1.28.2017

Why I marched for women, and why I don’t care if you wanted me to


One week ago today I took part in something historical – the largest protest in the U.S. – and possibly worldwide. On Saturday, January 21, more than three million or more people across the globe marched for WOMEN.

The truth of the matter is this: with such a widespread movement, it’s hard to put into words what we marched for and what it meant to all the individual people who stood up and made their voice heard. Some did it for unity; some did it for LGBTQ rights; some did it because they were pro-choice and some did it because they don’t like our nation’s leadership.

For me, however, I didn’t march to “bitch about Trump” or because I want to “kill babies.” I marched because despite having “equal” rights, things aren’t quite as equal as people think they are; I marched because I am terrified for the next four years and what it could mean for women’s rights; I marched because I am tired of hearing people excuse “locker room” talk; I marched because I am an intelligent and capable human being, regardless if I have a vagina or not, and should be responsible for deciding what happens to my body. But most importantly, I MARCHED BECAUSE I COULD.

I have a loving husband at home who understands that women are not equal to men; he listens to my tirades about the fact that women still aren’t paid the same as a man (and I’m not saying I should get the same amount of money just because I’m female, no, I’m saying I should get the same amount of money as a man if I’m just as qualified and experienced).

He listens to my grumblings about the fact that tampons and pads are taxed, while Rogaine isn’t. He understands why it upsets me that a woman has to jump through hoops to have her tubes tied if she’s under a certain age or childless – because we’re women, right? We can’t possibly NOT want children, so it’s good that doctors are there to tell us we shouldn’t have our tubes tied. Meanwhile, men, can walk in and have a vasectomy without receiving the third degree about their marital status or child quota. How is that fair? How is that equal?

He listens to my frustration as I try to figure out why so many people – women included – are AGAINST women.

And I get that my rant probably makes me look like a man hater, but I assure you I absolutely am not. I love my husband. I love my son. I love my brother, my father and many of my friends’ partners and husbands. I’m not saying it’s all the men in the world ganging up on women. I’m simply saying somewhere along the way, society has decided what’s proper for men may not be proper for women, and well, that shit just ain’t right.

So there’s a lot of wars being waged. People blogging about how they marched for other women, even the ones who don’t get what the women’s march is about; people blogging about how they don’t want women to say they’re marching for them and how they don’t support the movement at all. 


So now is probably the time where I am supposed to tell you that I was marching for you, even if you don’t understand or support why we’re raising a fuss.

But ya know what, I’m not going to do that. Part of why I so strongly believe in the women’s movement, is because it awards you – as a woman – the power to make your own decision. So if you don’t want me to march for you, then I’m going to assume you’re a strong, intelligent, capable woman who has considered her options and decided you don’t agree with the women’s movement. And while I may not get that, I RESPECT your decision to do so.

But I will tell you this. As a woman who does support this movement and does believe in the cause, I won’t march for you, but I will march for your future daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, mother or any other female in your life. I will march for them because while you may not understand the movement or support it, they one day might, or heaven forbid, they one day might need someone to stand up for them because their rights have been taken away. So whether you want me to march for you or not, I’m going to keep marching for all those other people in your life, because even though you “don’t need to march for rights you think we already have,” not every person in your life may agree with you or feel the same way you do … and if nobody else will march for THEM, then I will.

But trust me, I promise, I’m not marching for YOU.

These reasons, and so many more that I didn’t delve into, are why I marched for women. And pardon my language, but I don’t really give a fuck if you wanted me to or not.

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12.13.2016

Our daughter's strabismus surgery recovery

You may remember my post from almost a month ago about the eye surgery our little girl was having. She had an outward deviation in both eyes (with the right eye being the worst) that had gone unnoticed to us for nearly six years. I always saw it happen every now and then, she'd be focusing on something and one eye would try to follow the action happening elsewhere.

It got to the point where she was having headaches nearly every day (of course I thought she was just trying to get more headache medicine because who doesn't like white grape?), she could hardly read anything using both her eyes without it blurring (everything was fine with just one eye!) and a whole host of other issues all because her eyes didn't play well together.


So three weeks and five days ago she had surgery to correct her eyes. It was outpatient, only took a mere 30 minutes and she only had to miss two to three days of school as long as she felt OK.

You might remember me doing what I do best ... working myself up about the surgery and counting the minutes until it was over.

Her surgery was scheduled in the morning at 930, woo, we lucked out, she (I) wasn't stuck waiting until the afternoon. We arrived at the hospital at 730 where they promptly changed her into the cutest pair of kiddo scrubs I've ever seen ... that or my daughter is just made to wear scrubs. She looked like she belonged on Grey's Anatomy, the elementary addition.

She was given a coloring book, her hospital ID bracelet and we answered the same questions about 11 times, which, I'm not complaining about because it's just the staff making sure they have ALL the information they could possibly need.

We met with the nurse that would care for her in the room, we met with the nurse that would care for her in recovery, we met with her eye surgeon again and we met with the anesthesiologist and his nurse.

They all asked us the same questions five more times, making sure we didn't have a history of allergies, what did she have to eat last and when, what was the surgery she was having and what did we understand about it.

About 20 minutes before it was time to take her back they gave her a liquid medicine to help make her tired and silly.

It took about 10 minutes to kick in, but once it did boy was she goofy. She kept telling us she wanted to live in a house made of candy, but that it would be located inside the stomach of a teddy bear. We were laughing, for once, we felt a little less worried because it was almost here.

And then about five minutes before it was time to take her back she started to get overly anxious, she started to cry and ask us a million questions. She would dose off for two seconds, wake up and ask if the surgery was over. Why did she feel that way? Was the surgery over? Where was that teddy bear she wanted to live in? Was the surgery over?

Finally they arrived and wheeled her back. The doctor told us he would be back in 20-30 minutes to tell us how it went, then, she would wait in recovery for up to an hour to see how she was feeling and let her ease into waking up, then her bed would be wheeled back to us. She'd get a popsicle or slushie, and as long as she could keep that down and her eyes weren't bleeding too badly (you read that right, EYES BLEEDING), she could go home within an hour or so.

So we waited. We paced. We texted friends and family to update them because at least then we weren't counting down the minutes. And suddenly, it was time. Exactly 30 minutes after going into surgery her surgeon was in our room telling us it was a success, she did great, and her eye muscles were easily accessible which made things even smoother.

And there it was. The relief. All the sudden things felt lighter. Things felt ... normal again. The surgery was over! It was a success! It went smoothly! We were done!

Except ... we weren't. Between all my worrying about the surgery itself and her being put to sleep, I didn't bother to worry about what she would be like after. I didn't contemplate how I would feel seeing my six-year-old daughter wheeled back into the room with towels over her eyes to combat swelling, bruising and bleeding. I didn't anticipate seeing her tiny arm taped to a board with an IV and tubes coming out of every which way.

I didn't bother to worry about that, and it was worse than the surgery. At least the surgery was over with quickly, how long was she going to feel like this. And worse, did she feel as bad as she looked? They woke her up rather briskly, and sure enough, she did. She did feel as bad as she looked. She struggled to open her eyes, she cried bloody tears from the pain and all she wanted was mom and dad to turn the lights off and let her close her eyes.

She drank her slushie. She kept it down. Around 90 minutes later we were placing our sweet little girl in the car (with a brand new pair of super sweet giant black sunglasses to block the light), while she danced between crying in pain and falling asleep.

Once we got her home we carried her to bed right away. We pulled down all the blinds and we snuggled her up with her favorite blankets and stuffed animals. We got her more slushies and popsicles and we kept a cold rag over her eyes ... pumping her full of Tylenol every four hours to the minute. And I'd like to say it worked, but I still don't think Tylenol does a damn thing, and judging from her crying in pain, she would agree with me.

The informational sheet said she would be in pain for the rest of the day, but that she should feel a big recovery the next day. Possibly because I hadn't even thought about recovery would be like, I doubted even more the next day would just magically be "better."

But it was, somehow. She woke up her regular self. She wanted to go to school, she hates missing art class, but was still too sensitive to the light, so we brought art class to her. We purchased canvases and dozens of colors and brushes, she spent her afternoon sitting in the semi-dark living room painting holiday canvases and begging us to let her go to school tomorrow.

So we did.

Her eyes looked like raw meat. They were red and swollen and slightly bruised, but she promised us she wasn't in any pain. We talked to the teacher about her surgery, about her not overexerting her eyes and we told Pear Bear to go to the nurse and call us if anything hurt even the slightest bit.

I had my phone in my hand the entire day. I waited for the call. Surely if her eyes looked that bad they had to feel that bad, right? I guess wrong.

She made it through school flawlessly. She ran off her bus smiling, telling me everyone wanted to know where she was and if her eyes hurt and how cool she was to be so strong.

The first week after surgery was hard. Her right eye deviated the most so it was overcorrected during the surgery. (Eyes muscles generally pull outward as they heal, so sometimes the surgeon will overcorrect an eye to make sure it's straight once it's fully healed up).

Our little girl who had this slight outward deviation, one hardly anyone noticed, now had one eye that occasionally looked too inward. My husband and I tried not to talk about it, neither one of us wanted to admit what we both were thinking "what if we made the wrong decision, her eyes are WORSE and she has to have another surgery?" I began thinking "why didn't I push for therapy more, for exercises, why didn't I fight more."

And then, slowly, after a week and a half or so, we didn't notice her eye doing that anymore. My husband and I exchanged glances once again ... were we just trying to be positive, or had her eyes actually improved? And it wasn't because we'd grown accustomed to it, it was because it wasn't doing it. Her eyes were straight.

She's had one check up so far with the eye surgeon and her eyes are already working together better than before. She was able to read an extra two lines down on the eye chart with both eyes than she'd be able to prior to the surgery. We take her back in 10 days for another check in to make sure they're where they should be, but somehow, after all the drama (maybe some of it made by me), we're back to normal.

Whatever normal is, anyway.

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11.14.2016

Surgery: Things you don't see coming

I woke up this morning to my phone's monotone, persistent alarm.

It was 7 a.m. and Monday morning. Usually, we start the week by getting snacks ready, signing important papers and looking ahead at what we have planned. Do we have girl scouts? What times do I have pitching lessons? Does Pearyn have any last-minute homework I neglected to look for?

Today was different, however. I woke up with a lump in my throat. I looked at the clock again, 7 a.m. Who knows, tomorrow at this time we might be at the hospital. Or we'll be sitting in bed, not sleeping, because we'll be waiting to go to the hospital.

I'm not the most chipper person in the morning as it is, but today is different. Today is worse. Because today is the day before our six-year-old daughter has surgery. I let it sink into my mind a little longer. Surgery. Our beautiful baby girl. I think about all the things that could go wrong, things that have literally a .000000001 percent chance of happening, but somehow, today, it feels so heavy it weighs on my chest. The worry, the stress, it all feels so consuming that I can't and don't want to get out of bed. Instead, I want to lay in bed and look at my little six-year-old girl sleeping peacefully, stroke her hair and protect her from anything big or bad in this world.

But I can't.

We're lucky, truly, because her surgery is minor and it's not even that big of a deal. In my head, I know this. She's been struggling with headaches and vision lately, and we found out she has exotropia strabismus. Basically, her eye muscles aren't aligned and rather than working together, one wants to do what it's told while the other wants to follow other more exciting things. It's a simple surgery, it's 20-30 minutes, it's outpatient, we'll get to take her home and cuddle her, feed her ice cream or whatever her sweet little girl heart wants, but it still feels like a big deal.

I noticed a small drift in her eyes while she grew up, but ignored it and attributed it to me being that overly worried mother. And then when she struggled to read the eye chart at her doctor, he sent us off to the eye doctor, "No big deal," I thought, "She'll just need glasses."

But then we went to the eye doctor ... and then another. And both of them said the same thing: surgery. We talked about therapy and exercises instead, about corrective glasses, about all sorts of things. But we still received the same urging: surgery. Her eyes take too long to rebound, she's getting headaches, she's nauseous, they're blurring her vision when they work together.

After a lot of pondering and discussions, we decided to go with the surgery. And even though I know it's a simple, little surgery, one this doctor has performed probably thousands of times in his career, it doesn't make me feel any better. Because this time it's my baby. And my baby hasn't had this surgery 1000 times, in fact, she's never had surgery. She's never had a broken bone -- a stitch in her whole life.

So for the last month I've been counting down the days until this surgery, until her eyes could be fixed and she could continue her love of reading she's slowly developing, until the headaches would subside; and yet, now that it's tomorrow, I feel like there's an elephant sitting on my chest and the last thing in the world I want to do is have my daughter put to sleep and operated on.

We'll get through it. It's silly, I know. I'm being silly and worrying for things that I don't even understand; but it doesn't make it any less real to me, to us. I'm lucky I dye my hair constantly, or I'd probably have developed an entire patch of gray hair by now. I don't know how parents of children with heart surgeries, cancers or other more serious ailments handle it. I'm ready to lose my crap and she's having a 20-minute outpatient surgery.

My beautiful, blue-eyed little girl is having surgery on her beautiful blue eyes tomorrow and every time she tells me she's scared or she's nervous I have to fight back the urge to say "me too baby girl, me too."

Instead, I smile and I tell her they are amazing doctors and she doesn't need to worry, because that's what mommies and daddies are for.

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10.27.2016

Parent teacher conferences and my increasing anxiety

It's that fabulous time of year again ... the time when teacher's send happy, pastel-colored papers home and ask you to check off what blocks of time are best for you to come in and talk about your precious offspring.

I always get a little excited for parent teacher conferences. It's the perfect time to get that rare insight on who the heck my child is when she's not with me - you know - when she's out in the real world being her own little person.

And that excitement lasts for about three minutes because then I remember what happens during parent teacher conferences - you find out exactly who your little sugar muffin is when you're not around - but sometimes, they're not little sugar muffins, sometimes, they're downright assholes, so then you spend the rest of the time leading up to these conferences trying to figure out if your kid is THAT kid.

So I basically spent the past week quizzing Pearyn on all the hot first grade gossip her classroom has, things like who gets the most "yellow" or "red" days (signs that they've been making trouble for the teacher), if any of her teachers have had to talk to her about anything and if she understands the different stuff they're learning.

I, of course, get the typical sixTEEN year old response of "I dunno mom, yeah ... and can I have my iPad?"

Thanks babe for all that deep reflection (said no parent ever).

My anxiety was in full-throttle for this year's conference, as last year's had a few surprises I wasn't ready for. Our bright, inquisitive, never-shuts-up little girl was struggling with reading. And by struggling, I mean she had no desire to do it whatsoever and so she went through the literacy support program her school offers to catch her up.

I know, I know, she's still so young, what's the big deal. I think it just shocked me because if my kiddos get any part of my intelligence, I always assumed it'd be my love of books, words and writing. I mean that stuff is basically genetic, right? Not so much.

We did learn however, that even though she was in kindergarten (AND despite that she was learning common core, barf, yuck, yarf, did I mention BARF), she was actually excelling way past in her math comprehension.

So how's that karma for ya folks? I, the book-obsessed,  math-loathing chubby vegan mom, managed to birth a tall, lean, not-as-interested-in-books but is a math-loving machine.

Cray cray, right?

So the good news is I went into last night's conference ready for whatever that teacher had to throw at me. I was armed with all our knowledge from last year, all the books we read and read and read again this past summer, and her own little workbook we've been doing at home since school let out.

And are you ready for the big "thing" my daughter needs to see improvement on this year?

ORGANIZATION.

Much to my relief, our little sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice baby girl is doing gloriously in reading this year; her math skills are still ahead of where she should be; she's a social butterfly and respectful little girl; but she may or may not have a tendency to lose her folder and leave her coat lying around for all to walk all over.

Gee, I wonder where she got that from.

Seriously though, I wish my Pear Bear had gotten some semblance of organization from her father, because if her room and my housekeeping skills are any indication of what her future holds for her, I have a feeling that little "well organized" box on her report card is NEVER going to be checked.

But ultimately, I'll take it, as long as she doesn't become the little asshole.

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9.29.2016

4 things I learned when my husband was gone for two days

I'm back! I'm alive! We're all alive!

Amazing, right?

So finally, I've set aside my work (which I sometimes spend far too much late night "me" time on), I've carved out a little niche of time so I can delight you all with my inner musings (and by delight you all, I mean so this stressed out mom can get some real life things off her chest.)

It's almost October. I still don't really know how that happened. It seems like just a few weeks ago the kids were dragging me to the pool we joined; I was sitting on my yellow softball bucket calling pitches; we were at Disneyworld living an adult hell.

And all the sudden -- I blink -- and it's the end of September. And the end of September means it was time for my husband's work to have their two-day convention. That means two days of full-blown only mommy parenting the kids, trying not to damage their fragile little psyches while hiding the fact that I'm basically losing my shit.

And so last night, at 10:11 p.m., when both my sweet bundles of joy closed their very heavy eyelids, rested their sugar-addled bodies on my legs and chest, I finally sighed in relief ... well, that or sheer amazement that I didn't pull all my hair out.

Don't get me wrong. I adore my children. They're blessings, they light up my life and honestly, they really are all that cliche crap people drone on about. But what they also are, which not many people are ready to admit, are soul-sucking tiny spawns who know every little button to push and rather than simply pushing it a dozen times over ... they leap on it, stomp on it and dance a little jig until momma's ears are bleeding from listening to the 300th video about Minecraft and my hands are ready to fall off from making 795 vegan cheese sandwiches as a bedtime snack.

Cause, I mean, who gets hungry at dinner time, right? That shit is for the birds (or adults, rational people and basically not any child ever).

The thing that makes this difficult is my husband. He's a keeper that's for sure. And because we don't adhere to those gender stereotypes of what a mom and dad should do, when one of us is gone, the other one feels it. Like, a lot.

With that being said, here are the four things I've learned while my husband has been at his convention.

I am literally the messiest human being alive

I mean seriously, guys, by the time the night was over there were at least eight paper plates dotting the living room couch, floor, table, fireplace mantle (keep in mind only three of us ate one meal ... so I'm not sure where the other five plates mysteriously came from), there were five juice boxes lining our living room table alone, toys here, toys there, toys everywhere, and don't even get me started on the kitchen. I didn't even COOK and there were vegan cheese wrappers decorating the counter like I just hosted a party for 20 small vegan children, 10 empty kids cups and to make matters worse, I'm pretty sure I fed our dog cat food.

So I think it's safe to say my husband DID NOT marry me for my housekeeping or wife skills. Hell, he's lucky if I remember to make the bed in the day.

Bath time with one parent means nakedness everywhere

So I'm normally in charge of bath time for the kiddos, which is totes fine with me because it gives me a chance to read some trashy teen vampire novels or play some Candy Crush. Usually I do all the cleaning and hair washing of said children and then when they get out it's daddy's problem to wrangle the wild beasts and attempt to clothe them. We don't bother to dry them, that would take too much of their precious time away from picking their noses and making fart jokes, so instead we throw giant t-shirts on them, call it pajamas and let them air dry.

But when there's only one parent for bath time, that means once I get one child out, they wander the house in total nakedness while I finish washing the other. Which would be fine, if I didn't have to hear my daughter ask why the dog keeps trying to lick her bare ass all while comforting my son who is convinced I'm trying to poison him when I attempt to wash his hair. And then, once he's out of the tub it's basically a naked free for all, which includes blocking my son in a room so he can't streak through the house and slip on the wood floors, while trying to put my daughters "favorite" pajamas on from when she was three, because you know, they still fit now that she's SIX.

I lose my shit a lot less when my husband is home

And it's not just because someone is there so I'm on my best behavior, oh no. I would lose my shit a lot less if Mary Sue Ellen from across the street was there with me, ya know why? Because someone else is in the trenches with me. I mean sure, I certainly prefer my husband to be the one waging toothbrushing and technology-restricting battles with me, but ultimately, I'll take any semi-living, breathing human being at this point, just SOMEONE. Someone to see that I'm on the edge of losing my shit and give me that look, you know, the one that says "I'm going to lose mine too, so let's not and we'll be in this together."

I could do it by myself, but I never, ever want to

It's true, life is better when you're together. Today marks my last day that I'll be without my husband in our humble abode, and while it's been secretly kind of nice to have them all to myself, I can't wait for him to walk through the door late tonight and resume his role in our family bed as the heat source for my daughter and son.

And sure, it was fun to order pizza for dinner and give zero fucks about planning anything out, but I'm pretty sure I'd eventually get tired of vegan pizza and my children would revolt and fashion some sort of shooting device out of their pizza crusts with their leftover black olives.

At the end of the two days, I made it through my one-on-two time with my kiddos. I mean sure, the dogs may be dehydrated and the floors might be a lot stickier than when my husband left, but we're all alive and unscathed as far as I can tell. Except for Silver, our cat. He's seen far too much nakedness and I think we might have scarred his one working eye.

But ya know, that shit happens.

When daddy goes away, everybody gives up something ... a small piece of their soul, the gift of eyesight ... clothes ...

It's whatevs.

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