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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.

 

 

 

You might be a Garbage Person if…

Unless you are the elusive unicorn mom who allows absolutely zero screen time (and I salute you if you are she), then at some point your children have been entranced by these videos of people opening toys on YouTube. From there it’s an easy trip down the Rabbit Hole and suddenly, even with all the parental controls that ever controlled, you kids end up seeing something they shouldn’t.

Here is my adorable daughter enjoying a break from her second birthday photoshoot. With my iphone.

Here is my adorable daughter enjoying a break from her second birthday photoshoot. With my iphone.

Now, I know what you’re going to say, it’s my job to make sure they don’t see anything and you’re absolutely right. The onus is always on us to guard our children. But I want to talk about the nefarious garbage people who make horrible videos for kids. And I am not talking ridiculous consumption of toys horrible, I’m talking about hearing the dulcet tones of the Peppa Pig theme followed by “I’M GONNA RAPE YOU IN THE ASS!” when they announce Daddy Pig horrible.

There is an entire community of grown adults who make these videos reenacting scenes with kids toys and making them horribly perverted. Yes, freedom of speech and expression, totally. Absolutely. But the end game seems to make sure they are in the video stream with the sweet-if cloying Disney Collector and the channels where people use the toys to teach colors and numbers. They specifically target kids. They enjoy this. They want the kids to see this filth.

My husband has his office in his home. I am a writer and photographer so I am frequently either writing or editing on my computer. My children’s school uses websites for math skills and english exercises. Pretending devices aren’t a part of our lives would be silly. They are. And as I do work from home there are times when I have to take a call, submit an article or deliver a gallery and it has to be done THEN. For that there is only one thing that can ensure ten minutes or so of time for me. And that is damn toy videos on YouTube. The next thing you know I hear that Owlette has been knocked up by Gecko from PJMasks and Catboy is pissed and wants to beat the shit out of Gecko.

If you’re not familiar with PJ Masks these characters are LITTLE KIDS who fight crime in their jammies at bedtime.

My oldest today came to me with all manner of questions about Santa. I was unprepared as, you know, it’s Spring. He happened upon videos of parents telling their kids Santa isn’t real. Everyone handles this differently, and as for me and my house we do Santa. Like, big time whoa we do Santa. I am ALL IN for the Santa experience. I myself am not entirely sure the big guy isn’t just hanging out at the North Pole with the elves. I once met Ed Asner and I swear he is moonlighting as a plain human 364 days a year.  I mean you guys, I am not kidding. The twinkle in his eye is pure magic.

I knew we  would have this conversation eventually and as of now he is “Leaning towards” me being Santa, but as he showed me the videos all could think was :

You people are garbage people.

Now, every Halloween I am accused of having ‘no sense of humor’ when it comes to the Jimmy Kimmel videos of the parent’s stealing the children’s candy.  I think a lot of things are funny, even the kid fail videos my kids’s show me. But making our kids cry on purpose? Taking something from one smaller that us? That’s not funny to me. That’s bullying. That’s what we are supposedly trying to teach our kids not to do! So go ahead, call me a pussy. I’ve been called it every year when I say it’s not cool…I can take it.

But I maintain if you knowingly set out to expose children to horrible things by making disgusting videos with kids’ shows and toys, or if you try to ruin childhood for others. Well then, you might be a garbage person.

And by might, I mean you are. Garbage. Person.

 

I hope you…

 

 

 

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My son at his schools multi-cultural night where the kids got passports and travelled around learning about where everyone is from. One of my favorite school events.

I am my son’s school for a surprise party. The kindergarteners have gathered on the rug in one gaggle of wiggles, they had filled out these adorable questionnaires;  their teacher was leaving to have a baby and they had all written their wishes for the new arrival.

 

“I hope you get a lot of toys.”

“I hope you get to go to Disney”

“I hope you like your brother”

“I hope you are not afraid of me”

When I volunteer there are some children who are a joy to work with, and this little girl is one of them. More often than not she wears a fancy party dress to school, with tennis shoes. I dig it. Pretty, but still ready to tear up the playground. Her name is one that is just different enough to feel unusual on my tongue and I wanted to get it right.

“It’s a long ‘eeeee’ sound, mommy. Not a short e sound.” says my five year old. I think to myself, ‘Suck on that Betsy DeVos.’

My sons attend a diverse school, and while my babies with their peaches and cream skin SEE color and acknowledge it, so far they haven’t attached value to it. Blond isn’t better than brown. White isn’t better than black. It’s just facts. And I have reveled in this. I mean, isn’t this what we want? It’s as easy as breathing for them to see, understand, and celebrate the differences without everyone being DIFFERENT. Because really they are all five and they just want to learn and play and eat goldfish crackers. It smacks me in the face again that I’ve not considered how the other children feel. I realize now, the world outside of the classroom is not that way for all of them. These children giggling all around me, some have already learned.

 

“I hope you are not afraid of me”

 

When my oldest was reading, I AM JACKIE ROBINSON, he learned that Jackie wasn’t allowed to swim in the pools with the white kids. When I explained the reason – my heart aching that I was even introducing the concept, but I guess at some point you have too- he said “Wait, so Isaac couldn’t swim with me?” “No, honey, back then some people thought white people and black people shouldn’t be friends.” “That’s so stupid.” he said, taking a long pause and getting right to the heart of it. “Isaac is a MUCH better swimmer than me ”

 

 

I watch as she tears into a present, their teacher has decided to let the children open her gifts for her and they do so gleefully and with abandon.

She is a tiny little thing, a firecracker of a girl, and you cannot help but smile when she smiles at you, her dimples deepening. She runs to me with a hug every time I see her, and her giggle is like bubbles. She is just about as darling as a kindergarten girl could be. Oh Halloween she wore, you guessed it, a fancy party dress and a tiara placed right on top of her bright hijab.

 

She hopes you are not afraid of her.

 

Imagine. She’s five. She hopes a brand new baby, not even born, will not be afraid of her. Maybe I am overreacting. Maybe I have a heavy case of white, liberal guilt. (Let’s not kid ourselves, I definitely do.) But all those questionnaires… “I hope you ride a pony” “I hope you get lots of hugs.” “I hope Santa brings you chocolate” and one, lone, heartbreaking message.

 

“I hope you are not afraid of me.”

 

I wish I could whisper in her ear, “I am not afraid of you. I adore you, and you are perfect exactly as you are.” I wish I could step in front of whomever may hurl harsh words or worse her way.

 

She is so sweet, so pure. I look at her and I see my own daughter in two years. She also loves a good party dress and tennies.

 

I suppose the best thing I can do is raise my children to not be afraid. To not be afraid, and to not cause others to be afraid. To continue to welcome everyone. To think that different is good. Some people are Muslim, some are Catholic. Some people like baseball. Some people like ballet. Some people have blond hair. Some people wear hijabs. Just like Kindergarten.

 

But we are all just people.


And I am not afraid of you.

It’s a double edged sword.

I was only a month younger than my daughter when my father was murdered.

I was only a month younger than my daughter when my father was murdered.

Something has been heavy in my mind lately. Last year I, like so  many of us, got into Serial, the NPR Podcast on the death of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee and the case against her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed who had been convicted of her murder. I was not just ‘in to” Serial I was  OSBESSED with it.  My husband I listened, we researched and the hours we spent discussing it and the Undisclosed podcast, well, we probably could have gotten a lot of other stuff done. It seemed clear that Adnan Syed was not guilty, or at the very least was not given a fair trial. It was all about Adnan. But my heart was filled with Hae.
A few months ago Making a Murderer took Netflix by storm. Was Teresa Halbach really murdered by Steven Avery or was this an intricate plot by the state? This documentary took me longer to get into and honestly, I’m less outraged by it than most, with the exception of the (then) young cousin. I finished it a week ago and have crossed Manitowoc off my vacations spots thank you very much. I know all about the Avery family, and not nearly enough about Teresa Halbach.
This past week Serial’s Syed had a hearing for a new trial, it  began on Tuesday and wrapped up the following Monday and I hit refresh on that Twitter hashtag like I was playing the quarter slots in Vegas.

But still my heart was heavy.

I understand the stories of the killers are always the most fascinating. I love this stuff. And here we have two VERY intricate cases of what appears to us all as well, a criminal investigation clusterfuck. But I know all too well how the victim, and the victims families are usually a one liner at the end of the article or news story.

My father was murdered when I was a very little girl and I know how it can destroy a family

I keep thinking about the Halbach family, and especially this week, Hae Min Lee’s family. You see, every time there is an appeal, every time anything comes up it resets the grief clock. It’s losing your loved one all over again. And when you’ve lost someone in a vile and violent way, it’s horrific.
Today I saw a tweet about the Lee family and their “misplaced”anger. How could they be so certain about Adnan? How could they not be furious with the judicial system???

Because they have to be. And so do the Halbachs. And so did we. Because in the dark of the night when you can’t sleep and you mind goes to your loved ones last horrible moments-seared into your brain in a minute by minute account- the only balm we have for the wound is that their murderer won’t kill again. There will be other murders. But no one else will suffer the same exact fate as our loved one at the hand of their killer. No other family will suffer the same loss because we got him. He is off the street and that gives our loss a strange meaning. Their death may have saved others.

My family had a luxury they don’t. We absolutely had the right guy. We had witness after witness, his own words, evidence…it was a lock. Yet every appeal destroyed us.

My mother taught me early that it’s no good just to get a guy, you have to get THE guy. And we had the guy.
Still, I remember seeing my father’s killers  children on tv (then older than my father was when he was murdered) begging for their father’s life (and this is NOT a DP debate) I remember feeling so…outraged and forgotten. This man who had destroyed so many had three squares a day and a fully paid for degree, and 19 years to get to know his kids while we struggled, and I didn’t have one memory of my father. I have memories of the trials and sentencing though.I was furious with the empathy given to them (I’m grown now and can appreciate their loss as well) and my father? He was an afterthought

The Lees and Halbachs are going through this a thousand fold. Only so much worse.

I cannot speak for them exactly, but it’s the worst nightmare, their loved one is being murdered all over again and it feels like the world values their murderer over the victim.

So please, be kind. Remember Teresa and Hae.  Understand their families pain. They hold NO RESPONSIBILITY for the convictions.  As we  tweet and support Adnan (which I do) remember their pain. They are just trying to breathe day by day.

It really is no good to get any guy, you have to get THE guy. And currently there are too many questions about whether Adnan Syed is the guy. A new trial will answer that once and for all but for them? It’s torture. It’s terror. It’s happening all over again.

Justice for Hae is tied to justice for Adnan. If he is innocent then Hae’s murderer still walks free and the comfort that her death was not in vain is taken from them as well.

So yes, absolutely we need reform. We need to look hard at cases like Adnan Syed. But let’s not let the victims be victimized all over again. We can do that by understanding their outrage if they have it. By allowing them to rage without repercussion from us, the bystanders. Because they fear the loss of another’s loved one. They fear the loss of the comforting thought in the middle of the night.

And most importantly by not letting their loved ones be only a final line in the article.

Fear The Walking Dead, let’s discuss.

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We are four episodes into Fear The Walking Dead and I’m intrigued. I’m on board. Mostly on the strength of the main couple. I like both those actors and I’m in for a few more to see where we are heading with all this.

I would have loved to see the breakdown for casting the part of Travis; “seeking clean cut, good boy with an underlying essence of grit and toughness.  He is a family man but we can see the  journey he has taken, and will take in his eyes. Must be vaguely ethnic. Could he be Middle Eastern, Egyptian, maybe he is Sicilian or Portuguese?  Must NOT be Black. as he will not be killed off.” (we all know in the Walking Dead universe we are only allowed one Black guy at a time. And FTWD went and killed off Fiona Apple’s err…Alicia’s boyfriend in the first ep. Thus far we haven’t been introduced to another Black main character. Also, sometimes we have to trade someone rad like T-Dog or Tyrese and we get to keep someone like Derpy Bob,  and that’s just not fair. PLUS we all agree Sasha deserves  better, right? RIGHT? I digress…)

I thought it was a little trite that the premiere had only the junkie and the troubled kid at school saying something crazy stuff was going down. OH! And then of course there was Nick’s old BFF Preppy Cute Black guy who turned out to be the drug dealer and then, you know, died. 

But whatever. I love the Walking Dead so much I am hanging in, and honestly shouldn’t the premise of it all beginning be SCARIER? Like, we should all be able to imagine this happening. But my husband and I intersperse voracious watching with quoting Shaun Of The Dead. You’ve got red on you.

Next  we need to talk about Nick’s hair. Listen, Nick, we all have our struggles. His include being a junkie with greasy hair that can withstand even a slightly slimy chlorinated pool. I’d say perhaps the slime gave him a grease assist, but we are four episodes in and we know….that ish is all you. It’s like Edward Scissorhands was a formative experience in young Nick’s life and he thought “I’m gonna get that hair! But less stylish”  This week featured the rounding up of the sick and the weak and the ever wise, slightly annoying but somehow I still love him Mr. Salazar warned Assistant Principal Barbie that they say you’ll come back but ya don’t.  Of course Nick was rounded up for being an addict and carefully placed in an ambulance, no that’s wrong, they tossed him in a truck like cattle and he was whisked off to the hospital(?) We know he will be back since he is the main character’s son, which is kinda too bad because he takes away from Fiona’s self harm, breaking and entering story line, which is really only missing an instrumental version of “Criminal”. Poor kid. We can only hope that before Nick escapes he makes use of the industrial showers and some Head & Shoulders Oily Hair shampoo.

And maybe some bronzer. This is LA, after all.

Travis’ son Chris is the sleeper hero. They discount him already but he is the one who tried to help Fiona get over the fence when next door neighbor auntie was trying to eat her. He’s optimistically documenting what’s going down in hopes of scoring a TLC special once the world is righted. Perched on the roof (like a fiddler while LA burns) he notices a flashing light. Do we think the blinking light is a person? Is that Morse code? I don’t know Morse code, do you? And how would one look it up in order to try to communicate? I mean iPhone is dead, Google is gone. Dad doesn’t believe but Stepmom Barbie does, and perches herself roof top to watch the beautiful early morning sunrise with a mini flashlight, blinking. I’m pretty sure she is messaging “Is Sephora still standing? I am almost out of this AMAZING lip color!”

Someone blinks back. “No girl, it’s gone. Also everyone is dead.”

Will our hearty crew reunite with Nick? Will they bust out of the fence and go in search of Blinky? And will be Blinky be black? Cause if so, don’t get too attached.

 

Are you guys enjoying the show? Thoughts?

Whole 30 when you have been eating disordered.

 

10835168_10152659607565876_5416511026038435177_oThis summer my entire family decided to do Whole30 and I was definitely on board. Once I had Piper and was able to eat again I basically went crazy.  I was feeling sluggish and crappy and honestly?  I have a sugar problem. As in I was eating a big bag of Hershey Kisses a day. No exaggeration. So, primarily I wanted to do it to get that out  of my system. I knew I wasn’t eating well and I know food really DOES impact how we feel, think and behave.

I was in bad habits and wanted to change them, but as an eating disordered person I know this can be a tricky business. In fact one thing that snuck up on me was when I had HG and my neonatologist had be sipping protein shakes trying to keep them down I ended up switching shakes. The ones he had prescribed were the same ones I was on when I had to relearn how to have food. Without even realizing it I started thinking how great it was! I was thinking when the baby was born I would just keep eating ice chips and drinking the shakes. As soon as I recognized that thought pattern, I changed shakes and flavors and that helped a lot.

My point is that as far out as I am from eating disordered behaviors, the thoughts sometimes pop up.  And as I want to stay alive I do need to consume my addictive substance-food. I cannot quit it like a drug addict. I need to have my addictive substance while not having addictive behaviors. And for many eating disordered people, restrictive diets are an addictive behavior.

For me restrictive diets are both a good thing- they give me freedom from worry. I know what I am allowed and not allowed and like any structure I find comfort within them.  However, they are also a bad thing. Because I’m a bit like Crocodile Dundee and his “That’s not a knife” quote. That’s not a restrictive diet. THIS is a restrictive diet! And the next thing I know I am only eating 5 thin slices of apple and 7 almonds. That only can last so long before I will binge and purge.

So, I knew going into this I needed to be careful. Luckily for me I had already done a restrictive elimination diet before under a doctor’s care and knew a few things, like corn tortillas etc were fine for me. I went in to it with a resolve to focus on health and energy and not worry about weight. (Which was good because at the end of the  30 days I weighed the exact same) I made a few of my own rules, I had splenda in my coffee and non-dairy creamer. I already knew dairy was really hard on my system.  So was definitely cutting that out.

I realized several things during this month. One: my stomach was a lot smaller than I thought. Once I got over that omg I want all the junk food craving I was satisfied with decent sized portions and able to stop when I was full a lot easier. Two: by the second week the cravings were gone and I wasn’t feeling like I was being deprived. Three: I have a sweet craving in the afternoon and it was easily taken care of with almonds, coconut, and dried cranberries (get the ones from the salad toppings section, not craisins) Four: I felt GREAT! I had so much more energy, I was sleeping better, my skin was looking good. All around it was  a total win! Five: while I didn’t lose weight, it was like I depuffed. It was the weirdest thing!

Then we went to the beach and we ate our own weight in ice cream. And I puffed right back up!

My general plan is a 90/10 split. I want to eat whole 30 compliant most f the time but have the freedom to have a hot fudge sundae without feeling badly. I want to be vigilant, not only for me but for my daughter. I want to focus on being strong and healthy and NOT on weight loss or being thin. I will verbalize why i choose salads with protein over pastas….I simply FEEL better. But I will make sure she sees me indulge, she will see me enjoy ice cream and birthday cakes. Mostly I want her to see me honor my needs and actual hunger. I will grab a snack if I am hungry. I won’t say the word diet to her or to myself.

I almost died from an eating disorder and I will do my best to guard my girl from that experience.

It starts with being healthy. That’s my vow.

(You can read about my struggle with eating disorders here)

What qualifies a woman?

baby girl me. looking like a boy.

baby girl me. looking like a boy.

Before I had even finished gulping my coffee this morning I clicked a link making the rounds on good old Facebook that was rage inducing. I was prepared to be rage filled by the comment my friend had added to it when she shared the link:

I guess since I can’t have kids, I am not a real woman. 

OUCH.

Of course the piece was a half cocked (yes, I said it) rant about how Caitlyn Jenner is really just a freak and while he (her word) can empathize with women, she can never identify as a woman. Because the author of the piece is super qualified with all sorts of intricate psychology degrees and is a neuroscientist she feels that she is supremely qualified to, well, qualify what makes a woman.

Wait, no. She has a vagina. THAT’S what makes her qualified to proclaim the qualifications of womanhood. (feel free to drink every time I write any variation of “qualify”) Hey! I also have a vagina and thus am equally qualified! (drink!)

This woman has every right to her opinion…except her opinion helps have a body count of trans teens who kill themselves. It’s a high rate.

And really? What DOES qualify a woman? She lists searing pain every 28 days, but hopping on up and getting shit done, cause that’s what a woman does. Well, what if you DON’T have searing pain? Or what if you have such debilitating pain that you cannot hop up and get shit done?

Hand in your woman card.

Also, Caitlyn can NEVER give birth. So she doesn’t qualify. So, by her standards, are all those who are unable to conceive, carry and deliver a child not women?

Next of course is menopause and hot flashes. At this point my mother needs to have her woman card forcibly taken from her. She didn’t have hot flashes.

Clearly she isn’t a woman.

And the one that struck me the hardest was the description of being stuck on the side of the road, two men stop and you pray they are there with good intentions and not to assault you. Clearly no trans person has ever felt fear like this. Assaults on trans women are at a terrifyingly high level, both by someone they know as well as strangers. If anyone can identify with this, it’s trans women.

What upsets me most about articles like this, that paint in broad condemning strokes is that while the author is right that Miss Jenner has and does enjoy a financially secured, white privilege life and her transition has been under the best of circumstances not all trans kids have these circumstances. Widespread viral articles like these can affirm what may be the deepest fears of some trans kids.

That they aren’t real…anything.  (I am not trans, and I personally don’t think I could every adequately describe their journey or fears.)

None of us, none of us fit into neat tiny little boxes. None of us. I was born a woman, but I don’t fit into all the neat little requirements she lays down. Perhaps you don’t either.

Being a human isn’t like earning a college degree where you have to take all the prerequisites. Being a human is something we just ARE. State of being verb. To be or not to be, that is the question and all that.

We have been commanded to LOVE one another. Above all else, I don’t understand the vitriol this author is hurling but I am trying to send her love. I’m trying send you love. I’m trying to send Caitlyn Jenner love.

We are all just trying to BE.

Every lifetime is a journey.

There are no qualifications for womanhood. If you cannot have a child physically, let me reassure you that doesn’t lessen your womanhood. I am sending you love.

If you are knocked out by menstrual disorders, or have the easiest periods ever…still a woman. Sending you love.

If you are a trans woman, you’re a woman. Sending you love.

 

Let’s all just BE.

Love you all. Happy Monday.

Can you swim?

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“Stearns! Can you swim?” Kristen said slapping my thigh with the back of her hand as she got up from our heavenly station in the lounge chairs at the pool. A valid question since until this year my friends had never even seen me in the shallow end. I assured her I could and she told me to follow her, hollering at our gaggle of children to meet us at the Well. We, the adults, were going to have a canon ball contest.

It was adult swim, which every kid knows is the longest fifteen minutes in the history of ever, and snacks had already been had, sodas and juice boxes consumed and the wait to get back in the water seemed interminable to them. And if I am being honest, to us moms too.

Alright then! A canon ball contest it was.  The kids all lined up, big and small, feet dangling into the deep water as they perched on the edge of the pool waiting for the adults to be kids.  Kristen was first and I watched her sure footedly run? march? jog? to the end of the diving board and leap in. The kids screamed with joy, both desperately wanting to and trying to avoid being splashed. Then it was my turn, I admitted I was a little scared. I had visions of slipping on that diving board and landing flat on my butt before tipping ass over teakettle into the water.

I took a tentative bounce and then SPLASH! Into the water I went. The kids squealed with delight, at least mine did. As I swam to the side I was given a ten! A TEN! I was riding high on that score! That is until Tyler, the  teen aged lifeguard joined in and quickly scored a 30.  We did it over and over, other adults joining in to the delight of the kids. It was the fastest adult swim ever.

And honestly? I had so much fun.

Afterwards Max told me “mom, you were a little bad at that. But that’s okay cause you were just starting.” Game on, dude. I’m arranging Canon Ball Instructions from Kristen toute de suite.

Imma get that thirty.