Las Vegas

I have been attempting to say something about Las Vegas all day. But I can’t find anything eloquent to say.

Because I am paralyzed by the fear of raising my boys in this world where evil people choose to remind us all too often that there is no way to keep them safe. When I chose to bring them into life, I chose to know love so deep and fierce that it makes the world even more terrifying.

The only consolation is that, at least for today, my boys are too little to know about evil and murder and hate and terror. They don’t have access to news unless I give them access. They’re just babies. This mass shooting is not the one I have to explain to them.

But someday, they’ll hear something I don’t want them to hear, and I’ll have to watch their faces as they discover that sometimes people kill other people who have done nothing at all to “deserve” it.

Someday they’ll be afraid, too. Because aren’t we all a little afraid?

But today, they aren’t afraid, and I am happy to carry this fear alone to let them be innocent for as long as possible.

I am devastated for everyone who lost someone they loved last night in Las Vegas. It’s unimaginable. I can’t even let my mind wander to the horror of that night. I know it’s a luxury that I can even choose to stop thinking about the details- those who are directly affected can’t make that choice today, and that weight must be absolutely unbearable.

As a mom myself, I am especially holding in my heart the mothers who lost their “babies” in that hail of bullets and terror. Those mothers who once cradled their children and took on all the fears of the world to let them play without worry for just a little longer, are living the ultimate nightmare of living without them. How will they carry on?

There’s nothing I can really do to fix the world, but my heart is heavy and my tears are flowing.

Thank you! 

My husband has been away for work for THREE MONTHS and will finally be home this weekend! 
I will have so much more time on my hands to write, record videos-and just make my blog and social media a lot more fun!!
Thank you so much for hanging in there with me since the first essay was published! Lots more to come!

It could be you.

We see it in the headlines. A child forgotten in a hot car. A toddler finds his way into an animal enclosure. A kid falls in a pool. An otherwise gentle family pet attacks the neighbor’s child. A tiny daredevil climbs up an unsecured dresser. A school age child is abducted on the short walk home from the bus stop. A teenaged girl takes her charging iPhone in the bath.

The list goes on. Accidents. Tragedies. They happen every day. And one thing they have in common is the relentless judgment we heap on the already grieving parents.

I was guilty of this.

Probably one of the worst, although I wouldn’t usually judge out loud. My judgment manifested as smugness. Just a total sense of inner certainty that in tragedies like that would never happen to me. How could they? I never take my eyes off my child. I’m the mom with the backpack leashes. I’m the mom with the sit-and-stand stroller so my preschooler can be contained when I need him to be. I’m a good mom. My mind was always telling me, “It can’t happen to anyone. It can happen to people who aren’t being careful and paying attention.” In my heart, I believed that I was too doting, too conscientious to ever find myself in the position of one of those parents who make headlines.

Then, life handed me proof that I was 100% wrong. I could absolutely be that mom. Anyone could be that mom.

This is my apology to every decent parent who I have judged based on their worst, saddest, scariest moment.

I am so sorry.

Last summer, I had a 3-year-old and a newborn. My husband and I took them to the neighborhood pool early one afternoon, and we had the whole place to ourselves! We spent a glorious hour swimming and playing with our big boy as our newborn napped in the shade. It was perfect. Our son giggled and splashed, as the late afternoon sun warmed his freckled face. We got out to reapply sunscreen and nurse the baby.

We took off Henry’s Puddle Jumper, and he was waiting for his sunscreen to dry. Our usually cautious, obedient child was standing right next to us. Scott helped me move a chair into the shade to nurse Walker, when suddenly he let out a guttural yell, and took off at a million miles an hour.

In the short seconds it took to move the chair, Henry had gotten uncharacteristically  brave, and walked down the steps into the pool. The last step took him into 3 foot water and at just under 41 inches tall, he was unable to get his footing and keep his mouth and nose above the water. I’ll never forget the image of my sweet boy flailing in that water, and I’ll never forget the sound my husband made when he saw that Henry needed to be rescued.

The whole thing took less than 5 seconds. It felt like slow motion.

Watching my beautiful baby struggling in that pool…seeing my terrified husband scoop him up and squeeze him so tight…hearing my sweet boy sobbing that he didn’t want to go under the pool ever again.

As I held my crying son and my trembling husband, I had no choice but to take back every “that could never be me!” that I’ve ever spoken.

Just seconds after poolwe took this happy family photo, our whole lives could have changed.

It feels better to “other” people who make the news on their worst day; it makes us feel exempt from the terror and guilt they lived watching their children suffer or die.

But, despite my confidence in my own parenting, it could be me. It could be you. It could be any of us.

 

 

 

 

My kids and my dad’s gay marriage

My father came out to me when I was 28, and he was 49.
My parents had just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary.

So, that was fun.

I mean, I wasn’t shocked. It was confirmation of my long-time suspicion, and TBH, it made his road trip playlist make so. much. more. sense. #bornthisway

But even though I saw it coming, when it became real, it felt way heavier than I had imagined. The transition to a new kind of family wasn’t without its, um, challenges. We didn’t get it perfect. I wish I could say we came close, but trust me- we didn’t even come close.

Like, at all.

But soon enough, we figured shit out like we always do. Early this spring, I found myself standing outside our progressive, fully-inclusive church on a sunny afternoon watching my Dad marry a guy he loved. I mean, I love all kinds of love, but I definitely thought that wedding kiss would be weird. 

Not because they’re both men- who do you think I am? Geez.
 Just because it was my dad. Gross.

Enjoying the wedding “cake.”

But it wasn’t weird, and now it’s like Doug was always here. Their wedding day was one of the most deeply joyful days of my life. It was just the two of them, two witnesses and a minister standing in a field, but it felt like the most beautiful celebration. I’m tearing up just trying to write this. 

ANYWAY.

My oldest son was only a year old when my dad came out, but I worried pretty much immediately about how I would explain “the whole gay thing” to him. I’ve seen so many parents expressing worry or outrage when LGBT love is included in anything their kids might see, and it made me feel like my kid was going to be SO CONFUSED by his own grandfather. I clearly needed to prepare flow charts and graphs and textbooks and diagrams. What a roller coaster this was going to be!

Thankfully, I realized I was being an idiot.

How do you explain the whole gay thing to kids?

You don’t.

I will always answer my kid’s questions honestly, because that’s how we parent. But I don’t have to have some kind of battle plan to explain my dad’s marriage. I’ve never explained anyone’s marriage or family to my kid unless he asked questions.

Why would this be any different?

If you ask my preschooler about Pepere and Doug, he will say they are “a family together.” He knows that Pepere is my father, and Doug is not, but they’re both his grandfathers. He knows we all love each other, and love makes us a family. He will ask more questions when he has them. I don’t have to do anything else. 

Despite my best efforts, some jerk is going to expose my boys to anti-LGBT nonsense at some point. We live in a smallish town in a Red state in the Bible belt. It’s going to happen. I am prepared for a few tears and a lot of questions, but maybe they’ll surprise me. Maybe they’ll dismiss that garbage and be totally unfazed. My mama heart can dream. 

Whatever happens, whatever they hear, whatever they ask, we are ready. It’s not as complicated as I once imagined. Love is love. And kids understand love.

We’ve got this. 

My Henry 

Last night my Henry tried to go to bed, but after a few minutes, he came to me, lip quivering, and said he just couldn’t lay by himself and go to sleep.

There was no excuse.
No pretend desire for a glass of water.
No sudden need to pee. Again.

No complaints of phantom boo-boos or itchy tags or pillows that were too cold or any other silly 4-year-old thing that he usually comes up with to delay bedtime.

He just wanted me to hold him a little while because he didn’t want to lay on his bed by himself in the dark at that moment.

First, I did what I thoght I “should” do to preserve our recently perfected bedtime routine, and I gently told him he needed to lay back down.

But then I realized how stupid I was being. Why would I ever miss a chance to hold my baby when he needs me?

So, I told him to get back up, and I scooped him up and we laid on my bed together. As I looked at his tiny little face in the glow of the nightlight, I remembered the years before he was mine, and million nights I fell asleep on a tear-soaked pillow wondering if he would ever exist.

Overwhelmed with the beauty of his tiny little body laying there next to mine, I started to cry a little bit. Henry was a unsure how he felt about that, but I told him that I was just crying because sometimes when I see him, my heart just overflows with love and happiness and it spills out onto my face.

We laid there for a few minutes, and he drew shapes on my face with his sticky little fingers, and I tickled him and we talked about his eyelashes, his freckles, his little round belly…everything that makes him my Henry.

Then, I started talking about school, and he got quiet. He stuck his little finger right into the corner of my eye to make sure there were no more silly “love tears,” then confessed the reason for his sudden need to snuggle: “I’m starting to get a little bit nervous.”

Oh, my boy. My sweet, outgoing, beautiful boy who has never met a stranger. The same boy who has been reassuring ME that he will come home after school, and that I shouldn’t worry about him. For the first time since I first mentioned school back in the spring, he is realizing that this is new territory, and he is a tiny bit afraid.

How my mama heart wanted to tell him he didn’t have to go. He could stay here in our home with me and never walk into that classroom. I wanted to tell him that I’ll call the school and let them know he wasn’t coming- because I’ve been nervous about this for months, and his enthusiasm has been the only thing that allowed me to follow through. I’m not ready.

But I didn’t do that. I didn’t give him the chance to back out. I rubbed his chubby little cheek and I said, “It’s normal to be nervous. But you are so friendly and smart. You will have fun making friends and learning. I know it’s scary to do something new sometimes, but I know my Henry, and I know you’ll do great.”

He didn’t really say much, but he did suddenly feel like he wanted to lay in his bed and go to sleep. He believes me when I tell him who he is.

Today he believes he is friendly and smart. He believes he can do it even when he’s afraid.

And that makes me believe I can let him do it, even though I’m afraid.

Today is the last day of his time as a full-time stay-at-home boy. So, I’m hitting the button to publish these words, and then spending the rest of this day soaking him in.

Sweet love of my life, I’m so honored to walk every road with you. Preschool has never seen a boy exactly like you.