moana…which they do…because for God’s sake can we get some color in there?! Apparently only white women were pretty and marrying princes in the past.

Anyway, I let them watch it. The Queen is freaky. I forgot how freaky. And Snow White was young. Freakishly young to me. Twenty years younger than myself actually.

So I’m thinking we are ruining the boys and then at the end when they get married, Declan says, “I Sleeping Beauty. I marry a prince.” I said, “You’re the prince and you are going to marry Sleeping Beauty?” sorta puzzled. He adamantly shook his head, and laid back into the couch as he calmly said, “I Sleeping Beauty Mama. I marry the Prince.”

First off Dec, we were watching Snow White. He apparently thinks Sleeping Beauty is better. Second, I got bigger problems than an underage bride. My wife and I looked at each other, then I pounced on him and tickled his belly and he giggled and laughed, and I said, “Baby, whoever you are and whoever you marry, I love you. I love you no matter what.”

Then we laughed and played. What’s interesting is Jackson knew he was not Sleeping Beauty and in fact just watched the interaction with Declan and I. Which is uncharacteristically quiet of him.

Then I’m thinking, whatever and whoever they are I cannot imaging living without them. The number of Queer individuals I treat who are cut off from their parents because of their Queerness is heartbreaking and as a Mom I will never understand or condone it.

I thought I sorta rocked that moment as a Mom. Because seriously in twin Mama mode we are just trying to survive. Gay/straight/boy/girl/queer doesn’t matter. Let’s just make it to the other side of twin childhood in one piece.

But then I’m googling Disney Princess ages and Jasmine is 15?! WTF?! I thought they were at least eighteen. Wow. Disney epic fail!

What is my point? Love and accept your kids. No Matter What.

Uncategorized

When My Family is Described as a “Sh&tShow” by a Stranger. Mom-Shame and Restaurants.

It all began at a restaurant. As my sister pointed out, “It’s a FAMILY restaurant.” It’s actually the restaurant I bussed tables at when I was sixteen in my hometown. I have to be honest, I would never have imagined myself almost twenty years later in that restaurant for dinner with my three year old twin boys, my wife, my sister, her wife, my five year old niece, my cousin from New Jersey and two of her kids, and my Mom.

It was a weird feeling to look around at the tables I used to clean and remember waiting to get off my shift to go to my boyfriend’s house on a Friday night.

So I was feeling slightly nostalgic, but also annoyed because three year old’s in a restaurant is never a good thing. It was definitely time to go when we left. My wife was wrangling one of them, he was singing “Jingle Bell Rock” very loudly and running away from my wife.

The other one was attached to my leg and my niece was singing “Let it go, let it go” from Frozen, and my mom was trying to say good-bye to my Jersey cousin. My mom is hard of hearing so everyone was talking loudly anyway.

So yes. To the older woman trying to walk through our party as we were trying to exit…we are a walking shitshow. But did you really need to say that loudly in front of our children at a family restaurant?

“What a shitshow!” you said with a sneer of disgust as you tried to run me over with your cane.

The great part about this is that I don’t think she was homophobic. I think she was just grumpy and annoyed that we were blocking the little hallway to the dining room. We made room. She got by. But yeah. Total shitshow. It was kind of a win-lose. Not homophobic, just mean.

We don’t bring our kids out much. Because three year olds just don’t do well in restaurants. Once every few months we might bring them to a diner for pancakes or to this restaurant in my hometown because it is family-friendly and the owner is always lovely to us because he’s known us for years and at one time was my boss.

My point to this is that there are a lot of opinions about kids in restaurants. Here’s mine.

We bring them well before bedtime- usually between 5-6 p.m. My wife and I only bring them to a restaurant for dinner when it’s a family function. Meaning we also feel it’s torture and choose to never bring them unless we have extended family who want to meet us out for a meal.

Diners are different- food comes fast, it’s loud, it’s expected they will be loud, and there are always crayons. So we are more likely to go for breakfast or brunch.

However, if you are at a family restaurant between the hours of 9 AM and 7 PM expect loud children to potentially be there.

If it says “Family restaurant” on the sign or menu…then it’s a family restaurant which generally means kids are welcome.

If you don’t like kids or the noise and chaos that ensue with them…go later at night or choose a non-family restaurant- one that caters more to adults. I know my wife and I do just that when we get one of our rare nights out alone.

We as parents do our best to keep our kids contained. If they are bothersome to you because they are in your space, then I agree we have a problem. If they are bothersome to you because you’re grumpy- that’s a you problem not a them problem.

Please don’t swear at anyone’s children. It’s extremely disrespectful and mean-spirited.

There is a lot of mom-shame that happens everywhere. Eating out is a big one. If you see a mom or dad struggling with their little one in a restaurant. Don’t make it worse with assumptions and judgement. Maybe offer to lend a hand or just a smile that says, “I’m with you.” Encouragement and kindness are what is needed for parents in those moments.

Trust me we are already judging the shit out of our own shit-show. We don’t need to have it pointed out to us.

Uncategorized

Mom Shame and Twin Talk

A few months ago the owner of our daycare approached us and mentioned she felt the boys are behind in language compared with the other two year old’s in their class.

Couple preface statements- We LOVE the daycare. We adore the owner. It’s a wonderful daycare where my two white boys are the minority among kids and teachers which is just amazing. The owner has been in this business for many years and knows her stuff.

Regardless of our warm and fuzzies toward the daycare and the owner it’s like this vicious claw in your gut when some one tells you something’s wrong with your kids. My wife was all type of offended and then she came home and told me and I was instantly on the defense and we both agreed that there is nothing wrong with our kids. That they are perfectly wonderful toddlers.

But it set something in my head. I couldn’t get it out. Still can’t. And to tell the truth, I knew she was right. Why when I’m in healthcare, worked in pediatrics, and am fully aware of child development was I burying my head in the sand?

It’s befuddled me for a few months. But I think I can put a name to it. I felt shame as a parent that something could be wrong or delayed with my kids. I felt like I’m not a good enough Mom because they haven’t developed language at pace with their peers.

There is so much shame put on parents for so much that is out of our control.

Then when we need shaming for not setting limits and not fixing things within our control people are too scared to confront it. I mean I’m not. Obviously. I confront it within myself and within my clients. I said to a client just today, “Look, I’m honest. I disagree with you. I have clinical expertise in this area. We are not going to agree. And that’s okay. But I’m not going to sugarcoat your diagnosis or your prognosis because that would be doing you a major disservice.”

Then I was thinking, yeah, so the daycare owner wasn’t sugarcoating and she wasn’t doing it to shame us as parents. She was doing it as a service for our kids so we can get support if needed to help them develop language.

So here’s the thing about twin boys. Boys develop language slower in general. Then add in they were a month early. Add in the twin thing. And I’m not surprised they are behind. I can tell you they understand EVERYTHING. It’s scary. Jackson is completely Amotivated to speak English because Declan understands everything he mumbles off. So if I don’t get what Jackson is saying, Declan translates. Declan is more developed than Jackson in language because he’s more alpha, and literally they talk to each other and understand everything each other says. Then really they only need to communicate with us and their daycare teacher and we’ve all adapted to their twin language.

The twin talk is totally bizarre. It’s not something I can even describe and I didn’t realize how weird it is until I started to really take notice and listen to them and watch them. They have their own language. It is not English. They have full dialogues about God knows what. Then Declan translates to us for Jackson when needed.

So we’ve started engaging Jackson more, not letting Declan translate. I’ve started making him parrot me whenever I say something to him. It’s helping slowly.

They turn 3 next Monday. I can tell you that it’s been a wild freaking ride. That the whole parenting situation pushes and pulls at me in ways I never quite imagine or expect. I still remember looking at these two little bundles on the futon between my legs when they were four days old thinking, “Holy crap there are two of them,” never comprehending then how life would be today.

I’ve learned about Mom-shaming in the worst ways. I’ve learned about the defensiveness we feel as parents and the ugly side to it as well as the beautiful intense love that only a mom can feel for her son.

When a kid in their class recently asked why there were talking “baby-talk” I had to restrain myself from slapping him. I didn’t respond. But I wanted to say it’s not baby-talk it’s twin talk. And they are speaking it because they’ve been together since conception and they want to talk to each other and I’m going to let them.

It’s this hard balance we have to strike of being parents who allow our kids to develop in their own time at their own pace while also not wanting them to fall too far behind their peers. At the end of the day I decided I wasn’t going to worry about it until they turn three. Which is Monday. Then I decided I’m not going to worry about it until we see their pediatrician in a few weeks.

Then I was thinking how parents come in to see me very defensive sometimes and I think I get it now. It’s hard to hear that there is something wrong with your kid. To be told your child is depressed or anxious or suicidal can make a parent feel shame and fear and defensive.

But if our society was more friendly, more supportive, and more engaging with one another I don’t know that it would feel like an attack. Or perhaps we are trained to take it as an attack on us. I don’t know.

I do know that Jackson figured out where we hid the Halloween candy, I told him it was time to go, he disappeared and came back with both bags and said, “Time to go Mama.” And I thought, that kid just somehow managed to monkey his way to the very back of our counter where he can’t reach from the floor, get the bags with the candy that I hid, and try and bring them to daycare. I’m thinking his brain is working just fine and his language will catch up.

 

Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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