My grandmother died when I was 14 years old.
It was the spring of 1997 and she had suffered from colon cancer and lost her battle.
She was my mom’s mom, and she was the grandparent I felt closest to. Before she got sick, she was delightfully squishy and smelled like mothballs, cheap lipstick, and brown sugar. I can still hear her voice in my head (that warm, Midwestern accent where the vowels go on for miles), and sometimes, her voice comes out of my own mouth when I least expect it. Usually when I am giddy and happy.
She was the first person I’d known to pass away, the first funeral I’d been to.
Her casket was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. It was this robin egg blue that was sparkly and gleaming. Her body rested on this baby blue satin that looked so smooth and shiny and comfortable.
I remember wanting to get out my camera and take a picture of it before it was covered by earth forever, but instinctively I knew that people might not like that, so I didn’t.
Looking back, I kinda wished I had. I like being able to remember all things – the good and the sad.
I still remember, even without that picture.
I first wrote the above post on April 1, 2013. I never posted it, until now. Not quite sure why…maybe because it’s about death? Maybe for the same reason I didn’t take that picture?
And now, all these years later, my daughter’s middle name is hers. My grandma’s. They are both feisty and warm and gooey and delicious. They both smell like brown sugar (among other things). I love them and they are mine.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but it would never be able to capture all that.
We were having dinner the other day as a family. My kids were talking about what they were gonna do when they grew up.
My son said, “When I’m a daddy, I’m going to go to work!”
My daughter chimed in, “YEAH! When I’m a daddy TOO, I’m gonna work!”
My son corrected, “NO! You can only be a mommy, cuz you’re a GIRL! And mommies stay home, they don’t go to work!”
My stomach gave a lurch.
I interrupted them – both my husband and I did – and we together explained that some daddies stay home and some mommies go to work. And that me, this Mommy, used to work, and that someday soon, I will again. And that we know mommies who work!
I totally understand that kids his age are very concrete, very black/white, right/wrong, what have you. They need to categorize in order to understand the world, and all those shades of gray can be confusing. Girls do this, boys do that! Easy-peasy. Plus, my kids have never seen me work. Why would they think any differently? To them, whatever our family does is familiar, natural, expected, normal.
I’m just very quick to point out that gender stereotypes don’t have to be followed if we don’t want to. I don’t want my kids feeling like they have to be put in a box, act a certain way, be a certain way, in order to be liked, accepted…whole.
One time, I took my son to get some rain boots. I was going to pick them out myself, but I figured I’d let him choose because then he’d be more likely to actually wear them. I was going to pick out some dark-colored ones from the “boy” section, but when I led him to the kid rain boot aisle, I made sure to motion to ALL the rain boots, the “boy” ones and “girl” ones. He looked at some pink ones, put them down and then mumbled that oh, those are girl ones.
How do you know that? I asked
Because they’re pink. He replied
Did you know that boys can wear pink if they want to?
And you can choose whatever color you’d like.
He still chose some “boy” ones, and that’s fine (they were freaking awesome, actually. they were green alligators with fucking sunglasses on, that’s how cool they were). I just want him to know that 1) there actually are boys who choose pink and mommies who choose to work, that there are many shades of gray and they are all okay, 2) he has the choice, for real, it’s not just lip service, and lastly, 3) he has my support whatever his choice.
I just hope that, if I say it enough, my kids will hear and understand. But it’s so hard when they’re mostly seeing family and friends and a world that strongly encourages and rewards adherence to gender norms. Because if they can’t see it, they can’t be it.
Hopefully I can help them see it.
I’ve been reading the blog Raising My Rainbow for a long time now, and if you’ve never checked it out, please do, because it’s as fabulous as it is heartbreaking and informative.
It’s written by a mom who is raising a gender nonconforming kid in Southern California. These people are such an inspiration! They practice what it means to be kind, inclusive, and advocates for LGBTQ folks.
Recently, I read a post where CJ, the author’s son, wrote his own version of the Three Little Pigs. It was so fabulous that I had to share it. (That, and I’m running on empty in terms of my own blog posting ideas.)
My little girl
letting me braid her hair for the first time
had to do it on the sly
while she watched Frozen for the first time
so full of questions
who is that? why was he mean?
told her she’d look just like Elsa
with her beautiful braid.
Today, I am reposting this older post because not enough has changed.
When I originally wrote this post, I had one baby boy. Now I have two kids in school and shit is getting real. As a mom and citizen, I am getting increasingly scared, angry, and frustrated.
Let’s place human life above politics and money, research the hell out of the American gun violence phenomenon, and then implement evidence-based practices to prevent it.
Moving forward, no politician gets my vote unless she/he has a comprehensive gun violence prevention plan.
No more excuses.
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?
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Note: Today I tried a writing exercise where you use a photo prompt and write a short story as close to 100 words as possible. It will become immediately obvious that I used the photo as very loose inspiration. Enjoy.
They had been at it all day and had only gotten a few bites.
Henry reeled in his line to check the hook. As he suspected, the bait had been nibbled away. Swearing under his breath, he reached into the jar for another wriggling nightcrawler.
“Maybe we need to try somewhere else?” Sarah suggested, but floated it as a hesitant question. She came on these trips more for the peace and quiet, but now Henry’s darkening mood was beginning to scare her.
“We’ve already tried all the damn coves in this fucking place,” Henry grumbled.
Suddenly the boat felt dangerously small as he put down his pole and yanked hard on the motor’s pull chord.
Today’s post is brought to you by my son, who would like to remind everyone to be kind.
Kindness doesn’t cost a thing. :)
I don’t have much time to write this so we’ll see how far I get. I may have to post this less polished than I’d like, but that’s what today is like, I guess…
So, my youngest is pretty ready to kick naps. And I’m fucking not. That’s the gist of it.
I’ve been a SAHM and have known naps for 5 years now. I’ve planned my life around them. When I had two active nappers, my whole day revolved around getting the naps to happen simultaneously.
Especially as an Introvert Mama, I’ve worshiped them. NAPS ARE EVERYTHING. I BOW TO THE NAPPING GODS! I need downtime planned into almost each and every day in order to feel sane. If I don’t get enough sleep, to which I’m particularly sensitive, I often nap right along with my kids. I find myself getting suuuuper irritable and snippy if I don’t get some kind of break during the day. In those cases, I end up locking myself in the bathroom or going, yet again, on Facebook and let the scrolling numb all the feels.
Today, both of those things happened because my Little Miss didn’t nap. Guys, I’m frazzled.
I totally get and readily admit that these transitions are harder for me than they are for my kids. My kids are growing fast and when she’s ready, she’s ready. It’s just that, the difference between one sleeping child/one TV watching child versus two awake children is very different. When these two get together with any kind of energy, they’re madness. They are loud, and they rip the house apart, and they are just starting to become independent, but not enough to do all the things they want to on their own. Aaaand I really don’t want them watching TV for hours on end as the only way for me to manufacture a mommy break into my day.
Like now, I’m trying to write this with two awake kids. The TV is on, I got out markers and paper and stuff, but they are still asking me for shit every few minutes, or they are fighting, or they are going to break something, or they are making a huge mess and I am freaking gonna lose it. No amount of telling (or screaming) that mama is BUSY and that this needs to be QUIET TIME means anything. And trust me, the irony of that last sentence is not lost on me.
Another layer of why naps are so incredibly important to my daily mental health is that I have no family around to help. I don’t get regularly scheduled breaks. It’s all me. Thank freaking goodness for school because I need breaks from these kids and these kids need breaks from me.
I feel like there’s more to say, somehow, but if I keep typing it’ll probably just circle back around to the points I’ve already made and eventually devolve into some ALL-CAPS delirium along the lines of WHERE ALL THE SAHMs AT?! YOU ALL KNOW WHAT I MEAN, RIGHT?! FEEL MY PAIN!!!!
And yes, the upside of no naps means more freedom in our daily schedules. For sure. We won’t have to hurry home after lunch to avoid a meltdown and we can stay out all day and join friends for fun afternoon activities. The kids are getting older and they are entering a really fun stage. All of this is true. Absolutely. But with every new stage of parenthood comes with that bittersweet feeling of loss, of grief.
My husband asked me why I’m fighting this so much, and I said BECAUSE SHES MY BABY AND I NEED NAPS AND IM NOT READY.
My babies are growing up, and that’s hard. It’s all hard.
Just tell me I’m going to be okay without naps. I know my kids are going to be fine. It’s me I’m worried about.
At the risk of annoying y’all, I’m posting twice today.
That’s right – TWICE.
WordPress just informed me that it is my blogiversary! Eight years ago today I began an adventure into writing for an audience. It’s been fun and challenging and a learning experience that I plan to continue in some form for years to come.
To all those who actually read this thing- thank you. To those who comment- THANK YOU!
Blog on, my friends.