Wednesday, July 30, 2014

All The Things We Aren't Supposed To Talk About

At the risk of beating a dead horse, I'm going to write this, and I'm going to do it because it's something that bothers me endlessly and never really seems to change.

It's this idea that there are all these things we are supposed to censor in our online lives, things that can be controversial, things that can upset other people, things that might start fights, things that might offend someone in one way or another.

It actually seems to be getting worse lately because now people are calling others out for doing exactly what social media was intended for.

It's called a "share" button for a reason, you guys.

It used to be that we weren't supposed to talk about politics and religion. Those are, of course, still forbidden from mention unless you are a glutton for punishment like I am and you believe that this prohibition from discussing such matters is well intentioned but poorly executed and totally unrealistic.

Essentially, I don't think we should avoid talking about these things, even the granddaddies of the forbidden things list, because they are an important part of life and part of life means that we talk about the things that are important.

Of course, talking about these things is bound to reveal the differences in people. I don't personally have a problem with differences so long as people can be respectful of one another. I never have. I keep an open mind, I run an open platform both here and on my Facebook page and we seem to defy the conventional wisdom of the internet most of the time.

People really can be respectful of one another. Honest.

Not every discussion has to turn into personal attacks and insults. Reasonable people can share ideas and reasons and viewpoints and agree to disagree. Which is awesome.

It's not just politics and religion though that we aren't supposed to talk about, not anymore.

There are people who get bent out of shape if you talk about the fact that you're having a bad day, or if you have chronic pain and mention it occasionally, or if you are having a hard time finding a job, or if your child is struggling with a diagnosis or school or friends or whatever.

We aren't supposed to talk about how being a parent can suck a nut sometimes.

We aren't supposed to talk about how great our kids are.

We aren't supposed to talk about how marriage can be a real pain in the ass.

We aren't supposed to talk about how in love we are.

We aren't supposed to talk about how life is difficult at the moment.

We aren't supposed to talk about how we regret going into our chosen professions.

We aren't supposed to talk about our vacations.

We aren't supposed to talk about not being able to go on vacations.

We aren't supposed to talk about loss or sadness or mental health or grief.

We aren't supposed to talk about being broke at the end of the month or the beginning of it.

We aren't supposed to talk about our new cars.

We aren't supposed to talk about our complicated relationships with our parents.

We aren't supposed to share pictures of our kids or babies or spouses or anything happy.

We aren't supposed to be too up or too down. We aren't supposed to be too happy or sad. We aren't supposed to be too rich or too poor. We aren't supposed to be vocal about anything that might upset or offend someone. 

And we aren't supposed to do any of that because someone out there in facebooklandia might take it personally.

Here's what I have to say about that...

It's bullshit.

My online persona, my online presence, what I choose to share and what I choose to post, what I put out there into the doesn't have anything to do with someone else. It has to do with me.

One of my Lefty Pop cohorts wrote a piece about this yesterday and I found myself slow clapping along. 

We need to be real. We need to be authentic. We need to be who we are. We need to share what we want. We need to stop worrying so damn much about what other people think. We need to stop taking anything anyone else ever does personally.

My Facebook page isn't about you and yours isn't about me.

If I disagree with something you say, there's no rule that says I have to engage it. I don't.

There's this feature on your browser that allows you to scroll past that which you don't like.....let's scroll.

Let's remember why we are friends with our friends. Let's like the stuff we like. Let's decide what warrants a comment and what doesn't. Let's resist the urge to use the caps lock. Let's scroll on by the stuff we don't agree with. Let's get back to living our lives for ourselves and let everyone else live theirs.

Social media is supposed to enhance our lives, not force us to create some manufactured, falsely stable and constant, happy but never too happy version of ourselves.

It isn't supposed to make us hate our friends or make us hate ourselves. It isn't supposed to worm its way into our heads and set up some world where we are comparing our real lives to the manufactured ones that everyone else shares.

Be you.

I'll be me.

We're all flawed and imperfect. We're all happy and sad and meh. We've all got our struggles and our triumphs.

And I love it all. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Grief, Loss and Gender

Last week, I wrote a post at the urging of a friend.

This particular friend has endured years of struggling with fertility issues. There have been pregnancies, but those pregnancies haven't ended the way they should have. They ended after only a few weeks and brought a fresh dose of heartache each time.

This particular friend reached out to me and told me what was going on after they'd asked for consideration from their Facebook friends on the issue. Specifically, they requested that people stop trying to placate them with the idea that they can always adopt if this doesn't work out.

This particular friend had a particularly bad day after posting that status.

This particular friend reached out to me and asked me to write about it, and I did. If you haven't read that post, you can find it here. It revolves primarily around the painful truth that far too many of us have lived. The truth is this: the very people who intend to help you with their words are more often rubbing salt in your wounds.

Within an hour of so of posting it and sharing this link with this particular friend, it started to pick up shares. The friend thanked me for saying what they'd tried to find the words for. Those who understood this place all too well related. They shared it. They messaged and commented.

What some of them assumed, though, opened up another can of worms.

Several people assumed that this friend of mine, the one who mourned all these pregnancies, the one who wants nothing more than for people to stop suggesting alternatives that don't really exist, was a woman.

He's not.

He saw the comments, the kind words, the notes from readers urging me to send wishes to my friend.

And then he wondered.

Why had so many assumed he was the woman, the mother?


Though I can't say for certain, I have a hunch. That hunch is rooted in my personal experiences, firmly grounded in the experiences that others have shared with me, still more in the stories of the men who contributed to the book about child loss and infertility that I was a part of creating last year.

That book, Sunshine After The Storm, was one that originated with mothers. The idea of it, something that started deep in the heart and soul of our leader. Over the course of several months, she reached out to some of us and we reached out to more, asking others to share their stories with us.
Initially, the project was 100% female written. I'm not even sure how it came up one day, but we realized that there was a huge part of the story missing if we only ever included our perspective, the one belonging to the women. We needed the voices of the men, the fathers of these children.

We were so fortunate that several of them jumped in to the project and provided that voice.

Even in the place we were all coming from early on in the process, we were focused on our grief. We were focused on sharing our stories and experiences, what we had learned, how we had coped.

We weren't the whole story.

Where were the men? Why weren't they there from the beginning?

Part of that, a big part of it, is likely because our society (and most modern day societies, for that matter) is one that attaches far more emotion to the mother relationship than to the father relationship. Part of that is necessarily connected to the physical aspect. As women, we are the ones who bear the children. Our bodies house them, sometimes our bodies can't sustain them, sometimes our bodies betray us, sometimes we are just unlucky, sometimes we don't ever know what happened, but it happened and it happened inside us. Our bodies are the ones poked and prodded and drugged and manipulated.

We are, as women, expected to bond with this baby from the moment we know we are pregnant.

We are, as women, expected to be emotionally connected from that day forward for the rest of our lives.

We are, as women, the ones that the losses are focused on. People couch the terms related to miscarriage in words that connect the baby to us. We "lost" the baby. The mothers. The mothers lost the baby. The fathers didn't.

Except that they did. Perhaps not in the intimate physical way we did, but their loss is there never the less.

Or we are the ones who can't have children, even if the cause of infertility is never known or male in nature.

While women are expected to bond with the mere idea of a pregnancy instantly, our society doesn't expect men to make that connection until after birth, maybe even later. Men are expected to be strong, stoic, steady, distant, less connected. Partially this is because of the truth that they aren't the ones dealing with the physical, but a larger part of it is societal.

Men just aren't supposed to be overly emotional in any way. Grief isn't tolerable coming from even the mothers, it's largely ignored for the men.

Think about it. How many of you out there have lost a child, whether through miscarriage, through stillbirth, through early infant loss, through any other way it happens? How many of you have endured infertility?

How many of you who've been in that place ever had friends and family express concern for the man that lost that child? How many have experienced an equal outpouring of support for a man enduring infertility?

If you did at all, was the outpouring of concern disproportionately targeted at the woman?

I'm virtually certain that it was. I know it was for us.

We were expecting. 

I lost the baby.

People wanted to know how I was.

No one ever asked how he was. 

Grief is a difficult enough topic to discuss as it is, the grief of a struggle with infertility, of a lost pregnancy, of a lost child, too much for most people to stomach. They don't want you to be sad because they can't deal with it. We are urged to get over it, the mothers of these children, the women who can't conceive, but at least people assumed that we had something to mourn in the first place.

For the men, for the fathers, there is far too often no acknowledgement of their loss at all.

If they confide in someone about their struggle with infertility, of their lost pregnancies, the conversation inevitably shifts to the women. How is she handling it all? Is she okay?

The man, on the other hand, is assumed to be okay, to be strong, to be sturdy and stable and grounded.

And perhaps some of them are. Perhaps some of them are more equipped to deal with these losses alone, in a societal vacuum. Perhaps they can cope without needing others. Perhaps.

But we shouldn't assume that they can anymore than we should assume that about women.

And yet, it happens every single day.

On behalf of my friend and all the fathers out there without the children that should be with them, I ask that we do a better job of remembering their grief too.

It won't be the same as the grief of a mother. It can't be. It never would be. The experience of every single person in every single situation is necessarily different, even among mothers who have been through very similar circumstances. That doesn't mean for one second that the grief of the father is less, that it is more transient, that it is something we can shrug off.

We need to ask them how they are too. We need to be the shoulder they can lean on. We need to be the support for them, particularly in a world that largely ignores their suffering.

They are hurting too.

They shouldn't have to do it alone.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Well Meaning People and the Cruel Things They Say About Infertility, Loss and Adoption

I had planned to write about something else today, but then yesterday I got a message from one of my oldest friends. This friend, half of a couple that has struggled for years in the pursuit of having children. This friend, one who has been riding the emotional roller coaster for so long that they don't even remember what it is really like to be standing off to the side anymore.

This friend has, in that time, rejoiced with positive pregnancy test after test, only to have the pregnancies meet the same fate a few weeks down the road. They've lost six babies.


Yesterday, a Facebook post prompted by heartache, asking for others to be considerate with their words. Asking, more specifically, for those who console themselves with the situations of others in that place by saying the following words not to do it anymore:

At least you can always adopt.

This request for consideration of those in that place quickly spiraled out of control. Some comments screamed that the writer clearly was concerned only with their own feelings or experiences. They not only missed the point, but they threw it back in my friend's face. But they mean well. But I mean well. But it worked for someone else. But but but but but but....

Basically I'm sorry but I'm not sorry.

As though "I tried" to do the right thing is ever sufficient to soothe the suffering of the person you've hurt with your words. 

You have to wonder at what point in our society people decided that their emotional response to the tragedies of another became more important than the suffering of the one actually living it.

This friend of mine, having been in this place for a while now, understands the realities of adoption more than most people ever could. Though there is this huge faction of people that labors under the assumption that it could ever be a possible alternative to every couple who chose it, reality tells us otherwise.

Adoption is expensive. Very expensive. For many people, prohibitively so. It just isn't an option for everyone.  

Adoption is complicated. There are an abundance of issues that people who've never had to consider it don't even realize exist. Issues that are different in every single situation. Issues that those on the outside aren't privy to.

Adoption is fickle. For as many couples that I know who have successfully maneuvered the process, there are more who have had something break down along the way. Last minute changes of plans. Heartbreak that no one could see coming. 

It isn't this simple solution that so many people think it is. To pretend that it ever could be, rubbing salt on a raw, open wound.

That wasn't enough, though.

There were the God's plan comments. Because there are always the God's plan comments. Because there are, apparently, really people in this world that believe that God has a hand in every single tragedy that befalls us, that he puts us through loss after loss after loss because we deserve to be tested in this way or that. That he has something special in mind for us all, and that some people are chosen to suffer more.

I don't buy it. 

I don't think God points around and says eenie meanie minie mo then selects which couples will be forced to endure infertility.

I don't think God decides that some babies should to die in the womb because their parents need to learn some lesson that can't be taught otherwise.

I don't think God gives kids cancer intentionally.

I don't.

If ideas like this comfort people, if they find solace in the notion that every single thing that ever happens is at the behest of the great puppetmaster, fine. Honestly. Whatever brings people peace is totally fine with me. If the concept of "God's plan" works for you, great.

What isn't okay is to take your beliefs and put them on someone else in a situation that you could never possibly understand.

Your words might bring you some comfort, but you're essentially telling them that God chose them to suffer. God chose them to endure. God chose their children to die. Whatever. Think about that before you say those words, and ask yourself if you truly believe you are saying these things to help the person being spoken to or if you are just trying to soothe your own soul.

I won't even go into some of the other comments that were left on that status because they are so abhorrent. My jaw hit the floor. They don't need to be revisited.

Suffice to say that if there is a time when a friend entrusts you in any way with the raw emotion of suffering and loss, with pain and grief, do not use it as an occasion to crack an inappropriate joke. You'll just look like an asshole, and you'll look like one even if you are ordinarily a kind and generous person, because in that moment, you were an asshole. 

Instead, if you have a friend who is in this place, a friend experiencing infertility, a friend who has endured pregnancy losses...try these approaches instead.

- Say I'm so sorry. Then stop talking. Let them talk.

- Comfort them in whatever way they need. This isn't about you. Offer to listen, to be the shoulder to cry on, to be the soft place to land, to be the place that they unload all their anger and frustration at their situation...because they keep it bottled up inside far more than you know.

- Understand that chances are pretty high that they've been struggling with their situation a while before they even told you. 

- Don't placate them with lofty ideas. 

- Don't tell them to relax.

- Don't tell them that everything works out for the best. They know it doesn't.

- Don't tell them about that one person you know that had a miracle baby. Lots of people don't get that chance. Ever.

- Don't try to equate their situation with something completely different.

- Don't minimize their losses. Don't believe for one second that "at least you lost the baby early" is a consolation. It isn't.

- Don't assume they'll get pregnant or be able to adopt later on. They may not be able. Adoption may not even be on the table.

- Don't start sending them articles online or tagging them on Facebook with fads or trends or posts about how eating this or taking that supplement will increase fertility. They will pursue the information they need with their doctors and don't need someone telling them that eating kale will make them more fertile.

- Ask them how you can help, if you can help in any way. There may be nothing tangible that you can do, but let them know that you are there to support them.

- If you can't do these things, just be quiet. Seriously. Don't comment, don't make light of their situation, don't try to make them feel better. Just don't.

And for the love, if someone asks for consideration, give it or keep your opinions to yourself. 

My dear friend, I am so sorry that you are surrounded by people so patently incapable of being the support you need. Wishing for peace and strength as you weather these challenges and deal with the well meaning but cruel people of this world. xo

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Baby names and the opinions of others...

As I round (literally) the bend here towards the end of this pregnancy, nesting has started to kick in completely. It's complicated by the fact that my house is still very much in the middle of a fairly major renovation being done to accommodate the little guy. All the kids have moved rooms this summer, and I still have a shred of my sanity left.


The girls are sharing the loft now, which we are converting into a bedroom. To do that, we are walling in the loft. It's getting there. Slowly.

Until that is done, everything else is pretty much on hold. Including the tiny room next to ours that will be his soon. It's painted and we have the crib to put back together, but the rest of it still isn't anywhere near done yet.

Tick tock.

We are doing a Star Wars themed nursery because we both finally made peace with our inner nerds, and decided that a Star Wars nursery wasn't necessarily any more ridiculous than one with ladybugs or baseball-playing-teddy-bears. Plus, the older I get, the more the cutesy stuff bugs me. So, instead of the stuff they sell in those baby warehouse stores, we are looking for lightsabers and Wookies.

It's okay. I know I have issues.

Anyhow, we picked his first name a while back. Actually, the other kids were pretty influential and were totally in on it too. The name was kind of their idea, and there's a story behind what it is and why we picked it that I might tell someday. I haven't decided yet. I generally refer to him as Little Asskicker around here. I have nicknames for all the other kids and the husband, mostly for privacy reasons.

But it's a really cool story and I may share it at some point.

We just really started talking about middle names recently, and I think we have that figured out too.

One of the many, many things that happens when you are pregnant is that everyone asks what "it" is. Then, if they get that piece of information out of you, they ask the next logical question, which is what the name will be.

I should have learned not to tell people. Honestly. By now you'd think I have done this enough times that I would have thrown a filter on my mouth and not let that piece of information sneak out.


I didn't learn.

We love the name. Like LOVE it. The fact that it carries a bit more meaning and the other kids helped choose it makes it even more awesome.

None of that does anything to stop other people from crinkling up their faces and asking us if we're sure. 

We've even had a few people lobby fairly aggressively to get us to change our minds, giving reason after reason why we needed to pick something else.

I wish I was kidding.

It's not a super common name, but we never set out to name any of our kids common or trendy names. The Oldest's name we chose because it was an old Gaelic name...not realizing it would become a firmly seated top 10 name beginning that year and lasting almost a decade. Freckles' real name was a lot more popular a generation ago. Mini Me's name has stayed fairly consistent in popularity over the years...not in the top 10, but in the top 100. We spelled it in an unconventional way because we knew we would be using a nickname for her from the start.

Then there is Little Boy. We hadn't agreed on a name for him until after he was born, but to both of us, it didn't really matter all that much since we knew we'd be using initials for him. We just needed a first name that started with the letter we chose. He is so used to being called by his initials that he fairly often refuses to even acknowledge people who use his given first name.

They all have family inspired middle names. Little Asskicker will too.

I think we'll keep the middle name quiet, even with family, until he's here though...mostly because I don't want to deal with the opinions everyone else has about it.

I try to remind myself that people mean well when they criticize choices like this, but it's almost impossible not to get frustrated. Why is it so hard for people to just be happy for you? Why do they feel so compelled to inject their opinions into the conversation? Why is picking a name for a baby something that everyone seems to think they get to vote on?

My home isn't a democracy open to the will of the people. Honest.

What about you all? Have you had to deal with this? How did you handle it?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the militarization of the border edition

Hi there. It's a good thing it is Tuesday because I've been pissed off for days.

Not having a great week around here. I'll get to that in a bit. First up, the other things pissing me off this week.

The Mess at the Border
This entire situation just gets worse and worse. I hate the fact that it's being couched as an issue of illegal immigration in the first place. For the most part, the kids at issue in the situation, the ones fleeing violence in other countries, are actively seeking out Border Patrol agents. They aren't armed. They aren't hostile. They aren't drug runners. They aren't here to mooch off our system. They are here because their parents, in an act of desperation, sent them here as an attempt to save their lives.

They are coming to this country, much like unaccompanied minors have done for over 100 years.

The entire situation has been spun in the press to make it seem like it's an invasion of sorts. Certain politicians and talking heads have even used that word. The wonder that is Gov. Rick Perry sent National Guard troops to "protect" the border today. From what, exactly??? He cites crimes committed by illegal immigrants as his justification for this gross demonstration of force (which some are questioning the propriety of already)...but he's missing the point. This isn't an invasion. This isn't even really an immigration issue. This is a human rights issue.

I could get into all the legal nuances of the situation, but the quick and dirty version is this.

- the kids can't be immediately sent back because they aren't from a bordering nation
- the current immigration laws pertaining to unaccompanied minors were mostly written during the Bush administration
- deportation proceedings can only be done through the courts, which are already backlogged
- approximately a third of them have a parent in the US, so to "send them back to their parents" would be allowing them to stay
- this is really more of a humanitarian issue than an immigration issue, no matter what the pundits say

But yeah, let's totally suit up and fly military helicopters over the region just so this jerk of a Governor can get a photo op.

From some dude's fb page, called this jerk a hero.
“Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” 
- Emma Lazarus
- a.k.a. the quote on the Statue of Liberty

Everything About Flight 17
Unlike the situation with the other doomed Malaysia flight earlier this year, as soon as the news hit with this one, I had a sinking feeling in my gut that it had been brought down on purpose. Or not even on purpose, but accidentally, and at the hands of human involvement.

There are so many lingering questions, many of which we might never actually get answers to because of the pissing match going on. Almost 300 people died...but that is being overlooked almost in the wake of everything else that has happened.

Did Putin give explicit orders to shoot this plane down, thinking it was a military cargo transport? No, probably not....but he had a hand in arming the rebels that most likely did it. He has had a hand in this conflict all along. With the black boxes being shuffled off and the bodies being tampered with and the crash site being unsecured and dangerous and looted...we'll probably never know exactly what happened.

Of course, this all raises the obvious question of why the flight was in hostile airspace in the first place. Many airlines had already diverted around the area, but Malaysia opted not to. A more direct route made more sense to them. It was probably cheaper to run a shorter flight straight through than spend more on gas and go around it.

The Epidemic of Parent Shaming and Blaming
There are so many cases anymore that I could be here all day just finding articles to link. Parents arrested, charged. Kids taken. Names drug through the mud on social media. Blog after blog after blog calling people out. Then the requisite blogs in reaction defending the parents.

Being a parent is hard. Really fucking hard. Being a parent of a "normal" kid is hard (whatever a normal kid is anyway)...being a parent of a kid who can't always read social cues, who has mental illness issues going on, who has rage problems, who acts out...sooooo much worse.

Being a parent with the resources and financial stability and time and requisite sanity to cope with whatever their kids throw at them is hard. Being a parent without some or all of those things, damn near impossible.

What has happened in the past few years and seems to get worse all the time is this epidemic of judging and blaming. The internet police are here to tell you what you're doing wrong ALL THE TIME. They'll take pictures of you when your kid throws a fit at the store now and post them online to bash you...without understanding that maybe there is more to the story. Maybe that kid isn't just being a brat. Maybe that parent isn't just lazy. Maybe that kid lost his shit in the store because he's autistic or because he has oppositional defiance disorder or BECAUSE HE'S A KID AND SOMETIMES EVEN GOOD KIDS ARE SHITHEADS.

Public shaming isn't enough...nooooo. Some of these "well meaning" strangers will call the police. Or social services. Or whatever. Because they've decided, not knowing a damn thing about you or your kid aside from the 3 minutes they've now witnessed, you're a failure as a parent.

I shit you not, I once had a kid lay down in the path of the automatic doors at Target, alternate between screaming at the top of her lungs and holding her breath. She threw such a temper tantrum that she almost passed out.

I suppose I should consider myself lucky that no one believed I was abusing her that day. She was throwing a fit because she wanted a pony and I didn't get her a pony.

God forbid.

Whatever happened to giving people the benefit of the doubt? Whatever happened to minding your own damn business? Whatever happened to offering to help the clearly overwhelmed parent instead of standing there with your freaking phone, taking pictures and judging them???

Jesus, people. Knock it the hell off.

Health Care Rant
I'm beyond stressed out right now because of health insurance issues. All told, we have good just have to be a fucking genius with the ability to multitask and find information that is mostly unavailable to actually utilize it.

Mutters under breath and gets ready to make some more damn phone calls.....

Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer School of Rock ~ Heart

I seem to be slacking a bit in my Summer School of Rock series, and for that, my apologies. Things have been busier than I anticipated this summer and I'll realize it's been two weeks without a band. Then I cry some ironic punk tears and get over myself.

Up this week, one of the bands that I loved the very most growing up. I played and played and played their cassette tapes so many times that I wore them out. My favorite song to play on Guitar Hero is and will forever be Barracuda.

They've been rocking since the mid 70's. The band has had a ton of lineup changes, but the core of the band has been Ann and Nancy Wilson, the sisters that proved that anything men could rock, women could rock too.

The roots of the band started before either of the sisters was actually affiliated with the group. They went through a few different names too. Ann joined in 1972, Nancy in 1974. 

Though the sisters are American, the band had its early successes in Canada. Their sound was a combination of folk music, metal and hard rock, relying pretty heavily on the signature sound of Ann's voice. She has a deep growl to her voice that suits rock music perfectly.

Their first album, Dreamboat Annie included Crazy on You and sold over a million copies...not bad for a debut.

My favorite song of theirs, Barracuda, was written one night in a hotel room shortly after they started their rise to success when Ann was particularly pissed off at a reporter who alleged that she and Nancy were sexually involved with one another.

Little Queen, the album including Barracuda, landed the sisters on the cover of Rolling Stone.

The late 70's were good to the band, the early 80's not so much. They switched to Capitol Records in 1985 and recorded Heart, followed by Bad Animals and Brigade, all of which were commercial successes and revived their fanbase. The hair got bigger, the edge got a little edgier. Many tried to call them a pop act, but they never really were.

The 90s saw some more tours. Nancy took a break to focus on her family. Ann toured with The Ann Wilson Band in her absence. Basically everyone still referred to anytime either of them performed as Heart though. They reformed officially in 2002.

One of the most amazing things they have ever done was perform at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012. There they performed Stairway to Heaven as a tribute to Led Zeppelin. If you haven't seen this yet, prepare to be floored. Absolutely stunning.

They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year. They remain the longest lasting successful female-led rock band in history.

And they'll always speak to a piece of my past, for which I will always love them.


The other bands and artists profiled already, in no particular order.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bloggers are human, crunchy and taste good with ketchup

The internet, the wonder that it is, is both a blessing and a curse. It allows us all to connect and interact in a way that never even seemed possible a few decades ago. We can share our stories, our lives, our pictures with people all around the world, people we would never have occasion to meet otherwise.

There are so many good things about the existence of the internet, so many valuable resources, so many now-relied upon resources, so much interconnected-ness that we tolerate the negatives it brings.

Most of the time, anyway.

There are times that those negatives become so overwhelming that people like me start to wonder if this is all worth it. At times it's too much. The comments, the attacks, the accusations, the demands, the assumptions made. We try to not take it personally, but sometimes it is impossible not to. We are human.

So far, at least, something has always reeled me back in, something has convinced me to log back on, to keep my head down, to keep doing it.

Reality is, for as much as the negatives knock us back, all the positives outweigh them by at least tenfold. It's just hard to remember that in the moment.

I've had too many moments of late.

This online world is a strange one, that's for sure.

I have a few friends, fellow writers, in places I've been right now. The ugly, real, painful places. The places that we could write about if we were so inclined, but the places that we won't write about for one reason or another. Maybe it's because we are protecting someone else. Maybe it's because we are worried about collateral damage. Maybe it's a desperate attempt to kid ourselves into believing that everything will be just fine if we don't acknowledge it all. Maybe it's self preservation.

No matter the reason, we don't write all those stories. We won't.

People out there, our fans, our readers, they might think that we tell all the stories, but we don't. For as painful as the ones we tell are at times, they couldn't hold a candle to the words left unspoken.

Part of being a writer so willing to be open with at least as many parts of ourselves as we are comes with consequences. The greatest of which is that we can form genuine connections with readers which is an amazing gift. It is usually the thing that motivates me to come back when I want to run away. Sometimes, though, those connections are misunderstood and people who we don't actually know, people who don't understand that they only know the stories we are willing to tell, they begin to believe that they know everything about us. They begin to believe that we are as real and tangible to them as those people sitting right beside them in reality.

We aren't. Because we can't be.

We have to keep our boundaries. We have to keep some things close. We have to protect those we love. We have to erect walls. And all of us, all the bloggers out there in this online world, we all have different limits.

Not everyone understands.

If you're out there reading this right now, and there was a time when you've asked one of us a question that we didn't answer or when we haven't continued a discussion or when we've simply chosen not to respond, understand that there may be a reason, and that if there is one, the reason has nothing to do with you.

It has to do with us. I promise.

Either that, or (far more likely) we just never received a notification for something. The internet is notorious for eating comments. Things get lost in cyberspace and we get blamed.

We're doing the best we can with the platforms we utilize...ones that are often glitchy. We are busy with our children and our jobs and our families and our friends and our lives, so sometimes we can't always be as responsive online as you might expect. We are human. Most of us moderate our own pages, manage our own comments. We, for the most part, don't have people supervising things for us when we are at the grocery store or on vacation or driving a kid to the hospital. We are human. We're doing the best we can, trying to somehow balance it all with the lives around us. Trying to protect our families, trying to protect ourselves, trying to do it all while doing what we love - writing.

We're doing our best to share what we can until we run into that boundary.

Please don't drag us across it.

Please don't blame us when we won't go willingly either.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blame it on the DeBie family....everyone else is....

Mr. Hive is an avid lover of all things outdoors. He loves to hike, fish, backpack. A natural born tree hugger if ever there was one.

Him and Little Boy, last summer in RMNP.
I don't hate hiking. I don't love it either.

I don't hate camping. I don't love it either.

I'm sure as hell never backpacking because there's just no good reason to carry all your shit that far.

I know, I know, I know....the beauty of nature and stuff. I love nature and I can commune with it just fine from a comfortable place near flushing toilets.

He's passed his love of tents and sleeping bags and campfire smell to his children. I humor them all even if I'd much rather stay home with the beds and the roof and the wifi.

I promise that I try not to complain too much.

This past weekend, we went to the mountains to camp. Being the genius that he is, Mr. Hive invited the inlaws along so that I could sleep in the trailer and have access to a bathroom. He's humoring me only because I am pregnant. Normally he considers a pit toilet a luxury.

It really was beautiful and I really needed the break.
Anyhow, we went. As we were preparing to leave, I checked the weather report and informed him that it looked like it was going to be a very stormy weekend. He waved me off and laughed his maniacal laugh. I'm not a fan of storms when you're stuck out there in the middle of them, especially after the hellish night we endured last year. If you haven't read that post, it's fun. Not really. It totally sucked. How he managed to ever talk me into camping again, I'm not sure.

I'm super glad that the thing the kids remember most about that camping trip wasn't the raging storm that lasted all night. Nope. They remember me peeing in a cup. Which is awesome. Whatever. There's no way in hell I was getting out of the tent and trekking through that storm to pee in a pit toilet on the other side of the campground.

These are some of the things that happened this time, in no particular order.

  • We were in Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It did indeed rain most of the time we were up there and some of the storms were awful. There hadn't been any deaths from lightning strikes in over a decade, but two people died in the time we were up there. Scary stuff. I was happy to get down to this altitude again. I've already had people blame us and our chronic bad luck for the storms.
The sky looked like this almost all the time.

  • We saw a bear. An actual bear. Yes, really. He was chilling in a meadow just outside the park entrance in the middle of the afternoon. They are usually pretty shy. We've never seen one in all the times we've visited the park. Moose, deer, elk? Sure. Bears? No. Until now. I didn't get a picture because my phone was dead. We did become tourists for a hot second though. Hangs head in shame.
  • At dusk one evening, as the light was lessening with every minute, the kids glanced over at the sites next to us and declared that they had found Bigfoot. Sorry to disappoint you, but it was not Bigfoot. Even if it was, my phone was dead so no pictures. What it actually was....a very tall man with a beard wearing a brown coat who apparently looked Bigfootish. And yeah, they yelled their mistaken discovery loud enough that I'm sure he heard. Sigh.
  • Two of the kids acquired new nicknames while we were there. The Oldest = Skippy. Because you should never make the mistake of skipping through a campground when your family is watching. Freckles = Stumpy. Because they've had to cut down a fair amount of trees due to bark beetle infestation, and she became an expert and finding, and tripping over, the stumps very quickly.
  • Once upon a time, we had a cowboy hat. That hat got completely trashed but Little Boy refused to part with it. He insists on wearing it at all possible outdoor events. Logically, this happened. Most of the weekend.
  • Little Boy spent several hours removing the tree stumps. He was bored and asking and asking and asking for something to do. I gave him a hammer and told him to go hit some stumps. He fell deeply in love with the project and will be heavily recruited by the Forest Service as a result. 
  • Mr. Hive, Papa Hive and the kids went on a horse ride. I read a book. My mother in law crocheted a hat. (We got the good end of the deal, I promise). The trail ride lasted for two hours, which I've been told is approximately 110 minutes longer than it really needed to be. Since The Oldest has his horsemanship merit badge, he got the stubborn horse...which was tremendously amusing to watch as they rode past us on the trail. His horse would stop, shake his head, whinny, bite at a few flies, whinny some more, flap his gums for a bit, then take off running. Repeatedly. We weren't laughing at him. We were laughing with him. Scout's honor. I mean, he wasn't laughing because he was trying to get the horse to cooperate but if he had the opportunity, he totally would have been laughing because it was hilarious.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the I needed to hug a tree edition

You guys. It has been a week.

The tail end of last week was so awful that I really and truly needed to run away from humans for a while. I needed to go hug a tree and get dirty and commune with nature. It just so happened that we were already planning to go camping in the mountains, miles away from the closest wifi connection. The timing couldn't have been better.

Of course, the camping trip is worth an entire post of its own, and I'll get to that tomorrow. For now, some of the things on the list for the week (and no, I don't have time to get to them all)...

Rhetoric and Accusations
A big part of why I needed to run away from humans last week involves this stuff. Doing what I do, writing all this stuff publicly, it's not exactly an easy thing to do. Sometimes it's the topic itself that makes pushing the publish button difficult, sometimes it's knowing that I'm going to catch some heat over it, sometimes it's the virtual guarantee that someone will personally attack me over whatever it is I said.

I still do it because I refuse to have my life, my opinions, my perspective silenced by those who don't share my views.

I don't do it, incidentally, with any real hope of ever changing someone else's mind. That is an exercise in futility if ever there was one. I advocate for what I advocate for because many of the topics I write about are the things that most people shy away from. That doesn't mean they aren't important, quite the opposite in fact. Reality is that there are just certain things that people don't want to write about or read about, but we need to do it for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that our current society seems hell bent on stripping rights from women in particular.

If we shrink away, if we are silenced, they win.

So I'll keep doing it.

I'll keep dealing with the comments and the messages and the emails. I'll refrain from throwing the accusations and rhetoric back at people. I'll allow other people to tell me just how wrong I am, and then some. I'll shake off the insults and name calling.

I'll grow an even thicker skin.

And occasionally I'll disappear into the woods for a while because the only way I can stand to be around other humans is to avoid them entirely when necessary.

The Reality of Domestic Violence
I wrote about the case in Texas for Lefty Pop today, about how the guy who killed his ex sister in law, her husband and four kids threw up every red flag that exists.

None of it mattered.

Our system fails DV victims every single day. We allow those accused to plead down to lesser charges, assuming there are charges even pressed. Many of them never even get that far. We tell victims to just get restraining orders, knowing that they mean nothing. The abusers often still able to purchase and own as many weapons as they want.

It's not a shock when something like this happens. It's certainly not unpredictable.

Due to word count limits over there, I can't always touch on all the issues I'd like and a huge piece of the DV problem is our societal acceptance of violence, particularly violence against women.

We live in a world where empathy dies a little more every day, where kids are given airsoft guns that look just like the real thing for fun, where video games contain rapes and murders, where television shows and movies show us all of that too. We live in a selfish, selfish world where the ends far too often justify the means. We live in a world where the GPA of a rapist somehow becomes relevant. We allow elected men to discuss the legitimacy of rape, and the Supreme Court just took away a woman's right to keep her health care options and choices between her and her doctor.

When will it be enough to outrage us enough to actually do something about it???

Vote. Vote. Vote.

Historical Revision
Something that has always bothered me deeply about our education system is how history in general is taught to children.

We (and by we, I mean the educational institutions in this country generally) have always had revisionist tendencies. We've always told just one side of the story or the story that appears the most favorable or the story that justified the end result.

In the process, we've glossed over the truth for much of our past. We don't really teach kids accurately about slavery or the oppression of the native populations or the internment camps or the sterilization of (insert whichever group, there were a few) people against their will. We talk about how slavery was abolished, but don't tell kids that that amendment wasn't even ratified by all the states until very very very recently.

It's shameful, and this historical revision is dangerous because it allows generation after generation of children to be raised believing they've been taught accurately. This inevitably skews their views as they grow up about race issues, poverty, the power of the government and a whole laundry list of other things...none of which are good.

When we take our kids to see Mt. Rushmore, we need to take them to see Crazy Horse too.

When we talk about Pearl Harbor, we need to teach them about the internment camps too.

Anyhow, this is a huge issue for me, and I bend over backwards to teach my kids accurately.

It's not dangerous to point out the hypocrisy, the overreach, the racism, the sordid past of the government. It's dangerous not to. 

What is happening now, though, takes this revisionist movement to a whole new level. Charter schools in Arizona are using textbooks promoting a religious interpretation of history, in parts going so far to claim that slavery was "beneficial to African Americans". Oh, and the white people envied the slaves.

Uh huh.

What in the actual fuck???

There can't seriously be people who believe this shit, can there???

I shouldn't have to lay out all the reasons why this is wrong, why this is disgraceful, why spinning the past this way is dangerous and irresponsible...should I?

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Virtual Blog Tour: Visiting DeBie Hive

I was tagged to participate in this little fantasy trip by the lovely and talented Lillian at It's A Dome Life. She is truly a breath of fresh air in this world and I just adore her. She is easily one of the most gifted artists I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Her work spans so many different media and subjects that you really just have to go check it out for yourself.

One of my favorite series she has done were the 30 days of dogs, where she painted dogs of different breeds, many of them dogs that belong to people she knows in real life (or in this virtual one where she and I dwell most of the time and get distracted by shiny things together and lean on each other quite a bit...)

She fairly recently began experimenting with alcohol ink glass art and the results have been so far beyond breathtaking. She was gracious enough to offer up some of her one of a kind works for a photo contest I recently hosted.

Please check out her Etsy shop. You will not be disappointed.

She isn't just an artist, she writes as well and chronicles life as she sees it living under an actual dome. Sharing her journey are her husband and daughter, Tiny Small. Tiny Small will make you fall in love with her for so many reasons and I promise, promise, promise that you'll believe in fairies again once she comes into your life.

This tour project is a hand off from one blogger to another, where we share a bit about who we are, how and why we write. It appears to be my turn, so off we go.

1. What am I working on?

I am a chronic overcommitter (I'm not even sure that is a word, but it should be just for the simple fact that it is so accurately descriptive of me.)

I have my own blog here, where I run a few weekly theme posts and several other occasional series. On Tuesdays, almost every week, I write about the Things That Piss Me Off. Depending on how the news for the prior week has gone and how the week has played out here in the Hive, I may have a very long list or a very short one. I am running the Summer School of Rock currently right now as well, where I aim to feature one band or artist each week. That project began several years ago now when I realized that the only way my guitar-playing-music-loving son was really going to learn about rock history was for me to teach him. I've profiled over 30 bands now and have a feeling this project will never be completely done because music is constantly evolving.

I have other series that I write on from time to time, or plan to get back to, including the Wonder(ful) Women series. I analyze quotes at times, I just finished up the 4th annual 30 Day Photography Challenge, and I occasionally write about something from the nerdiverse for Thursday Nerdsday.

In between all that, I write about literally anything else that comes to mind. I try to write fairly often about diabetes and mental illness, as they are both things that impact my life on a daily basis. I write about a lot of current events, but not so much about celebrities.

I am a feature writer at Lefty Pop. Our tagline is that we are suckers for politics and pop culture, and it's true. I'm the resident legal expert over there and spent most of the past few weeks analyzing the Supreme Court decisions. Currently I run pieces on Tuesday and Wednesday, though that schedule changes from time to time.

I am also trying to find time to work on the books I am writing, though it's been a challenge this summer with my herd of children home. Ages 5-13, we've already dealt with a concussion this summer and a brand new set of braces. My youngest is a full time job, stuck in this pre-type 1 diabetic limbo.

I'm also cooking up number five, nicknamed Little Asskicker, set to arrive sometime in September.

2. How does my work differ from other's of its genre?

Hmmm. Well, being as I tend to resist niches and wouldn't even really know what genre to put my own writing in, this is a loaded question.

I write a lot. More than the vast majority of writers I have come to know over the years. I try to post on my blog every day, plus the posts I owe Lefty Pop.

I am really, really raw and honest at times. Not to say that other writers aren't necessarily, but one of the things that I pride myself on is the fact that I don't sugarcoat things. I'm real, I'm honest, I call it like I see it, in real life and here. I don't share everything of course, but what I do share is legit. I write about grief and loss and anger and anxiety and depression and eating disorders and all kinds of other things that people often shy away from because the mere mention of them makes some uncomfortable. I tend to say that I make people uncomfortable a lot. If I haven't made you uncomfortable, hang on a second, I'll get there.

I strive for accuracy in what I publish. Again, not to say that others don't, but I tend to do a ridiculous amount of research for many of the things I write about. On the few occasions where something I've written was factually inaccurate, I have pulled the piece and/or written up a retraction immediately upon realizing the error. If something is an opinion of mine, I state that plainly. If I claim something is factual, chances are I'm linking to a citation to back it up. I've been told that I am where more than a few people get their I feel a significant responsibility to get it right.

3. Why do I create/write what I do?

I get asked this one a lot. I even ask myself this question on a fairly regular basis, particularly on weeks like the last one, where I was personally called out by someone I've known most of my life. It's not easy, putting yourself out there this that begs the question of why.

There are a few reasons. The first and most personal one is that it keeps me sane. I am an overanalyzer by nature and would have way more heated arguments with myself in the shower than I already do if I wasn't writing here. This is my cheapest, most accessible, most real form of personal therapy. I work through stuff this way. Sometimes the words just need to come out of my fingers.

I write about many of the other topics I do, particularly the mental health and medical topics, with the hope of educating some people, letting others out there know they aren't alone.

I write about grief and loss because it's a part of life, and it's been a pretty big part of mine.

I write about news and politics and Supreme Court cases because I am a legal junkie with a window to scotusblog open for weeks at a time. I've found that the vast majority of people, even those charged with reporting on cases, don't always seem to understand the nuances of the decisions, why they were made or what they mean. I try to put them into layman's terms so that everyone can understand, then formulate their own views based on what actually happened, not the spun version presented on television. Plus, I figure that I have to put all those years in law school to good use somehow, right?

4. How does my writing/creative process work?

Like a well oiled machine. Just kidding.

Seriously, though, I am a creature of habit. Out of pure necessity, I carve out times in the day that I can actually write, which isn't always easy with the kids. I keep running topic lists with links to stories I want to investigate more. I compile lists for Tuesday all week. Many of my topics are the result of my pure and unadulterated ADHD...the things that I inevitably think about when I'm in the shower, or writing about something else entirely, or driving in the car, or whatever. My writing is heavily observation based.

Sometimes my writing is deliberate, as with the weekly series I run and the months I set aside to focus on specific topics. Most of the time, it's more like a squirrel with jazz hands and access to a laptop.

If I can manage to avoid the book of face, I can get a significant amount of writing done in the morning after taking the kids to school. I don't usually edit (the result of doing this as long as I have), so that saves time. I try to be offline most of the day, which can be a challenge when I overcommit to as many things as I do. I generally refuse to touch the computer on weekends.

I write things on the receipts I find in my purse. I send myself emails and text messages. I outline posts laying in bed staring at the ceiling at 2am.

I do most of my writing in my pajamas, I tend to write pantsless more often than not. It's not glamorous, this life, and it requires coffee. Usually lots of coffee, but right now I only get the one cup a day. (p.s. it isn't enough)

I'd post a picture of what my writing space looks like, but no one wants to see me in my pajamas with a dog on my lap next to a coffee table strewn with three cereal bowls, two workbooks and the wrapper of some mystery snack someone ate. Oh, look, there are underwear on the floor too. That's awesome (and typical).

Occasionally, my husband and oldest son hide my phone and computer when I get too emotionally involved with drama as the result of something I've written. Yes, really.

They know.

It saves their sanity as much as mine. Some weekends, like this past one, I need to disconnect myself from all wifi just to reset.

My tour is over, so it's time to tag someone else. The someone I am tagging doesn't know I am tagging her, so hopefully she will forgive me at some point in the near future. She's headed to BlogHer later this week to be a bigshot Voice of the Year, so it might be a little bit before she gets to her post. It'll be worth the wait, though...I promise.

Incidentally, I'm so gosh darn proud of her for being named a VOTY. It almost makes me want to attend a conference with a bunch of people and maybe not hide in the corner the entire time...but alas, this is not my BlogHer year. 

I'm nominating Tammy from World's Worst Moms and The Blogging Betties

I love her. Like seriously love her. She's one of the first writers I really got to know personally and we have so much in common that it's a little bit scary at times. She's awesome, and if you don't already know her, you should totally go work on that now. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Things, they are a changing...

I'm sitting in the waiting room of the orthodontist's office right now. Yes, I am the person who brings my laptop places like doctor's offices and coffee shops and on the sidelines of fields.

I'll be here a while this morning.

The Oldest is getting his braces put on as I type these words.

We knew it would be this summer. We'd been planning it for years, actually. We knew basically what we were looking at. He has a fairly severe overbite, and we'd known that since he was a tiny guy fighting a tongue thrust projection frontal lisp. It still comes out when he's tired.

For now, anyway.

It probably won't anymore.

Many things about him are changing in this moment, though I'm not sure that either one of us really appreciates it.

For most of his life, I had my father to consult for all things dental. My dad made dentures, owned his own business. He spent his entire career helping people create the illusion that their teeth were better than they were, helping people mask the problems of their pasts. He helped hide weaknesses, he got people to smile again. He was good, damn good, at what he did. One of the best, really. His dentures and partials so well made that wearers didn't have to use any of those dental adhesives they peddle on television. If they're made right, you shouldn't need that stuff.

His were.

Because of the nature of his business, he saw a lot. He saw what happened when people didn't take care of their health, didn't take care of their teeth, didn't take care of themselves. He would have gone to dental school and become a dentist if he'd had the money back when he needed it. As it turned out, the lab might have been better for him. He was an introvert, a solitary kind of person. He liked to have a partner around but had absolutely no need to interact with humans constantly.

I come by it honestly.

Anyway, he was always the person I ran everything by. When the kids had trouble with their teeth or their speech, he was the one I called. When Freckles destroyed her hard palate in a freak accident, he was the second phone call after my husband. When The Oldest had to go in for speech, he was my rock. When we had tooth injuries, my phone just automatically dialed his number. Whenever anyone lost a tooth, he was one of the first to know.

He talked the kids off the ledge a few times when they'd freak out about a wiggly tooth. He became the Tooth Fairy one day when The Oldest was asking what everyone in the family did for work. Four years old at the time, he could easily conceptualize that Papa was a policeman and his Uncle was a firefighter, but other jobs were a little harder to explain. I told him that Grandpa made teeth for people who lost theirs, he made the connection.

I never questioned it. It made too much sense. Grandpa was the Tooth Fairy. 

Still is, actually.

He took the last one lost under his watch with him when he died, tucked neatly into his front shirt pocket.

I'd talked to him a bit about The Oldest's bite issues towards the end of his life. He always encouraged me to wait, to be cautious about early work. He saw the long term effects of overly aggressive treatment. He nodded in approval when I told him about the dentist I'd finally found for the kids, one who actually called him personally to talk about Freckles' issues one day.

Dad told us to wait until The Oldest was in his major growth spurt to do anything.

So did the dentist.

And here we are.

He's grown at least 4 inches this year already. Probably more. His voice is changing. He's shaving. The shape of his face, the shape of his body, all different, sometimes from one day to the next.

He's growing up, and it is time.

This process, one that will transform him even more. His face will never look the same again. His teeth will never look the same. His voice will never be the same. His lisp could disappear, finally, forever, though it will probably get worse for a little while first.

By the time these braces come off, he'll be 15 years old.

That doesn't even seem possible.

As we walked into the orthodontist's office just a bit ago, this began playing.

This song. This damned song. I love it so much. I hate it so much. I heard it for the first time in the weeks before my father died, just before I flew home for the last time to take care of him. Every single time I hear it, there's a reason. I'm in some place or time or moment that I need a reminder that he's with me.

I got one this morning. 

He's here. He's watching out for my boy. He's up there nodding his head in approval. 

It is time. 

Ignore the woman in the waiting room sobbing into her laptop, you guys.

Her Dad just came to say hi on one of the biggest days of her son's life.

She just needs a minute.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Parents, Parents, Parents....

When I was writing about the border crisis yesterday, I had one of those lightbulb moments. If you are a writer or a blogger, you'll know just what I mean.

It's when you are writing about one thing and that one thing that you are writing about takes your mind on a little diversionary trip (filled with shiny, sparkly things of course), arriving at a destination you weren't intending at all.  Then you realize instantly this other thing is another something that you're going to have to write about in the very near future, and you jot down a note about it immediately...mostly because you forget what happens on half of these little diversionary trips.

Seriously, you guys. I have short term memory loss. Just call me Dory.

Anyway, I remembered. So here we are. 

I was writing about the border crisis, discussing how skewed the media is in how the story is being told. What is being touted as a "search for a better life, a.k.a. mooching off our government fake crisis of conspiracy" is truly an act of desperation on the part of thousands of parents trying to save their children. I wrote about how I want people here, parents here, to think about what it would take for them to ship their children off on a journey of a hundred or a thousand miles alone to a place they'd never been before, not even knowing if or when they would ever see each other again.

And then I realized how laughable that sounded.

Most parents here don't let their kids (or teenagers for that matter) out of their sight anymore. 

Can you hear the helicopters in the background???

Thump, thump, thump...

Then I thought about it some more, this epidemic of overprotection and how it isn't a good thing at all. Caused by mostly irrational fears on the parts of the parents and this incessant need to try and control all of the things in the world that could possibly happen to our children, are we really doing them any favors? 

I don't think so.

Essentially, she was saying that we are failing our kids by making things too easy for them. We are not giving them high enough expectations, we are putting too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect parents and in the process forgetting the idea of the village. Plus, we are lazy and selfish.

She's not wrong.

What we have here is a generation of kids being raised by parents excessively worried about almost everything, yet somehow simultaneously distracted almost all the time. The kids aren't given much freedom, they aren't given many opportunities to screw up, they are even sheltered from things like birth control education because we'd rather they just didn't do that.

We don't want them to get hurt or in trouble or have sex, so we allow ourselves to believe that if we just tell them no, it'll long as the hands on parenting is held to a minimum because we're totes busy with our own stuff.

We'll give them cell phones, but we won't talk to them about sex.

We'll unleash them on the internet, but won't let them get their driver's licenses.

We'll whine about how lazy they are, but then won't let them get a job (or make them get a job).

We'll wonder why they are so unmotivated, but give up finding ways to motivate them because it's hard.

^^^see what I just did right there?

Parenting is hard. Really fucking hard at times. It's also insanely important.

Our jobs as parents, not for the weak of heart. We are supposed to teach these kids, equip them to deal with reality - not live in some falsely constructed world where what we say is the end all be all. We aren't the law, we don't control how the rest of the universe operates, and we aren't doing them any favors by believing that we can just shelter them from whatever we don't like.

We have to teach them how to live in this world, how to make their own choices, and then we have to trust them enough to let them do it.

Terrifying? Sure. Necessary? Absolutely.

Kids will drink. They will probably experiment with drugs. They will do some really stupid shit. They will almost certainly have sex. They will get complacent and be lazy. 

It is what teenagers have done since the dawn of time. They aren't going to stop because you put a chore chart on the fridge or a purity ring on their finger. Honest.

I was talking to my husband about this yesterday, how we know soooooo many people who are preparing to send kids off to college that have never been allowed to drive. That have never held down a real job. That still have their parents fighting their school battles for them. 

How do you think that kid is going to adjust to living on their own, being wholly responsible for everything? Um...not well.

I was working before I even turned 16. I got a special permit to start at 15. I worked even when it was hard or early or I didn't like my boss or the work sucked. I rode my bike places when I didn't have a car. I had to learn to budget my own money. I got my license the day I turned 16 and knew that part of it meant that I'd have to take on more responsibility for the family. I took off on day trips all over Southern California with friends who were also teenagers, barely legal drivers, in a world before cell phones even existed. We explored. We got into trouble. We figured out how to get out of it. 

My parents never once went to bat for me in school disputes (aside from the time I was basically kicked out of Catholic school...but that was in 4th grade). They didn't call other people's parents when there were disagreements. We worked shit out for ourselves. I had a curfew. My parents gave me a lengthy leash and I did my fair share of stupid things. They picked me up, dusted me off, and occasionally drug my hungover ass to church afterwards.

I was doing chores for my entire life. I was cooking dinner by the time I was 10. I didn't go to fancy camps or classes. I wasn't entertained. If I was bored, I read or rode my bike or found something else to do. No one amused me.

Now, we script our kids lives for them. We choose their preschools at birth. We sign them up for every program available. We handpick their friends. We argue with their teachers. We hover over everything. We make excuses for why they are irresponsible. We decide they aren't old enough or mature enough for this or that. 

We want to shape them into who we want them to be, who we wanted to be...except they aren't us. They are different beings than we are and will forever be. We can't dictate what they want in life, we can't micromanage them and we are failing them if we even try.

We, collectively, need to change how we are raising these kids. We need to give them time to breathe, time to be bored, time to figure out what they love without our interference. We need to set high expectations and hold them to it, but those expectations must absolutely be based on who they are, not who we want them to be.

We don't get to choose that for them. 

I've been told I am a mean mom. My kids do chores, not because I pay them an allowance, but because it's part of being a family. If we go somewhere, they are told what to expect ahead of time and whining isn't tolerated. They complain, we leave. Period.

Shockingly, they behave. People are always surprised, by the way.

I set the bar high for them and I expect them to meet my expectations. I know what they are each individually capable of, and I demand they do their best. Laziness is not tolerated. I've been channeling my father lately, saying, "do it right or you'll do it twice", all summer. 

There are consequences when behavior is poor. There are consequences for laziness. There are punishments that I've been told by others are too severe, but you know what? They learn.

The Oldest almost didn't go to camp this year because his grades were too low. Not because he struggled with the material, but because he just couldn't seem to turn stuff in on time. His teachers know him too well. I know him too well. 

So, he either figured out how to get those grades up on his own or he was staying home. I wasn't calling or emailing anyone on his behalf. If he had missed camp, he'd have been forced to work to earn money to repay us for the entire camp fee. 

He got his grades up. Higher, even, than they'd been all year. He learned.

I've canceled birthday parties because of disrespect. 

I've grounded kids for weeks at a time for treating their siblings poorly. 

Lying gets them in more trouble than whatever it is they are lying about.

I've had doors slammed at me, I've been screamed at. A few of my children have said that they hate me. Fine. Hate me now. You'll thank me later.

I've also spent countless nights working on the most bizarre projects with the kids that I never imagined because they fell in love with something new. They've taught me as much as I've taught them.

Is parenting easy? Hell no. 

It's the hardest job you'll ever have, but you don't get to cop out just because it's hard. 

It's complicated and messy and painful. There are times it just plain sucks...but if you do it, really do it, there will be moments that make it all worthwhile.

Some of those moments will involve hot glue guns at 2 a.m. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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