When Watching History Unfold

No matter what side you’re on (and I don’t really mean political parties), watching the impeachment is actually important for history. I like watching history unfold, telling my children stories about it. Both of my boys, my oldest who is in AP history and my youngest who just wants to know everything about everything, have watched along with me. Why? Because one loves history and the other loves knowledge. However, the problem comes in when I’m trying to teach my children about this moment.

Remember how I just said it doesn’t matter what side you’re on? That’s the first part of the problem. There shouldn’t be a “side”. It should be what’s right; what’s just; not: “they’re lying no you’re lying no there’s nothing there but there’s something there that may not be moral but it’s not illegal okay maybe it’s not illegal but it may be illegal but not really but kinda”.

My youngest asked me what should be a seemingly simple answer: “Did he do it?” No parent really wants to say “I don’t know” to their child when trying to teach them something. But that’s the truth. We don’t know because no one cares to tell us the truth. The American people deserve to know the truth. To see the truth. All we get to see is grandstanding and mudslinging and half truths. We don’t know the answer. The people who want to know don’t participate in “sides”. I want to know the truth. But all I see is a partisan event unfolding in front of me where it doesn’t matter if he actually did it.

You may be thinking “Of course it matters”, but you’re wrong. It doesn’t matter. The Democrats just want him to be guilty because they don’t like him and that can set a very dangerous precedent for the future. The Republicans want him to be innocent because they don’t want to be wrong in backing that horse. Neither side cares about the truth or integrity. They care about being right and getting their way. That’s unfortunate because in the end, the Americans are the ones getting screwed. They are the ones that are left in the dark arguing talking points that they heard from “their side” rather than caring to take the time to see whether or not he’s guilty. And if he is guilty, that just shows he can get away with more because, why not?

Not that it matters. Even if they had him dead to rights doing something illegal, the Republican lemmings wouldn’t care. I actually am starting to believe that he could kill someone on stage, right on camera, and they’d just say “Well, he’s our guy so he can really do whatever he want. That dead guy probably did something 20 years ago that was super illegal anyways.” Even if he was completely innocent, the Democrat lemmings would say “well, he did something wrong and we’re going to find it” and waste more of our time. It doesn’t matter if he did it or not: he’s going to get away with it.

It’s not the politician’s fault; it’s ours. We’re the ones that keep electing people that only care about their own interests. Who care only about party first and everyone else later. That’s our fault. We’re the ones who don’t look at stances or records, but at that tiny letter next to those people’s names. The minute we start saying “I’m voting for _____ because he’s ____” is the minute we are complicit. It’s that “Us vs. Them” mentality that’s ruining America and we’re just sitting back going “But Fox News/MSNBC/CNN said this and that means it’s absolutely true because journalistic integrity. They wouldn’t lie to us.” Oh yea they would, and you’re eating it up.

So how did I answer my son’s question? I told him the truth: It doesn’t matter. He looked confused. My oldest understood. “But you break the law, the police come.” That concept seemed so simple. “You are innocent until proven guilty in America”, I said. My oldest son snickered. He wasn’t wrong. “So he didn’t do it?” I sighed. “No one knows and no one really cares.”

Venturing Into a New Genre

I’ve been trying to come up with my next project. I have many that I have started, but either got tangled up in some plot knot that I couldn’t get out of, second guessed my story, or just haven’t flushed out the idea for my children’s book. Finally, something hit me that inspired me enough to do a very rough sketch of the character. A fantasy character. My first adventure into the fantasy genre. As someone who’s barely read anything in this genre aside from World of Warcraft lore/novels and Game of Thrones, this is going to be a challenge I think. I know. But one that I hope I can scrape together the time and brainpower to go through with.

The idea started off from simple inspiration: a character with a name (no spoilers) that was a nickname a beloved friend used to call me. He would say it every time he logged into the game, one we played together for nearly a decade together at that time before he suddenly passed away. He was a precious friend and amazing human being that I think about often. Lately, that name has been nagging me in my brain as if the character needed to come to life. It sounds strange, but other writers could easily understand. I’m not too insane. Mostly.

The problem is all that I have is this angsty fantasy character, a name, and a specific look. Do I turn this into a kid’s fantasy illustrations with my subpar art skills? Do I make it a middle-school aged fantasy novel with some illustrations to bring this character to life? Would it be a series or a one-off? What would the plot even be? It’s hard to navigate this uncertain world but I hope this project brings me back into doing something I love, because there is something soul crushing about spending all of your brain power into something that isn’t yours.

Here’s to hoping that I manage to figure this one out. I think my sanity needs me to channel some of that creative energy in my mind.

Don't Believe the Social Media Hype

We all live off of our social media. I’m definitely on Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit for an obscene amount of time everyday. It’s the best way to keep up with Overwatch League news and get those precious Baby Yoda memes. (Those get me all the time.) But this is also where people put out the best versions of themselves. Even I try to take images on my more self-conscious days that don’t show off that pile of toys and other crap on the floor that I just didn’t feel like picking up.

The problem is that for every time a parent brags about their child’s grades or gets those adorable photos, it’s not real life. While they are taking that picture of that awesome report card, her children are probably tearing apart the house as they scream bloody murder and tattling on each other while she has her other hand on the bottle of wine. Because sometimes the glasses aren’t enough and you just need to go to the big show. It’s like that meme where everything’s on fire and they are sitting there going “It’s fine”.

That mom isn’t posting a selfie saying “felt cute” because she felt cute. More likely she needed the validation because that day was an awful day. That’s fine. People need something to make themselves feel better and they shouldn’t be judged for that. I’m pretty much a 90% anti-judgement person. The rest of the 10% is reserved for parents who don’t use car seats for their kids, mistreat their children in any way, mistreats my children, mistreats dogs, and people who don’t like Baby Yoda memes.

People see those perfect photos of their “perfect”children and other people get jealous. I’m guilty of it. When I see a parent who has a young kid who started speaking on time or early, I get a little jealous or feel bad about myself because my youngest didn’t start talking until he was 4. It’s normal to feel bad about yourself as a mother, especially when looking at social media, because there is so much pressure on us. We have to stay at home with the kids, but also work to earn money. We have to have a clean house all the time, have a size 3 body with DD chest, be perfect cooks, and slaves to society. It’s a lot of pressure to put on people who on most days just feel successful if their kids are alive at the end of it.

You need to be careful on social media. Don’t believe everything you see. Don’t believe every news story that pops up without checking sources. Don’t believe that the person didn’t take 20 selfies before deciding on the perfect one. Social media is about perception. People want others to perceive them as perfect. See, I may sometimes take photos that minimize the mess that’s usually surrounding my home. But I’m honest about being an adequate mother that just gets lucky sometimes. It happens. Sometimes I do get the house perfectly clean. Sometimes I cook a killer homemade meal, and others I toss chicky nuggies and tater tots on a cookie sheet so I can get back to work. No one’s lives are perfect, so don’t let social media trap you into thinking they are.

It All Started 49 Years Ago

I grew up in that generation where it was normal for families to get divorced. I could safely say I grew up with a lot of people who lived with single parents. It wasn’t something crazy. Divorce happens for whatever reason. The most important is usually that it’s just better for the kids if the people are apart than together. Sometimes the person who completed you, who made you a better person together, eventually becomes someone that you become better without. Life happens.

Today, my parents have been together for 49 years. That’s insane to me. Growing up, the idea of staying together with someone for that long was nuts. How could you possibly stand one person enough to want to live with them forever? I didn’t get it when I was younger. Even now, as a skeptic when it comes to romance, I’m shocked as I realize my husband and I have been married for nearly 10 years. It doesn’t feel like it. We just get along so well that every day is a treat.

My parents’ relationship taught me some valuable lessons. For one thing, never seeing each other works wonders for a relationship. (Joking, of course. My parents worked different shifts and my dad worked a lot growing up.) That’s why our “Sunday Dinner” was so important. Even though it was lunchtime, it was called “Sunday Dinner” because my dad worked nights and that was like dinner time to him. The whole family would eat together that one day a week. The siblings that moved out would still show up, eventually with their kids, and the house was full of people. That was the time my father cut out to make sure he spent time with us. Our parents would work together to make a massive meal for all of us, and it was something that I’ll remember and pass on to my kids. It’s still a tradition today, with my family going to their house to spend Sunday Dinner with them, even though they are both now retired.

I also learned the importance of being treated well. My father dotes on my mother. Whatever she wanted, she usually got. Whether it was that expensive sweater from Ireland or a new computer, my dad would always make sure that my mother was taken care of. That taught me everything I needed to know about choosing a partner for my life. It taught me how a spouse should treat their wife/husband. There should be love and care and respect. There would be work. That married couples weren’t an ownership; they were a partnership. These are all very important things that I learned growing up watching my parents.

They also taught the value of resolving an argument. I would be lying if I said my parents never argued. They did. But they always resolved their argument. They didn’t belittle each other. They definitely fought for what they thought was right, but they never stooped. It turns out, everyone one of their fights was a good lesson in conflict resolution. There was a fight, and then there was an end. Children need to see that. They need to know that it’s okay to fight to give them realistic expectations in a marriage. Marriage is work, and it takes a lot of work to stay together for nearly 5 decades.

I’m grateful to have my parents still alive and still together. I’m grateful for the lessons that they taught me about marriage, even when they didn’t know they were teaching me. I learned that if you love someone enough to take the plunge, you love them enough to keep working at it in your own way. You can’t always stay together, and you shouldn’t always stay together. I’m not morally opposed to divorce. Families split up for their own reasons and that’s okay. This was meant as a way to applaud my parents for this long marriage and thank them for the lessons they taught me from watching them as I grew up.

No Use Crying over Spilled Coffee

I have found myself in a perpetual state of being tired. Like, I have gone beyond “mom” tired into a realm of crossed-eyes and feeling as though I’m watching my body function rather than actually functioning myself. I was too tired to make myself a coffee yesterday, which I probably could have used my entire Chemex full of coffee and still be tired yesterday. After waking up to having my hair pulled out of my scalp by my violently-sleeping child and then struggling to get back to sleep when it happened around 2 a.m., I managed to barely get through my work. Though the second much longer article I needed to work on took way too long due to my brain short-circuiting throughout the day. Still, pretty productive day thanks to not sleeping.

Last night, probably around 11pm, a good 20 or so hours later, my body finally gave in and I tried to sleep. It was a rough go because apparently at that point I had gone beyond exhaustion into “second wind”. Finally, midnight I was out for the count. Then woken up at 2am again, then asleep until 5am. Then I gave up and just started to work again.

I went to make coffee, apparently the last of my coffee, when I noticed my son didn’t put away the cheese after supper last night. As I grabbed it to remove it from my counter, I turn around to hear the sounds of the coffee beans spilling out of the coffee grinder. I was all ready to go. I was excited that even though it was my last bit of coffee, there was a delivery coming from the coffee subscription I signed up for when I got my raise from work. I envisioned the joy, albeit short-term joy, that this coffee was going to give me. I was even eyeing to see if there would be enough to enjoy a few cups throughout the day, then of course try the new coffee when it came in later. My hopes and dreams of caffeine were crushed with that sound of the coffee beans hitting the floor.

I swept it all up into a pile, then I sat down to mourn my coffee. My dreams. My caffeine that I so desperately needed at this moment in time. I’m not particularly known for being emotional. Some would even say I’m cold. (They’re probably not wrong.) But that moment, I almost felt tears. It was a tough one. I considered whether or not my floor was that dirty. I was that desperate. I looked at the pile and noticed pet hair. I still considered it, if I’m being completely honest. I’m not sure if it’s because A) that coffee was that good; B) I was that desperate for coffee; C) Did I mention I barely slept in 2 days and my sanity is gone?

Today is really one of those days as a working at home parent where I don’t think there’s enough coffee in the world to deal right now. Sure, the easy solution could be kicking my anxiety-night terror-riddled child out of my bed. But, I’d still have to wake up and try carrying this tall and not so light child to his bed every time I wake up and notice him. And as I like to think that I’m more stubborn than him, I’m probably not especially at any time between 12 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. I keep hoping that it’s just another phase I need to get through, figuring that his emotional development has always been a little behind the rest. Maybe.

But there’s no sense in crying over spilled coffee, no matter how exhausted you are. I still have to put on my big girl pants and work, clean, and being the adequate (maybe mediocre) mom that I am. Except I’m a little less adequate today without any caffeine to cover my lack of sleep. I do have to say, until my body crashes this lack of sleep has done wonders for me on a productivity level.

It’s All Fun and Games Until You Pass Out at a Work Party

It should have been a fun night out. My husband and I are admittedly not a couple that does date night regularly. The kids are only young for so long, after all. But one day that we always have for date night is my husband’s work party. The close knit group of employees gets together and fun is had.

It started off great. Talking with great people at the beginning of the night, my husband winning us another trip. (Which, will include the kids.) It was full of sweet exchanges. That was until I felt it start to happen. I felt a stabbing pain in my side, that evolved into the feeling as if someone had a fire sword slicing through the lower part of my abdomen and back. This wasn’t the real thing. This was the “minor” pregame of what the next two weeks were going to be like for me. Then, my head started swirling. I couldn’t think or focus. I tried to drink water, hoping it would pass….

…Except the only thing that “passed” was me out on the floor. I barely remember it. I remember leaning onto my husband, warning him of what was about to happen. He could only protect me from seriously hurting myself, only walking away with a banged up elbow, a sore shoulder, and a hit to my dignity. I remember the people huddling over me. I think I heard someone mention calling 911 and the thought of the ambulance bill woke me out of the spell.

Still weak, a few of the women helped me to the bathroom. They helped me splash cold water on my face and wet paper towels. The made sure the bathroom was cleared so my husband could come in and take me back to the table, where they had more water and ginger ale. It was a sweet moment. It was embarrassing. I had to admit that it wasn’t because of the heat or the fact the food was slow to come out. It was because of me. Because I’m defective. Not because I had drank too much, which honestly would have been the better way to go down. Just as embarrassing, but you won’t feel the pain until the next day.

This wasn’t my first major dizzy spell that has led to me passing out. I remember one time where it happened while cooking dinner and I hit my head on the tile floor and the glass measuring cup I was holding smashed against my face. The glass didn’t break, but my face and eye were pretty swollen. It was something I could shrug off as “it happens”. It does. I’m used to it. It still terrifies my husband every time though.

It’s never an easy thing to say “I have a thing where my period basically feels like I have the worst flu of my life for 14 days.” I don’t typically leave the house starting the first day of the placebo pills until after the symptoms completely subside. I have dizzy spells, I spend a lot of time nauseated sometimes to the point of aversion to meats. Just looking at them in a picture is nauseating, let alone the smell. There’s always the fear of leaving blood trails everywhere I go because I seem to bleed out an obscene amount. I’m practically resigned to my bed whenever I can because I’m prone to dizzy spells and I get headaches so severe sitting up isn’t worth it. There’s also the cramps, which are significantly more painful than child birth. It’s like someone has a noose that’s lit on fire wrapped around your lower abdomen and back and your left hanging for 2 weeks as it gets tighter every day.

The problem is sometimes there is no fancy diagnosis. Apparently people need that for validation that you aren’t some wuss with a low pain tolerance. They think you just need to suck it up. There’s not a solution for it; the ones in power seem more concerned with women having babies as God intended and not about the harsh realities some people face. I get to spend time I should be out at a job or being more active curled up in the fetal position wondering why there’s nothing I can do about how I feel. There’s no magic pill that makes it bearable and you need to keep reheating that heating pad to function enough to at least be the adequate parent you are. But you can’t. Because you have a hormonal headache so bad you can’t even open your eyes to look at them.

It’s embarrassing to write about this. But it shouldn’t be. I’m not the only one who has this struggle. Maybe someone else has it too and wants to know that it’s normal. The problem is that it isn’t normal; it’s just common. There should be a solution to make life more livable without hearing “just suck it up”. But, you’re not the only one with this struggle. The picture here is a selfie I took during a bad migraine in my dark room, curled up in agony with my Pixel Night Sight so I didn’t have to hurt myself with the flash. This is the reality some of us deal with.

Side note: I’m am very thankful to those who helped and reached out to my husband to ask how I am doing. It’s very kind. It definitely helps to know that there was no judgement and that people genuinely cared.

Raising the New Generation of Men

I’m a mom of boys. #boymomlife? It’s never boring. I spend more time using plates and cups that aren’t glass, not because I don’t have them or am too lazy to do the dishes. It’s because they break things. I don’t subscribe to boys being boys, but boys can kinda be monsters. They wrestle and nut shot each other. They hit each other to the point that I just let them as long as they don’t kill each other. Honestly, that’s my motto. If everyone comes out relatively okay at the end of the day, I didn’t fail.

I always say that we are responsible for raising the next generation of adults. It’s an important job being a parent because you really are shaping the future. It’s a heavy burden when you really think about it. I have made all of my parenting decisions on that premise of I’m not raising kids; I’m raising future adults. Adults that could be the next president or working the beat as police officers or teachers that help mold their next generation. Sure, you could do everything right and your kid still ends up a serial killer as an adult. But, that’s not something to dwell on.

I also always point out about how my parents didn’t really stick too much to those “gender roles” that so many people force on their children. Sure, I can cook, knit, sew, and other “domestic” things, but I’m also able to do minor repairs around the home, and various other “men” things. I was raised to be a strong, badass Irish woman. My boys spend a lot of time learning from both myself and my husband. I teach the boys how to do laundry and lately, how to cook. My oldest even cooked a pretty awesome pot of curry. My youngest wants to start learning how to cook. I don’t want my boys to rely on their wives to take care of them. I want them to be able to take care of themselves, or their partners, or me when I’m old and unable to do anything for myself.

The old-fashioned people would tell you that letting boys play with dolls is bad. It isn’t. Worst case, they end up becoming compassionate and caring fathers. When I bought my youngest a kitchen set, there were people even mentioning that this was me teaching my son to be a girl, to be gay. It was a bit shocking. There’s nothing negative about a man cooking. (Then again, there’s nothing wrong with a man being gay either.) Men cook. My husband was even in the kitchen last night teaching our 17-year-old how to make the perfect runny egg. It was a bonding experience that they enjoyed as they talk about anime and comics and current events.

Food brings people together. I appreciate that my boys want to learn my family recipes to cook for their families. We should encourage our men to be compassionate and caring. We should be teaching our daughters to be strong and independent. Maybe the flaw isn’t that we aren’t teaching our children their “roles”; it’s that we are. The fact is, there are no definitive roles anymore. Men stay at home with kids while moms work. Men help out around the house. They are more active in the child rearing. These aren’t negatives. This is the way it should be.