Saturday, March 21, 2015

I Am Not Wonder Woman

I hate, hate, hate being referred to as Wonder Woman, Superwoman, or any other heroic character. I am not heroic. I cannot do it all. I will not be everything to everyone, for everyone, at all times, eschewing my human limitations in favor of killing myself for everyone other than myself.

It's all rather popular of late to tell a friend she's Wonder Woman, to tell your partner she's Superwoman, to tag friends on some meme that says because they're moms they're also some sort of super heroine. I get the sentiment. You're being nice. You're giving compliments. It's lovely really. But I'm not. I'm not and I don't want to be.

I'm a regular person. I can accomplish most things to which I set my mind, but not everything everyone wants me to do or be. I draw the line at expecting me to be the embodiment of all things mom, woman, wife, and friend. You're free to still expect it, but you're bound to be gravely disappointed and I could've saved you the heartache if you had just listed when I said...again...that I am not Wonder Woman. You'll be the one to be let down, not me. I already know who I am and who I am not and I am completely comfortable and happy with that person - a hard-working, boundary-drawing, overly-critical, prone-to-judgement, fallible, direct, no-nonsense, fun-loving, intelligent, hilarious, ridiculously stubborn, hard-charging, deeply caring human. That's me. Nothing more, nothing less. I am not your superhero.

I am not your superhero.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fooling Ourselves

I asked a question on my personal Facebook page in a way I normally don't - already knowing the answers I'd get. The question cropped up from a brief conversation the three of us (my husband, my son, and myself) had here at home:

"Your young child wants to be in the front yard naked. Do you let him or her? Why or why not? If not, how do you explain that to the child?"

As is usually the case, I found myself in the minority. That's OK. And it's OK for everyone else to feel what they feel. I'm not sure that there are any hard and fast correct answers on this topic.

Here's what I had to say on the issue:

"Pedophiles are pedophiles because THEY are sick, not because of the kids' states of dress (or undress, as the case may be)."


"I like to stay off the radar as much as possible. That doesn't mean [my son] can't ever be found naked in the front yard, however. I just can't abide living in that much fear all the time. If we're going to be out for any real length of time, he at least has undies on or a long shirt, but if I'm running out to bring in the trash or something and he doesn't want to put clothes on specifically for that 30 second excursion, I'm not fighting it just for fear of CPS.
He won't always feel this comfortable. I'll let him decide when and where he is and is not comfortable."

We're fooling ourselves if we think we can protect our children from the sick people of the world by what we dress them in. Predators are predators regardless of whether their prey is dressed like Randy from A Christmas Story, like one of the Sister Wives or someone out of Amish Mafia, is wearing short shorts or leggings or a bikini, or is completely naked. Predators look for specific types of prey, not specific kinds of clothes.

And boy, oh, boy, doesn't that make us terribly uncomfortable? That just sucks. We want so badly to fool ourselves into believing that we can do something as easy as throwing a T-shirt on our beloveds to save them from the ugliness of the world. It's not that simple, though. There's so much more to it. So much more. This isn't the place to go into all of it, either. We have to do what we feel necessary to protect our children. That's our job as parents. We can't get complacent, though, believing that if our kids are clothed, our kids are safe. That's, for certain, not the answer. I don't have all the answers, but I know what isn't the answer. I know when we're fooling ourselves.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Grief is Not a Straight Line

The grieving process is not a straight line with the endgame being its absence.

Feelings bounce around, pinging from heaving sobs to numbness to laughter at good memories to emptiness to weepiness to moroseness so debilitating you cannot even cry and back and forth again, like the world's worst pinball machine. There is guilt that first day when you don't cry even though you know logically that it's healthy, because you feel that means you're somehow not missing them as much since you're not on your knees. There are days upon weeks upon months and even years when you can stave off the tears and sadness, thinking of nothing but the good and happy and then it all comes crashing down because of something you didn't even know would trigger you, but trigger you it does most definitely. There are dreams that leave you feeling grateful to have had them, like you somehow got to steal an extra few precious moments with them, and those that wake you up in tears.

It's all OK. It's not comfortable, it's not pretty, but it's OK.

Oh, and a middle finger to anyone who tells you differently, to those who grow weary of your grief, whose sympathy or empathy seems to be finite, because your grief isn't lessening quickly enough for them. Big middle finger...with a booger on the end.

Monday, March 9, 2015

My Child Sees Skin Color

I'll readily admit, I used to be one of the jackasses who proudly claimed to be color blind. What a crock. I'm now proud to say that my son is not, in fact, color blind. He sees color. Of course he does. When he is telling me a story that involves a person, he describes them. Usually the description goes something like this:

"You know that one guy who is puffy and has glasses and wears a blue purse and has brown skin and says funny things?" ~my son, age 4

It's not something he feels makes anyone better or worse, just one of their descriptors like all of the rest. It's no more important or less important than any of the other descriptors, it just is.

Now, at 4, he knows neither the nuance or great significance of race relations in our society. We've touched on it, we'll touch on it more as time goes by and conversations come up, we'll go on to dig deep in countless conversations to come, because it's part of my job as his mom to do so and part of joy to teach and learn from him.

(...when you're "colorblind.")
Right now, he knows that some people are "cool," some people are "light," some people are "creepy," some people are "puffy," some people are "super loud," some people are "hilarious," and some people are "brown." He knows that some people might fit into a few of those categories, but would never dream of someone fitting into one of those categories because they fit into another. But ya, my son sees skin color. Including my former self, only a fool would say they don't.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Hard Goodbye

I adopted Spot when he was 6 weeks old more than 15 years ago. I got him as a companion for my 1-year-old, Sterling, who was at home for long hours while I worked. I never imagined myself as a cat person, but the two of them changed my mind and changed me for the better.

Just over two years ago, Sterling fell ill unexpectedly and was dying right before my eyes. Seeing her in that condition made the decision to put her to sleep a relatively easy one. No, saying goodbye and missing her afterward (still) wasn't easy, but it was crystal clear what needed to happen and I'm a firm believer in doing what's right, not what's easy.

It is now time to say goodbye to our Spotty. I'm wrecked. Wrecked. Scheduling the day a loved one will die sucks.

Spot has had a rough go of things over his 15 1/2 years. His kidneys have gone out on him twice. His liver once shut down so completely that I almost lost him...again twice. He ended up with a feeding tube in his side and I ended up missing school and work for days on end as I was with him in the hospital and at home afterward, feeding him ever so delicately and precisely. He made it, though. He was younger then, stronger.

Now, his hips are going, he sleeps far more than he's awake, his rarely eats but is always hungry (so much so that his stomach makes the most awful sounds), is in pain when he drinks water...he's not even afraid of the vacuum anymore. He's old and he's dying, but he's dying slowly. I know it's time.

Then there are the times when I'm not so sure. There are days, sometimes even a week at a time, when he seems to be getting better. Those days screw with my head in the worst of ways. Those days bring into question everything I observe, know about Spot, believe about quality vs. quantity, feel in my heart - mostly that last part. It's hard enough to say goodbye to a beloved pet; I don't need the anxiety and uncertainty on top of all the heartache.

Part of me selfishly wishes he'd make things clear, like Sterling did. How awful, though! It killed me to see her hurting. How could I wish for that again? Ah, because it made making the call easier. This, by contrast, is one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. Deciding that one of my babies will die tomorrow is eating me up. I just.........

This week, in particular, since I have thought of little else other than the upcoming date, I have found it terribly difficult to be around Spotty...or even look at him. I have had to force myself. I do force myself, though, because I know that if I don't, the regret will be even more terribly difficult and I don't want his final days to be ones in which he feels neglected. So, I kiss his face more than usual. I hug his bony body more than usual. I smell his sweet fur more than usual. And I tell him during every one of these interactions, "I'm going to miss you so much, Spotty. So, so much. I love you."

It's never enough, though. It's never going to be enough. And it hurts. Hard.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Passing the Torch

Today was a big day for my son. As I write and reflect, I am tearing up. No, he didn't go to school, learn to ride a bike, or even learn to wipe himself (is that day coming soon, though?). Today, he got his own library card.

When I was little, I spent a lot of time with my paternal grandparents. I even lived with them for a while during my parents' separations and ultimate divorce. My grandma is one of my top five favorite people in the world. I credit her with instilling in me a deep love of and respect for books and libraries.

Some of my fondest memories are of our trips to the library together. At the time, my grandparents only had one car and my grandpa had it with him for work, so if my grandma and I wanted to go anywhere, we took the bus. That, in and of itself, was a rad excursion for me. We'd walk to the bus stop together (my little legs struggling to keep up) and ride all the way to what seemed like a huge library. She let me pull the rope to ring the bell on the bus (exciting!) and we'd disembark and cross the busy street together.

Entering that library was like entering another world. It felt so grown-up, smelled so good, sounded so reverent, and represented everything good and right in the world to me. Outside, there was turmoil. Outside, there were appointments with counselors, parents together and not together and together and not together again, yelling, siblings who needed my protection and listening ear, and a general sense of uncertainty and pain. Inside, there were just books. Books and Grandma. She let me pick out whatever I wanted, she cared about what I chose, she brought me to her sections to see the grown-up books without pictures, she made me feel special and loved and secure.

Libraries and books and Grandma and all of that goodness are all wrapped up together. I would imagine she, to this day, doesn't have a clue what those times meant to me (and still mean to me). But as I sit here reflecting, lump in my throat and tears welling up, I know. I know what she did for me, what that library did for me, what those books did for me (and what books and libraries still do for me even now). So, when my son, right around the same age I was when those trips started, got his own library card today, it triggered so many feelings for me. He thinks it's cool. He's right. He thinks he's cool. He's right. He doesn't have any idea all that little rectangle of plastic means...for both of us. He will, though. He will.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Picked for Who?

Pinterest's new "Picked for You" pins that constantly show up in my feed are driving me buggy. They're hit or miss, but the hits don't make up for the misses by a long shot. Here's the latest that was picked just for me, because Pinterest knows me soooooo well, clearly:

Pinterest, have we met? What about my feed suggests any of this dangerous drivel screams Amy or Zen Parenting? Here, let me help you and, while I'm at it, I'll help the creator of this crap, because s/he has some serious 'splaining to do.

1. Activities. What activities do you like? Why? This is what I like and here's why. Every one of them will teach you something important.
2. If and when you choose to engage in sexual relationships, be respectful of yourself and others. Constantly ensure that you're both consenting of what is happening, that you are both enjoying it, that you're both safe, happy, and healthy.
3. Pee happens. Don't do get it everywhere on purpose, but when accidents occur, we'll fix them up.
4. Save some money, spend some money, invest some money, give some money.
5. Want to help me with what I'm doing around the house, outside, with the car, etc.? Cool. That's how we learn.
6. Beliefs. You get to have yours and I get to have mine. Let's talk about why we believe what we believe about religion and spirituality. Let's talk about those things with each other and with others, so we can learn a lot.
7. Bullying stinks. Don't be one. Don't let others be them. Don't sit by idly while anyone is picked on by one.
8. Education comes from all around you. Soak it all in.
9. Treat people kindly.
10. Forget social norms and the appearance police. Like plaid with tie-dye? Wear it with confidence.
11. The world can be hard, but you don't have to be.
12. Mutual respect is one of the keys to good relationships.
13. As a child, the world tries to make you feel like you are lesser than. This is not true.
14. Penis, vagina, scrotum, vulva, etc. are not bad words, but anyone touching them without your consent is bad.
15. Peer pressure stinks. Be you. You're rad.
16. Be thoughtful in relationships.
17. Sometimes, it is better to be kind than to be right. When someone safety is at risk, be right.
18. A sense of humor goes a long way, but it's OK to feel whatever you feel whenever and for however long you feel it.
19. If and when you choose a life partner (or life partners), choose wisely and choose for yourself.
20. I love you. When you're not with me, I miss you. We won't always be side by side at all times, but you're always in my heart. We have good lives together and separately. Good for us.

Much better. Pinterest, take note.