parenting

We Three

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It’s nearly Tuesday, but I’m going to treat this like a Microblog (it’s technically still Monday so…). My mother turned 70 recently and the girls and I painted this series for her. We chose the same colors for the background and picked the sea creatures we wanted to paint. I think we did an amazing job. I’m constantly impressed at the creativity and talents my two daughters possess. To be a witness as they blossom and grow continues to be the highest honor.

They are away visiting family and return in a couple of days. Time and space away is good for any relationship. There are outside stresses that have made this distance quite difficult at times. I know we’ll all be glad to be back together again. This triad of canvasses reminds me so much of us. We are all unique and different, we are our own, independent beings, yet when placed together, we flow beautifully.

I have so much to write about. Some time to myself helped nourish my creativity, as well as provide me with free time for some fun and to do some much-needed organizing. I do plan to be back here more regularly. I’ve been writing about cool things over at Nerdy But Flirty, check it out!

#MicroblogMondays: Don’t Tell Me it’s Going to be Okay, Tell me it Sucks

My daughter had a physical therapy evaluation today and we received worrisome news. Nothing traumatic, her life isn’t in danger, nothing like that, but still, news that means more evaluations and therapy and hurdles for her to have to deal with. This sucks.

I know as I tell my loved ones the news, I’ll be met with their undoubtedly best intentions, and they’ll respond with “she’s tough, it will all be okay” and “it’s good you have some more answers now” or “well, now you know what direction to head in” etc. Fine. I appreciate their encouragement. I know it will all be okay. This kid is tough, she’s been poked and prodded, had tubes and lines in her, has overcome so much. I want her to have it easy. The fact that over 10 years into her life, she still is in pain and still in therapies and still sees too many specialists and still doesn’t have things easy, sucks.

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My Supergirl

I know we’ll see the right specialists and tackle this like her and I have attacked so many other struggles before. Tonight though, I just want someone to tell me they get it. Acknowledge my frustration and hurt and fears for my little one. I don’t need to hear it will all be okay, tell me it sucks, because it does.


As always, major thanks to The Stirrup Queens for #MicroblogMondays. Join us!

Ommmggggg A Bomb Threat!!! #LOL

Lawyer's office

Social media posts are forcing too many kids into lawyers’ offices, or worse, jail.

On Monday, a teen was arrested for tweeting a bomb threat to American Airlines. A lot of the talk on Twitter following the threat and subsequent arrest poked fun at the cluelessness of a teenager. How could she make such a thoughtless tweet? It’s social media, everyone can read it! People wondered where her parents were. Some laughed when, over the course of tweets, the girl became anxious and apologized. Others were in disbelief that anyone, even a teen, would find such a hoax remotely funny.

But that’s just it, here we are, a bunch of adults trying to find reason in the actions and mindset of one of the most unreasonable of human beings–the teenager. I’m not excusing what this girl did. Clearly, she needs to learn that there are repercussions for making such public statements, and she should be taught that bomb threats are never cool. But her case, and countless others like it, point to the growing problem none of us seem to want to deal with. Whether it’s laziness or lack of awareness on the parents’ part, too many are not discussing Internet and social media safety with their children. It’s clear that at the minimum an overview of the legal ramifications should be included in those talks as well. Don’t wait until your kid is in high school to do this either. (more…)

My Father, The Feminist

I was driving in the rain and slush this morning when it occurred to me I need a new wiper for my rear window. I remembered my mother mentioning an auto parts store that had installed her windshield wipers for free. I considered going there, but then decided it would be cheaper just to run to the local department store and put it on myself. Then, and welcome to my mind, I started considering the idea of a woman working on a car and how even in 2013 that is an odd concept. Even something as simple as replacing a windshield wiper–it’s expected we find a male friend or hire a man to do such a task.

We are often still treated differently (Even swindled at times!) at a mechanic’s shop. I recall my father teaching me how to change my oil when I was eighteen. Today of course, it’s cheaper to just head to the shop to get my oil changed. But if I ever needed to, I know how to do the job. I love that my father taught me this. It’s one of the more complicated things a layperson can do themselves on their car. Changing a tire, replacing fluids or spark plugs, and maybe a few other fixes are on that list, and my father taught me how to do them all. He was always stressing the importance of my understanding the inner-workings of my car, as well as the plumbing and appliances in my home.

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City Mouse or Country Mouse?

A book with a similar title was one of my favorites growing up. I’ve always swayed back and forth between the love of country and of city. I find beauty in the mountains and rolling hills, in sunsets on water, and on days at the beach. Nothing will ever compare to the sights and sounds and vibe of the city though. I lived in Texas for almost ten years. I longed for New York, its abundance of culture is what I missed so much. I’ve been thrilled being back in the tri-state area these past four years. I spend as much time as I can in New York and in Philadelphia; my kids love both as much as I now. I cannot imagine living a great distance from either ever again. (more…)

Some days peanuts, some days shells…

Lately, I’ve been struggling. Emotionally, I’m trying to stay afloat. I have what feels like the weight of the universe on my shoulders. I’d dare to say that only those that are raising their kids alone will truly understand. For those who don’t know, imagine feeling like you’re constantly having to be everywhere doing everything all at once. From paying the bills to making lunches to fixing “boo-boos” to carpools to, well, everything else. Right now, I’m unemployed. I’ve been looking for a job since December; sending out my resume is just depressing at this point. I need to find a job that, hopefully, will have benefits for me. The kids have insurance; I still lack healthcare however. I need a job where I make more than minimum wage, and that doesn’t require me to work nights or weekends; affordable childcare outside of the normal 9-5 workweek does not exist. (more…)

#SingleMomProblems: Life, Work, & Benefits

This is partly an off-shoot of my prior discussions regarding the fiscal cliff and women, and partly a vent. Four years ago I found myself back in New Jersey, where I grew up, starting a new life. In nearly every way, this was a good thing. One exception was my lack of healthcare. I looked at various options, and paying for my own insurance was not something I could afford. At the time I was attending school, and even through the college the only insurance I was eligible for was “accident insurance.” I never fully understood how much was covered and how much help it would have been had I utilized its benefits, but it was only for certain types of accidents. I finally decided to go to Planned Parenthood since I was due for my yearly exam and I knew that was the only place I could actually afford to do so. There I was, at 31 years of age going to Planned Parenthood for the first time. I’ve been going there for my yearly exams since. As I said previously, it’s my sole assurance that I’m in good health. I am a freelancer, mostly in the field of art and writing, but I’ve also worked with special-needs children. None of my jobs have included benefits of any kind.

Some may say the simple solution is then for me to shut up and get a traditional job with benefits and be done with this whole discussion. That’s not so simple. For starters, I was out of the workplace for ten years as I was a stay-at-home mom. This was the first strike against me, followed by my lack of a college degree, which I’m still working toward. Essentially the jobs I’m most capable of getting are in the retail sector and involve committing to nights and weekends. This is not an option as childcare during those hours is impossible to find, let alone afford. The other issue with such jobs is that most will only hire you for up to 39 hours so they do not have to offer you benefits. Oh, and the pay? As low as $7.25 an hour. I would be paying a sitter more to watch my kids than I was actually earning each hour I worked. That simply doesn’t compute. As a freelancer, I have a higher hourly pay and am able to be there for my kids. It’s seemingly the best of all words–if only the work was more guaranteed and health benefits were affordable.

I am a single mom raising two young children on my own. I don’t have the luxury of having every other weekend and a weeknight or two each week free to work. I am the only parent available when the school nurse calls to say one of my kids is sick. I’m the only one able to take them to a doctor’s appointment or care for them while they are ill. To further complicate things, my youngest child has some special needs. She is currently mainstreamed in school, only receiving speech therapy for her articulation disorder; she has come far and continues to make progress. She is still followed by a couple of specialists, but thankfully many of her health problems have improved with age. She had a feeding tube until a year and a half ago, just as an example of how severe her conditions were and how recent. Two of her major issues now are migraines and a weaker immune system. Because of this, she misses more days of school than the average child, almost fifty last year in fact. I am unable to have a traditional 40-hour a week job outside of the home because of this. Every time I consider taking a more traditional job, I’m reminded of how frequently I need to stay home and care for her, and of course the times her sister is sick as well. No employer would allow someone three, four, or more days off each month for this. Simply put, my options are limited.

Strictly speaking in terms of medical coverage, it’s something that becomes a greater priority with each passing day. I feel like my health is a ticking time bomb at this point. I’ve been lucky in the past couple of years that I haven’t had any serious illnesses. I’d like to have insurance as an option so that I am able to better care for myself and not have to fear getting sick. That is why I’m adamant about universal healthcare. While I may struggle at times to find work that allows me to be flexible, I’d prefer to stay with my current career and have the opportunity to also have benefits. My priority is being able to care for my children, in particular my youngest when she is ill and requires medical treatment.

So that is my dilemma; figuring out how to make life and work and, hopefully, benefits all work out. It really shouldn’t be so hard.

Attn: my fellow ladies

Bashing women for wanting or choosing to have children does nothing for any of us and you just end up sounding full of self-hate. I find it utterly ridiculous to talk down to those who are, oh I don’t know, allowing our civilization to continue on. Small thing, really.

You don’t want kids? Fine. Does continually saying “parents are idiots” and “kids are annoying” and the like make you feel better? If so, what the hell about? It just infuriates me and I hear it all too often. This hatred toward one another is abundant on social media, and it’s a disappointment to me. We could be using our online presence to bring awareness to real women’s issues. Quit judging and disrespecting one another and instead fight for choice and equality FOR ALL OF US.

Makes me sad that so often, we are our own worst enemies.

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*This was a series of tweets that I turned into a post on my Tumblr. I find lately many fellow women (in the 20’s-30’s age range) make many a public statement against children, “breeders,” and motherhood itself. It’s something that has grown so tiresome, I finally had to vent. I am a firm believer in letting others have choice and freedom in their life, and talking down to someone simply because they choose a different path than ourselves is hurtful and a waste of time. I’ll be writing again on this topic again, I’m sure.

Parents & Evacuating

I’ve seen report after report about parents who chose not to evacuate their homes prior to Sandy (and in other storms, this is not a new trend). I feel if you are a parent, you owe it to your child to keep them safe and protected. If the authorities are telling you that you are under a mandatory evacuation, you have no choice but to take your child to safe place until you receive the all-clear. If one parent wants to stay with the house, fine. But those kids deserve to be out of that situation. Too many have died because their parents chose possessions over lives. That sounds cruel, but that is ultimately what it comes down to.

People right now are making their young children stay in homes without power, while temperatures drop to freezing. That is not right, nor does it make any sense.

I spent four days without power with my two children. By the third night, I started to feel unsafe. Here we were in a dark house, no phone, no power, no way to connect if someone broke into the house or some other emergency occurred. Not to mention, the nights were steadily getting colder. Little by little, my neighbors were leaving the area. I live in a safe town, but still, when situations get stressful, people get desperate. By last Friday, there were plenty of reports of thefts and crimes occurring, some in my town, others in neighboring ones. Gas lines were terribly long, it became clear to me that this area was no longer a safe place for us. I was lucky enough to have an invitation to stay in Philadelphia, for as long as I needed. I packed my family up and we left on Friday afternoon.

I would never choose pride, or to protect things, over the safety of my children. I have more perspective on life and children than most maybe, I’ve seen my young one attached to tubes and wires in the PICU. I get that. Still, I urge any parent out there, to just think twice before another child loses their life, simply because their mom or dad wanted to “wait it out.” You can replace your televisions, stereos, homes, no life is worth any of that stuff.