Why being a good listener is really important.

I pride myself on being a engaging, empathetic listener. I really try. I think it’s important and it’s a skill that will help you in life. But some people make it hard. People who talk. A lot. They barely breathe, they are just dispensing words at an insane pace. You feel like you don’t even have to be there.. Well, turns out you have to be. As I discovered when I might have accidentally told my aunt, me and my friends all have AIDS.

Ok. Stay with me. This all starts with a dream. I had a dream my friend had AIDS and she came to party and gave it us. It was basically like 1980’s AIDS, when we all thought we could get it from a hand shake. Not cool. I know. But I can’t help if my dreams are not educated on the AIDS epidemic. It was a bizarre dream, as my friend is married, does not use intravenous drugs nor has had a blood transfusion, like ever. So I text my friend and let her know. This is when shit gets WEIRD. The SAME night, she has a dream that she got pricked with a needle and got AIDS and is scared that we might all know she got it. So we all laugh at the bizarre coincidence and move on.

A few months later, my Florida Aunt comes over. She talks. And talks. It’s physically exhausting. I’m not sure why, but it makes me actually tired? I’m basically just a sounding board. She talks about nonsense, for instance how upsetting it is that people are saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” LIKE IT’S AN ACTUAL PROBLEM IN HER LIFE and how much money she has. I nod and smile and wait for opening to talk, which rarely comes. She begins to talk about how her son is psychic and they share dreams and how everything her son dreams comes true. I’m only half listening because it’s hour four of my saying “Uh huh” and shaking my head every 3 mintues. But I hear dream and I see an opening!!! I have a fantastic dream story!! I tell her my AIDS dream expecting to knock it out the park. Who doesn’t love a dream about a politically-charged life-threatening disease? Well, not this lady. It is met with crickets. Nothing. She quickly moves onto how much money her son makes and I move back into my comatose state of listening. It wasn’t until a few days later I realize; her whole point was that her son’s dreams ARE REAL and she thinks my point was probably the same. So I’m pretty sure she thinks me and all my friends have AIDS. I don’t for the record. Unless you can get AIDS from dreams. Then, maybe.

What to do if your child has a tick.

Immediately panic. Scream. Yell. And make sure you scream/yell things like “THIS IS NOT A DRILL!” to who ever is closest to you.

Now, technically we have never had a “tick drill” but if you yell “this is not a drill” with enough panic, no one will doubt that they have had some sort of training.

Also, all is fine. It was a dog tick.

Meeting her milestones.

Last summer I was at a splash park with my one year old daughter. I was minding my own business when a woman approached and OPENED with this line:

Woman: “Hi. Your daughter is cute. How early was she?”

Me: Hi. Thanks……

My Brain: Early to what… the park? Early as in born prematurely? What’s happening?

I decide to simply ignore the question as my brain could not figure out what the actual fuck she was talking about.

Woman: “I do beach body.” Talks about her gym & fitness routine.

Me: “Cool….”

My brain: “How can I make this stop. Think brain. Should I fall? Does falling ever work? If I fell would have to make it look like it hurt? Or would I just look crazy.”

As I’m debating if falling is a viable option for ending this conversation, she asks AGAIN.

Woman: “How many months early was she?”

Me: “You mean premature? None. None months early. Right on time.”

Woman: “Well it looks like she’s meeting all her milestones.”

Me: “Yeah…because she’s not premature, she’s just a normal sized baby. So…goodbye forever? “

Sometimes I feel like my only friend is…..

After watching the James Cordin/red hot chili peppers car karkoe.
Me: I think you can see real sadness in Anthony Keidis eyes when he sings, “Sometimes I feel like my only friend is..”
 
Devin: For the sake of our marriage I’m going to pretend that you didn’t say that.
 
Me: *Can’t hear him. Slow dancing with myself to CIty of Angels*

I gave my kid an extra hug & an extra freeze pop because FUCK YOU terrorist.

I am heartbroken about Orlando. I can’t stop thinking about the mothers of those poor people. The mothers that carried them in their belly’s for 9 months, who made lunches and took them to doctor appointments. And now there babies are gone. No more holidays, or weddings or grandkids. My heart breaks for those mothers and friends and brothers and everyone who had a life taken from them. It’s so sad. And unfair. I have been crying for two days.

I know that I have a choice and this choice is important. I can let fear and anger and sadness consume me. Or I can fight. Fight to take away the guns who are killing our babies. Fight to stop the hate that has divided this country. Fight to elect people who lead with compassion and strength and don’t fan the fire of hate.

There is a saying, “progress is inevitable” and I believe it. The world moves forward. But it’s not a straight line that moves up. There is a resistance to change and progress. Orlando was about resisting this change. Change that in today’s world people can love who they want. I truly believe if at the core of whatever your doing is love, it is never wrong. To the beautiful people who were dancing or to the good people who were at church, the children trying to learn and the men &  woman who were simply going to work, I promise you were not lost in vain. Your family and friends do not lose you to nothing. Your lives are a reminder that love will prevail. Progress will continue despite these cowards best efforts.

At the end of the day, I know I can only show my children love and compassion this day, this moment. I fully understand that my son and daughter could have been at that club. Or at work. Or at church. Or at elementary school for fucks sake and I will let this serve as a reminder that right now matters. Right now I have a choice to choose love or hate. To give extra kisses and giggles and snuggles and let my babies know, right here, right now I love them so much. I know that continuing to be sad and angry will not help anything. “Holding on to anger and resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”  So I will not take your pill, you terrorist asshole. I will be angry but I will turn that angry into action. I promise you will not make into a hateful person, because then you have won.

I will continue to fight, I will sign every gun law petition, I will fight to elect people who believe in more funding for mental heath initiatives and people who lead with love and compassion. I will do random acts of kindness in honor of these victims and remember that today is what matters.

To the victims: I hope where ever you are, you are dancing.

Places not to poop. A group text.

AA: There was a poop the shower at my gym. I go to Equinox for fuck’s sake.

Me: Noooooo. That hasn’t even happened at my Work Out World.

DD: At a place like Equinox it was probably fancy body cream.

AA: Where can I get more of this all natural exfoliant?

BB: This is why I don’t go the gym.

AA: Gag Reflexing is the new ab workout.

Me: I have a million questions for this person. If I could interview anyone in the world, it wouldn’t be Hillary Clinton or Valadmir Putin, it would be fancy gym pooper.

DD: I shit the bed last year so I can’t really judge this person. But if I’m going to shit myself at least I have the decency to do it in my bed next to my husband.

Me: Right!! You should teach etiquette lessons to this lady. Lesson one: Where to shit.

DD: In Bed. In your underwear. Or your son’s diaper.

Me: If she answers the gym shower. She is wrong.

Me: My gym does not have this problem, though they did recently have to put up a sign that says “No Shaving” on the sauna. Followed by a “No Eating” sign.

AA: It sounds like your interview schedule is very rapidly filling up. Shitting in the shower is much more reasonable than shaving or eating in the sauna.

AA: Did I say something wrong?

Me: Call me old fashioned but I think a shower shit is the most unreasonable.

Me: It’s basically the only thing I learned in middle school.

 

 

Neighborhood moms

Growing up I was a bit of a ‘latch key’ kid. My mom (who was amazing) was the primary breadwinner and my dad worked a lot on clean energy initiatives but I never felt alone because I had Renee-my neighborhood mom.

Neighborhood moms are unsung heros of a working class neighborhood. They often have the same or less in terms of income yet they give their most important resource: their time.

Renee was a hero: a hero to a group of kids who needed someone to simply be there. Renee wasn’t perfect, she smoked and cursed and I’m sure her food wasn’t organic but she cooked for us, opened up her small basement apartment to us and was there if anyone needed a bandaid or an emergency ice cream sandwich.

There’s a lot of pressure to try to be perfect but there is a saying ‘done is better then perfect’ and Renee wasn’t always perfect but she was always there. Trying.  And that means more then I could ever say.

When I first met Renee she was  a young single mother to her son Billy. I had no comprehension of how hard that must of been for her. I only knew if I had a problem what door I could knock on. If I missed the bus, she would be the first person I told knowing she would drive me. She might be complaining the whole time but she would always take me. She was a constant figure in the neighborhood; giving out freeze pops, helping with homework, taking our neighborhood gang of misfits to beach and screaming at us if we went in too deep. She was and is the best example of “It takes a village”. She was the heart of our village. She was our angel. Our loud mouthed, Kool smoking, “this math is too hard for a fucking fifth grader” angel.

But eventually our neighborhood disbanded. People moved away. Renee got married. Inherited two step children.

Then it happened. Seven years ago Renee’s only biological son, Billy, was diagnosed with brain cancer. For seven years Renee fought for him and with him. She fought with a love that was both terrifying and awe inspiring. He died at 29. A week before Christmas.

I don’t know how to express how sad I am for her. I look at my son and can’t begin to imagine her pain. I just don’t want her to ever feel alone. They say a happy childhood lasts forever and to a group of kids in a working class neighborhood, she gave us that happy childhood.

Renee will never get the recognition she deserves and neither will the other neighborhood moms of the world but please know that those little lives you touched will be forever grateful. Please keep giving, keep helping and remember: you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be there. It means more then you’ll ever know.

“What should we do today?”

Ways to answer the question “What should we do today?” When you have toddlers.

Ways NOT to answer:

  1. “I don’t know.” —Not Helpful.
  2. “I don’t know, I’m just happy to spend time with you.” —Cute but not fucking helpful.
  3. “No television.” —Fuck off.
  4. “Why do we have to do something? Can’t we just be in the moment.” —No. Toddlers are Satan and without a plan they smell weakness and will make you play itsy bisty spider for 12 hours.
  5. “Go out to eat somewhere that isn’t fast food or Friendlys*.”– I would rather eat glass. It’s cheaper and feels easier.  *See Friendlys post
  6. “The beach.” —I know it’s suppose to be relaxing but going to the beach with a 1 year and  a 3 year old is basically the hunger games. I’m just hoping we all come out alive.

Things to say:

  1. An age appropriate playground. Preferably one that doesn’t have a bucket swing, so I don’t have stand there pushing the whole time or face the wrath of my surprisingly rage-filled daughter who can suddenly fight like rabid dog when I try to take her out.
  2. A indoor playground. Where there are seats that I can mostly ignore my children.
  3. A swim lesson. Where I don’t have to get into a swim suit. I can just wave every 12 minutes.
  4. Basically anywhere I can pay someone else to watch my children.
  5. Or my most favorite. You stay here, I’ll take them somewhere.