Silent No More


This is from my epic facebook rant yesterday. The backstory is that I had to unfriend someone who just would not respect my request that they stop bashing my friends who marched in the women’s march on Saturday. I even said that we could discuss the reasons to agree or disagree with it elsewhere, but in this ONE post, I wanted to celebrate them. I wanted ONE place that night where there was no arguing, just one. And it was my wall damn it.

Ok, hold onto your hats facebook friends because this is going to be long, and waaaaaaaay overdue!

I have bitten my tongue and held my tongue for far too long. Those of you that know me well and have been around awhile know that, in the past, I’ve expressed my frustration at the competing desires in my heart. The desire to stand up for what I believe is right and the desire to always be nice and to not offend others and to give the benefit of the doubt and to be reasonable, calm, articulate, to follow the examples of my idols, such as Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr , President Obama and his beautiful wife, Michele. To follow the advice that, “When they go low, you go high.” I WANT to do that! I WANT to persuade others with gentle, soft speech, with kindness, let them see by my example that I’m a good, caring person and that I’m intelligent, educated and that I think things through. I WANT them to know those things about me and therefore, to give the things I say REAL consideration, like I do for them.

But they don’t. (a few do, a very few). The problem is that being nice and quiet and calm and reasonable gets you walked all over. The problem is that there are those out there with exactly zero interest in understanding anyone else’s viewpoint. The problem is that there are those out there with exactly zero interest in understanding anyone else’s life, problems or situation. The problem is that no one ever got ANYTHING by sitting down and shutting up. Women weren’t GIVEN rights, Blacks weren’t GIVEN rights, Gays weren’t GIVEN rights, all of those groups had to FIGHT and BLEED and DIE to gain those rights!

And yet now, if you dare to voice a peep about your rights, you’re a “special snowflake” aren’t you?

Here’s the thing that’s really, really pissing me off. The same people who rant and rave about what THEY perceive as injustice are the very ones condemning the other side for doing the EXACT SAME THING! The very people that I bit my tongue for and listened and truly tried to see their side are the very ones screaming and bullying me into silence now. The same people who are CRYING and WHINING because they aren’t getting THEIR way are accusing the other side of crying and whining for not getting their way.

Here’s the thing. Last time I checked, this was still America. Protesting, debating with others, stating opinions is the RIGHT of every American! But when you are having a conniption fit over the protestors then you are doing the very thing you are accusing them of! What you want is for the other side to sit down and shut up and we aren’t and that pisses you off. So you name call, insult, degrade and try to shame them.

Please understand, I am not saying this about every conservative, if you do not do this, then do not worry, I don’t mean you. I have friends that I disagree with and we can have a conversation. I’m talking about those that refuse to have a conversation. And yes, I know that liberals do it too. I’m not condoning bad behavior on either side.

When my conservative friends said that they are tired and weary of being called racists, homophobic etc, I listened and I heard them. Even if you voted for Trump, if you do not express racists, homophobic thoughts and beliefs then I know you are not those things. I go out of my way to not paint all conservatives with one brush. I may have been guilty of that at one point, but I made a concerted effort to change.

And yet there are those who refuse to give me the same consideration. How is it any better to label and stereotype all liberals as unemployed tantrum throwing whiners who are sore losers? Let me tell you what I have been called in just the last 24 hours and let me assure you that the opinions I expressed were just that, opinions, I did not name call, stereotype or insult the people I was disagreeing with.

I have been called a whiner, a taker, a loser, unemployed, an idiot, a freak, a sheep, an imbecile, stupid, what’s wrong with society, retarded, autistic, someone who has never lived in the real world, etc. I have heard LGBT people referred to as animals, perverts, evil, vile, disgusting, pedophiles, misfits etc and told that they should all be expelled from the country, told that they should all be slaughtered.

And I’ve had enough.

I have been biting my tongue and not posting things because I don’t want to offend others but it has becoming blindingly obvious that the others I’m trying so hard to reach out to, have zero interest in not offending me. They have zero interest in what the realities of my life are. They have zero interest in my children’s lives.

This is the point I’m coming to. I will not be “leaving Facebook because it’s become too negative” as I’ve seen many say and do. No. I have every right to be here. I have every right to stay.

I will not be avoiding politics in order to keep the peace. No. I have every right to be involved in politics. I have every right to state my opinion on politics. I have every right to say when proposed policies will negatively affect my family. I have every right to care about that.

Please understand that when I am against repeal of the ACA it has NOTHING to do with whining and wanting a handout. My son was fully employed and insured when he had his car accident. He is now a paraplegic who cannot work, though I hope he can in the future. He obviously has no employer to be insured through. He does not currently qualify for Medicaid or medicare. But he is insured under someone else’s insurance policy thanks to the part of the ACA that allows you to carry a dependant. So you see, nowhere in any of that are your tax dollars going to help my son. Perish the thought! However, if the ACA is repealed he will not only be kicked off that policy, he will have a pre existing condition so in one fell swoop, he will not only lose his current coverage but be uninsurable. If this happens, he loses access to healthcare and the physical therapy he needs to walk again. So yes, this is personal to me.

So when I see you calling the women who marched today for healthcare whiners and losers and takers and say insulting things like “they should do something productive instead” I really, really want to reach through the computer and punch you in the face. It’s fine and well if you really just don’t care about what happens to my son. That’s your prerogative. But you are not welcome to spew it on my page.

I have this daughter, she’s smart and funny and talented and beautiful, inside and out. She a joy to be around.  She never gets in trouble, she helps out with her baby sister, she’s the only one of my kids to seriously never get in trouble. She has this great big heart that loves others and she cries at injustices and adopts stray kittens. There’s seriously nothing you could find objectionable about her. Oh, wait. She happens to like girls.

So when I see you calling the women who marched today for LGBT rights whiners and losers and takers and say insulting things like “they should do something productive instead” I really, really want to reach through the computer and punch you in the face. It’s fine and well if you really just don’t care about what happens to my daughter. That’s your prerogative. But you are not welcome to spew it on my page.

See, I have been holding back. Not many of you know that my daughter is LGBT because…because why? I’ve been thinking about that. Is it to protect her privacy? No, because she has told me, and I quote, “I don’t care who knows. I WANT them to know, I’m proud of who I am! I’m happy and anyone who isn’t happy for me, well, that’s their issue and not mine.” Is it to protect myself? No, because I can assure you that I don’t care. I mean, I care. I love my friends and family but believe me when I tell you that I don’t love my friends and family more than I love my children. Anyone that has a problem with my daughter can exit our lives, post haste. So, then why?

And then I realized, I have been keeping quite so that I don’t make OTHERS uncomfortable, so that I don’t have to argue with others who will disapprove, I have been protecting all of those people who do not care about offending me, who do not care if the most vulnerable citizens, like my son, are left without healthcare, who do not care if our vice president endorses horrific “therapies” for gay people, like my daughter, who do not care that a white supremacist was appointed to the president’s cabinet and what that might mean for people like my biracial nephews or my best friend, who happens to be, among many other wonderful qualities, black.

And I’m done.

I’m done worrying about being politically correct because no matter what I do, I’m going to be attacked. No matter how reasonably or articulately or gently I make my points, I’m going to be called a whiner and a special snowflake. And this isn’t new. Anytime I have ever spoken out to defend the most vulnerable, be it children with disabilities like the ones I work with or the LGBT community or any minority group, I have been called all of these things.

Productive discourse can only occur if BOTH sides are willing to listen and I mean TRULY LISTEN to each other. To my friends, both conservative and liberal, who are willing to do that, thank you, truly, from the bottom of my heart. Even when we still disagree on things, I appreciate being HEARD more than I can tell you!

But to the rest? To those that only want to hurl insults, to shut down reasonable discourse, to name call and insult? Bring it!

A Mothers Letter to President Trump on the Affordable Care Act

I just sent this letter to our new president as well as both Texas senators and my state representative:

I am deeply, gravely concerned about my son’s healthcare. On October 3, 2015 he was in a horrific car accident leaving him a paraplegic. He is STILL recovering! The recovery process takes years! He desperately needs healthcare and lots of physical therapy. Even WITH insurance, therapy is $75/hour out of pocket.

He is 25 years old. He was employed and had his own health insurance at the time of the accident. He cannot work right now. In the future, we hope he will, but for now he is still recovering. Due to the fact that he has held down a full time job from the time he was a teenager, even at his young age, he had already paid enough into the social security system to pull out a disability check. This disability check is just over $600 a month, but it is considered “too much” money for him to qualify for medicaid. He has to be on SSDI for two years before he is eligible for medicare and that’s not two years from his injury, it’s two years from when they approved it. He is still a year and a half from that.

The ONLY access he had to health insurance right now is because the ACA allows him to be carried as a dependent on someone else’s policy. Congress has already acted to remove this protection. This will leave him vulnerable, with no way to access desperately needed health care or therapy services. I BEG, I PLEAD with you to please not ignore the most vulnerable Americans, do not let this be your legacy! Show me, show America that our government still cares about it’s people!

My son deserves access to healthcare. Millions of Americans who depend on the protections in the ACA deserve access to healthcare. I beseech you, do not forget about them! Do not sacrifice them for a political agenda! I am a mother, begging for her son’s future, please do not ignore me and others like me.

Maternal Exhaustion

I’m tired. I mean what they call bone tired. I can feel the depletion in every cell in my body. I’m just tired.

I’ve been so tired for so long that I started to think it was permanent. I thought well this is it, old age is here! My mother told me this would happen, that I wouldn’t always have the boundless energy of youth. I didn’t believe her. I don’t know why I didn’t believe her, she has never lied to me and I know I’m not immortal but ah, the hubris of youth! I believed I was invincible. Turns out, I’m not.

My oldest son was in a horrible car wreck on October 3, 2015. As I sit here writing this, it is January 10, 2017. That’s 15 months, well over a year. Doesn’t seem like I should still be recovering from that. I don’t know why, he is. But I wasn’t physically hurt. Just emotionally.

Then I finally realized that his accident wasn’t just a thing that happened then it was over. The repercussions go on and on like ripples in the water when you send a stone skipping out. His wreck happened and life as we both knew it just stopped. Everything that came before is part of a different life. We live this one now.

First there were the months in the hospital and rehab. I would leave the hospital around nine or ten at night, make the hour drive home to spend a few minutes with my other children, dropped exhausted into bed only to jerk away long before I had gotten eight hours in. Unable to return to sleep, I would just get up and head back to the hospital, long before my other children were out of bed.

At one point, my youngest child, four at the time, handed me a drawing she made, pointed to the scribbles under the picture and said, “That means I miss you.” I know to her it seemed I had disappeared from her life.

I wasn’t eating. I lost ten pounds in two months. No matter how hungry I was on the drive there, once inside the hospital, I had no appetite at all. None of that touches the emotional toil it takes to watch your child suffer and be helpless to do anything about it. Dealing with his emotions on top of everything else wasn’t easy either. He was devastated, of course. What 24 year old wants to hear that they will never walk again? In those first few weeks, we didn’t even know if he’d ever be able to even sit up, much less stand or walk.

Then he was discharged and went home with his father and grandmother and I thought I would catch up on some sleep. Wrong. Back to work after two months, I was way underwater, completely swamped. Then there was the driving. He was four hours away from me, almost six during the time he spent at a second phase of rehab in Houston. I would often make that round trip in a day so I could attend doctors appointments and therapy sessions, to see his progress and evaluate needs for myself and help make decisions.

Then he came to spend the summer here. I continued to work 40 hours a week while getting him to physical therapy three times a week as well as mental health counseling. I had help; I’m not saying no one else ever pitched in. But I did most of it. He also had to make the trip all the way back to Bryan to finish his assessments with the neuropsychologist. Who even knew that was a thing before all this?

The physical toil it took wasn’t even the worst part. The emotional one was. We have had a contentious relationship since about the time he hit puberty. I kept thinking it was a phase and waiting for it to pass. The brain injury did nothing to improve the hostility and anger. Situational depression on top of a brain injury that is known to cause anger outburst on top of the issues that were already there. It was hard.

He went back to stay with his grandmother in September and on October 5, 2016, two days after the anniversary of his wreck, his father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I went down for the funeral. I grieved. It doesn’t matter that he was my ex. The point is, he was also my husband once and we shared much of my young adult life together, and a child. But my grief is nothing compared to his mothers or his brothers or his son. Our son.

All of these hits just kept coming and in October I got the worse case of bronchitis I have ever had in my life. It started before Halloween. I had to get treatment for it, the second time, just before Christmas. It’s now after New Years and I still have the lingering cough. I never stopped working a full time job, I never stopped doing activities with the younger kids. The doctor assured me that I wasn’t contagious so there was no reason to take time off or stop going to activities. Even though the worst symptom was a deep, awful fatigue that I could not overcome, I went on. During the middle of this, I planned, shopped for and cooked Thanksgiving dinner for our entire extended family.

I’m not saying any of this for sympathy or to complain but because, shockingly, I had to sit and type all this out before I realized why I’ve been so tired. During my protracted illness, my brain was so fuzzy, I really couldn’t figure out why I was tired all the time. I have just now realized that the last 15 months have just been one thing cascading into another in a never ending flood.

After my son had to move back in with his grandmother, I spent months drowning in guilt and self doubt. Beating myself up emotionally for not being able to help him, for not being able to fix everything for him. Is it really any wonder I succumbed to a physical illness? I was beat down, physically and emotionally.

Then I plunged headlong into the holidays. I’m not kidding, I asked for time off in December back in October. Yes, I had to plan and schedule my down time to try and recover from the worst physical ailment I’ve had in years and I had to schedule it two months out. Not because my supervisor wouldn’t have been understanding and given the time off, she would have. But because I have obligations and responsibilities that I didn’t feel like I could just set down.

From Christmas day through New Year’s Day I did literally nothing. I didn’t leave the house; we cancelled play dates and field trips. I didn’t read to the kids, I didn’t go to the grocery store or run a single errand and I didn’t do work during my off time (much).

Yeah, ok, I worked a little. But I have a care giving type of job. My clients depend on me; their lives don’t stop just because I’m off work. Caregiver burn out? You’d think so. But I feel like what I’ve been through with my son has given me a deeper understanding of what the families I work with are going through. What it really feels like to be a special needs parent. What it feels like to grieve the loss of the life you thought your child would have.

His dreams of becoming a firefighter are over.

And I am by no means comparing my struggles to his. I’m not the one in a wheelchair. I’m not the one having to come to terms with living with a spinal cord injury.

But still, I’m tired.

What’s Your Resistance?

This is from a few years back but I just looked around and realized that it wasn’t on my blog! I’m not sure how that’s possible because it’s one of more favorite pieces of writing!  Thankfully I kept a copy and here it is:

So tonight I attended another “train the trainer” session in my journey to be certified to teach child care workers about infant mental health issues. During the session, the issue of resistance came up. We humans don’t like change. Everyone has some part of them that resists change. We went around the table and everyone said what it was about this process that they might be resisting. I didn’t have the same issues as everyone else, but I definitely have issues, don’t we all?

Anyway, I’m not really that worried about doing a good job because for one, having five children and a stubborn father in law to take care of, I let go of perfectionism long ago! Besides that, I just have a high opinion of myself and know that I can do anything I set my mind to. I’m also not too worried about translating a more reflective style of teaching into the lingo of hard scientific facts. I’m an unschooler after all. I can turn spending a day of jumping on the trampoline into educationalize. Trust me. I’ll post a sample later. My resistance is more of a paradigm issue. See, in my oh so humble opinion fixing the daycare system is like fixing war. You can’t fix it, the whole thing is just wrong. In my perfect world we would just toss daycare out the window entirely and everyone would be paid a living wage so that two incomes were not required for mere survival. Seriously, a one wage family in the fifties had the same earning power as a two wage family in the nineties. How’s that work? Prices go up at a much faster rate than wages. I would go so far as to say public school is nothing more than free child care so that both parents can work. I think our culture, despite all noises to the contrary, is very anti child, anti woman and anti family. It is not normal or natural to leave your infant in the care of strangers. What other animal on this planet would do that? It goes against all survival instincts that the child has to be separated from it’s parent. 

To top it all off these kids are being left in the care of workers paid minimum wage for the most part. Now, some long term workers have a true love for the children. Why else stay in it? But a lot of workers are there because they need little training and no education to do the job and it’s just a job to them. Being paid little and respected less, the stress of the job causes high turnover rates and low quality of care. Infants and toddlers, to whom proper attachment is paramount to survival and development, are constantly deprived of any consistency in their care. Recent studies show that children raised in daycare are more aggressive and have a harder time forming bonds than children who were not. The lack of proper training in daycare settings is staggering. Daycare policies often are contrary to best practices for healthy development of infants and children. Many workers WANT to do things differently but aren’t allowed. Many of the daycares that send their workers to trainings don’t attend themselves (owners, directors) so no real, sweeping change can be affected since those who hold the power aren’t learning the things that they really ought to know.

I know what I’m saying is politically incorrect and I don’t care because it is biologically correct, if we want to acknowledge that or not. I’m all for improving daycare because cognitively I know that what I want isn’t likely to happen. If only I were a billionaire who could endow grants to enable moms to stay at home. I know the economic realities of most families dictate many of their choices. But this is a failing of our community. This is a result of weakened family bonds and scattered families. When I was a child, if my mother had to work late, grandparents or an aunt or even a friend or neighbor stepped in.

We need to be supportive of stay at home parents and we need to emphasize real family values over material gain. Now, please don’t mistake me. I am by no means saying that women should not be allowed to work outside of the home. But I am saying that they should not be forced to by economic and societal pressures. That’s not a choice at all. Our senators children attend daycares with a ratio of about two kids per one adult. Wow! So why are our working families, the backbone of this country, having to settle for about one adult per 20 kids? Does anyone really think this is working? I have been criticized for having four children and asked how I can give them each individual attention and how I can possible home school three kids at one time? It makes me laugh. Really? In public schools there are about 25 kids per teacher and they want to know how I can possible handle three? Hmmmm.

I know all the arguments about “but MY daycare is a good one” and maybe it is. But I spend my work days going in and out of all of them and I see the differences in how things are done during drop off and pick up time as opposed to the big stretch of time when there are no parents watching. I’ve seen it.

Ive posted it before but it bears repeating: http://www.daycaresdontcare.org

I have so many things to say on this subject that I could fill up a hundred blogs but I guess what I need most now is to organize my thoughts so that I can articulate it in a way that will make sense to people and get them at least thinking. That would be a start.

Peace, Peace

We want peace for ourselves and for all peoples of the planet.

For our children and for you.

For the future, for the world, we must have peace.

Politics and rhetoric are stupid, it’s true.

 

Peace please beg the hungry

Peace, peace, cry the dying

We’ll have peace lie the politicians

Peace, peace, whisper the crying

Who Am I?

Let me just start tonight’s post by saying AAARRRRRRRRRRGGGHHHHHHHHHh! Life is hard ya’ll!

I have been struggling to re-brand my blog and once I got everything switched over, immediately start wondering if I did the right thing! Should I switch it back? Should I run two separate blogs? What should I do???

Sigh. I’m a mess. Let me explain.

So, I started this blog a few years ago as kidsrpeople.org. The focus was children, obviously. As an eighteen year veteran child development professional and a mother of six children, I have a bit of experience there. I’m passionate about things like attachment parenting, children’s rights, homeschooling etc. So this seemed like a natural focus.

Then I decided that I really wanted to highlight my writing. So I changed it all! My blog name, my Facebook page title, all of it! And started posting some of my stories. Which I think about two people read. I really love to write but now I’m questioning if that should be the full focus. I still post about parenting and child development and social issues. These may be two totally different audiences. Am I crazy for combing these things? Should I keep two separate blogs? I mean three, since I recently restructured my original one over at blogger, raisingwildthings. That one is focused on my kids unschooling journey specifically.

Am I really just trying to do too much? But here’s the thing, I always have six million different thoughts and ideas running through my head and I want to share them all! I am STILL passionate about children’s right and I’m still a child development professional. Still a mom. But I am ALSO a writer and a poet and many things besides that!

I may just step back, stop trying to DO anything for a moment and just write! Write whatever pops into my head, whatever is demanding attention at that moment.

Because right now, I can’t even pick a name! Ha! I thought I’d do the writing under my maiden name, for a variety of reasons. But now I’m questioning that as well!

Seriously ya’ll, the struggle is real!