Conversations With A Three Year Old. About Fathers. When He Has Two Moms.

I’ve been watching “Tidying Up” on Netflix. I like her style. I took her method to my son’s closet and dresser. I took all the clothes out. Packed up two massive garbage bags for goodwill and one plastic container for Summer stuff that will still fit them. Then refolded all their shirts, Tidy style, and I was feeling very proud of myself putting all the shirts neatly folded into their dresser. Declan was in the room with me, chatting with me and playing intermittently.

He took a toy and pretended it was a phone, he was whispering, “Hi, is Mama there?” he wasn’t looking at me. I was chuckling to myself still putting clothes away, “Okay, bye,”. The one sided dialogue was cute, and I turned to look at him when it was over, “Who were you calling baby?” I asked. Thinking I already knew the answer. Me. Mama.

His answer floored me.

“My Father,” (But it sounded like My Fawder because he’s three and talks funny).

Me (trying to act very casual and not freak out): “Who?”

Declan: “My Fawder,” he smiled.

Me: “Oh, uh, who’s your Father baby?”

Declan (takes a moment to ponder this question): “Uhhh, Mommy!”

Mommy is my wife. Who was not home at the moment. Declan was all smiles, glad he figured out who his Father is and resumed playing.

I sorta sat there for a minute with my perfectly folded shirts and wondered how or if I should pursue this line of thinking. Then I thought. Fuck it. At least he knows I’m not his Father. I mean sheesh. I’m Mama. My wife has short hair and no boobs hence I’m sure the confusion. Three year old’s don’t get gender and he probably just thinks she’s the male-ish figure.

I know other lesbian couples where the kids call one partner (generally a more butch-y partner) Daddy and they just let it ride. So that’s what I do.

I told my wife when she got home. She thought it was hilarious. She asked Dec who his Father was, and he smiled shyly and said, “Mommy,” and she smiled and gave him a hug.

Declan is wicked smart. I’m not just saying that because I’m his Mom. I’m brutally honest. Trust me I would say if my kid wasn’t smart. His brother, Jackson, also wicked smart, but lazy. He can do as much and say as much as Declan he just chooses not to unless or until it benefits him. Potty training. Didn’t do it for M&M’s or chocolate chips. Wasn’t the right motivator.

He did it when we started not allowing him to watch any movies until he went on the potty.

Jackson is a cuddle bug. That boy will cuddle with me at any time of day or night that I sit down. He’s attached to me. Declan will snuggle occasionally. And it’s not because he doesn’t like to snuggle. It’s because he’s so damn busy. He’s always taking toys apart and putting them back together. The other day I went into the other room and he had half of a jumbo 24 piece puzzle together. It was hard. It was the jungle. It all looks the same. The kid did it by himself. I’ve never even shown him how to do a puzzle and he wasn’t looking at the picture on the box to guide him.

But I digress.

My point is that he figured out kids have Moms and Dads. Mothers and Fathers. Then he tried to fit his family into that social construct. Mama is a girl obviously. I have long hair and I breastfed him for a year. I wear necklaces and he’s always touching my hair telling me he loves it.

But Mommy, that’s debatable in his eyes. Short hair. Dresses like she works at a paint store (because she does) and wears work boots and no jewelry.

So there you go. She fit the Father mold a little better than Mama (which is fine but for real I’m the one that uses the power tools). Then he assimilated that into a fact in his head and bingo bango a Father is born.

My wife doesn’t care. In fact we’ve talked about utilizing Father’s Day as her day and Mother’s Day as my day so we have separate days to celebrate one another. My kids sure don’t care. But there’s something niggling at me (yes that’s a word).

Why are society’s constructs so rigid that a three year old gets them better than he does his own family composition?

Sometimes people get mad when I reference heterosexual privilege. But I’m going to do it. Because hetero’s have privilege. EVERY movie in existence that is mainstream and three year old appropriate has hetero families and love interests. The boys love Disney movies. Guess what. All male/female. Everywhere. And when, God forbid Disney had Lafou dance with a man, there was moral outrage from every homophobic twat in existence. It was a dance. Not even a long dance. I wouldn’t even have recognized it as a gay moment if I hadn’t been looking for it.

Our society makes a two mom family seem less than, unequal by not giving my sons the same opportunities to see two mom families as hetero families in everything from the media to books to magazines to movies to filling out forms for freaking vaccinations. It’s always Mother/Father. What about Parent/Parent?

My three year old shouldn’t think he’s supposed to have a Father. But he does.

He’s just also smart enough to realize he has two parents who love him, and one of them obviously would fill the Father role better than the other one. Touche Dec-man.

(The picture is Dec reading to all of his doggies. I heard chairs scraping and came into the foyer to find the dogs lined up and him reading. He is defying gender stereotypes by reading from the Disney Princess Encyclopedia)

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.

The Day After Sandy Hook and Growing up Without a Santa Claus

In case any of my readers forgot December 14, 2018 marked the anniversary of Sandy Hook. The deaths of 28 individuals including twenty children under the age of eight. I remember that day clearly. Every one who lives in Connecticut does. Because it finally hit our home. The violence we heard about in Aurora and Columbine and Little Rock came to our home. To our babies. To our neighbors.

The saddest memory I have is talking to emergency department staff at local hospitals and them being alerted that there was a mass shooting, and they waited for victims. But there weren’t any. They all died on scene. I have since in varying capacities encountered individuals affected that day. While the rest of the country may have moved on, may have put that memory away, it’s still living and breathing here in Connecticut.

There are still siblings of those who died, parents, there are still teachers, first responders who have never recovered from the gruesome scene, and students who hid in closets, sheltered by teachers, hearing gunshots and the screams of their classmates dying. Yes that’s a thing. There was a classroom on either side of the one that was targeted. Full of children who heard their classmates die.

I couldn’t write this yesterday. I could barely acknowledge the day. Because my sons are three. And nothing has changed. Connecticut says we have passed “tough gun laws”. Well speaking from the mental health side of things, they are not tough gun laws because they keep guns out of the hands of people who sign in voluntarily for a psychiatric admission. NOT the people who are committed against their will. And if a child or young adult is admitted voluntarily and they don’t have guns registered to them (Ah hem Lanza’s were all registered to his Mom) and the patient and the family do not disclose there are guns, then guess what, the guns stay in the freaking home.

The laws that came out of Sandy Hook in Connecticut actually would not have prevented Sandy Hook at all. And that’s fact. All they did was create barriers to inpatient psychiatric treatment for law enforcement who will never sign in voluntarily as they will lose their gun and their livelihood.

I pointed this out to a state senator at a town hall when he made the statement, “The gun laws in Connecticut are very effective.”

I stood up, and said, “Effective for what? Because they won’t prevent a mass shooting if perpetrated in the way Sandy Hook was, and they create barriers to care for law enforcement officers who have higher rates of depression, suicide, substance abuse, and domestic violence.”

He looked at me dumbfounded. And I just shook my head and said sadly, “That’s what I thought.”

Until the very states that have been victims to mass shootings (Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Connecticut, Alaska, Arkansas, Texas, California, Pennsylvania…yeah it’s a long list and this is not all of them) stand together and create actual legislation to decrease accessibility of guns and ammunition and until mental health laws make sense and create a preventative culture not a reactive culture, then sadly, there will be more mass shootings. More of our babies will die. Because we are too corrupt and too stubborn to stand for the dead.

My wife grew up in a right wing orthodox religious household where they did celebrate Christmas but not with Santa. Very religious focused. Not something I like, but one of their parenting decisions I don’t actually disagree with. Do Christmas any way you want. I respect others religious and lifestyle decisions unless it brings harm to some one else.

The only harm not having Santa Claus around for my wife was that I have to teach her how to do the Santa thing with our sons. We don’t fill up the stockings until after bedtime…yes I had to say that. We don’t buy Santa’s wrapping paper with the boys there, because now they have seen it and chatted about it, and can put together that it came from our house not Santa’s workshop. Little things.

I feel strongly about creating the magic of Santa for our kids. Because December 14, 2012 20 children were killed. I’ve looked into buying backpacks that are bulletproof. My sons will not believe in magic for very long. The cold realities of our world enter our children’s lives younger and younger. So to watch them believe in magic and to foster that for even a short time. It feels important to me.

Every one says things happen for a reason. Children dying never happens for a reason. It never creates anything positive, it leaves deep scars. And their lives have created no change in terms of legislation at this point which I personally find disgusting as I made clear to my state representative.

There is so much ugliness, that helping them believe in a jolly man who fosters kindness and love and miracles. I’m down with that. Because I want them to know only kindness and love and miracles, but I face the cold reality of our time and know they will know so much more.

Every generation says things changed too much and makes excuses for why they didn’t do better. The baby boomers say technology evolved so quickly, when in reality it did, and guns evolved quickly and the members of all of our legislative bodies are complicit in watching them evolve and doing nothing to halt their accessibility. And we as people are complicit for accepting this as our norm.

The day I stood up in that town hall with a Republican state senator, and about forty democrat constituents. When he made his statement that our gun legislation was top notch, they all just nodded their heads. No one actually knew how inadequate it is. Because unless you work in mental health you don’t know unless you make it your business to know.

Every citizen of America is responsible for all the gun deaths that occur every day. I hold you and myself accountable. And I hope that our children will too. That the survivors of Sandy Hook and Parkland and Virginia Tech will shape laws to protect our children. Because our current generation of lawmakers are not doing it.

Fuck your thoughts and prayers. The blood of our children requires more.

 

 

 

The Moment Your 3 Year Old Figures Out Mommy’s Family is Missing.

That moment happened. The one we’ve been dreading since I got pregnant. My sons and my wife were watching The Good Dinosaur. A horrible trippy Disney movie that for some reason made it past Disney editors. My sons are obsessed with it.

There’s a part when Arlo, the dinosaur, is explaining to a human critter what and who his family is. My sons learned awhile ago that their family is Mommy, Mama, Declan, and Jackson (and Rajah and Maddy the cats but they fight over who can have Maddy because she’s more friendly to them).

They are watching that scene, and they are holding pictures of my Aunt and Uncle and cousins, and my parents- Poppy and Ba (Gramma), because they tend to walk around with those pictures and chatter about their family.

Declan looks at his pictures, then he looks at my wife and says, “My famwe Mama, Mommy, Chackson, and Decky, Rara, and Maddy.” My wife says, “Yes, good job.” He wasn’t done though. He looked perplexed and held up his pictures and said, “Who your famwe?” That little three year old brain had put it together. All of these extended relatives were Mamas famwe. So where the heck are Mommy’s people?

My wife responded perfectly and said, “You’re my family. You and Jackson, and Mama.” Declan is too smart for his age. He looked at her, and at the pictures, like he knew that couldn’t be right. So he asked again. And again. And again. Because he’s three and he’s my son. I’ve been told I’m like a dog going after a bone. I won’t stop until I get my answer. Apple doesn’t fall far apparently.

So eventually my wife said, “Well I don’t really talk to my family baby.” He responded, “No talk to your famwe?” and she nodded. Then he became engrossed in the movie and seemed to accept this as an answer.

My wife told me as soon as I got home that night. We were both a little surprised and caught off guard. He’s too young for us to explain this. He’s too…innocent. We don’t want him to know that her family cut her off, left her homeless, has never met them because she’s a lesbian. But he’s also too damn smart and nosey. He’s going to know sooner than we would have liked.

His brother likes to live in happy oblivion. HIs brother accepts reality as it is and doesn’t question it. But he will know too, because if Declan’s talking about it Jackson’s going to be listening.

So here we are. Three years and two weeks into their little lives. That’s how long they lasted without knowing or asking.

It feels weird. Kind of a relief. Kind of terrifying. Sad. The way they will be introduced to discrimination is through the grandparents they will never meet. Not how we would have liked it or planned it. But that’s our reality.

It all feels so stupid. Such an easy fix. Yet so impossible at the same time.

There’s no guidebook for this whole parenting thing. There’s also no guidebook for the whole lesbian mom disowned by her parents thing. It’s a lot of stumbling through. Waiting for the questions to be asked and wishing we had different answers when they are.

When My Dad Threw Bunkles at My Head.

When I was maybe six or seven we went and stayed at a hotel in Sturbridge Village. It ended up being an absolutely horrific trip for a multitude of reasons. But my most vivid memory from that trip was Saturday night. Looking back I realize it had been a disaster of a day.

But at the time I was in my happy little kid land that everything was fine because my parents did a pretty good job at covering up how bad my Mom’s tooth situation was and how stressed my Dad was because she had spent the day in the emergency department dealing with severe tooth pain and he had spent the day with us. Also, the hotel was hosting a dog show. They had neglected to tell us this ahead of time. So it smelled like dog. Everywhere. So we are all in the room, it’s probably around 9:00 pm and we are about to go to sleep and I can’t find my bunny. His name was Bunkles. 

I looked and looked, and could not find him. I told my parents. Neither of whom wanted to deal with this problem. They also didn’t believe he actually wasn’t in the room. But I cried. So they looked. Couldn’t find him. My dad wanted to wait until morning and go and ask the hotel staff. I cried more. My mom mumbled something through a swollen mouth and my Dad eventually stormed out of the room. 

To this day I don’t know what happened. But he came back into the room about an hour later and chucked Bunkles at my head. Apparently the bunny got tangled in the sheets and was taken by housekeeping with the sheets. The hotel staff had tracked it down; I’m sure with my Dad being super irritable with them in the process. 

I remember being highly insulted at my Dad for throwing Bunkles at my head. I wisely kept quiet though and just turned my light off and went to sleep. It’s a night that’s always stuck with me. Because I remember feeling it was unfair that my Dad was angry at me for something out of my control. I didn’t know they actually took the sheets off the bed at the hotel every day. I mean I actually didn’t know that. We didn’t go to hotels much, and we certainly didn’t have our sheets changed at home daily. My Dad was pissed because he was tired and wanted to go to bed not track down a damn stuffed animal in hotel laundry. 

Now that I’m a parent with two three year olds though, I get it. Because I’ve wanted to chuck stuff at their heads a lot. 

And looking back through adult eyes- the dogs, the tooth, being out of state, dealing with two kids all day, just wanting to go to bed, and having to go track down a white bunny that got lost in a sea of white sheets. Yeah I’d be pissed too. 

Kids have this innate ability to drive us to the edge. Since the time change my sons have been absolutely horrific at night for bedtime. To the degree that we actually had to stop reading books at night because reading nighttime books was adding to the nightly horror. So now I feel like a horrible mom because we don’t read to them at night anymore. 

I also feel horrible because I feel like we should be able to contain them at night. We should be able to wind them down and calmly get them into bed with hugs and kisses and smiles and I love you’s. Instead it’s more like crying, screaming, craziness. Sometimes I’ve been to the point of tears, and they are always to the point of tears. In the midst of this we are trying to potty train them. So occasionally while they are screaming and we are holding them down into their beds they suddenly have to pee pee on the potty and we all get a timeout. But it just delays the inevitable. 

I’m pretty sure I have actually thrown stuff at nighttime in the last few weeks. Because it’s been so freaking miserable. But usually I leave the room, walk to my room, and throw something and yell and punch a pillow. Then my wife goes in. 

Something I always thought was rude was people telling me “Three will be worse than two.” Because two wasn’t so bad for us. It was hard, like every age with twins is, but not horrible. But if the first few weeks of three and bedtime are any indication, I mean those people were not wrong. But did they really need to say that? I will never say it to another parent.

Because to just make that blanket statement is horrible. We are in survival mode and to think it could get worse? That blows.

To the all the three year old mom’s out there. You got this. And if you have to throw something, throw a stuffed animal. They are soft and they bounce. And throw it out the door, not at the kid. Because they will remember if you throw it at their head. And likely write a blog about it in about twenty-five years. 

It’s taken me awhile to write this because it’s not fun. It’s not fun talking about the painful routine that has become life for us in the past few weeks. My wife and I are exhausted and we literally dread nighttime. It’s been bad. A bad few weeks. But for tonight, they went down with minimal fuss, probably because they didn’t nap, so yeah that was awesome. And I’m signing off and going to bed because like I said, we are beat. 

 

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.

 

Humiliating Mom Moment #1001…

The boys have started figuring out who are boys and who are girls. About 50% of the time they get it right. They’ve essentially got it that Mama and Mommy and girls, and that they are boys.

So we are at the playground today. Just the three of us, my two little white toddlers and I. It’s attached to a soccer field. A car pulls up and an African American gentleman gets out and starts to do laps around the soccer field. He has headphones in, and we waved at each other when he got there, as we are in a small town, and it seemed polite to do.

My boys started playing on the bleachers, and as he rounded the field again they started waving and saying “Hi Boy!” “Hi Boy!” They were thrilled that they recognized that he was a boy.

Major freaking facepalm and my jaw literally fell open.

My Uncle had been over the previous weekend and we had gendered him and my Aunt as boys and girls. I never even thought to then educate about the appropriateness or not of referring to people as boys and girls. Because it just never entered my head to prepare for that particular situation.

He had headphones in, and as I was running frantically toward the boys on the bleachers to say we don’t say “hi boy” we say “hi sir,” he just waved and smiled good-naturedly, I’m not sure/I pray that he did not hear the “hi Boy”. Because holy shit it was like my worst nightmare came true. I was raising two racist white boys.

So then I had to explain to two two-year olds why we don’t say Hi Boy. Without saying, we specifically don’t say Hi Boy to a Black man because of the degrading and racist connotation that it carries.

“Baby, we say Hi Sir, okay? No Hi Boy.” Declan- “but he’s boy” Me- “Yes I know he’s a boy, but he’s a grown-up, so we say Hi Sir,  Hi boy is not nice.” Dec- “Hi Boy not nice?!” he looked totally incredulous. I at this point am getting sweaty and my heart is racing and I realize I’m getting nervous explaining this. This Mom-ming thing is hard. “That’s right, Hi Boy not nice. Hi Sir is what we say.” He stares at me. Jackson has already lost interest and is back to banging on the bleachers.

The man rounds the field again, and I’m like good God could the boys just go on the damn slides way over there? Why do they want to clonk around on the bleachers? He runs by and the boys look up and say “Hi Guy,” “Hi Guy,” they both look at me for approval. I just shake my head and thank God he has headphones in. “Guy” was never part of the conversation. We will be practicing “Hi Sir,” a lot.

These are the moments that define us as Moms. It’s not how big the birthday party is or how many presents they get on Christmas. It’s handling a total shit moment with grace and explaining and being honest without being mean. It’s not their fault they didn’t know you can’t say Hi Boy. It was mine. It’s something that you just know right? No. Actually some one had to teach it to you at some point. It’s making a human instinctively show others respect and know their history and it’s hard…and downright humiliating at times.

 

 

Those Moments When You Mom Judge the Hell Out of Yourself…

This morning the boys were driving me insane. I mean that literally. I locked myself in the bathroom to take a minute, look in the mirror, remind myself I am a living breathing human being and try not to cry.

For those tuning in for the first time I have two and a half year old twin boys. It’s just my wife and I. I am home alone with them every morning, and she is home with them in the evenings. Some mornings are fine. They can be charming and sweet and loving. They lull me into this false sense of security. Then a morning like this morning happens. It reminds me there is actually a living breathing monster in both of them. These monsters’ sole purpose in life is to make me lose my mind.

I’m not being dramatic. They drove me to my limits. But I emerged from the bathroom thinking I could make it. I walked back into the kitchen and sat with my one son Jackson while he finished his cereal. I heard my other son Declan making noise in the other room, and I thought he was climbing the stairs after I had explicitly told him No, multiple times, to his request to go upstairs.

I essentially lost control and yelled, “GET OFF THE STAIRS” as I quickly rounded the corner. I mean picture crazy bloodshot eyes, claw growing out of my hands, and my hair suddenly shooting out sparks of electricity….I came into our foyer only to see my little man standing, not on the stairs, but in front of the toy chest. Being good. His bottom lip jutted out at the exact moment my hands flew to my mouth and I was horrified by my insane yelling and stomping that he didn’t deserve.

I ran over to him, plopped myself on the floor and opened my arms. He came over to me, and hugged me tight, and I rubbed my head against his, and said “I’m so sorry baby,” as he breathed heavy and held back tears. I’m holding back my own tears at this point and laying kisses all over his head. He still clung to me, and we just sat there on the floor in our entryway holding each other.

I yell sometimes. But that yell was the Mama’s pissed yell. It was the I’ve reached the end of my utterly frayed rope yell. He knew it. He knew it was a different sort of yell. He’s only two and a half, he doesn’t sit still for thirty seconds, let alone hug me and let me hug him for at least two minutes.

There are these moments as a Mom that make me hate myself. That was one of them. I could see in his face in that moment as I rounded the corner that I hurt his feelings. He could see on my face that I was angry and then horrified at my own mistake.

These are uncomfortable moments. We all want to be Facebook happy smiling mom’s with perfect kids and families. I hear it all the time from clients. Mom’s who feel guilty for yelling or losing it. I don’t lose it every day. My kids are certainly not scared of me.

I always tell them I love them. I give them hugs and kisses whenever they are within arm’s distance. And tonight, after we put them to bed, he started crying and he wanted his “Mama” that’s me, Mommy is my wife. I held him and he told me what was wrong, and I kissed him and put him back to bed.

My sons make me better. They make me stronger. They make me more sensitive and a little more crazy. They make me feel like the worst human in the world, and in the same day, they make me feel like the most worthy and best Mama alive.

I’m not a perfect Mama. But I love my kids, and they know it. Try having two two-year olds. Then try not ever yelling. Seriously. I’m learning to lighten up on myself. That all Mom’s need to lighten up on themselves. If your kids are loved then cut yourself some slack. We are allowed to lose it sometimes. Because kids are rough stuff. So is Mommy-ing.

 

 

Girls and the Sexiness of Anti-Intelligence in Our Society

When I was in 5th grade I vividly recall being absent one day and having to make up a test the day I came back. I was sitting at my desk, trying to melt into the ground and walls so I could potentially make it one hour without being bullied by a group of girls who tortured me that year…when my teacher yelled across the room smiling, “You got a 99 on your test!” Everyone stopped and stared at me. By this point in the school year my classmates knew I was smart. They knew I knew the answers before they did, and they knew I got A’s on almost everything. Because kids just figure that shit out even when you try to hide it.

I tried to sink lower in my chair if that was even possible and shrugged my shoulders up and down in as little acknowledgement as humanly possible to this A announcement. My teacher then said, “A shrug? That’s it! You get an A and you’re not even happy?” She was very loud and happy and warm, and completely unaware of the torture I received on the regular right under her nose. I put my head down on my desk. I knew this would not go unpunished.

Later that day I was surrounded by the group of girls at lunch and was told that I was arrogant and that I had a big head and getting good grades didn’t make me better than them, and I was ugly, and I had to wear glasses…and whatever else all the shit mean little girls say to other little girls. Now these girls were not dumb. They didn’t graduate in the top ten of our high school class, but they were definitely not dumb. If they applied themselves who knows maybe they could have been in the top ten of our class. (By the way…our number 1 and number 2 in my graduating class were female. I was somewhere in there, 6th or 7th I think.)

But early on it was clear. Intelligence is not sexy. In fact it is a weakness. For a female to show intelligence is to put everyone else down. For a female to be intelligent and not just quietly sit in the corner and do her work and quietly get good grades…well that’s just disrespectful to the males who are not as smart and to the females who want to be seen as sexy for their looks not their brains.

The years of 5th grade to 8th grade for kids in general are torture. For smart girls? Freaking horrendous. I regularly see kids in my practice in middle school who hate themselves because they can’t kick a soccer ball. But they get A’s on tests or they are amazing artists or writers or gymnasts or dancers or any number of non-school based athletic activities that can’t possible define a popular and successful girl. Eventually I was able to scrape by with the popular crowd because I could kick and catch (goalie) a soccer ball and I could throw a basket-ball with fairly decent aim. I didn’t mind getting dirty and I loved diving in the mud to save a goal when it was pouring rain.

But I knew I wasn’t going to make a name for myself as a pro-athlete. In fact NONE of the people I went to high school became pro-athletes. A fact I regularly remind girls of who cry and want to kill themselves because getting straight A’s and being beautiful is not good enough to be popular.

It’s not just kids though. It’s adults too. An intelligent well spoken woman is “intimidating, bitchy, arrogant, just needs to get laid…” etc. I’ve received the message loud and clear that my boobs and my brains just don’t go together. I’ve reached an age and a level of self acceptance where I just don’t give a shit anymore about society’s expectations.

I want to be the role model for the girl getting bullied for being smart. I want to tell her “Look at me!” I graduated with a 3.8 from nursing school, I got a job in a very competitive department at a hospital where only about 15% of applicants get hired. I received my master’s degree from an Ivy league school, and I then worked for that ivy league University. Now I am a successful business owner who continues to dream big and make moves with a female business partner and a female wife and all the people threatened by our success…well I’m not sitting in the corner sinking into my desk anymore.

I am proud of my accomplishments as I should be. I am ecstatic I have the brain I do and honestly I’m not sad about my boobs either. I think intelligence is sexy as does my wife obviously (I mean she doesn’t complain about the boobs either).

What is the first thing we say to girls “Oh you are so beautiful” “Look at your hair it’s gorgeous!” We never compliment girls on their brains or their bravery or anything else beyond their looks. It starts as babies! Think about the last time you complimented a female baby and a male baby. What were your adjectives?

Think about how you compliment girls. Think about the presents you buy them. Do you buy them glitter and sequins? Or legos? Or barbies? Things they can build or things they can dress? It’s not wrong, I’m not trying to shame anyone, I’m just making a point that our society values women who are beautiful and silent. Strong, intelligent, opinionated, with boobs? Well that generally means you’re a bitch.

Think about the messages you send your daughters and nieces and granddaughters. Send them the same messages you send your sons and nephews and grandsons. Send them the message that intelligence is a gift to be nurtured and valued. That intelligence and courage and speaking out is beautiful.

I mean maybe if more women had received this message then 51% of female voters may not have voted for #45. Just saying.

 

What People Should NEVER Say to a Mom of Twins.

I generally say whatever comes into my head. No filters. Except…with other parents. If I am with other parents and especially if all our kids are together or even if the kids are not there…I keep my big mouth shut tight. Because I’ve learned as a Mom to just shut the F up. Nobody wants to hear my parenting opinion about their kid. Because I really shouldn’t have one until I’ve walked in their shoes. Just as I really don’t want to hear anyone else’s opinions about my kids and my parenting. Especially people who only have one kid at a time. No offense singleton parenting but literally say nothing to twin parents. Because you don’t know.

Things people have said to me have made me want to cry, laugh maniacally, and/or commit actual physical violence. I’m not a violent person but literally I’ve had visions of slamming my knee into someone’s stomach or my fist in their face. I think/hope it’s the sleep deprivation.

“I always wanted twins.” “Twins would have been so much easier.” “One and done!”

I hear these all the time. To the mom who says “I always wanted twins.” I smile. Then in my head I’m like you fucking idiot. You wanted a high risk pregnancy that most likely would result in a C-section? You wanted two premature babies who are allergic to formula so you have to breastfeed them BOTH for a YEAR?! You wanted to stretch your body so much that no amount of greens and hot yoga will get rid of that pouch? Really? You wanted to live in the USA where my wife went back to work after four weeks and left me home alone with two premature and underweight newborns who laid on my chest/boobs/belly for the next fourteen weeks? Nothing about twins is easy. Ever. In fact they can lead to mom’s feeling resentful because we feel like we missed out. We missed out on one kid at a time. On maybe actually ever enjoying breastfeeding instead of despising it because I literally did it 24/7. No sleep. For a year.

One and done?! It wasn’t one. It was freaking two. And we will NEVER be done. Don’t say it. That’s one that leads me to violent thoughts. Like can you count? I mean I understand one pregnancy but it’s pregnancy on steroids because there are two fetuses. It’s kind of a big scary deal.

“You should separate them in kindergarten.”

This one gets me too. First off don’t ever start a parenting opinion with ‘should’. It’s rude. Second, why? I’ve heard all the opinions about it. Here’s mine. I’m their Mom. I know them best. I know that they have literally not been apart for more than two hours since they were born. That when they are apart they fret and worry over each other. “Jacky k? My Jacky okay?” Over and over from Declan. “Decky k? Decky come home? Decky k?” from Jackson. When they are together they shine. I mean they fight and stuff, it’s not all cupcakes and rainbows. But they are securely attached to one another. And why is that a bad thing? In a society where we are continuously disconnected from one another I will do anything to foster their love and their bond. I would never put them in a brand new school with brand new classmates and teachers and separate them. Maybe in their 1st or 2nd grade when they are used to the school. But in kindergarten they will be 5. Why is it bad for them to want to be with one another?

Shit’s about to get deep. Gear up. The other truly dark and terrifying reason I want them together is because we live in the state where an entire kindergarten class was shot to death. That is always in the back of my head. Because it’s very real to everyone who lives in this state. God forbid any type of danger reaches my sons at the age of 5. I want them together. I want them to have each other to love and protect if they ever have to live through that terror.

So when some one who doesn’t have twins starts to say seemingly innocent crap about having twins and making judgments about decisions that I have already made in my heart because of my own life experience and my own reasons…yeah it irritates me. Which is why I keep to the Shut My Mouth rule when I’m with other parents. Which is what I advise every one of you to do as well.

I don’t tell everyone who makes these remarks everything that’s in my head and heart. I generally just nod and smile. Because when some one discusses kindergarten who wants to think about a devastating school shooting? When some one discusses a two for one deal they don’t actually want to know how incredibly trying that pregnancy was or the delivery or the aftermath. They just want to look at my cute boys and imagine life is wonderful. Well generally it is. I don’t regret my twins, and I love them beyond reason. But don’t tell me it’s easy because it’s not. Don’t tell me to separate them because I won’t. And never act like you know more about my kids then I do. Unless you’re my wife. In which case you may be entitled to that opinion.

Also never ask when they started sleeping through the night. You don’t want to know. For real.

The one question I do tolerate is people asking if they have their own language. They do- it’s morphing more into normal English now, but from the start of their verbalizations it’s been totally coherent to the two of them. My wife and I can pretty much translate it now and often they translate for each other if Mommy or I take too long figuring out what one of them is saying.

They are obsessed with each other and hearing Declan call “My Jackie, come my Jackie” across the house, and then seeing my Jackson run to wherever Declan is calling him from then hearing the conversation they have…well that’s just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard.

This morning one of them was showing me his boo-boo on his hand. The other one came over and kissed his brother’s hand. Melt me. These are the moment’s that help me understand why someone would yearn for twins. It’s that whole no sleeping for a year thing that I still clearly am not over that makes me question people’s sanity for wanting twins.