Watching Election Coverage:
TD2: I want to watch scary.
T-Daddy: This is scary.
TD2: Ooooh yay!!! Scary! We watch scary. *happy dance*
One day over the summer, I went to my regularly scheduled therapy session and we had a very good session. One of those sessions that reaffirms why I continue to give up an hour, plus travel time, every other week. Then, I was hit with the bombshell: “I’m letting all of my patients know that I’ll be leaving the practice in a few weeks.” I tried my best not to fall apart right there in the office, but inside I felt like Damon was on another one of his mean streaks and had his hand on my heart ready to rip it out just to show me he could if he wanted to. (That’s a Vampire Diaries reference if you don’t get it.)
This is my second therapist at this practice – my first one left shortly after I finished testing and was diagnosed with anxiety. She was leaving to finish her dissertation overseas. I cried. She recommended this therapist because he specialized in some of the areas that were triggering my anxiety. We got along great and I had been seeing him pretty much from diagnosis up until now – for more than a year. Together, he and I have made a lot of headway in managing my anxiety. And now, because of family reasons, he had to move back home and I had to start all over with someone else. I did not take this news well. I wasn’t sure I wanted to start over with a new person. What if we didn’t get along as well? What if having to rehash my history and certain situations/events caused me to regress and relapse?
I used the metaphor of burn wounds versus regular wounds to express how I was feeling to my therapist. I’m nowhere near a medical expert, but on Grey’s Anatomy, sometimes the burn patients have to endure these long treatments of pulling off the burnt skin so that the new skin can grow and they can heal properly. Judging from their screams, tears and cries, it’s soul-wrenching. On the other end, if you keep picking at a wound and don’t allow it to properly heal, infection can set in. So which one was I in this new instance – burn wound or infected scab picker? Only time would tell.
Just as I was starting to come around to the idea of having a new therapist (I decided not to quit therapy after a meet and greet with the new therapist – I liked her vibe), I received a phone call from the TDs’ pediatric clinic. Their doctor was leaving the practice and we would be seeing a new person for their upcoming doctor’s appointment. I tried to tell them I didn’t want to schedule an appointment with someone new without first talking to their doctor, but they weren’t trying to hear me. They told me a letter would be coming in the mail next week that explained everything and if I had more questions, I could call back. (It took more like a month and a half for that letter to arrive. It was a generic letter and didn’t explain much of anything.) I got off the phone and swallowed my tears.
I love the girls’ doctor. T-Daddy and I picked her out when we were pregnant with TD1, which means she has been in our life for five years, as a partner raising our daughters. We haven’t always been able to see her for impromptu visits, but every scheduled appointment has been with her. And when the girls were seeing someone else, she always made it a point to stop in and check on them. She answered every question we had as first- and second-time parents. She never forced a vaccine or procedure on us that we were uncomfortable with. She never judged our parenting methods (co-sleeping anyone??). She judged TD1 and TD2 by their own development curve and not some standard one-size-fits-no-one model. She trusted us and we trusted her. Our girls adore her. They look forward to seeing her every 6-12 months. That type of relationship isn’t built overnight.
One week – two relationships ended. Just like that. It became so clear to me very quickly how the relationships we form with our doctors can be just as real and impactful as those we form with friends and coworkers. We see them regularly. We entrust them with vulnerable parts of our lives and before we know it, a connection, a bond has been formed. And it hurts when that bond is broken.
My new therapist and I are getting along great. I trusted my old therapist when he recommended her and I think she’s in a position to offer me a unique and valuable perspective as I continue to manage my anxiety. The verdict is still out on the TDs’ new pediatrician. They have an appointment with her scheduled for this Friday, which we plan to use as our meet and greet since she was too booked to do it beforehand. But, T-Daddy and I are already exploring the option of finding a new clinic/office/hospital. We don’t particularly care for the hospital that their pediatrician worked out of, but we loved her so we stayed. Now that she’s no longer seeing them, we’re free agents, ready and willing to explore our options. It feels like we’re dating again – looking for the perfect doctor to be our partner in parentdom.
Yesterday, TD1 turned 5 and we celebrated by taking a road trip to Indiana. Though, to be honest, the celebration actually started on Thursday. I went to her school to read a story with her to her class. Then we sang and danced and TD1 passed out the treats we made. Later, some friends and family came over to sing happy birthday and eat cupcakes.
We were supposed to go to Nashville (Brown County), Indiana, but never made it because nothing goes as planned with T4. Instead we ended up going to White River State Park in Indianapolis and getting pizza. For a brief second, I was bummed that we didn’t get to celebrate the way I had planned, but I was later reminded that some of the best things in life aren’t always planned. *cough cough TD1 cough cough*
We had uninterrupted family time sprinkled with a basket full of candy and TD1 got to call a lot of shots. In her words, “My birthday is awesome!” We laughed and were silly together and on the drive home, it hit me: T-Daddy and I have a FIVE year-old!!!!
It’s hard to believe that five years have passed since I gave birth to this little one. She has changed my life in so many ways and I love watching her go through life. She’s smart and independent and loves helping others. It may sound cliche, but she really does make me want to be a better person. I want to be a good example of the type of woman she should aspire to be. I am also proud of who she has already become. I wish I could take all the credit, but I can’t. She’s her own person and she makes her own choices daily. And she’s managed to survive five years of having T-Daddy and me as her parents.
Happy Five Years TD1!!!!
When TD2 turned two, my loving aunt decided to get the girls a fish for TD2’s birthday. It was a Betta fish and she was kind enough to provide the tank and food. Still, I protested. “If the girls didn’t scream my name, I’d forget to feed them. There’s no way imma be able to take care of this fish.”
Fast forward 16 months and we were doing good. Until we went to Nebraska last month. We were only gone 2 days, but as soon as we got back, one of the first things I did was feed Fishie (TD2 named it).
“Baaaaaaabe!!!! Come here. Fishie doesn’t look too good.”
For the first time since having Fishie thrust in our lives, I felt something. I immediately began googling to see what was wrong with him. At 11:53 p.m. on a Friday, I raced to a new Walmart (because our regular one didn’t have what I needed) to get some medicine and a different kind of food to help a fish I had never been emotionally invested in start to feel better. The tears were beginning to well up in my chest. Oh God! The girls are gonna be so sad. God please let this work.
Over the next three days, he began to look better. I woke up Tuesday and raced to the fish tank. It had become a part of my morning routine and I was eager to see how much Fishie had improved. He hadn’t. He had regressed to the point of no coming back. I told T-Daddy and then I just kind of kept staring at the tank, hoping I could will him back to life.
When the girls woke up, T-Daddy and I decided to tell them together and give him a proper flushing before T-Daddy left for work.
T-Mommy: Girls, Mommy and Daddy have something very important to tell you.
T-Daddy: It’s also very sad.
TD1: What is it?
T-Mommy: When Mommy woke up this morning, Fishie…
TD1: Died? I wanna see.
TD2: Me too!!
The TDs seemed entirely a little too enthusiastic about seeing a dead fish. TD1 asked if we could bury it in the backyard instead of flush it. When I told her that we didn’t have a backyard to do so, she wanted to bury it in the park. We attempted to go to the park later that day and the next, but we never made it. I flushed Fishie on our way out the next morning and we had a short moment of silence.
Every so often, TD1 will tell me, “Mommy, I sad our fish died. Can we get another one?” “Yes, sweetie we will. Mommy’s sad too!”
Today marks our one-year anniversary, and I must say, it went by fast. In honor of our first year of marriage, here are 16 things I learned about Wifedom this past year:
One day not too long ago, the girls and I came home after running some errands. Before we could get settled, I noticed a HUGE flying black thing with a stinger. I quickly evacuated my apartment and texted T-Daddy. There’s a wasp hornet thing in the apt. The girls, my sister and I sat in the car while I waited for him to text back. After about 30 minutes and no reply text. I called him and it was decided that we’d just have to wait until he could come home and kill it. So, we all went to our favorite neighborhood bar and grill.
I ate pork tacos, the girls enjoyed kids’ meals complete with ice cream to-go and we were headed to the library when I heard those dreaded words: I have to goooooooooooo. Me toooooooooo.
Crap! I forgot about that. The whole reason we’re here in the first place.
And, it was at that very moment that I reached a new low in Mommydom – I contemplated letting the girls pee/poop in a pull-up. Then I realized I didn’t have any on me. Public restroom it is.
Monday, the TDs started school. The fact that it’s Thursday and I’m just writing about their first day should be a good indicator of how it went…..busy….and exhausting!
I definitely was not ready. I felt like the summer went by too fast. I still wanted to do things with them. Fun things like trips and the beach and trips downtown. Emotionally, it was no big deal. They’ve both been in daycare since they were 3 months and we started “real” school last year.
I spent the week before failing at getting us on a schedule to prepare us for getting back in the swing of things. No changes to the uniform and I’d washed and hung uniform clothes months ago. We ordered school supplies through the school and they were shipped there. Book bags were bought. They just needed a few minor items – lunch box, water bottles, snacks. We were all good to go!
Then Monday happened. And I realized just how not good to go we really were. Several of TD1’s uniform items are missing. And they happen to be the items that have to be specially ordered from the uniform store and currently are on back order. Yay us! Maroon leggings and shorts (non-logo or branded) are the bane of my existence right now. Seriously, does anyone make or sell them??? We ran into this problem last year, which caused us to stock up whenever we found them in the girls’ sizes. Guess what’s mysteriously missing now….
Despite an early bedtime, the girls did not want to wake up. Grumbles of “Why do we have to go to school?” were repeated throughout breakfast and getting dressed.
Then they were dressed and we had about 10 min for pictures and to get them in their respective classrooms. And that’s when it hit me. During that quick 2 min photoshoot when TD1 was posing and telling me which shots I had to get. My daughters are big girls.
TD1 is a kindergartner this year. Gone is her cubby. Replaced by a hook to hang things now. Her classroom even looks big kiddish. TD2 is still in preschool, but she’s moved up. She’s in TD1’s old classroom. They have recess together, but they don’t eat lunch together anymore.
After I dropped them off, I spent my day trying to acquire the lost items that have fallen into the invisible black hole. Then it was time to pick them up. TD1 excitedly ran to me. “Mom, I’m sad that my friends are in a different class than me. I only get to see them at recess.” (By friends, she means a certain group of boys that T-Daddy is happy to have her separated from. I think someone may have had a talk with the office.) Then, we walked to TD2’s class where she was knocked out. TD1 ran straight to her and started rubbing her and trying to put a pillow under her to make her more comfortable.
I picked up TD2 and two of us walked, while one was carried, to the car – on our way to acquire more lost items. Man, I really aced this being prepared thing this year. Ten min later, I pull up to the uniform store with two sleeping kids. I woke TD1 up and bribed her with ice cream if she walked. She stayed up long enough for me to complete the purchase and get back in the car before it was lights out again.
Happy first day of school TDs!!! School must have worked them hard.
One day TD1 came up to me and told me that I wasn’t her real mom. Her real mom (Invisible Mom) lived in her Invisible World and TD1 came here through her Invisible Mirror. In Invisible World, TD1 is really 8 years old (coming through the Invisible Mirror made her 4.5), and things are quite different than they are here in the real world. These are TD1’s adventures as told by her.“
In my Invisible World, everyone only eats candy and fish because that’s all that’s healthy there. But I’m allergic to fish, so I can’t eat it. Everyone else eats it though. I just eat candy because that’s all that’s healthy in my Invisible World. I’m only allergic to big fish though, so if my Invisible Mom cuts it into really small pieces I can eat it. I’m not allergic to small fish, just the big fish and I really like it in my Invisible World.”
Since the Stanford rape case a couple of months ago, I’ve given even more thought than usual to rape, how we handle it and what we tell our children about it. The way that case was handled was absolutely ridiculous. A young lady was violated and the nation read how sad it was that her attacker could no longer enjoy a good steak. I’m sorry, but she can no longer enjoy her body. That beats a good steak any day.
But, this case also reminded me of all the cases I’ve read about where innocent men had their lives ruined because some woman lied about the consensual sex that took place. I’m not saying this to take away from the Stanford victim’s pain and abuse. I’m saying that rarely do I read a rape case and walk away feeling like justice was served. It’s usually not – either an innocent man was framed or a victim was shamed. Both are losses. And it’s disturbing, especially as a mother of two young girls who I have to school on navigating this mess. I’m not just concerned about teaching them not to feel ashamed of their clothes and sexual choices (rape victim respectability politics), but I’m also concerned about teaching them accountability for their own actions and words. As important as it is for me to teach TD1 and TD2 to love and own who they are, it’s also important to me that I teach them to look out for the young men who they will encounter and befriend and not throw them under the bus because of shame or regret.
I need them to understand the world we live in and the laws that could very innocently ruin all of their lives. I want them to understand that yes women get raped and it’s horrible, but it’s not always men or even strangers that do that raping (and rape won’t always be violent). And yes, less talked about women rape men. And then some women, for whatever reasons, lie about men raping them. And then there are people who find themselves in situations that unfortunately result in criminal charges (here’s looking at you underage sexers and sexters.)
As much as I want my children to wait until marriage to have sex, I know that’s not a decision I can make for them. And if they choose to have consensual sex with someone who is a year or two older than them, I don’t want that someone to go to jail for being a willing participant in something they both wanted. Likewise, I don’t want to see myself or T-Daddy go to jail because the girls were caught with a boy in their room and, for fear of getting in trouble, they lied and said he broke in and was trying to rape them. And because we love our daughters, we reacted in the moment and did something that can’t be undone. All of these situations are real situations that I have read about over the years.
I want them to know that consent is not the same thing as desire. And as much as they may want to have sex, if they have not given the green light, that desire does not matter. They don’t have to “lie there and take it,” just because someone tells them “you know you really want this.” I need them to know that if they’re having a bad day and don’t want to be touched, it’s okay to say that. Their body is their body and no one has the right to force themselves on them, even under the guise of “this will make you feel better.” I want them to know that they can say “No” at any time. It doesn’t matter how far they’ve already gone. They always have the right to change their mind. Even if that someone is their boyfriend or husband. What they shouldn’t do is after they’ve had consensual sex, say “You know what? I really didn’t want to do that and even though I said yes, I didn’t want to, so I’m going to say he assaulted me.” No, that’s not assault. That’s a bad decision, sweetheart. And Mommy and Daddy have made a lot of those.
I want them to know that it’s important to explicitly state their intentions and permission. This is something that I teach them now. As much as I love hugs and kisses from them. We tell them they have to ask Mommy and Daddy for a hug and kiss. They can’t just take it. They have to respect personal space. And if Mommy and Daddy say “Not right now,” they have to respect that as well. AND they have every right to tell Mommy and Daddy, “I don’t want a hug/kiss right now.” We ask them for hugs and kisses. We don’t tell them to hug and kiss us. We don’t take them. And we try really hard to make sure that our family and friends obey these rules. Many of our old school family don’t quite understand it. But you can’t raise a boy or girl in an environment where those they “love” are constantly taking hugs and kisses from them and you tell them it’s okay because this is family, someone they know, someone they love and not expect them to become men and women who think it is okay to touch someone without their permission. To think that if their boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse kisses them when they’re not in the mood, that they have to accept it because of who this person is to them. Also, it’s sick, but let’s not pretend like aunts, uncles, cousins, mothers and fathers aren’t out here molesting kids. They are. And all children need to know that if someone creeps them out, they don’t have to let them place their wet lips on them.
Too often we teach our girls to not be easy and say yes the first time, while teaching our boys that if she says no, they just need to try harder till she says yes. WRONG! We should teach our daughters to say, “I like you, but you need to show me you’re worth my time and you aren’t playing games that I have no time for and am not interested in playing.” We need to teach our boys that if she says no, she means no. Don’t try to wear her down. Respect her enough to respect her decision. If she’s missing out on a great guy, that’s her loss. If we teach our kids to play these cat and mouse games about first dates and kisses, how can we be surprised when they spill over into the realm of sex? (And I won’t even get started on this whole teach our girls to be pure virgins till death while teaching our guys to go out and sow their wild oats BS – that’s a topic for another day.)
I want my children to know that rape and assault are never their fault. Yes, they can do certain things to “help lower their risk,” but it’s no more fool-proof than always wearing your seatbelt, driving the speed limit and never driving intoxicated or distracted. Someone who’s not doing those things can still hit you. You wouldn’t be blamed in that accident and you shouldn’t be blamed if someone violates you. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing, how much you’re drinking, how much sex you’ve had or who you’ve had it with. If you didn’t consent to this person, they are wrong. Point. Blank. The End.
But the issue of consent brings up a very touchy subject. Intoxication. Alcohol. Drugs. The law says an intoxicated person can’t give permission to have sex with them. I don’t know very many people that haven’t had consensual sex under the influence. That does not in any way discount the testimonies of the unconscious victims. It just makes it a very sticky situation that I don’t have the answer to. But, I want my daughters to fully understand the ramifications of getting drunk and engaging in sexual activity. This is where I feel torn. On one hand, I wholeheartedly believe every rapist should be punished. On the other hand, I can’t in good conscience say that every intoxicated woman doesn’t know what she’s doing so she can’t consent to sex, but an intoxicated man should know better than to have sex with someone without permission. As a woman, I find offense to that because that’s saying that I’m helpless when I’ve been drinking simply because I’m a woman. It also implies that men should still be in control even when they’re intoxicated. And for male victims of rape, that can be a dangerous implication. Because if I’m a victim (male or female), I wouldn’t want the fact that I’ve been drinking to be used to imply that I wanted sex or that I’m promiscuous.
Sober people get raped. Drunk people get raped. Sober people rape. Drunk people rape. Sober people get together and have consensual sex. Drunk people get together and have consensual sex. Alcohol complicates things because it affects everyone differently. Some people can appear just fine and not remember anything the next day. I’ve dated guys and had friends where I’ve had to explain to them in detail what happened the night before because they didn’t remember it. They didn’t seem pass out drunk at the time either. I also know people that have seemed sloppy drunk and remembered every single detail of everything they did. When you’ve been drinking or the other person has, it can be hard to judge which type of person they are. If you’re young and you think you’re just going to have “awesome, drunk sex” with a consenting person, it can be difficult to think of the ramifications of those actions.
I know plenty of people that love having “drunk sex.” And their partners agree. The difference between them and these campus rapes are that they are in a committed relationship, said drunken sex is probably taking place in a private space with no witnesses, and there is consent. But let’s not pretend like significant others don’t get drunk and rape their partners. They do. Because what was consensual one time can very easily not be the next time. And because rape is having sex with someone without their consent, it’s applied to every instance of sex. So those early morning rollover, wake the other person up with sex sessions can very easily be defined as rape. Particularly if your partner isn’t receptive to it. The problem is that we tend to only look at rape as one way. We tend to only look at rapists and victims under one light. But it’s all very multifaceted and complicated.
I don’t have a solution to rape and the rape culture we live in. I’m sure some of my thoughts might even have been influenced by said culture. What I do have is a desire to talk openly and candidly about sex, consent, rape or any other topics they want and answer any questions they have. To teach my children to respect others and their personal space. Regardless of intoxication, gender, or relationship status. To let them know the other person can always say no, and they can too. Whenever, there’s a question about whether they have consent, just don’t touch. If they’re unsure about if this is what they really want, it’s okay to say “Don’t touch me.” And, if in the off chance they do cross a line, to own up to it, apologize and accept the consequences of their actions. Sometimes, we cross boundaries simply because we didn’t know it was a boundary. Sometimes, we cross boundaries to see if we can get away it. And to never, ever lie on someone else to save face. That’s a person’s life you’re ruining.
Whether you’re accusing someone of a rape they didn’t commit or you’re trying to shame your victim to make you seem less of a predator, it’s wrong. It has real emotional implications beyond the legal ones. And God forbid, if they’re ever the victims of rape, it’s not their fault. EVER! Mommy, Daddy and God still loves them just the same.
I want to teach them all this and more, but right now, we simply start with don’t touch. And always ask.
“What are you guys doing this weekend?”
“Can I have your kids?”
“For a sleepover. Tiana* has been asking to have a play date with the girls and since we can’t get our schedules to line up, I thought this would be perfect.”
And just like that, TD1 and TD2 were invited to their first non-familial sleepover. My first thought was “Ummm we’ll pass on that.” No offense to our friend, but I’m just barely comfortable with our family taking the girls, I wasn’t ready for someone outside the family. Had she offered to babysit for a few hours, we would have gladly taken her up on that, but a whole night away? Yeah, I wasn’t sure about that. I’m sure she could sense the uneasiness over the phone because she did in fact offer to have us just come over for a few hours so the girls could hang out.
T-Daddy hung up the phone and we didn’t speak on it. For the first time, I was actually glad because I needed time to process my feelings. This was an acquired friend through T-Daddy and one thing that I’ve learned, especially since raising kids, is that no matter how close or cool both sides are with each other, when there’s opposition, lines are clearly drawn: His Side/Her Side. My uneasiness didn’t have anything to do with who was asking, it was what was being asked. But I didn’t want her to take it personal, to think that I didn’t want her keeping my kids. I mean I have only had limited interactions with her in the parenting arena, so I had questions about her parenting beliefs and methods and how that would align or clash with our own, but that wasn’t personal. I have a relationship with her, we get along, we’re a lot alike in many aspects. But still, I’ve been down that road before and I know when someone thinks it’s personal, none of that other stuff matters. I didn’t want that battle, not when she was trying to do something nice for my kids.
But I still had questions. Not just about her and her household, but what was expected of T-Daddy and I. What were we supposed to do to prepare? So I Googled. I read a dozen or so articles on sleepovers. What’s the appropriate age? What am I supposed to do? What do I tell the girls? T-Daddy gave me a few days before he brought it up and I was ready. I had an answer for him. I let him tell me what he thought and then I told him what I thought. We were pretty much on the same page. He shared the same uneasiness that I felt about her not being family. (Not that that matters, but this was still new territory for us and we went through the same thing with each family member that kept the girls for the first time.) Our girls are a ball of non-stop energy and having them around other people usually gives us both anxiety. Having them around someone that’s never been around them without us, well that’s full-blown anxiety attack.
On the flip side, T-Daddy and I desperately want our friends to be more involved in the parenting side of our life. It’s extremely difficult to keep the two separate and our friends without kids sometimes don’t get it. Sure, partying and all that is great, but for us, so is trips to the park and watching our kids react to the world around them. And we want our kids to be friends with our friends’ kids. That can’t happen if we never hang out with them with the kids. Also, we want to have someone that can take the kids off our hands to allow us a date night. In one phone call, we were being offered all of that – “come hang out with me and my daughter and then leave your children so you can have a date night.”
So we came up with a list of important things, we thought she should know: TD1 doesn’t like fish, but TD2 loves bread; our discipline routine, bedtime routines, etc. And then we told the girls. Big mistake. TD1 asked me about the sleepover every day. Then she told every one about the sleepover, including her teachers.
Finally, Sleepover Day had arrived. The TDs were excited. I was nervous. I didn’t want to drop off and run, but I didn’t want to linger too long. They were excited now, but would they freak out the minute the door closed behind us? I thought I was ready, but was I really? What if Tiana’s mom quickly realized that she didn’t want to keep the girls. This was turning out to be a high-pressure situation and a reminder that my girls are growing up faster than I’m ready for.
We arrived and the girls instantly started playing together. We hung around for a while before leaving to enjoy our gifted date night. The girls barely batted an eye when we left. T-Daddy and I received snaps (direct picture and video messages sent through Snapchat) throughout the night and the next morning, which I really appreciated because I like photo and video evidence of the TDs experiencing life and new experiences. When we picked them up, TD1 and Tiana were already planning a Part Two of the sleepover. We promised she could sleepover at our house next, and the whole car ride home, TD1 was planning her sleepover with “The Tianas.” (We know two girls the same age with the same name and the TDs are crazy about both of them.)
And just like that, the girls had not only survived, but thoroughly enjoyed, their first sleepover. T-Daddy and I did too. Then, we made good on our promise and hosted a sleepover at our place. And now, “sleepover” is some new buzzword.
Thanks Tiana’s mom! I think you started something.
*Since I went with a Disney princess in “TD1 and the Super Straight Hair,” I decided to stick with tradition and go with another beloved Disney princess.