Danger, Will Robinson!

WAKE UP, AMERICA. Donald Trump is Dangerous.

A year ago the idea of Donald Trump running for president and people finding him to be a refreshing voice amongst the doublespeak of many career politicians was vaguely amusing to me. As in, it was kind of a joke. That I could laugh at. Around the time the primaries were coming up in my state, I researched how I could change my party so that I could vote in the primary for the sole purpose of voting against Trump as the Republican nominee.  I wasn’t laughing anymore. People really believed this man was fit to be president. People I know and interact with on a regular basis. People in my community. Friends. FAMILY.

I’m no fan of Hillary Clinton. She has some ideas I agree with and many I don’t. The email thing bugged me. I mean, come on! Classified information on an unsecured server? Ridiculous. She totally knew better. I don’t have a high level of trust in her. But then, I don’t have a high level of trust in any politician. Although Bernie seemed pretty straightforward about his positions and not likely to sell the American people up the river,  I didn’t agree with all of his plans either. It’s not likely that there will ever be a candidate that is 100% compatible with anyone’s individual ideas and values, right? So we have to choose who is most in line with what is most important to us.

Here is what is important to me: raising my boys to be strong in character; I want them to be surrounded by people who value kindness, intelligence, good-humor, hard work, honesty and love. I want them to see these values in their community. I want them to look up to their teachers, coaches, local police, business owners and government as leaders and see these ethics present and at work all around them. I know they will encounter many people who don’t have the same ideals and philosophies and that’s OK. But what is NOT OK, NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT is having the PRESIDENT OF OUR COUNTRY espouse HATRED at every turn.

I’m angry. This latest ridiculousness of Donald Trump’s is kind of like the proverbial straw. Maybe it is because it touched on one of my biggest fears–no matter what I teach and model at home, my sons are going out into this world without me and when they do they are going to be in locker rooms and parties with drunk people and groups of men and they may get the message that women are objects, that women who drink at parties and smile and flirt with you are yours to push up against a wall in the bathroom and grab by the pussy, and that boasting about who you’d fuck with a bunch of men is EXPECTED AND ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR!

Seriously, what the hell is going on in this world? Rapists are being set free with a slap on the wrist because male judges wouldn’t want to ruin a “young man’s future”. And now we have the potential NEXT PRESIDENT of the United States brushing off his repugnant remarks against women by essentially saying that “boys will be boys”! And people are shrugging their shoulders and saying that Hillary is untrustworthy and that her husband had an affair and she stood by him and bad-mouthed the women so all is really even-steven in this race and  women shouldn’t be all up in arms because Trump engaged in some “locker room banter” ten years ago?!

Is this really OK, America? This is where we are? In 2016? Women are still being shamed and blamed and objectified and seen as walking vaginas?

I want to scream.

And of course it isn’t just the RAMPANT MISOGYNY I object to. The hateful remarks he has made about pretty much everyone who isn’t a rich, white male deeply offend me. I do not care if the man could stop every job from leaving the U.S. or cut everyone’s taxes and somehow balance our budget (which he can’t), he is not fit to be the leader of this country.

I was going to let my sons watch this second debate since they don’t have school on Monday and can stay up a little later. Now I feel like I can’t. They won’t learn anything about the real issues facing our country and how the candidates intend to handle them. They are going to see a rude, hateful bully who has been given a MICROPHONE to spread his hate on the world’s stage. What are they going to learn from that??? Nothing I want them to learn for sure.

This has all gone too far. Are we going to let our country be run by someone whose audio we need to shield from our children? Are we going to allow someone who has basically condoned using their celebrity and power to sexually assault women to choose judges? Are we going to continue to defend his ignorant, racist, hateful remarks and say we need to overlook his personal flaws because he is better for our country than an experienced politician or one of the third-party candidates who “can’t win” anyway? Are we going to elect someone whose morals are so vastly different from our own?

Or wait. Are these morals not vastly different from your own?

Are you raising your children with a different set of values? Are you teaching your children that not all men and women are created equal? That we aren’t all afforded the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and safety? That we shouldn’t help our fellow humans when we can? That we should be lazy and dishonest and mean? That power and money should be obtained at any cost? That the only person who matters is yourself? That it’s is OK to be rude and disrespectful to people?

I’m no saint or paragon of virtue, let me be clear on that. But I try damn hard to be a good person and instill my core values and morals in my sons so that they may be good citizens of this world. And I think this might be the part that scares me the most: votes will be cast for Donald Trump. And each one represents a person whose moral compass points in the opposite direction from the one I’m trying to hold for my sons. And if it doesn’t point in a different direction, if your morals and values are the same as mine but you’re a “Republican” or a “Conservative” or “hate Hillary” or “third-party candidates can’t win” or one of the many other reasons I’ve heard GOOD PEOPLE use to defend their vote, I beg you to use your conscience and intelligence and figure out a way to reconcile all those things and DON’T VOTE FOR TRUMP.

Home alone 

In my almost eleven years as a mom, I’ve left my boys a few times. The first time was obviously the most traumatic since they were only about 14 months old. I had a job interview across the country and I REALLY needed a job that would pay more money and allow me to be more self-sufficient. At that point in time, I’d had a nanny for a few months who was very dedicated and sweet and who had two young girls of her own. She offered to have the boys stay overnight with her for the weekend while I flew to New York from California. I did it and still don’t know how I managed to do so without completely losing my mind.

In retrospect, I probably did lose my mind a bit. On the flight to New York, a red-eye, I ended up passing out somewhat inexplicably and needing an ambulance to take me to the hospital upon arrival. Maybe it was stress, combined with altitude, combined with a couple of beers and cigarettes while waiting to depart, or maybe it was hormones or God knows what else, but it wasn’t pretty. When the doctors advised that I check myself in and have some tests run, I refused. I tried to explain that I had an interview the following day and would be flying back to San Diego after that interview and back to my babies, thank you very much. I promised to get checked out by a doctor when I was back in California and checked myself out of the hospital. My mom and my sister drove to Long Island to pick me up since that is where the ambulance mistook me thinking I was staying there and not where my sister lived–2 hours away.

It was a whirlwind 48 hours and I was never so glad to be home and hold and snuggle those babies. They were alive and cooing and nothing awful or tragic had befallen them and in the end I got the job. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it; leaving my kids with people who were practically strangers to me. But then, all working parents know what it is like to have to leave their kids with a nanny or at daycare with people they have vetted and believe to be good, but one never really knows. Most of the times these are the risks we take because we really have no other choice.

The next couple of times I left my boys on a weekend with my sister or my mom so that I could spend a night with my BFF in a hotel in the city and down at the Jersey shore to celebrate my birthday. These were relatively short jaunts to nearby places and I felt exhilarated rather than stressed. I knew they were fine and I was never more than an hour or so away. The boys barely knew I was gone.

I did a long weekend away when one of my best friends got married in California. It was difficult, but I was so focused on the wedding that I didn’t stress too much. And then there was the New Year’s long weekend when they were four and I went a couple of hours away with my boyfriend and left the boys with my mom. This went relatively well except for me waking up in the middle of the night interrogating him about where the boys were and thinking that someone had taken them out from under my nose while I was sleeping. It was similar to when I’d wake up when they were babies and tear the sheets off my bed having dreamed they were suffocating in the blankets or worried that I’d fallen asleep with them in my arms.

There have been work trips that lasted a couple of nights and one trip to CA to see my friend and her new baby, a couple of nights in Boston to see a speaker I love, and a sanity trip to Cape Cod last summer–all relatively short trips away, all with the boys staying with family and basically maintaining their schedule and life and normalcy.

And they’ve also had nights away at slumber parties and friends’ houses. Happily leaving me behind with a “seeyalaterbye” and going off to do boy things that boys do. This past winter they had the opportunity to do a weekend campout at the nearby (read: 5 minutes) Boy Scout camp in cabins with some of the boys and Scout dads I had grown to know and trust over the past few years. I’ve been OK. I’ve taken the baby steps to let them go out on their own a little bit. I have. Really.

But when they expressed a desire to go on a week-long adventure to sleep away Boy Scout camp, I was a little uncertain. OK. More than a little. Pretty freaked out actually. Doesn’t matter that I had left them before for short periods of time with people they spent lots of time with anyway. This would be the first time THEY were leaving ME. For a week!

After much consideration, I decided to let them go. After all, what is parenthood but a series of these moments where we decide to let our children go.

As the time got closer, I realized they were not going to have a problem being away from me for a week. It was all me. I was the one freaking out. I was the one who was going to need to cope with their absence. I was the one being left home alone.

So far, the experience has been…interesting. I’ve definitely stressed over whether they were OK and whether they were homesick or if they were having a good time. I worry that they are safe and if they can handle any uncomfortable situation which might arise. But the one side-effect I wasn’t ready for was how this independence would make ME feel. Suddenly, they are one step closer to taking the car keys and leaving me for the night. They are one step closer to making their own decisions about how to spend their time whether or not I approve. They are one step closer to leaving me behind to go to college, and forge their own way, and have their own life.

And all this is scary enough without it also shining a light on the fact that over these eleven years, I don’t necessarily know myself anymore when it doesn’t relate to them. I’m mom. Who will I be when they are gone? I’m always mom, and will always be a mom, but it’s been a long time since I had the freedom to think and act independently from them. Soon, they will really be gone and I will be left on my own. What will I do then? Who will I be? What will I spend my time doing?

These past few days have reminded me a little of who I was before the boys came along and who I might be when they leave me behind for good. I took a day off of work to go to the beach and recharge. What will it be like to have all my vacation days and personal days to spend as I choose, not on caring for them when they aren’t in school or taking them to he doctor or dentist or being there when they are sick?

Tonight I thought I might get my nails done or watch a movie, but instead I dropped off their pillows and some cards with a Scout dad who is going up to camp tomorrow and ended up having a glass of wine with some other moms and realizing I’m not alone in my longing to have my boys where I can see them, in arms reach, where I know they are well and safe and enjoying their childhood. It was good to share the letting-go experience with others who are feeling it too.

But I know now my time is coming. Time that I have so desperately wanted and time that I so desperately wish I could keep at bay for a few more years of holding my little boys in my arms and snuggling them and knowing that all was right with the world. Before I know it, I will be alone and I will need to prepared to live MY life again and not just the life of me, mom, but me, ME. How will I do? What will I do?

Some things that have already occurred to me include:

  • Walking around the house naked is so liberating. I will definitely be doing more of that when they are gone.
  • Not needing to make sure that anyone but me has what they need for the day saves SO much time. I can definitely sleep later in the future.
  • I can choose to take off work, wake up at the crack of dawn, spend the day at the beach, and still make it home to get a good night’s sleep without worrying about snacks, riptide, under-tow, snacks, not enough sunscreen, three chairs, snacks, a cooler, an umbrella, snacks, a sheet, sand toys, boogie boards, snacks, bathroom breaks or stopping three times on the parkway for any number of reasons. So efficient!
  • If someone asks if I want to stay and have a drink, I can say: Sure!
  • The gym is open early! I can go before work and never think twice. I might actually be in shape again.
  • I can watch whatever I want on TV and it doesn’t matter how loud. Even if they are cursing. Or having sex. Or blowing shit up. I don’t even have to sneak a peek to see if my boys have overheard what I’ve been watching.

I’m sure there will be more by the end of the week.

What I do need to relearn is how to prioritize those things that are important to me. And how to identify those same things… I’m not even sure anymore what my priorities are beyond them. I guess what I have learned is that in letting my boys become who they are, I need to remember how to become who I am.

Because sooner than I am ready, it’s going to be all me.

Ch-Ch-Changes

Time may change me. But I can’t trace time.

– David Bowie


I’ve been spending a lot of time writing off my blog and participating in Write Yourself Alive. In retrospect, I should have just used the blog as a forum for some of these exercises, but I was hesitant because I was writing about many themes that had nothing to do with me as a mother or my adventures as a single mom raising the twin tornadoes. This particular prompt really threw me for a loop, however, and in the end I decided this was the perfect place to explore it.

Question/Dig Deeper: Dissect change. What scares you or makes you uncomfortable about it? What helps you deal with it best?

Prompt: Write a short autobiographical story (1st or 3rd person) in which you reflect change. There must be an obvious before and after in the character/s.

At first, I thought this was easy. I’d always had an uncomfortable relationship with change so I thought I would write about my first awareness of it and how I’d grown and matured. I began writing about how my mother and her friend and I had sat on the beach when I was about fifteen and read my Tarot cards. They were studying Tarot at the time and I was a bit of a guinea pig. My future card was The Moon. Change.

I was resistant. I read something else in the cards. But they insisted that the card represented a massive change in my life up ahead. I should have embraced it. There was nothing in my life which warranted a comfort in staying where I was or whom I was. And yet…

As I explored this and started telling the story of me, I became extremely frustrated. Every time I thought I was writing something about how I embraced change and learned from it, it seemed the story started betraying me.

I haven’t changed at all! Not even since I was fifteen fucking years old! How can that be???

I was tempted to cheat and just write a story about becoming a mom. That sure as hell changed me. But there was this nagging at the back of my mind, something I needed to hash out and make sense of, something that would make the following a little less hard to swallow:

You are the same scared, insecure, gratification seeking, angry, loving, selfish, kind, passionate, opinionated, defiant, compliant, dichotomous person you have always been. Any grand transformation you feel has taken place is a total sham. If anything, you have been going forward in a dizzying spiral which only faintly resembles progress, but is, in reality, a series of pirouettes.

Then a friend who knows me inside and out suggested that I had indeed changed during these post-children, mommy years he had known me.

More confident. Less dependent. More trusting. Hopeful. Peaceful.

Still, I abandoned any further dissection of this tricky subject. And then I had the chance to examine both of my boys independently while we were at the ocean this past weekend. I was amazed at the simple, subtle ways they had changed (and not changed) and were becoming evermore themselves. Individuals. Growing. Almost tweens.

Gone were my babies. Gone was the need to hover over them every second. I still waded out into the ocean with them, as they grabbed their boogie boards with varying degrees of daring. I spent time with each of them alone; testing the ocean and our limits. I watched as their approaches were both the same as they were when they were younger, and yet, different; progressed.

C, cautious as ever, but wanting to embrace the surf. G, almost careless, getting reprimanded by the sea. And mama, letting them go, keeping a watchful eye as they discovered their limits and their limitlessness in the rough waves.

My boys are growing up in the time between when I close my eyes at night and wake to them making their breakfasts in the morning. I’m quickly losing sight of the babies, toddlers, little boys they used to be. They are the big kids now, not quite tweens and thank God, not teenagers, but they are well on their way. And they have changed with time and not changed at all, simultaneously. It is hard for me sometimes to see the difference between the changes time is bringing and the difference which they are having on themselves.

It’s all change though, right?

I realized while watching the boys and contemplating my changes as a mother that time does indeed change us, even though we may not think we are changing at all. Maybe there are certain core characteristics that will never change and that is alright. But maybe, with experience, we can enhance or abandon those patterns or traits which set us back. We may approach life with all of our baggage, with all that we have been or done before, but the outcomes may be wildly different according to our wisdom, and self-awareness, and discipline.

Maybe it is OK that I am pirouetting through life, as long as those circles are projecting me forward.

Maybe if a circle is destructive enough and I stumble, I will embrace a new choreography. I want to believe I have already done that. Certainly, as a mother, I have.

We cannot stay static for long. We cannot trace time’s immeasurable effect. We can only breathe in and out each day and attempt to learn from what has come before.

all that lies ahead

all that lies ahead–seven years ago…

One-Liner Wednesday– On raising capable children

If you would have your son to walk honorably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them – not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go alone.

– Anne Bronte


Join Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesday! Pithy wisdom and laughs every week.

Somewhere in between

I’ve reached an age with my boys that I have come to realize I am ill-equipped to deal with. They are still little boys in many, many ways, but with very big boy brains and attitudes that none of us are really ready to deal with.

Often I wish that I could go back in time and savor their little-ish-ness more than I did when I was first going through it. I suspect there will be a time in the not-too-distant future when I will wish to go back to this time and be more present and aware.

They are learning so much. They are unexpectedly funny. They are too expectedly goofy. They have big ideas and schemes. They still think that sex is kissing. Farts are hilarious. School is starting to be a drag. Family activities are too. They are struggling for independence and yet not truly ready for big responsibilities. Friends are starting to be chosen on the basis of interests and not necessarily proximity or familiarity.

I was a babysitter and a nanny and I have always maintained that I love children. But truly, I love babies and toddlers…when it comes to school-aged kids, I am at a bit of a loss.

Turns out that I have a hard time relating to my kids. I can talk to their friends. I can talk to my niece. But when it comes to my own offspring I feel utterly hopeless and helpless in a lot of ways.

Books remain a fairly constant way to bond. However, I can’t seem to find a T.V. show that we can watch together without reservation unless it is of the discovery channel/food network/history channel variety. Pure fictional entertainment is tough…we are either a little younger than we maybe should be or at a maturity level I don’t feel comfortable with.

Without knowing too much about the show beyond the singing, I thought maybe Glee would be something we could watch (we have it streaming now through netflix or amazon prime or something). But after having to skip through some more questionable scenes, I had to put the kibosh on it…maybe we can try again in a couple of years.

Even watching the Golden Globes the other evening, I was slightly uncomfortable as JLo came out wearing her revealing dress and looking smoking hot and I am watching G out of the corner of my eye to see what kind of reaction he is going to have to a woman dressed so provocatively. He seemed sort of awe-struck (as I was, frankly) but he was kind of awe-struck by the whole thing, so I didn’t worry about it too much.

The fact is, I am not ready for them to enter that big-boy world and they aren’t prepared either. But they are rapidly leaving behind that little boy world. I guess this is what they call the tweens (even though they are only 9) and it sucks.

They clearly aren’t ready to take on responsibility. That is, unless I constantly nag and remind them of their responsibilities they don’t get done; schoolwork, homework, instruments, sports equipment, Cub Scout requirements…all these things should be becoming their purview and yet, they aren’t. They want them to be. They tell me, “I know!” in exasperated, disdainful tones whenever I remind them of anything. Yet, they don’t do it on their own.

So, I continue to annoy them and they continue to annoy me and we go on not understanding one another and oh, how I miss those baby days! I get glimpses of the little boys that in many ways I still want them to be when they are snuggling with me in the morning or at the end of a long day or when they want something or something is weighing on them or they aren’t feeling well; they still come to me sweet and snuggly and agreeable as can be. But mostly, I just get big boy attitude and assertions of independence and I have to remind myself that this too shall pass.

Because they are becoming big boys. And before I know it they will be teenagers. I think that when they finally are, we may relate a little bit better. But for now the transition is rough. Not a little boy, but not quite a big one either. I want to laugh at the fart jokes, but I also want them to get dressed and out the door in time for the bus without constant supervision too.

I have a feeling these tween years are going to be my least favorite. So if anyone has any recommendations for getting through them, I am all ears. Starting with TV shows we can enjoy as a family that won’t cause any and all of us to blush.