Truth Bomb: Why Our Modern Framily Goes to Pride

Recently our family participated in our fourth annual Orlando Come Out With Pride parade and celebration.  Our entire family, including my almost-five-year-old son.  To us, this is an exciting and much anticipated family event that we look forward to every year.  We wear rainbows, and catch beads, and give hugs and blow kisses to all of the beautiful people walking in the parade and chant "LOVE IS LOVE" at the top of our lungs for hours on end.  It's fantastic. In past years my son was definitely more interested in playing in the grassy lawn with the other little kids, but this year he was engaged, asking a lot of questions, dancing, finding shoulders to sit on, giving high fives to Drag Queens and waving a rainbow flag up and down the streets with a smile and light in his eyes.  It's that light that inspires me to write this for you. 

Children have an innate sense of happiness and love.  So it is our choice to show him that ALL types of love and those expressions of love are natural and normal.  We want the kind of child who isn't afraid to be a caring person with compassion who can act on his feelings.  Whoever he becomes is totally fine with us.  We cannot dictate the person our son will grow up to be in this world, but we can offer him unconditional love and support. We can dictate the environment he grows up in and show him love through actions and not just words. That is who we have chosen to be as parents.  We do have lengthy discussions about whatever questions he has.  This year he asked his father why everyone was smiling and so happy and his father explained that they were all very joyful about celebrating LOVE.  Our boy immediately said with, "I LOVE this!" You could visibly see how excited he was to share in that feeling of joy.  It is in those moments that we, as his parents, brush our shoulders off a bit and high five one another, because thats a sign we are doing something right.  Parenting win! 

We don't look at it as "exposing" him to anything.  I don't find that complimentary at all. In fact, this is an insult beyond measure. To imply that we "expose" makes it sounds as if we are putting him into danger, or forcing him to be around something negative.  We simply choose to let our son be part of our lives.  We introduce him to our friends and colleagues who are positive influences in our own lives.  We try to make new friends all the time, and in turn give him a wide social network of people.  The expression "it takes a village" is very true.  I want my son be given the opportunity to know many different kinds of people and for him to make connections to those people based on how he feels.  I want to raise a son who is around strong men with character and manners, social conscious, ethics, and honor.  I want my son to see strong women who have drive and passion, who are to be seen as equal to him and to be respected.  I want my son to use the language of love and not to play into the social "norms" and callous disregard for others. This isn't who we want our children to be.  We want them to hold on to their natural sense of warmth toward people.  

I also want my son to see that families come in all forms.  I want him to be proud of his family, albeit not the "norm" of the "typical" family we are a strong unit and parent him with the same morals and ethics as any other...just from two households.  He had the opportunity at Pride to see families of all kinds and to support families of all kinds. He loves to play with all of the kids that show up and trust me, Orlando Pride is all about kids and families.  Every year we see the same kiddos and B loves making new friends, he talks to grown ups and just like any other little boy if hand him a flag and he will wave that thing with all of his might. We are fortunate enough to have some very cool hosts every year that really enjoy seeing our son's presence at Pride.  Just like we ask that acceptance from our community, we return that encouragement and support. 

Pride to us is about so much more than rainbows and glitter and parades.  Its about having the opportunity to allow our son to be a citizen of the world that he, and his generation of children, will mold and shape and change and better through their own life experiences and the compassion that they have cultivated by learning inclusivity and appreciation for all types of people.  We need that more than ever these days.  

One Love.  

Bedtime: A Step-By-Step Process of This Mom's Struggle for Peace and Quiet

Here's the real deal, folks...bedtime routines are imperative, but can be complete bullsh** and a waste of time.  Reality is we are just trying to survive until they fall asleep. I think we can all relate.  I thought I would just give you a quick look into the real-life, daily events that lead up to the peace and quiet that comes with a sleeping (eventually) kiddo.

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Step 1: Dinner...maybe.  I don't know if it's his age (3 years 8 months) or just the fact that he has become a complete asshole at meal times, but dinner is a struggle.  I don't know if he's really hungry, he says he is.  So I make dinner.  It's unacceptable.  At this point the dinner could be ice cream with candy on top...he pushes it aside. "Chocolate milk, please." Ummm, nope, not happening.  Full meltdown.  Throw away the dinner and pray he ate well enough during school and snack time to sustain some sort of normalcy.  So fuck dinner, apparently that's not gonna happen.

Step 2: Bath.  Crying because he didn't get to put in the bubbles.  Get the kid in the bath.  I'm in the splash zone.  Soaked.  Sit and listen patiently to a full reenactment of the movie Jaws staring a Darth Vader and a whale we bought on vacation (please note: he has actually never seen the movie Jaws so I have no clue where this is coming from, but it's pretty damn accurate.) Clean up dishes while listening to the sound of what can only be described as a deluge of soapy waters being haphazardly splashed about.  Pray that the lavender aroma and warmth of the tub are working some kind of magical spell on him, making him tired, and feeling restful, only to realize this is the exact definition of a "pipe dream."

Step 3: Pajamas.  How dare I even suggest putting on pajamas while he runs around naked, only to refute any argument for actually wearing nighttime clothing?  He ends up in a t-shirt, no underwear (obviously that's too much) and a full Kylo Ren costume (complete with mask, gloves and a light saber.)

Step 4: Crazy Hour.  Now I don't know if this is just specific to my child or if it's a universal law that all children lose their damn minds during the twilight hours, but it's definitely  a thing.  Full bat-shit crazy mode. There he is, running in circles, light saber battling with the dog and shouting "the weapon is mine" at the top of his lungs.  Mom losing patience.

Step 5: The Pre-Crash Famishment. Because dinner wasn't an option he's now bargaining for a snack...ugh.  You give in.  Pirates Booty and pudding is officially "dinner."

Step 6: Clinginess.  The tired is sweeping over him.  He's feeling full from the above mentioned snack and now it's time to adhere himself Mom. "Just snuggle me! I need my blanket! Read that book again.  Now this one.  Now tell me a story. I'm thirsty.  I have to pee again!" Initially you try to lay him in his bed but that's literally the most offensive thing that has happened to him all day and he's now in full meltdown, so you try the couch.  Eventually you're both in your bed.  Mom is passing out, the dog is snoring, and kiddo is wide awake and conversations are starting to take on a "whose on first" vibe.  No one is making any sense and you have to pee so badly, but you can't move or its all down hill from there.

Step 7: The Crash...it finally happened.  He succumbed to the need to sleep. You can finally finish the dishes, take a shower, have a glass of wine, read, catch up on a show, oh wait...and pee...alone!!! Whatever you want to accomplish, now is your time.  This is the peace and quiet you've been craving. You peel off his Kylo Ren costume and do a little happy dance.   Quietly.

Step 8: Move the child. I put him into his own bed. Usually without any issue, but occasionally you lay him down and he freaks out, almost levitating above the bed as if it's some sort of magic trick and refuses to entertain the idea of snoozing in the expensive Pottery Barn Kids twin bed with organic mattress you painstakingly picked out for his Star Wars themed big boy bedroom and so you just put him back where he started.

Step 9: Time for Mom to sleep.  It only takes 5 seconds for you to fall asleep because this whole process has you so bone-weary that your eyes just shut and you're done...

Step 10: Mid-REM crisis: "Mommy I have to pee! I want to sleep on your bed! I need my blanket! I'm thirsty! Is it time to wake up?" You're startled awake, ripping you from your dreams.  Oh hell no! ...back to sleep...You are allotted 6 inches of the queen sized bed.  He has the rest, but still manages to kick, slap, and sweat or drool (and on a great day...pee) on you while you struggle to eek out just a few more hours of some-what quality shut-eye.

And it all repeats itself the next night... The struggle is real, Moms.  Respect.

 

Monday Fave Rave: Back to School 2016

Hallelujah it's back to school time! Today B starts his first day at a new preschool and my nerves are shot already.  He's not a huge fan of change or new situations and gets anxiety at drop-off even if he is comfortable with his surroundings so today is a big day for both of us. I will try not to cry too much.  As always, I want to share some of our must haves for school and let you all know how I prepare for Back-to-School as a single Jedi parent of a young Padawan in training.

I like to lay all of his stuff out after he falls asleep and make it a surprise when he wakes up.  It gets him excited and motivated to put it all on and get ready for the day.  THis worked so well this morning.  He had no anxiety at all, didn't fuss over getting dressed or leaving the house.  I was also able to snap off a few cute pics to share.

Here's a list of our must have items for school:

1. Name Bubbles for labeling everything...and I mean everything we send or wear to school.  It's way easier than labeling with a sharpie like my parents did or losing uber cool items to the lost-and-found bin.  I keep the clothes labels in his drawers so I can just pop one on to his shirts and shorts when we lay clothes out for the day.

2. Shoes! We buy two new pairs of shoes at the beginning of each school year.  I typically let B pick his out, too.  In the past we have been a huge fan of Stride Rite. They are great for  early preschoolers.  This year we chose to go with a more athletic shoe from Nike.  I know it can be very pricy to buy name brands but try shopping at Shoe Carnival or Famous Footwear for discounts.  (Also, the Name Bubble mentioned above have shoe labels! Sweet!)

3. Clothes: Well of course my child will basically only wear clothes with his favorite characters on them, including his underwear.  Ugh.  I have found great success with Hanna Andersson for everything from socks and undies to back packs.  Their shorts and pants are amazing! Thanks to European sizing and attention to detail their clothes will last forever.  Organic material, adjustable, washable and durable...all of the things you're looking for when's you spend good money on school clothes.  (Check out the PJs too...so cute!) I like to have him help me pick his clothes out the night before and lay them out for him to see.  It makes getting dressed in the morning a lot faster and he feels more confident when he picks the outfit.

4. Lunches: We have a variety of lunch boxes from Thermos.  I like to switch it up. Because my little guys is more of a snack eater I pack a selection of little things for him to pick and choose from.  Typically he will eat most of what I pack.  Hummus, yogurt, and cheese are good protein options along with a fruit (he likes apple slices, strawberries or grapes) in these cool camp tins from PB Kids.  I alway include a juice and a surprise treat like nut free cookies, gummie bunnies, organic chocolate cookies, Yummy Earth treat for fun.  Add a cute little Star Wars note to make his day or a sticker to keep him smiling. I prepack lunch boxes as soon as we get home from school.  It helps me just stay on top of that task and I am not scrambling to pack it all in the morning.

5. Nap Mat: This is our first time having to bring a nap mat to school.  He's not a napper so...good luck with that, teacher.  Getting B to take a nap is like getting anything done with a toddler at home...nearly impossible.  I decided to go the discount route when purchasing the nap mat for fear that he may not use it and it will end up a wasted chunk of change. Zulily  had really cute Robot nap mat by Olive Kids that we are going to try out.  Kiddo has already been laying it out on the floor and reading books on it so maybe it will work for quiet time at school.  Fingers Crossed.

6. And last but not least a cool back to school Star Wars themed printable for uber cute pics!

So, there you have it.  Our MLR Back to School list for 2016.  Wish us luck on our new journey at a new school. We are very excited to be attending Bright Horizons this school year.  I was pretty impressed with the tour of the facility, the teachers all seemed really great and they plan a full day of learning from my little preschooler.

Good luck to all you parents braving the back-to-school crazy this week!

Just remember...

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Truth Bomb: Mom-Shaming

image Mom-Shaming is like a sickness. Take something beautiful and corrupt it with words that decay the very thing we love. What's up with all the negative these days? I have a kid. SO WHAT?  He's topic of a lot of my conversations and generally the highlight of what's going on in my life. But when others make the choice to Mom-shame, wether it be other mothers or childless acquaintances, it shows the gross disrespect for what it takes to be a parent. You think any of this is easy? It's not. The general attitude these days is so negative. Maybe it's the political climate or the economy, or maybe I just know a bunch of assholes. I don't know what the answer is but let me list some observations of Mom-Shaming and maybe you will get the idea of what we're working with:

The Childless Life Expert: The person with no children who thinks and says everything that comes to their mind, even when it's A) extremely wrong B) extremely offensive or C) unsolicited commentary on how you live your life. Yes I have a child and am a devoted parent. No, I don't live my life as carefree and reckless as I used to. Yes, it is a lot to deal with. No, I don't hate my life...so stop insinuating that I do. It's like this: when I leave the house to socialize (sans kiddo) I need that time away. I liken it to how you feel when you get out of work or finish a big project. We just need a break. It recharges the batteries but when people say such things as "thank God I don't have kids...that must suck" or "you need to get out more, that must suck" I want to run back home to my child...who, by the way, I have left and given up valuable time with. Let's face it, you're not being cool or sound intelligent when you say this...you're just a dick.  Just because I have a child doesn't mean that I'm not human.  I miss hanging out at the bar til the morning hours, movies whenever I want and eating at great restaurants that don't have an animatronic band and serve shitty pizza. I respect the fact that a lot of people I know have chosen not to have children. That's great. That's not my life but I appreciate yours. When you shame me it hurts, and that's the truth.

The Relatively Annoying Shamer: This is a relative (like, for example, a mother-in-law) that judges and comments on every parental move you make.  The little digs, the persistent side-eye, or the flat-out ignoring of your rules...you become like a ticking time bomb.  All parents appreciate advice when we need it, but when the relative in question disrespects your authority every time  you step through their door it puts distance where the distance doesn't need to be.  When this happens, do yourself a favor and nip it in the bud.  A respectful, "I appreciate all of your advice and thoughtful consideration of our child, but please remember to adhere to my rules so that we present a unified front and create a cohesive family unit."  You're the parent and what you say goes, and that's the truth...Sometimes Granny has to back the hell up.

The FB Shamer: Yes I have a child and I post about said tiny person on social media.  I am proud of my accomplishments as a parent.  If I hear you say one more time "do you post enough pictures of your kid, I mean geez," followed by an eye roll Someone better hold me back.  I will come across the room and put you into time out or put soap in your mouth. You must spend too much time with the "Childless Life Expert" (aka DICK) that I mentioned above.  How dare you think that your opinion on what I post to social media regarding my child is a place for you to shame me? You post your stuff and I'll post mine but please...leave your judgment for politics and poor fashion sense.  I think my kid is adorable and that's the truth, so deal with it or unfollow me.

The Mom-On-Mom Shame: This is when one Mom shames another Mom/Parent. The worst offense of them all, I believe, because you should know what we're all going through. It's hard enough without having another Mom commenting on your choices as a parent. We all have the same end goal. Survival. So why do we feel like we need to judge one another on how we choose to raise our kid. Listen, he's mine...not yours. So if I don't choose to breastfeed my child until he's 4 or he's not speaking Mandarin in his after school oboe lessons; if he happens to eat a happy meal once in a blue moon or doesn't live off of wheatgrass and barely, it's our choice and by any stretch of the imagination is he going to grow up any less loved or cherished than anyone else's child. I am thankful with every sunrise and sunset for a happy, healthy child. I know some people cannot say the same, so shame on US ALL for this type of preconceived notion that what works for us should be the way everyone else does this parenting thing. The truth is NONE of us are really doing it ALL correctly.

If you're finding yourself in one or all of the categories (remember: to be honest, I have totally been guilty of one or all of these at some point so I'm speaking from experience) please reconsider what seems like no big deal to you, but is actually a huge problem.  It's hard enough to be a parent, but it's even harder to feel isolated from friends and society.  Being a parent is just a part of who I am.  My interests are diverse and expand beyond poopy-diaper discussions.  At the end of the day all that I want is to raise a happy and well-rounded child, and you want me to raise a happy and well-rounded child, so stop shaming and start supporting cause this shit ain't easy...#truthbomb.

 

Traveling with your kid: Managing the Crazy

  Traveling with kids SUCKS! It's horrible. I absolutely want to take adventures and see the world with my child, but let me be honest by saying that I'm literally praying daily for someone to invent teleportation or the "beam me up" situation from the Star Trek. TSDSTTR PA062 Before I had a child I would say I was an expert traveler, I had packing down to a science, and the ability to travel anywhere at anytime.  Now? Oh, how the game has changed my friend.  As a person living with anxiety I really don't enjoy the traveling with my kid in tow.  It freaks me out!  I need lots of time to prepare, pack, repack, panic, and repack again.  That usually helps me control the anxiety, so needless to say, I'm pretty good at it.  Here's what we so to get through it.  ***Note this is for ONE parent flying with ONE child.***

His Carry On: (Boy 3 1/2 years old): Pick a backpack that has plenty of room but that your little one can wear or even better a rolling back pack like the ones from Pottery Barn Kids that they can pull around behind them. In quart size ziplock bags separate the small toys, crayons, etc so that you can not only see them but feel them while you're searching thru their bag for them because they just can't (ugh.) Grab a few brand new Grab and Go fun packs from the Target dollar section or the Dollar Store.  Get one new decent sized toy that kiddo has never seen before but really likes (i,e. a Spider-Man or Barbie, or an Imaginext) this way they have a surprise that will keep them preoccupied for part of the plane ride. On this trip we're trying a new Disney Star Wars kinetic sand playset...it may be a disaster, but he loves them and it will keep him entertained (wish me luck.) image   I swear by the iPad mini, but make sure you have enough memory to download a new movie and maybe a few episodes of their favorite show, just in case there isn't any wifi.  Other Apps to consider are VUDU, Disney Anywhere, Netflix and YouTube Kids for wifi hotspots or even use your phone as a hotspot for driving. Snacks: just a few so that they can grab it themselves. I pack 1 Pirates Booty, 1 Veggie Stick, 1 Annie's fruit snack, and one small pack of cookies or graham crackers...but here's the thing if you run out of room just grab some snacks after you get through security.  We usually find hummus packs, yogurt, a bagel, or pick up a smoothie at Starbucks. Pack a hoodie, an empty water bottle, some toddler flushable wipes, a spare pair of underwear and a wet bag or gallon size ziplock bag for any accidents that could occur.  Don't forget their blanket or favorite stuffed animal for comfort.

My Carry On: I carry a pretty big (but very chic) back pack.  I don't do the tote bags because they tip over, can be reached inside of and they pull one shoulder down or slip off and just make your life a little more unbearable.  A backpack makes your hands free to hold onto little ones and a rolling suitcase.  Keep liquids to a minimum (if any at all) and contained to a quart size ziplock or clear makeup bag.  I pack a few daily wear contacts, mascara in travel size, hand sanitizer spray, lip balm and a good tinted CC cream (you can buy anything at your destination that you may need beyond the bare essentials.)  I highly suggest skipping the laptop computer if you can and investing in a good tablet that can replace it while you're traveling.  I love my iPad Pro and found it at a good price at Costco! You won't have to unpack the iPad's at security so that totally rules.  Grab a comfortable, light and versatile cardigan for the air conditioning and a bonus is that it can double as a blanket. Lululemon or Three Dots make great ones.  I pack a compact cross-body bag in my carry on.  When I need it on my trip it's there but one less bag to sling around my neck at the airport.  You can even store your wallet, keys, and sunglasses in it and ready for when you get to the hotel.  All you need accessible for travel is your photo ID, boarding pass (which you can put on your phone now), cash and your phone.  Hello! That's why I suggest a backpack  plenty of little pockets for that crap.  Remember to bring a snack for yourself, a refillable water bottle, toothbrush,  antibacterial wipes, facial wipes (please don't confuse the two...ouch) and your phone charger.  In fact, most of the time I only carry the USB cord to save room because you can plug it into a hotel TV or charging station at the airport.  Most places have joined the tech revolution and have USB ports for charging now.  We only need one cord for all of our devises.  A good pair of ear buds or headphones just in case you can manage to catch a movie or listen to your tunes if kiddo falls asleep is a bonus.

What we pack in our Carry On Size Suitcase: Basics and favorites.  For a 4 day trip we need to keep it simple.  Anything longer try to see if laundry is available.  I only fly with a carry on suitcase.  I almost NEVER check a bag.  I can't stand waiting for it to get off of the flight and such, and for us that has added an extra hour stuck in the airport and not on our way to the fun stuff.

For my little dude:  I pack sunglasses, a baseball cap, 4 pairs undies, 3 t-shirts, one collard shirt, 2 shorts, 1 pant, 1 pair of pjs, one swim outfit, 2 socks, 1 pair of sneakers, 1 pair flip-flops or crocs. (Remember the hoodie in the carry on.) Roll each outfit together including undies.  Stick socks into shoes.  Anything over that is too much probably.  Lay it all out and see if you can edit or combine outfits to make even more room.  Here's where you can get them involved....have them pick out the clothes they want to wear.  My son hates to wear a collard shirt or anything dressy so I have him help me choose his outfits.  I have a higher success rate when his opinion has been factored in.

For me: I can get away with dresses for day or night and simple sandals.  For a 4 day trip I do denim cutoff shorts and 2 cotton tank tops, cotton sundress, simple black dress that can be worn day or night, white jeans with a grey or black cotton t-shirt, maxi shirt and white tank top and one basic black bathing suit. (Remember you have a cardigan in your carry on bag for layering.) Do your self a favor and just leave the crazy big platforms and whack ass fancy heels at home, girl.  You won't want to be burdened with them in your bag.  Simple black sandals, comfortable flip-flops, one pair of comfy pjs, however much underwear you feel you need, and 2 bras should be sufficient. You can wear your sneakers to travel in.

Consider shipping: Diapers, liquids, bulky items and extra clothes can be shipped to Grandma's, but you can also check hotel policy and for longer trips this is super simple and easy to do and just makes dealing with checked bags a thing of the past. Hallelujah!

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What we're wearing to fly: Gone are the days of dressing to the tens for airline flights. Boo can wear his favorite t-shirt, comfortable cotton shorts (with pockets if you can,) crocs and a baseball cap.  I always travel in black leggings, cotton tunic style t-shirt, 'no-show' socks and Adidas sneakers (preferable black and white because they go with all of my other clothes.) I wear a sports bra to travel in just in case I get the ol' frisk and fondle by the TSA agents.  A baseball cap always is helpful so that you don't ruin your blowout by pulling your hair up and wasting that time an energy.

Airport Tips: Buy snacks and fill water bottles after you get through security checks.  Make sure you are early for flight times...and by early I mean like an hour or more kind of early.  You have no idea how long the lines can be, who will need to pee or poop (which with a newly potty trained kid can take some time) and it gives you plenty of time to make sure you can check in at the gate and let them know your needs to pre-board.  A few times I have been lucky enough to upgrade seats to first class or business class on the cheap so look out for these options.  Trust me, they call it first class for a reason.  I don't like traveling with a stroller or car seat.  It's just as easy to rent if you need to.  Try finding a car service that supplies the seat.  You'll have to buckle it in but that's old hat for a seasoned parent.  Less is more here, people.  I have been known to buy a cheap umbrella stroller at Rite Aide or Target in desperate times, but I prefer not to relive those.  Once you've been seated on the plane make iPads readily available along with water bottles and blankies.  Sometimes the pilot will let the kids see the cockpit which is pretty cool and totally take the flight attendants up in the little wing pins...cause that's about all that is free on an airplane now.  Also, if you can allow your little one to sit in the window seat you'll be happy to have that entertainment but if not the middle seat will do and if the person next to you is annoyed offer to buy them a drink.  This is real life and in real life kids travel so we all have to deal with it.  They can be nice or go to sleep.

Many trips will be taken, many people will be annoyed by kids on an airplane...even in a train or on a boat...it all sucks.  But for us it's about memories.  Try to be prepared, try to keep your wits about you, try not to over pack or over stress (like I have a tendency to do) and remember to have fun.  As much as we hate the travel grind the kids can't help who or how they are and most of the time they're more well-behaved than the adults.

Good luck and ALL Love,

W and B

 

How having a child in preschool is giving me a middle school complex

When my son started preschool I honestly thought it would open a wide variety of social avenues for both of us but I'll be honest, it hasn't.  In fact, I almost feel like parenting is cliquier than middle school was, and middle school didn't go well for me.  I wasn't "cool" or part of a crowd so much that I really felt like I belonged.  I was awkward and chubby and never quite fit into the standard idea of what was 'acceptable' the middle school hierarchy of what is deemed 'normal.'  Girls were mean and boys were meaner.  There was no winning.  I wasn't popular and I really didn't like putting myself out there, but I genuinely thought I was awesome...it was everyone else who seemed to have a different opinion.  It was just hard and I hated it.  imageReal talk: when I joke and say Tina Belcher is my spirit animal...I'm not really joking, total truth! We've all felt insecure and misunderstood. So why is preschool giving me serious flashbacks? Well, it's because once again I find myself feeling those old, familiar feelings of exclusion creep back in.  This time by members of the same peer group...other moms.  

I'm a single parent, currently staying home to be there with my son to help ease his transition into school full-time.  I'm not any different than moms with husbands or partners at home.  We all struggle with the same things. All parents battle against sleepless nights, potty training, how to get your child to eat, sick babies and skinned knees.  I do all the same things the other moms do.  So why do I feel so different?  It's such a weird feeling to describe.  I often feel like I'm wearing the invisibility cloak (ok, Harry Potter references probably don't make me any cooler) and it's like they, the other moms, just don't see me. I could be standing right next to them, wearing the same brands and frequent the same places, but for some reason I just don't fit in.  I felt the same way walking down the school hallways.  Lonely.   It isn't that I don't like some of the moms, it isn't that some of them don't acknowledge me.  I'm grateful for the people who I have met that choose to greet me with a kind "hello" and a smile.  I don't want this to diminish those Moms who go about parenting with the true spirit of community and support.  Let's face it, they are not all that  way.  There are those who judge and there are those who choose to, by whatever motivation, harbor some deep-rooted insecurities of their own.  For some reason it bothers me and that's the truth.  I can say a million times that I "give zero f#&%s" about what anyone else thinks, but I do care and I care who it affects my child.  Leaving me out leaves him out, and that is something he just doesn't deserve.  He's a highly social boy with a loving heart who is kind and sensitive.  I love that about him, his dad loves that about him.  That's the person we are working so hard to raise.

In a particularly hurtful example of how  we have been affected by this type rejection my sons feelings were affected and it killed me.  Almost the entire group from his preschool class worked amongst themselves to plan a Disney day with the kiddos.  We've all chatted about Disney and it was apparent that nearly everyone is an annual pass holder, and so are we.  On this day they all met for a group day at the park.  The next day, however,  all of the kids were talking about it amongst themselves at school.  I had no idea this had all transpired or I would have been more prepared for the tears and obviously painful conversation that occurred at pick up.  My son said to me,"all of my friends went to Disney and they didn't invite me." I told him it was ok and maybe we could go next time...but then he said,"they don't like me, they didn't want me to go."  I couldn't help it, the tears just fell out of my eyes.  I tried hard to hold them in.  I am NOT A CRIER.  Now that I'm a full-grown adult don't let shit get to me. But this totally broke my heart. I explained to him that they did like him and that I would take him to Disney anytime he wanted to go.  He's 3 years old so most of the rudeness and flat-out thoughtfulness of everyone else it lost on his innocent sensibilities and he got over it. I, on the other hand, felt completely cut to the quick. Do I think this incident was intentionally meant to hurt me or my son...NO! I choose to believe this was just an unfortunate thing that happened.  But it sucked, big time.  For the purposes of full transparency I'll say this: we can't go to every birthday party or join every activity like everyone else.  Our family is split between to households and juggling time with Boo is a delicate balance of scheduling and planning each week and weekend between the two parents and sometimes a grandparent.

I'm not writing this for sympathy and I'm not writing this to point fingers at any particular set of moms or another.    I'm simply stating that how we treat one another as mothers and parents (although I never hear of the "Dad Clique" but I assume it's a thing) can directly color the way we treat our children and the other children in our community. Whether it be at preschool or the elementary school bus stop or at the soccer field, or dance class... respect each other as members of the same tribe.  Being exclusionary creates division where division doesn't need to be.  I'm not saying that we all need to be best friends, but how do you know we wouldn't be?  I just didn't think at 36 I would feel like a the middle-schooler again...Where do I stand? Who do I talk to? Are my clothes ok? Will they like me? But what's super messed is that at one point I found myself asking the question: will they accept my son regardless of me? And sometimes the narrative in my head would be so loud I'm surprised the other moms couldn't hear my internal dialogue echoing  "just like us, we're cool, just please accept us."  US, as in, totally hoping that some asshole adult would give my son and I some sort of preschool mom clique seal of approval.  Nope, no more.   I just can't.  I'll smile and talk to anyone willing to return the social niceties, but I won't be made to feel like I'm not good enough to be let into some secret club of people who deem themselves better than myself or anyone else and I surely won't let my son fall victim to that kind of mentality.  In an ideal world all mothers would stand in solidarity of one another and we would all genuinely be good friends, but this is reality.  Reality is we all don't fit in, we all don't have to.  At this point in my life I have to be able to deal with the fact that I still don't fit in, just like in middle school...but maybe other mothers feel the same way.  If you've ever felt excluded, over-looked, under appreciated or like a social pariah, come join me at the 'nerd table.'

All Love,

W & Boo

 

Post Pulse Parenting and How We are Orlando Strong

  June 12, 2016. A day our family will never forget.  The day marks our country's worst mass shooting in US history at Pulse nightclub.  49 lives lost.  Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, friends coworkers and family to many. It has been a month.

I won't focus on the shooter.  I won't focus on the horror of what it felt like to wake up at 4 am and see the scenes playing out on television and social media.  I won't focus on how incredibly lost and lonely and desperately heartbroken I felt lying next to my 3 year old and seeing what was happening.  I'll focus here on how I chose to handle my emotions and parenting, because for us and our family we had to keep going.

That's a major theme in my life and something my mom and I say to each other constantly...keep going.  Meaning, whenever we feel overwhelmed and buried by life's emotions and circumstances we just keep going.  Head down, tunnel vision, laser focus on our jobs as parents.  That's my sole responsibility in life.  Being a great mother to my son.

On this day we happened to be planning on celebrating a big milestone for Boo. He was 100% diaper and pull up free! It felt like a victory.  A long, arduous journey that ended in what should have been a celebratory romp through Disney as a reward for a job well done.  I couldn't help the tears running down my face.  I couldn't help but feel the unrelenting sadness as the body count kept rising. I couldn't help but be real and raw in those moments.  He asked why I was upset.  He knows me.  He's my person, the one I spend all of my time with, the one who spent 9 months inside of me...he is a part of me, so he knew.  Knowing that at this age death and evil are concepts little ones just can't understand, nor should they, I chose to say that I was "OK." But like I said, he knew.  We underestimate kids this age.  They see and feel more than we know or choose to recognize. He asked again and through my tears I said, "I'm sad because something bad happened to people because someone made bad choices." He got it.  But I also assured him,"it's ok to be sad sometimes and it's ok to cry sometimes," and that today we would still have a great day with Gramma at Disney.  And with that I packed up all of my emotions and put them in the "needs attention later" pile and went about a day at the Mouse House.  He was happy and so for that I was happy.

Disney felt like a dazed dreamland of mindless happiness.  I felt the numbness settling in while we rode some rides, sought relief from the heat and ate Mickey shaped cream bars.  But on the car ride home I knew what I needed to do.  I knew I needed to focus on raising my son through the fear and anger and let him see what I had already been seeing.  I saw a community coming together in a time of crisis and pain.  I saw straight allies supporting LGBTQ brothers and sisters. I saw people showing their love and support on social media and through memorial sites.  I saw Orlando come together like never before.  And we would be part of that coming together.

Boo has the fortunate circumstance of having not only a bad ass momma (brush my shoulder off) but an amazingly talented and supportive daddy with a career in theater and close friends from all walks of life. This brought us closer together as parents. We knew we would see tough parenting moments in his life time, but we had no idea it would be like this and not so close to home.  Two single parents searching to unify our message and show everyone we stand side by side in raising a child who is solicitous about the welfare of others.   Volunteer centers were inundated with water, food, toiletries...but not children's items.  I'm a Mom! That's what I think of first...what do the children need?  How can we help the kids that have been left victimized by this? Gathering dollar store children's items and dropping them off at a donation site allowed Boo to be involved on a level he could understand and relate to. "Sharing with people who have nothing makes them feel good and happy and important and so that's what we're going to do." Hanging onto his Dad's leg bashfully as they delivered toys and coloring books and a giant stuffed Nemo, waving at volunteers, and just his presence making people smile a little bit through tears and sweat and exhaustion.  It felt like I was showing him through action that this is how you become involved, even if you're  3.

Our "modern family" chose to participate in a candlelight vigil at Lake Eola honoring the 49 victims and supporting the LGBTQ community and Orlando as a whole.  We chose to do so because we all wanted him to se what coming together means, what it looks like, smells like, feels like, sounds like.  The reality was that being there with him was overwhelmingly profound for us.  I can't speak for everyone but I was proud to have my child with me that night.  He saw all kinds of people supporting each other for no other reason than LOVE and sense of community.  For peace and to show solidarity as ONE people.  Isn't that what we want? Isn't that who we want them to be?  Good, honest, kind, loving, respectful and to stand up for their convictions?  To know that no matter who you love, you deserve love?  That's what I want for myself let alone my own child.  I don't know who he will end up being as an adult, but my hope for him that he feels safe to be the person he chooses to be and to be that person with his head held high.  By the way, the whole time we were at the vigil he thought it was a Pride event (which he is not a stranger to) and waved his glow stick and enjoyed the free rainbow Mickey sticker and lots of hugs from friends. As his parents I think we felt like we offered some service by showing people who were feeling devalued and hurt that we knew they were important and that we vowed to raise our kid to know that people, all people, are important and should be loved.image

During times like this it's hard to know what to say to your children.  Too much or too little.  I wish we could have done more.  I myself felt depressed  for some time, thinking I could have or should have done more.  But this is what I have to offer the world.  Being a Mom.  There's no handbook explaining how to deal with this kind of hate and crazy for adults let alone our children. And I'm still struggling with what to say or how to say it.  I don't want to shelter him, but I also don't want him to live in fear or to feel defeated in times when all feels lost.   All I know is that children respond to action, so be active in how we raise these little guys.  Show them that compassion and kindness is the center of how your family chooses to live and they too will show the world that love back.

 

ALL LOVE,

W & B and our modern family

#OrlandoStrong #OrlandoUnited #OneLove

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I'm Baaaaack!

imageSorry friends. I had to take a much need and unfortunately LONG break from this blog to do a few paramount things...like sell a house, buy a new house, settle in, try not to have a nervous breakdown and a few other monumental life changes. A LOT has gone on since my last focus on communicating with the outside world so look here for some new posts coming soon. It's time for me to take back some of my control over how I deal with the world, and this blog is so important to my sanity. I hope you'll follow along with me. I have some heavy shit to get off my chest but also so hilarious stuff and more of the day in and day out ridiculousness my little rebel and I deal with that you all can relate to...#itsabouttogetreal. ALL LOVE,W & B

Monday Fave Rave: Tis The Season

Tis the season for frantic shopping, assembling, wrapping, and stashing all of those gifts for the kiddies. But what about the adults? You know, the ones that wipe noses and asses, that run the errands and cook and clean, are up all hours of the night and rise with the sun to face the day head on…yeah, those people. Don't forget to get something special for the ones who do all the work and expect nothing in return.  I have a great little list of local places to stop in and find something for the parental units on your gift giving list this year that caters to every style.

  1. Got Karma? Major karma points for stopping in this unique and zen boutique to grab a great gift to keep the qi flowing.  Perfect for your hippy momma gal pals.
  2. Retromended is the perfect place for your throwback kings and queens.  I can always find the perfect accessory for my Mom Uniform.
  3. Rocket Fizz  is the perfect place to put together a special gift for your favorite sugar addict.  They have everything you could think of all in one awesome place that will bring you back to the old school days.
  4. The Lovely is a a beautifully put together boutique market that brings together both locally made artisan crafts and impeccably selected vintage finds brought to you by local entrepreneurs.  You will find something for everyone and probably some stuff for you too.
  5. Etoile Boutique has some of the coolest and one of a kind creations you will find in Orlando…or anywhere.  You can always walk out of this place with something special.

Try to remember to shop local this season.  You won't be disappointed and neither will your friends and family!

 

Good Luck!

-W and Boo

 

 

Persnickety Palate: Kid Friendly Local Eats

There are so many great options in Orlando to take the kids out to eat!! I'm making this a quickie post because I am knee deep in Thanksgiving Day prepping, but here is a list of 5 great places to eat with your kids in Orlando that doesn't involve the mouse-house, food shaped like animals, video games, or mascots.

  1. Tijuana Flats This is pretty much my kiddos favorite place to eat.  The food is good, the atmosphere is fun and the people are really accommodating to the tiny humans.
  2. East End Market We love to grab a smoothie and a pastry, walk around and shop, then sit outside and enjoy the Florida weather.
  3. Pig Floyds Urban Barbakoa If you haven't eaten here, go now! Run Fast! This place is so good.  Boo and I love to get the 2 meat platter and share.  The atmosphere has a cool urban vibe and the people are really chill.
  4. Another Broken Egg is awesome for brunch on the weekends.  The menu is fantastic for both kids and adults.  There is plenty of outdoor seating to enjoy the morning.  It's a great alternative to the staple brunch places in Winter Park or Downtown where you are more than likely to wait an hour to be seated.
  5. Pom Pom Teahouse and Sandwicheria They have something for everyone's palate.  Even picky eaters.  The walls are adorned with pieces from local artist.  The vibe is happy and friendly.  The teas are amazing and sandwiches will blow your mind.

Enjoy

W and Boo