America’s Shock Heard ‘Round the World

So Donald Trump won our election in 2016. That happened last night. It feels like a Black Mirror episode, the Twilight Zone, but it did happen. We are not sleeping. This is the reality of our country right now.
And the shock has ran through the country and it was felt not just in our country – but the world. I was left last night with a sense of shock and disappointment. I’m going through the stages of grief right now, taking in the experience that my family is being directly affected by this decision.
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My wife was so confident, she spent the first half of the day, reassuring me that this was not something to worry about. I felt a swell of pride for our democracy starting yesterday and so hopeful for the direction that the end of our election would go and my role in that change. As the night went on, man, my wife’s confidence was shattered and my heart was broken for our nation’s decisions fueled by hate and fear. I was in awe by the fact that just four hours earlier, I was explaining the process of our elections and was so excited to share this with my daughter. She literally was as pumped as me to watch the election night results and share in the joy of watching it.
And now this morning, I am going to have to come to terms with the fact that I have to explain to her that sometimes we don’t win. Sometimes, you don’t get what you want in life. Sometimes you have to deal with the choices that are made around you. You have to keep your head up and held high regardless of negative around you and fight harder. I also have to explain to her that you have to respect other people’s opinions and experiences.
I have to be the parent who takes the high road – and educate my child that America is great without the fear and the hate. That we are a melting pot of beautiful minds and loving people. I have to come out of the struggle I’m in to keep my shit together, so that I can be the role model she needs, to make sure she knows that it’s ok to have a difference of opinion or politics and no matter how hard it is to deal with, everything in life is change and I’m confident that we will come out of this stronger for it. Its hard to come to grips with, but I refuse to sink to the low place that this election has already taken most people.
Take heart to remember that there are people in your very family and close friends who are hurting right now. They are genuinely scared for the way this country has voted tonight. They see fear and confusion in their hearts today as they wake up to what was said to be “the impossible choice.”
I’m not a Trump supporter and I have never been. I am not someone who believes that someone should be able to roll back the clock on the progress this country has made, or that it’s okay to say the things this man has said or instill the kind of violent rhetoric his supporters have called for. However, I am also not a supporter of disrespecting the President. (Something that the Obama detractors have done for 8 years)
That means, that while I don’t respect the man our country has elected and I have severe reservations about what we may or may not have done to millions of American people he has insulted, hurt, and incited violence towards, I respect the vote and the people’s choice. Here’s to the women, Muslims, LGBTQ community, veterans, disabled and other minorities who are feeling the very real dread of the next four years. My heart is right there with you.
I believe in the right to vote. I believe in the right to express your own opinion and to have your vote count and your voices be heard. I truly believe that the people who elected Donald Trump into the highest office of the land, did so, just as I did not. Because their path is not my path and their conscience was not my conscience.
Our paths are shaped by our own life choices, or our life experience and that’s what makes America Great. It’s already great because it’s a melting pot of ideas, cultures, beliefs and personalities.
I was devastated to see this turn of events last night, I was sick to my stomach and frankly I still fear for what might come next. As much as I want to and am struggling not to be, angry and hurt and scared, I will look to the future with as calm a heart as I can and a soul of love.
For all Americans today, win or lose, the sun has come up on a new day and that is a glorious thing. The sun will continue to come up on a new day and we have the chance to unify and stand together to make sure that our progress is not taken away. One man cannot shape the entire country, but the people of that country can.
The people of this country have spoken. It’s sad and scary and sometimes, downright insane to think it’s come to this, but at the end of the day, the people have spoken.
Admittedly, I want to be angry at those who I know that have directly voted in favor of candidates that support the hateful rhetoric this pair does. The policies, ideas and promises that have been made by this pair that directly affect me and my family. I’m struggling not to be angry, to not be disillusioned by our election system and the way it played out. I’m struggling with not losing my faith in the last bit of humanity and decency we had in this country.
But struggle I will, because I refuse to sink low and spew hate and anger throughout the world – there’s enough of that going around today.
So to those of you in despair, myself included, light a fire in your belly and in the bellies of your children. They are the future of this country. They have the chance to make better choices in the future. It’s up to use to set the example, the explain that sometimes you don’t win, sometimes you don’t get what you want and you have suck it up and plan for the future change you want to see in the world.
To those of you in excitement, congratulations. Though, I ask one small request. There are legitimately people, like myself, who are scared and angry. And if you don’t see why, you are blind to the fact that this is a very real thing that is affecting many Americans today. I ask that you acknowledge that fact. I ask that you find some sense of compassion in that.
Reach out to your family and friends who are really and truly struggling to come to terms with an outcome no one expected. Curb the hateful speech, the memes calling Hillary supporters stupid, or outright gloating on social media. Its tactless and hurtful.
At the end of the day, I hope we all want to love all people of all walks of life, don’t forget that an election is just four years of our life, and at the end of the day, we still have to live with and love one another. Don’t let winning or losing this election divide your families, your friendships, or your country.
Go into this day with light and love, on both sides, and give your kids a hug. Teach the future voters of our county to respect all the humans that all bleed red affected good or bad by this election decision. Teach love and empathy and compassion. Did love trump hate last night? We can’t borrow fears from tomorrow, we can’t wallow in defeat. We can rise up and raise our heads high and go forth with a new vision and keep our faith in our country and love of our family and friends.
I’m trying my very best to spin this in a positive light and it’s fucking hard. My anxiety is on full alert. But, we are the future of America. We are responsible for the future voters of America. Sometimes, we have to burn it all down to build it back up. That’s what I’m taking solace in right now. So, hugs to you – win or lose – class should prevail. Let’s band together and love each other. Seek a different perspective. Replace hate and fear with love and understanding.
It’s not the end, but the beginning. Now is the time we come to terms with how this country is made up, the scary truth of the underbelly of our great nation. Its out in the open now, come together and unify. Love one another and know that this too shall pass.
Be kind to one another.
Love and light to all of our country.

I’m Not The Right Kind of Mom

I’ve struggled with whether or not to post this. Its been on my mind for a while. But, I do feel like moms get a bad wrap for not expressing “correct” feelings or for not being “the right kind of mom.”

It’s been weighing on me for months, really, this sense of not being good enough. Not being “cut out” to be a mom. Of questioning our decision to have a child and then myself in specific raising her. I’m deep in the anxiety that I was never meant to be a mom, that I am just not supposed to be a good one. I’m not alone. Which is why I’m not going to shy away from this topic any longer.

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And that’s because, the stigma about being a “bad mom” or a “hot mess” mom has a lot of negativity attached to it.  If you don’t love parenthood you are seen as a bad person. If you don’t want to spend all the time with your child, people look at you like you are lazy. If you don’t bathe your child every single night, you must be negligent.

Let’s get honest.

I spend a good deal of my day when I’m not working, being irritated by the singing, the talking, the climbing, the whining, the questions, the chanting of certain words like “mom” and “why.”  I spend a lot of time being annoyed by the repetitive statements or questions. I’m exhausted a majority of the time by finding my 4 year old under my feet YET AGAIN. The consistent need to be entertained and my consistent disinterest, is for sure in direct correlation.

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I’m not the mom that sits on the floor and finds joy in playing pretend with dolls for another time. I don’t want to oversee yet another one color painting and then clean it up. I don’t particularly care about bedtime stories every night or watching her make, yet another mess, with the bath water splashing.

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I’m not the right kind of mom, because we should all be loving every moment of this. We shouldn’t complain about the fact that our children are driving us nuts, that we don’t want to be surrounded by their kisses every second, and we should be grateful to have someone who loves us unconditionally. I find myself more snappy than loving, more stern than soft, more no than yes. And for that, I feel guilty. I feel like I’m screwing up my kid with my annoyance, with my irritation of her generally childlike antics, and my overall disdain for feeling smothered and claustrophobic by my child.

This is a side effect of my anxiety, I’ve learned after several months of therapy. Loud noises, repetitive statements, the endless questions grate on my nerves and I tend to lash out. I try so hard to be the mom I’m supposed to be and smile and bear it. I pick my battles, I hold off the sheer annoyance I feel, until I can’t hold it in anymore. And then for a few days or a few weeks, I withdraw into myself. I spend more time in bed than at work, I am less likely to go on adventures or rock finding excursion. I’m more harsh in my “teaching” and my sensitive little girl takes it to heart.

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I see it in her eyes when she hears “Don’t do that.” again when she’s singing the same sound over and over, louder and louder. I see it in the slump of her shoulders when I shake my head and nip the jumping on the bed, and thus landing onto me in the bud. I see the slight downturn of disappointment in her lips when she asks if we can go for a walk and I’m just not feeling it and instead say “Maybe later.”

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That makes me feel worse. Because I know she’s just being a kid. She’s not doing anything wrong and I love her to bits. I literally can’t even imagine my life without her. I’m in awe that we have a child every time I see her dance around the living room. But more often than not, I question whether I should be a mom at all. I clearly don’t enjoy a majority of it, and that’s a hard thing to admit. I don’t enjoy parenting, but I do enjoy my daughter.

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I feel like I have to justify that, because I feel like these words and sentiments automatically make people think I’m a monster. I’m terrible person, because I don’t enjoy or particularly like the idea of doing the “traditional” mom things. And I have been known to outwardly show it in the presence of my child.

I’m not the mom who enjoys going outside and playing hide and seek.

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I am not the mom who puts every single piece of scribbled artwork on the fridge.

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I am not the mom who watches movies with her without the cell phone in hand (because really? Who enjoys watching the same animated musical for the 60th time?) I am not the mom baking goodies and dessert for dinner. I am not the mom who cooks dinner every night, sometimes we feed her pizza, from the delivery and not with fresh garden products . OH NO!

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I am not the mom who schedules playdates. I am not the mom that does the dishes every night. I’m not the mom who bathes my kid every night and when I do – I leave her to play on her own. I’m not the mom who takes her to the park on fantastic weather days, every time it’s nice outside. I am not the mom who is actively sitting down to teach her how to read or write or memorize her numbers.

BUT. I am the mom who will cuddle her when she is sick, she can puke on me, and she has alot.

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I am calm and quiet when she needs someone to hug her after a hard day of being a kid. The mom that simply says, “I love you anyway.” when she’s mad enough to fling the hateful “I don’t love you!” around. I’m the mom that allows her to say “Mommy, that’s not right,” and she can speak her mind, voice her own opinions and feelings. I’m the mom with the patience for that.

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I’m the mom who stays up til late hours of the night to deck out a wagon that she will only appreciate for 20 minutes.

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I am the mom with the magic kisses for all her boo-boos. The mom who will help her crack the eggs, no matter how long it takes and how many shells I have to fish out – because I have learned this is an area I’m calm about. I’m the mom who fosters her sense of wonder and encourages her to ask those questions, even when I’m tired of answering them over and over.

I’m the mom who surprises her with elaborate birthday gifts like swingsets in the backyard.

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I’m the mom who will allow her to choose her own path – and that includes allowing her to wear whatever she wants,

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Encourages her to reach for the stars.

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Believe in fairies, and never lose sight of her imagination.

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I’m the mom that will open another package of beads that I didn’t really want to share when she asks if she can make a bracelet too. I’m the mom who diligently shows her how to thread the tiny beads onto the wire and teach her how to keep the wire sturdy and easy to work with.

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I’m not a June Cleaver mom and most days I feel like I’m failing at this, that I probably shouldn’t be a mom or I made a terrible mistake and I’m screwing up my kid in the process. If you feel like you are failing, I’m here to be a reminder to you that you are doing a great job. That while parenting isn’t rainbows and butterflies and it’s not all we post it to be; you are good enough. Your version of being a mom is unique. You don’t have to be good at or enjoy every part of it. Being a mom is usually a thankless, low paying, low incentive, morality draining job.

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But at the end of the day, you do the best you can and you know your kid knows you love them as much as you know you love them more than life without them. Hold your babies close and remember, this too shall pass and in the end, all that matters to raising beautiful human beings that you release into the wild to make their own way in this life.

Raise them with as little need of adult therapy as you can muster.

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I’m Embarrassed to be American

And if you are a woman,  I think you have good reason to be embarrassed. Let’s start this off with – if you are a Trump supporter, you aren’t going to like what I have to say. And after the new video from the Washington Post was aired, I don’t care if you like it or not.

Anywhere in our developed world, unless you are living under a rock, you have already seen this video, but let’s replay it now.

It doesn’t matter if he apologized or if it happened years ago.

Newsflash! He is still saying these things to and about women. He is still doing the things he apologizes for. He’s a damn disaster and an embarrassment. The mental gymnastics people go through to continue to support this terrible human being in the current run for our President of the United States, and justify it with “emails” is astonishing to me.

What about the allegations by cast and crew of “The Apprentice” that mention he objectified women, commented on their looks and went so far as to sexually harass them in front of co-workers? How about that softcore porn he made a cameo in? Still don’t wanna think twice about supporting him? What happened to the media shitstorm about allegations he is going ON TRIAL for rape in the 90’s of a 13 year old girl??

Instead his supporters are blaming the people who bring up allegations. Stating they just want him to look bad or they just want his money. It’s their fault, they knew how he was, they didn’t have to work for him, they could have reported it. It was a long time ago, he’s sorry. It was just locker room talk, he didn’t mean anything by it.

All ridiculous and completely astonishing defenses for this man’s behavior of women, both in the workplace and personal spaces. But we want to allow him to represent us and interact with foreign leaders of power? Can you even imagine his debate showing of interrupting Hillary and simply rebutting with “No!” “Wrong” “You can’t prove that.” while in a meeting with foreign leaders??

Where’s the substance? Where are his policies? His thoughts on veteran affairs? Oh right, PTSD sufferers are weak and he should know because he has extensive experience in MILITARY SCHOOL and never having actually been to war, dodged the draft in fact, but he surely could handle what our soldiers go through.

screenshot-5(And while I will admit that he probably didn’t mean it the way people took it, he did say it. And actual sufferers of PTSD (myself included) are allowed to take those comments how we wish and interpret them as we see fit.) Frankly those with PTSD or any other mental illness are reluctant about getting help already, because they have heard exact statements like these.

Maybe he will make another apology?

We should dub his campaign the Foot in Mouth every-ISM, apology tour.

Let’s face it, whether people want to believe it or not –

We are conditioned as a society to see fault in a powerful woman and never give her the benefit of the doubt. Even if she did the things she’s accused of but never actual proven or convicted of, people will still say she’s unfit. She’s criticized for her “robotic tone” and her “fashion sense” instead of her policies. Yet the first Presidential debate, I know more about what she will be doing as President and the plans she has in place for this country. What I have of Trump’s plan is that he doesn’t have a plan, that he is just there to interrupt her and never say anything of substance.

Can anyone tell me what his stand on education is? LGBT rights? Women’s wages? Maternity leave in the US is appalling and the lowest of countries around the world Is he going to bridge that gap?

Hillary held to decisions she made many years ago and yet it’s ok for him to simply apologize and continue his behaviors. We can all talk about “deaths” Hilary caused or didn’t cause. According to this Quora article

“more than $20 million spent in almost 1200 days … We did not investigate the attacks on our own soil on September 11, 2001, with anything like the exhaustive probing by investigators on this same date eleven years later in Benghazi. This is both telling and troubling. …. All of the Republican members of this latest committee were highly critical of a lack of security in Benghazi, yet each of them declined to provide the full amount of embassy security funding requested by President Barack Obama just prior to the attack.”

But it’s Hillary Clinton’s fault?? She did this? So does that make George W Bush at fault for the 9/11 attacks? Katrina, maybe? No? Is that because he’s a man and she’s a woman and we aren’t ready, as a patriarchal society made of privileged white heterosexual wealthy men, for a woman to call the shots?

She’s even blamed for the past actions of her husband, because in today’s society, women can’t have their own accomplishments or failures. They can’t stand alone without their male counterparts shadowing good or bad. Just like the Olympics coverage this year on female athletes.

Cosmo has compiled all those comments about what an athlete was wearing, if they looked good in a dress and whether they “swim like a man” in this article and it’s so disturbing the lengths in which people subconsciously do this to women all over the United States and usually without malicious intent. Because that’s the kind of country we live in and we are supposed to be proud of!?

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So let’s talk about emails vs tax evasion??

The biggest argument about her emails is that it left her open to hackers and could have been open to leaking secure information in an age of internet hackers and such. I get that. I can see that being an issue. However, let’s get real – the FBI investigated the method of which the deleted emails were done and found no malice. She didn’t follow the rules? I get that too. It doesn’t make her corrupt. I know I have made convenient choices so I didn’t have to log into completely different places for the exact same shit.

Should she be reprimanded? Yes. And she was investigated.

Should she apologize? Yes. And she has. Repeatedly. (But Trump can apologize IF he offended anyone with his remarks and he’s golden?)

Could she have been hacked? Sure and was she? We don’t know if a sophisticated hacker got in and got out without notice. But the fact of the matter remains that frankly even if she HAD followed protocol and used the ‘secure’ email, it’s very likely she could have still been hacked. According to this Politifact article on the emails

“Had Clinton used an @state.gov email address, it’s very likely that it would have been hacked, too. In fact, it’s known that Russian actors recently hacked the State Department email system. According to the New York Times, some State Department employees turned to private email addresses at least temporarily in order to avoid Russian hacker disruptions.”

What makes her emails so different? So fundamentally sacred and at the same time must be guarded more than anyone else’s? They aren’t. That’s the point.

I’m gonna call it like it is and say this is all about her being a woman. A woman of power. And a woman isn’t fit to run the country right? Especially if she can’t even use the right emails for her job and her husband has an affair while in the White House. Because that’s her fault too. Right?

You may argue that Donald Trump isn’t harming or “killing” people by exploiting the tax rules to get around paying taxes for the last 18 years. But let’s not forget that the taxes that we pay are used for public service like fire departments, police and other safety measures to keep our citizens safe. But he’d rather continue to put our country in debt by making us great and safe again by walling us in. Essentially getting the American people to endorse their own imprisonment for his entertainment.

The military is supported by our taxes. Do you support veterans? If you pay your taxes, you do. Trump hasn’t paid taxes in 18 years! But he has his thoughts on the way the war played out, and criticism for the way our military is run, but he’s not contributing to make it any better with anything but words and tax evasion.

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Like Hillary is being blamed for the deaths that may or may not have been caused from a chain reaction of a mistake in judgement she had with some emails, can we now blame Donald Trump for the deaths of babies who can’t eat because their government didn’t have enough money? Or the children in cities where music, art, and life skills have been cut from school funding – underpaid and overworked teachers reaching into their own pockets to further educate our children – because if he was paying his fair share, he could have contributed to keeping kids off the streets and in legit programs instead of drugs or gangs.

People are always up in arms about how “welfare queens” are scamming the system and taking all our hard earned tax money for their out of wedlock babies, because abortion is a terrible thing, but feeding those babies they want her to have is just too much. But Trump is a genius, a great businessman because he can skirt the taxes and he’s heralded as a hero. What’s the difference?

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Oh, I see. He’s a rich white man and she’s a poor woman who can’t get a job in the economy that was tanked in the Bu sh administration and has seen a significant increase in jobs under Obama. I also know many women personally who have had deadbeat dads of their children “legally” skirt the child support system (much like Trump is legally evading his taxes and avoids paying fair wages or contractual agreements for work done by employees.) and the living wage of the current working adult is not enough to actually live on or support the children being brought into this country due to abortion legalities. These women are working. These families are trying. It doesn’t make a difference. But it’s THEIR fault we are in debt?

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He talks about the debt and the fact that Hillary Clinton and Obama should have fixed it already, and he would have already fixed it, blah blah blah.He’s complaining about and claiming to be able to fix a system he has admitted to scamming. But Hillary is the corrupt one? Ya know, because “emails, ya’ll”.

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We are up in arms because a black athlete protests the flag and the national anthem and states “We need to do better”, but Trump comes out of the gate hollering about making America great again (in essence also saying We need to do better) and he’s a damn hero to the nation of white supremacists and rich politicians and business leaders?!

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This circus makes no sense to me. And I can’t wrap my head around how people are still on board to have him as President.

But this man can say appalling things, contribute to rape culture, bigotry, misogyny, racism, and fear mongering and just wash it clean with an “apology” and no action to back it up. No real plans to help fix the problems he’s helped create.

I call bullshit.

This is the country we live in. The country of hypocrisy, blind eyes, and privilege. The country we are supposed to be proud of. That has a military we are supposed to support. But only us, Trump doesn’t need to pay a fair share to that to claim a winning fix to it. A country based on a “christian values” while we allow someone who is in line to RUN THE COUNTRY to say and do whatever he wants and there’s always an excuse or an accepted half-hearted apology.

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Let’s say if you still support this man, we aren’t ever going to agree and you should hide and/or remove me from your feed before you feel the need to debate me on it.

 

Breaking the Silence

I’ve been silent for months. I know. I’ve just been really needing me time. Time for me. I haven’t reached that place, but I had to break the silence because Orlando is really heavy on my heart. This is long, it’s rambly. I’m not really editing as I go. I apologize in advance, because I just have to get this out.

June 12th is an emotional day for me every year. Every year, I wake up that morning and innately know what day it is. I can go days and months without thinking about what it means to be June 12th which each passing year, but on that morning – every year, I remember it.

Let’s back up a bit…. It’s relevant I promise.

I was in college in 2002; freshman year. The first person I met was Katy. Honestly, the first words out of her mouth was “Hey you want to go get some food?” And with that, we were bonded. I was the shy kid moving from my small town and living in the dorm, on my own for the first time ever. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know anyone. That’s how I make friends. People literally force themselves on me. I’m starting to see a pattern.

Anyway, we were inseparable. The first few weeks in my college life, I was taking a “Diversity Class” and it would discuss all sorts of diversity issues. I was from a small town. I didn’t know what it meant to be gay. I didn’t know a gay person (I actually knew quite a few and had no idea!). I was a born again Christian. Katy and I had the same Diversity professor, but different time slots.

So, we had the same assignment. Write an autobiography about yourself. The twist? We had to write about our beliefs on very controversial things and also write about what in your life shaped that belief. I think I still have the paper I wrote on it, through the lenses of a completely different life perspective than I have now. Anyway, I’m remembering that the questions were things like “How do you identify religiously?” “What in your life made you come to this belief? And the big one “How do you feel about homosexuality?” And “Why do you feel the way you do about this?”

I’ve always been an open book. Basically, I was even more of an open book, more blunt and less tactful back then. So, I was completely honest in my paper. My professor was stating we wouldn’t be sharing them or reading them in class. So why not. Katy and I decided to swap papers to proofread and we were so close, I didn’t really care because she knew everything about me already. (Except that these are subjects you don’t just conversate about, so she didn’t really).

We swapped papers and went to our respective rooms to read them. I read all about her Catholic upbringing, her Catholic high school. Katy was the typical sorority girl/tomboy on the outside. It got to the part about us answering the questions and how we identify and believe in things. This is when I learned that Katy was gay. I had no idea. I was shocked.

My first reaction was “She doesn’t look gay… She doesn’t act gay.” Don’t ask me what I thought looking or acting gay meant. I have no idea.

Now. Ask me what my very best friend was reading in my paper? Yea. It was that bad.

I wish that I could find the paper and write it out word for word, but basically it was “God is the one true God. The Bible believes that homosexuality is wrong and so I do as well.” Lots of very frank ideas of what I thought was going to happen to a gay person if they didn’t repent and they can choose not to be gay.

FACEPALM. Right? I know. In my defense, (and it’s flimsy at best) I was brainwashed by church and I wasn’t taught to think for myself growing up.

I hadn’t known Katy that long. But, I can say that I was connected to her in a way that hasn’t been matched before or since. I knew KATY. I didn’t know KATY the GAY GIRL. This is how she came out to me. And I immediately felt ignorant and so unbelievably awful. We actually came together that night and she was pretty concerned about my reaction, obviously.

But I instantly knew I loved her. At that moment, it hit me, she was a person. And God was about love there’s no way He didn’t love Katy. And it pretty much started the descent into non-belief for me. We sat up for hours in the common room and in her dorm room and talked about all of it.

Life went on like normal. I was friends with a gay girl. I didn’t know what that meant and it was only a part of her. She wasn’t gay, it was just a piece of who she was. I never looked at her as a gay girl. She was just Katy to me. Which looking back on, I felt astonished that I would ever think it was a person’s whole identity.

She took me to her hometown and I met her girlfriend at the time. I was uncomfortable and it was weird. I remember when we got out of her car at the coffee shop to meet her girlfriend and she shook her redhead as she laughed at me and said, “You ready to go get some gay coffee??” I was terrified.

To this day, I have no idea why I was that terrified to meet another human being. Another girl my age and she’s just another girl. We were all girls and Katy was my best friend. I loved her so much and there wasn’t any reason to be terrified. Of course, by the time we sat down with Kellie and we all got to hang out – the details are fuzzy – but I was instantly comfortable.

Here’s where it gets complicated. This is when I fucked stuff up. So, I was dating a guy at the time, who the day after Valentine’s Day broke up with me, by coming out to me. We were pretty serious, and then boom, “I am attracted to dudes, but we can still be friends.” When he came out to me, he and Katy started hanging out more together. I felt left out.

I started to get jealous of their relationship and I began to realize that maybe this dating girls things is an option for me. I didn’t even know that was an option I signed up for a dating site. A gay one. Hah. I didn’t put a picture up though, because I didn’t know how to this was going to go.

In the midst of this, a few of our mutual friends called me in my dorm and asked me a very direct question.

“Is Katy Gay?” One of the girls was her roommate. I didn’t know what to say. I knew how I felt about someone being gay before I found out that I could like gay people. I was afraid of answering that question, but I wasn’t prepared. I knew it was wrong to discuss with someone else, it wasn’t my right. I knew it felt wrong to talk about it at all. But, I didn’t know the full extent of “coming out” or in this case “outing someone” as gay. I had no idea the entire world of fear and discrimination at that time. I was naive and I had no idea.

Instead, I said, “That’s not a question you should ask me, why not ask her yourself?” I figured, it wasn’t my place to say anything. But of course, the instant they words came out of my mouth, I knew I confirmed their suspicions. I didn’t have to agree or confirm. They assumed based on my non-answer.

What happened from that point and the next week or so, is a blur and I don’t really remember if I told Katy about the exchange (in my mind, I like to think I did. I don’t really remember). The next thing I remember, she’s coming down the hallway to confront me with the two girls who originally called me. They had told her that I told them she was gay. She was pissed. She was livid that I would out her to basically our entire social circle at the time.

I didn’t blame her. I didn’t do it on purpose and now I still believe she had a reason to be pissed at me. I fucked it up. My ignorance allowed me to hurt someone very close to me. She refused to speak to me for the remainder of our freshman year. The last two months of my freshman year was lonely. I spent a lot of time online and feeling out the gay site online. I was IM’ing when that was a real thing and by the end of April, I was connected with Kim and that’s where we started.

I remember hearing in the rumor mill; Katy was very pissed that I was faking being gay and I was dating a girl for kicks. She told anyone she could that I was a fake, that I hated gay people and it was just a phase. I was just out to hurt another gay person. While she never actually spoke to me again, and I have no way to confirm if this is true, I was devastated that she felt that way about me. And she was totally within her right to be pissed.

Anyway, end of May, I headed home for summer. I didn’t get to say goodbye, I had tried to IM Katy, several times – I had tried to get her to talk to me, to see my side of the story or at least allow me to apologize. I sent her a message on her birthday, I don’t know if she ever read my email or if she just saw my name and deleted it. She stonewalled me. With good reason.

I was visiting Kim’s family and we had gone to a large theme park for the day. This was before I had a cell phone. When we got back to the house, I had a message from several people, my grandma had been calling me all day. She was calling because my college ex-boyfriend was trying to get in touch with me and it was very important.

What did he want? That was weird. We didn’t really talk as much after the ice cold shoulder from Katy. I called him back and was snarky about it. “Why are you bothering my grandma all day, jeez?”

I remember his words as clear as day. His voice rang through the phone like nails on a chalkboard. “I know you and Katy aren’t really getting along right now. But, I wanted you to know – she died.”

“Are you joking, Rob? That’s not funny?”

“It’s not a joke, Rachael. Katy died. She was killed in a car accident. I just wanted you to know.”

This is where I broke down. I was literally inconsolable, for what I remember feeling like hours – it was probably not hours. I felt my heart break, shatter really, that day. The day I realized she was dead. She was not here anymore and she would never forgive me. I was 19 at the time. Katy turned 19 that June.She died just a month and a half later. She was my best friend.

And the reason I bring all this up, because Katy was born on June 12th.

She was killed in a road rage accident with her girlfriend Kellie (who survived) in the car with her in July of 2003. The next several weeks were blurry, but it was well established by anyone who talked to me on the phone, that I was not welcome at her funeral. I wasn’t allowed and they would likely call the police or make a scene if I showed up. I didn’t blame her parents or her girlfriend (the one I met in the coffee shop) at the time. I still don’t – I totally understand why I wasn’t welcome.

I was very very sad that I didn’t get to say goodbye to my best friend. She died never knowing how much I loved her. I live with the regret of not trying hard enough to make her understand. Mostly, I live with the fact that my ignorance of gay and lesbian struggles broke a connection I had with a very special girl. A connection that most people never find in their lifetime.

Katy opened up a door to me that I didn’t know was there. I didn’t know that it was an option. She helped me turn down a different journey in my life, one that defines who I am now. If she hadn’t opened that door, I wouldn’t be who I am.

I would still be that small town, ignorant girl who hated people for things I knew nothing about. I know that hatred. That judgement. I know what it feels like to have that hatred, disgust, and judgement. I know the thoughts, the justifications, the rationality, the logic that have gone through these people’s minds. Because I’ve had some of those thoughts before I met Katy.

The shooter in Orlando is the sole person who killed these people in Orlando, but he’s not the only one responsible.

  • It’s the ignorance of people like younger me. Brought up in a society where this kind of thing is the norm.
  • It’s the vague words on a message board or sharing on Facebook ‘meme of silence’ and offers of prayers to a God that some people believe is using this as a form of punishment.
  • It’s the priests, preachers and religious leaders who teach their congregation that homosexuals are evil and sinful. And somehow solidify in the minds of many people that it’s ok to do these kinds of things to another human being.
  • It’s the parents who tell their children they can’t play with the kid next door who has two moms. They might kiss in front of her and they might have to explain what “gay” is to their kid. Oh dear!
  • It’s the parents who are up in arms about a book, I Am Jazz, about a transgender girl. A public school wants to read this to a classroom of 6 year olds. The book is geared specifically for that age range to teach tolerance and help facilitate the conversation about transgender kids. Helping those who are transgender and helping those who don’t know what transgender is, understand.
  • It’s the slap on the wrist for police officers who gun down or target people of specific color. The utter disregard for the victims in those shootings based on their race or their past choices or actions – and in some cases based solely on the color of their skin or the clothes they wear. Making the killer in these cases the victim. That’s a problem.
  • It’s the fact that some church leaders teach and condone the bombing of abortion clinics in the name of God. The freedom of religion has trampled on the rights of individual women to do with their bodies as they see fit.
  • It’s the desensitization to gun violence in so many of our citizens. Because it happens so often. Because people are so damn afraid of a completely fabricated notion that someone is going to ban all the guns in the world. When all we really want to make it just as hard to get a gun as it is to get an abortion or a driver’s license.
  • It’s the media sensationalizing the terrorist acts and the fact that people get on social media and spew their outrage from behind a computer screen but never actually reach out to those who are affected. The incident will be “viral” for a day or two, maybe a week and then we forget. We don’t give it another mention or passing thought.
  • It’s the lack of empathy in our children. The lack of manners, the instant gratification that kids expect. It’s the catering to our children’s every whim, never allowing them to fail, doing their work for them, explaining to them how they should feel instead of teaching them to recognize and cope with those emotions appropriately. (Yes. I’m guilty of this as well)
  • It’s the fact that we as a society need something to be up in arms about. Something to offend us. And we fuel the hatred and the bigotry with this constant offense. And it’s the fact that people don’t give a shit if they offend someone else. There is no sensitivity left. We no longer act like human beings, but savages online – not in person, because we are fake in person. Online we have no face. We have no consequences.
  • It’s the fact that moms tear each other apart because of differences in opinions. Moms judge each other, feel shitty about themselves and are overall stressed out. They tear each other down, in turn creating a chain reaction to affect every decision they make for themselves and their families.
  • It’s the fact that a gorilla made more of a splash on my newsfeed than the death of several human beings. Innocent human beings. I saw more defending the life of a gorilla than that of human beings. The public outrage and outcry for that gorilla was astonishing. The comments about that mom (and I’m not saying she’s an awesome one or anything, but who is?) literally made me sick for that mother.
  • It’s the father who are teaching their sons that its okay to rape an unconscious girl and get 20 minutes of fun out of it. There shouldn’t be consequences for bad choices. That the girl was drunk and had it coming to her. It’s her fault she was raped and he will belief that his actions are always justified.

It’s the fact that we have a bigot in the Presidential race and while in the beginning I didn’t want to believe that he stands for what Americans are about, but with his complete and utter domination of the Republican primary, I realize, the beliefs of Donald Trump does represent a large number of Americans.

Those Americans believe that if you aren’t a “pure” Christian straight white man, you don’t belong in the land of the free. It’s these Americans that believe their way is the only way and they have to force everyone else to believe the same way. They teach their kids this dogma and people have forgotten how to think for themselves.

If I hadn’t thought for myself in college, I would have shunned Katy, ridiculed or belittled her. Ignored her even. I wouldn’t have been touched by her in my life and she wouldn’t have changed my life in such a drastic and very good way. If I hadn’t met Katy and she hadn’t opened my eyes, I would be a Trump Supporter right now. That’s a scary ass thought.

I’m glad that I’m not. I’m glad that Katy helped shape me into a good human being. A loving and caring mom.

Look, honestly, I’ve always said, “I’m not a real lesbian” and I don’t live with the “target on my back” as most of my gay and lesbian friends online have. Like these people in Orlando has experienced. But this still hits home to me. As a mom, married to a woman, with a daughter, this does affect me.

I’m coming to terms that it’s not a movie theatre, it’s not a church, it’s not a nightclub. No where is safe anymore. No one is safe anymore.

I haven’t felt the discrimination (other than the 6 year hiatus from my dad) and I have been lucky enough to realize I was kinda gay in my adult years. I didn’t have to come out in high school and endure the bullying from teenagers.

Until Orlando, I was in a bubble. I didn’t fear talking about my wife in public. I didn’t fear being out to my co-workers. I didn’t think twice when my wife and I would each take Punky’s hand and trot through a grocery store parking lot.

I do now. Not only because it is not safe for me. It’s not safe for my daughter. Acts like this and my reaction shapes her future self and her world view. She is learning along with her peers from their parents what this act of violence means. Those beliefs will begin to shape her as a person. She and her peers will grow up to be a part of this society we live in, to lead it eventually.

Some of those kids, are being told it’s God’s Will. It’s God punishing us. Or those people in the club deserved it because they were an abomination. They were just freaks. They don’t matter. They are dirty. They are sinners. They are weird. It serves them right.

It’s not just unsafe for me. This shooter planned this massacre after seeing a couple KISS in front of his kids. We all know it’s not that couple’s fault. But I bet, we are all wondering who it was that triggered that kind of response? Whose act of love sparked this senseless act of terrorism on so many innocent lives. Was their act of love a catalyst to propel this man into a mass shooting.

Who wants that shit on their conscience?!

So, now, when I skip through the grocery store parking lot, my wife and I flanking our kid on either side, hand and hand – I will always in the back of my mind wonder if someone in a car or someone coming out of the store is going to shoot up a grocery store in a predominantly gay neighborhood or something equally as destructive as a direct result of my love for my family in public.

The LGBT community is hurting right now because of the attack in Orlando. It stirred up some old feelings and wounds in me on a personal level. But it should be the entire United States that mourns the loss of these people, because if there is any humanity left in the world, people would know this kind of thing is wrong. We should all be hurting.

As human beings. We all bleed red. No matter the beliefs that divide us. No matter the past or the present, we can make a difference in someone else’s life. Katy is a testament to that. And while I know I will never know if she could have forgiven me, I’m reminded of what a treasure she was on my life and my path. For that I will be eternally grateful.

For this act to happen on on her birthday hit me hard. She would have been 32 last Sunday. Who knows what she would have been doing for her birthday that night. She could have been in a nightclub. Hell, I could have been in a nightclub.

It brought me back to the stark reality that things are not ok. That humanity and compassion are fading away. And fast.

I am only one person. I can’t make big changes. I’m not a loud and proud advocate or activist. I am not that person. But I will pledge to make sure my daughter loves people for themselves and I will do my part to make a change, by raising up a decent human being with empathy and compassion and kindness for all PEOPLE.

If you can’t do anything else. Do that. Make the next generation the change we want to see in our world and society. If we all band together to build better futures for our kids and teach them the most fundamental and basic lessons in treating each other with dignity and love, I am certain we will someday see the decline and hopefully the extinction of this hatred that has been boiling over in the last few years.

Maybe not in my lifetime, but eventually.

To those in Orlando, I promise to bring up my daughter to know that this is not acceptable. Teach her to think for herself and allow her to make the hard choices on her own. Give her opportunities to succeed and help her cope when she fails. Shape her into a decent human being in the name of all the people who lost their lives in that nightclub.

Our Adventures Thus Far

So, I had every intention at the beginning of the year, to really be more consistent with the blog. I am just not feeling the writing stuff as much as I am listening to Podcasts and I have thrown around the idea of starting my own, with just Punky and I talking. We have some crazy fun conversations sometimes. But, I think since I’ve been following most of the same people here and on Facebook/Instagram I don’t really have anything new to talk about that I don’t already do on Facebook/Instagram.

But, I did come across the most amazing thing this month. It started with me being gifted a Birchbox subscription for Christmas. I love it. I am not a big make-up girl, but I love getting mail that’s not bills and it’s always like opening a present every month. I get stuff for my hair, perfume, and then random make-up things I play with or give away. All in all it’s been a pretty awesome thing. Upon seeing Mommy receive these fun boxes in the mail, Punky expressed that she wished people sent her mail.

So Kim and I looked into subscriptions for kids. There are a lot of them to choose from, but man, this one is my favorite. We got Koala Crate and I’ve been eyeballing it since I first saw it many moons ago in a Facebook promoted post or something. But, I’ve always been kind of skeptical about doing subscription stuff for Punky. She flakes out pretty easily. I bought a subscription to ABC Mouse and while she loved it, she needed a lot of help or had to use one of our computers when we needed it and the subscription soon lost its value. We got her a subscription to an android app for books. And she spent a great deal of time with it, I don’t remember what its called right now, Owl something or another, but it’s just books for all ages and topics and she just had to touch the picture and it read the book her. She played it for about a week and that too went off on the wayside.

So imagine my skepticism when I read I was going to have to spend $20 a month just to send my kid some trinkets in a box. And I didn’t get to pick the topic or the theme for the month. I didn’t know what would be coming until she opened it. I can’t prepare. It’s a bunch of crafts and I’m a crafty mom, but I don’t want to make a mess or have to do too much that I have to be involved in. So, all in all, this seemed like a bad idea, but Punky really wanted mail. They had a special for $10 off the first box and since I pay $10 for my Birchbox a month, I figured, we could try it out and see what came of it. And if Punky really didn’t care for it, or wasn’t engaged enough, I would just say $10 well spent, no more needed.

Our crate came today and I did a huge post on Facebook about how much I love and how awesome it was and it was only after the first of THREE activities. Now, I’m blogging about it, because I needed a better space to give me the time and attention our fun today really deserves.

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Punky immediately noticed there was a package on the porch and while she didn’t know it was for her, she sure loves opening the boxes that come to the house. She just loves it, no matter who it’s from. THEN, I read who the box was addressed to and it said her name and she was so excited that she got a package in the mail. She was just delighted.

We opened it up and found all these neat things she couldn’t stop touching. But, all the pieces were durable and kid friendly. So that was nice. She man-handled the latches on the cardboard for the windcar and it didn’t rip or break, and I was impressed. Because she is good at destroying stuff.

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We put the car together and there are four sails to go with it, made with different shapes, sizes and materials. She was able to follow my simple step by step instructions and put the car together, ‘mostly’ by herself. Which was awesome for me, because while I like to do things with my kid, I am not a sit down and play kinda mom. I really liked that everything came in the crate. Like, literally everything was in there. From the stickers to hold it together, to the oil pastel crayons to decorate. Once I sat at the table with her, I didn’t have to get up again to go get tape or scissors or whatever else might have been needed. It just came with it.

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So, I balked at the $20 a month when I went to check it out originally. But, since the box has come; I realize the $20 is probably a lot less than it should be priced. It’s affordable for the quality, attention to detail and the genius idea they have. It’s tailored to my kid’s age, so I don’t have to worry about it being too big for her or too little. They made WIND fun for my kid.

With the windsock, the second activity we did, she was able to see how the wind outside moves things and in what direction it moves. All the stuff came with it, down to the string you need to tie it to something. Seriously. Every piece that you need for these activities is in the crate. It’s so easy to use and it’s exciting to see her eyes light up when she makes something on her own and then gets to play with it.

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We took the windsock outside and let it blow in the wind, talking about how the wind moves and such. The final activity in the box was a “weather chart”. It has a laminate type surface and re-useable stickers with the different weather on it. Sunny, Windy, Snowing, etc. she gets to change her chart everyday to show the temperature and the weather and then check her windsock to see how windy it is. She’s absolutely delighted.

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As a mom who’s not hands on all the time, this is the perfect amount of activity and engagement for me. The supplies are phenomenal and the quality of the items inside are both kid friendly, simple, and well worth the money. I am looking forward to the next crate to come. I am hoping to blog on this each month, because this Koala Crate is not just teaching my kid about different things, this month being wind, but it’s teaching me ways to spend time with my kiddo that doesn’t involve disingenuous Barbie dialogue or playing an app on my phone.

So, if you are intrigued and you want to try it out, I think you should! They have crates that are specific to the child’s age. We have the Koala Crate for 3-4 year olds, but you can get crates for up to 16 years of age I believe.

If you want to try it out and you want the $10 off your first month. If you are skeptical like I was, use my code and you can get that $10 off using my code to refer you to this awesome company. http://doodle.kiwicrate.com/Refer?i=RachaelF6

I’m excited to go on this Koala Crate journey with my kid and hopefully you will join us! #koalacrate

 

 

Three has entered the building

SO when Punky turned three last year everyone said, “Oh, everybody says two is bad, blah blah, but THREE they are worse.” I can’t even tell you how many times I heard, “It’s not the terrible twos, it’s the terrifying threes!” So, like all fun mom antecedents, they never come with flowers or rainbows. No motherhood stories from other moms are not ever fairytales, but war stories. I swear, could I have gotten one nice labor and birth story when I was pregnant?

Nope. Anyway, to say I was a little concerned that my sweet, usually well tempered two year old would suddenly get a demon gripped into her little body and wreck havoc on our life, is an understatement. I was terrified for three.12369093_10154430312624148_3232621469315260783_n

But then three came and nothing really changed. She had a sassy mouth and a big personality, sure. She was a little spoiled, probably a lot entitled and yet, still there wasn’t much for her to tantrum about.

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We have been the kind of parents who talk to Punky. About everything. We talk it out, we discuss, we reason. It’s why she could tell me she was frustrated when she was two and ask for help. She literally said, “Mommy, I’m FR-uster-ated! Can you help me?” So there was not real tantrum, maybe a yelling match or a stomping the feet, some pouting. I won’t say she was an angel, but she was a pretty good kid with probably 95% of the time, a sweet, loving, kind little girl.

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***Cue the last couple weeks***

She will be four in March, meaning she has been three for 10 whole months. Without too much issue. Then suddenly, every day is THREE. I totally get it. But I wish it would have happened sooner. It’s like she has held in her three-ness and suddenly its combusted and it’s leaking out by the gallons and exploding all over her moms, the house, the world.

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I swear, I say one little thing and she’s gone down stairs for “alone time” (which is really just her self induced time out). Just the other day I said, “Love, be careful on the chair, you will bonk you head.” and she looked at me like she took it as a personal insult that came out of my mouth and hurtled at her at lightning speed. To which she crossed her arms, gave me a very hurt look and stomped off to her bedroom.

Leaving me looking at her like she’s lost her damn mind, because I don’t know what I said to offend her.

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When she’s not huffy, pouting or whiny; she’s outright mean. Like full demon child mean. I don’t know where this came from! She’s not in daycare, she’s not in school, she’s barely around other kids her age, and we certainly don’t talk to each other the way she talks to us right now.

Oh and the hitting! Goodness gracious, if we tell her no or we take something from her because she’s done something wrong, look out for flying fists, swinging feet and the ever so awesome attempt to bite enabled. (AND she’s never bit anyone in her life, unless she’s been mad. She wasn’t a biter as a baby.)

Most recently, we have had a severe regression in the potty training. We’ve been potty training for over a year. She was doing really well. In the last couple weeks to a month, she’s decided she doesn’t need to pee in the potty anymore and just pisses on everything and anything that isn’t the potty.

It’s frustrating as hell and I’m trying my best not to enact the spanking tactic that older generations used. I pride myself in not shaming her, trying to be understanding and being as patient as I can. But when this kid stands in the middle of the living room floor, 2 minutes after I asked her to go to the bathroom and she argued she didn’t need to, and then pisses right there on the floor, my patience is at the end of the rope.

She looks cute right?! SO sweet. Think again. LOL!

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So we have a rule that she starts the day with underwear, if she pees in them throughout the day, she must wear a pullup the rest of the day. She hates pullups. So when she pees in her underwear and I start for the pullup, she’s yelling how she didn’t know and Mommy is mean and she’s not fair. Of course, I just reply with “you know the rules and we will try again tomorrow.”

At quiet time before she goes to bed, she gets to have her tablet if she hasn’t peed in her pants all day. Night before last, she peed on the floor right before quiet time and was informed she didn’t get to have her tablet. She began hit me in quick succession. Of course, it was more like a toddler slap fight that I wasn’t participating in. Then she kicked my shin. I told her it was bedtime and we needed to change her clothes.

We marched down to her room  (Luckily, I didn’t have to carry her down the stairs kicking and screaming this time). While on her bed, putting her arms through her nightgown she lunged at me ….. with her MOUTH. Like a tiny little piranha.  She’s screaming how I’m a mean mommy and she hates me and I’m not a nice girl. All while trying her very best to bite me. To the point where I pulled my arm away and she’s grabbing at my arm with her hands to bring it to her gnashing mouth like she’s ready to tear into the flesh of a turkey leg! Wild eyes and all.

I finally got her dressed, didn’t attempt the hug or kiss, because goodness I didn’t want to get close enough to lose an ear. I said goodnight and I love you, to which she retorted “I hate you, mean mommy” accompanied by a blood curdling scream. I closed the door and waited outside.

She says the meanest shit behind her bedroom door. I’m not sure if she says it because she knows I’m out there or she does it because she thinks if the door is shut, I can’t hear the stuff coming out of her little mouth.

Like, I don’t know where she gets the angry words she says in there, but I let her go until I hear her come to the door, open it and try to escape. I simply point at the bed and say, “It’s bedtime.” She gets pissed and starts the hitting all over. It’s like a damn ball of fire has ignited and it doesn’t stop til she’s all burned out.

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I pick her up this time and put her back in her bed. She’s kicking me by this time and trying to hit me in the face. It’s very difficult to restrain little hands and carry a child safely back to the bed. All while trying really hard not to smack the shit out of her and keep my composure and patience.

After a few more rounds of that, she gives up, because really, Mommy is bigger and more stubborn than she is. She’s climbs in bed and once she’s able to talk to me, I will sit on her bed, hug her close and tell her I love her even when she’s mad.

“I’m just upset Mommy!” I will nod my head and say, “I know, my love. And it’s ok to be upset. But it’s not ok to hit your moms or bite them.” she snuggles closer and replies, “I know. I was just upset. I’m sorry.”

I tell her I love her, tuck her into bed and remind her to stay in her bed unless she’s got to pee. And she does that. Usually. All cried out and exhausted, I think, she simply passes out.

I tell that story, because last night, we had a similar incident. Its happened so frequently with the potty training regression that I’m prepared for it, waiting for it. I can basically feel the tantrum boiling up inside her until it explodes all over me.

My little princess is about to be possessed by the angry demon inside her tiny body!

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Last night, she had gone all day without an ‘accident’ (for lack of a better word, because I really don’t think they are accidents) and she was allowed to take her tablet to quiet time. About 30 minutes into quiet time, I hear her cry out and her tiny voice is dismayed and upset. The whining started and I knew ….. she peed herself.

I sighed, and waited. Yup, Kim called me downstairs and I told Punky to give Mama back the tablet that she can’t have it anymore. She was so mad, she screamed and yelled. I went to get her new clothes and when I came back, she had relinquished the tablet. Not without a barrage of mean words or screaming, but thus far had not hit anyone or thrown anything.

I braced myself for the worst when I bent down to put her underwear on her, expecting her to smack me in the head or something. Nothing happened, she just said, “I hate you and mama. You are not my favorite mommy.” to which I said, “I understand, love.”

She said, “I’m mad at you!” I said, “I know, love.” She responded with “I hate you and I don’t like you!” I said, “I love you even when you’re mad.”

She headed to her bed, climbed in and I thought, I don’t reward the good stuff enough. I know she just pissed in the middle of her bedroom floor, but she didn’t HIT me or BITE me – that’s something.

So, I sat down with her and said, “You peed on your floor and you know you shouldn’t have. SO you can’t have your tablet tonight.”

“I know. I’m mad about that.”

“I know you are mad, but do you know what you’re not doing?”

“What Mommy?”

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“You are using your words and not your fists. You aren’t hitting anyone. See, you can be mad and upset, but you don’t have to hit people.” I kissed her on the cheek and said, “I will let you watch one movie before bed, because you handled your anger appropriately.

Kim of course said, “Didn’t she just say she hated us?!”

And she did. But for me, I want Punky to know she can tell me when she’s mad at me, I want her to feel comfortable talking to me about anything, including those negative feelings and emotions she might have. So, for me, I would prefer she said mean words, than lash out with violence.

So, it was a win last night in my book. Hopefully, it will spark a change in her dealing with her anger, because it’s tough being three. I sure hope four is better. (Cue the horror stories……)

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New Year, New Beginnings

Well, we survived 2015. It was a rough and pretty tough year. We had a lot of things that went wrong and not too many things that went right. I am not ashamed to say, I’m very glad to see 2015 come and go.

In 2016, I will be working at home and spending more time with my kid. Hopefully, I will find the reason for my funk and crawl my way out of it. Who knows, I might even take my meds consistently for more than half the year.

Social anxiety and agoraphobia took its hold on me in 2015, the causes are yet to be seen; even though I attend weekly therapy sessions. I’m not finding them to be any help really. But, I have a beautiful kid and she’s smart, and funny, and kind. She will get me through whatever rough patch my heart and mind have teamed up to battle me with.

In the meantime, I went through my pictures from 2015; the ones I have chronologically put in my hard drive and pulled out my very favorite of the year. As always, by month, here are my favorite 12 pictures.

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I don’t generally make New Year’s Resolutions, I’m terrible at keeping them. So I am not doing that. I’m just going to go with the flow of the year, as always and try to be grateful for the things that do create happiness in my life.

Hope your family has a happy new year. 2016 will be the year things all turn around (I hope).

 

Christmas Eve “Eve”

The kid is in the tub, so I have a minute of quiet to myself. I never realized how much I craved that until this last couple months. It’s been so long since I looked at this blog or read anything on it, wordpress didn’t even remember my login.

For that I’m sad. Maybe the new year will bring a better blogger out in me. Because this year has brought a not too awesome person out in me. I’ve spent the last few months feeling like a failure as a wife and a mother and in general … a person.

I’m not really sure why or how that happened. I’m still trying to figure it out. I have so much in my life to bring happiness and love in my heart and yet, it’s heavy with sadness, riddled with anxiety. And most days, I am finding it harder to get out out of bed or breathe than it is to simply live.

I’ve spent a good portion of the last couple months on my couch. Binge-watching Netflix, maybe that’s true what they say, those who binge-watch Netflix are the most depressed. I don’t know. It seems relevant today.

Don’t get me wrong, I have an excellent job and I love doing it, when I’m there. When I can make myself get out of bed and actually go there. Luckily, this job has been so compassionate about my anxiety and agoraphobia, giving me health days and working with me to get set up at home. In a few short weeks, I will be able to work from home. That’s a step I’m hoping pulls me out of this funk. Will it? I don’t know anymore.

I look at this kid.

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I’m more in awe every moment that we have a kid. And an ALMOST four year old at that. Everytime she calls me Mom I just melt. But, I can’t bring myself to stop cocooning myself in my computer and my couch to enjoy her. To really show her how in awe of her I am. To tell her just how in love I am with her. I hope she knows. I wish I didn’t wonder if she knew that.

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I don’t feel connected to anyone in my life. Including my wife. The one person I love more than any other.  I don’t communicate, I don’t move, I don’t do anything. I feel more like a shell of a person than a living breathing person.

I hope to change that in the new year.

So with that, my 2016 goals are simple to most people, but sure to challenge me in every way.

  • Take Punky to more playdates
  • Perfect Attendance for at least half the year at work
  • Take my meds consistently
  • Communicate with my wife
  • Spend less time on the computer

I don’t know if there is any chance I will actually do these things. But hopefully, it will make me a more happy, less angry person. I don’t know the person I have become in the last few months. I don’t know how I got here and I’m not sure I see the light anywhere at the end of this path.

But, I have hope. And I have resolve. And … I have support. More support than I should have in my life. This too shall pass. How ever long it takes, whatever needs to be done, this too shall pass.

I know this post is heavy. Not exactly in the spirit of the season. But I had to get it out, put it somewhere. This is the only place that’s mine alone. So for that, I’m sorry. This too shall pass. It’s just a moment in time. May the new year be better for my heart, for my mind, and for my relationships.

Happy Holidays everyone and may your new year be bright.

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Abandoned Corner of the Internet

I know I have simply abandoned my blog and for that I’m super sad. But lately, lots of things make me super sad. It’s a sad life to live when you find victory in just getting out of bed and going to work. And staying there. Mental struggles in my head are pretty rampant right now. I absolutely love my job and it’s sooooo much less stress than the old job, I just have no idea what the problem is. I’m working with a therapist to figure this shit out, but so far, I just feel like I’m floating around, buoyed by the sense that I have to keep going, just because that’s life and that’s what you are expected to do as an adult.

But, somedays, I feel like a disservice as a wife and a mom. It’s been difficult to engage in much. I having more and more anxiety and less nights of sleep. More nights of nightmares of shit that won’t actually happen and less pretend smiles. It really frustrates me that I don’t have a reason to be “depressed”. I have no reason to be the way I am.

I just am.

And there’s no reason for it.

Not when I have so much more in my life that is worth every bit of happiness I should be experiencing.

I do the best I can and I don’t feel like it’s enough. But, we have had some adventures, so I suppose that’s something.

We have been enjoying the nice Fall weather that looks like it might stick around finally.

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We have been spending time with friends in the Pumpkin Patch and carving pumpkins.

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And we have been counting down the days to Halloween. Punky is really looking forward to Halloween right now. When I asked her what she wanted to be for Halloween and she responded with “Kitty Fairy”. I was dumbfounded by what that meant, so we sort of pieced things together.

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There’s so much we have done and I can’t find much joy in any of it. It’s the hardest thing to admit. To myself, to the world. I just don’t know how to get out of this funk. It just gets worse. I can’t make myself get up off the couch and actually leave my house. It’s a struggle to get to work. A job I really like. It’s a struggle to dance with my kid. It’s a struggle to do anything but sit in my own thoughts and wonder where things went wrong and how to get back on track.

I have so much that I should be light about, and yet, my heart is too heavy to believe any of it.

Maybe a new year, god it’s already almost 2016! Maybe a new year will wash my slate clean – I don’t really want to wait that long, but dragging myself out of this hole of anxiety and depression has been a battle for several months. I am hanging on by my fingernails, for dear life.

Just making it. Doing the minimum and doing my best to not effect my kid with this funk.

Not So “Microblog Monday” – Teaching Consequences Without Fear

I started this blog as a way to connect with like minded parents who might be raising their kids without religion. I know I mostly don’t touch on it. The reason for that is mostly because that aspect of our parenting has very little effect on us or our day or our relationship with our kid. The absence of religious teaching in our parenting, is just that, an absence.

The fact that we don’t include religious teachings into our parenting, doesn’t change how to we parent much. We will instill the concepts of right and wrong; cause and effect; and rewards and consequences.

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We still teach her manners and using please and thank you, not interrupting adults, and using “nice words”. And none of these have to be done with religious upbringing.

I don’t blog about our lack of religious upbringing because it doesn’t effect how our family functions. I still go to work, Kim still stays home with Punky. Punky still has rules and chores. We still sit at the table as a family at dinner time and discuss how our day was. We still dance around the living room or have picnics at the coffee table while watching a movie.

The point of this blog wasn’t to rant and rave about how religious upbringing is bad or the reasons why we don’t do it, but to simply show, that raising your kid without religion, doesn’t change the fundamentals or parenting dynamics. Our way isn’t any better or any worse than those who choose to parent with religion being the focus. It’s just different.

I bring this up, because our family is a lot of different things. But labels don’t define us. A “None” family. A two mom family. A free thinking family. A family of choices. A family of technology. A family of questions. A family who eats fast food. A time out family. A family who has no limit on screen time. A cry it out family. A family with mental illness. A family without labels or boxed in expectations.

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I bring all of this up, because generally when I tell people that we are parenting without religion, the number one question I get is: “How does your daughter learn there are consequences for her actions without the fear of consequences?” And to that I simply say, “Why does there need to be an essence of fear?” I feared my dad growing up. I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a house of fear. I want my daughter to know that she can come to me with anything. Any questions, any problem, any choice. Any reasonable and respectful argument. Anything.

So, to make it about fear … to me, religion is equated with fear. Which is pretty much why I personally don’t want her raised in a religious household. Fear of “the consequences” are scary when you are a kid growing up with religion. Hell is a scary concept. Especially for a kid. Fear of rejection. From a loving God, but if you do wrong things, you are rejected. Unless you are forgiven, which you can ask for forgiveness for everything, so then your ‘sin’ doesn’t matter anymore. So those bad things you did, it’s ok, and you can keep doing them and keep asking for forgiveness.

Where is the consequence or lesson being taught there? The circle is maddening and it is (for me) simply a way to instill control on children at a young age and to keep people in a box. To make sure they do what their told, when they are told, and don’t ask any questions about anything, because it ‘just is’; ‘just have faith’; ‘you don’t believe enough’. All of which, in my mind growing up, equated to “You aren’t good enough if you don’t just believe in what we are telling you is right and true.” “You aren’t a good person if you don’t believe in this, if you question it, you question God and that makes you a terrible person and you are going to Hell. Repent now.” These are not the self esteem boosters I want for my kid.

Morals and ethics are not taught by religious leaders. That’s the job of a parent. Parents teach their children what is right and wrong in the world. What’s dangerous and what’s safe. Parents, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof teach their children what society finds acceptable, what boundaries are in place (laws and social norms) and where those boundaries can be crossed or JUMPED (gender roles, pfft) over.

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As a kid who grew up with a Christian background, I remember a time when my Sunday School teacher told the class, “Be wary of those who don’t believe in God. Those are not friends to keep.” And I raised my hand, I was about 12 or so, and asked, “But how do we spread the word or tell them about God, if we can’t be friends with them? Doesn’t it push them away from God to shun them from our friendship?” The teacher had no answer and didn’t answer it. She simply gave me look that made me instantly realize I shouldn’t question what she says. And I didn’t question again.

That’s the thing with religious teaching. There’s no questions. There’s blind faith. There’s no answers. There’s no thinking for yourself, only believe what’s being told to you or you are doing it wrong and you MAY end up in Hell. Scary shit for a kid, right? I know it was for me.

I refuse to subject my child to that kind of teaching or upbringing. coloringWith that said, I do have people who tell me “She has the right to believe if she wants to.” And to that, they are absolutely correct. She does have that right and I won’t be the one to take it away from her. My hope is that we can do our best to facilitate and foster an environment in which she can ask questions, think for herself, and really come to a conclusion on her own. One way or the other in which she believes, I will support her. I will love her just the same.

However, right now, she’s too little to understand the things being taught and she doesn’t know any better than to simply believe – without question. She doesn’t know she can question. she doesn’t know what questions she should ask. Until she is old enough to understand, facilitate and make those questions heard and thought through, she will not be subject or introduced to things that are religious in nature.

Her cousins are Jewish. We don’t really talk about it, it’s not something that comes up. But if she had questions, I would make a point to sit down with my sister in law and we could discuss what being Jewish means and how that effects Punky’s world view. Her grandparents are all (primarily) Christian. I have no problem with her being exposed to “Gram’s friend Jesus” on a necklace, or telling her that some people believe that their loved ones go to a place in the sky when they die. Some people do in fact believe that and I want her to respect other people’s beliefs and views. But, I also want her to question why people believe that, where that belief comes from and if she does in fact also believe in that.

When she’s old enough to make up her own mind, she will be free to do so. She will be able to explore the possibilities of belief and what that means to her. Growing up with an absence of religion, doesn’t mean she doesn’t have the choice to seek it out and be respected for her own growing belief systems. But I do want her to examine, question, and think about what she believes in. I want her to be able to stand up and confidently say what she believes and be about to articulate it intelligently – not “That’s what the Bible says” or “My Mom told me it is so, so it must be”. As it stands, at this age, she is not able to do that to the extent in which I would like her to.

So instead we teach her about family, about tolerance, about love, and respect. For everyone. And at the core, that’s what religious teachings do too, we just do it without a man in the sky or a guy on a cross, without a fiery damnation or a cycling guilt and forgiveness.

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