Anyone Out There?

Hello???? YooHoo! Anyone out there?

I just have no excuse for the lack of writing in this blog, except I connected with a lot of the mommy bloggers on Facebook, and I just let this thing go to the wayside. I did notice the last post I made was on the Women’s March and I was so angry at that time, so its likely I was so obsessed with the Trump election and how it was going down I just couldn’t bring myself to put my thoughts down anywhere, because they were fucking crazy.

Anyway, can you believe it? We are parents of a Kindergartener! Holy shit, guys, I didn’t even think having a kid was possible 10 years ago, let alone a damn kid in school. It’s like I’m living in some sort of twilight zone. There are a lot of current events I could discuss for my first post back, and the real issues going on in our country with politics, or the hurricane that’s ravaging our southern lands, but man I don’t have the energy today. So, instead, I’m gonna tell you about my kid is in Kindergarten!

She’s been in school for a little over a month, and for a kid who’s not been in daycare or didn’t have Preschool as a primer, she’s doing so well!

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Its been an adjustment for all of us though. I’m lucky enough to be working from home now, since losing my job in February and going through some pretty intense depression and anxiety issues. Now I can get up with her and get her ready for school, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle lunchbox, and walk her to the bus stop. I didn’t have that as a kid and it’s so nice to be able to do that for her. She happily walks to the bus stop, skipping all the cracks, because amazingly that’s the first thing she learned in school, stepping on cracks will break her Mama’s back, and we all know Mama’s back doesn’t need anymore help in that department.

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I don’t know where the time has gone. She used to be my little bucket of drool that I could lay on my chest and nap with on the couch, and now she’s reading 15 sight words and giving me the lowdown on how pictures tell a story. These pictures tell a story too, little one, the story of how fast the time goes when you have a baby you never expected to have.

In other news, I started going back to school as well in March. I am attending an online school to get my Graphic Arts degree. Its been such an awesome program and I’m learning so much. When I enrolled they sent me a tablet and a MacBook with all the design software downloaded on it and that’s a ton of expenses I didn’t have to worry about, all rolled into the tuition. With our lack of transportation and my anxiety, online classes has really helped me further this goal of mine. I have found my passion, and it’s something I’ve been doing as a hobby for years.

For those of you who have been following for a while (if anyone is still following), I have been running an Etsy shop for about 4 years. I design party invitations for baby showers, bridal showers, birthday parties and holiday parties. I love it. I have the most fun designing for  baby showers for two moms. I didn’t have that option, or not any well designed options when I was pregnant, and I am just so happy to provide the option.

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I’ve been working on new projects with my new skills and it’s been so liberating to be able to do the things I enjoy as a job. I have been working for roadside assistance customer service as well, along with some freelance virtual assistant jobs to keep us a float. Finances haven’t been easy this year, mental illness is a real issue in our house, but the biggest challenge is not letting our kiddo see the struggles we go through to provide for her.

Things are looking up though, thank goodness, for the first time this year, I’m starting to feel a bit of the burden lift, we are still struggling, but hopefully by Christmas I can feel more stable.

In the end, we are all three doing well. With the occasional request for a baby sister that won’t be happening, we are navigating the new reality of school age kid and working from home mom, and it’s been an adventure. Our family motto has become “We will make it work, we always do.” and it’s the thing that keeps us going. We don’t have a lot, but we have each other and we have love to hold us together as we make it through 2017 in tact.

Thanks to one of my favorite mommy bloggers, Kristin over at More Than Words for reminding me of the blogging world, I have missed this blog and I’ve been thinking of starting it up again, but she really put the motivation back in me yesterday when she messages all the mommy bloggers and kickstarted the writing bug in me.

Hope all is well with the rest of you and I’m looking forward to getting back into the blogging world with more fun adventures of motherhood, classes, and being a decent human being.

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Dear Women Who Are Upset With Women’s March

Your privilege is showing. Might wanna tuck it back in.

Yes. I said it. Once again, not everything is about you. But because you are looking from only inside your own small bubble and the things we march for don’t affect you, it’s stupid and inconvenient to you. You don’t have to feel like YOU are affected and need to march, but you can still support those of us who do feel the need to march for our rights.

It’s called being a good human being. If you’re religious, it’s about loving your neighbor, feeding the poor, healing the sick, and helping the less fortunate. But that’s not what you are really about, right? Let’s get real for a minute.

JUST BECAUSE YOU AREN’T AFFECTED OR YOU DON’T FEEL THE BURDEN OR FEAR, DOESN’T MEAN IT’S NOT REAL.

The reason you don’t feel oppressed as a women is because you likely have never had to justify your need or want to have access to contraception. Your reproductive rights are under attack, because you don’t believe in abortion, so why should anyone else? Perhaps you don’t know a woman who was raped by a family member and forced into an abortion at the age of 13. News flash, its still happening and this isn’t just about YOU.

The reason you don’t feel like transgendered people should have the right to use the bathroom of their preferred gender, is because you are scared of things you are unfamiliar with and is uncomfortable for you. Your unwillingness to get to know or learn more about a real plight for these women, again shows you don’t get the point. This isn’t about YOU.

The reason you don’t want to have gun safety or regulations because you have never felt the sadness or anguish of having your sons, brothers, and fathers gunned down in the streets, just because of the color of their skin. Just because you haven’t experienced it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. This isn’t about YOU.

The reason you don’t want to provide healthcare to millions of those who can’t afford it, is because you don’t struggle to  afford the high premiums or you aren’t caring for a sick child or parent – as most underprivileged Americans – because the country is tailored to you. You don’t know the burden of the multiplying hospital and medical bills for life saving medication and surgeries for your children.

You don’t want to pay higher taxes, it’s your hard earned money? I guess you’d rather use that extra cash to take your kids to Disney World than help save a sick kiddo who’s parent can’t afford healthcare – or find a job to provide it. This isn’t about YOU.

The reason you tell me “your marriage is safe” is because you haven’t had to wait 12 years to get married to the person you have spent half you life with. You didn’t have to fight for a simple piece of paper that gives you the benefit of seeing your spouse in the hospital when they are dying. You don’t know the struggle of those of us who know the feeling of being turned away from housing, employment, and our own families based on the person you love. This isn’t about you.

You aren’t a victim? That’s great. I’m glad for you. That doesn’t mean that the laws of this country aren’t in some serious need for change. You want me to just “respect the president.” but, perhaps you haven’t been sexually assaulted on the street by a stranger who just decided you were easy prey that day. OR a family member who felt it was their right to take your body and do what they wish with it.You haven’t been raped at a party and then told it was your fault because your skirt was too short. It’s just locker room talk? But it’s not. Its happening. Everyday. Women being assaulted by being emboldened by statements such as these. This isn’t about you.

You want to build a wall because you don’t want to let in the scary scary Muslims and Mexicans. But you don’t have to worry about your family being broken up, just by the circumstances of the random places you were born. You are born in a country of privilege, This isn’t about you. Lest you forget, this country was founded on immigrants, to keep them out, is not only selfish, but ignorant.

You don’t feel like a second class citizen? Then you haven’t asked your male co-workers what they make in the same job you occupy. You haven’t lived in a small town where the only jobs are fast food places. Places for “high schoolers” are full time jobs to a lot of mothers and women who can’t afford to leave their small towns in search of something better. But they don’t deserve to make more money, because those jobs, the “unskilled” jobs that you benefit from on a daily basis, aren’t worth the same standards and respect as yours. You don’t know the struggle to put food on the table and clothes on your kids. This isn’t about you.

Here’s the deal, I don’t care if you march or not, but don’t discourage those of us who do. For those of us this is about. Because the country is tailored to cater to your demographic and that means you are fortunate not to be affected by these problems. Just because you aren’t affected, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Doesn’t mean the march wasn’t necessary. At the end of the day, this is about fighting for equality. For justice. For the American dream for all who wish to stand and show up for it.

I don’t discount that this march doesn’t seem like a big deal to you. I can see why you think it’s not important. You don’t have the personal story that the women who are marching have. This isn’t about you. That doesn’t mean you can’t look outside your bubble and see that this is a real issue. These are real problems.

You would rather keep the status quo, because it doesn’t affect you and changing it will affect you, that’s not ok. You don’t take action because you don’t benefit from it. That’s selfish and let’s me know what kind of person you really are. You don’t have to agree with the March, you can even think it inconvenient, but don’t say it’s not necessary.

Don’t call me a snowflake, when you were praising those who depicted our first black president as a monkey or held up signs hanging him. Don’t tell me I’m bashing men, because I want to be treated equal to them in the workplace, home, and country. I don’t hate men. I hate that men get all the rights and no one seems to give a damn.

Don’t tell me to stop acting like a victim. I’m not a victim, I don’t claim to be. I claim to be a woman. A warrior. And my right to peaceful protest is in the same constitution as the guns you so tightly cling to. I publicly condemn the violence and destruction of property that happens in protests.

“Treat Others as you Wish to be Treated” but only if it benefits me. That’s the way of this country right now. We are all spoiled, selfish and entitled. “We want OUR way, it’s the ONLY way, if it positively BENEFITS only US and people like us.” We talk about the kids of this generation, of the ‘radical’ millennials who are marching in the streets. What you are really upset about is if these ‘spoiled and entitled’ kids get their way, your way of life will suddenly change.

You will no longer be better than someone else. You will no longer reap the benefits of the rewards to the few in this country. You will have to respect those with different beliefs and watch your tongue and avert your eyes. You will be uncomfortable. You will have to take responsibility for your actions.

Change is hard. But being honorable and respectful and a decent human being is harder. Fighting for what is right, not what is easy, that’s the challenge.

But, just as you don’t feel the need to march, doesn’t mean it’s not necessary. Just because you don’t want things to change, doesn’t mean they don’t need to. Just because you don’t see into my life, live my truth, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. The march isn’t about those who aren’t affected. If you aren’t affected, or you don’t feel you are affected, that’s fine. I respect your right not to march.

Respect MY right to march. Because this IS about me.

KinderPerfect: A Timeout for Parents

This is a posted review semi-sponsored by Kinder-Perfect. I did not purchase the game and am not being paid to write this review, but Kinder-Perfect did send me the game free of charge to play and review. This is that review.

If you have kids, you know that it’s challenging a majority of the time. Little children are tiny humans with their own personalities, thoughts, feelings, and views of the world. Trying to mesh that with the lessons that we, as parents, are trying to teach them – can be difficult.

Kinder-Perfect is described as the “Cards Against Humanity” for parents. Overall it fits the bill. As a general first impression, online, the game looks just like Cards Against Humanity. From the set up to game play, to the card format and the premise of being a bit PG or R rated in content – it delivers as being a parenting version of the original “Cards Against Humanity” game.

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As you can tell, I put this game through the tests. I played multiple times, with different groups of people to make sure that I got a good sense of the game as well as the reactions from some of the people I shared the game with.

At first glance, the game is professionally put together, the cards stand the test of time and play. They are durable and glossy, very pretty. The box packaging is a bit tattered, I believe I played this game approximately 6-10 times. I’d suggest a more sturdy box or packaging for longer time use.

With that said, I am not sure if I was only mailed a part of the game (to review) or the game as a whole. I’m reviewing it as such that I received the whole game; so for that reason, I think it may need to be something other than cardboard.

The gameplay is simple and easy to follow. I do like the format, mirroring that of “Cards Against Humanity” there are two sets of cards; red and white.

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The red cards the “reader” will read out loud and the white cards are the “response cards.” Each player then gives the “reader” a white card from their hand and whichever white card is the best pair to the original card wins. Easy peasy Lemon Squeezy, as my four year old has been prone to say lately.

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This gameplay is about 15-20 minutes. If you are a mom on the go and want to play a little pickup game at a playdate and get back to your kids, that length of gameplay is for you! However, the amount of time I had to play this game was more set by moms night out or a night to play cards with my sisters and grandma after dinner. Which meant that it became very repetitive and boring after shuffling the cards up and starting again.

The most prevalent comment I got, and one that I agree with, was that we didn’t have enough red cards. As you can see from the pictures, there is a bit of an imbalance in the ratio of red:white cards 10%/90% which is a bit too lopsided.

We went through the red deck approximately three times at each gameplay and the red cards were repeated and predicted; as we were playing the same ones on repeat. The premise, I’m sure, is that there are enough variety in the white cards to make each red card brand new the next time you play. Unfortunately, at all gameplays I attended, this was not the case. The call for more red cards was mentioned frequently, the largest criticism of the game as a whole.

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The snark and the sass in this game is well done. I did have a few people suggest that the red cards be more like Apples to Apples, using adjectives, instead of scenarios and questions. Which I found to be a compelling suggestion.

I’ve actually asked a mommy friend or a mom forum if “insert here” was a healthy meal. In my case you can put Lucky Charms in a plastic bag, bread crusts from my child’s lunch sandwich, or ice cream sandwiches for breakfast and hit my parenting style and something that has come out of my mouth. So it resonates in it’s humor and reflection of the mentality of today’s mom is on point!

Now, I am not going to attempt to speak for all moms and all parenting styles; but if you are a snarky, sassy, independent, hot mess mom; like me? This game is for you. I don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors of the sanctimommies out there, so I can’t say that my perception of their tastes is correct. But I’d think if you get squeamish by a crude word or you spend three hours on breakfast every morning, this may not be for you.

I will say that I played with moms like me. I don’t know any sanctimommies and all the moms I played with are of the same mind in most ways as myself, so the view may be a bit skewed. I personally wouldn’t set it as a game for a mom with strict rules and judgemental parenting lenses or is offended by screen time for kids.

With that said! I did play with my grandma. Now, I won’t take credit for it, because I was NOT going to ask her to play this game. I was going to suggest Apples to Apples, because that game is a bit more grandma-friendly without the curse words and the snark. My wife thought it would be fine. She asked my grandma to play and she was game. At first, I was sure that this was going to be a disaster and I was nervous as hell. My grandma is a tough cookie and she’s also a woman of upstanding character and while I’ve heard her say “shit,” but I don’t think I was prepared to talk about my code word for sex with my grandma.

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We had a blast! Now, it was a awkward to say Fuck in my grandma’s presence. But my sister had it worse, when she had to pick my grandma’s white card “a broken condom” when she read “How we got your baby brother.” It was hilarious.

So the game is definitely for all kinds of people, and if you aren’t riddled with anxiety or control issues, you can extend the invitation to play with those mommies I warned against. Ya know, I wouldn’t have played with my grandma, if my wife hadn’t pushed it – and we had a great time!

So who knows, maybe those judgy moms aren’t so different behind closed doors. Dunno! I’m curious, sure, but I’m not peeking inside the door.

Overall, the game is good. I enjoyed playing it, it is a game I’d play with people who haven’t played before and are of like mind as me. Which means, it’s not a game that I would play over and over with the same people, because the variety just isn’t there. As it is a shorter game and repetitive after a few full games, it’s not a game that I would have purchased for myself; but I’d enjoy playing if someone brought it to a party.

If you wanna purchase or check it out, you can go their website: Kinder-Perfect. If you just wanna try it out, it appears they will allow you to sign up for their newsletter and get a free PDF printable version. I highly recommend that option, it’s a great way to try it before you buy it! Good job on their part, we all know how hot mess moms like free things!

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.

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.

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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