Friday, May 12, 2017

Triple P

Last month The Husband and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. We commemorated it by getting him an apartment of his own. In Augusta. He recently took a position that is based in Augusta, and we decided together that it was the right decision but we didn't want to move. So now he's there three nights a week and then home. He's going to be gone more than he was, but we're hoping the schedule is going to be more consistent. Plus, Augusta is better than Alaska/Jacksonville/Little Rock/wherever else he's been traveling, because at least he can be back in case of emergency.




Tuesday afternoon I picked The Boy up from after school and took he and BeYoYo to get haircuts. (BeYoYo doesn't stop talking the entire time). By then it was 5:00, so we'd killed enough time to go get dinner since The Husband was out of town. The Boy wanted to go to our local BBQ joint. This is the kind of place where you find all the best BBQ: it's tiny, they have plastic checkered table cloths, all the dishes are disposable, and someone will probably call you Hun.  Also, there's some taxidermy, obviously.

Hun took our orders and BeYoYo said he needed to go potty. That's a thing recently. He's been in big boy underwear for about a week, and he's mostly* got it down, but sometimes we don't have a lot of lead time when he says he needs to go. So I gave Hun my card and ran him to the bathroom, calling over my shoulder that he was new at potty training. Hun understood and told us it was no problem.

We came back, got my card, and I fixed everyone's drinks. We sat down at one of the checkered tables and waited. BeYoYo asked 100 times when the food would be ready, since he hadn't eaten in, oh, about 90 seconds. Hun brought out our food and I made sure everyone had the sauce they like, the drink they needed, and something on their plate cut into bite sized pieces. We FaceTimed The Husband and he knew immediately where we were. We chatted. The children ate, one calorie at a time. They got up, they got down, they sat with me, they took a bite, repeat.

Then BeYoYo stood up beside his chair and made a little face. I asked him if he needed to go to the bathroom, and he said no. We continued eating and he said "Ashwey I do need to go to the bathroom." He doesn't call me Ashley, that's just how he pronounces actually.

We went back to the bathroom, and I hurriedly pulled down his shorts and put him on the potty. "I poo poo" he said, and then I saw poop in his underwear. Gag. I implore you, what is the proper poop protocol (Triple P) here? Do you try to dump the poop into the potty with his underwear still on, and risk it falling into the floor? Or do you leave the shorts and undies on and try to scoop the poop out? Or do you have him completely undress while having poop in his underwear? I had already pulled down his pants, and inadvertently gotten poop on his legs in the process. He was visibly upset, and how do you remain calm for the sake of your child when there is an actual shit storm to deal with? I put on my best momsmile and 'you'll get em next time, Tiger!' attitude and tried not to gag out loud about the log cabin he'd built in his underwear.

Can you imagine if your best friend or your mom was here with you and she would instinctively and intuitively know how to be helpful? Imagine the opposite of that, and that's what a 5 year old will want to do. Like get between you and the poopster so he can get a better view of the poop in the pants. And narrate the whole thing. And touch all the surfaces of the bathroom. And spin in circles, even though this BBQ bathroom is approximately 6 inches large. And come up with some dances and generally not be chill.

Here's another dilemma. The wipes and spare underwear were in the car. Do I take both children, one with poop pants, out to the car to retrieve them? Or do I leave both children inside and go out on my own to retrieve them? I decided neither, and just cleaned him with wet toilet paper and let him go commando and said a prayer. Lord, please don't let him poop his pants with no underwear on because we may be asked to not come back to this particular BBQ establishment, and it is so close and convenient and delicious. Amen.

When we finally got him all cleaned up, I was exhausted and impatient and no longer hungry. I was talking through my teeth at them telling them to come on and not touch anything else. The boys were both no-big-deal-just-a-little-pants-poop-let's-go-finish-eating, and we all walked back out to our table. I imagine that the other people in the restaurant heard everything that went on in the bathroom since the walls are basically cardboard partitions, but we strode out shamelessly nonetheless. And then I realized I had the poop underwear in my hand. BeYoYo was commando and we'd all cleaned up, but I'd forgotten I was still holding them. What is the Triple P there? Do I get up, walk by all the other patrons to the trash can across the room and throw them away? The people who come in after us might not appreciate that scented gift. Do I leave the kids unattended and take the undies to the car? I decided to just keep them with me, so I folded them as small as I could (origami!) and laid them in the chair beside me. The boys finished their dinner about 100 hours later, and we prepared to leave.

Although I had hit my limit on fun and functioning for the day, the boys were just as pleasant as could be. BeYoYo charmed and waved to everyone in there, and the ones that looked like they could be grandmas got an extra charming grin. The Boy told them about haircuts and BBQ. Two older ladies stopped to chat with them for several minutes and BeYoYo just charmed them to mush. "They are so precious!" They said. Yes, they're real stinkers.
Bye, Hun.




Tuesday, January 31, 2017

All The Single Parents

Y'all. We are on day 15 of The Husband being out of town. He's in Alaska again for a work trip, and we've got 3 more days until he's back. The end is in sight.

I never use the term "single parenting" when he's out of town, even though I'm largely on my own. To me the difference is that we have an end in sight. I know I only have to survive on my own for 3 more days and then I'll be co-parenting once again. I do not understand how single parents do it. My brain can't even imagine how tired they are every dang night as they do all the laundry, all the feeding, all the bathing, all the homework, all the bedtiming, and then fall into bed themselves knowing it's all going to start over the next day.

Before I had kids, I used to say that I didn't understand why some people wanted to get married again right away after a divorce. I thought what a great model it is for your kid to see that you are independent and strong and don't need a man/woman to be happy. Then I had kids, and the first day The Husband went back to work and left me home alone with both of them I decided that if anything ever happened to him I'd get remarried in about 10 minutes to the first person who passed a background check and volunteered to put my kids to bed. Single parents are heroes, I think.

I would be pleading for someone, anyone, to go ahead and marry me and help with my kids asap.

Someone who can sing should put this to music. You have my permission.

All the single parents
(All the single parents)
All the single parents
(All the single parents)
All the single parents
(All the single parents)
All the single parents
 Now put your feet up

Put 'em in the tub, rubba dub dub
I'm doing my own little thing
He poked out his lip, he made his brother trip
How are they this dirty?
One's climbing on me, the other climbing on me
Everybody wants my attention
He's crying tears, I'm drinking beers
Don't throw up on me.

And if you like this, you should put a ring on it
Hurry up you should put a ring on it
You don't seem mean, you passed a drug screen
If you like it then you should put a ring on it

Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh

Chicken nuggets on my lips, baby on my hips
Wearing those target mom jeans
Acting up, threw his sippy cup
I don't have time to think
Got to call the physician, did I mention?
Before preschool admission
Now it's your turn, I promise to return
You'll barely even miss me

And if you like this, you should put a ring on it
Hurry up you should put a ring on it
You don't seem mean, you passed a drug screen
If you like it then you should put a ring on it

Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh

Yes, treat me to the things of the world
Did you say your name is Earl?
A bath is what I prefer, what I deserve
Don't need a man to make me and take me
But make this snack for me
(Their school is peanut free!)

Pull me into your arms
Say I'm the one you want
There's no time to postpone
Before my kids are grown

All the single parents
(All the single parents)
All the single parents
(All the single parents)
All the single parents
(All the single parents)
All the single parents
 Now put your feet up

Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh

And if you like this, you should put a ring on it
Hurry up you should put a ring on it
You don't seem mean, you passed a drug screen
If you like it then you should put a ring on it

Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh




Dear Husband, come back soon. Please. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

#WhyIMarch

In the past three days I've seen various facebook posts praising the women's march on Washington and sister marches all over the world. And I've seen some not so praising ones too, ones that said it was an adult temper tantrum, liberals were crying for not getting their way, complaining that their signs were vulgar, that they needed to grow up and let it go, that marching doesn't do any good and all those women should've volunteered instead, that women in other countries have it worse, and that there was no need to protest because "Trump hasn't even done anything yet."

I get it, y'all. People disagree about a lot of things, and the big ones are front and center of this issue. I don't feel like I need to persuade anyone to protest, but I wonder if I might explain to you why I participated in our local march?
#WhyIMarch


Do I agree with every woman there on every issue? Of course not. Do I hate Donald Trump? No. Do I think that all conservative Republicans are racist, ignorant, hillbillies? Not even a little bit (and I hope you won't assume that all Democrats are vying for killing babies either). Do I think the march was perfect? No. But I do think it was important.

I am a therapist. For seven years I worked exclusively with child victims of crime at a local non-profit, providing counseling and advocacy following the crimes. Seventy-five percent of the kids that I worked with during that time had reported a sexual assault. Many of them were not taken seriously by their parents, teachers, friends, perpetrators, or even law enforcement. Many of their stories were minimized, trivialized, or turned into jokes. Women and even children are blamed for their own assault or have the validity of their story questioned. People routinely ask what she was wearing when she was assaulted, as though somehow a particular outfit is an invitation for sexual advances. (This should also be offensive to men, by the way, because it assumes that a man's natural state is rapist and that he has no control over his impulses). People laugh off unwanted sexual behavior as boys being boys and locker room talk. Ladies and gentlemen, rape culture exists.

Toula Drimonis says the term rape culture "was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence through jokes, TV, music, advertising, laws, words and imagery that make violence against women and their overt sexualization seem practically normal."
The Boy, front and center with the organizer


I've sat with women and children as they've questioned their worth after an assault. I've made safety plans with women who were suicidal, not sure they could go on after being raped. Because of the confusing and conflicting messages women get about their sexuality from our culture, it is normal for women to question whether or not they are partly to blame for their own sexual assaults. If a man is sitting in a bar and someone comes in and chats with him and then punches him in the face, no one asks what he was wearing to deserve that.

I have much respect for the office of President of the United States, but we have just elected a promoter of rape culture. I have voted Republican and I have voted Democratic, so this is not just about politics. By talking about grabbing women by their genitals, and laughing it off as locker room talk, he is contributing to the culture that makes this seem okay, and men all over the country feel like the jokes are okay, like the victim blaming is okay, like the minimizing is okay. I want a culture where grabbing women by their genitals doesn't seem okay. I want a culture where the words gay and black and latino and women are valued just as much as the words straight, white, men. Did one march make all my dreams come true? No. If I had stayed home would it have mattered? Probably not. But if the millions of women all over the world had stayed home, there wouldn't be all these posts on facebook. At the bare minimum we've started a discussion.

Now in my work I often do consultations and classes on how to talk to kids about sex, and what's developmentally appropriate sexual behavior and sexual knowledge. Two key components of that workshop are to teach kids the appropriate labels for their genitals, and to start talking about consent early. That means that my boys know the formal names for body parts, and they know that they're private. So I explained to The Boy what the march was about, and together we made a sign.

It says I know not to touch other people's private parts (PS- they're called vaginas). 


He was so into it. All he knows is that Trump said something that sounded like he doesn't respect other people's private parts, but he wanted to help. He helped me with the sign, and then he very seriously asked if I could help him draw some private parts on the sign. I do not want to create shame around private parts, but I'm not trying to show up at a women's march with a poster of pictures of penises. So we ran out of time for homemade genitals. 😆

We loaded up and went to the march, signs in hand. The atmosphere was encouraging, positive, hopeful. There was no violence. There was no conflict. We saw a lot of friends. I saw at least a half dozen clients or former clients. We made new friends, and people asked if they could take a picture of our signs. We chanted "Love wins! Love wins!" and the boys ran and laughed. BeYoYo called it a parade, and he was right. What a beautiful way to show our support. 


Did I personally send a message to Trump on Saturday that I find his behavior and words inappropriate and unacceptable? Maybe not. But I sent a message to every sexual assault survivor, to my community, and to my children that I do. I also talked to my children about the fact that we were being peaceful. I told them that it's like how they're allowed to disagree with me or their teachers, but they aren't allowed to hit us or scream at us. 

Love wins! Love wins!


I support your right to disagree with our marching, I hope you'll support our right to disagree with rape culture. And for those of you who think it didn't do anything, it at least got you to read this post. #WhyIMarch









Tuesday, January 17, 2017

I had a dream

Warning: TMI ahead.

I have been on my period since November 8th. On Friday, December 30th I had a dream that my long period was because I was pregnant. Weirded out by the dream, I took a pregnancy test when I got up Friday morning just to relieve my anxiety. It was positive. I called The Husband in to look at it, because maybe I was seeing things. He went to the store to get another. It was also positive. Cue me freaking out. Cue him being super calm and not freaking out and being so HIM. 

I called my midwife's office and asked them to advise, since I have an IUD AND ALSO I have been on birth control pills to control irregular periods. How? What now? Etc. They asked if I could come in for an ultrasound. I was there in 20 minutes. I was only supposed to be there for an ultrasound, but the tech wanted to talk to the midwife, and the midwife wanted to see me. 

It was the same midwife who delivered The Boy, and I love and trust her. She said it was an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg in the fallopian tubes. These pregnancies aren't viable, and can be dangerous for the mother.  I was texting The Husband updates, trying not to be alarmist, but feeling a little alarmed. I had all the feelings. I didn't want to be pregnant, but I didn't want to lose another pregnancy either. She spent time explaining everything to me, and making a plan. I would get blood work in the office and they would send it to the lab to check my hormone levels, then the midwife on call would call me later in the afternoon to let me know the results. It would depend on the hormone levels, but she thought I'd likely be going to the hospital to get a shot of methotrexate.

When I left the office, I called The Husband to let him know the latest. Then I called my sister in law to cancel our plans, and ask her to tell the rest of the family what was going on. When she answered the phone I choked and cried. I told her between sobs what had happened so far and what the next plan was. Something about saying it all out loud made it so real, and she listened patiently while I cried. I was relieved to not be pregnant, and I felt guilty to feel relieved to not be pregnant. I was grieving the loss of the baby, and I was scared about what would happen next, and I was overwhelmed by the flood of all these feelings.

When the midwife called later that afternoon, she said my levels were very low, meaning my body had already terminated the pregnancy. She said I didn't have to do methotrexate, but I'd need to go to the hospital on Sunday for more blood work to ensure my levels were continuing to go down. That seemed like a positive. We resumed our plans for that night and for New Year's Eve.




We spent New Year's Eve at my friend Kati's house, at a 1920s themed murder mystery dinner party. I don't know if I've ever had a NYE where I've felt more grateful. We rang in the new year, and slept soundly in her kid's bunk beds. On New Year's Day The Husband went to get the boys from grandparents, and I went to the hospital for blood work.

I registered, was given a hospital bracelet, and was ushered to a room in labor and delivery. That seemed like overkill for just a little blood work. She said I'd need to wait until the results came back, and for them to call the midwife on call before I could leave. I texted The Husband, and then I promptly fell asleep. When the nurse came back in nearly two hours later she said my hormone levels had not gone down, and the midwife on call said I needed to stay and get the methotrexate. My body wasn't doing its job as well as they'd expected. I was disappointed, but I was okay. The nurse explained to me that I wouldn't get the shot for at least another hour and a half. I took myself down to the cafeteria for lunch, and then came back to my room and curled up in the bed.


The midwife came to give me the details, and then the nurse gave me the shots: one in each hip. I was anxious about the shots, but they were no worse than a flu shot. I learned that methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug, and I could expect a week or more of cramping and nausea, but it would prevent the possibility of my tube rupturing and causing internal bleeding. After the shot I was finally able to go home. I was exhausted. They say that you'll spend your year doing whatever you did on New Year's Day. I hope not.

The next day I dozed on and off all day. I don't know if the methotrexate made me so tired, or if I had been tired all along and this validated and justified it. Maybe a little of both. I was taking the ornaments off the tree when The Husband went to get on the roof to take our Christmas wreaths down. A few minutes later I heard a loud boom, and I ran outside, yelling at the boys to stay inside. The Husband had been on the ladder at roof height when the ladder slipped out from under him and fell on the deck, sending him flying. He landed on his feet first, and then on his hip on the ladder. Nothing was broken, but he was banged up. He had a bruise on his hip the size of a peach already, and it would grow to the size of a pumpkin over the next week.

I had to go back twice more to the hospital for blood work to make sure my levels were continuing to go down. This Thursday my hormone levels were at zero, meaning I was finally released. The next day The Boy's school called and said he had a fever of 102.7, he had suddenly come down with the flu. We rang in the new year with quite a bang, but we were all grateful that things weren't worse. We know a friend whose healthy sister was recently on life support after the flu, and one of my coworkers shared that her sister-in-law died because of an ectopic pregnancy. She had never even known she was pregnant when her tube ruptured.

We have been bracing for the weird social and political environment that 2017 has been promising, but this week we are also taking inventory of all the positive things that are already happening. Yesterday I took the boys to our local MLK parade, and I teared up at the hope I felt at our community coming together for service and kindness and equality. We've got a long way to go, but there are so, so many people fighting the good fight. Funny how all this started with a dream, which led to a diagnosis, and a roller coaster of emotion, and a treatment, and finally to gratitude. Maybe when we stop seeing all the good that still exists around us, perspective and appreciation make their way to us any way they can.

So yes, Happy. New. Year. Bring on 2017. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Merry Christmess

Our December was good. It was great, actually. But it wasn't the stuff of Pinterest posts and fancy Santa portraits. It was real, and it had plenty of messiness. When we were at my cousin's for Christmas he pointed out all the perfect Christmas cards displayed in their kitchen: girls with dresses clean and pressed, boys with matching sweaters and symmetrical smiles, Santas with suits so nice you know they've never been down a chimney, families that look so perfect and happy you wonder if you're doing it wrong. My cousin laughed that so many of those cards didn't accurately reflect the people they knew in the pictures. He pointed to one perfect kid and said "This kid got suspended for punching someone at school."

I don't think holiday cards are the place to air our dirty laundry, but I think he's right that we try to convey perfection and bliss, when that's not usually our daily reality. I found this picture online:

Who are these perfect people, and why does only the one child get to see Santa? You know in order to get a picture like this in real life there are multiple threats and the mom is standing behind the photographer screaming "you better smile!" and shaking a wooden spoon. I bet she's got a weapon in that gift box, in fact. 

Here are some of our December pictures that didn't make the cut, but maybe should have. 


The Gingerbread House of Horrors

This angel, prepared for the Children's Christmas Program at church


Then somehow, in his excitement, he broke out into the running man once he was front and center. Because Jesus, y'all. Hark.

And do you wonder where his halo went? I spotted it on a sheep who ended up sitting with her mama in the audience: 



And for every shot we got that looked like this:


We had 4 or 5 or 12 that looked like this:






Because Tis the Season for WWE. 

And when we went on a December boat ride....

but BeYoYo insisted on taking his "teef boppy". Also pictured: life jacket, ninja turtle hat, and bagel


And The Boy had to pee. In a life jacket and ninja turtle hat.

The night they ate gas station snacks for dinner



I don't know if this was a happy face or a mad face, but again with the to go bagel....
 

                                      BeYoYo in the church nursery. In the oven. Pooping. 


Our county had a runoff after the general election for a local position. After voting I asked the boys to smile for a picture and this is what I got: 

                                             
Christmas Day

And The Boy didn't take his Gecko costume off for 3 days. 



Mary, Joseph, the Wise Men, and two Ninja Turtles

Lest you ever see a picture of us that is perfect and poised (not that that's likely, anyway) or where all of us look clean at the same time, we'd just like you to know that's not the real us, and there were probably threats and bribes involved. I don't think anyone is fooled by this, based on the fact that you have seen us before in real life, but just in case. 

Merry Christmess, everyone!