Vacation.

We took our first vacation in 6 years in May. Part of the reason why it wasn’t a priority before was that the two week-long beach trips we took years ago nearly killed me. Having to care for small children away from home is a giant pain in the ass. Home is where all of the things are they are used to. Getting them used to naptime and bedtime and meal time in a strange place makes no vacation relaxing.

But I noticed in May that even with older children, if you’re the primary caregiver, vacations are still exhausting. I still had to do laundry halfway through our trip, I still monitored meal time and food needs for 3 of the 5 people. I packed snacks everywhere we went and tried to organize schedules so everyone got to do what they wanted. I got up stupid early to take advantage of early park hours just so I didn’t make everyone else suffer through my need to photograph every inch of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade and so I could practice my spells without people being bored.

My vacation was still very much about caring for the family. I did all of the packing for Nikki and Wes, I loaded up the car for the trip and drove halfway. On the day we left I packed everything into the van myself and then when we got home I did all of the laundry from the trip.

Vacations are damn exhausting.

But today? I leave for a real vacation. I leave tonight and come back late Monday night. 5 days of worrying about ONLY myself. No one else will be depending on me for clean clothes or meals. I won’t have to clean the kitty litter twice a day or wash dishes. I won’t have to pack lunches or cook dinners. I won’t have to worry about bed times or leg cramps or nightmares. It’s me and only me for FIVE DAYS. I can wake up and run and not worry about whether or not Donnie has a workout first.

My brother and his wife are flying me to Denver as a birthday gift. They’re flying my Mom out too and we’re all spending the weekend in Breckenridge. I get to see my one nephew that I haven’t seen in over a year (I think? I’m pretty sure it’s been since they came for my 50-miler.) and I haven’t seen my SECOND nephew yet! He was born in January so I haven’t met him yet. I AM SO EXCITED.

Of course there’s still the Primary Caregiver stuff I have to do before I leave. Make sure all the laundry is done. Make sure the house is clean enough that it can be picked up for a showing. Make sure there’s groceries and pet food and kitty litter. Make sure Donnie knows schedules and obligations while I’m gone.

But once I’m on that plane? It’s all him. And all I have to do is make my nephews love me in 5 days. (The baby should be easy to win over, I’ll have to bribe my older nephew with ice cream and candy when his parents aren’t looking.) (Just kidding, Guys!)

I might blog from there, but I’m not sure how the internet availability will be. I’ll definitely be posting pictures of mountains on Instagram. I’m actually doing a 10K on the Fourth in Breckenridge which should be interesting. I ran in Denver when I visited several years ago and it was terrible because they have this weird situation where THERE IS NOT ENOUGH OXYGEN TO RUN. Luckily the ONLY time limit is that I have like an hour and a half to get to the aid station at mile 2.8. Even with no oxygen, I think I can swing that.

See you in the mountains!

IMG_8395

The Worry Of A Child.

Last night I had to do a little bit of freelance stuff before I went to bed. Something I hoped would take 10 minutes but I couldn’t find the problem which meant I wasn’t going to get to go to bed when I wanted. I was tired as it was the end of a long day and I was very overwhelmed with my To Do list and Nikki was whining and pouting about the fact that I wasn’t going to come to bed and lay down with her.

Listen, Nikki. I’m stressed. I can’t figure this one problem out and I’m tired and you making me feel guilty is not really helping.

Then she started sobbing and I got even more frustrated.

That’s not helping either! Now I feel shitty for making you cry! Why can’t you just say, “Good luck, Mom. Hope you can come lay down with me soon.” Why do you have to freak out and be so dramatic?

So she stifled her cries, wished me luck, and I went back to work. I never solved the problem but was so tired I had to go to bed anyway. I went to go give her a goodnight hug and kiss these notes were on the pillow next to her.

IMG_8395

Sorry I made you feel bad word. I don’t want to go to sleep knowing I made you feel bad – so when you come in here please wake me up and give me a hug.

Nikki is showing worse anxiety at age 9 than I have at 39 and I currently suffer from worse anxiety than I’ve ever had in my life. Her problems do seem to help me address mine though because – especially lately – I’ve been trying to work with her and that means I have to work with mine.

We talk a lot about how I’d like her to tell me what she needs instead of just melting down. If she’s having a bad day and needs some extra love, let me know. Don’t just freak out over something that is really not the problem. We’ve been talking a lot about what it means to be sensitive. She cries a lot “for no reason”. We talk a lot about how that also has a good side and I believe it’s what makes her kind and loving and the kind of kid who hides notes for me on Mother’s Day.

Where I used to worry about Wesley becoming a sociopathic serial killer, I now worry about my daughter being so unable to cope with anxiety or emotions that she’ll be medicated her whole life. I’m certain medication is in her future because if her stress/anxiety gets worse with puberty, she’ll need something to help her cope. But I want her to learn skills before then to help manage the somewhat normal levels of anxiety and extreme emotions.

Sometimes she can get lost in drawing or writing, she’s a very creative spirit. I’ve been trying to encourage that activity if she gets overwhelmed. I think I need to be better about pushing that because I think last night would have been a perfect time for her to use those habits to work out her worry.

And I need to quit being a dick to her.

I need to remind myself, even when I’m frustrated and stressed, that she is just now learning how to navigate this world as someone with sometimes toxic levels of empathy and emotional sensitivity that she can’t seem to manage. I need to take a pause before I respond to her like I did last night, and while I might have valid points, those points are – well…pointless…if she can’t process them because she’s sobbing uncontrollably.

She makes me want to be a better person so I can teach her how to deal with all of those overwhelming emotions. Whenever I’m having a particularly rough time lately, I find myself thinking, What would you tell Nikki?

I did wake her up and give her a million hugs last night. I hope it helped. I’ll try to be ready with boundless love for her again this morning.

My poor, sensitive, anxious soul. That’s what it is – once soul in two bodies. I’m hoping as we each make efforts to heal ourselves, we’ll help the other person as well.

Parenting is tough, yo.

2p9la63BfHpwGnQiEVDSEoyBP9RcONyJFgmqM8yBdlw

The Neighborly Thing To Do

I’ve been mulling over several things regarding current events and I hadn’t finished mulling so I didn’t post this morning.

BUT I AM DONE MULLING!

Not really. But I’ve reached a good stopping point regarding one issue. A mulling rest area, so to speak.

2p9la63BfHpwGnQiEVDSEoyBP9RcONyJFgmqM8yBdlw

This time of year it’s common to see these notices posted from Combat Veterans regarding their hatred of fireworks and their request for neighbors to honor that around Independence Day. This is always very favorably received and I notice images like this are shared out by my liberal AND conservative friends and family. This is one of those issues that everyone can seem to stand behind. I love those issues. I don’t like fighting so when everyone agrees my heart is happy.

AND I AGREE TOO. I hate loud noises and I don’t have any combat induced PTSD. So I can’t imagine how much more awful fireworks would be if I did. I hope the neighborhoods respect those requests by these heroes.

But you know what I don’t see? People getting pissed off and declaring anger that “Fireworks have been banned!” I don’t see groups rallying in protest and shooting off fireworks ANYWAY because they LOVE FIREWORKS and there’s no triggering for them! Just excitement and awe! I don’t see any kind of responses like that from anyone. On the contrary it’s always just support.

Could you imagine if I stood outside my neighbor’s house, my neighbor the combat vet, and just shot fireworks from the sidewalk and said, “This is a free country! I can do what I want! I love fireworks! WOOOO!” Do you think people would rally behind me?

Jeezus, I hope not. I hope they would tackle me to the ground and apologize to my neighbor on my behalf.

To me, refraining from shooting fireworks when you live near a combat veteran is the same type of gesture as removing a Confederate Flag from the state grounds, even if it means nothing more to you than a symbol of your Southern Family history. Governor Bentley may not see Jim Crow laws or Desegregation Protests or the KKK when he looks at a confederate flag, but he knows others in our state do – MANY do – so he decides, as a state official – to not fly it on state grounds. It’s a gesture of kindness and empathy. He’s not necessarily saying, “I see the flag as a symbol of hate!” – but he’s recognizing members of his community DO see it that way and he’s trying to be respectful of that, even if he doesn’t feel the same way.

Just like when you see the sign in your neighbors yard requesting that you refrain from shooting fireworks since he/she is a combat veteran. You may not be triggered by loud sounds, you may LIKE fireworks, but because you do not like the idea of your combat vet neighbor suffering with PTSD episodes, you avoid buying the fireworks. The fireworks may not mean the same thing to you as they do to your neighbor, but you respect his viewpoint and refrain anyway. Because it’s the neighborly thing to do.

Removing something that is a symbol of hate to MANY; and refraining from something that is a PTSD trigger to your neighbor…these are steps we take to be neighborly. To strengthen our community. To say, “I do not feel the same way about this thing as you do, but I do not want to cause you to have ill feelings, so I will avoid that thing that causes you those ill feelings.”

9079953-large

Last year there was a billboard like this that popped up around Christmas. (SIDENOTE: The image is not showing up on phones, it’s a picture of me running through the woods instead (WTH?) so if you’re seeing that it SHOULD be a billboard that says “You KNOW it’s a MYTH, Celebrate REASON this SEASON!” and it has a graphic of the Shepherds going towards Bethlehem.) I’m not a Christian but this billboard upset me because it is one of the many attitudes atheists take towards Christians that implies their faith and religion is stupid. I DO NOT LIKE THAT. It’s not a neighborly thing to do. Even though this billboard is basically one that speaks for MY people, I was upset by it. If someone said, “Do you agree?” I would have to say yes, because I’m not a Christian then Christians stories are myths to me. But – if you ever hear me speak condescendingly like that about my neighbors? Slap me. Because I deserve it.

On the other hand, this billboard?

billboard_sacramentocor_2450x273

This one is much better. It’s basically just seeking out like-minded people. This one also speaks for people like me but does it in a way that doesn’t alienate other members of the community. Both billboards serve the same purpose, but one alienates our neighbors in our community, one does not.

One more example: Election Season. You know what I can get behind? Stickers and shirts and magnets supporting your candidate. Go for it! It’s great! Support your peeps, yo!

You know what I don’t like? Stickers/Magnets/Bumper Stickers that attack the other candidate. Because then everyone in your community who might vote for that person takes that attack personally. I hated the “Anyone but Bush” stickers even though I am a bleeding heart, baby killing, tree hugging, godless liberal. I HATED THOSE STICKERS. If we support our issues instead of attacking the issues of others? Then we can relay our stance without alienating our neighbor.

Maybe some think this is our country becoming “Too PC!” for our own good. But I think both instances (the fireworks and the confederate flag…I’ve rambled a bit since then) are simply examples of people being neighborly. Of people wanting to strengthen their community. Of people taking a moment to stand in the shoes of their neighbor and making a decision based on how THEY feel. We can all still believe what we want to believe and even vocalize it, but maybe we could do it in a way that remembers our neighbors may feel differently. Maybe we can still show respect, and maybe even kindness to those different from us.

That’s the kind of community I want to live in.

legal

Thoughts of Rainbows

Nikki and I went to a local reception celebrating the SCOTUS ruling last night. It was so crowded and stuffy we didn’t stay long, and that fact alone brings me immense joy. There were two men who got married there and I cried for the millionth time for the day. One the way home we stopped by Publix for snacks to eat during the World Cup game and there was a honest-to-god Rainbow in they sky. It was amazing.

I woke up thinking about all of the forms of support I saw in my community yesterday. I was thinking about text messages and emails and how many people liked Instagram photos or Facebook statuses of mine proclaiming my joy and enthusiasm for the ruling. I was thinking how much that means, seeing someone I didn’t know to be an ally before, clicking “LIKE” on something like that. How that simple gesture from someone who is part of a religion I don’t believe in, someone who votes opposite than me at every election, someone who gets their News from sources I don’t even know exist…how wonderful of a feeling it is to see that person “LIKED” my celebratory postings. It shows me how this issue really does cross all borders because being gay or bisexual or transgender is not a political stance any more than my curly hair is.

The storms woke me up before 3am this morning so I got to work on some domestic chores and made this little graphic so I can preserve my favorite part of the ruling yesterday, in all of it’s rainbow glory.

legal

rainbowflag

Tears of Joy.

I was so sick to my stomach this morning as Twitter was getting more and more convinced that today was the day that SCOTUS would rule on the marriage equality case. I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m a cryer, but I was really crying just thinking: What if? What if they deny equality? Where do we go next? I mean…I WAS SICK. And then, like flash of lightning, the FIRST tweet I saw from the front lines was this one:

11226197_10153941934508496_4545157254567560835_n

And I started sobbing uncontrollably. This huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. My kids were now all equal in the eyes of the law. There would be no future struggles to be legally bound to the person they love in the eyes of the law. Just like that – legal to be married in 50 states. The future of my kid(s) (My younger two periodically proclaim their love for people of the same gender because they know nothing different than Love is Love thanks to big bro) looked bright and full of the same legal rights I enjoy as a married person.

I cried and I cried.

And then I read the ruling.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is Reversed.

It is so ordered.

And I cried some more…that passage is so terribly beautiful. It is a victory for marriage, the institution itself.

And then I read the President’s words and I cried again,

Sometimes there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt. This morning, the Supreme Court recognized that the constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so they have reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to equal protection of the law, that all people should be treated equally regardless of who they are or who they love.

And then I went to Facebook and it was like a Rainbow explosion. Now, I living in Alabama, many (most?) of my friends and family are conservative Christians and you would think I might have seen hate or discord but instead it was support and rainbows and love post after post after post. There are Christians here who are loving and not at all judgemental and completely full of support and enthusiasm for the LGBTQ community. They filled my Facebook today with happiness and celebration. Even as their churches released official stances against the SCOTUS ruling, they vocalized their happiness over seeing this equality finally achieved.

And I cried again because those people are the ones changing the tides. No one expects anything different from hippie vegan liberals like me, but the Christians who are showing loving to their LGBTQ neighbors and friends, they’re the ones saving lives with their words of support by showing the Christian LGBTQ teens in our community that they’re loved and they’re welcome.

I’m just so proud of my community. I’m so blessed to be surrounded by such love.

It’s a better day. A brighter future. And I’ll be crying for quite some time from the joy of it all.