Monday, September 26, 2011

Homecoming... Come Home.

Freckles texted me last night... "Do you like my homecoming dress?"  Attached was a photo of herself in a formal.

This is not how I thought this would go down.  My first daughter, her first "formal" dance, maybe her first boyfriend.  I guess... I just had different expectations.  

I don't know where she got the dress or how much it cost.  I do not know the boy's name, or age, or grade... or... anything.  I don't know where they are going for dinner.  I don't know what shoes she will be wearing or what kind of flowers she wants.  I don't know if she is going to wear her hair up or down.  I don't know if she is going to wear a necklace... earrings... or go with the classic, clean "less is more" attitude. 

I guess this is one of the many moments I have to anticipate in which I will have to let go of my expectations regarding our mother-daughter relationship.  This is a lesson in creating new expectations.

When the Other Mothers are discussing homecoming and their daughters' dresses, dates, and flowers... I will simply remain quiet with my heart aching silently.  When I see their pretty pictures on Facebook I will *like* them and then try to remind myself that in the end, I will have a real, authentic relationship with my daughter one day.  We will be two women who mutually respect and love each other, with different mother-daughter expectations than our peers have or than the generations of women before us had.  We may not be able to share many memories from this time of our lives... but one day... our hearts will be open and full and rich.

Until then I ache for her to come home.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

49% Of a Mother

Relief line in San Antonio, TX, 1939. Photographer: Russell Lee
Times are hard.  Have you heard?  Our economic climate has been compared to the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  Our family is beyond living paycheck to paycheck.  With S’s support and the encouragement of our peers I applied for some assistance to help us purchase food for the children and ourselves.  Food Stamps.  In Illinois this is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and otherwise more familiarly known as “The LINK Card.”

The application process alone requires a large swallowing of pride and ego not to mention a fairly high IQ score.  The application was not difficult to complete, but it was lengthy, and the process was not easy by any means… And I am a college educated woman with resources like a car, a telephone, a computer and printer, and internet service.  At one point in the application process I felt fortunate for having a home address.
"Migrant Mother" feeding herself and her children frozen vegetables and killed birds. Photographer: Dorothea Lange

Why did S and I choose to request food assistance?

We care about our health and the health of our children.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the top 3 leading causes of death in Illinois and in our nation are heart disease, cancer, and stroke (in that respective order).  According to the World Health Organization (WHO) these are nutrition-related chronic diseases (NCDs) along with obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, and dental diseases.  Eating poorly and not getting enough physical activity is killing us.

I used to think it was cheaper to buy “real food” instead of processed foods and cook at home.  I used to think if one absolutely “had to” utilize a fast food restaurant they could simply make a healthier choice in the menu items of salads and grilled items. 

I was wrong.

The grilled sandwiches and salads at fast food restaurants are more expensive and still often laden with mayo, cheese, or high fat dressings.  Sometimes it really is cheaper to order off the dollar menu, than to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the store.  Canned vegetables and fruits are less expensive and less nutritionally dense than fresh, not to mention the TASTE factor.  Often times when people tell me that they don’t like a particular vegetable, I ask how they prepare it.  If it involves a can opener or defrosting – that’s the first problem. 

An overwhelmed an overworked parent simply does not have the TIME to exercise.  I promise you.  This is not an excuse.  I have 3 jobs and I am in graduate school and I sometimes don’t feel like I have time to walk my dog.  That is my only physical activity. 

I have gone to the store with $20.  Because I only had $20.  It is a lot cheaper to buy a box dinner, a pound of ground beef, a gallon of milk, a can of peaches, a loaf of white bread, and call it DINNER.

That “dinner” that I just bought for around $20 at a Shop-n-Save is highly processed, high in saturated fats; offers little to no fiber; and is laden in things like preservatives, corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, MSG, food coloring… I could go on.  It has been proven that a low fiber, high fat diet increases ones risk for all of the NCDs that I above mentioned.  The poor are dying.  

"Migrant Mother" Photographer: Dorothea Lange
This summer S and I planted a modest garden, shopped at local farmer’s markets, and went further into credit card debt to purchase health, nutritionally whole, foods for our family.  We spent time educating ourselves about what we are putting into our bodies.  We sat down with the kids at meal time and talked about food, nutrition, health.  My daughter L knows what cholesterol is and my daughter M knows about diabetes.  The kids see S and I working on our new venture,, and understand that we are trying to help others learn about eating to live (instead of living to eat) as well.

Today I had my interview with a state appointed case worker to discuss my application and I was informed that the children don’t “count” in my household because according to … according to… paperwork I guess… they reside with us 49% of the time.

I swallowed my heartache down deep to the place my pride was buried earlier this week.  I choked a little on my tears.  I forgot all of my words to the eloquent speech I had prepared in advance to defend my application.  I meekly said, “I withdraw my application.”

And I fucking thanked her.

Once again, I felt like I was told I was half a mother because I have half-time custody.  Conversely,  I argue that  if a divorced father had "as much" custody...visitation... whatever... with his children.... this would be deemed as exceptional fathering by our societal standards.  I promise you.  

I have chosen to share custody with their father for the benefit of the children so that they may have as much equal and adequate time with both of us.  Who am I kidding?  Nothing is adequate.  Nothing is equal.

As it has been pointed out to me today, by my state appointed case worker... I'm only 49% a part of their lives.  Photo credits can be found here...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

As Luck Would Have It

I went to a coffee shop last evening in an attempt to study.  Our house is filled with boxes and just a general sense of disorder that comes with the process of moving.  I am a fuddy duddy who cannot study in a place of chaos.  Plus, our standard poodle gets very needy when S is on trips.  She barks at her own reflection, jumps on and off (and back onto) the couch, whines to go outside  - then immediately back in.  Basically the poor pooch doesn't know what to do with herself until S returns.

The bedlam of a coffee shop otherwise known as Starbucks was like a refuge for me; offering me a haven of order and stability.  Plus a healthy dose of caffeine.  

I got even more, unexpectedly.

After several hours and one bathroom break, I struck up a conversation with my seatmate - who up until this point was very respectfully minding his own business and quietly working on his own project.  I think it was that, his distance, that made me feel at ease to have a conversation with him.  Usually I keep very much to myself, especially if I have had a long day of talking to the public at work.  Mostly, I find myself shy.  Many people are surprised at my self-proclaimed classification as a shy girl, but I am.  It takes effort for me to be extroverted in social settings and especially situations with unfamiliar people.  When S and I were introduced to our two most beloved and adored wifey-besties (just this summer) I was emotionally and physically SPENT from a small interaction we had in a reception area of a hair salon.  For reals.  Exhausted.  

This evening I spent some time explaining to this guy why I am in school to  become a nurse practitioner and "why not just a doctor...."  And it felt good.  It felt right.  I felt ready to say, "I'm a nurse practitioner."  I listened to some of his frustrations surrounding his father's health care, and I felt encouraged and determined to be a part of the solution, to help make a difference.  God.  That looks so cheesy  I almost couldn't type it.  But I wholeheartedly feel it.

It felt good to be in that moment, on my path, just accepting my path.

Then I found out he is a writer.

And then my path got very blurred.  I felt that little twinge *right there* in that spot in my stomach.  I heard that voice that nags me and tells me to open my computer/notebook/journal/whatever and write.  Write about anything and anyone.  Just write to write and it doesn't matter what or who or why or how...

The same thing happened at work a few weeks ago when I asked a patient what he did for a living and I found out he was an English Professor.  Oh dear.  Quite embarrassing for the both of us.  I may have asked him to grade some of my writing.  Some of my non-scholarly writing.  I didn't actually request this, but it was headed down that course...

I am tired of feeling this way.  Like I only have half of the picture in front of me.  New Starbucks-writer-friend-from-L.A.- did give me a great perspective on this.  Something I've actually been working on in other areas of my life... 

Live fearless.  

I'm grateful that I've been lucky enough to make certain connections in my lifetime.  For whatever reasons, for however long the connection is there, each interaction with another living thing *counts*... matters... Each interaction has a significance, we just have to accept it's there, look for it, and give it recognition.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

All The Way In and Half Out?

I have never felt so sad.

I am trying not to make this about me.  Not about my marriage.  

S recently gained a new client (yippee) who she quickly learned is a raging homophobe (yucky).  Half way through her treatment, this new client made a very disgusting, homophobic remark about her previous therapist.  I asked S, “What did you say…?”  I was half in disbelief and half in delight over how I just knew my wife had put this bigot in her place.


She said nothing because she feared coming out to this client and potential professional liaison would have negative ramifications on her business.  Her business is new and slow growing.  I understand that.  S says she is fine with staying in the closet to protect her business.  (I think her exact words were something like … to get more clients.)  

Staying in – or rather going back in – the closet is a lot different than what happened that afternoon, though.   S’s silence in the voice of bigotry makes my heart sad.  Makes me feel forlorn because she didn’t have to out herself in order to stand up for us, for our family… for everyone who we know and do not know who are LGBTQ. 

I don’t blame her.   She was not expecting to have an encounter like this… and on the other hand… I do.   I just simply expect it.  I was born and raised within this small community, and while she feels that this has been a very accepting community towards us… I have a different perception.

But I won’t go inside, and I won’t hide.  And I certainly will not tolerate bigotry in any form.

I get it though… when do you draw the line?  How do you make the distinction of who to protect and when?  S felt she was protecting her business and thus her family via financial security.  But I don’t want to live like that.  In the shadows.  Living a half life.  I think we can live a much richer life if we live it honestly, truly, and wholly.  

But like I said in the beginning… I’m trying not to make this about me.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

If You're Interested

I have a friend who is very sick, like in a mental health crisis, and I didn't even know it.  Is it because I haven't been in touch with her?  Am I that busy?  Too busy to pick up the phone?  Send an email?

I knew she was not doing well.  She's been in a spiral for a while.  I should have called. 

But the fact of the matter is, I didn't.

I got an email from her today with a link to a forum where she updated about her condition in case "I was interested."  My stomach sank.  She thinks that my lack of communication with her has been disinterest?  Whatthefuck.  And why can't the email just tell me what's been going on?  It reads, "I've been hospitalized, etc."  With a link.  A LINK.

First of all... ET-fucking-CETERA.  There is more?  And a link.  To a forum I never go to anymore (for reasons that are mine and not hers).

I click the link - rack my brain for log in/password info - read her post and responses... and I am sad.  So sad.

I have lost her.  It has been six weeks since I have seen her, since my wedding... now so much has happened that I've not been there for her. 

She updated us all about her Dx and very much of it makes sense.  And some of it does not.  I cried for her and her family.  This afternoon I feel a numb denial that I've felt before when a loved friend has died, and it has not sank in.  But, she is not dead.  She's out there struggling, suffering, getting hospitalized, graduating from intensive outpatient programs, hurting, and ... healing... I hope healing...

She's just doing it all without me.

I'm very proud of my friend.  I am scared for her.  I am sad.  I miss her. 

Why can't I pick up the phone?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I Miss Her. (fucking-cheap-merlot)

There is this woman from my past.  No - not a lover.  I guess the best way to describe her would be to say she's an Other Mother... but today I don't even know who those Other Mothers are anymore.  When I started writing about them I thought I knew, and now... now... I realize I know about as much about them as I let them know about me.

We were friends once, this other woman and I.  We shared ghost stories over coffee on her back patio while her older child played in the sand box and the little one napped.  Her husband was away on business.  She had a hard time believing that I saw the same ghosts she saw.  But I did.  I lived to to tell my story of survival...  

I am sure she saw my marriage, and my family of five smiling children's faces, as part of this survival-success-story.  And I am sure that when she learned that my marriage was over and that I was an adulteress and that I was also a lesbian adulteress... well... no... I am not sure ... but I can only imagine she felt betrayed.

And when I came out of the closet, so did all of my skeletons.  I didn't try to hide anything.  Not anymore.  I had lived a lie, lying to too many people for too long.  

She fell off the face of My Earth.  Yes there were "words" between us.  I don't remember them to be harsh or anything I regret, but I don't remember them exactly.  

And then she was gone.

And now she is back.

Not really back in the way that we are having coffee on her patio... but... she has emailed me a few times, and I found out she had another baby.  

And I cried.  Real tears of joy for her.  I knew she was afraid that her ghosts would keep her from having another baby.  She won.  

I saw pictures of her kids.  And I cried.  Because they are beautiful, happy souls.  Because I am happy.  

I'm crying right now.  Fucking cheap Merlot.


People are brought into our lives for a reason.  Everytime I open my email and I see this woman has emailed me, my heart is in my throat.  Fuck.  I miss her.  I miss all of them.  Most of them.  I think I miss the Mommyhood.  I miss being with Other Mothers.  That's the head of the nail right there.  

If you are reading this, and you aren't a parent yet... here is a secret:  parenting is hard. I know you THINK you know that... but ... did you know that it is so hard that there are days when you may wonder if you are supposed to be a mother.  

There are times that mothering is so hard that you think you want to get in your vehicle and drive - buy a wig/box of color - and change your name.  

There are times that mothering will affect your relationship/marriage/sex life - not for the best.

There is shit... excuse me... there are secrets that the Other Mothers aren't telling you.  It's not their fault.  No one talks about it.  
Except me.  

Maybe someday I'll write a book.  But first, my classmate D is encouraging me to finish grad school to pay off the student loans at least.  Makes sense.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bubble Girl

Today I feel like a girl trapped inside a snow globe.  You know the ones with little villages inside, and glitter for snow, that when tipped over creates the most magical scene right before your eyes.  Sometimes there is a wind up music element in the bottom of the globe.

I'm in my snow globe, my bubble world, today; and I feel so completely trapped here.  I feel like I can't leave.  But I know logically that the doors open.  These keys fit right into the ignition of my van.  I know the way into town.  I even have errands to run that I have been putting off.  My dog needs a walk.  My guinea pigs need litter.  My paycheck needs depositing.

My bubble world is sealed tight.

Sure I can look at this whole living in a snow globe deal as if I am trapped here, or... there is another way to see this.  I am safe.  Here I don't have to talk to anyone and pretend.  I don't have to get dressed and worry.  I don't have to smile and fake.  If they only knew how hard it is...

But my bubble world is transparent.

They still look in.  They see me even when I think no one is looking.

When I was a little girl I used to sit and stare at my gramma's snow globes for hours.  I wanted to reach in - to crawl inside one of them.  Just to inside for a minute, a day.  I thought it seemed so quiet inside that bubble world.  So peaceful.  So safe.

Today, I'm nothing but a little girl again, who got her wish.  Living in a bubble.

Friday, June 24, 2011

In Case I Don't Make It Out Alive...

Soon I am going to Target with one of the very FEW women I would ever trust enough to do this with.  She is kind of private in things of the *world wide web* so I don't know how to refer to her to protect this privacy.  She has been a loving and constant friend for a few years now, and I trust her with my panic.  She is one of the few people I can risk "let" seeing me, the real me, breakdown... and not feel shame or embarrassed.

I need a swimsuit.

Not want.  Need.

I am a different size than I was last year, and the year before - and well, we are leaving in 2 days to take our brood of kidlets to California.

I think this has been the source of my anxiety and subsequent insomnia over the last few days.  So... here I go.  Off to get a swimsuit.  Regardless of my size or its size.  Because I refuse to let my fucked up body image ruin or steal a moment of my time with my kids on this first, amazing family vacation that S and I are taking them on.

Or at least that's the plan.

So as my Middle, S's "twin-separated-by-32years" would say:  Let's do this thing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Wedding.

Actually... I couldn't really say it better than my best boy BFF right now.  So I will direct you right here for now...


Let that settle in for now... I'll post something in a while...

Ask and You Shall Receive

Motherless has been renamed Freckles.  Obvious reasons.  She’s no longer a motherless soul and if you’ve ever seen her, then you too would be in love with her Freckles as I am.

Now, on to business.

I’m worried.

Freckles is in trouble.  She is very sad.  Depressed.  Seeking an escape.  I see it now.  She just wants to feel something.  Or nothing.  I’ve been there.  I even go *there* sometimes still, shamefully.  So last night I tried to be as brave as possible and a little after midnight I ATTEMPTED to have a convo with her dad.  It went like this:

Me:  “Has Freckles ever mentioned being depressed to you?”

Him:  “Are you saying I’m making her depressed?” (I shit you not.  Exact words.)

More conversation about what depression is and isn’t and how it IS about her and IS NOT about him…  More conversation with him trying to get pats on the head for being such an involved father… Then he tried to tell me that he thinks she only “gets this way” for about “three days a month” and it’s “around the same time each month.”  I have never wanted to scream at him so much more than I did last night. 

Then I told him, “Are there drugs in your house?”  He repeated the question before saying no.  Liar.
He asked why I was asking, I said, “A couple of the kids mentioned seeing …. Hey, do you think Freckles is doing drugs?”

Him:  “I know for a fact she is not.”  OMG.  REALLY??  She is going into high school.  She is fourteen years old.  Quit pretending she is a toddler.  I want to fucking shake him.  It won’t do any good.

Anyway.  Enough of that.  This morning I talked to her and told her about what he and I (tried) to talk about.  I told her I think she has a lot of anger, and anger is okay, even anger towards me—I will always love her.  But she needs to get it out.  Anger held in is just more depression. 

I can only imagine how hard it is for my kids to have a lesbian mom-- or two lesbian moms.  The divorce was hard enough.  But I made it clear to her that I have to be myself.  I can’t pretend to not be gay because I have already “done that” for years and it wasn’t healthy.  I promised her to love and fight for her always.  That means getting her healthy in all ways.

I spent the better part of the afternoon searching for psychologists specializing in adolescent / family / LGBT sorts of issues.  I feel very good about who I chose.  I think Karate Kid (my 11yo daughter) will get some much needed help too.  

And that brings me to where I am right now, near panic attack.   Karate Kid.  My other little soul that I am worried about.  When I was telling the therapist my concerns about her, I mentioned her pulling (trichotillomania), anxiety, and eating issues… She stopped me short and wanted to know “more” about the eating issues.  Out of nowhere I just admitted I have an eating disorder and then I started to stumble, mumble, and literally choke.  Finally settling on, “I don’t want to talk about it.  So you can see why I am worried about her.  I am not in a good place myself.”

What. The. Fuck.

How… Why… am I oversharing like this?  I don’t want… I don’t need… to talk about ME.  It’s my kids, they need help.  I certainly don’t want to fucking talk about the ED.  Because talking about it means having to let go of it.  And I can’t let go…  Why can’t I let go of it?  Just admitting it is a part of letting go of it, did you know?  Well, it is.  And I’m not ready.

So, this was a random ball of shit.  But I’m writing.  Today at dinner S told me I need to write not just when I’m “down here” … but every day.  Regularly.  I assume she means I only write in a therapeutic manner – when I am “down.”  That made me hold back tears.  Christ.  I didn’t see myself as *that* kind of writer.  

So, I’m really going to force myself to write every day.  I know there are sources out there that provide writing prompts, and I am going to take advantage of them.  She’s going to play her guitar and I’m going to write.  Every day.  I have another blog now, a private one, so that helps a little.  Between this one and that – it will be a release.

And yes, I got married.  Not to make light of such a serious event – but really, life goes on, and it has – as you can see.  And just as I thought, S is right here by my side.  Wedding photos will be posted when I get them from our photographer, then I will write a nice little synopses.  xo  It was truly a beautiful day.