And…That’s A Wrap

In early 2012, I, quite by accident, created this blog.

 

What began as a way of communicating to my friends and family the lightning speed with which my son George was becoming my daughter, Jessie, morphed, over the years, into something that was less about her and more about me.

 

At first, I was little more than the-parent-of-a-transgender-child-trying-to-navigate-unchartered-territory-who-needed-tons-of-support.

 

Then, as time progressed and because a new (sort of/kind of) normal emerged, my experiences as a person, a wife, a mother, a woman, a daughter, a sister, an ex-wife and step-mother were more urgent than those of the no-longer-newly-indoctrinated-parent-of-a-transgender-child.

 

Thank you for allowing me to share, shift and share some more.

 

As parents, we try to do right by our children by making – and helping them to make – good decisions, by guiding them as best we can, but mostly by supporting them.

 

We work hard to achieve that elusive balance between being authoritative and being cool.

 

We convince them – and ourselves -we know what we are doing, even when, much of the time, we don’t. (Okay, maybe you do, but I don’t.  Truth.)

 

Most of us put on a good act, but, in reality, we are just winging it much of the time, hoping that our life experiences have provided the tools we need to support, guide and cherish our children – no matter who they are, what they need or where they might be – physically, emotionally, spiritually.

 

Which brings me to the point of this post:

 

Jess is nearly 18 years-old now (talk about crazy!  How is that even possible?!?!), a rising high school senior (say what?!?)  and, out of respect for her, it is time to retire georgejessielove.

 

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As a ten-year old kid, she was down with it.  Over the years, she’s been a bit more reticent in her support.  And, if we are being honest, there have been times that it has made her life more complicated than it already was, is, and will continue to be.  My intent was never to make things harder for her, but sometimes it did. See above: just winging it.

Also see above: trying to make good decisions.

 

Thank you all for your incredible support over the years.  It has gotten me through some really rough spots.  Don’t think for one second that every kind word, every “you got this”, and every virtual hug didn’t make a difference.  It did.

 

Thank you for, if not appreciating, at least allowing my candor, my sarcasm, my sense of humor in the face of some tricky stuff.

 

Thank you for encouraging me, for holding me up, going along for the ride.  It’s definitely been a little bumpy.

 

I suspect I will blog again some day.  I hope that we find one another when I do.

 

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PTE

Confession: I’ve been known to suffer from what I refer to as a PTE – Pop Tart Emergency.  (This is not to be confused with a MFFE – McDonald’s french fries emergency – during which I go through the drive-thru but do not pull away before tasting one to ensure it is hot.  If it is not, it goes back. Duh.)

The two  -PTE and MFFE – are generally interchangeable, a surefire cure  for whatever ails me: headache, heartache, bellyache, you name it. The primary difference is that I have to travel to satisfy the MFFE, while the PTE is easily remedied from the comfort of my own home.  Except, that is, when one of the teenagers who happens to live with me not only finds my hidden stash (don’t judge me – you wish you’d thought of it) but eats them.  As in: the whole box. Not proud to admit, but this might have infuriated me a little.

Upon discovering that my Pops were AWOL,  I inquired – via text so as to prevent myself from yelling at someone about, um, Pop Tarts – as to the whereabouts of my contraband Pop Tarts. I was met with utter and genuine dismay as to why I was annoyed.

Here’s how it went:

Me: Did you take the Pop Tarts out of “the hiding place?!?!?!

(Note: I named the hiding place – but not going to mention it here because, well, then you would all know my hiding place.  That being said, apparently it wasn’t such a crack hiding place…)

Teenager: Yea

Me: Did it occur to you that they were in “the hiding place” for a reason?!?!?!

Teenager: No

Teenagers should be publicly flogged.

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Oh, I know: their brains aren’t fully developed, they are selfish creatures, they are clueless about the needs of menopausal women, blah blah blah, but seriously – WTF?  Is nothing sacred? Get a job and buy your own damn Pop Tarts! Better yet, replace mine. AmIright?

This all happened about an hour ago.  I feel (a little) badly about losing my shit over missing Pops, but have stopped short of apologizing for my completely (un)reasonable outburst.  I mean, I have to maintain some power, right?

So, off I go to replenish my PTE stash.  Or, perhaps, I will give into the MFFE. Clearly I need to do something.

 

Born In The 2000s…

A friend recently posted an article she had written about how &*%$ing hard it is to parent teenagers. (Okay, she was classier than I am and opted for the word freaking as opposed to what I know she was thinking:  &*%$ing). I shared the post on my Facebook page (1) and a friend commented, “We were just talking about this” to which I responded, “Yep.  But then again, I am always &*%$ing talking about this!”

And there we have it.

Over the past few weeks, I have received several texts and private messages asking me if I am okay, noting that I have been “quiet” lately.  “Quiet”, to be clear, is code for curiosity over why I have neither blogged -at all – or posted much on social media. This, I have learned, is a sign to my followers that something is amiss.  And they are not all together wrong.

So here’s the thing: I have a lot to write about, a lot to say, and a lot on my mind.  As in a shit ton. Remember: I have two kids and two step kids. One (thank the Lord) is a successfully launched, self-sufficient and kind adult. The other three are smack dab in the throes of being teenagers – a job they are taking very seriously.  And, as has been established, raising teenagers is really fucking hard. Oh, sorry, I forgot to pretty-up my expletives. The gloves are off.

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In addition to my own bedroom, my house has three others, each belonging to one of the kids: ages 12, 14 and 17.  And, if it weren’t enough that there are bedrooms for them…they are inhabiting them. And, to make matters worse, they have all read – and epically mastered – the manual:  How to be the “Perfect” Teenager.  Following me?

They are all good kids (at least I like to think so) (no, they are)(really) and I love each, but none of them – not one – are what anyone would consider, well, easy.  Not. One. Of. Them.  I am actually kind of okay with not easy, though.  I mean, who wants a go with the flow, fall in line, no-issue kid? That would be boring. And, if we are being honest, I myself have been accused of being “complicated” which, we all know, loosely translates to “not easy,”…but I am ONE person. There are THREE of them.  All at once.  Couldn’t one, just ONE, be easy?  I’d be down with being a little bored.

Complicating matters is the fact that of the THREE teenagers who hold the keys to my house, only ONE of them came from my body – which, incidentally, has never been the same.  With only ONE am I allowed to lose my shit without repercussions beyond the crappy feeling you get after calling your kid a shithead. (2) With only ONE do I have not just power (oh, who am I kidding? I have no power) but huge responsibility to ensure that, whether they be a boy, a girl, a dog or a Martian, that they not be an asshole.(3)  With only ONE can I bellow, “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!”  It’s a burden, folks.

So, yeah, parenting teenagers is really fucking hard.  Step-parenting them: nearly impossible. That being said, I have lived through it once.  I am (fairly) certain I will manage to live through it three more times.  And, while I would love to go into (graphic and brutally honest) detail as to what life looks like on the daily – I simply cannot.  Unless, of course, I am hell bent on ensuring that things definitely get worse before they get better. Ya gots me?

Consider this a little insight into why I’ve been quiet.  Rest assured, however, I am not so quiet here on the homefront.

Oh, and to all my friends who are relishing life on the other side – aka EMPTY NEST – please, for the love of God, don’t even think about telling me I am going to miss this all some day.

(1) I shared for a few reasons.  I. It was spot on. 2. I want more people to read my friends Abby’s stuff – she’s a good writer. 3. I have come to consider Abby a great friend. 4. Abby and I have never met in person, but we are basically the same person – so that makes her awesome.

(2) So maybe you’ve never called your kid a shithead.  Props to you. But, if you have never even considered calling your kid a shithead, you should just stop reading now.  We clearly have a very different parenting experience.

(3) Been using that line for nearly 8 years.  Still believe it. Still pray for it to be.

 

 

I Cannot Breathe

I cannot breathe.

Another mass shooting.

Another presidential hissy fit.

Another group of strangers throwing hate at an entire community of people – those who are transgender – mostly because it somehow frightens them.

Another scene of increased police presence.

Another kid acting out, mostly because their anger is bigger than their ability to control it.

Another pain in my chest, ache in my heart.

Another unpleasant interaction with someone who cannot accept that you are on their side.

Another morning of crushing news coverage.

I cannot breathe.

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We Are All Tree Of Life

I’ve spent the better part of the past three days crying.

What has our world become that a woman can survive the Holocaust only to be shot dead, shot dead, while praying?

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I am not a religious person, but with all the crazy in the world, I was actually in synagogue on Saturday morning seeking, and, for a time finding, quiet, calm, solace and community. Then, in a  moment of horrific irony,  during the Misheberach – the prayer for people who need healing – someone, smartphone in hand,  shared the news.

I have felt vaguely sick ever since.

I’ve gotten angry.  Angrier than I ever do.  I’ve screamed at people I love, mostly because I love them.  And I am terrified.

My heart, my soul and my physical body are heavy, achy and spent. And, though I haven’t laughed in days, I’ve continued about my life, feeling both grateful and horrified at the sight of the “enhanced police presence” which, we are told, is being implemented out of an “abundance of caution.”  But we all know that it is no longer possible to be too cautious…

My patience is short.

I have a dull, throbbing and relentless ache in my chest.  I wonder, sometimes, if I am having a heart attack, but know it is more likely that this is what a broken heart feels like.

I am baking.  And shopping. And talking to strangers even more than usual.  I crave touch and warmth and comfort…wondering not if, but when, the next unimaginable thing will happen.  And we know it will.

Now, more than ever, let’s all remember to be kind.  Most of us are hurting, afraid, anxious, angry and lonely.  We need one another. We need kindness. We need to supportive and loving.  Life is precious. Protect it.  Protect one another.

I Believe Her

I, like most of the country, have not been able to step away from the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

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It isn’t even that I haven’t been able to…I haven’t wanted to.  In fact, it is playing in the background as I write.

She is every woman.

I like her.  I want to have a cup of coffee with her.  I want to know her.

She is honest in her fears, what she remembers and what is at stake.

She’s a class act.

She’s sweet and protective: I’ll bet she is a hell of a mom.

She isn’t a polished orator or doing anything other than being herself, acknowledging when she doesn’t understand what is being asked of her.  No showmanship.  None.

She has nothing to gain and everything to lose.

The world now knows of the anxiety she lives with every day. It’s no one’s business, but she shared.

The world now knows that she had sought therapy for herself and her marriage. It’s no one’s business, but she shared.

Her tears are real.  Her resolve is strong.  She’s a hero.

And, in the moments she has laughed, it’s been genuine and courageous.

I want to hug her.

This, my friends, could be any one of us.

Anyone who had a mother, a grandmother, sister, a daughter, a niece, a wife or a female friend needs to listen to Christine Blasey Ford.  She’s telling the truth.

My heart goes out to you, Christine.

Thank you for your courage.

Thank you for your honesty.

Thank you for fighting for all of us.

 

Until, That Is.

The following is my personal experience with getting off of anti-depressant medication.  It is not meant in any way to criticize, disparage or otherwise shame anyone who has taken, might take or is currently taking one.  In fact, I suspect … Continue reading

No One Does

There is nothing I can say about the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain that has not already been said.  I have no sage advice or pearls of wisdom or explanation for what appears to be the mainstreaming of suicide.  I don’t know what I could possibly add to the conversation other than to, well have a conversation.

Off the top of my head, the top of my head, I can think of close to a dozen people who I know personally who have found life so intolerable that the only way they could find peace was to end their lives.  Young and old, they were each someone’s sibling, spouse, child, grandchild or parent.  No one, it appears, is immune.  And, while there is no doubt that the pain that their friends and family will have for the rest of their lives is astounding , my heart literally aches thinking of these people and just how burdensome their lives had become.

Some took pills.  Others used guns.  One hung himself while another used a helium machine usually reserved for the joy of blowing up balloons.  In each case, without exception, their absence was quickly noted.  That “no one will miss me” thinking?  – debunked.  Their deaths unimaginable.

There is no doubt that mental illness plays a role in many suicides. And, for those of you fortunate enough to have been spared this hard lesson, finding (not to mention being able to afford) appropriate and meaningful support ain’t easy.  In some instances, it can be nearly impossible, even for those well connected, well educated and with the means to pay for it.  Remind me to tell you about the time I had to sit outside a locked psych ward for four hours waiting for someone, anyone, to talk to me.

Yes, mental illness plays a role.  But so, too, I would strongly argue, does what life has become in 2018.  It is brutal.  People are angry, isolated and fearful.  We claim to love our “i” everythings, but to what end?  Admittedly, I am guilty of over sharing and, although I try hard to keep things real, there are those, I am sure, that think I have a perfect life.  Truth: I don’t.

No one does.

Yes, I have loads to be thankful for.  I am married to a great guy; we have our health, live in a beautiful home and get to walk on the beach whenever we want.  But second marriages are complicated.  Raising children to adulthood can be brutal.  Having a hand in raising other people’s kids has some gigantic challenges.  Managing an ex-husband, even one who is a better ex than he was a husband still carries constant reminders of why you are exes.  And, if we are being honest, there have been moments, sometimes many of them, when I just don’t know if I can do it all.  No, I’ve not been suicidal, but I understand why people are.

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Truth is, as much as we know about the people in our lives, I contend there is way more that we don’t. That’s why I always implore that we be kind to one another.  Most of us are masters at putting on a good face.  Many of us are ashamed at feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and ready to throw in the towel  because, well, you know, we have a perfect life.  But, oh yeah:

No one does.

Look out for the people in your life.  Answer you phone.  Reach out.

Kate Spade had built an empire and was beloved by her legions of fans.  Anthony Bourdain made a living out of travelling the world.  But clearly they didn’t have perfect lives either because, remember:

No one does.

Coffee, Donuts & Kindness

I’ve seen, or, more to the point, heard him, always at one of the three Dunkin’ Donuts in town. He’s everything you think of when you think of a ten-year-old boy: mop of thick overgrown hair sprouting out from a well-loved Red Sox hat, sparkling eyes and one of those adorable little bubble butts that only little kids can get away with.  He is joyfully immersed in a game on his iPad, his mom sitting next to him catching up on her mail or Facebook or something, anything, that allows her just a few moments of “me” time.

He is happy.  I can tell when he conquers his game from the rises and dips in his squeals.  Glancing over, I catch him jumping up and down while somehow keeping his butt in his seat.  Yeah, he’s really happy.

As the stream of those-in-need-of-their-morning-coffee enters Dunks, each and every one of them looks to see where the sounds are coming from. In fairness, it would be impossible not to. I, seated at a nearby table, find myself on alert, just waiting for someone to make a comment (and by comment I mean complaint), give a dirty look or simply shake their heads at what many would consider an irritant.  Thankfully no one does.  Had they, this mama bear was itching to let them have it…and would have.

This wildly cute little guy is on the very far end of the Autism spectrum.

As I waited for my coffee to cool down a little, I took advantage of not being responsible for anyone but myself and logged onto Facebook.  A dear friend’s status:

Looking for something to do today? Why not find a way to make the world a better place. Check in on a neighbor, help the elderly, donate to a charity that you’ve been meaning to do for some time, or just live your best life. If we all do it just imagine the possibilities.

When we have dinner as a family we go around the table, each sharing not only our “highs” and “lows” from the day, but what we did for someone else.  The first two are pretty easy.  Some days, the “what I did for someone else” is harder to come by.  But! It gets everyone thinking and, I’ve noticed, gotten us all to try harder to have something to say, even if it is as simple as holding the door for someone.

It was still early in the day and my caffeine was still in the cup, but I took note of the Facebook challenge.

Despite having seen her many times prior to this morning, I’d never spoken to his mom.  Today, as she was gently telling her son (and, I have to surmise, bracing for a battle) that it was time to shut the game and get going, she and I caught eyes.  I told her that she is doing a great job.  With that, she began to cry.  It wasn’t an “Oh my God, I cannot take this for one more second” cry, though.  It was a “Thank you, thank you, thank you” cry.  It occurred to me that it had been a longggg time – if ever – that anyone had patted her on the back or, worse, noticed her at all over all the ruckus and judgment.

I asked if her if he was completely non-verbal.  She replied with something between pride and sadness,

“He has two, no, make that three words.”

I hoped to myself that those words are: I, love and you.  In that order.

Accustomed to receiving so much negative feedback, she assumed that my kindness could only mean that I, too, have an autistic child.  Initially I said that I did not – a nonverbal child, I say tongue in cheek, is the exact opposite of anything I’ve been up against[1]– but, in fact, I do.  One of my stepsons is on the spectrum.   If this little guy was on the furthest end, my stepson is on the closest: extremely high functioning, always the smartest person in the room and gloriously sweet.  No one stares.  No one moves to a different table.  No one feels broken-hearted for him or his parents.  While my stepson sometimes dances to the beat of his own drum, this little Dunks boy is doing the same, but with an entire orchestra and all day long.

This mom is a complete rockstar.  Next time I see her, I am buying her a cup of coffee.  And a donut.  Because she definitely deserves a donut.

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Be kind.

Be compassionate.

Be generous of spirit.

Try to do something nice for someone else every day.  It’ll give you something to talk about at dinner.

And next time I see you at Dunks, I’d love to treat you to a cup of coffee, too.

[1] The children in my life seldom STOP talking..