So Many Parts Of Parenting I Did NOT See Coming

When I was a little girl I had a dream. A dream of growing up and being free of the know-it-all but know-nothing-at-all dorky, embarrassing parents of my own. Little did I know I was on my way to becoming them….

I had visions of never having to share any of my shit with anyone ever again, playing whatever song I wanted in the car, or putting whatever the hell I wanted on the TV because I was a damn adult and I could do what I want. When I want.

It’s almost endearing to think how wrong I was.

If someone told me years ago I would be arguing with a toddler about how to put a sock on (I’m doing it all wrong, apparently). I would have laughed in their face. Adults have it all under control.

So many thing I did NOT see coming as an adolescent with aspirations as far as the eye can see. Such an idiot. The list of experiences with children that have hit me like a torrential downpour on a sunny day are literally endless and growing by the millisecond. You can still feel the sun on your skin but you’re suddenly soaking wet and wonder, “where the fuck did that come from??”

That’s basically the narrative of my life now.

If I would have been warned that no matter how much I protested, I would listen to the Frozen soundtrack OVER AND OVER AND OVER until my ears were bleeding just because it was a more pleasant emotional assault than screaming children, I would have said NO WAY. Not in my car.

Paw Patrol is the new Jersey Shore, in my house. I can sing the lyrics to pretty much every children’s animated show just by hearing the first note. And don’t even get me started on the viral shark family. I’m ready to do my own rendition including homicidal shark, no fucks given shark, and perpetually exhausted shark.

Who would have thought that as an adult my new life motto’s would be #getyourshoeson #thisisMINEDAMMIT #becauseIsaidso or #areyoukiddingme?

I quit a job as a server at a restaurant shortly after I found out I was pregnant with my first. I did a whole Half Baked eff-you exit pointing fingers and cursing the staff on my way out the door because I was about to be a mom and EVERYTHING would be different now.

The owners must have felt so smug with their little kids and parenting experience thinking “God bless her, she really has no clue”. I didn’t. Here we are, years later, and I’m an order taker, short-order cook, AND bus boy and I do it all for disdain.  Or hugs…. If I’m lucky.

Getting anywhere on time is like a unicorn sighting. There is absolutely no speed my kids are capable of moving in other than sloth. Even on a good day when the sock isn’t tickling their foot and they were able to locate BOTH shoes quickly, it’s still an episode of Frazier (slow, boring, mildly humorous) getting to the car.

Showering used to be something I looked forward to. My daily release where I could feel renewed, fresh, clean. If I chose not to shower it was because I was being progressive and “hip”.

Not because I was unable to lock my kids into an episode of some mind-numbing cartoon long enough. Or I hadn’t put thought into charging the tablet to a percentage that would “babysit” my kids until I finished.

Now I have to plan my showers. If there is any part of my life that resembles a successful business executive, it is the way I schedule a shower. And that’s about it.

“Bedtime” used to happen for me after a night of dinner and drinks with friends. I would reminisce about the hilarious events that had unfolded while I brushed my teeth and set my alarm. Now, I haven’t used an alarm in eight years and doubt I’ll need one anytime soon considering my little refusers-of-sleep are up at the ass crack of dawn (or before) every.friggin.morning.

This includes the weekend. The time when I swore as a teenager when I “grew up” I would mosey around the house all day and lay in pajamas on rerun binges if I chose to, because adults have that option without someone hounding them to get up do something productive. Ha! Yeah, right. It’s almost cute how stupid I was in my visions of the future.

Bedtime has become a complete shit show charade of song and dance, stories, and endless excuses as to why it’s not that “time” yet. Begging for snacks and back rubs while someone sobs (usually me, sometimes them) because we are all exhausted and if they don’t go to bed soon I’M GOING TO LOSE MY SHIT.

Parenting is like a domestic partnership. Only you didn’t walk into it agreeing to share anything and everything from this day forth, till death do you part. You are forced to or all hell breaks loose.

This includes your belongings, your money, AND your sanity. What’s yours is theirs and what’s theirs is theirs. Forever and ever, Amen.

Honestly, I love my kids with every ounce of my being. I would be lost and devastated if anything changed in our family. But there are days where I wonder how I keep it all together. And that’s what chocolate and wine are for. Cheers.




The Most Terrifying Day – A Brush With Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare

I want to preface this by saying – I am in no way trying to compare my experience today with an awful tragedy some have experienced. My kids are all safe at home and sleeping soundly in their beds. And, they were safe all along. But there were moments where I wasn’t so sure…..

Today was like any normal, chaotic day. My kids woke up slightly late, were running around like maniacs trying to get themselves presentable for picture day. We had countless arguments on the way out the door this morning about who grabbed who’s snack and put it in the wrong backpack, why someone couldn’t find their shoe, who still hadn’t brushed their teeth or combed their hair (despite me nagging them to for at least an hour), and who changed the YouTube channel (even though we are literally walking out the door). You know, the normal morning shit-show routine.

I dropped my kiddos off at school and spent the day cramming in work, cleaning the house, doing some laundry —  caught up on the really “fun” stuff parents get to do when they work from home or stay at home during the day while raising kids and find themselves with some downtime.

I actually had thought quite a few times today about how nice it is to have a free day to myself for a change and not have to entertain at least one kid for 8 hours straight. I daydreamed about how I could take a nap, if I wanted to. I could meet a friend for lunch. I could go shopping, alone. I could go for a run (HAAA!) Ok, that’s a stretch, but you get the point. So many things I was appreciating today as I sat home and worked, cleaned, and folded in peace.

And then, before I knew it, the time had come to leave so I could get to school early enough to park in pick up lines and start rounding up my kids from various schools.

I left the house, drove my normal route and about a block away from school I started noticing lights blinking. As I got closer, the sirens were starting to register from each direction surrounding my car. I could see more and more police presence, but not enough to cause panic… yet. I take a main road in town to get to my first child’s pickup and so traffic stops were not extraordinary or unusual considering the police tend to stake out these areas for speeders, especially during the school hours when kids are present.

I still wasn’t going to let my irrational anxiety get the best of me. Not yet. But as I went to turn down the quieter, calmer street that directs me straight to the school I realized it, too was blocked off. Multiple police vehicles and what looked (to me) like riot gear being pulled out of the back of one of the squads.

Ok, WTF is going on? Now I’m nervous. But still trying not to let myself completely lose it. I hadn’t heard anything from the school, or other parents. Certainly if there was an emergency parents would have been made aware? Right?

I drive around the block only to find that the other side (and the only other street I can take to lead me to the school) is also blocked off by multiple police cars and NOW I panic. What the fuck is going on here? IS MY KID OK? Why has no one warned us about this?? And… IS MY KID OK???

Being the crazy, loving, borderline mother I am I run out of my vehicle in the middle of the road and start flagging down the nearest officer I can find because I NEED details! And that is when he assures me that my child is safe, all of the kids inside are. But there has been an incident at a home near the school and the school is on lockdown. To keep the children safe inside.

Parents are congregating on the outskirts of the school. People were in tears, others were telling nervous jokes, I was calling my mom on redial over and over to help me round up my other kids who’s bell was about to ring on the other side of town and I was not about to leave this scene.

I needed to SEE my kid. To touch her, to smell her, to love on her as much as possible. I immediately regretted any feeling of peace or relief for my free time earlier today.

I was beating the shit out of myself for even letting those thoughts cross my mind. I should not be thanking my lucky stars for 8 hours sans kids. I should be thanking my lucky stars for every single goddamn moment I have with those sweet angels because it could change in a SECOND and there is no taking it back. Time does not go in reverse.

I was mad at myself. Haunted by the scene I couldn’t tear my eyes from because not one officer had come back over to talk to us about any of the details of the situation yet and the kids were still locked up inside. What if there is a bomb? What if they weren’t in a house anymore at all but right by the school? What if….. what if…..

I woke up this September morning reflecting on the events that took place on 9-11 and what I was doing the day the twin towers were hit. I was reminded of the sadness for the loss of so many strangers and the fear for the future of my country. And by the middle of the day a real horror was almost unfolding before my eyes.

The situation was eventually under control and all of the children were released, safely and a man was taken into custody for discharging a gun near a home very close to the school in an unrelated-to-school incident.

So tonight I am thankful that what happened to me today was nothing in the grand scheme of things. A story I might tell as this “crazy thing that happened” but not more. It won’t change our family. We aren’t grieving or missing anyone tonight because today was a freak coincidence.

But, I am aware enough to know that there are people in this world who have witnessed that same scene at their child’s school as the unthinkable was going on. People who have lost and hurt and had their hearts ripped out of them because someone had brought harm into a place that was supposed to be safe. For learning, for socializing, for independence and support. Not for fear, worry, and trauma.

I’ve never been so scared in my life, and *nothing* serious even happened. But it was a terrifying reminder of the world we live in and the real possibility that things could have been very different.

Tonight I am hugging my kids just a little tighter, reading the extra story they ask for that normally annoys me, and making sure if they want some water, I’m getting it… WITH ice. And with a smile on my face. When they call me back into the room because they forgot to tell me they love me, I will give them ten more kisses before bed instead of telling them to go to sleep. And when they ask me to come check on them, I will. Many times.



The Exact Day My Mom Guilt Started And Has Been Crippling Ever Since

Funny thing about mom guilt. It’s OURS, not theirs. Our kids are not going to remember these little things that eat us alive throughout the day. These moments that we look back on and feel shame and loathing for ourselves for not handling differently. The things we did (or didn’t do) that make us question if we are slowly raising little criminal masterminds because we didn’t react better.

But our kids? They have already forgotten about it. That’s the great thing about kids… they are constantly absolving, forgetting, and moving on. They are the embodiment of forgiveness. We should learn a thing or two from them, and forgive ourselves.

I have mom guilt for all sorts of reasons. For feeling like working is taking time away from my kids, for having medical issues from time to time that have physically prevented me from doing more than I would like with my kids while they are little, for not seeing my son’s cries for help as he basically screamed for almost a YEAR that he was transgender and I just didn’t see it. For getting divorced, for their dad not being in the picture. For being crabby, tired, yelling at my kid to put her shoes on faster when she just wanted to find a cute pair to show off her freshly painted toe nails (way to go, mom). Or for letting them eat pop-tarts for dinner because I just “can’t even” anymore today. The list of reasons I have to feel like an absolute shit as a mom is virtually endless….

I can pin point the exact day that my mom guilt kicked into full gear and never went away. Since that day it’s only morphed into a more potent form of guilt that makes me replay scenarios in my head all day and night that I f*cked up. Times I wish I could rewind, repeat, do better.

My oldest was an only child for only 2.5 short years. A few months before his third birthday my second came into the world and I. Was. Tired. I was overwhelmed, I was nursing and awake all night and I had some post-natal issues after that threw me back in the hospital and caused extra recovering time weeks after delivery that I hadn’t prepared myself for.

During my pregnancy I remember feeling like the literal walking dead. Every day was a struggle to make it to 7pm before I would pass out, mouth open, drooling, wherever my ass happened to land. I slept on the couch, in a chair, in my son’s twin bed more times during that pregnancy than I have in my entire parenting life. Throughout the nine months of hell pregnancy bliss I lived off of “movie days” with my son and tried to make my exhaustion as fun as possible for him.

Once my second took us by storm, I was even more depleted and midway through the day I needed a break. I remember setting up a movie for my toddler like I had countless times in the last 9 months, telling him it was time to chill out, and once the opening credits began I walked into the adjacent room to lay down and nurse the baby. He was so confused. Quickly toddling behind me asking, “but mommy why??”. It was quite possibly the saddest, most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen, and yet…. he literally has no recollection of this.

I, however, have let it take tiny bits of my soul every time this moment replays in my head (which probably happens more often than what any good therapist would consider “normal”).

His glum little face, his crushed soul, the sweet whimpers asking me why all of a sudden just because the baby was here did I not want to lay with HIM and watch the movie together?  And it’s not that I didn’t. I just had a fussy baby who woke up to every move, every loud noise. One that only seemed to sleep on when it was within my scent and in MY bed.

As I replay this day I think, I should have never walked away from that time with him. I should have sat my happy ass on the couch and let him cuddle up next to me while I nursed his sibling. I should have came back the second he showed any discontent, instead of telling him to go ahead and lay down, without me.

I should have….. wish I had…. if only I could go back….

I assume many moms have a story similar to this. A day that culminated all of their guilt as a parent, even if it was just a moment. But it’s one they wish they could take back, do all over again. And yet, as much as this day will forever haunt me and constantly remind me that I am a very imperfect parent, my kid is not an aspiring serial killer because of it. He’s completely normal, loving, compassionate, and none the wiser to the day that established all of my future “mom guilt”.

Maybe we should all be just give ourselves a little break and be a tad more understanding of our own faults as parents, as humans and stop analyzing everything we do that isn’t perfect as if its ultimately causing our kids irreparable emotional damage.

I think that you’re doing a great job, mama. And your kid? Your kid is lucky to have you.

My Trans Child And A Year Of “Firsts”

When your child comes out and starts to socially transition changes start manifesting whether you’re trying or not, right before your very eyes. Some of these changes cause stress, tears, and heartache. Others bring joy, satisfaction, and overwhelming pride. Whether you know it or not at the time, each of the steps you take along the way become little mile markers in your trip down the road to where you are leading, wherever that may be.

Every little event culminates to the big picture that creates this new person, and leaves behind the child you knew before. Some of the steps down the path are ones that you don’t realize were BIG moments until they have already passed. And some are so monumental that the anxiety and preparation to the event almost makes you ill until it’s finally over and you can breathe a sigh of relief. Whether big or small, each of these “firsts” are just as important as the last because they are what come together to make up the person your child is desperately trying to become.

In our first year (that hasn’t even come to a close yet) after my son came to me expressing that he is transgender, many things have happened that have all become benchmarks along the way. Everything we did and continue to do since him coming out becomes a fresh “first” of things I get to experience with my child. Some for the second (or third or hundredth) time but in a new light and a completely new development to mark as a milestone on his transgender journey. Even though each of these “firsts” brought on excitement and anticipation or dilemmas, tears, and “what if’s” they each have brought my child to a place that’s creating a safe, accepting, and supportive environment.

His First Haircut: This was our inaugural “first” we repeated. Something he had done before a few times, but never this way, and never with the outcome of a new appearance altogether. I wrote about this day specifically because it became a rite of passage for my child. A haircut meant he would look in the mirror and see the person he felt like on the inside looking back at him for the first time.

Our First “Boy” Shopping Experience: We’d been shopping many, many times before. But the first time we went shopping and I allowed him to pick out shoes and clothes in the boy’s section was a definite first to remember. It was him finally experiencing a trip to the store in the way he wanted, not me picking out a bunch of shirts with glitter and bows that he reluctantly accepted, but never truly wanted. It was excitement for a new collared shirt, not sorrow while I forced him to put a dress on and parade around the dressing room while I told him how “pretty” he was… while he longingly glanced over at the racks of clothing on the other side of the store wishing he was dressed in suits and ties.

His First Day Of School: Not the summer day when months of break were coming to an end where your child holds up a sign wearing a big smile on the way out the door, prepared to take on the new year and a new grade. This was a day in May, when summer break was actually around the corner, and he had been in school for eight months. But this day, was his first coming in with a new, shortened name, a new haircut, as a new person. Declaring to the world that he had finally told on himself and he was ready for everyone else to know his true self too. Expressing to the entire student body and staff that would listen that he was someone new now, and they should recognize him as such.

His First Birthday Party: It was actually his 5th birthday, but this was a different kind of party than he had seen before. One where he didn’t have a Disney Princess on his cake and instead picked Star Wars and had a “boy” theme. Full of friends instead of just family and light saber weapons made of pool noodles and finally opening a pile of gifts that wasn’t made up of baby dolls and barbies.

His First Real Friend: Someone who understood him as he changed before his friend’s eyes, and his friend didn’t blink an eye. Someone who knew my child before and after and didn’t seem to mind. This was someone he could be honest with, be himself without a filter. His friend gave my kid the confidence to keep sharing his true self with others he knew. He’d had many friends before, but this friend showed him that being him was ok. And that meant the world to my child. I hope to one day express to this friend of his how much his actions and thoughtfulness as a kindergartner changed someone’s life for the better.

The First Time A Stranger Recognized Him As A Boy: Most kids would take a little (or a lot) of offense to someone recognizing as the incorrect gender. Not my son, and not in his path of transitioning. For him, this was a HUGE exciting moment. When he first cut his hair and changed his clothes he wanted nothing more than for everyone to accept him. It wasn’t until we went somewhere in public and someone referred to my child as a little boy did he feel he had successfully achieved his goal of being a boy. It was instant validity. He beamed and it was obvious that at this moment he was finally presenting as the person he was meant to be. Inside and out.

The first time I introduced him as my “son”. This was a big occasion and a turning point for us both.But one that I wouldn’t have considered as such in the moment. It wasn’t until much later that I realized the importance of this small incident. I remember someone asking about the child standing next to me, holding my hand. And I wrestled with how to answer such a simple question. “Is this your son?” If he had been born my son, this would have been a no-brainer, but since he wasn’t and this was all still so new to me, I was stumped for a hot second. But then, I nodded and agreed. Of course. No explanation needed. And once I finally spoke and said “yes, he sure is” my child breathed a sigh of relief and revealed the biggest smile. The strangers recognizing him as a boy on the street validated him physically, but my words to the person who specifically asked about him to me, that did so much more. That sent a magnificent message of love, acceptance, and profound emotional approval that, had I answered differently, would have been catastrophic.

I am sure we have a number of “firsts” we haven’t even encountered yet. And when we do they will be all new and all memories that we think of fondly. A new name, legally, perhaps. Or changing a gender marker, officially. We aren’t there yet, and maybe we never will be. Or maybe we will. But regardless, each of these “firsts” we’ve experienced have brought more joy and hope and acceptance to my child about himself and each and every one of them has significantly made his life more fulfilling and helped transform him not only into the boy he desperately wants to be, but a child with confidence, with acceptance and understanding, and with pride.

My 5 Year Old Is Transgender, And I Don’t Want Your Advice.

My 5 year old is transgender, and everyone seems to know what I should do about it. As if this is a “problem” that needs to be addressed.

Everyone seems to think they know my child better than me, and they know how to “fix” this.

When he started socially transitioning and it became more obvious to family that big changes were happening, the first reaction I got from most were causes. Lists of reasons why my child was expressing gender confusion, but wasn’t *actually* transgender. You see, there were just so many other facets to our lives that I hadn’t even considered {insert sarcasm and huge eye roll}

The excuses of what was going on in our lives that most definitely caused this were endless…

“She is doing this for the attention. ”

“She’s just a tomboy.”

“She is around too many boys.”

“She doesn’t know what she wants.”

“She’s too young to understand what she feels.”

“You can’t “allow” this. What will people think?”

“She will get bullied out of school!”

And (my personal favorite) “Can’t she just be gay? She’s probably just gay!”

As if I hadn’t considered ALL possibilities before realizing the inevitable. As if the concerns for his future, the fear, the potential for my child to be bullied, to be misunderstood, hadn’t been on the forefront of my fears from day one.

Everyone had a reason as to why my son must be feeling this way, but very few agreed that it was because he was, in fact, transgender.

Anyone that I spoke with seemed to have unsolicited advice; a slew of examples on ways I could change this. Stop it in it’s tracks and reverse what was going on.

I just needed to introduce my kid to more “girl” things (as if he didn’t grow up around pink and dolls and princesses to begin with).

I had to show my child the attention he was yearning for (being the first born girl, my kid was my mini-me, my sidekick. Attention was sure as hell not lacking in our family).

I had to make sure not to encourage this because this was a manipulation tactic on the part of my five year old and I must tread very carefully (apparently along with being transgender, my kid is a freakin GENIUS because he has concocted this huge gender confusion plan to dupe us all into doing what he wants. Especially considering he had never even met or heard the word transgender before IN.HIS.LIFE.). I moved to fast, I need to stop, rewind, back up.

And all of these “reasons” and lists of acceptable reactions to this “problem” I heard from various people were cloaked in a guise of guidance and sympathy. They all said the same thing, and it was that they were just trying to “help”. But telling me horror stories of other trans kids being bullied out of school, reminding me that this is a population of people that has historically been discriminated against, giving me every piece of their mind (without merit) evoked even more fear in me. magnified my worries ten-fold because the exact people giving me this so called “advice” were the ones that scared me most. The ones that absolutely refused to accept and understand. The ones that hid behind their explanations of MY child and HIS feelings instead of admitting their ignorance and fear themselves.

All of this may have changed my perspective on how I chose to open up to people, but it sure as shit didn’t change my perspective on how to react to my child.

If I learned anything after starting to tell family, it was to proceed with caution. So after months of listening and defending his choices, my choices as a parent, I started avoiding. I stopped going to family parties as often (or not at all) and didn’t invite certain family to mine either. I avoided them like the plague because they didn’t get it and they refused to stop trying to “help me” by showing me the other side of things. Insisting every time that they had come up with some new idea that explained this all away. When really, if they truly wanted to help, they needed to stop worrying about me and my child and start taking the time to learn and understand him for who he is.

It became blatantly clear to me that the adults in our life had the largest concerns and were most alarmed by the news and after reflecting on this it was obvious that they were trying to convince me to change the way I supported my son through his journey in order to make them feel better. It was becoming so clear that this wasn’t an issue about my son at all, but an issue on how they were reacting to the news and how their mission was to fix their uncomfortable feelings by making it go away. Changing my kid, or trying to change the way I parented my kid.

Once I understood fully that this was beyond them trying to grasp their own distress but more a situation of grown adults expecting my young child to adjust to make them feel more agreeable in a place that made them uneasy, that’s when I stopped trying to educate. It’s not worth my efforts to consistently try to change someone’s mind who never had any intention of understanding to begin with.

I do have to point out, not everyone in my life as reacted this way to my son. I have a handful of friends that have supported us to the moon and back and a few family members that “get it”. But to the rest of them, maybe one day, when they are ready… things will change and they will finally be ready and open to receive the information and the facts surrounding my son and his life. I have my arsenal of resources ready when they are. Until then, I don’t need that shit in my life, and neither does he.

And to anyone I meet in the future I will always be aware, be vigilant. There are plenty of times I ask for advice, sure. But unless I have asked… I sure as hell don’t need your opinions on how to raise my child, trans or not. Thanks.

Mom Transparenting

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