I Have a Mental Illness & a Child with Special Needs

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Welcome to Hell.

This morning my daughter got to school. On time. I didn’t see it on the news, but it was huge. Way more important than that political ticker tape that crawled across the bottom of my TV screen on Super Tuesday interrupting an episode of The Voice.

I was diagnosed with depression at a young age. As I got older, anxiety held depression’s hand as they look long and lustful walks across my body and mind. In my late 20’s, I was also given the label of bipolar. This was a mistake, caught and corrected in my mid 30’s and I went from bipolar to having borderline personality disorder (BPD).

As a society we are taught that labels are bad and mental illness is worse. Having both was like a lifetime supply of misunderstanding, scrutiny and judgement, not to mention what anyone else thought! I was scared. I’d grown up around the attitude of “don’t give it a name, just ignore it. Get more sleep, exercise and eat better, you’ll be fine” but even when I did these things, I wasn’t fine.

When I spent some time researching the symptoms of BPD, I felt for the first time, like someone really understood what I was going through. I was truly grateful to give a name to the part of me that wasn’t me. It eased the weight a little, took some of the sting out of rejection. It explained, to a degree, why I felt so completely abandoned at the end of a school day when all my friends went home. In my mind, I knew it was illogical but no amount of reasoning made it hurt less. Also accounted for, my impulsivity. No, I can’t explain why I have to do it now, I just do!

And because this wasn’t me at the core, I didn’t pay much attention to it, other than to try to make friends with it. I’d joke about being certifiable & claim the title of crazy at any given opportunity…

In understanding my illness, I no longer believed in the mental health stigma. I’m crazy, she’s crazy, we’re all a little crazy, who isn’t? Right?

That was until my daughter was diagnosed with separation anxiety and depression. She was born premature and I wondered how much of our relationship had been affected by the inability to bond right away. She’s been in therapy for nearly five years, with just as many therapists. She has had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) since the first grade and has been labeled an “EBD” kid, Emotionally &/or behaviorally disturbed in some of the school paperwork.

In some senses, it’s a good thing to have the extra resources and supports around her but in others, I feel like a failure. I gave her my illness or I didn’t provide a good enough or happy enough of a life for her. I wasn’t paying close enough attention and when I wasn’t looking, depression snatched her away.

She didn’t want to leave my side (symptom of her separation anxiety) and I felt abandoned when she left me for school (symptom of my BPD) we are quite the pair.

There were tantrums, screaming, crying, kicking and biting. We tried rewards and an earning system. We tried punishment. We tried bribing her. Nothing seemed to help and the behavior got worse. She’d bang her head against the wall, bite her lip bloody and once almost jumped out of the car while it was moving.

Last month my husband and I pleaded with her therapist. “We can’t do this anymore!” It is a physical and mental fight: Every. Single. School day. We literally had to drag her from the house to the car. Once we’d get in the front seats, she’d be out of the back and we’d be chasing her around the car like in the god damn cartoons. Once we’d finally get to school, she wouldn’t get out of the car. We either had to pull her out, first prying her fingers from around a headrest, while she’s hitting and kicking blindly or find someone from the school to help us with her. It took hours. And it was taking its toll. My husband & I fought constantly over who wasn’t doing their part, who yelled more and who slammed more doors, (he did). Accusations starting with “at least I never…” were thrown around like rubber circles in a circus ring toss. We ended up acting like children ourselves.

Now the state is involved.

She’s getting better and she’s still struggling. It’s stressing me out to the point my own sanity comes into question. “Am I doing the right thing?”, “What am I missing?”, “What more can I do?” were all on a loop inside my brain.

Then it happened. It was a Saturday. I was coming off of an extremely busy shift and I had asked her to do three things. Get dressed. Feed the cats and pick up the living room. She had 5 and a half hours to do that and not one of them had been taken care of.

“PLEASE. Feed the cats” I said in an exasperated exhale.

“They don’t have enough food” she said.

“Just give them what we have”

“No. it’s not enough to fill both bowls.”

“I don’t care! Give them the rest of what is left! Can I just not feed you because we don’t have all the foods you want?”

“I’m not doing it!” she screamed.

“FUCK! God damn it. Son of a bitch, mother-fucker!” stomp, stomp, stomp.

I whipped open the cupboard door and gave each cat a full bowl of food, with a little left over. I slammed the cupboard door shut. I retreated to my bedroom and start to close the door. Her face appeared between the door and the frame. “Go away” I said.

She continued to move toward me. “GET OUT!” I yelled and I pushed her. Hard. She stumbled back and hit the linen closet door. The look on her face, sent my stomach to the floor, along with my heart.

Now she tried to slam her door in my face but it bounced back as she flung herself on her bed and cried.

“I’m sorry” I said. I sat on the edge of her bed and rubbed her back while telling her I loved her AND I was beyond frustrated. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t handle myself the way I would’ve liked but I needed a time out.

She sobbed and shrank under my touch.

“We both need a timeout” I thought as I went back to my room.

Later that night, as I lay on the couch, she crawled under a blanket and snuggled against me. “I’m sorry too” she said. I kissed the top of her head and we finished the evening watching “our” show, The Golden Girls.

I’d think with as much therapy as I’ve had in my life, I’d be the perfect parent… but of course I still make mistakes and I will continue to make mistakes. I just have to make sure that at the end of the day, there are apologies, a resolve to do better and a goodnight snuggle.

Cat-ion Contest!

Sorry to my subscribers who are probably getting bombarded with alerts that I have a new post up- I’m almost done!

I’m trying to organize the blog and get some professional input on what to do, where to go from here along with some critiquing. Try to put my best word forward.

In the meantime, got a funny picture of one of the cats the other day… think you have a good caption to go along? Sound off in the comments!

The best one wins… bragging rights and my eternal gratitude. Actually, y’all got that anyway, so basically bragging rights. 😀

A few of the favorites we have for him around the house are: Jabba the Gut, Fat Sajak, Heisenbert (he’s no Walter White but still big time in his small circle), Donald Plump annnnd I’m sure there are more but can’t think of them at the moment.

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Ps. Yes, he IS a big boy. Yes, the vet has seen him.

Ps again. Here is a couple of comparison shots with his little sister.

The Danger in Teaching Stranger Danger

“Listen to me sweet pea, don’t go up to any creepy looking people offering candy or kittens alright? Remember what we talked about?”

“STRANGER DANGER!”

“And what else?”

“Don’t drop any F bombs in school?”

“That’s my smart safety girl!”

This is how I imagine our “stranger danger” safety talk would have sounded, if we’d ever had one. My daughter is agonizingly awkward around anyone who didn’t give birth to her (or help out in the delivery room). Even when my husband and I are nearby, she has a hesitancy toward playing with other kids, taking her turn on the slide or even claiming the free treat that comes with the kid’s meal.

I’m not implying that she’s better than other kids because she overly cautious. I didn’t teach her this behavior, not intentionally. I’m pretty sure it’s a combination of her being born prematurely with a lot of health problems and having highly introverted parents. I can’t really even fathom a scenario in which anything would able to lure my daughter away from whatever solo activity she was engaged in. Not for all the Minecraft games, ponies or screen time in the world.

By now we’re all well aware of the clichéd man in the trench coat, that monster we warn our children against. I’d also like to think we’ve graduated to questioning the boy (or girl) next door, quiet and unassuming, as a possible threat too.

What about our teachers? More and more it seems I’m hearing about another student/teacher affair. Whether it’s the female teacher taking advantage of a young male student and he thinking himself a stud or a male teacher with a female student and she thinking there is a real relationship there and they are in love, the point is they both think they are in a consensual relationship when neither of them are.

The Catholic Church is notorious for their sex scandals. Just over three months ago here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area of MN we had Archbishop John C. Nienstedt along with Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche resign in the wake of criminal sex abuse charges against the archdiocese.

Police Corruption has seen its share of the spotlight too. According to the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis Police Department faced 61 lawsuits in 2013 that alleged excessive force that led to injury. In addition to that, an estimated $14 million dollars was paid out in litigation for misconduct cases that were filed between 2006-2012.

And as scary as all that is, according to RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network) 93% of sexual abuse reported against juveniles was perpetrated by a trusted friend or relative. Ninety-three percent.

The very people we tell our kids to find and trust in a time of need are the ones taking advantage of the situation and abusing their power. Is it really that much more terrifying to imagine our children being traumatized by a stranger at a bus stop than to find out uncle Mike has been asking your son or daughter to keep their “special secret”? I’m not saying one is worse than the other, they are both horrible. Imagining a kid experiencing any kind of abuse by a stranger and of course it’s distressing. Hopefully they have the safety of their home and family to go to. They get the message that strangers are dangerous (which they can be), family is not.

What about the opposite? What about a child who is not safe at home? They might wonder, is anyone safe?

How can we expect our kids to trust the adults we’re not even sure we can trust? We need to teach them about boundaries. Having boundaries around their bodies and around their personal information, but how do we teach something we may not have learned ourselves?

My daughter is 12 now and sometimes she still kisses me goodnight on the lips and I wonder, is that ok? Sometimes the door isn’t locked when the bathroom is occupied, is that ok? I don’t know. I just have to trust my instinct. And teach her to do the same. Boundaries are so broad of a topic and everyone has a different idea on what is right for them. What I can teach her about is the feeling inside. If it feels icky in your tummy to think about hugging cousin Pat, you don’t have to hug cousin Pat. That’s your boundary. She should respect your feelings and in time, maybe that icky feeling will go away. And maybe it won’t. Either way, do whatever you are comfortable with.

I don’t know if there is one right answer or what that is, but I know it’s not spending the majority of our time and resources educating our children on where 7% of the problem lies.

Teach them about strangers. Teach them about family. Teach them about adults. Teach them about themselves. I think that’s a good place to start.

 

Index Is The New Middle Finger

As a kid, I was taught that pointing was rude. Extremely rude.

I work as a delivery driver for a sandwich shop and was making the last drop of my shift, a single lunch, to a high-end orthopedic center that had its own concierge desk. The air was thick with pretension.

She saw me coming in through the automatic doors and started toward me.

“May I help you?” she demanded rather than asked.

“I have a delivery for someone” I replied.

She tried to wrestle the bag out of my hand.

“Well, who is it for? Does it have a last name? A suite number? A telephone number? I will deliver this; you are free to go” and she dismissed me before she really even saw me.

“Uh, actually, I need a signature.” I said.

“I’ll go find her, wait right here” she said before she huffed off.

Many, many, many minutes later, she returned with a “She will see you now” and a slight flick of the wrist, which I’m assuming was some sort of wave.

I followed the woman until we were about 10 feet away from three cubicles, two of which were empty. I turned around only to see the glare of the face from the front desk looking at me like “Well? What are you waiting for?”

I took a few steps toward the only occupied desk and stood quietly for a moment before this woman who had ordered her lunch, gave me the finger. You know the one. The index finger. That “just a second, I’m on the phone” finger.

Now, I am not normally a rude person but all of a sudden, I had an overwhelming desire to become one.

Yes! I see that you are on the phone! Did you think I was going to start talking over your conversation? Interrupt you, verbally, for a signature? You called me. Here I am. Still waiting. For you.

I wanted to give her the finger back. You know, the middle one. I had a strong desire to shout out “Hey lady, your credit card was declined…” and count how many people in the building turned their head.

Hey, she started it…

But it isn’t just her. Standing in line at Chipolte, I overheard one teen whisper (rather loudly) “Hey! Look at that girl, the one with that huge zit!” People can try to be nonchalant, but everyone looks.

At the bakery, with faces pressed up against the glass, breathy anticipation fogs up the protective barrier. “I want that donut, between the two sprinkled ones” that one is the best, I can tell…

In a lineup, downtown, “That’s the guy. Number 4. He stole my purse.”

For all the manners and etiquette we may teach our kids, we need to realize the behavior we model. The point is, no pun intended, pointing draws attention. Probably not all of us, but certainly a large percentage of us have some level of insecurity and being pointed at only serves to shame and increase anxiety, even if that’s not the intention.

 

Little Boy Loved

“The Little Boy Lost” is a simple lyric poem written by William Blake. This poem is part of a larger work entitled Songs of Innocence.

Father! father! where are you going?

O do not walk so fast.

Speak, father, speak to your little boy,

Or else I shall be lost.

The night was dark, no father was there;

The child was wet with dew;

The mire was deep, & the child did weep,

And away the vapor flew.

The Little Boy Lost begins with a boy walking behind his father and asking the father to slow his pace so he does not get lost. In the illustration that accompanies the poem, the child is actually following a dim light (referred to in the poem as a vapor). Night comes and the little boy is lost walking in soggy ground, covered in mud, and weeping as the vapor flies away from him.

 

Little Boy Loved

On Friday, April 15th, I lost my baby at 16 weeks and one day.

I went in for a routine check-up, scheduled every week, due to my high risk status. The tech asked how I was feeling and I responded, telling him I felt better than last week – I think the morning sickness was finally done! He smiled. “That’s a good thing” he said.

I usually looked forward to these appointments. It was always completely amazing to me to hear that tiny, wild little heartbeat… from his chest, from my belly… Today was different though. I was scared.

The past couple of days I’d been uncomfortable, in pain. That was part of my struggle. With the fibromyalgia, I’m not sure how much pain I’m in… every physical sensation in heightened and sometimes when someone does something as simple as lightly pat my back, I end up in tears. I didn’t want to go in over every little ache and pain… it was probably nothing.

I had experienced some cramping but no bleeding or spotting. I was doing everything early. Braxton Hicks (uncommon but not unheard of in the 2nd trimester) contractions made an appearance and I worked myself up over them. Convincing myself this was it. I was going to lose him. I’d felt them last week though and the ultrasound showed he was healthy and even sucking his thumb!

I told myself I was being paranoid. “I’m only thinking this way because there were so many complications with Tayla’s birth”. Before that, I had an ectopic pregnancy. For the first time, I’m realizing infertility is more than just being able to get pregnant.

Take deep breaths and “enjoy everything that comes along with new life, including morning sickness, excessive tiredness, kicking and sometimes cramping” I told myself.

I had felt him moving, even though I thought it was too soon for me to be feeling anything. Since I am diabetic, he was swimming in sugar and was already big boy. “It’s possible” the doctor assured me. Sometimes, I imagined his tiny foot, sliding along the inside of my belly, like a blind man feeling and exploring his way along the walls of his house.

I tried to smile as I stared at the tech, waiting for him to point to my baby and say “There he his. See? Looking good!” I studied this man’s face and saw his concentrated expression fall into a frown. “What’s wrong, is he hiding from you?” I asked. “I’m sorry. There is no heartbeat.”

I took a deep breath and remained calm. “Are you sure? This happened once before, with my daughter and she’ll be 13 in May.”

“I’m sorry” was all he could say.

“I want someone else to look” I said.

He didn’t argue or try to talk me out of it. He just nodded and quietly left the room.

I put my hands to the sides of my swollen stomach and said “Noah, I know you don’t know all the rules yet but a big one is showing up on the monitor, with a heartbeat. I’m your mother and you have to listen to me. It’s kind of the law…”

My tech returned with my doctor who took over the Doppler, sliding it through the cold gel before confirming what I’d already been told.

“Not only that but there is a small leak in …” I didn’t turn to look. His words felt far away and I kept my focus straight ahead and nodded.

We’d named him Noah David and although he wasn’t planned, he was a very wanted and special surprise.

How could this have happened? I asked myself over and over again despite knowing how many factors there were and how they worked against me. I made it so far… I was out of the first trimester, as if that were some sort of guarantee.

I hadn’t wanted to tell people about the pregnancy. Not family or friends, not even my husband. I didn’t want to have to tell people… in case he didn’t make it.

I’m so grateful I shared the news of his presence & elated to have everyone share in the joy of possibilities.

The whole experience has been surreal. I didn’t even find out I was pregnant until I was 12 weeks… Already done with the first trimester!?!? Then, consulting with doctors and forming a plan. Four weeks of checkups, bloodwork, ultrasounds… finding out his due date was to be my grandma’s birthday. I heard his heartbeat and felt him stir. He had a name and a face…

As I left my last appointment, I got into my car and promptly drove into a wall. I immediately remembered the nurse telling me not to drive… I was in such a fog. I slept a lot and laid amidst a pile of “I’m sorry”s, thinking/feeling nothing.

It didn’t seem real. Any of it. And I think that was what was playing a major role in “healing process”. If I didn’t cry, it wasn’t real. Yesterday my sister sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers… “Words cannot express the hurt I feel for the loss of Noah. Hope these will bring some beauty into your world at such a time of sadness. I love you with all my heart.” And the tears finally came. It wasn’t on the heels of finding out the news… it was unexpected. It was so very personal. It was knowing I wasn’t alone… (even though I know I’m not alone- my head and heart don’t always agree) and there was no pressure to respond. Just someone sharing in my grief.

It’s been almost a week and a half since he left. I needed time to process before sharing the news. I was dreading this post, as I’d hoped (and expected) to bring you all along on the journey.

I still plan on doing that. Writing about the grieving process, how the three of us (husband & daughter) are dealing with it, maybe making a memory box for the ultrasound pictures… That’s how I will get through.

And maybe that was part of the lesson he taught me. I can be with my emotions and not numb out. I had more than a couple of thoughts of drowning my sorrows in alcohol. I desperately wanted an escape. I blamed myself for not going to the doctor sooner. Not bothering the clinic with every. single. hiccup. This was my fault and I should be ashamed.

“That’s bullshit” said a woman whom I haven’t known very long but already consider a friend. She has her own issues with pregnancy & loss and blogs about it. She is working to take the stigma out of it…it’s working.

Noah, I love and miss you and will continue to do so until we meet.

 

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The Gold in The Golden Girls

“Picture it” Minnesota, 2016. A mother shares with her daughter a tradition of friends, feelings and food! This May will mark the 24th year since The Golden Girls closed the book on the four roommates that proved to be more family than anything else and yet my preteen daughter and I still gather around the TV to watch the decades old show.

What is it about this show that is so endearing to us? I know for me, at least part of it, is it reminds me of times I spent with my grandmother. She was a culmination of the four women, embodied as one. She most physically resembled Rose, (mainly they shared a similar shade of blonde) but they both had an upbeat demeanor and a positive outlook on life. She had Blanche’s southern charm and hospitality, not to mention a great love of the men in her life! She was a wonderful listener and very compassionate, like Dorothy and had Sophia’s wisdom. I remember during the times we stayed with her, I’d lay on the floor propped up on a giant pillow and grandma would sit next to me, rubbing my back and laugh along with me at the antics on screen.

Of course that’s not the only reason I love these women. My daughter loves watching them too. What it is that keeps her attention, watching a full episode after episode of a sitcom revolving around 4 “old” women?

I knew she didn’t understand all of the jokes nor could she relate to the issues they faced yet we watched these women overcome every obstacle and become better for it.

Here are some ways their family brought me closer to mine:

“Hello, hello, hello!” Dorothy announces as she walks out onto the lanai for the first time this episode. “Blanche, I need you to give me a manicure, Rose I need you to lend me your pearls and ma, I need you to stay off my back!” Dorothy is a woman who knows what she’s wants and how to get it. She’s the take charge type she is independent in a way that doesn’t isolate. Plus, she talks back to her mother, defending herself before there’s even been a chance to attack! What child doesn’t want to tell her mother to butt out? 

A big component to the shows’ success was the alliance between Dorothy and Blanche as they picked on or made fun of Rose. Occasionally, one of them would hit her with a rolled up newspaper as punishment for another ridiculous St. Olaf story. Tempers (not to mention nostrils) would flare momentarily, but you always knew they cared.

Aside from the ribbing and verbal jousting, they occasionally had live animals! Dogs, a chicken (that played a piano!), a duck, a couple of ferrets they tried breeding… My favorite was the pig, Baby, who came to live with the girls after a cousin of Rose’s passed away. There was also a visual feast with fun costumes! Remember the time Dorothy and Sophia dressed up as Sonny and Cher? Or when Blanche and Dorothy went to the aerobics class- in sequins? What about the time the four starred the children’s production of “Chicken Little”? They’re couldn’t have been a more perfect Chicken Little than Rose Nylund.

There was something for everyone. They tackled the tough topics. They addressed issues then that are still prevalent today and I have no doubt that if they were still around, they’d be weighing in on pansexuality, sex trafficking and the heroin epidemic. Even though my daughter may not understand everything that’s being said or the gravity of the situations, she still gets a kick out of the expressions on the women’s faces when Sophia offers up a one liner or Blanche says something racy to make Dorothy go “Woah”!

Another thing The Girls have modeled for us was the need to splurge or indulge once in a while. Blanche’s new car or (almost) breasts. A shopping spree to fill the hole Rose left when she moved out (temporarily, of course) and the cheesecake. I’m not suggesting anyone go out and gorge themselves, (it’s noted that the women were estimated as having eaten approximately 700 cheesecakes during the show’s run) but it can be a good comfort to go along with the usual late-night problem keeping everyone awake. These were four independent women who were lucky enough to have found each other and formed a strong support network, without the dependence of a man or the codependence of each other.

The most important lesson I learned from the show was touched on throughout the series but really hit home for me with their final episode. When Dorothy is on her way to the church to marry Lucas and is kidnapped by her ex-husband Stan. There’s a sentimental moment where the two tell each other they love each other and will always be a part of each other’s lives. Then he takes her to the church to marry another man and I learned you can truly love someone, deeply and thoroughly and still choose to say goodbye.

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A Tattoo Idea Is Born

I have seven tattoos, and most likely, an impulse control problem. I know there are a lot of people who believe their body is a temple and consider any alteration equals desecration. I don’t really think too much about 1) what other people think or 2) what my body is, or to whom. Even if it was a temple, who doesn’t want to decorate?

Each permanent, premeditated marking on my skin is of a name, a picture or a symbol that means something to me. Yes, even my first tattoo… which I got because I was 18 and I could. It commemorates an event, a time period or a loved one. They serve as a reminder that I am not alone. Even when I feel so very desperately lost and I don’t think things will ever get any better, I know that I will make it through because of  all of the things that made me who I am today… all of that is still inside me. All of the people and experiences, I carry with me. The tattoos are on the outside, simply to remind me of what is on the inside.

On my left wrist is my daughter’s name. Below that is a feather, a quill that evolves into birds taking flight and they get close my wrist, almost wrapping around but not quite. On the top of my wrist is a single bird, to signify my grandma on the other side. It is not perfect. When it was healing, it was so itchy and I scratched it. It started to peel and I pulled a part of the ink out. It’s been several years now and I can still see where the ink is missing. Coincidentally, (or not) there appears to be a hole where the heart should be.

Today I went to Saint Sabrina’s in Uptown to talk about my next tattoo. I am going to have my son’s name, written in my daughter’s handwriting with a pair of footprints underneath, on my right wrist.

I want to do this to remind me on the one end, I need to keep my feet planted. Stay rooted and strong… especially when the unexpected happens. And on the other end, are the wings of the birds with Tayla’s name, to remind me of my potential and constant urge to reach for the sky.

I can already see my new meditation pose with my hands clasped together, joining the two for balance and harmony.

What about you? Do you have tattoos? Do you want tattoos? What do/would they represent for you? Let me know in the comments below!

*Trivia ~ my first tattoo is of an angel, sleeping on her crossed arms, a violin clutched in her hand. EVERYONE thought she was a mosquito, and being from MN where it’s the unofficial state bird… Let’s just say I couldn’t blame them. After taking the bandage off and waking up the next morning, I saw it out of the corner of my eye and started to slap the crap outta myself! Would I have this done again? No, probably not… but on my list of regrets? It doesn’t make the top 100.

Ps. Holy shit. I just took a picture of my angel, for this post… she’s looking pretty rough! Ah, well, she was a rite of passage. She been through a lot with me- and it’s starting to show!

*Ignore the leg hairs. 😀

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My First Tattoo-20 Years Ago!

90% Is Showing Up

I was talking about me, not you. You can stick around if you want to but don’t expect anything brilliant… Seriously, you won’t miss anything if you don’t ready through this post and I’ll probably never even know you didn’t get through my entire near-incoherent ramblings… but if I do… Kidding. It’s late and I’m tired. And, I want to practice what I preach. Not that I go around preaching all the time to everyone anyway… Yep, this is how it’s going to be. See? Ya didn’t miss a thing.

Why am I writing when I think I have nothing to say? Because I am a writer. “A writer writes- Always”. Success and it’s weight/measure of worth is often a matter of opinion and an abstract concept. Tayla wants to be a writer but she is scared she won’t do it right, so she does nothing. It took me a good 20 years to realize there is no right or wrong way… I guess, if you want to get all technical, I suppose there is a wrong way but the wrong-est way to write, is not at all. Sure you’ll write badly. I just did. (Wrongest?) We can’t all write all right all the time (did I lose any of you there?) I tell her it takes practice. It’s a discipline (it’s a pain in the ass). Steven King talks about showing up. Even if you just sit at your desk. You’re only allowed to write or be still. Guess who learned she gets restless, real fast? It’s rare that I’ll write because I’m bored but it has happened. Twice.

I decided I wanted to blog on Wednesdays and Sundays. It’s getting close to Thursday, but I can still sneak this in under the wire.

With Noah on the way, our family was talking about when/if/where we should move. What are we looking for? I thought we needed another bedroom but that’s not it. Then I thought “maybe we don’t need another bedroom, just the space arranged differently”, but it wasn’t more space. I really want a second bathroom but I am willing to compromise on a single. What I will not compromise on is: hardwood floors. Sounds silly, doesn’t it? It does to me and I’m the one thinking it. I’m trying to rationalize it, understand it but- it. will. not. budge.

When we started our discussion, Don & I weren’t even light years near each other. He wants to stay in the suburbs, I want to move back to Minneapolis. He doesn’t care if we have a deck, patio or lawn- I NEED at least one of those. I’d like a yard (and maybe a dog!).He says we can afford this price bracket, I thought something a little different. Eventually, I started to cry. Not to win an argument but (and hopefully a lot of this is the hormones talking) because I felt trapped. We’re never going to move, we’re stuck here forever. I understood why he wanted to stay in the area, school, work, to piss me off… but I knew he didn’t understand why I wanted to leave.

Living in Minneapolis was one of the best experiences of my life. It was while living in Mpls. that I met Don and we moved into our first place together. It’s where we lived when our daughter was born. I remember spending hours in the bedroom window, listening to the street traffic, the drunks speaking several volumes above what they needed to be heard, all that music… I watched the lights. They skyline. That one building, I still don’t know which one it is but the top of it was rainbow colored and changed as if the wind were moving the lights along.

It’s the epitome of hip. (Shit. Did I just use the word hip in a non-medical way? Fuck.)

It’s great for people watching, story writing and cultivating an appreciation for what’s around you… I mean, that’s what it was for me. I felt alive! Vibrant! Empowered. I want Tayla to have that same experience. She’s all about it, btw.

And what does any of this have to do with the price of tea in China? Every place I lived in Minneapolis, had hardwood floors. Just by seeing hardwood floors or a couple of archways  brings me right back. I feel younger. Healthier. More creative. If I could find that in the suburbs, I could stay. I need that though. That connection is like my umbilical cord. One toward what I considered my best self. After realizing how much time I currently spend at home and knowing I’ll soon be here/there even more? I’d better LOVE it!

Hey, I did it! I did write a post today. Nice. If you’ve read this far, thanks! If I could ask a favor? Does anyone know what the other 10% of success is? And who has my cupcake?

 

Oh Baby!

By the end of next month, my “baby” girl will be 13 years old. Thirteen?! Years?! Sigh. It feels like only a few years ago that I heard her heart beat for the first time and marveled at how the fast pace mirrored my own excited rhythm. It certainly couldn’t be more than a decade since I first saw her grainy image grow from a single black dot to a tiny, tadpole like shape before a fully functioning human being. A mini-me that not only survived a traumatic birth via emergency C-section but endured by test after test, surgery after surgery before coming home to live with us and all of our ineptitude. We relied mainly on instinct (and a ton of calls to the nurse line) to keep her alive longer than a goldfish or houseplant keeping our fingers forever crossed… I can’t believe how much she’s grown. Sometimes I still can’t believe she’s here, that she’s mine. One of the few things that reminds me this is not a dream is when the ultrasound tech asked Don & I if we’d like to know.

“Know what?” I asked.

“The sex of the baby” she replied.

“Yes!” we both said.

“You’re having a little girl” truth be told, I can’t remember if she said it exactly that way because Tayla was NOT a little girl… Born premature, she still weighed 6 lbs, 8 oz and measured 19 inches.

The tech pointed to the screen, “see, it’s not just the lack of a penis that tells me it’s a girl, you also have to be able to identify the ovaries. Annnnd there they are!” She beamed like my baby’s ovaries were something the tech had been working on for months and finally unveiling for the first time, for our approval.

“My baby has ovaries” I thought. What a personal thing to say to us. How embarrassing for her… it’s a good thing she can’t discern words yet. I mean, I know women have ovaries and it stands to reason that we are born with them but she’s not even fully developed yet! I don’t know how I thought she’d get them… maybe order them off of Ebay? They’d arrive sometime after puberty, possibly in a pill form? Maybe a suppository? I don’t know, the whole thing seemed so strange to me.

Here I am, nearly 13 years later with the same unexpected news…

I have been on birth control for years, so I haven’t had a period since… I can’t remember the last time and several weeks ago I found out I am pregnant again!

I had been tired and sick for weeks with no sign of getting better. Had some tests done and SURPRISE!

“Is this baby flicking me off?” I asked the ultrasound technician. “Don’t you start giving me an attitude this early, you hear me baby?”

“Um, no. You’re having a boy.” She said.

“Ohhh, then I guess that’s not a finger?” I asked. “You’ll fit in just fine baby” I whispered to my belly.

Judging by his size and other various bits of information, I am 15 ½ weeks along and Noah David is due on September 29th, my grandma’s birthday.

I am so excited and pretty scared too. I wanted to keep it on the down low until I’d hit a viable gestation period but I don’t want to give into my fear & superstitious-ness. I made it through the toughest part, the first trimester. I am however considered high risk, for many reasons. Any pregnancy after age 35 is considered a “geriatric pregnancy”. This is the medical term. Seriously? You don’t think pregnant women are emotional enough? Gee, I feel as big as a house, I cry at nearly everything and now you’re going to add the fact that I’m too old to safely have a baby? Don’t forget to lecture me about giving birth to an orphan! Assholes.

Another reason are my health conditions. I am diabetic. I have arthritis. I have a thyroid problem called Grave’s disease along with high blood pressure and depression coupled with anxiety. I think I must be the equivalent of an intense game of Jenga…

I am being closely monitored though. Weekly, actually so at the first sign that something is not right, we’ll be able to catch it. Still, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed!

Ps. I know this was supposed to be Slapstick Sunday, and it turned out to be more of a slap on the back/pee on a stick Sunday… I hope you got a chuckle out of the post anyway!

Reality Gap

When I first heard that the Gap was the center of controversy over one of it’s ads, I immediately thought “of course. Advertisers exploit what/whomever to boost sales… isn’t that common knowledge?” I can’t be the ONLY ONE to remember the Carl’s Jr. ad, featuring a bikini clad Paris Hilton seductively washing a car, biting into a burger and exclaiming “that’s hot”…

Anyway, in the several seconds I had between clicking the link and the page loading, I theorized what this offensive message might be. I decided it had to be something like a bag laying across a woman’s lap with some tasteless tag like “get your thigh gap here”.

When the photo first popped up, the caption was something like Gap apologizes for racially insensitive ad. Hm. Really? No thigh gap? Ok. Got it. They’ve started a line of t-shirts stating “Gap lives matter”!

Wrong again. Do you see anything offensive about this picture? If you do, you’re smarter than I… or super sensitive, also like me… lucky you!

Gap-apologizes-for-racist-kids-ad-models-are-said-to-be-sisters

The upset comes from the fact that a white girl is resting her elbow on a black girl. Or as I see it: kids being kids. If anything, I wonder why the hell the two girls on each end are upside down & and the other has her ankle above her head… respectively.

The white girl (sorry, I don’t have names and yet I feel oddly racist myself using the words white girl/black girl…) is considerably taller than the black girl. I myself, never reached 5′ tall, except in heels. I am 4’11 and have constantly been used as an armrest. Oh, and I’m white. I don’t see this as a black & white issue so much as a height issue… No one is implying she’s a “white girls prop”. Seriously, someone said that. Here’s a link to the article I read by UPI, if you’re so inclined.

Here’s the part I may get slightly hypocritical… People who are offended by this ad? GROW THE FUCK UP. No one asked your opinion. If you don’t like it, go back to shopping at the Children’s Place or Gymboree, drink your juice and play nice- without prejudice.

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