Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Flight Suggestions


We’re flying to Utah for the holidays. In preparation for flying with fifteen-month old twins, I have developed a massive case of anxiety & a few theories about how air travel might be improved.

You probably know that kids under 2 can fly in your lap. This saves you the cost of paying for a seat they will refuse to sit in & earns you the disdain of your fellow passengers. (Except the old lady that reeks of cigarette smoke & coughs like the she has the plague. She wants to kiss your baby, probably on the mouth.)

You may not be aware that the airlines only allow one lap infant per row – nod knowingly with me, twin parents. So, Craig & I will be sitting across the aisle from each other, each with a kid in our lap, on most of our flights. For one flight, we could only get two aisle seats in sequential rows. Which means the kid in the row further back can torture both parents simultaneously by kicking the seat in front of her. Perfect.

Anyway, this brings me to my first suggestion. The airlines have to keep track of which seats have lap infants because they cannot have two in one row. The airlines also keep track of which seats have been purchased. I propose that airlines indicate which seats, if any, will have lap infants during the seat selection process of purchasing tickets. Let’s be honest – nobody wants to sit next to the parent with the lap infant. You can be a perfectly nice human being and still not enjoy the prospect of being squished up next to a baby, doing normal baby things like crying & pooping, for HOURS. I expect to hate it & they’re my kids.

I’m willing to bet some people would look at different flights rather than sit next to a baby. At the very least, forewarned is forearmed. If I knew I was going to be seated next to a lap infant, I’d bring noise-canceling headphones, sleeping pills, and a $5 pashmina from a street vendor that I could throw away if, let’s be honest – when, it ends up covered in baby excretions.

My second suggestion is to help counter that anxiety I mentioned. Imagine: the moment you confirm that you are flying with children your itinerary gets forwarded to your primary care physician who writes you a prescription for the anti-anxiety medication of your choosing. Brilliant, right? Then you might be able to figure out how to pack extra clothes, toys, food, diapers, bottles, and the all-important Benadryl into your carry-on luggage, without innumerable panic attacks. Maybe. As long as you stop picturing your child having a complete meltdown mid-flight because you packed the wrong color pacifier, while the asshat two seats over loudly expresses that HER kid wouldn’t dare act like that.

Speaking of that lady, my final suggestion grew out of a desire to ingratiate myself to her, as well as the other hypothetical passengers I keep imagining. I thought it would be a nice gesture to buy them all a drink. Then I remembered that the cost of airline tickets during the holidays ate all my money. So, I propose that the airlines offer a complimentary alcoholic beverage to any adult passengers seated within two rows of a lap infant. On any flight with more than two lap infants, ALL adult passengers should be given a free alcoholic beverage – except those within one row of the lap infants – THOSE poor sods should get two free drinks, minimum.


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Forgive Me

When you died people said,
“It’s okay to cry.”                         [no shit]
“It’s part of God’s plan.”             [fuck your god]

Nobody told me I would wake up one day
and forget to cry.

That day was today.

I’m sorry, Love.

Finding Light in the Dark Season

As a child, I used to listen to Christmas music and bawl. Good King Wencesles could reduce me to tears in ten seconds. The Little Matchgirl took five seconds, if that. There’s something about the winter that makes the tears flow more easily. I suppose it could be seasonal affective disorder, but that feels disingenuous to me.* 

Winter is a time of hibernation, of dying, of darkness. Maybe I do just crave some extra Vitamin D, but it feels like these emotions are natural for me. They feel as natural as the calm sense of reassurance that floods through me when I bask in the sun. Denying the dark emotions is to deny half of myself. The longest day of the year must be countered by the longest night and so it is within me as well.

That the cycles of my emotions might follow the cycles of the seasons seems as it should be. It is my understanding that most Christian religions believe Jesus was actually born in the spring, but celebrating his birth during the winter feels more necessary. Yes, there’s the whole "celebrate around the time of the pagan holidays" thing, but I think – no I feel (it’s the winter, I feel things instead of thinking them these days) – I feel that there might be more. 

The celebration of the lights that is Hannukah, the return of the sun marked by Yule, the birth of the Son on Christmas – here we are, as human beings, in need a reminder that it will get better, that the light will return to us. We will feel the warmth again.

I used to make candles on the autumnal equinox and burn them all night on winter solstice.

Between the cost of traveling to see family, gift giving, and having to turn on the oil heat – winter is definitely a time of scarcity. I reach for the light, for the warmth, for the promise of fecundity. For the past two years, I have been able to find that promise within my home. 

The fertility treatments that brought us our twins were done in the winter. I love this fact. I now have new dates to celebrate in the winter. We transferred the embryos on 12/12/12. I found out I was pregnant the day after Christmas. What more promise do I need, that we will find the sun again and life will grow out of the darkness than the laughter of my children? My beautiful, improbable but not impossible children, who began to grow in the darkness of winter. In the dark midwinter, they are my light. 

Although a spice-scented candle & a glass of mulled wine certainly wouldn’t go amiss.

*I am not discounting the existence of Seasonal Affective Disorder, nor meaning to imply that it is something people should just suffer through. I only mean that I do not believe it is an appropriate diagnosis for myself.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Raising Entitled Children

My grandfather called me his “blonde bombshell” when I was three. “I’m NOT a blonde dumbbell!” I yelled & punched him in the nose.

Somewhere along the way, that self-assured kid got lost. She learned that she laughed too loudly for a girl, that boys would pick her for their kickball team but would never want to kiss her if she was good at sports, that fat was the worst thing she could ever be, that she was smart but it was arrogant to admit it, & that the only acceptable way to speak about herself was negatively.

I said she got lost but truthfully, I buried her. I put duct tape over her loud mouth & hog-tied her active limbs. I’m not sure exactly when, but I remember feeling too loud, too abrasive, just too much of everything in elementary school.

In fifth grade, I started to wear a bra & get hips. The other girls my age didn’t need bras or have curvy hips. I wasn’t only too loud, too rough, too snarky, I now had too much body. Everything about me felt excessive & I wanted to shrink.

I curled inside myself and didn’t feel entitled to anything, not even love. Sometimes I didn’t even feel entitled to the life I had been given & a few times, I tried to give that life back to the earth by taking it away from myself. I was ten years old the first time I attempted suicide.

I believed that I had nothing to offer the future. I didn’t feel entitled to breathe the air that someone else could use. I had already taken too much, been too much, & I wanted to be nothing. I wanted to shrink and get out of everyone’s way.

I have since rediscovered that brazen, self-assured little girl who would punch anyone, even her grandfather, for calling her stupid. Not only within myself, but I see her in my daughters I don’t want them to lose her, as I did. I worry that they won’t feel entitled to all that is theirs by birth.

They are entitled to grow, to explore, to fail, to succeed, to love, to live, to learn, and to fail a hell of a lot more. Sadly, I expect they will have to fight for those things. The world will never let my kids forget that they were designated female at birth. If they are trans*, they’ll face a higher risk of physical or sexual violence based on that fact alone. If they are cis, they’ll fare a bit better. The world will try to pay them $0.72 for every $1.00 it pays cismen. The world will tell them their worth is tied to their bodies, which will be too much or not enough. The world will tell them their worth is tied to their sexuality, their sexual experiences or lack of them.

The world will tell my kids they are not entitled to bodily autonomy. It will tell them through judging their clothing choices, their decisions to pierce or not pierce their bodies, to tattoo or not tattoo their bodies, to have or not have children.

The world will tell my children they are not entitled.

It is my job to do everything in my power to help them hold on to their entitlement throughout the barrage and assault the world will throw at them. It breaks my heart to admit this, but I may not succeed. But you can bet I will do my damnedest to raise a couple of entitled children.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Letting Myself Go

I saw an essay recently about "Moms who have really let themselves go." The non-Mom author felt her Mom friends shouldn't be surprised to discover that their sex lives have dwindled, their partners are unfaithful, and their friends avoid them - since these Moms have really let themselves go. They don’t take time to do their hair or wear makeup. They haven’t lost the pregnancy weight& wear unflattering clothes. Just really let themselves go.

This sparked two visceral reactions within me:

1) I wanted to punch her in the face. If your partner is cheating or your friends reject you over your hair, makeup, & clothing – they are ASSHOLES.

2) I thought, “But I have let myself go, haven’t I?” I feel frumpy. My twins are fourteen months old. The pregnancy weight I lost so quickly after they were born (nothing burns calories like a breastpump) is creeping back. I find myself thinking, "Shouldn't I have more energy than this?"

In these moments, I completely forget that I still get up with at least one kid in the middle of the night regularly. I also forget that I spend nearly every waking hour caring for two toddlers.

I never wear my hair down and rarely wear makeup. As for clothes – no, they don’t fit right. My body has permanently shifted and changed. Nothing I bought before I was pregnant will ever fit me in the same way again.

I need new clothes & a haircut. Desperately. Yet, every time I consider making an appointment for my hair or going shopping I calculate how long I could feed my children for the same cost. I forget my children aren't starving. Yes, money is tight. There will never be a day when money is not tight. The twins will always need things, but so will I.

I have let myself go. I have let go of my wants & prioritized their needs, their wants, and the things I imagine they might want. Not all of this is bad. It's good to be a bit self-sacrificing as a person and especially as a parent. Kids are tiny people trying to figure out what it means to be human and there are a lot of things they need help with on their journey. They can’t feed or clean themselves when they’re teeny. We need to do that for them, for now. In the future, as their own abilities progress and allow, we need to stop doing that for them.

This isn’t just about stuffing their faces and wiping their butts. This is about everything. Most children will move out eventually and they will need to know how to care for themselves. Perhaps more importantly, I am modeling roles and behaviors for them. How can I expect my kids to believe that a woman doesn’t have to sacrifice herself on the altar of motherhood if that’s what I’m doing every single day?

I love me. I’m a wonderful person who has done and been amazing things before I had my twins. I don’t want to let go of that version of me because I’m a mom. I want to add mother to my list of awesome traits and roles. I don’t want it to consume all the others. That has nothing to do with wearing yoga pants and skipping the makeup. But it has everything to do with taking time to take care of myself.

I’m okay with letting myself go, but I’m not going to let go of me.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


In 1984, we had three children. We made a paving stone with their handprints. All our photos were lost in the fire. That paving stone is the only proof that for one month in 1984, we had three children.


Her name was Jessica and she was very brave.

People think she was a coward. They say she gave up, as though that was easy. They talk about other people who are still alive, as though bravery is based on your ability to breathe, as though calling these others “brave” can make up for their own gratitude that they are not one of these others.

“You are so brave. I don’t know how you endure.” They coo patronizingly. “Not like her.”
“It’s the coward’s way out.”
“It’s so selfish.”
“She had to know how much it would hurt us.” As though she owed it to them to suffer. So they could call her brave and sleep peacefully through the night, confident that, as bad as they had it – she had it worse.

Without a pariah to gauge your life against, how can you be certain of your own goodness?

Her name was Jessica and she was very brave.

I know. She went before me. I was too scared to go first. 

“But what if death is worse?” I had asked her. 
“It might be.” she had said. “If they’re right, He will punish us.” She blinked back tears, even though I had been weeping openly for awhile now.

“I’ll go first.” She said resolutely, “and then, I’ll come back for you.”
 She pulled me close for a hug and whispered, “I’ll see if it’s safe.” 

Just like she had every time we tried to run away. She would always go first. She’d get caught and punished before I ever got out of my bed. She would come back to our room, bleeding, welts rising, bruises forming, and whisper gently, “It’s not safe. Not just yet.”

It was never safe. Not for my sister. She never let me go to check.

“I’ll see if it’s safe.”

And though it never was, I was always safe. Because she went first.

I stayed with her body for hours, they tell me. She took the pills and we laid down on her bed. She put her arms around me and whispered, “I’ll see if it’s safe.”

I fell asleep, listening to the sound of her breathing as it slowed.

I’m still waiting for her. They took her body away and moved me from her bed, from our home to another bed, somewhere else. But I know she’ll be able to find me. She would never leave me behind.

Sometimes in my dreams, I can see her. At first she was so far away, she was just a vague impression of herself. But every night she gets closer. I’ve been storing my pills so I’ll be ready when she gets here.

Last night, she reached for me and whispered something I couldn’t quite understand. I wanted to join her then, but I promised not to go before she knew it was safe.

I’m awake, but I can see her when I close my eyes. For once, she’s not bleeding. There’s not a blemish on her skin.

Her name is Jessica. She is my sister. She is very brave.

She grabs my hand and smiles.

“It’s safe.”

Thursday, October 16, 2014

This is me – not shutting up

A couple of days ago I blogged about being a stay at home mom who isn’t going to shut up, no matter how passive-aggressively you ask me to via blogpost. Days like today are why. Because days like today happen, all too frequently. And sometimes we can laugh at them as they happen and sometimes we can’t. Today, I couldn’t. But I think that as I take the time to type this up and (naptime permitting) re-read for edits, I might be able to laugh a bit.

I got to bed at a reasonable hour last night & managed to fall right to sleep, thanks in part to being a bit sick – but not sick enough to justify going out to buy more NyQuil. The babies slept through the night & I was able to wake up slowly and leisurely. Imagine my surprise when I learned it wasn’t yet 6:00 am – but I felt rested! So, I took a shower, which I never get to do before naptime, had some coffee, and even had time to read a little before the twins started to wake up at 8:30! These kids are usually up & ready to go by 7:00. So this morning really felt like a rare gift.

Oh, but once they woke up…

We use cloth diapers at home. Although we started using disposables overnight when the monkey child got a fierce diaper rash that would start to heal during the day (when I was changing diapers every two hours) and then flare up overnight (when she was in the same diaper for 8-12 hours). The upside to using the disposables is that they do a better job of wicking away the moisture & lessen the chance that a baby will wake me up for a diaper change overnight. The downside is that if the babies sleep in a bit, or happen to poop overnight, the disposables just explode. They split down the seams & all the nasty little gel beads that absorb the pee spill out all over the place. This morning both babies slept in AND pooped overnight. Their pajamas were filled with nasty little gel beads of chemicals and pee. There is no easy way to clean this up, but I did the best I could – which means I made sure the babies were clean and free of pee beads, but I had piles of towels, diapers, etc that were being use as makeshift pee bead containers.

While I was changing the monkey child, the bug child snuck over to stand on her tippy toes & grab the leg of her pee bead filled pajamas. Once she had a good grip on that sucker, she ran – spilling pee beads everywhere – out of the nursery, across the hall, through the kitchen, and to her high chair. I put the monkey child, clad only in a diaper, in the living room & managed to get the bug to let go of her pjs, wash her hands, and then sit in her high chair. Meanwhile, the monkey was gleefully running half-naked through the house. One child secured, I grabbed the other, got her dressed, & strapped her into her high chair. And we had breakfast. While the kitchen floor was covered in pee beads. 

After breakfast, I put the kids in the playroom & cleaned up the pee beads. I thought to myself, “These days happen. But the kids seem in good moods & I got a full night’s sleep. Today can still be great.” And then I looked in the playroom and saw a pile of dog shit in the corner. The babies were on the other side of the playroom, so I quietly cleaned up the dog shit. While I was congratulating myself on managing to clean it up without the kids noticing, I realized they were no longer in the playroom. This isn’t panic inducing - they often play in the living room so I wandered in to see what they were doing.

Apparently, the other dog had also shit in the house. (Why? Because it’s raining outside and even if I leave them outside all day, they will wait until they come in the house to shit & I want to kill them. But I digress.)

Both children had a handful of dog shit.

The monkey child was smearing it on the wall & the bug child was tasting it, spitting it out, and tasting it again. I grabbed the still-warm dog shit out of the babies’ hands, with my own bare hands, and we all went into the bathroom for some serious cleaning, while I gagged a lot & called poison control to make sure I didn’t need to take the bug to the ER or something. (Protip: Nope. Feces is gross, but unless the dog is sick or the kid starts vomiting or has diarrhea, there’s no risk of poisoning.)

All clean, but emotionally raw, I put the babies in the playroom & took the dogs outside so I didn’t strangle them. I thought to myself, “One day, when I don’t feel like the worst mom on the planet, I will find this funny.”

I walked in the house just in time to see the bug child smash a wooden block into the monkey child’s head. I yelled, “NO!” In response, the bug threw her sister on the floor and proceeded to smash the block into the monkey child’s face repeatedly while laughing hysterically. I ran as fast as I could with my stupid foot in a brace to rescue the monkey, who was sobbing but not bleeding. After a quick inspection revealed there was no major damage, I collapsed on a chair, clinging to the child in my lap and bawled.

I tried to put the bug in “time out,” but then the monkey cried because she wanted to be in “time out.” {Clearly, I do “time out” wrong.) So I put the monkey in “time out” & I texted my mom & sisters. I called a couple of people, but they have lives and I just got their voicemail. I called my husband at work – which I never do – and cried. And he did his damnedest to not laugh. And the bug started to throw things at the monkey in “time out” so I got off the phone.

I put the kids into their jumperoos, turned on a Baby Signing Time DVD, and knowing they were safe – hid in the bathroom for a few minutes. Then I brewed a fresh pot of coffee, drank a bunch of water, ate a protein bar, & cleaned up the nursery because remember the pee beads?

This all happened within an hour of the babies waking up.

We had lunch & played a bit. I just put them down to nap. My husband came home early. I’m finally drinking that second pot of coffee I brewed and listening to the sound of the rain outside & my fingers on the keyboard. 

Today could still be a great day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I’m a stay at home mom and I will not shut up

There’s an article that I’ve seen making the rounds on Facebook over the last couple of days titled, “Dear Stay At Home Moms, Please Shut Up.” I almost didn’t read it because it was so antagonistically titled, but then I saw it liked by people I love and some of whom I’ve called when this whole SAHM gig was feeling overwhelming. I decided that maybe the article wasn’t a bunch of “Mommy Wars” BS – even if the title was & gave it a read. I was wrong.

There are SO MANY THINGS in her article that are problematic (heterocexism, classism, I could go on), but I’m not going to pick it apart piece by piece. I’m going to simply disagree with her whole premise that stay at home moms need to “be content or quit whining.” The thing is, I refuse to be content in a situation that needs to change. I don’t mean the situation of me being a stay at home parent, I mean the situation that makes it such a thankless, untenable position in our society.

I will not stop talking about how hard it is, as long as the Huffington Post and other websites keep trotting out articles from well-meaning husbands that can be summed up as “I thought my wife was lazy, but then I stayed home with the kids & turns out – it’s a tough gig. That’s right – we can now agree that parenting is hard because I, A MAN, said so! Now applaud me for discounting my wife’s experiences until I had them for myself!”

I will not stop talking about career dreams until people stop claiming the wage gap exists because women choose to stay home and raise kids – when it actually starts with a woman’s first job out of college and is often the REASON women (instead of men) stay home with the kids, NOT the other way around. Our plan was to have my husband stay home, but he makes more than me & with twins we simply cannot afford for me to work. Fulltime childcare costs more than I have ever made, despite my graduate degree & long work history.

Here’s the thing – I actually feel quite lucky to stay home with my kids. I know my husband would rather spend his days with them than behind a desk, even if he finds his job challenging and fulfilling. And even though, I often envy that he gets to shower every day – not too mention leave the house before the first poopy diaper needs to changed – I am happy to listen to him if he has complaints about his day or if he is sad to have missed a milestone. And he listens to me when I tell him about how exhausted I am or how lonely it can get in the middle of the day when I’m doing my third load of laundry for the day. Because we’re not assholes to each other.

The same is true of my friends. Parents and non-parents, stay at home, work at home, full-time employed, full-time students, unemployed, whatever. I listen to them and they listen to me. Life is hard, no matter your choices or circumstances, sometimes things suck. When those times come, I need someone who I know I can call and say, “Today is hard. Sometimes I just want to runaway to Bermuda.” And they will not think that means I don’t love my children or my spouse or my life. They will just know that I need a friend and they will listen.

The author of the article telling me to please, shut up says, “Just stop knocking on my door with your greasy hair and your caffeine withdrawals and sit at my kitchen table and try to convince me that your children are Satan's spawn and gripe that you had to clean all three toilets today.”

In response, I offer this:

Come knock on my door. Sit at my kitchen table. I’ll brew a fresh pot of coffee and listen.
You can tell me about how your children are Satan’s spawn & I’ll laugh and know that only children you love so deeply could drive you to say that.
You can tell me about how, as a working parent, you’re heartbroken that you missed your child’s first step & I’ll know that you sacrificed being there at that moment to put food on the table or achieve your career goals.
You can tell me that working from home means you have to do all the laundry and still meet work deadlines, even when all the kids and the dogs are puking & I'll know you love your kids, your dogs, & your job if you're willing to put up with all that to not have to give up any of it. 
You can tell me about how you never want kids, but work or school feels like it’s sucking the life out of you & I’ll encourage to follow your dreams.
You can tell me that you never wanted kids, but now you’re pregnant & don’t know what to do & I’ll tell you I trust you to know what is right for you as you make your decision.
You can tell me that you really want kids, but just found out you can’t have them & would really rather meet me at coffeeshop without my kids & I will meet you at that coffeeshop and not mention my kids until you bring them up.

Simply put, you can be a human being having a hard time and I won’t be an asshole to you. Life is hard. Even when we have everything we wanted, there are some days we need to vent. If I’ve learned anything in this last year plus of being a stay at home parent, it’s that we need each other.

Last February, I only left the house twice. In the whole month. My steep driveway was a sheet of ice. We had to leave the car in a neighbor’s driveway for a week. It was really hard. And I called some of you. Some of you came over in your AWD vehicles and hung out with me. Some of you listened to me cry about how lonely I felt. Some of you let me cook for you. Some of you came over and cooked for me. Nobody told me to “be content or quit complaining.” Maybe you wanted to, but you didn’t. Instead you listened. And when I was done complaining, we talked about the wonder in my life and I was able to be content. Because when things suck, they don’t get better by pretending they don’t suck. If your situation sucks and you need to change it, I encourage you to do so. But if your situation is generally good and some days you happen get tired of being puked upon or shit upon – literally or metaphorically – and just need to vent then I offer you my friendship. 

Come knock on my door. Sit at my kitchen table. I’ll brew a fresh pot of coffee and listen. This can also be redeemed via phone.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Walking the Walk - Body Love Edition

I started hating my body in elementary school. I got boobs, not even real boobs just boob nubs, in fifth grade & I started to gets hips around the same time. I remember staring into the mirror & wishing I could just cut a straight line from my waist & slice away my nascent curves. In middle school we talked about anorexia. A picture of Karen Carpenter weighing double digits was passed around. I think the idea was to shock us with her thinness, but I wasn’t shocked. I was impressed. I was in awe of these women who had such self-control that they could deny themselves food & control their bodies. I felt controlled by my body.

In my mind, my body was excessive in every way. It grew curves, hair, & desires without my permission. It was a hungry, desirous pile of flesh careening towards being the worst things a body could be: fat and slutty.

When I hit 100 pounds, I figured there was no way back. I was obviously fat and going to stay that way forever. When I kissed a boy for the first time, I figured there was no way back. I was obviously a slut and going to stay that way forever. And I was devastated.

It has taken years to heal the feelings of loathing I nurtured towards my body. It has been a struggle to balance embracing my body and taking steps to be a healthier version of myself without waging a war of hatred against my body. But I have made a lot of progress.

I love my body for what it has done and continues to do. This body has carried and birthed three children – two at the same time! This body fed two of my children for the first 7.5 months of their lives. This body shudders in pleasure. This body receives and gives love. This body curves and shakes and dances. This body basks in warmth, shivers in cold, and is my all around tactile window into this physical world. It warns me with pain, shares my emotions through expressions & tears, and even reminds me to eat.

I no longer think of my body as separate from me. It is me. I am my body.

Loving myself and my body is not to claim that I am not flawed or that my body & I are as healthy and active as I'd like us to be. My body is in recovery from carrying twins, even over a year after their birth. I am going to physical therapy, but it's hard to not just go full-speed ahead. I am imperfect. I struggle with balance and moderation. But I work hard to be gentle with myself, both physically and emotionally, even though my recovery from the twin pregnancy is taking far longer than I anticipated. I try to love my body as it is, even in transition, but I don't always succeed. 

Recently, I was watching my one year old daughters trying to learn to walk. The monkey child is built just like me. I see it most of all in her legs. There’s a curve on her inner knee and she has the most adorable one year old cankles. I noticed these things because somehow I still believed these physical traits in my legs were flaws that needed fixing. Flaws that I could somehow erase if I lost enough weight, if I just had enough self-control. My kid is proof that I will have these legs, these lumps, these cankles – even at 20 lbs. 

Today I’m focusing on loving my legs, as they are, so that when my daughter realizes she has the same legs, she will have an example of what it means to love your lumps, bumps, and cankles. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


On August 26, 1998, my son was born. I gave my son the first name of my fiancé (we never married), my father’s middle name, & my last name. I gave him their names to share him with them but to me, he was only mine. He gave me a reason to become a better person. I stayed awake for practically three days straight so that I wouldn’t miss a moment. I gave him my heart & he took it with him three days later when I gave him new parents. They gave him a new name & all the things I could not.

On August 26, 2013, my daughters were born. We gave them first names we loved, a middle name that I share with my mother, aunt, sisters, cousin, & niece, and both of our last names. I listened to my husband & daughters snore in the hospital room and slept every chance I could. I gave them my heart & we took them home three days later. My son turned fifteen.

Today is August 26, 2014 and my daughters turn one year old. They have turned my world, my life, & my house upside down. I have called friends and family to share moments of joy. I have called friends & family to cry and beg them to reassure me that I’m a good mom. I have laughed and cried (sometimes simultaneously) more in the past year than any other year I remember. I have struggled with and reveled in being a stay at home mom. At one point I sat on the kitchen floor crying to Craig as I made the decision to stop trying to breastfeed after 5 months. Today, I sat on the kitchen floor with a crying child and kissed an owie all better.

Today is August 26, 2014 and my son turns sixteen years old. I have never regretted my decision to place him for adoption, but I miss him always. Every milestone I share with my daughters reminds me of the milestones I’ve missed with him. 

Happy Birthday Kids, I love you all. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Entitled. Spoiled. Disrespectful.

“Kids these days are …”

It has become so clichéd to complain about the behavior of younger generations that it’s tough to even say the above phrase in any tone of voice other than a terrible impersonation of an old man. But clichéd or not, the complaints keep coming.

Entitled. Spoiled. Disrespectful.

See a kid act out in public and any number of bystanders will start conversations about how their kids would never dare, or how when they were children they would never dare, all the while shaking their heads and giving the parent looks of pity, derision, or a combination of the two.

Recently, a story went viral about some guy buying over 20 pies from Burger King to spite a bratty child behind him in line. Story goes, kid was screaming for a pie, so grown man in front of him buys every last pie to make sure the kid doesn’t get what he wants. 

And cheers of joy erupted from the internet.

While the story is very likely a fiction, the sheer number of “Good for him!” responses was a bit staggering to me. A lot of the responses were along the lines of, “It’s about time the kid learned a real world lesson.” What real world scenario have you encountered in your adult life that mirrors this? When was the last time someone who was twice your height & five to ten times your weight spent more money than you earn in a week or month or year to buy twenty of the things you wanted, just to make sure you didn’t get one?

Well, but the guy had to listen to that obnoxious kid, you say? How long do you think the self-styled hero of this tale was waiting in line? Five minutes? Ten minutes? Certainly if the wait was as long as twenty or thirty minutes at Burger King, the adults in line would be throwing tantrums, not just the bratty kid – so it’s tough for me to believe it could have been that long. With that in mind, who is the person with the real instant gratification problem here? The child, who is acting his age or the adult who is acting like a child?

It seems that everybody wanted to see the kid put in his place, but if anyone dared to mention that it was the mother, not the kid, who was really going to suffer – it became clear that people wanted her to suffer as well. She raised him, after all. It’s her fault he’s such a brat, so she should have to live with his brattiness. According to the court of public opinion, this kid and his mother needed to be taught a lesson by this guy who had to suffer while waiting in line for his fast food. Why? They dared to have a bad day in public.

I guarantee you that every child, even those raised exactly the way YOU think they should be raised, will throw a tantrum at some point in their lives. Every. Single. Child. Because they are CHILDREN. They are trying to figure out how to be in human in a tiny body that is often overcome with emotions – as powerful as any you encounter in your adult life, but without any physical power to do anything about those emotions. Do they manipulate, whine, cry, and throw tantrums to try and get what they want? Yes. In the beginning of their lives, those are the only tools they have at their disposal. And yes, as they get older, they should learn to behave better – we all should. But please don’t pretend that children are the only ones who throw temper tantrums, not even the only ones in public.

I’m calling bullshit because I’ve worked in customer service. I’ve witnessed fully grown adults screaming at sales clerks in retail stores over pennies. I’ve watched the videos of store clerks literally trampled to death by a bunch of adults on Black Friday.

I don’t think the massive support for this man-child revenge fiction is because people honestly think such behavior will result in the actual child becoming a better human as a result of this “lesson.” It seems to me, that it provided a release valve for a whole section of people who simply hate the fact that they have to share the world with children & parents. If you look at the comments sections of any of the articles referencing this story, you will find gems like, “I shouldn’t have to suffer because YOU didn’t use birth control.” And other, far more colorful comments, that exude an intolerance of all things children.

You don’t want kids. I think that’s great. But that doesn’t mean you get to live in a childfree world. You have to share public spaces with other members of the public, even if they are younger than you & having a bad day.

Adults these days are so…

Entitled. Spoiled. Disrespectful.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Sometimes the things that scare me are very mundane. Things I would have done without a second thought before I had a set of twins to haul around while I did them. For example, today I stopped for food at Panera with the twins while running errands. Panera is always a madhouse. There's barely room to walk around, let alone push a double stroller - but I was hungry & the food I can get at a drive-thru makes me feel like crap & I'm re-committing to taking care of myself even though it's so much easier to eat crap & feel like crap. So I went to Panera because it's better than McDonald's. (Yes, I realize that less bad does not equal good, but sometimes good is out of your grasp & less bad equals good enough for now.) 

If you have never attempted to take a child or two to Panera, I don't expect you to understand how this could be intimidating. So I'll just walk you through it. Taking the twins to Panera requires getting through a set of awkwardly not quite aligned doors spaced just barely far enough apart that you almost need to have both doors open at the same time to get the stroller inside the building. Inevitably, people give irritated sighs and huffs as I try to finagle my way in the doors, but nobody holds a door open for me. Today, I found myself holding the door open for a woman playing on her smartphone who barely mustered a distracted wave of thanks. 

Then I use the wheelchair accessible part of the line because the stroller doesn't work in the labyrinth of ropes that they set up to manage the line. I make a note of the person who came in after me & decide I will stake my claim to the place behind her. I tell the people who come in the door next that I am in line directly ahead of them, I just can't fit in the standard line. Today those people are a middle-aged woman, who smiles understandingly, and a teenaged guy, who rolls his eyes at me. Whatever. I wait my turn. 

When I go to order, I have to leave the stroller behind because I literally cannot get to the register with it. So I stand halfway between the register and the stroller, loudly giving my order & keeping my kids entertained with silly faces at the same time. The woman who takes my order happens to be a twin and tells me I'm lucky my twins are not identical like she and her sister because "Ohhh, the shit we would pull!" We all smile and laugh as she takes my order. I tell her I plan on eating there, but to please pack it to go so I don't have to try to carry plates, cups, and push the stroller at the same time. I feel a twinge of guilt at the wastefulness of using disposable items when I have the option for something else, but brush it off as I imagine dropping a plate of salad & hot cup of coffee on a child's head.  

While waiting for my food to be ready, I maneuvered the double stroller through the crowd, found a table, set up two high chairs, & then made faces at the kids until the food was ready. Then I took the kids (still in the stroller) with me to pick up the food. Got back to the table, realized I forgot my drink & headed back through the madness to get my drink, a flurry of "excuse me," "thank you," & "sorry" as people cut me off, walk into me, and basically act like they've never seen a stroller in public.  

Finally, back at the table I get each twin into a high chair, park the stroller in the least obtrusive place possible & settle in to eat. 

The twins were happily chowing down on fresh fruit & a grilled cheese sandwich. I was slicing fruit & bits of sandwich for them in between taking bites of my salad. And though I was exhausted, I was feeling pretty damn good about what I had accomplished. It was a hassle - but here I am, eating a meal in public with my kids who aren't throwing food or screaming. And I'm eating something that actually qualifies as food. I'm completely unaware of anything but my kids and our meals. It dawns on me that this is their first grilled cheese sandwich. Hell, it's their first sandwich. I resist the urge to take a picture. It's as close to serene as life with twins gets when they're awake.

Then I hear this: "Tattoos on moms are so trashy. Doesn't she realize how embarrassing it will be for her kids that their mom has tattoos?" 

You guys, I wish I could say I had a biting comeback or shot them a nasty glare or at the very least kept quiet to practice showing my kids that assholes like that aren't worth getting upset. But none of that is true. Instead, I just deflated. I didn't buy into their bullshit idea that my tattoos make me trashy & therefore a bad mom. It wasn't that at all. It was that I had just done this BIG SCARY THING and some petty bitches who had just watched me do it felt the need to point out what they perceived as my flaws, to tell me that I wasn't enough, that no matter what I do, I will never be enough. And that's the scariest thing of all. 

The fear that creeps in when I can't sleep at night. The unnamed, omnipresent dread in that back of mind - that even if I do ALL the things that scare me, I will still not be enough. Enough of what? For whom? I don't know - enough of everything, for everyone. But the truth is - there's no way I could be enough of everything for everyone - so this fear will always win by pretending that not being everything to everyone is somehow a failure on my part instead of simply being the nature of reality. 

Most of the time, I laugh at this fear. I don't want to be everything to everyone, so good thing I can't. But sometimes, when I'm extra tired or threadbare, the lies of fear are easier to believe. And THAT'S what these bitches did. They made me believe the lies of my fear - right there, in the middle of the day, in front of my children. And I felt defeated. Not enough. 

But that didn't last for long. An older woman walked up to me and said loudly, "You're doing great! Judging people is SO TRASHY, don't you think? Don't they realize how their ignorance must embarrass their children?" She smiled at me and said softly, "They're beautiful and so are you." I thanked her. 

And then a man a few tables away asked the twins' age. I told him they are eleven months old. He smiled, "My twin boys turn a year old this week. I wouldn't dare take them to a restaurant by myself. You're very brave and an inspiration." 

As the petty bitches left they cooed at the babies. I didn't even look at them. I was too busy sharing a moment of triumph with my kids.