My Phone People

Did you know that there are people who believe internet friends are not real?

I know. Take a deep breath, sit down if you need to. I have a similar feeling wash over me every time someone says something like this to my face. It takes every ounce of strength not to pull out my phone and wave it in their face, showing them all my “Phone People”. Because, those people? They are very, very real. They are also, for your information, very awesome.  For many years, I’ve been able to turn to my corner of the internet, one that expanded with the creation of social media, pour my heart out through my words, and have someone respond with kindness. For as much awful crap that is spewed on the internet, there is a decent, amazing, and kind side to it.

Did you know that the father of my first born was originally an internet friend? Remember Yahoo Chats? That totally happened.  One of my friend’s who is very much like a sister to me, who I cried with when her mother passed away? Internet friend, actually on a rebellious Mormon group. My very best friend and I met first through the internet. We fell in love over our impeccable taste in good music and way too expensive cloth diapers. Through the years, I’ve added to that list. I have the friend who I go to for writing advice. The friend I go to for snarky quips about things that make me twitchy. I have several friends that I’ve met through adoption. And, these are just the ones that I’ve met that have made a lasting impression on me.

We’ve moved a fair bit in the last couple of years, and with another one in the future, I’ve been hesitant to reach out to anyone in my local community. Saying goodbye sucks (especially when Adele is crooning in the background, in the middle of January in a frozen Buick). As such, I’ve isolated myself, and am just powering through the empty terrain of our current “normal”.  For the most part, I don’t mind. I’m a homebody by nature, but I do miss the ability to text a friend and say, “Hey, can we grab a drink?” at 9pm on a Wednesday night and have someone say, “Let’s do it.”  It was a luxury I fantasize about now more than I’ll admit.

That’s where my internet friends come in.  I mean, they don’t come with wine, but they are readily available to hear me through whichever medium I use to discuss my whatever words want to fall out of my mouth on social media. I don’t always get a response (a good friend knows when to ignore my rants, and when not to), but that’s always fine with me. I like the maybe false security in knowing that at least one person is hearing me. That makes me feel a little less lonely.

Sometimes, like tonight for instance, I’m so incredibly grateful for these computer people, some I’ve never met in “real life”.  I wonder, do the people who question these internet friendships understand that there is an element of empathy and even investment in these relationships that some of my long time “in real life” friends or family have never offered?  I can speak to an issue I’m having as a parent, and I generally find my inbox filled with suggestions or comfort. I have followed some people and their blogs so long now that I feel like I’ve watched their kids grow up. All of these people, despite the fact that a computer screen sometimes limit the physicality of the relationship, very real friends.

Yeah, the internet might suck sometimes, but not always. Internet friends are just one of the lovely perks. And one day, we’ll figure out the wine issue, and internet friends will abound for all.

 (You can check out what my phone people had to say about the topic of friendship: Busy At Birth, A Wide Line, Red Shutters, The Napkin Hoarder and Squared Mommy )

You Aren’t That Traditional, Mormons.

Mormons have an obsession with “traditional marriage”.  It’s always been a thing for them, really. I grew up hearing about how important it was for a child to have a Mom and a Dad and only that.  In 1995, they took it a step further when they came out with  The Family: A Proclamation To The World.  According to Mormons, their Prophet speaks to God directly, and this piece of work, came from God himself.

Although, in 50 years, they might say the Prophet wasn’t speaking as a Prophet, but as a man who had some clearly bigoted ideas.  That’s not important right now, though.

In this Proclamation, you’ll find gems like this:

We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

Basically, the entire thing is a carefully worded, (sometimes, not so much) declaration that only men and woman deserve to be married, have children and be awesome. The rest of us? The single mothers? The people who had children before marriage? The LGBT community? We’re all going against The Mormon God. We are all perpetually screwing up some greater eternal plan, and one day we’ll be held accountable for our heathen ways.

It looks like I’ll have some decent company, if they turn out to be right.

The Mormon church is well known for their involvement in things like Prop 8 in California, for the more recent opposition to gay marriage in Utah. On a personal level, I can speak to the animosity that they have toward mothers who find themselves pregnant out of wedlock, more specifically the aggressive nature they take in order to coerce and convince women to relinquish their parental rights. They completely believe and breathe their static definition of traditional marriage and family. There is no grey area available in this discussion,  absolutely no flexibility or understanding that not every family looks identical nor subscribes to the same ideals they do. They’ve elevated themselves on a pedestal, believing they’ve been ordained as the Traditional Marriage Spokespersons for the world.

Besides the obvious reasons they are so wrong about their stance on this topic, it’s remarkably hilarious that they’ve continued to play the Traditional Marriage card with so much veracity, judgment, and, well, hypocrisy.

Let me demonstrate:

This week, splashed across the front page of the New York Times, and many other major news sources was the fact that Joseph Smith had 30-40 wives. Back in October, the Mormon church posted an anonymously written essay about the founder’s involvement in polygamy. For most, the admission that Joseph Smith practiced what they call Plural Marriage, is no surprise.  It’s a pretty well known topic within the church, and even outside of it. However, there are a few things that have not been widely discussed or admitted. Mostly, the church has taken the “it’s in the past, so it’s behind us” stance. When I asked my own leaders as a teenager, after finding sources that touted the very information presented in the essay listed above, I was told point blank that the information was anti-Mormon literature, it was false, and that either way, it was of no importance. Even Gordon B. Hinckley went on Larry King, and said something very similar, even going as far as to say the practice itself is not doctrinal. If there has been further discussion on Joseph Smith in the realm of mainstream church resources or lessons, I was not ever privy to that when I was a practicing member. The amount of wives he took?  The child brides? The fact that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy before his supposed revelation from God that he must practice polygamy. Not discussed at all.  It isn’t terribly surprising that the bulk of these concerns and many others are not addressed within the article, or are brushed aside as though they are of little significance.

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Image Credit: Ricketyus

For instance, Joseph had seven wives under the age of 18, two of which were sisters,and one who was 14. There are several accounts of women who refused Joseph’s proposals to become his wife, with him ultimately using the religion to coerce them into submission. Although, ethical non-monogamy isn’t something I have an issue with, Joseph Smith also practiced what would be deemed unethical polyandry, demanding men share their wives with him, and sending them away on missions (a full diagram of all his wives, with sources can be found here).  These aren’t just minor anecdotes in this story and yet, they are still omitted. Members should be profoundly concerned by the lack of transparency being offered to them by their leadership.

However, this is the meat of the whole polygamy debacle that I wish to point out, specifically for practicing Mormons:

You know these plights against anyone who is supposedly destroying the “traditional” family with their gayness, or singleness, or sex having before marriage-ness? It has to stop now. You don’t get to discuss traditional marriage anymore. It’s over. No longer can you tell anyone, now and in the future, what marriage should or shouldn’t look like. You don’t get to cry persecution because other people who don’t carry the same beliefs as you want to institute laws that would allow for marriage equality. You do not get to condemn anyone for how they love, who they love, or how they choose to build their families. You do not get to wail and gnash your teeth because the world is going to hell in a hand basket because no one respects your so called traditional marriage.

Game over, guys.

You don’t practice polygamy anymore, you say? Physically, no, you don’t because it’s illegal, but….

It’s still discussed in church, and it’s still believed that it’s a law that will be implemented at the Second Coming. Polygamy is still practiced by leaders, by male members who remarry in temple marriage.  You believe that polygamy is a Celestial Law and will be practiced in Heaven. 

And, if that’s what you believe? Fine. This fact remains though: You do not get to have the above set of beliefs and still self-righteously preach to the rest of us that we’re damning the world with our non-traditional marriage ways. From what it seems, you are happily eating your own non-traditional marriage cake in the closet, and trying to hide the icing smears all over your face.

This may blow your mind –  We, the rest of the world, don’t fucking care what you believe or practice. Like, really, it matters to us, not at all.  It’s become such a hot news story because for years, you’ve worked hard to tell the rest of the world that some of  your history didn’t happen. That you aren’t weird, and that your past is golden, even though it’s not. Now that the internet has a plethora of amazing resources on the history of Mormonism, the head guys in Salt Lake realized it was time to face the music or risk losing more of their faithful. It’s a smart move for them. Yet, beyond the hype of the headlines, the rest of us non-Mormons don’t really care.

If you want to enjoy your celestial plural marriage laws (though, please try to find some ethical way to practice it), carry on. Have all the wives you wish, maybe even have all the husbands too! If we’re not interested in the lifestyle you practice (and I assure you, we’re not) or  if we disagree with your reasons for practicing, we’ll still leave you alone. What you do in your home is of little or no concern to the rest of the world. Much like the marriages and family your church fights so vigorously to abolish.

Take a page from our book, if you could, please. Maybe refrain from acting like hypocritical assholes regarding marriage, and families.  Your Traditional Marriage Advocate card has officially been revoked, and we know you guys are just as “non-traditional” as the rest of us. Welcome to the club, Mormons.

Parade Magic

“It’s the Santa Claus parade this week, right?”

Yes, it is. I answered this question at least one hundred times this week.

“Remember last year when the car made funny sounds when we went, and you were worried, Mama?”

Yes. I do remember that. Apparently, the kids did too. Potholes are bitches. I didn’t say that part outloud.

“We stood by where I go to therapy now last year. Can we stand there again?”

Yes, if we can get a spot close enough to that area. All things must be planned ahead when you have a kid like my son.

“We got candy, but I don’t like the peppermint candy canes because they are too spicy. Daddy can have them again, if we get them.”

Yes, he likes that, especially in his hot chocolate.

“We can have hot chocolate and marshmallows at home when we’re done, right?”

Yes, of course.

“Will we be able to catch snowflakes on our tongue like last year?”

Yes, if it snows. The snowflakes were huge last year.

“Will we see Santa this year? Do you think he’ll wave to me?”

“Yes, we will, and I bet he’ll wave to you.”

All week, I fielded these questions in a variety of forms, because the Santa Claus Parade is a Very Big Deal to my kids. In fact, any parade falls in that category for them, especially if candy is involved. In small town parades, candy is almost always featured. As well as religious pamphlets, but I digress.

On Friday, we bundled up. We left early enough to get me a coffee, and find the pre-planned location. We talked about not taking all the candy, saying thank you, and sharing with the other kids there. We talked about how far onto the road was safe. Then, we waited, impatiently, wiggling our legs to stay warm.

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There was an Anna and Elsa, which caused my daughter to squeal in delight, then burst into her own rendition of Let It Go.  We saw a couple of friends walking in the parade, and waved our woolly mitten hands. There was candy, and possibly a group of children that needed to hear the conversation about not being greedy with the candy and sharing.

When Santa started pulling by our location, the frozen toes that were fast becoming an issue, were forgotten, and my two kids rushed out as far as they were able so they could catch a glimpse of the infamous man in the red suit.

It’s a brief moment of pure magic, one that I love witnessing every single year. My heart always bursts, my eyes always water, at the exact time in the parade every year. It’s the realization that these moments are memory making for them. It’s the realization that this time is fleeting. It’s the pride I have for these two children, for their innocence, and for their excitement.  It’s a small moment, when I’m taken back to my own childhood, when everything was perfect, and real, when Santa was real, when dreams were absolutely touchable.  It’s everything that childhood should be.

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Guest Post By Kat Stanley: What is #flipthescript?

Note from Danielle: This is the first time that I’ve hosted a guest post on my blog. I don’t know if I’ll do it again. What I do know is that I’ve been watching Twitter, specifically the #flipthescript hashtag, intently since the beginning of November. I’ve wanted to write about it, but I knew that in doing so I would be co-opting a narrative that doesn’t belong to me. That, of course, would completely negate the point of the hashtag. Instead, I reached out to Kat, and asked her if she would write something up so I could share here. What she has chosen to share is an eloquent summation of what this hashtag is, what it means to adoptees, and the importance of this movement, not only in this month but going forward.  

Please welcome Kat kindly, be sure to comment, and share her words.


Last year, NPR did a story on transracial adoption. The problem: They neglected to include any adoptee voices in the piece. (You can search #NPRgate on Twitter to discover how adoptees felt about that).

Adoptees often feel left out of the adoption conversation. Many times, adoptive parents and those who have careers in the field of adoption are considered the experts, and their voices are utilized much more often than adoptees. This is unfortunate because adult adoptees are a wealth of knowledge with a lifetime of experience to contribute to the adoption conversation. Adoptee voices are important.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM). It’s a month that many adoptees insulate themselves from media outlets because it can be a traumatic experience hearing others celebrate something that feels like a fundamental loss. #flipthescript has changed that.

#flipthescript originated with two incredible authors from the adoptee centric website The Lost Daughters, Amanda of  The Declassified Adoptee and Rosita of mothermade. In response to the silencing of adoptee voices, they decided to “flip the script” and find a way for adoptees to take center stage. Use of #flipthescript on social media, most notably Twitter and Facebook has become a phenomenon and we’re seeing that adoptees are not feeling isolated and dismissed during NAAM2014. Adoptees are feeling included, found, heard and accepted.

#flipthescript doesn’t elevate adoption. It elevates the adoptee voice. It’s about adoptive parents, original parents and the adoption community listening to adoptees.

Adoptees are experts in adoption because it is the life they have lived. As they speak about the complexity of an adopted life, it is not as simple as “pro-adoption or “anti-adoption.” Adoptees don’t want to be labeled in such simplistic terms. They want to use the language they choose to express themselves about their experience. Adoptees don’t want to be criticized for their language choices or feelings when those don’t fit within the ideas the adoption industry has promoted. They want to be honest. Complexity is part of the story. It isn’t about one tweet or one day or one month of tweets. #Flipthescript is changing the conversation to an honest one. It is changing who is center stage.

The experiences are individual, but there is a collective of adoptee voices that want to be heard in expressing their complex experiences, feelings and thoughts about adoption.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now that I’ve shared why adoptee voices are so important, here are a few adoptee voices who have agreed to share their #flipthescript tweets.

 

“Conceived out of an affair w/ a married man, hidden and given away at birth, I needed my truth no matter what it was. #NAAM14 #Flipthescript”  @FreeSimplyMe  11/12/14

 

“Adoption does not guarantee a child a better life. Only a different one. #WorldAdoptionDay #Flipthescript”  @MizPotatohead  11/9/14

 

“#Adoption is lifelong. Efforts that focus on pre-adopt images/stereotypes contribute to our invisibility #flipthescript #worldadoptiondy”  @AmandaTDA  11/9/14

 

“Feeling adopted isn’t solved in a month or two. It’s until I die. #flipthescript #adopteefeelings #adoptionawareness”  @73JungSun  11/6/14

 

“If I told you I’d lost my mother you’d say how sad, if I told you I was adopted you’d say GREAT. It’s the same thing #flipthescript #NAAM14”  @Kbela50  11/12/14

 

“I’m not saying I don’t love my life, I’m saying I’m missing a part of it. #NationalAdoptionMonth #flipthescript”  @imeesayswhat  11/7/14

 

“The script said mother’s teen pregnancy was a horrible problem. I was a tiny baby. How could I be so horrible? #flipthescript #NAAM14”  @MichelleWPD  11/7/14

 

“I am 10 crying to sleep. What is this feeling? Am I good enough? Am I confident enough? Why did this all happen? #Adoptee #FlipTheScript #NAM” @Spoutnikya 11/7/14

 

“I’d share photo of my hand *. But couldn’t fit happy, sad, confused, angry, curious, indifferent faces on it. #worldadoptionday #flipthescript”  @JulieStromberg  11/9/14

 

Adoptees want to share our stories, experiences, complexity and perspectives. We want to be heard, understood and accepted. We would love to see our adoptive family, biological family, those in adoption related careers and the adoption community (which includes just about everyone) in the audience listening to our voices. We have much to share, and our voices are crucial in the adoption conversation. Please join us as we #flipthescript.

 

**In reference to the pictures of smiley faces on hands for World Adoption Day.


Kat is an adoptee from open adoption. She was relinquished eleven months after her birth in 1972 and legally adopted when she was eight. She is active within the adoption community as an adoption reform activist, family preservation advocate and adoptee rights activist. Kat also blogs at Sister Wish.

Random Thursday Thoughts

  • If someone bought me a remote car starter, and a heated garage so I never have to scrape iced windows on my car again, I’d probably do unspeakable things for them.
  • I have no idea how parents who have their kids in multiple activities during the school week do it, and manage to stay sane.  I do not relate to anyone who enjoys being that busy all the time. I want my PJ’s, a cozy house, and no plans.
  • Cleaning the fridge out never takes just 10 minutes.
  • I went to lunch with adults today. Adults that weren’t family. Adults, people. Actual, adults. A moment of silence, please.
  • One day, I hope I can stop explaining my daughter’s tiny stature.  Yes, I know she’s tiny. I’ve sort of been around her my whole life.
  • Friend Requests on Facebook make me nervous.
  • Fuck #rapeculture. Fuck our Canadian justice system. Fuck people who ask the asinine question, “Why don’t women report it?” Fuck the judge who decided a young woman committing suicide because her rapist raped her again by posting pictures of the act on social media. Fuck that prick too for getting away with it.
  • Every time I think of Rehtaeh Parsons’ family, I cry. Because, what a fucking slap in the face that sentence was. They didn’t even get justice, and they don’t even get to watch their daughter grow up.
  • Thank heavens for generous people. My daughter has a habit of making her uniform disappear, and of course, thinks it’s hilarious. A mom heard me talking about it, (laughing about it, really), and gave me two uniforms her daughter had grown out of. Storing those in a secret place, thankyouverymuch.
  • My son’s therapist is everything. She didn’t even bat an eye when I took another half hour of her time to discuss some concerns I had. Mental Health Professionals for kids? THANK YOU.
  • Fancy vacuum cleaner is still fancy. Even if it still clogs the same way my non-fancy vacuum cleaner did.
  • I ask my husband to pick me up some anti-freeze (see first bullet point). He responds with a comment about my boobs. It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s still funny. Because, we’re weird. He’s also exhausted.
  • I love it when my writer friends send me their work to critique, add to, or comment on. Also? My writer friends are so fucking talented.
  • Cheryl messaged me today to tell me that she lives 41 driving hours away from me. It made my day.
  • Wunderbars are like crack. Although, I’ve never had crack. I just assume because I keep inhaling them.
  • I don’t really like The Big Bang Theory, but I always watch it. I make no sense sometimes.
  • Some people aren’t worth the effort you’ve put into them, even if you’ve invested in them. That’s okay.
  • I might sleep on top of the pile of laundry on my bed tonight. Don’t judge me.

Time, Let’s Talk About Feminism

Consider this a warning:

According to Time, Feminism is a buzzword. An annoying one that needs to hit the road, and never be uttered ever again. One that should be compared to non words, and internet speak.

Well, Time, let me tell you something. Feminism is not a trend. It’s not some made up, nonsensical, ridiculous word dropped into our laps recently.  OMG YOLO OMNOMNOMNOM #LOL….Did I do that right? Probably not. Whatever, get off my lawn.

Feminism is a real, necessary, actual movement. It’s been around for awhile, and it’s kind of a big deal.

Here’s some Feminism 101 for you, since it appears you have no idea what feminism actually is. Marie Shear said, in 1986 – do you see that, Time? 19 fucking 86 –  

“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”  

Crazy shit, right?! I don’t expect you to be able to digest this new information right away. Take your time. Get a coffee. Go to the gym. Meditate. Go to church. Do what you need to do to process this shocking concept. I totally get it. Really, it is so incredibly difficult to comprehend the fact that there are women and men who want to fight for gender equality. They want to work until women are no longer seen, or treated as second class citizens.

But, who the hell would want that? It sounds so obviously horrible.

 “And you might even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids.”  If this is your reaction to the word feminism, you are probably one of those assholes who smugly announces on social media that you don’t need feminism, or believe that feminists are a group of man-hating, bra burning bitches.

I can’t burn my bra because I need it. Also, it cost a lot of money, and burning it would be financially irresponsible.

Here’s a memo for all you anti- feminists:

Feminism is why we women-folk can vote. It’s why we have the ability to choose to go to work or not, to reproduce or not, it’s why we don’t have to take our partner’s name when we marry because  we’re not property. It’s why we don’t have to get married anymore, if we don’t want to. It’s the reason there are more woman in media, in tech, and in positions that were once commonly only for men. Do you understand that, person who says it’s never been relevant in your life? You are able to freely describe that asinine opinion because

The irony, oh how it burns.

Feminism is still and will always be relevant, because for all the leaps and bounds we’ve made, we still have so much further to go. Because women are threatened every single day for voicing their opinions on the internet. Because a man can abuse a woman, and people will still make excuses for him. Because there are politicians who are hellbent on taking away bodily autonomy, who believe rape only happens to women who want it. Because there are women who are being repressed, and oppressed, all over the world.  Because, a notable, supposedly intelligent magazine has the misguided opinion that feminism is just this annoying trend that we need to get the fuck over. Because we could fill every empty space of the internet with all the reasons everyone needs feminism. Because people don’t get that this isn’t just an issue for us “killjoy feminists”. No. it’s a fucking global issue, thankyouverymuch.

I have a suggestion for your poll, Time. Can we add “Websites being derogatory toward feminists and feminism for clickbait/traffic” as something to banish for good?  It’s not edgy, funny or forward thinking to promote polls or think pieces that trash feminism. Perhaps, that’s not your intention. For all I know, your website could legitimately be aspiring to gather readers that lurk on websites like 4Chan, threaten to kill a feminists, who think that anyone who makes a sexual assault or rape claim is clearly lying, who cry foul because “men’s rights!” and wear misogyny on their chest like it’s a fucking badge of honor.

Because that’s the sort of mob you are attracting with pieces like that, Time. They are the ones sharing your piece with veracity, and pride.

This poll, even if it shows that feminism is a faux pas, a word to be “deleted”, is simply put, fucking wrong. Realistically, it doesn’t matter to me, (and I’m sure to any other self-proclaimed feminist) what the results are. We are past that part of the discussion. We know that feminism is necessary, even if you haven’t figured that out yet. We know we need celebrities to talk about it, even if we don’t subscribe to their version of feminism. We know the importance of sharing our own experiences with feminism, and what it means to us. We know the generation behind us, and even the one in front of us, need feminism. We know that even the women who say that they don’t relate to feminism, and reject it, primarily because they’ve yet to understand feminism despite the fact that they utilize all the benefits that it’s afforded them, need it.  It’s not just some passing fad, like Pumpkin Spice or posting food pictures to Instagram. Feminism is not something we can afford to get “sick of”. We all need it. Even you, Time.

You know what I am sick of and would love to vote off the island?

I’d love it if we could stop insulting the women who fought for the rights we have today by insinuating we have “enough” and need no more. I’d love it if we could just stop having to explain why I need feminism, why we need feminism, because I think it’s been more than covered for you. Maybe you just need to start listening.

For A Moment, I Forgot

We went sledding today, the kids and I.

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We bundled up, knit hats covering their tiny ears, me teaching them all the tricks of keeping yourself dry and warm. Together,we trudged through the snow, our bulky hands in one another, the cold blasting the skin that wasn’t covered, to the hill that sits just a block or two from our house. It was only covered in a light snow, the long grass still poking out of some corners. My son excitedly chattered about snow angels, and making new friends at the hill, while his sister whined about her sock, and covertly jumped in the sled so she wouldn’t have to walk anymore (walking in snowpants when you are that small is hard).

For an hour, the depression and stress I’ve felt lately, lifted. I pushed my kids down the hill, as they pretended they were bobsledders. We came up with new and crazy sledding positions to try. They took turns going down the hill, with no fighting. They made friends with a three legged dog who took a particular infatuation to my daughter. The kids played on the nearby icy playground, loving the slide that would launch them off when they came to the end. We quoted Cool Runnings, because, obviously.

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They laughed. I laughed. 

With rosy cheeks, sniffling noses, and smiles, we slowly made our way home. As I walked behind them, I watched as my two children, best friends for that moment, lost themselves deep in conversation about whether they would have tea or chocolate to warm up. When I was permitted, I joined the conversation about returning to school tomorrow, about the Santa Parade on Friday, and what friends they were excited to see tomorrow morning. They bubbled about all the things they had to tell Daddy about their sledding adventure.

“Mama, can we do this again? Can we go sledding again?” my son asked as we walked up the steps to our house.

“Of course!” I responded, “That was lots of fun!”

We went sledding today, and for an hour, I forgot that I was depressed.

sledding

Gasping For Air

The snow, it’s fallen over the entire weekend. It brings the delightful realization that Christmas is inching closer. It’s brought about animated conversations about sledding, and advent calendars, lights, snowmen, and Santa.  The kids have excitedly peered out of our windows, frost starting to move in slowly. We’ve had a break, a wonderfully lengthy one from school for Remembrance Day. We’ve made the most of it; there’s been snuggling, PJ’s, a pizza party, romping in the fresh snow while the sun dances slightly behind the clouds. There’s been movies, and maybe a bit of fighting. We’ve read books, drank tea, talked about the upcoming holidays, and shared hot chocolate.

It’s been good.

But.

Ever since my husband came home and told me about his promotion, I feel as though someone forced me under the water, and has been holding me there. It’s been a daily dance of remembering that right now, it’s just not about me. Admittedly, I go between feeling strong, and feeling an ugly sort of resentment toward the man that I love, who I know isn’t coming home at 2am on purpose, or because he wants to. It just our new normal. It’s not permanent, I remember, and remind him when he’s faltered in this new schedule, that we’re still transitioning, which is always the hardest part.

Yet, as much as I am trying to be flexible, to bend when I don’t feel like I have any more room to do so, the harsh reality winterthat I’m not superhuman crashes into me. While there are some people who expect me to do the roles of two parents because I’m the stay at home parent, it’s just never been how our marriage works. This change has meant a total upheaval of our lives, for all of us, not just him.

I’m not used to all of this. I’m not used to a husband who works until 11 at night, or longer. I’m not used to having a partner who literally has no idea what is going on with the children, because work has totally enveloped his entire being. I’m not used to people assuming because my husband is never there, that I’m a single Mom, and the looks they give me when I offer, “He’s just busy with work”.  I’m used to being able to find small moments to carve out for me, alone, but thus far, the only moments I’ve claimed at the the ones right before I fall asleep in exhaustion.  I’m not used to yelling so much, and not always being this frustrated.

This weekend, I gasped for breath as I came out from below the water. All those punches, all the smiles and the encouragement I’ve been providing to others has hit a wall. It’s my turn. I need to be taken care of, if only for a moment. I want to be told it’s all going to work out, that we’re going to be fine, that this won’t last forever. I don’t want to feel like an obligation, a bother, or an annoyance to anyone.

The magnitude of all the obstacles we’ve been navigating over the last couple of months have peaked. Finding a therapist for my son, the result of his incredible breakdowns of his own. The death of a friend, unexpected. The unexpected, sudden promotion, and the resulting impact of that;  Longer hours, more worries about his commute, the kids reacting because they haven’t seen him in days, the sheer loneliness and exhaustion of doing it on my own. There’s the stretch of our budget, something that always happens this time of year, and the worries of how we’ll make things work (even though we always do make it work). There’s the stress of our impending move, and the being unsure of when, how and where that will be. It’s the lack of texts, phone calls, or any communication from close friends; Nothing I take personally, but it makes the late nights a little harder, and makes me feel a little more alone.

Really, that’s the bulk of it. This is my way, before I have to dunk my head back under of reaching out.

I feel lonely. I feel isolated. I want to be cared for. I want someone to say to me, as I pour my worries out, “You can handle this. It’s okay to feel tired, because it’s a lot, but you got this.”  Even if I don’t believe them. Even when I know, I do have this. I just don’t feel like it right now. I just want to feel as though I’m more than just a post for others to lean on, to use, to expect to be there but never appreciate.

I’m more than that.

I may not be super human, but I am still human.

Things I Found In My Son’s Room While Cleaning

I try not to be too harsh with my kids about cleaning. I really do try, even though I don’t like dirt or clutter, or dust or disorder… Well, you get the picture. This comes from living in a home growing up where things were consistently dirty, unclean and always, always cluttered. When it comes to things being clean, I sort of become neurotic; I think things like, “Oh my god, if someone saw how mess my house is, they’d take my kids away”, which is of course, overly dramatic and totally untrue. I apologize when people come over and the house wasn’t perfectly clean; I usually get laughed at, or have eyes rolled in my direction.

When you have kids, things get messy. Stuff gets ruined, and walls occasionally get written on (even if I’ve told a certain child that drawing happens on paper only, and not on her $30 ballet tights most of all). However, the rule in our house is this: Saturday and Sunday are free for all for technology, but before all the plans on Minecraft can be executed, respective rooms need to be cleaned. Properly. Since my son’s allergy diagnosis, this is absolutely a must. We change the sheets, vacuum the floor, mop and dust. I’ve tried to explain to both the kids if they spend 15 minutes a day just tidying, that by Saturday, it’ll be quick and easy.  This has been the rule since we went No Technology during the week, so the kids know.

They know, but they pretend they don’t. A lot.

If you thought my kids were perfect and follow this rule every week with no reminders, nagging, or bribing, I’m here to smash your dreams. Ideally, my kids would develop a taste for all things clean and germ free, like I have. But they are kids (and much like their father, they don’t see messes like I do).  They like dirt. They like messes and seem to thrive in them to a certain degree. They like to keep things that I might qualify as garbage, because it means something to them. Apparently, it’s good for kids to have messy rooms, and I even commented on this in an article for Today’s Parent last year.  Confession: I laughed at the journalist when she suggested I just close the door and forget it. I may have also twitched. Maybe.

After a bout of busy weekends (read: I wasn’t home, Dad was, and all the Minecraft was played or someone was sick), the rooms respectively have gotten out of control. My son started complaining he had “too many toys” which is a sure sign the organization in his room has gone to hell, and he’s overwhelmed. When I said I’d help him clean the room, as long as we did it thoroughly, he looked overjoyed. A kid who wants to clean their room? Do it right now. Drop everything, and clean all the things.

As we went, I started to ask him about some of the things we were finding:

(Disclaimer: I swear, out of this whole list, there was only one small bag of garbage. I promise. Also, I dust with vinegar water. Which obviously means nothing, but you should know. Don’t judge me. Please?) 

- Eleventy billion cheerios that was “food” for the Angry Birds, apparently.

- A broken butterfly catcher that has now been re-purposed as a wand and is not garbage.  I tried to argue, but there may have been sad eyes, and an almost panic attack. We’ll keep the wand, for now.

- Six store clothes hangers that I’m pretty sure I had thrown out, but were recovered because they work well as “swords, light sabres, and Captain Hook’s hook”.

- Three bottle of my lotions that he needed because they smell like me, and he likes that. Be still my heart.

- 11 pens, which I was told a week ago did not exist in the bedroom and when I triumphantly pointed out that I had been right all along, my son said, “I didn’t see them, so they weren’t there, I guess.”

- One package of yogurt covered raisins.  For a late night snack, he said.

- Two lost books that weren’t really lost at all but hidden under the bed. I was just grateful they weren’t library books. Because they have been in the past.

- My car insurance slips (!?)

- Thousands of  lego pieces, because lego is fun, and awesome, but everywhere.

- A book order form from September, circled and marked, but never turned into the keeper of the money (that’s me).

- Three hair ties, and at least 20 bobby pins (They apparently keep all his papers together. Note: Get paperclips.)

- Two rolls of paper towels. Specifically the two I’ve been looking for the last week, but was being used as blankets in the games him and his sister play. I’m so sorry, Mother Earth.

-Two pieces from my husband’s Risk game, which caused me to whispered, “You better find a way to put these away in the game without Daddy noticing.” He nodded in affirmative, knowing how Daddy feels about his Risk collection.

- A lot of dust. A LOT.

- Way too many Kid’s Meals toys. I don’t want to admit how many lest you judge me for feeding my children fast food (Yes, it happens. I do it. I’ll await my letter to kick me out of the Good Parent Club shortly). I tried to throw them out. At first, I was brazen and bold with my throwing out, but that didn’t go well. So I started throwing out pieces covertly. Until I got caught again, and  was further watched like the toy criminal I am.

- A deflated basketball, and a deflated water toy. I do not remember either thing every being bought, or given to my children. And, we had to keep them. Because.

- An empty wine bottle that was used as a tower.  “You should drink more wine so we can have more towers.” Okay, dear child, that’s a challenge I’ll gladly except.

- A ice cube tray. Which was obviously a bus for the tiny dinosaurs. Duh.

The room is cleaned. The sheets are changed. Minecraft is being played. I’m planning all the wine I can buy so they can build more towers.

But now I have to do my daughter’s room too. Pray for me?

somuchmess