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Guns, my father, and knowing sometimes people don’t come back.

My dad. My middle, Huckleberry, sits and waves just like this.

 

The gunshot, the blood, the murder itself is a heavy stone dropped from a great height into our lives. Immediately everything is violently displaced. Though we continue existing, though what has been displaced settles… the ripples pullulate outward for decades. Generational repercussions lessening until it’s simply family lore. And even then, there is still pain.

A gunshot ended my father’s life when I was a young toddler. A blank canvas exists where my memories of him should be. My father figures pieced together from television shows and friend’s father’s over the years. I can’t recall his smile or the scent of him as he held me close. No sound of his voice rings in my ears. I am left with no wise words or funny dad sayings to repeat to my children now. He is a story. A tale of death.

My mother and grandparents, and aunt and uncle- the first ripple- don’t speak of him. Not much anyway. More now, that decades have passed. For survival, I believe they detached. We do what we have to to keep going. I grew up knowing very little of him. Perhaps it was too painful to share him, to see his pictures, to keep any part of him with us, so for their survival he was banished. His body cremated so there is no grave, in fact, I do not even know what happened to his ashes. This hurts. I would like to know. I searched for things to make him REAL when I was young. And there was nothing. Nothing but a violent death, a trial, a man living in a prison responsible. As I grew older and wiser I searched out more and more details on the one thing I had; his death. I know too much of what happened to my father, and not nearly enough of what made my father my father.

I was raised in the aftermath of a tragedy, a news story, a made for Dateline murder. I wasn’t shot. I feel the ripple effect every single day.

When his murderer was executed; a new ripple was created for me. For this was the first tangible thing that happened to prove my father was more than a story. And what a horrible thing that was.

As a child I often felt detached, a watcher of a movie of my life. It took a kitten, stray and depending only on me to break that barrier. Now I have children and there is no barrier and they feel a ripple everyday. They are far too young to know the details of their grandfather’s death, but they know he is gone since I was a baby.

They know they will be told I love them every time we say goodbye, they know I have hugs and kisses and reassurances for them every I drop them off at school. Even on days when a school shooting isn’t in the news. (Do those days exist anymore?)

I try to lessen the effect on them. The ripple. I try to give them the I love yous, without telling them every time I let you go I think I will never see you again. Because I grew up with that. Everytime I said goodbye to anyone I simply assumed it would be the last time I ever saw them. Because it happened. Because it happens. Because yesterday parents said goodbye to their kids and they will never see them again. Because yesterday 17 children said goodbye to their parents, to brothers and sisters and they will never see them again.

The one thing I have is knowing that my father died standing up for what was right. There is a clear, specific cause and effect for us. I ache every time someone says these tragedies are senseless. These children, these deaths…they’re not senseless, we simply choose to be blind. We refuse to tackle the perfect storm of toxic masculinity, supremacy, lack of mental health care and being able to buy an assault weapon at Walmart easier than getting a driver’s licence or adopting a rescue pet. There is sense behind their deaths. It’s a terrible sense.We must not look away.

These children’s deaths will ripple for generations, those who did not die are still wounded, their children will be, their grandchildren will be. And unless we do something, soon everyone in America will be caught in the maelstrom.

And no offence, but I don’t want you here. I don’t want anyone else here with me.

 

When they tell us to ‘smile’


Feminist Baby knows how to deal with this aready.

By now it has happened to you, if not it will. Some man or even the White House Press Secretary will deem your face unacceptable and insist you rearrange it to their liking. 

 

You might be walking down the street, to school or to identify a body – whatever, and some man will suddenly cry “Smile! You’re too pretty to frown!” or some variation of the same theme. It doesn’t matter if you’re dressed to the nines or in sweats and Ugg boots, men always feel free to comment on our appearance and how it somehow should be altered to make their world a prettier place.

It won’t even matter if you are at the Women’s March, some man will say “Free fuck Trump souvenirs! All you have to do it give me a smile!”

You may want to punch him in his smug probably unshaven face, a completely valid emotional response, or perhaps just scream an obscenity at him. You’d certainly be warranted. Maybe you, like most of us, give a small reflexive smile, all while wishing you had a foam capsule hidden in your cheek to suggest you have rabies and he is next. Despite the fact commenting on someone’s appearance is rude to begin with, we have been trained to take it, lest we ourselves appear rude. But enough with that. I suggest we all take a deep breath and employ all the weapons in our arsenal. Including our smiles.

 

To get you started, here are a few inspirational come-backs you can use.

 

Go for the gut:

 

-It’s just that smell…is that you?

-It just seems wrong to patronize the socially challenged.

-I don’t smile at ugly people

-Your fly is down, and there is nothing there you want to show off.

– Drop and give me twenty.

-Your mama must be so proud! Be sure to tell her when she tucks you in tonight.

 

Dark responses :

 

-Smiling feels wrong when I am about to kill you

-I lost my smile in the war

-Sorry, you remind me of my uncle that  touched me in the bad place

-I am just waiting for the results of my biopsy.

– Give them a big creepy smile with dead eyes and just stare at them. A little too long is just the right amount.

 

Hit him with TMI:

-Sorry, it’s just that my dog died and these infertility hormone shots are just making me crazy. Plus I feel like I am going to puke at any second, and I can’t eat anything but all I want is a tuna fish sandwich. Do you like Tuna? You seem like the kind of guy that like tuna but rarely gets it….

-It’s just that my uterine lining is sloughing off and it feels like the physical embodiment of that time this guy that looks a lot like you made me sit through a Lord Of The Rings marathon.

-I have nerve damage in my face. I was rendered incapable of smiling by men who think I am here to make their world more aesthetically pleasing.

– *Burst into tears*

 

Snarky

-Why, are you gonna give me a cookie?

– That never occurred to me!

Smile big, start skipping and singing

-What? What? (pretending not to hear)

– Thank you for reminding me I am only here to please you.

 

Depending on my mood these are the two favorites I use on a weekly basis:

 

-*Waving hand like Obi-Wan* I am not the woman you are looking for.

-Awe. Bless your heart.

 

Then go buy yourself a latte or a bloody mary. You deserve it for not burning it all down. And if you want to smile a self-satisfied smile while you drink it, go for it. 

So, let’s talk about those pink “Pussy” hats.

 

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I was recently told “Not good enough. Dig deeper” on a Facebook thread about the infamous Pussy hats. Immediately I felt confused,  defensive, and upset. But then I really thought about it. Sometime  our privilege can blind us to seeing farther than our own noses. I had stated that the hats were great last year, pink was for planned parenthood and has been the default color for girl for ages…but things take a life of their own and  while it was empowering to be in a sea of women of all skin colors (though admittedly a touch heavy on the white chicks side) But I will be wearing something else this year.  And then I snidely remarked that if anyone  thought that hat was a true representation of a vagina…well, I don’t even know.

It was a FB comment, short and not containing all I wanted to say. I thought perhaps my message was clear but it wasn’t. So I spent an hour reading op-eds and articles about the start of the pink hat movement and now. The tone has really changed.

Everything happened fast and furious and the pink hats were something that could be shared on line. They were quick and easy to mail, a way to show our upset and unity against Trump.  They made a powerful visual. A sea of pink so deep and wide we couldn’t even actually march because there were too many of us to move!

A year has passed, and while our wounds (well, mine anyway) are re-opened every day by some new fresh hell of a program being cut, or an abuser gas-lighting a nation and his ilk feeling emboldened to bring blatant racism out into the open, some things HAVE changed. One of those things is the meaning and value of the pink hat. Many people don’t feel that the pink hat is inclusive to them.  Women means ALL women. Of all colors. Of all orientations. Cis or trans. Many of them are saying these hats do not represent them. And while we may argue “it’s just a hat!” and “that’s not what we meant!” is the pink pussy hat really a hill to die on?

I sure don’t think so. The pussy hat is safely in my closet with all my other memorabilia from the march and from seeing Hillary, I’ve put it away for my daughter. Maybe she will think it’s a cool show and tell. Maybe she will roll her eyes and think I am ridiculous for saving every little thing, including but not limited to a gold press on tattoo of a uterus. I think fondly on that day, packed like sardines surrounded by a million women and more than a few men, protesting. Sometimes I look back on that moment when I feel alone and need to recharge.

This year we march again, all of us, arm in arm as we watch our democracy slip dangerously into banana republic territory and I want to make it clear I am with all women of all colors, shapes, sizes, orientations, cis or trans. I AM WITH HER.

To do this we must accept that there was racism in feminism. While white women fought for rights, women of color watched their children, cleaned houses and were not allowed to fight alongside them. and in fact were quite vocally excluded from benefits white women were hoping to reap. We cannot go back in time and fix that, it’s past. But there is much we can do now, and an easy one is listen and put away the hat. What does it cost us, as white women, what do we lose as white women to acknowledge the past and work to make our current movement inter-sectional? We lose nothing and we gain everything.  We are, ahem, stronger together.

FEMINISM MUST BE INTER-SECTIONAL OR IT IS NOT FEMINISM AT ALL.

That means so much more than a pink hat. So let go of what the hat meant last year, honor it. It really meant something to me, then but it served it’s purpose.  The resistance, the people are what matters, are what create change. Not a hat. So I will be there in DC marching, and I won’t be wearing a pink pussy hat. I ordered a Mueller Time hat. I hope it comes in time.

For many of us the Women’s March was our first protest, and it was amazing. It was inspiring and inspirational, but the pink pussy hats aren’t like the best souvenir from the best concert we ever went to. Women are in peril in this country. Starting with marginalized women. It is on us who occupy the center to pull focus to them. If they are saying loudly “these hats don’t represent us and in fact make us feel excluded” it costs me NOTHING to say. No hat, got it. I don’t take it personally, I just take off the hat and double down on plans to be vocal in my support of women and their causes. All women.

The real question is does our love for a pink hat supersede our love for our fellow women?

There is only one correct answer to that. No.

Then grab a blue wave hat, or a rainbow hat, or an RBG or whatever you want, and meet me on January 20th.

Cause we have work to do.

 

 

2017 was the year I became Fucking Furious.

2017 was the year I became fucking furious.

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I am Fucking Furious. And I left all my fucks to give about it in 2016 when defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory and we unleashed a serial sex abuser, liar, and all around evil maniac on the world at large. I’d like to say I got angry right away but it took a good long while from the time I tucked my daughter into bed telling her the world would be different in the morning and the morning when I woke her up and it sure as hell was, just not as we had hoped.

 

And I am Fucking Furious.

 

In every way, so far, my day to day life has not been practically affected. No one has come for me, my children, my friends or -and this is my son’s biggest fear- no one has come to cart away his friends. My home life is the same. I shop at the mostly same stores, I do the same things. But every day, though this hasn’t yet landed on my shore, I fight. I call. I resist. I speak out. I am petty AF and tag Susan Sarandon on twitter with “I AM SO ENERGIZED!” when one year olds are separated from their parents by ICE, when a young man adopted as a baby is sent back to a country he has never known, ripped from his family here in America and promptly commits suicide. Super energizing, right?

I know it’s not enough.

 

I am Fucking Furious at the media who still insists on publishing “Who knew it would be this bad?” op eds. WE KNEW. EVERY HILLARY VOTER KNEW. WE FUCKING KNEW AND WE TOLD YOU.

 

I am Fucking Furious that a candidate who got the second highest popular vote win margin all while fighting misinformation, lies, conspiracies and OMG HER EMAILS, is still labeled a ‘flawed candidate.” All candidates are flawed. Human beings are flawed. But even if she didn’t get to shatter that glass ceiling (adjusts tinfoil Hillbot hat and whispers “I bet she did win and it will come out eventually”) she is still not given her due. I am furious  that sexism and misogyny played such a significant role, and that fact is denied in countless ways even as male reporter after male reporter is fired for sexual harassment or abuse…including more than 10 who helped shaped the negative narrative around our first female major party nominee and popular vote winner, ignoring her policy and plans opting to shame her for emails, interrupting her at every turn all while lobbing softballs at a man who brags about grabbing women by the pussy.

 

I am Fucking Furious.

 

2017 was the first time I finally understood the urge to scream “NOT ALL….” because white women elected Trump. Finally, I understood the desire to not be in that group. Because, I worked my ass off to make sure that very thing wouldn’t happen and it wasn’t enough. I am Fucking Furious at white women for so many things. And I’m unbearably rage shaking at the way we raise girls in this country. Because I know all too well that being raised a white girl is to be raised with Stockholm syndrome, identifying with our captors, feeling grateful for scrap. Because there are large areas of this country where information is still controlled and filtered and so many women don’t even know the damage of internalized misogyny. I am Fucking Furious about that. How do we fight that?

I am Fucking Furious that Time named #MeToo the Person of the Year and didn’t have the founder of that movement Tarana Burke front and center on the cover. It’s not that fucking hard, Time.

I am Fucking Furious that making a statement like “Nazis are bad” or “White Supremacy is wrong” are controversial. They should be the baseline of existence. I am fucking furious that Black Lives Matter is compared to terrorist organizations when truly it’s more like Mother’s Against Drunk Driving. Black lives DO matter, and it needs to be said loudly and often because right now in this country black bodies are piling up at an alarming rate due to police violence, and how to we all take a breath, step back and fix this? I am Fucking FURIOUS that a Baltimore officer stepped up to speak truth about this and hey! What do you know…he was murdered before he could.

I am Fucking Furious at purists who set us back decades because progress is slow. I am speechless at what is happening in Puerto Rico and how our news cycle is a veritable Jackson Pollack of disasters and lies. I am Fucking Furious that LGBQT people are being ushered back to the sidelines while “very good people” march with tiki torches.

This year I read the quote “They didn’t burn witches to silence the ones they burned. They burned them to silence the ones who watch.” That hit me. The collective ‘they’ has been trying to burn me since I was 14 and yet here i am. Like Hillary Clinton, I won’t burn. I don’t burn. You can call me names and send me threats on twitter. That’s just like every other Tuesday if you’re a woman.

 

I am Fucking Furious, and 2018 better look the fuck out. Cause I am not the only Furious Woman.

A Life Of Yes

22089035_10154741332530876_2540192492880392141_nShe looked over her trashy magazine at me and said “I don’t want to say I’m pissed you haven’t written anything; but I’m pissed you haven’t written anything.” A few moments later she slapped my thigh, asked if I knew how to swim and challenged me to a cannonball contest. It was a hot July day in what I had declared “The Summer of Yes” and after two summers at the pool together, she has  to ask if I know how to swim. Clearly the previous summers had been a little less yes and a lot more that water is cold and I don’t like to get my hair wet.

 

She whooped me in that cannonball contest. But it was so fun. And the kids, especially my kids were absolutely delighted I was in the water. I got in the water every single pool day after that. Every single day.

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SUMMER OF YES, DULLI! She would scream at me, long after the summer had ended, whenever I hesitated, second guessed myself or was scared. Summer of YES.

 

Kristen Gorman was True North. If she said something was messed up, it was messed up. If she deemed something good, it was good. Her moral compass was impeccable, yet she was loving, forgiving, her negative judgments were not handed out easily, but she had no time for toxic people. She did, however, have infinite time for those growing and learning, whether they were 6 or 60. But man, she called it like she saw it, and she was always right.

 

I don’t remember meeting her. I remember her telling us how she saw Max at age 3 at the ELF school picnic and thought “that looks just like a guy I went to high school with! And there he is…” One of the luckiest events in my life was that Max and Riley were placed in the same class.

 

You cannot think of Kristen without thinking of family. Above everything, Kristen loved her family. Not only are they fiercely loyal to one another but they have the incredible ability to extend their family at will. We all want in on that Riley action, because there is almost no where else in this world you can feel as a part of something great, something GOOD. They opened their home, their table, their hearts to me and mine, Kristen had claimed me and so without a moments hesitation, Bill, Bridget, Shannon, Jackie and Pat let me in.

 

When we had a house fire Kristen was there the next morning with cupcakes for the kids and a fountain Diet Coke for me. There is nothing like a fountain Diet coke.

When my daughter was born she was there that evening, with steak tacos and champagne. Popping the cork work my tiny newborn baby and scared her. Kristen joked she would always be traumatized by her auntie KG.

 

Kristen had an innate ability and an endless energy to BE THERE whenever she was needed. Weakness of any kind was not her thing. Accepting help and letting us comfort her, to have us be the ones to show up with cupcakes or tacos was hard for her.

 

Wisely, Kristen told me she had cancer in a public setting. Whispered over the fire pit in her parent’s driveway. Shannon nearby, came over to help explain. As always, Kristen was positive. I laughed as they cracked jokes, because she said she didn’t want me to fall apart, though even if she hadn’t said that, I wouldn’t have in front of her. Her job at this time was not to take care of me. I shook it off, there were kids who needed hamburgers and can they PLEASE have a sprite? Miss Jackie said they could! I also solemnly swore I would not google Thymic Cancer.

None of us believed I would keep that promise and I did not. I did however promise myself that I would be the friend who brought the funny. That’s kind of my specialty. “are you going to make me shave my head?” I asked, as she said she was out-shedding her dog, Dyson. “I mean, I will. In a heartbeat, but I have to tell you, you will rock the bald head. You’ve got the noggin for it. I’m going to look like that woman from Total Recall.” She laughed and told me I could keep my hair. But I would have shaved it in a heartbeat. I would now if I could have her back. I have no regrets. I talked with her about how hard it was to have others in pain over her health. I was able to give her perspective on how powerless we all feel. How could the inimitable Kristen Gorman be sick? Neither our brains or hearts could understand. She vowed to let people help. But as many times as I tried to bring her milkshakes post chemo or come visit she would always say the same thing “I’m coming to you, Dulli, while I can!” She meant before chemo really knocked her down and surgery sidelined her for a while. A week or two, she said. She was walking down that aisle, for Shannon’s wedding.

It was incredibly important to her that her cancer not overshadow Shannon’s day. No cancer talk at the shower, she insisted. No cancer talk at the wedding.

 

That’s a promise I can keep.

 

My last text to her before her surgery was that I loved her. I did. I do. I always will. It never occurred to me we wouldn’t be texting one another ridiculous gifs (or just beaming them from our brains, whatever it ends up being) when we were 90.

I was going to being her a Fountain Diet Coke as soon as she could have visitors. We held our breath all day during her surgery, only breathing when we got the text that she was out, most was gone, but radiation would do it. I think all of us, channeling KG thought,  let’s do this. But cancer had other plans.

“where is your book? I’m waiting for your book?” she nudged past my fears, yet again.

 

They always say those who go early have too much life in them. Kristen was full of life. And life was joyful. Kristen is my third friend to be gone too early due to cancer. And like both Carrie and Susan, she was full of life. Full of joy. The world is a darker place for the wont of Kristen Gorman.

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Her last text to me was that we have a life of yes to get too. I can’t believe I have to do it without her, but I cannot think of anything I could do more to honor her life is live a life of yes. To pick up the mantel. To be there when others need me, without being asked. To spread joy. To nudge others past their fears. To stand up for what is right, but to make room for those who want to learn and grow. Maybe even learn excel, she loved a good spreadsheet.

 

 

To live a life of yes.

I read the news today, oh boy.

This is a terrorist act. Photo By Ryan Kelly, Daily Progress
I realized about twenty minutes into our time at the playground, surrounded by children’s laughter, that mine were the only white kids there. There was no value attached to this observation, the day was mild and sunny, not too hot, not too cool, just right for a bunch of kids to climb and scream and swing and slide. Oh yeah, there was a zip line too. The reason we were there. Maybe that’s privilege for you, not immediately assessing the racial breakdown of any situation.

My oldest spun around and around with three brand new friends, boys about his age, their faces a blur of smiles and giggles, while one just slightly older and taller pushed them on the tire swing.  They took turns spinning each other so fast I had to look away before I felt dizzy with both feet firmly on the ground. Their laughter and screams of delight louder every go around. My six year old worked hard standing on tip-toes with another boy exactly his height as they struggled together to be just big enough to truly do the zip line. My baby girl, made a beeline directly for two girls, probably 7 or so. She always wants to be where the big girls are. I worried she was cramping their style as she is only three and they were clearly playing a game together, but when I tried to distract her so they could play alone they already knew her name and said it was okay, she was cute. They wanted her with them, and I sat on a wooden climbing apparatus and smiled as they adapted their game and helped her go up and down the slide for twenty minutes straight.

 

I looked around at the 25 or so kids and felt the oddest mix of wanting to cry and yet feeling hopeful. The kids, man. The kids are alright. They didn’t care one bit who was black and who was white. It’s the adults who are messed up.  They were the same age and at the same place and within moments had learned who liked baseball or basketball. Teen Titans Go or Loud House. Nats or Orioles. The important things. They ran and played until everyone was tired and thirsty.

 

As I left one of the women with them complimented my daughter’s hair and mine. “Exactly the same”, she smiled and I made her laugh when I said “I just told the salon to make mine match!” and while we laughed we told one another to have a wonderful day.

 

Last night I watched in disbelief as men carried Tiki Torches, perhaps gotten on clearance at Walmart or Pier One, through Charlottesville, VA. They surrounded a Church. They screamed horrible words at people there to pray for peace. For love.

 

Things kids just know.

Denis Leary’s voice rang in my ears. “Hate is taught. You know what my three year old hates? Naps. End of story.”

Today I cried as I watched white men in khakis, white polos and MAGA hats, arms extended proudly proclaiming “Heil Trump!” I watched them wave Confederate Flags, Nazi Flags, I watched someone purposefully drive a car directly into those there to say no, White Supremacists, we don’t want that here. I watch them in their tactical gear, some in bike helmets and elbow guards, perhaps hoping there will be a roller blade race later, screaming they want their country back.

 

But it’s never been ours, we stole it.

 

I see pictures of black officers being taunted and their deaths called for, and still they stand and protect these monster’s right to free speech. A man on instagram with the username CumRefugee calls me a slut. I’m at a loss. I get a message on FB asking me to “calm down”. I reply, you are free to look away. Perhaps also, look at why you want me to calm down.

The President of the United States speaks and blames both sides. He has a literal Nazi and a White Supremacist in his staff. How much longer can we pretend this isn’t the game plan? I hate him.

The news breaks there is a fatality. Is this death the first official life lost in our new Civil War? I tell my husband if they come to Maryland I will be there, and I know he worries. But I want my kids to see me standing up for what is right.

 

I won’t calm down. I won’t quiet down. People are dying. There is a young man with locs wearing a yoke and chains and it takes my breath away, moments later I cannot help but laugh as I see two middle aged white guys carrying wooden shields attempt to fight and fall upon one another in a pratfall that would have made The Three Stooges proud.

 

I don’t have an answer, how to get to these Nazis and Klansmen, for the media can vacillate on naming them all they want, we know. How to show them a fundamental belief system they’ve been taught is faulty and is causing death. How to show them love is better.

 

But I won’t be quiet. And if you need me, I’ll be driving out the darkness with the light I will find at the playground.

 

Because kids, man, they get it.

I feel bad about my tankini.

me back in the day. I thought I was fat.

me back in the day. I thought I was fat.

 

 

 

I bought a tankini. I mean, I see them everywhere and they look cute on other women, comfy, easy to use the loo in at the pool and of course, they give great coverage to those of us who have, shall we say, some extra padding about the middle and are self conscious about the bum? Yes, let’s go with that. I’m padded.

I bought a tankini.

And the moment I put it on I felt bad about it. For some reason to me, the tankini felt like I had tossed in the last towel. Like, that’s it. I’m no longer a woman. I’m a MOM.

It felt shitty.

Suddenly, and without warning it hit me; this is it. I am a middle aged suburban mom. And that moniker, that thought, was diminutive. Disheartening. I am so much more, aren’t I? Is everything that made me special gone? Is this it? Is the tankini a woman Invisibility Cloak?

Because, of course I love being a mom, not just a mom but their mom. It’s the greatest experience and even when I’m exhausted and they’re cranky it’s still rad. It’s just that everything is different, including- especially my body.

I also love my mom-bod. After years of abuse it somehow managed to build three totally rad, bad ass, cool small people that I not only love more than anything in the world, I like. So I love this bod. 35 pounds heavier than it was, flabby about the middle, my adorable formerly pieced belly button is now stretched and kind of an outtie thanks to diastasis recti (the gift that keeps on giving…as in giving you comments from strangers asking how far along you are). I love it. I am utterly at home in it; but I am also completely uncomfortable in it.

How do I dress this body? Nothing fits like it did. What’s that saying? I wish I was as fat as I was when I thought I was fat? That. And fat or not, it applies. I used to grab clothes off the rack, not even trying them on and go. I knew what worked and what didn’t.

Now? Not so much. I am far too old for the juniors department, and I’ve no desire to spend a ton of money to look like I’m homeless (I’m looking at you Urban Outfitters). The “women’s” department is too old for me…I am not ready for stretchy pants and resort wear. But JCrew? Loft? Yes. But…I have a three year old. Are shirts that must be ironed, really applicable to my life? This is why Target has the market on moms. I can grab Capri Suns and a sundress. It’s both awesome, and depressing. Am I the girl who can’t even take a half an hour to go to an actual clothing store and find something? Don’t I deserve that?Is that selfish? But then again, that Mossimo top is kinda cute…Then there is the real issue: I don’t look like myself. I don’t like how things look on me. I am out of sorts. Will I ever see a picture of myself again and like it? Am I so vain?

Then the mom-guilt kicks in. Mom guilt is like Miranda Priestly “Millions of girls would KILL for your job” and don’t I know it. So many friends who have lost babies or had trouble getting pregnant, staying pregnant. Do I even have, I don’t know, the right to feel wonky in my own body, now that it’s performed it’s miracles?

What do I want? Other than to get over myself and accept my new awesomely heavier body?

Right now all I want is a cute bathing suit, even a tankini, in a matching pattern, or at least a bottom that isn’t black or navy. Apparently it’s cute bikinis but if you want one piece or tankini it’s mostly black, navy, maybe a blue and white pattern.

Bikinis are fun! One pieces…well we might as well put you out to pasture. Maybe I’ll just go ahead and get an old fashioned swim dress.

Because for reals, I feel bad about my tankini.

On raising a girl …

 

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A woman whose name I never got and whose face I cannot remember though I can picture exactly where she was seated as the stylist blew out her said said “you will never regret it is you do, but you might if you don’t” The overheard topic was babies. Should I have one, specifically, should I have another baby. I longed for a third baby, just one more. Honestly, it was as if I could feel her little soul floating over my shoulder whispering in my right ear “well, I’m waiting.”

I knew she would be a girl; though I made the nurse on the other side of the line tell me three times. “I have boys” I said repeatedly “Are you sure?” “99.9% sure, Mrs Dulli. These tests are nearly foolproof” I could hear her smile through the phone as I rested my hand on my already swollen belly, at just ten weeks it was hard to believe, and the boys danced around me in the living room. Still, I told her, I wasn’t buying anything until I saw it on the monitor. Seeing is believing. 2 months later there she was, crystal clear on the big screen TV monitor. Perfect, and wiggly, definitely a girl. “BRING ME ALL THE PINK!” I joked to my husband as we left the high risk doctor.”Yeah!” He replied “Let’s Pepto Bismol the whole place!”

Tonight, nearly three, she snuggles in the nook of me and cries a little as she falls asleep. She almost always cries, sounding as if she is in pain, as sleep takes over while I shhhhh and stroke her hair. She frequently wags a finger to the ceiling and says “no, no, no, no!” Sometimes she is so upset that I tell that ceiling to leave my baby alone; she doesn’t like it. Eventually she sighs and grows heavy against me. She smells of apples , her hair softer than silk. Her beloved, ratty Bunny held close as her breathing becomes deeper and deeper. I look up, past the ceiling and beg God to keep her safe. All of them. My three.

But my girl. I know what happens to girls. So especially my girl, I ask God. Protect her. Keep her safe.

And God forgive me for what I will do if someone truly hurts her. If someone does to her what was done to me, to so many of my friends. To so many strangers on the internet who share and support. Varying shades and levels of abuses and traumas. The systemic breakdown of self esteem and self preservation. The undermining of knowing we are right to say no. To fight back. We teach our girls to be small, then we punish them when they are overtaken.

She is now small in stature but not in spirit. She is tough; she has two older brothers who both protect her and put her through boy boot camp. She is all girl, pink and sparkles and ballet; but mess with her and she will neck punch you before you know it. She’s a tiny pink bad-ass. I say past the ceiling to God, I vow that I will not let this be beat out of her. Every day I watch as the world rolls back progress. It is terrifying.

I turn my head, inhaling her sweet scent and kissing her delicate forehead and ask one last time for her protection. And for grace and temperance for myself.

 

The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree.

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I fucking hate The Giving Tree. Like I haaaaaate it, you guys.  I truly think that Tree is partly responsible for the downfall of society. Controversial statement, I know. Stick with me..

So, The Boy is all I want this and I want that and I’m bored and I’m tired and I want mooooooooore. And The Tree is like sleep in my shade, eat my apples, take my leaves, my branches! Chop me down! My life doesn’t matter! And The Boy is like YES!  Then The Boy/Rude Man Baby is like Oh! I am so weary! and The Tree is happy to offer up her GRAVE. Come and rest upon my rotten bones! I am so desperately happy that you threw me this scrap of attention, even though you forgot my birthday and you never call. I am so glad you are here!

And the Man Baby is…asleep.

And The Tree was happy.

No. No Rude Man Baby. No.

I believe in sacrificing for my kids. I left my sister and newborn nephew and moved all the way across the country because Maryland is a better place to raise children that Los Angeles.

I lived with my in-laws on PURPOSE for probably longer than we should have because it was best for my son.

While my children are adorably coordinated in Gap Kids and Gymboree, I buy my clothes at the same store I buy my groceries.

We go without so our kids can have more. We want them to have better lives, easier lives, isn’t that the goal? But do we have to sacrifice ourselves into nothingness? And is that what’s best for our children?

It’s not that I don’t understand where The Tree is coming from, I want to give my kids everything. I want to put them in a happy bubble where whatever they want or need is immediately given to them and they never know disappointment or worse, pain.

But when my kids lose their left shoes (why is it always the left shoe?) almost every morning before school, my heart wants to tell them “hold on sweethearts! Mommy will find it, everything will be okay”. But I don’t. Because, no. I say ” where did you leave it last? This is why we have these baskets at the front door. When you take your shoes off, just toss them in the basket and you’ll know right where they are!” I say this every day, possibly for the next few years, because I know if they remember that I casually mentioned that I might take them to ToysRUs this weekend eventually they will remember to put their shoes in the basket.

Here is where my inner Tree monologue gets a little conflicted. I know it’s hard to be young, there is so much to learn but OMG every morning with the shoes! The going to school process is the same every.damn.day.

So, I keep chipping away at it.

I also say abusive things like “You know where the cups are. You can get some water.” when faced with the millionth “I’m thirsty!” or “you have young, strong legs. Go upstairs and get your kindle your damn self!” I don’t say “damn self” of course, because I am not a total monster. And of course this has to be age appropriate. I don’t expect my 2 year old to do the same things as my almost 9 year old. I don’t say these things because I am lazy or mean, though sometimes it feels this way. I do thins because I want them to be able to identify a want or a need they have and take care of it themselves if they can. I also want them to know how to ask for help if they need it and that needing help isn’t a failure. So I don’t want you to think I don’t help them or support them. I do.

Truthfully I just want to cover them with love and kissed all the time.

Sometimes I do. I can be a Smother Mother to the extent I put Beverly Goldberg to shame. Which might be why my oldest loves that show so much, he identifies. I have stormed school offices, demanded things from doctors and insisted everyone cave to my plan for my child because dammit I am RIGHT, and no one better mess with my babies.

Perhaps what I hate about The Tree is that if I could do that all the time, I would. But it wouldn’t be right. Because Rude Man Baby.

If we do our job correctly, we parent ourselves out of a job. If we encourage, require and show by example, perhaps our kids will not only be able to get themselves a drink when they’re thirst but ask others if they would like one as well. 

If we do our jobs correctly perhaps they’ll be able to find both their shoes and get to school on time, and then college on time, and then a job on time, and then church on time, and then God willing, the hospital on time. Perhaps then, when they place that sweet grand baby in my arms I will embrace my inner Giving Tree wholly and completely without exceptions and my sons and daughter and their partners will roll their eyes at one another as I sneak the kids ice cream with sprinkles for breakfast and they will whisper to one another:

I fucking hate The Giving Tree.

How Hillary Clinton and a Barista named Aaron kept me going.

 

16195130_10153984448085876_8882475005335036163_nIt was shortly after the election day, I was devastated. Like many others I had put my daughter to bed whispering , hoping I did’t jinx it. “Tomorrow when you wake up, it will be a whole new world.”

I jinxed it.

I didn’t lie to her. It was. It was a world where a sexual predator with no experience won over a woman more qualified than he could ever hope to be. Despite the medias non-stop barrage that she was was unpopular, Hillary Clinton was and is beloved. I know because we showed up to vote. We called, we wrote, we joined FB groups, and mobilized in her defense fighting inflammatory lies on line with facts. We canvasses and campaigned our hearts out and I stand by our love for her because all of those groups are still going. We haven’t abandoned her, or our love for her. We struggle for the words to  capture what she means to us, how she has inspired us, and we share with gusto when someone writes a piece that does so. We love her and voted for her enthusiastically and unapologetically.

We got the message loud and clear from the media, it was cool to love Bernie. Uncool to love Hillary.

Good thing we don’t care about being cool.

Hillary took to the woods, as well she should have, but those of us with daily jobs and small children had to keep going.  I was so depressed. Everywhere I went I was met with sympathetic eyes, sending messages of “me too”.  My town became smaller then. Because we were sending one another signs that we felt the same.  It felt like someone we loved had died and everywhere we went we encountered more mourners. We wandered around in a stupor of disbelief.  For those of us of the female persuasion it felt like we had come so close, so close, only to be told not only do we have to be PERFECT (she was a “flawed” candidate) but that by a tight margin people voted in a man who is a walking trigger warning.

My husband held me in his arms while I cried many times.  He reassured me we would be okay. I insisted other’s wouldn’t be. He told me he understood and we would be more involved. He told me it wouldn’t be too bad and didn’t even get angry when I told him he just could never understand.

After that I ate a lot of cookie dough.

Then, like a mystical creature, a Hillary sighting! Happy, relaxed, healing in her Technicolor Dream Coat (Hill, call me, let’s shop.) There she was, chatting with fellow hikers, visiting restaurants in her neighborhood. Interacting and living. If she can do it, so can I.

I reveled in every Facebook post and Instagram story that appeared. When she began speaking again I knew I was validated in my love for her. And I wept over how lucky we would have been to have her.

We didn’t just want A woman president. We wanted HER.

I run through the Starbucks drive-through frequently. I’m about as basic as basic gets and my two big weekly outings, as a work from home mom, are the ubiquitous Target and Starbucks. So, it was as I pulled up to the window I offered a weak smile to the young man taking my card. “How are you?” He asked out of routine. As an oversharer by nature I said “Well I am going to the march and that’s basically all that’s keeping me going.” He looked me dead in the eyes and said “I hear ya.” “What are we going to do?” I asked him,  all of probably 22 years old . He is 6 feet tall and strong, people might call him a thug if they saw him in a hoodie, but he was a  lifeline that day. We talked about how upset we were. How we were in this together. Right then I felt better. We are in this together. This young barista knows I have his back. I know he has mine. We joked about joining the resistance a la Star Wars and then at a later Drive Through chat we laughed about how we had done just that.

I look forward to seeing him. I once made him laugh when he said “I heard you over the speaker and said ‘I know her!'” I responded “it’s me! Your friendly neighborhood outraged stay at home mom!” His laugh filled my heart right up.

We chatted politics and smalls wins we have had. I want to ask him more about himself but there is rarely time. Everyone wants their double shot espressos and Flat Whites and I don’t blame them. I want my soy latte and I want it now. I can never thank Aaron for the gift he gave me that day in December when we first started speaking. How I think of him as a nephew, a son? I can only hope I helped him a little bit too. I know he helped me. He does every time I see him in the drive through and we talk.

When I feel down and like the Jackson Pollack like flinging of destruction coming at me is too much. I think of Hillary Clinton and of Aaron.

Then I get up and get going. I got some resisting to do.