I wrote letters to my representatives about gun control

The shooting in Roseburg, OR last week motivated me to write letters to my representatives encouraging them to pass sensible gun control laws.

I’m listing the Oregon reps (and their contact info) to whom I wrote, and below that I will include the basic letter that I wrote and adapted for each representative.

It’s not okay to take my writing from this site without my permission, but today, everyone has my permission for this post.  Please- take my letter and use it!  Write to your representatives and adapt my letter to make it say how you feel.  Make your voice be heard!

I’m sick and tired and frustrated, but I am also realistic.  I know there’s a good chance that all these reps will ignore my letter.  That is what it is.  But at least I did something.

Today, I did something.

What will you do?


Oregon Representatives

1. Kate Brown – Governor

contact her

2. Ron Wyden – Senator

contact him

3. Jeff Merkley – Senator

contact him

(I also wrote to my state senators and local representative but choose not to list them here.)


Dear __________ ,

I have never written to any of my representatives before, but I am compelled to write now because of yet another horrific mass shooting, this time in Roseburg, Oregon.

I live in __________ and I am a wife, a mother, and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Oregon.

I watched the press conference in Roseburg the day after the shooting where Governor Brown, Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley, and Representative DeFazio spoke. Not one of you spoke about possible solutions to the cancer that is gun violence. Governor Brown said that ‘today is not that day’ to speak about solutions. She is alarmingly wrong- the time is now.

This is the time for action. You can best honor the dead and the grieving by passing sensible gun control laws.

I do not know how to solve the massive problem of gun violence in this country, but I do know that gun control laws must be included. They work. They’ve worked for other developed countries like ours. It’s time to stop hiding your heads in the sand. It’s time to stop caving to gun lobbyists. It’s time to start crafting an evidence-based approach and get to work. It’s time for you to start doing your job to help make your community feel safe.

In the time it took me to craft this letter, about another four people have died from gun violence (according to the CDC, a person dies every 17 minutes from gun violence in the United States).

How many more people have to die before you take action?


Melissa ______

We Have a Responsibility to Change

I will try to keep this short, but I have thoughts and feelings swirling around that I’d like to get out into the open.

There’s not too much I can add to the words Obama said in his speech today about the shooting in Roseburg, OR today.  I agree with what he said.  Thoughts and prayers are not enough, and I am pissed too.  We need comprehensive gun control laws in this country because they work.  We need them desperately, and I want them badly before I have to send my sweet little boy out in the world to school every day.

There was only one thing I disagreed with in Obama’s speech – kind of.  He said we’ve become numb to this, and he’s right.  However, for me, I choose to not be numb.  I cried today.  I cried because I am a mom now and school shootings mean that I am raising my boy in what too often feels like a very dangerous and scary world.  I cried today because UCC is not too far from where I live.

I wrote an earlier post- another shooting, another day – about how I’m no longer shocked.  I’m sad and I am angry and I want change.

Let’s do something.  Let’s let our representatives know that mass shootings in this country are no longer acceptable and are completely preventable.  I’m writing letters.  I want my representatives to know that I am fucking angry and no one else has to die.  We have a responsibility to change this.

Like Obama, today I am mostly angry.

If anger fuels change, then I welcome it.

Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Mama

Now that I’ve been a mama for over a year now (!!), I know all the things practically nothing about parenting.

One thing I do know is that I can’t win.  You win, baby boy.  But please don’t read this until after you’re done being a teenager, because I never said that and you can’t prove that I did.

Here are a few other things I’ve learned in the past year, because sometimes I find something that works for me and those make for good days.

1. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the harsh realities of having a child.  Nothing.

There isn’t any advice anyone could’ve given me and there isn’t any book I could’ve read that would’ve made me feel prepared.  I think I intuitively knew this already, which is why I didn’t read any books.  I just went to doctors appointments and read how big my fetus was (and what piece of fruit he was being compared to…ooh, a grapefruit!) on my pregnancy app.

Yeah, I got some advice and I went to my birthing classes and those things prepared me to a point.  But I knew then, and it’s been confirmed many times over in the past year, that there isn’t anything out there that can fully prepare me for such a profound life change.  I knew I’d just have to wing it, and that’s cool.

2. Never underestimate the power of song.

I sing a lot normally, and I sang a lot while I was pregnant.  I sing in the shower, in the car, while doing the dishes.  So, my wee babe heard a lot of my voice singing Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift and Sara Bareilles.  During the past year, when Dylan has been freaking out over diaper changes or having his face wiped clean, we’ve found that he will dramatically calm down if we sing.  It doesn’t matter what song, and it doesn’t have to be me, either – my husband sings to him and Dylan pays attention.

The hardest part for me has been to remember to sing – especially when we’re having such a hard time that I am close to tears myself – and then to figure out what to sing, which leads me to the next thing I learned.

3. I can make a song out of anything or adapt any song to fit my needs.  Seriously.

I sang Katy Perry’s Firework as a lullaby and Dylan loved it.  I changed the lyrics of Madonna’s Express Yourself to go: “you’ve got to make him express your milk, hey hey hey hey!”  We’ve sung the classics to death – some favorites are the Wheels on the Bus (Brian added the vital missing verse that goes: “the drifters on the bus go stab, stab, stab…all day long!”), You Are My Sunshine, Black Socks, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Bingo (where we sing: “there was a family had a boy and Dylan was his name-o!”), etc.

But the best skill I’ve discovered is my ability to make a song out of any stimuli in front of me.  The best example is Crotch Food (the term we use for food that lands in Dylan’s crotch during the course of a meal).  I don’t think I’ve ever sung it the same way twice, so it’s the song that keeps on giving.

4. Formula makes a great substitute for coffee creamer.

It’s chock full of DHA – what every new-mom-brain needs!  It’s iron fortified!  I was out of milk and/or cream!  Need I say more?!

5. My mama bear instincts are fierce.

I’ve gradually learned how to advocate for myself, and now those skills just naturally spilled over onto my son, covering him with gooey, fierce, sticky mom love.  I’ve learned that if you threaten my ability to do my job as a mom, or judge me or undermine my authority as the mom that I will do whatever it takes to get Dylan and I out of that situation.  Because rawr.

6. The most challenging part of having a kid has been making sure caring for him doesn’t get in the way of my relationship with my husband.

This has been huge.  We’ve had to figure out how to divvy up household tasks and childcare, and it’s very easy to feel like the tasks aren’t equal or fair, even when we’re both working hard to keep our household running.  We have less time to connect and more stress and it’s been very hard not to build resentments and feel unsupported.

I’ve had to remind myself that my husband and I are on the same team.  We made Dylan together, we’re raising him together, we’re a family together, and we’re on the same team.

7. I’m still trying to figure out who I am now.

It’s like I am going through adolescence all over again.  I’ve been through several major life changes in the past two years – getting married, getting pregnant, moving out of state, transitioned from working outside the home to inside the home, and I’ve been home with my kid for the past year.  It’s been disorienting, depressing, isolating, challenging.  I’m having to make new friends, which is hard for me.  I’m having to get used to my new body and grieve my pre-baby one.  I’ve been grieving most of my old life, honestly.  It’s been so weird and surreal to embrace my new identity as a “mom,” and I’m still not used to it.

8. Dr. Seuss books make me feel stupid.

Seriously, you try and pronounce all them non-words in Oh Say Can You Say? on little sleep.

9. I need to keep trusting my intuition.

He’s my kid and I’ve been with him every day of his life.  I know this little guy pretty damn well.  I also trust my judgement a lot.  I need to keep reminding myself that I am good at caring for my little man, that mistakes are ok, and that at the end of the day we’re both going to be just fine.

10. Keep finding the humor in the small things.  The ridiculous things.

We laugh when Dylan farts.  He laughs at his own farts.  Farts are funny, you guys.  We just bought these new knock-off Cherrios for Dylan and some of them are brown and wrinkled and look like buttholes.  It’s hilarious!  It looks like my kid is eating buttholes!  And those are only a few examples; I could go on.

An Imaginary Spruce Goose

Brian and I are chatting yesterday evening after he got home from work.

Me- Dude, I feel like Howard Hughes.

B- …you’ve been building a Spruce Goose behind my back?!

Me- What?

B- Several thoughts on that.  First, that’s an amazing feat.  How did you hide that from me? Where are you storing it?!  Also, how are you paying for it?  With Dylan’s college fund?!  We need to discuss this.

Me- Remember reality?  Because I’ve been handling Dylan’s nasty diaper rash this week, I’ve been washing my hands like 12 times a day.

B- I enjoy clean hands.  And secret wife-built ginormous airplanes!

Me- Well I don’t enjoy hands that are cracked and bleeding.  Or baby bums that just won’t freaking heal!

B- …but airplanes make everything better!  ….right?

Me- You two boys are making me crazy.  I feel like it’s only a matter of time before I start peeing in jars.

B- Just be sure you use jars with child-proof lids.


Note: I reserve the right to paraphrase my life in its entirety.  All of Brian’s dialogue appearing in this work is fictitious, except for the parts that aren’t.  Any resemblance to his actual sense of humor is purely coincidental (probably).

The Moral Support Brigade

My two kids kinda hate each other.

Well, the younger one ADORES the older one, and he follows her around, chases her, wants to play with her…..and she’ll have nothing to do with him.  She even hides from him.

I guess it makes more sense that my oldest is a six year old cat who was an only child for the first 5 years of her life.

She’s been careful to give Dylan a developmentally appropriate-wide birth.  For example, when he was just a poopy blob, she would venture a sniff to the head.  But now that he’s starting to WALK, ladies and gentlemen, not only will she not touch him with a ten foot pole (if she had opposable thumbs), but she displays a look of pure panic at this recent development (which I translate to: holy shitfuck!) and runs like I do when I’m running from zombies.  Which is probably a good thing, because her hanging tummy waddle could use a little slimming.  Mine could, too, now that I think about it.

My cat’s also not too bright.  To her credit, she has identified areas of the house where Dylan can’t go and she’s learned that those places are sweet, sweet havens of peace (notice I didn’t say “and quiet”).  Two such places are the staircase (where she sits and waits in an attempt to trip us, ideally making us fall to our deaths) and the downstairs bathroom.

See, we keep the cat’s poo box in the bathroom, and so we had to figure out a way to let the cat into the bathroom, but keep the boychild out.  Child gate! You say.  Yup, that’s what we thought, too.  We installed one, and it definitely kept the wee lad out.  Unfortunately, it also kept the feline out as well.  I tried to train her to jump the gate like a normal cat would, but she was uninterested and actually threatened to go poop in an undisclosed location unless the gate came down.

Long story long – I was lamenting about my son who loves to eat cat litter and my cat who can’t jump, and my dad suggested rigging up some sort of string that allowed the bathroom door to open just wide enough for my fatty catty to get through, but not wide enough for the child who ripped through my vag (my words, not my dad’s).  It was brilliant, it was cheap, and it worked.

And that’s how the bathroom became a toddler-free cat haven…until a human has to use the facilities, that is.

So twice now this week when I’ve had to use the potty, I will unlatch the bathroom door and the cat will scamper in.  I don’t know what she’s expecting…a pooping party, perhaps?  Each time I warn the cat in plain English, “You know Dylan will be in here before you know it and you’ll be cornered.  You hate that.”  And each time I waste my breath.

So in comes Dylan, because mom clearly needs moral support to do her business.

And then, in an effort to give mom some privacy from the rest of the house which is now empty (either that, or in an effort to hold us hostage for promises of extra chunks of cheese at lunch), Dylan pushes the door shut, turns toward us, and cackles manically.

This is the cat’s cue to lose her shit.

WE’RE TRAPPED!  WE CAN’T LEAVE!  WHAT DO WE DOOOO?  I’ll go this way- no this way- no, on top of the toilet- nay, behind the toilet!!!!!  AAAGGHHHHH!

Cue boychild to squeal with delight while he bears witness to the cat’s manic panic attack.

And I can’t do anything to let the cat out until my personal business transaction has been completed.

Sometimes I feel like I run a zoo.

…maybe I should start charging admission.

The Gray

Today I took a walk with Dylan, and I am so glad I did.

We squeezed it in, forced it into the tiny space of time between the end of cleaning up from lunch and the moment when D self-destructs without warning, in need of a nap.

I am glad I forced it.


Because I can feel the Northwestern winter creeping up on us all too soon and it’s freaking me out.


We had a few days of gray and rain and coolness already, and I hoped that we hadn’t said goodbye to summer already.  At this time last year, I remember it still being quite hot, or is that just me seeing through the foggy, thick pea soup of having a newborn and carrying around the extra heat-producing baby weight and wanting sleep so badly I’d do something illegal to get it…?

I can handle the depressive gray for a few days here and there.  And when I know it’s only temporary, then I actually like a change of pace where the weather’s concerned (of course, then my therapist self reminds me that everything is temporary if you give it enough time….so there).  Last Sunday I actually started to feel that twinge of excitement and coziness that I get around Halloweentime.  It makes me want to throw on a sweater, watch movies, and consume warm, sugary beverages (as opposed to the warm months, which make me want to consume cool, sugary beverages).

This will be my third winter but only my second fall in the Northwest.  This year, approaching Fall and Winter feels different.  Last year, I had a snuggly newborn and I was overwhelmed and tired and had a great excuse not to go anywhere or see anyone.  I didn’t get dressed, and I breastfed and cuddled and snoozed and rocked and bounced and sang and ate and watched TV.  Yeah, the weather sucked, but I was too wrapped up in my own personal ball of crazy – each gray day blending into the next – that I didn’t notice.  Or maybe it was that the gray backdrop matched my gray days and so everything seemed to fit.

But now – now I have a kid on the verge of walking.  He wants to MOVE.  And go outside and see things and explore.  And as for me, I want a life, too.  Seeing the world through his eyes also makes me want to go outside and see things and explore.  But the weather.  The gray.  That makes it hard.  It’s like The Nothing from The Never Ending Story.  Sounds a bit dramatic, but I assure you, Seasonal Affective Disorder is real and it sucks.  I have to push through it and I am not looking forward to pushing.

Which reminds me why I pushed to get outside and walk today.  Because it was SO NICE outside.  It was beautiful, and for that I am very thankful.  School was just letting out, and I enjoyed getting to see all the littles getting picked up by their parents who love them.  Dylan and I watched and I told him that’ll be us in 4 short years.

Four very short gray winters from now.

Sexiest Treatment Goals Ever

I had to share this gem since I’ve never seen a “Hey, girl…” meme that’s mental health themed before.

You can lie on my couch any time, Mr. Gosling.

I was totally going to write a post today, but garbage trucks are evil

I was totally going to write a post today, but then the garbage truck came by while we were eating lunch.

Dylan hates the garbage truck.

It’s loud and it’s seriously like one of those evil transformers that’s come to destroy us all.

After that, he refused to eat and was inconsolable, so after lengthy attempts to get food down his gullet, he went down for an early nap….and then so did I.

Some days, mothering really takes it out of me.

In other news, today is the one year anniversary of when we gave Dylan his first bath.  Can you BELIEVE I have a one year old?!  And that garbage trucks are going to destroy us all?!

Neither can I.

Also, Dylan waved goodbye properly for the first time yesterday, as opposed to his normal reaction of pointing menacingly like the evil monkey in Chris Griffin’s closet.  #milestones #mykidisnolongeranevilmonkey

I’ll write a better one next time, folks.  Next time.

Six Things I’d Do Differently During Labor and Delivery (and some things I wouldn’t)

On this day last year, I was induced to give birth to my first child.

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year…it went by super fast.  As I usually do, I’ve been looking back on my experiences a year ago and have been having all the feelings.

I plan to eventually have another kid, and that makes me think of what I might like to do differently with the second labor and delivery.  And even as I write that previous sentence, I realize how pointless it would be to count on my wishes coming true, because for all I know, my second labor will be totally different because that’s how the universe works.

But, for the hell of it, here are some things I’d do differently, followed by some things I did that were totally right for me.

Things I’d do differently whilst expelling a baby from my body

  1. Advocate more fiercely against being induced

We have Kaiser Oregon insurance, and for some reason they have a guideline to push induction at 41 weeks.  I know plenty of other midwives/doctors/facilities who won’t induce until 42 weeks.  Either way, I don’t like feeling pushed to force my body into doing something it clearly isn’t ready to do.  Next time, I plan to bring this topic up sooner with my midwife and advocate for as natural a process as possible.

2. Ask my midwife when she plans to go on a frickin vacation

My midwife went on vacation the very week I was due, and then I had to have the induction discussion with a midwife I had just met.  It sucked.  Medical people – please tell your pregnant patients well in advance when you’re planning a vacation.  Grr.

3. Bring (even more of) my own crap to the hospital for delivery

Our Kaiser hospital claimed to be a “breastfeeding friendly” hospital.  What that really translated to was, “We won’t provide you with simple things like breastfeeding pillows, and the things we do provide, we’ll judge you for not bringing your own.”

I’ll start with the breastfeeding pillow.  I had one, but I left it at home.  My hospital only provided those thin, plasticy hospital pillows, and I had to stack 6-8 pillows around me in order to get my kid in the right position to even try latching.  It was awkward and very inconvenient.

Since my boy had trouble latching, they asked if I had brought my breast pump.  I said no.  They gave me one, but it came with a glare.

Next time, I am bringing all my own stuff.

4. Do everything I can to minimize interruptions and distractions

Nurses and doctors and photographers and clowns and dancing bears were coming in and out of my room juuust about every 30 minutes.  Are you frickin kidding me?!  There is no way anyone can get any sleep or try to breastfeed with that parade of crazy.  This hospital claimed to offer “collaborative care” for my baby and me, meaning that the baby’s doctor and my doctor would work together as a team.  Well you know what?  That never happened.  It didn’t help to have my doc come and take my vitals and then my baby’s doc came to take his vitals 20 minutes later.  After this happened to us many times, my husband and I finally had to actually yell at a nurse to get her to leave.  And my husband doesn’t yell.  We were pissed.

Next time, we plan to tell everyone straight up to take our vitals at the same time and to minimize visits.  And we’re bringing paper and tape and a pen to make signs to put on our door telling the photographer to stay the hell away.  And you too, dancing bears!

5.  Advocate to switch nurses if one isn’t meeting our needs

There was one nurse who came in juuuust after I was finished trying to get my boy to latch.  And by try, I mean that we spent 20 minutes wrestling with my boob and his mouth and he was having none of it.  I put him down so we could both sleep and we’d try again later.  Enter nurse, and she insisted that it was time to nurse.  I told her we’d just tried.  Like, just.  She didn’t believe me.  She brought my baby to me and insisted that she watch while I try to get him to latch in front of her.

Looking back, I should have asked for a new nurse right then.  If I have to do it over again, I hope I have the ladyballs to do it (ask for a new nurse), because she made me feel like crap and she sucks at her job.  At the very least, I’d have my husband go to the nurses’ desk and request a new nurse.  Passive-aggressive advocating is better than no advocating at all.

6. Advocate for leaving the hospital sooner

My boy was having trouble breastfeeding, and so it took us a bit longer to figure out a feeding plan that would work for us.  I am thankful that things didn’t turn out worse, because had my boy lost any more weight they would have discharged me and kept him and I would have been very worried and peeved.  Buuut, I still feel like they took their sweet time getting us ready to go.

We were in the hospital postpartum for 2 days, but when you tack that onto being induced and laboring in the hospital for 2 full days prior, it felt like a looong time.  We were tired and cranky.  I wanted my own bed and my own shower.  Next time, I am going to be packing my bags much sooner as long as we’re all good and healthy.


Now, I know I’ve just done a bit of bitching, but overall I am satisfied and have made peace with my experience.

Hell, there were even some things we did really well that I’ll totally do again:

  1. Brought my own pillow

Cannot emphasize this enough.

2. Brought my own snacks

Because you can’t always (or ever) count on hospital food.

3. Brought my own DVDs

Our hospital room had a DVD player, and I think watching Ryan Gosling helped to move labor along.  Seriously.

4. Made a labor playlist

Music really helps to calm me down, and although it didn’t magically end up taking the pain away, it definitely helped.  Perhaps Led Zeppelin will work for you, too.

5. Yell at people who aren’t meeting my needs

This includes husbands.  Sometimes, you just need to take your pain out on others.  It’s not healthy, but it’s like giving birth: you don’t always get what you want.

On my back on a park bench

I just needed a break.

I hadn’t been outside all day, so I stomped outside to our tiny sideyard and started blasting the hose watering the garden like I do most evenings.  And then I just started crying.  So I cried, finished watering, and then left.  I just left.

I took a walk not really knowing where I was going (like how I am writing this blog post).  I just needed a change of scenery.

I ended up lying flat on my back on a park bench and watched the fading light reflecting off the clouds for I don’t know how long.

Sometimes, when I feel overwhelmed, it helps me to just manically tackle my to-do list so I’ll feel some sense of control and competence as soon as possible.  Other times, I just throw my hands up, say fuck it, and walk out the door.

This was obviously the latter, although it was just a short break from chores that I completed upon my return.

Since having a kid, one of my biggest struggles has been trying to accept that I will rarely get to do things that I want to do when I want to do them.  On the surface, this is easy to accept.  I have a kid and of course his needs usually come first.  Yup, no problem.  But living this every day?  It’s fucking hard.

I’m a reasonable person (don’t ask other people to corroborate this).  I am a planner.  I’ve scaled my daily goals waaaaay back.  Things like: Today I am going to do one load of laundry.  Tomorrow perhaps I will clean the kitchen.  Shouldn’t be too hard, right?  Ugh.

Yesterday, I just finished (well, kind of) a project I had been working on for months.  It was a struggle to finish.  I just wanted to FUCKING GET IT DONE.  And I was pushing it to the limit – Dylan needed to go to bed, there were chores to do, there was screaming and poopy diapers and food on the floor (thank goodness it wasn’t poopy diapers on the floor)- but goddamnit, for once I wanted to accomplish something for myself.

And then in my haste to finish, I made mistakes and when it was all said and done, I didn’t even feel any satisfaction.  No pride.  No accomplishment.  Ok, well, maybe a little.  But it was such a s.t.r.u.g.g.l.e and a letdown.

And so I cried and then left.

I don’t know what the answer is.  I wonder how to change my mindset so I don’t continue this struggle that makes me and everyone around me feel like crap.  But I also want a house that feels like a home.  I want to do projects.  I want to feel accomplished.  And I have no problem doing this after I ensure that my kid, myself, my family are safe, fed, and clean.

Well, maybe just safe and fed.