Breathe and Refocus

Image Credit: [mementosis]
I wondered if she could see my eyes watering every single time we meet to discuss my son. I always blink the tears back so we can keep discussing, so we can continue to make appointments for him to see her, so I can tell her the things I’m noticing at home, and the things she notices in session. Tears don’t help when we’re trying to figure out ways to help him until we can officially find a name for what it is that he’s contending with. When she tells me that we could potentially have a diagnosis by January, if the psychiatrist has space to do so, I feel relief and sadness. It’s a strange feeling. On one hand, it’s not the year we were originally told, that alone is a miracle. It means we’ll have something to help him at school, at home, at his activities. It’s going to save us in so many ways. On the other, it means a Diagnosis. A word that will be attached to him for life. A word to sum up what’s going on in our lives.

It feels so much bigger than me. It’s so utterly and completely overwhelming.

The weight of each of these sessions always drops on me as we exit, and today is no different. I shoot my husband a quick text to tell him the news that we’ll potentially see someone in January. I tell him I’ve scheduled a session when he’s off for the holidays so he can meet the therapist. The kids race around on the sidewalk of our town’s main street, exchanging thoughts on the kind of ice cream they will get at our promised stop for the afternoon while pretending to be dinosaurs.

My husband responds quickly and shares the same relief I feel over seeing a psychiatrist sooner than later. He thanks me for scheduling an appointment so he can be involved because mostly, the onus of all of this is completely on me. I’m the one scheduling the appointments, and doing all the talking about the breakdowns we’re seeing at home, constantly scribbling notes here and there, reminding myself to bring these situations up, pulling him out of school and explaining his missed time in school. I’m the one who works with our son while he struggles through homework, and the one building him up when his marks don’t reflect the hard work he’s put in. In no way do I resent my husband for any of this because it’s just the way the cards have fallen. However, knowing that and saying that, doesn’t make me feel any less alone.

The kids quickly buckle themselves up, half-arguing over ice cream flavors as I take the driver’s seat and start the car. The radio softly plays some peppy pop music, and I sigh. I grab my phone, and text my husband,

“I don’t know how to say this other than to say, I’m completely and utterly overwhelmed by all of this, Dalen.”  I hit send, and as I do, the tears I was blinking back, fall down my cheeks slowly. Guilt washes over me. Why do I feel overwhelmed? This is the best process for us to be taking with our son. This is what we need to do to help him, and yet, somewhere in a deep corner of my being,  I wish that I could just be the parent who buries her head in the sand, and ignores the whole situation. It would be so much easier.

Sometimes, I imagine that this is all a bad dream, and we’re going to wake up from it any second. My daytimer won’t be full of appointments, highlighted with random concerns.  Even for the brief second I allow myself to go to this space, I wind up feeling selfish. The negative self-talk enters and I ask myself what sort of mother even allows herself to have these sorts of thoughts. It’s not normal, I whisper harshly to myself.

I put my phone down and put the car in drive. I know exactly how my husband will respond to my text, and I know it’s not what I want to hear or read right now. I have no idea what I want to hear right now, honestly. I don’t feel like the good mother everyone keeps telling me I am. I don’t feel like I’m an incredible advocate for my son. I don’t feel like I have any of this under control, even though I keep being told I’m on top of everything. I feel like I’m drowning in the magnitude of this situation, only reaching the surface occasionally, gasping for air. I feel like an imposter who has her shit together. Mostly, I feel so alone, and so tired.

“Mama, I just love my therapist so much. I love that I get to play with sand, and draw pictures, and play with her.”  His voice cuts through the music as we make our way down the road to the ice cream shop.

I peer at him through my rear view mirror, his smile blasting me like the sun. Somehow, without even seeing my tears, without even knowing how I feel, he delivered to me, exactly what I needed. Reassurance straight from the source. A reminder that no matter how overwhelmed I am, no matter how valid those feelings are (and they are), this is about him. This marathon we’re running right now to get answers? It’s for him. It’s about making his life better, and easier. Because for all the ways this is intense for me, I need to remember, that he’s the one living with of these issues.

I refocus my attention on the road, and, of course, internally, too.

“I’m glad, hun. I’m really glad.”

Mornings Are Hard, Ya’ll

Image Credit: Steve Lambert
Image Credit: Steve Lambert

Phyllis at The Napkin Hoarder wrote out her morning routine after being inspired by this recent article in Forbes. I’ll be perfectly honest here: The routines articulated in this article make me feel like I am doing everything wrong. 4:45am wake up? Nope. I was likely up until at least midnight. Maybe I was writing or prepping for the following day (what is this nonsense?!) but more than likely I was trying to beat another damn level on Frozen Free Fall.  Organic food and free trade coffee? Uhh, no…I’m sorry? I’m lucky if my husband hasn’t grabbed the last Keurig pod on his way out of the house at an ungodly hour. I forgive him for it, mostly, because he has to leave the house before 6am. Working out? Unless putting Spanx on counts or doing a thousand laps up and down our stairs because I’m not organized in the morning. These women put me to shame.

In case you didn’t guess, I’m not a morning person.

These are all probably reasons I’m not a CEO of some fabulous company. No, seriously guys, if this morning is any indication, you should be frightened if I ever was slotted to take over a huge company. Or even a small company. Wait, no. Let’s make that any company.

* * * * * * * * * *

5:00am - Wake up because my husband’s alarm has already gone off three times. Tell him in my “nice” I’m trying to sleep voice, to stop pressing the damn button and get the hell out of bed. He grumbles at me, and tells me to just go back to sleep. I’M TRYING, man. The magical ring of your Blackberry alarm keeps waking me up. He concedes and gets out bed, but not before turning on the lights and laughing when I groan and dive under the covers. I move my daughter over to his side of the bed because I’d like to have at least two hours of sleep without someone kicking/snuggling/touching me. It doesn’t matter anyway, within seconds she’s almost on top of me again.

7:00am - Alarm goes off. I don’t press snooze. I hate snooze. If I want to sleep later, I set it later before I go to bed. I check on my email and other notifications and then wonder why I even bother because most of the time it’s just spam mail. I make a mental note to change my filter later that day. Confession: I won’t do it today. I will make the same mental note tomorrow morning and the next. And likely, the next.

7:15am - Get up, go to the bathroom, and brush my teeth. Throw my hair into a messy bun, thinking I should just cut my hair again, while also making a mental checklist of the things I need to do today. We have dance class today, and I silently praise Baby Jesus when remembering the Dance Mom who gave me two of her daughter’s old uniforms. I won’t be bested by my four year old’s disappearing act that involves her dance leotard. I’m already winning the day and I’ve only been up for 15 minutes! I also remember I need to register the kids for swim lessons in January. I also need to find my glasses because I haven’t seen them or much else for weeks.

7:20am- I go back to our room, turn on the light, and hope that might make my daughter up. It doesn’t so I loudly pick out clothes for the kids  from the laundry baskets of clean laundry that I didn’t manage to fold the night before. I still have at least four more loads to go. I hate laundry. I also hate picking through the piles so I make a promise to fold them all tonight. Maybe while I watch Scandal or Parenthood? Yeah, that’s a good plan. One I probably won’t execute because tweeting about those shows is way more important.  I lay the clothes out on my bed so I can send my son downstairs to get dressed after breakfast.

7:25am- Since the light didn’t wake my daughter up, I gently shake her and tell her she needs to start waking up so we can take her brother to school.  She groans at me and puts her head under the pillow. She’s like me and hates morning. It takes her at least 15 minutes to wake up. I contemplate just picking her up and putting her in the bathroom to get her going, but decide to let her sleep a little longer since she didn’t go to bed until real late the night before.

7:30am- I head up stairs. Turn on the Keurig so I can grab a cup of coffee. Turn on the lights in my son’s room and tell him to get up. He’s up in less than 30 seconds, wrapped in his blanket, and at the kitchen table. I wish I could wake up that easily.

7:31am- Realize there is no coffee. I drop the first f-bomb of the day. My son tells me that I said a bad word. I tell him when there is no coffee, all the bad words are necessary. He doesn’t agree. There will be a coffee run before school.

7:32am- Make my son his most favorite blueberry waffles from scratch. Ha, no. I put an Eggo in the toaster for him, while he rattles off all the books he wants to buy at the book fair.

7:33am- Curse myself for not loading the dishwasher the night before. Wash a plate for my son’s super healthy totally not organic waffle.

7:34am- Put syrup on both sides of the waffles, because obviously I’m adding to the health factor of the waffle. He won’t eat it any other way. Pour a glass of milk for him, and tell him to eat up. I tell him if he’s still hungry after the waffle, there are bananas on the counter he can have too. None of these items are organic, just so you know.

7:35am- Pull out my son’s lunch kit. When I open the pantry, I realize there is no lunch food. Just apple sauce. Second f-bomb of the day, but this one is quiet so I don’t get a lecture from my almost 7 year old. I tell my son to hurry up and eat because we have to head to the grocery store before school. This also means I have to get dressed. Another f-bomb.

7:36am- Head downstairs and wake my daughter up. This time, I pick her up and put her in the bathroom. I contemplate whether or not  to dress her in real clothes. The clothes are ready, but there is a high chance she’ll, in her morning angst, hate everything I picked out. Or want to wear shorts. Or a bathing suit. If I don’t agree with her choices, there will be a rag doll flop and lots of crying. I remember that there has been no coffee this morning.  I decide to leave her in her beloved cat pajamas.

7:40am- Stare at the bags under my eyes for at least a minute while deciding if I should wear yoga pants or jeans. I opt for yoga pants because I know I folded some last night, and put them away. This means they are clean, and I don’t have to do the smell test. I’ll get dressed in real people clothes later.

7:45am- Rush upstairs to look for my son’s agenda, and water bottle. I scribble in my initials for the entire week; that’s what you do at the end of the week, right? Did I remember money for the book fair, he asks? I try to convince him to let me go to the Book Fair for him. He doesn’t like this idea at all. He tells me he can just use the debit card. I laugh and tell him we’ll grab him some money on our way to school. Another stop.

7:50am- Tell the kids to get their stuff on. Snowpants? Yes, please. Throw the empty lunch kit in my son’s backpack, and realize I have no idea if my husband took the bank card. He didn’t, thankfully.

7:58am- Out the door, pleased with how little effort it took to get our snow gear on today. Buckle the kids in their carseats, while trying to figure out if I need to scrape the windows off or if the anti-freeze will do the job for me. I decide to scrape the windows hearing my husband’s voice chiding me for using all the anti-freeze last time.

8:00am- On our way to the grocery store. I drive past a Tim Horton’s and I cry a little. Need so much coffee.

8:06am- In the grocery store,  I tell the kids we have to be fast, and to please not ask for a million things. We just need lunch items. We grab all the lunch items, and I twitch knowing I’ll have to come back later in the day for the rest of our groceries. We need shampoo too. I may have used my kid’s shampoo when I showered the night before because mine had run out. At least I smell like blueberries?

8:21am- We’re back at the car. In the trunk, I pack my son’s lunch and laugh while wondering if I’m the only parent who has had to do a lunch run first thing in the morning. I’ll be better organized next time, I lie.

8:29am- Arrive at my son’s school, place the money in his agenda for the book fair, and ask him one more time if he’s sure that he doesn’t want me to go for him because he might not be able to go. He says no, and I tell him to politely ask his teacher if he can go during recess. He says he will. I also tell him to remember that his sister would love a book too, and he says that if his Minecraft book isn’t “too much”, he’ll get something for his sister too. He grabs his backpack as he exclaims that all his friends are on the playground.

8:30am- Drive to Tim Horton’s for a coffee. If I had been smart I would have grabbed some coffee at the grocery store earlier. I had tunnel vision, and obviously, thinking ahead is not my thing this morning. Oh well. Please add a shot of espresso. Thank the lady profusely for the coffee, which only makes her look at you funny. She doesn’t get it, obviously. Coffee is everything. Maybe I should have gotten a muffin? Nah, the coffee is good enough.

8:40am- Bring the groceries into the house, put them away and sit down with my precious, glorious coffee. We don’t have school tomorrow, I realize and I bask in the unadulterated awesomeness of knowing that means we can all sleep in. Maybe.

What’s your morning routine look like? Is it as a rushed, and disorganized as mine was this morning? Or are you like the women in the Forbes article?  

The Necessary Silence of A Nice Guy’s Victim


It had been just over three months since the day my ex had disappeared from our home, choosing to hide at his parents house, telling me about his infidelity via MSN Messenger. I wasn’t surprised by the confession; I had suspected that something was up for the last six months, but because of the abusive nature of our relationship, I didn’t dare make such an accusation. When I later told people about his confession, and the medium he used, most were stunned, and offended for me. For some reason, it’d never registered with me that I should be angry at the way he chose to confess his sins. By this point in our marriage, a short year and a half, I knew that he had no respect for me. What did I care if he used the most disconnected means to tell me about it? At least he wasn’t in front of me, I could react, and I didn’t have to fear his fists in my face.

And, there it was, an excuse for me. I could finally get out, and the responsibility was solely on his shoulders.

That naive girl. Even though she’d spent her childhood trying to get people to believe that her narcissistic parents were abusing her, she still thought she could get out, with no consequences. I didn’t expect to be blamed for his infidelity. I didn’t expect to be asked questions like, “Did you make him angry on purpose?” or “Do you realize that his disability makes him struggle with controlling his temper?” If his infidelity had given me any confidence, or feeling of power, it quickly dissipated. Accusations flew from every angle; friends we’d made together, and some that felt they owed him loyalty over me. A lot of accusations were subtle, but there were some people who took pride in boldly shaming me. I had no idea that I could be to blame for him cheating.

My ex husband created a long list of fabricated stories crafted solely to garner sympathy for himself. He had crafted a fantastic story about a happy marriage involving two strangers I didn’t really know. It involved a doting husband who had tried so hard to make his callous, angry wife so happy, but she never cared for him. She had, in her coldness, forced him to cheat. She had laughed at him, insulted him, and hurt him so deeply, that he had no choice but to find love elsewhere. There was no side story about abuse. Just a cliche, stereotypical description of a marriage falling apart, at the hands of an emotionally stunted partner. While that description mostly fit the bill, the roles were reversed, and somehow, I was the one on trial publicly, fearful of setting off a new round of rumors.

Originally, it had enraged me how easy it had been for him to create a false reality where he was the victim. I remembered quickly that this was the rouse of an incredibly skilled abusive man who knew how to manipulate people so he could get what he wanted. I knew this was who he was below the surface, underneath The Nice Guy costume he wore. There was nothing I could do to make it go away.  This was the side effect of leaving him, an implication many don’t understand or think of when they say things like, “Why did she stay?”

Only a few people asked me for my side of the story: close friends, my lawyer, the court clerk who saw me on a weekly basis because my ex-husband fought every single piece of legal document I sent his way. His supporters, without talking to me, had made up their mind about me because he’d created a reality that made it impossible for them to imagine hearing or believing my side of the story.  Casting me as the villain in this dramatic fairytale gone wrong just made sense. If they had been interested in my side of the story, they would have heard something dynamically and absurdly different that what he’d concocted. However, despite his need for sympathy, I did what most abuse survivors do- I stayed quiet. I used one sentences summaries to describe the failure of our marriage like, “He cheated on me.”  I didn’t want to delve any deeper than that, because I didn’t really want to relive the horrors that had been my life for the last year and a half.

I also knew, the quieter I stayed, the less likely I was to garner his attention, and of course, his rage. I didn’t want to inflame him because I knew what he was like in those moments of anger. And now, he had a mob behind him. I was legitimately afraid for my safety.  Saying nothing was best.

That is what abusers do. They intimidate their victims.

Ultimately, it was better if I just proactively tried to stay ahead of him. I let my lawyer deal with any legalities. I moved out of our once shared apartment, choosing to move closer to my work, with a roommate, in a building where I had to give access to any visitors. I changed my number, and told our church to cut all contact with me. I changed all of my passwords, closed our bank account, and took his name off of any of our joint bills. Basically, I tried to scrub him out of my life, the best I could, with what little support I had.

And, I had very little. Rumors circulated fast and furiously, especially when I began dating the man who would become my now husband. After I was subjected to another round of “slut” whispers during a work break, I took matters into my own hands. I forwarded a copy of a legal document that had my ex’s confessions, ones that I was accused of fabricating, and a bucket full of other items that he’d carefully left out of the plot line, to a handful of his supporters.  I tapped in “Proof” as the subject, and as I clicked send, I was certain that this would end the debate, the gossip and the lies.

Except, it didn’t stop anything. Even when I dangled actual legal proof in their face, with his signature attached, they still made excuses for him. I learned that once a narrative has begun, there are many people, smart people even, who will not deviate from the lines they’ve been fed. It was easier for them to believe that I was all the evil things my ex had led them to believe, than admit that he had completely manipulated, lied, and used them for his own protection.

When I see abuse allegations hit the news cycle,like they did with Jian Ghomeshi and now Bill Cosby,  I’m always disgusted by how prominent victim blaming is featured, “Why do they stay?” or “Why don’t they report it to the police?” or “Obviously, she’s lying. He’s such a nice guy.” It’s even more haunting to see the amount of people who take what an accused says as truth, or strictly at face value. It’s never as simple as they say it is.

Silence from a victim is never indicative of a lie.

There is an insurmountable depth of fear that lingers, even if you are able to find a way out. Most of us know these men intimately, and we’ve looked straight into their eyes when they were abusing us. We know what they are capable of. If we tell you that it’s safer for us to to stay hidden, and to move on with our lives, please listen. Our concern with safety should be yours too, and it doesn’t negate the events that we were exposed to. It only serves to properly demonstrate just how much power an abuser has. Personally, had I stuck my neck out and reported him, I could potentially facing an emotional,  social and even physical death. I wasn’t about to give him my life, when I’d already lost so much to him.

The societal mob that rallies around men like my ex-husband is a perfect illustration of why we stay quiet. We’ve been abused already; why would we subject ourselves to further abuse from strangers? Until we create a refuge for victims that supports them, and protects them, we can only expect their silence.


That’s Just How He Is

Image Credit: Roberto Arevalo
Image Credit: Roberto Arevalo


“I just want to help him, especially a student like him. He’s so polite and kind, a great student to have in the class. I just want to help him get over his nerves.”

I appreciated the sentiment, and the fact that she was praising my son. He is all of those things. I’m glad despite the issues he has, she notices those incredible qualities. We’ve had instances in the past where people only focus on the negative, and it’s an uphill battle to get them to see how amazing he is. I knew I had to choose my words carefully.

“He is a good kid,” I smiled in his direction where he was guiding his sister through the classroom, with ease and pride. “The anxiety, the nerves, I think he’s always going to contend with those things, especially in the classroom. It’s really not personal, honestly. At least in this case, I don’t think….”

My husband interjected,

“Yeah, he’s very nervous with me. Even with his grandparents, people he adores. The only person he isn’t really nervous with is Danielle.”

I could see his teacher’s shoulders relax a bit, so I continued,

“I’m glad that all you are seeing is the nerves right now. My fear is that the explosions that we’re seeing at home might and likely will cross over to school one day. Especially if he doesn’t have the right tools to cope. We’re working with him at home and at therapy to help him with that. The chewing? That’s a coping mechanism, and thank you for not trying to make him stop, but giving him something to chew safely. I’m not saying that school isn’t making his anxiety worse, because I think school in general is hard for him, but definitely don’t take his nerves personally. It’s just who he is.”

She nodded, “Is there anything I can do to make this easier for him? I want to help him be successful.”

I wondered for a second if she saw the weight lift off my own shoulders as my body relaxed. I was prepared for a fight, but I was glad I opted to find a different way to voice my concerns. The evening before, I was ready to flip a couple tables in utter frustration. That wasn’t going to be necessary, thankfully.

“There definitely is, but I think we’ll need to play around with what helps him. In all honesty, we’re not going to see a diagnosis until maybe the new year, and then possibly closer to the end of the year. Perhaps we need to find some time for all of us to meet- you, us, his therapist and the liaison at the school? I think he needs some adaptations made to the expectations he has in the classroom, and even with the amount of work he’s given to do at home.”

“Well, I’m usually here on Saturday updating the newsletter with the spelling list; I know he had an issue this week with it. Maybe starting on it over the weekend would help?”

Together, we brainstormed ideas to help things easier for him. We discussed potential triggers, things he’s mentioned in passing that have bothered him, and the fact that while we weren’t surprised by his report card, it wasn’t fabulous. He is, however, despite what it showed, working hard. We listened as he and his teacher had a conversation completely in french, my husband joking that they could be saying anything about us and he’d never know. For as much as he’s saying that he doesn’t understand, it’s clear that he’s understanding way more than he’s giving himself credit for.

We left on a high note. There was hope for him, for his school career, for future communication. It meant that we had a plan for him, and that alone was cause for a huge sigh of relief as we walked out the front entrance of the school.  I fear, more than I fear him falling behind in school, that one day he’ll get a teacher who doesn’t see the upside of his anxiety. The thoughtfulness that it leads to for him, the way he notices things that most kids his age don’t, the way he would rather listen than speak. I worry that someone will try to take that big giant heart of his and change it because he doesn’t function quite like the rest of his classmates. For now, we seem to have a teacher who sees all of this, and is just a bit lost, much like we are. Our goals, it appears are the same, and we aren’t going to waste precious time fighting each other on things that just aren’t important.

We aren’t going to lose him.

It’s going to be okay.


My Phone People

Image Credit: Matthew Pearce
Image Credit: Matthew Pearce


Did you know that there are people who believe internet friends are not real?

I know. Take a deep breath, sit down if you need to. I have a similar feeling wash over me every time someone says something like this to my face. It takes every ounce of strength not to pull out my phone and wave it in their face, showing them all my “Phone People”. Because, those people? They are very, very real. They are also, for your information, very awesome.  For many years, I’ve been able to turn to my corner of the internet, one that expanded with the creation of social media, pour my heart out through my words, and have someone respond with kindness. For as much awful crap that is spewed on the internet, there is a decent, amazing, and kind side to it.

Did you know that the father of my first born was originally an internet friend? Remember Yahoo Chats? That totally happened.  One of my friend’s who is very much like a sister to me, who I cried with when her mother passed away? Internet friend, actually on a rebellious Mormon group. My very best friend and I met first through the internet. We fell in love over our impeccable taste in good music and way too expensive cloth diapers. Through the years, I’ve added to that list. I have the friend who I go to for writing advice. The friend I go to for snarky quips about things that make me twitchy. I have several friends that I’ve met through adoption. And, these are just the ones that I’ve met that have made a lasting impression on me.

We’ve moved a fair bit in the last couple of years, and with another one in the future, I’ve been hesitant to reach out to anyone in my local community. Saying goodbye sucks (especially when Adele is crooning in the background, in the middle of January in a frozen Buick). As such, I’ve isolated myself, and am just powering through the empty terrain of our current “normal”.  For the most part, I don’t mind. I’m a homebody by nature, but I do miss the ability to text a friend and say, “Hey, can we grab a drink?” at 9pm on a Wednesday night and have someone say, “Let’s do it.”  It was a luxury I fantasize about now more than I’ll admit.

That’s where my internet friends come in.  I mean, they don’t come with wine, but they are readily available to hear me through whichever medium I use to discuss my whatever words want to fall out of my mouth on social media. I don’t always get a response (a good friend knows when to ignore my rants, and when not to), but that’s always fine with me. I like the maybe false security in knowing that at least one person is hearing me. That makes me feel a little less lonely.

Sometimes, like tonight for instance, I’m so incredibly grateful for these computer people, some I’ve never met in “real life”.  I wonder, do the people who question these internet friendships understand that there is an element of empathy and even investment in these relationships that some of my long time “in real life” friends or family have never offered?  I can speak to an issue I’m having as a parent, and I generally find my inbox filled with suggestions or comfort. I have followed some people and their blogs so long now that I feel like I’ve watched their kids grow up. All of these people, despite the fact that a computer screen sometimes limit the physicality of the relationship, very real friends.

Yeah, the internet might suck sometimes, but not always. Internet friends are just one of the lovely perks. And one day, we’ll figure out the wine issue, and internet friends will abound for all.

 (You can check out what my phone people had to say about the topic of friendship: Busy At Birth, A Wide Line, Red Shutters, The Napkin Hoarder and Squared Mommy )

You Aren’t That Traditional, Mormons.

Image Credit: Ricketyus
Image Credit: Ricketyus

Mormons have an obsession with “traditional marriage”.  It’s always been a thing for them, really. I grew up hearing about how important it was for a child to have a Mom and a Dad and only that.  In 1995, they took it a step further when they came out with  The Family: A Proclamation To The World.  According to Mormons, their Prophet speaks to God directly, and this piece of work, came from God himself.

Although, in 50 years, they might say the Prophet wasn’t speaking as a Prophet, but as a man who had some clearly bigoted ideas.  That’s not important right now, though.

In this Proclamation, you’ll find gems like this:

We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

Basically, the entire thing is a carefully worded, (sometimes, not so much) declaration that only men and woman deserve to be married, have children and be awesome. The rest of us? The single mothers? The people who had children before marriage? The LGBT community? We’re all going against The Mormon God. We are all perpetually screwing up some greater eternal plan, and one day we’ll be held accountable for our heathen ways.

It looks like I’ll have some decent company, if they turn out to be right.

The Mormon church is well known for their involvement in things like Prop 8 in California, for the more recent opposition to gay marriage in Utah. On a personal level, I can speak to the animosity that they have toward mothers who find themselves pregnant out of wedlock, more specifically the aggressive nature they take in order to coerce and convince women to relinquish their parental rights. They completely believe and breathe their static definition of traditional marriage and family. There is no grey area available in this discussion,  absolutely no flexibility or understanding that not every family looks identical nor subscribes to the same ideals they do. They’ve elevated themselves on a pedestal, believing they’ve been ordained as the Traditional Marriage Spokespersons for the world.

Besides the obvious reasons they are so wrong about their stance on this topic, it’s remarkably hilarious that they’ve continued to play the Traditional Marriage card with so much veracity, judgment, and, well, hypocrisy.

Let me demonstrate:

This week, splashed across the front page of the New York Times, and many other major news sources was the fact that Joseph Smith had 30-40 wives. Back in October, the Mormon church posted an anonymously written essay about the founder’s involvement in polygamy. For most, the admission that Joseph Smith practiced what they call Plural Marriage, is no surprise.  It’s a pretty well known topic within the church, and even outside of it. However, there are a few things that have not been widely discussed or admitted. Mostly, the church has taken the “it’s in the past, so it’s behind us” stance. When I asked my own leaders as a teenager, after finding sources that touted the very information presented in the essay listed above, I was told point blank that the information was anti-Mormon literature, it was false, and that either way, it was of no importance. Even Gordon B. Hinckley went on Larry King, and said something very similar, even going as far as to say the practice itself is not doctrinal. If there has been further discussion on Joseph Smith in the realm of mainstream church resources or lessons, I was not ever privy to that when I was a practicing member. The amount of wives he took?  The child brides? The fact that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy before his supposed revelation from God that he must practice polygamy. Not discussed at all.  It isn’t terribly surprising that the bulk of these concerns and many others are not addressed within the article, or are brushed aside as though they are of little significance.

For instance, Joseph had seven wives under the age of 18, two of which were sisters,and one who was 14. There are several accounts of women who refused Joseph’s proposals to become his wife, with him ultimately using the religion to coerce them into submission. Although, ethical non-monogamy isn’t something I have an issue with, Joseph Smith also practiced what would be deemed unethical polyandry, demanding men share their wives with him, and sending them away on missions (a full diagram of all his wives, with sources can be found here).  These aren’t just minor anecdotes in this story and yet, they are still omitted. Members should be profoundly concerned by the lack of transparency being offered to them by their leadership.

However, this is the meat of the whole polygamy debacle that I wish to point out, specifically for practicing Mormons:

You know these plights against anyone who is supposedly destroying the “traditional” family with their gayness, or singleness, or sex having before marriage-ness? It has to stop now. You don’t get to discuss traditional marriage anymore. It’s over. No longer can you tell anyone, now and in the future, what marriage should or shouldn’t look like. You don’t get to cry persecution because other people who don’t carry the same beliefs as you want to institute laws that would allow for marriage equality. You do not get to condemn anyone for how they love, who they love, or how they choose to build their families. You do not get to wail and gnash your teeth because the world is going to hell in a hand basket because no one respects your so called traditional marriage.

Game over, guys.

You don’t practice polygamy anymore, you say? Physically, no, you don’t because it’s illegal, but….

It’s still discussed in church, and it’s still believed that it’s a law that will be implemented at the Second Coming. Polygamy is still practiced by leaders, by male members who remarry in temple marriage.  You believe that polygamy is a Celestial Law and will be practiced in Heaven. 

And, if that’s what you believe? Fine. This fact remains though: You do not get to have the above set of beliefs and still self-righteously preach to the rest of us that we’re damning the world with our non-traditional marriage ways. From what it seems, you are happily eating your own non-traditional marriage cake in the closet, and trying to hide the icing smears all over your face.

This may blow your mind –  We, the rest of the world, don’t fucking care what you believe or practice. Like, really, it matters to us, not at all.  It’s become such a hot news story because for years, you’ve worked hard to tell the rest of the world that some of  your history didn’t happen. That you aren’t weird, and that your past is golden, even though it’s not. Now that the internet has a plethora of amazing resources on the history of Mormonism, the head guys in Salt Lake realized it was time to face the music or risk losing more of their faithful. It’s a smart move for them. Yet, beyond the hype of the headlines, the rest of us non-Mormons don’t really care.

If you want to enjoy your celestial plural marriage laws (though, please try to find some ethical way to practice it), carry on. Have all the wives you wish, maybe even have all the husbands too! If we’re not interested in the lifestyle you practice (and I assure you, we’re not) or  if we disagree with your reasons for practicing, we’ll still leave you alone. What you do in your home is of little or no concern to the rest of the world. Much like the marriages and family your church fights so vigorously to abolish.

Take a page from our book, if you could, please. Maybe refrain from acting like hypocritical assholes regarding marriage, and families.  Your Traditional Marriage Advocate card has officially been revoked, and we know you guys are just as “non-traditional” as the rest of us. Welcome to the club, Mormons.

Parade Magic


“It’s the Santa Claus parade this week, right?”

Yes, it is. I answered this question at least one hundred times this week.

“Remember last year when the car made funny sounds when we went, and you were worried, Mama?”

Yes. I do remember that. Apparently, the kids did too. Potholes are bitches. I didn’t say that part outloud.

“We stood by where I go to therapy now last year. Can we stand there again?”

Yes, if we can get a spot close enough to that area. All things must be planned ahead when you have a kid like my son.

“We got candy, but I don’t like the peppermint candy canes because they are too spicy. Daddy can have them again, if we get them.”

Yes, he likes that, especially in his hot chocolate.

“We can have hot chocolate and marshmallows at home when we’re done, right?”

Yes, of course.

“Will we be able to catch snowflakes on our tongue like last year?”

Yes, if it snows. The snowflakes were huge last year.

“Will we see Santa this year? Do you think he’ll wave to me?”

“Yes, we will, and I bet he’ll wave to you.”

All week, I fielded these questions in a variety of forms, because the Santa Claus Parade is a Very Big Deal to my kids. In fact, any parade falls in that category for them, especially if candy is involved. In small town parades, candy is almost always featured. As well as religious pamphlets, but I digress.

On Friday, we bundled up. We left early enough to get me a coffee, and find the pre-planned location. We talked about not taking all the candy, saying thank you, and sharing with the other kids there. We talked about how far onto the road was safe. Then, we waited, impatiently, wiggling our legs to stay warm.


There was an Anna and Elsa, which caused my daughter to squeal in delight, then burst into her own rendition of Let It Go.  We saw a couple of friends walking in the parade, and waved our woolly mitten hands. There was candy, and possibly a group of children that needed to hear the conversation about not being greedy with the candy and sharing.

When Santa started pulling by our location, the frozen toes that were fast becoming an issue, were forgotten, and my two kids rushed out as far as they were able so they could catch a glimpse of the infamous man in the red suit.

It’s a brief moment of pure magic, one that I love witnessing every single year. My heart always bursts, my eyes always water, at the exact time in the parade every year. It’s the realization that these moments are memory making for them. It’s the realization that this time is fleeting. It’s the pride I have for these two children, for their innocence, and for their excitement.  It’s a small moment, when I’m taken back to my own childhood, when everything was perfect, and real, when Santa was real, when dreams were absolutely touchable.  It’s everything that childhood should be.


Guest Post By Kat Stanley: What is #flipthescript?


Note from Danielle: This is the first time that I’ve hosted a guest post on my blog. I don’t know if I’ll do it again. What I do know is that I’ve been watching Twitter, specifically the #flipthescript hashtag, intently since the beginning of November. I’ve wanted to write about it, but I knew that in doing so I would be co-opting a narrative that doesn’t belong to me. That, of course, would completely negate the point of the hashtag. Instead, I reached out to Kat, and asked her if she would write something up so I could share here. What she has chosen to share is an eloquent summation of what this hashtag is, what it means to adoptees, and the importance of this movement, not only in this month but going forward.  

Please welcome Kat kindly, be sure to comment, and share her words.

Last year, NPR did a story on transracial adoption. The problem: They neglected to include any adoptee voices in the piece. (You can search #NPRgate on Twitter to discover how adoptees felt about that).

Adoptees often feel left out of the adoption conversation. Many times, adoptive parents and those who have careers in the field of adoption are considered the experts, and their voices are utilized much more often than adoptees. This is unfortunate because adult adoptees are a wealth of knowledge with a lifetime of experience to contribute to the adoption conversation. Adoptee voices are important.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM). It’s a month that many adoptees insulate themselves from media outlets because it can be a traumatic experience hearing others celebrate something that feels like a fundamental loss. #flipthescript has changed that.

#flipthescript originated with two incredible authors from the adoptee centric website The Lost Daughters, Amanda of  The Declassified Adoptee and Rosita of mothermade. In response to the silencing of adoptee voices, they decided to “flip the script” and find a way for adoptees to take center stage. Use of #flipthescript on social media, most notably Twitter and Facebook has become a phenomenon and we’re seeing that adoptees are not feeling isolated and dismissed during NAAM2014. Adoptees are feeling included, found, heard and accepted.

#flipthescript doesn’t elevate adoption. It elevates the adoptee voice. It’s about adoptive parents, original parents and the adoption community listening to adoptees.

Adoptees are experts in adoption because it is the life they have lived. As they speak about the complexity of an adopted life, it is not as simple as “pro-adoption or “anti-adoption.” Adoptees don’t want to be labeled in such simplistic terms. They want to use the language they choose to express themselves about their experience. Adoptees don’t want to be criticized for their language choices or feelings when those don’t fit within the ideas the adoption industry has promoted. They want to be honest. Complexity is part of the story. It isn’t about one tweet or one day or one month of tweets. #Flipthescript is changing the conversation to an honest one. It is changing who is center stage.

The experiences are individual, but there is a collective of adoptee voices that want to be heard in expressing their complex experiences, feelings and thoughts about adoption.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now that I’ve shared why adoptee voices are so important, here are a few adoptee voices who have agreed to share their #flipthescript tweets.


“Conceived out of an affair w/ a married man, hidden and given away at birth, I needed my truth no matter what it was. #NAAM14 #Flipthescript”  @FreeSimplyMe  11/12/14


“Adoption does not guarantee a child a better life. Only a different one. #WorldAdoptionDay #Flipthescript”  @MizPotatohead  11/9/14


“#Adoption is lifelong. Efforts that focus on pre-adopt images/stereotypes contribute to our invisibility #flipthescript #worldadoptiondy”  @AmandaTDA  11/9/14


“Feeling adopted isn’t solved in a month or two. It’s until I die. #flipthescript #adopteefeelings #adoptionawareness”  @73JungSun  11/6/14


“If I told you I’d lost my mother you’d say how sad, if I told you I was adopted you’d say GREAT. It’s the same thing #flipthescript #NAAM14”  @Kbela50  11/12/14


“I’m not saying I don’t love my life, I’m saying I’m missing a part of it. #NationalAdoptionMonth #flipthescript”  @imeesayswhat  11/7/14


“The script said mother’s teen pregnancy was a horrible problem. I was a tiny baby. How could I be so horrible? #flipthescript #NAAM14”  @MichelleWPD  11/7/14


“I am 10 crying to sleep. What is this feeling? Am I good enough? Am I confident enough? Why did this all happen? #Adoptee #FlipTheScript #NAM” @Spoutnikya 11/7/14


“I’d share photo of my hand *. But couldn’t fit happy, sad, confused, angry, curious, indifferent faces on it. #worldadoptionday #flipthescript”  @JulieStromberg  11/9/14


Adoptees want to share our stories, experiences, complexity and perspectives. We want to be heard, understood and accepted. We would love to see our adoptive family, biological family, those in adoption related careers and the adoption community (which includes just about everyone) in the audience listening to our voices. We have much to share, and our voices are crucial in the adoption conversation. Please join us as we #flipthescript.


**In reference to the pictures of smiley faces on hands for World Adoption Day.

Kat is an adoptee from open adoption. She was relinquished eleven months after her birth in 1972 and legally adopted when she was eight. She is active within the adoption community as an adoption reform activist, family preservation advocate and adoptee rights activist. Kat also blogs at Sister Wish.

Random Thursday Thoughts


Image Credit: Moyan Brenn
Image Credit: Moyan Brenn
  • If someone bought me a remote car starter, and a heated garage so I never have to scrape iced windows on my car again, I’d probably do unspeakable things for them.
  • I have no idea how parents who have their kids in multiple activities during the school week do it, and manage to stay sane.  I do not relate to anyone who enjoys being that busy all the time. I want my PJ’s, a cozy house, and no plans.
  • Cleaning the fridge out never takes just 10 minutes.
  • I went to lunch with adults today. Adults that weren’t family. Adults, people. Actual, adults. A moment of silence, please.
  • One day, I hope I can stop explaining my daughter’s tiny stature.  Yes, I know she’s tiny. I’ve sort of been around her my whole life.
  • Friend Requests on Facebook make me nervous.
  • Fuck #rapeculture. Fuck our Canadian justice system. Fuck people who ask the asinine question, “Why don’t women report it?” Fuck the judge who decided a young woman committing suicide because her rapist raped her again by posting pictures of the act on social media. Fuck that prick too for getting away with it.
  • Every time I think of Rehtaeh Parsons’ family, I cry. Because, what a fucking slap in the face that sentence was. They didn’t even get justice, and they don’t even get to watch their daughter grow up.
  • Thank heavens for generous people. My daughter has a habit of making her uniform disappear, and of course, thinks it’s hilarious. A mom heard me talking about it, (laughing about it, really), and gave me two uniforms her daughter had grown out of. Storing those in a secret place, thankyouverymuch.
  • My son’s therapist is everything. She didn’t even bat an eye when I took another half hour of her time to discuss some concerns I had. Mental Health Professionals for kids? THANK YOU.
  • Fancy vacuum cleaner is still fancy. Even if it still clogs the same way my non-fancy vacuum cleaner did.
  • I ask my husband to pick me up some anti-freeze (see first bullet point). He responds with a comment about my boobs. It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s still funny. Because, we’re weird. He’s also exhausted.
  • I love it when my writer friends send me their work to critique, add to, or comment on. Also? My writer friends are so fucking talented.
  • Cheryl messaged me today to tell me that she lives 41 driving hours away from me. It made my day.
  • Wunderbars are like crack. Although, I’ve never had crack. I just assume because I keep inhaling them.
  • I don’t really like The Big Bang Theory, but I always watch it. I make no sense sometimes.
  • Some people aren’t worth the effort you’ve put into them, even if you’ve invested in them. That’s okay.
  • I might sleep on top of the pile of laundry on my bed tonight. Don’t judge me.

Time, Let’s Talk About Feminism

According to Time, Feminism is a buzzword. An annoying one that needs to hit the road, and never be uttered ever again. One that should be compared to non words, and internet speak.

Well, Time, let me tell you something. Feminism is not a trend. It’s not some made up, nonsensical, ridiculous word dropped into our laps recently.  OMG YOLO OMNOMNOMNOM #LOL….Did I do that right? Probably not. Whatever, get off my lawn.

Feminism is a real, necessary, actual movement. It’s been around for awhile, and it’s kind of a big deal.

Here’s some Feminism 101 for you, since it appears you have no idea what feminism actually is. Marie Shear said, in 1986 – do you see that, Time? 19 fucking 86 –  

“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”  

Crazy shit, right?! I don’t expect you to be able to digest this new information right away. Take your time. Get a coffee. Go to the gym. Meditate. Go to church. Do what you need to do to process this shocking concept. I totally get it. Really, it is so incredibly difficult to comprehend the fact that there are women and men who want to fight for gender equality. They want to work until women are no longer seen, or treated as second class citizens.

But, who the hell would want that? It sounds so obviously horrible.

 “And you might even seek out the nearest the pair of chopsticks and thrust them through your own eardrums like straws through plastic lids.”  If this is your reaction to the word feminism, you are probably one of those assholes who smugly announces on social media that you don’t need feminism, or believe that feminists are a group of man-hating, bra burning bitches.

I can’t burn my bra because I need it. Also, it cost a lot of money, and burning it would be financially irresponsible.

Here’s a memo for all you anti- feminists:

Feminism is why we women-folk can vote. It’s why we have the ability to choose to go to work or not, to reproduce or not, it’s why we don’t have to take our partner’s name when we marry because  we’re not property. It’s why we don’t have to get married anymore, if we don’t want to. It’s the reason there are more woman in media, in tech, and in positions that were once commonly only for men. Do you understand that, person who says it’s never been relevant in your life? You are able to freely describe that asinine opinion because

The irony, oh how it burns.

Feminism is still and will always be relevant, because for all the leaps and bounds we’ve made, we still have so much further to go. Because women are threatened every single day for voicing their opinions on the internet. Because a man can abuse a woman, and people will still make excuses for him. Because there are politicians who are hellbent on taking away bodily autonomy, who believe rape only happens to women who want it. Because there are women who are being repressed, and oppressed, all over the world.  Because, a notable, supposedly intelligent magazine has the misguided opinion that feminism is just this annoying trend that we need to get the fuck over. Because we could fill every empty space of the internet with all the reasons everyone needs feminism. Because people don’t get that this isn’t just an issue for us “killjoy feminists”. No. it’s a fucking global issue, thankyouverymuch.

I have a suggestion for your poll, Time. Can we add “Websites being derogatory toward feminists and feminism for clickbait/traffic” as something to banish for good?  It’s not edgy, funny or forward thinking to promote polls or think pieces that trash feminism. Perhaps, that’s not your intention. For all I know, your website could legitimately be aspiring to gather readers that lurk on websites like 4Chan, threaten to kill a feminists, who think that anyone who makes a sexual assault or rape claim is clearly lying, who cry foul because “men’s rights!” and wear misogyny on their chest like it’s a fucking badge of honor.

Because that’s the sort of mob you are attracting with pieces like that, Time. They are the ones sharing your piece with veracity, and pride.

This poll, even if it shows that feminism is a faux pas, a word to be “deleted”, is simply put, fucking wrong. Realistically, it doesn’t matter to me, (and I’m sure to any other self-proclaimed feminist) what the results are. We are past that part of the discussion. We know that feminism is necessary, even if you haven’t figured that out yet. We know we need celebrities to talk about it, even if we don’t subscribe to their version of feminism. We know the importance of sharing our own experiences with feminism, and what it means to us. We know the generation behind us, and even the one in front of us, need feminism. We know that even the women who say that they don’t relate to feminism, and reject it, primarily because they’ve yet to understand feminism despite the fact that they utilize all the benefits that it’s afforded them, need it.  It’s not just some passing fad, like Pumpkin Spice or posting food pictures to Instagram. Feminism is not something we can afford to get “sick of”. We all need it. Even you, Time.

You know what I am sick of and would love to vote off the island?

I’d love it if we could stop insulting the women who fought for the rights we have today by insinuating we have “enough” and need no more. I’d love it if we could just stop having to explain why I need feminism, why we need feminism, because I think it’s been more than covered for you. Maybe you just need to start listening.