Category Archives: Family

Love is what makes a family!

A few years ago I wrote a blog about how my oldest son Zachary wrote a paper for English when he was 15. In the paper he wrote that he thought his “gay mom was cool”. In the years that have passed since I wrote that blog post (he is now 20) a LOT has happened.  Some good, some not so good and some great!

When my partner Karol and I first decided to blend our families together, we definitely had concerns. We were concerned about what the kids would think,  about Karol’s job (she was on Active Duty in the era of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell), about what the community would think, about what our families would think (her family didn’t know), among others. What we found were that some of those concerns were very valid, and some weren’t as big a deal as we thought they would be.

Where it all started

Where it all started

When we came together as a family our kids were 13, 11, 8 and 6. Our main concern was the oldest, as she had already started rebelling and was NOT happy about another adult in her life “telling her what to do”. The boys were not as complicated and didn’t seem to care at all.

First family vacation 2007...the girl refused to get in the photo....

First family vacation 2007…the girl refused to get in the photo….

Fast forward 14 years. The kids are now 24, 22, 20 and 17. Looking back on the way our family has evolved I can tell you there were some good years and some not so good years.  Our daughter did end up moving in with her dad for a few years to avoid “a new adult telling her what to do”, and that ended up being a disaster. Her father was a very ineffective parent and even though Katarina was living with him, Karol still ended up doing most of the parenting. AND she was having to do it while her ex husband AND his wife were working against her.  Those were some of the not so good years. Then she ended up having to come live with us her senior year because her father “didn’t want to deal with her crap anymore”, and that was another not so good year.

All the kids Christmas 2008

All the kids Christmas 2008

The boys never really gave us the same problems, and living with them was not perfect, but definitely not as problematic as with our daughter.

All of us in 2010. Photo courtesy of Leila Wylie.

All of us in 2010. Photo courtesy of Leila Wylie.

However, even in all of that drama and family conflict we had lots and lots of fun! We vacationed together, and laughed and played, and went to high school graduations, and proms, and all of the things many many other families do.

As I have talked more with other parents about our family struggles I have come to realize that LOTS of other families had trouble with one or more of their kids. And not just gay families, but straight families too. And not just step families, but also all biological families. And not just girls or the oldest, or the whatever.

ALL families have some complications, or stress, or a kid that acts out, or fails a grade, or smokes weed, or gets in trouble at school, or cracks up the car, or rebels, or a million other things that kids do and families deal with. Death, divorce, drama, fights, sorrows, joys, etc.

I guess my point is that ALL families are essentially more the same than different. So during this week of PRIDE I want to say that what I have learned in the past 14 years of raising my family, is that we are the same as a million other families out there. The fact that this family has two moms does not really play much of a part in it. Because in the end what truly makes a family a family is the love we have for each other and that we work together to overcome obstacles and dealing with “stuff”.  A family is not about biology, but about love!

And to be honest, my “family” is much more than my partner and kids! I have people in my life I call my “chosen” family. Women I consider sisters, men I consider brothers, and many kids I love to pieces!!

They are my family, and I am so blessed to have them!!

Because what it boils down to is that:

When you have to walk away from a toxic friendship

I have had some amazing friends in my life.  I have also had some NOT so amazing friends in my life. And I have had friends who started out being amazing, but then the friendship fizzles. Many times with a new friendship you see a promising future, and somehow, something happens that pulls the rug out from under you and you have a sudden realization that it just wasn’t meant to be.

Or sometimes you need to break up with a friend.  I had to do that. I had to break up with a friend I had for many many years. It wasn’t pleasant and I avoided it for a long time because we had been friends for so long I just didn’t know how to part ways without it becoming ugly or bitter. In fact, in writing this it has occurred to me that I have been through a few friendship break ups. So I guess the question that came to me next is:   why do I need to break up with my friend? And what happens when you have to walk away from a toxic friendship?

A friendship breakup can be even more devastating than a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend.  Sometimes we have been even more emotionally intimate with our friend than our lover/boyfriend/girlfriend, and so the loss of the friendship seems to cut a little deeper.

But as I think about it more, I realize that I have usually been the one to end the friendship.  Every time I have had to do that it has been because what was at first a wonderful, loving, friendship ended up being toxic to me. Let me explain.

Picture found on www.xojane.com

Picture found on www.xojane.com

I am an empath. Because of that people usually feel very comfortable talking to me about deeply personal things. Even when they don’t know me well. They tell me really intimate details of their lives without me even asking.  Something about me makes people feel comfortable and able to talk openly.

This has never been a burden and I have always been happy to be that person someone feels comfortable sharing with, however, occasionally it has resulted in a friendship that starts out great, but I soon realize that the friendship is toxic.  In one case I had a very close friend who I realized was toxic when I thought about all of the kind and loving things I had done for her and her family, but the love and kindness was never reciprocated.  The final straw was when she asked me about something someone else had told me in confidentiality and I refused to breach that trust. She just “had to know” and wouldn’t let it go. I finally realized that she would never give up asking for the information and I would never share it and break that trust, ….ever…..so I had to walk away. That one really hurt because we had mutual friends, and had been very very close for about quite a few years.

I think the most painful part of a breakup is the loss of what could have been.

picture found on pinterest

picture found on pinterest

But probably even worse than the previous breakup was one I went through about a year ago. It was a friendship that I thought would be amazing for my life and my family’s life.  I had invested a LOT of time and finances into the relationship and had gifted her and her family thousands of dollars. We were even talking about starting a business together and she had asked me to be on the board of her 501c.3 corp.  It started going downhill after she and her family came to stay at my home for a week and we sent them home with a truck full of goods as well as cash to get home. (approximately $500.00) This was after we had given them $1000.00 to go from their home across the country for a family funeral, and helped pay for vehicle repairs (900.00), groceries, hotel stays, etc. for a total cost of about $4000.00 over the span of about 12 months.  After they left I didn’t hear from her for almost two months (and prior to that I had spoken on the phone or via skype with her at least two to three times a week.) When I finally heard back after multiple attempts to reach her over that two months I were told “not to worry”, she had been “busy”, and could I give her $500.00 to help with some vehicle repairs. I said no, and the friendship began to unravel…..quickly…   I was accused of not caring, trying to trick her, lying to her, etc etc etc….. it just got uglier and uglier. I eventually had to block her from my FB, my phone, and my email.

That was an awful loss for myself and my family! I had a lot of dreams wrapped into that friendship both personally and professionally.  I actually cried for a week after I realized I had to walk away.

So I guess the bottom line is that friendships do break up, and they can be even more painful that a romantic relationship breakup.  I think we always know when it is time to move on, but we are sometimes reluctant to end a friendship.

Nontoxic people can become toxic.  Friendships can change  and become unhealthy. We can change. Friends can change. Sometimes we just have to walk away.  There are many different reasons we have to break up with a friend, but my advice is to always listen to your heart and gut and do what is best for you and your life.

 

Why do young folks sag their pants? My top 10 reasons!

I work with teenagers and young adults.

I live with teenagers and young adults.

I hang out with teenagers and young adults.

I actually pride myself on the fact that I can speak their language and tend to “get” them, (for the most part).  I like hanging out with them.  In fact, I find myself thinking about my own teenage-hood when I am hanging out with them.

My kids don’t read my blog and for that I am often grateful.  After all, since they don’t read the blog I can bad mouth them, talk shit about them, generally smear their names, or I can tell things about myself that I don’t necessarily want them to know.

So, back to my original point, which is that I feel that I “get” them for the most part.  I have learned not to share too much about me, but am able to get them to open up about themselves.  They seem to trust me. And even though my 19 year old always said I was the “best nag” about his homework when he was in high school, I NEVER embarrassed him in front of his friends, or gave him a hard time about his girlfriends.  I am one of those adults who believe that teens can experience true love, and have NEVER said to a teenager, “You don’t even know what love is”.  Of course they do.  They have the same feelings adults do, to the extreme in many cases.  They fall in love.  They care for each other.  The fastest way to stop your teen from listening to you is to tell them they don’t “really” love their girlfriend or boyfriend.

And even though I “get” young people, there are still many things about them I don’t understand.  Many things really haven’t changed from when I was a teen and young adult, (drinking, partying, hanging out with friends, staying up too late,  driving too fast, making reckless decisions, falling in and out of love) but there are also quite a few things that are different (technology, technology, technology). And this! This trend that I have seen for a few years, mainly among young males, although I have seen a few females engaging in this behavior as well. What is it?

Sagging their pants!

This is behavior I just don’t get.  I mean, really, I just don’t understand why they do that.  I can’t even tell you how many times I have wanted to walk up to the young guys I see on the campus where I attend college classes and say to them, “Listen, I know I am a middle aged white lady who just really doesn’t get it, but could you please tell me what it is that goes through your head when you get dressed in the morning, and choose to put on your pants, and then belt them around your thighs?”

What is attractive about this?:
sag pants                                                        Is this sexy????

Ridiculous

Ridiculous

I am a gal who wears my pants at the appropriate place on her body.  Which for a plump, middle aged woman is waist high or thereabouts.  No low riders for me……..no ma’am.  I have a hard enough time keeping the muffin top under control as it is.

But back to the matter at hand…which is why do young men wear their pants so low?  Do you remember the old Letterman top 10 bit?  Well I have developed my own list of:

Why do young folks sag their pants? My top 10 reasons!

10:  They just have too much junk in their pants (i.e. well endowed) and they need more room for things to “spread out”, shall we say….

9. They have just spent lots of money on VERY cool boxers and want to share their amazing undies with the world.

8. The are working on their arm muscles, and having to reach down and hitch up their pants every two steps while they are walking is a mini workout.

7. They have a new amazing belt, and think if they belt their pants around their thighs, you will have more opportunity to see it.

6. There was a super clearance sale at the Big and Tall shop, and they just couldn’t pass up a good bargain, even if the pants are three sizes too big…

5. They received hand me downs from a much larger person, and just couldn’t refuse accepting and wearing them.

4. They have recently lost LOTS of weight and therefore their pants don’t fit properly anymore, and constantly fall down.

3. They have decided they are taking a stand on running, they are just NOT going to do it, hence the low pants…(you can’t run in those things even if you needed to.) People who need to make a fast getaway do NOT wear saggy britches…….Just sayin’……

2. They have decided to boost the economy in their later years by ruining their hips now (have you seen the wide stance walk they have to use to move in their way too big pants), so they can spend money later on things like walkers, canes, etc. to get around.

and the number 1 reason men wear their pants low:

1. They are overheated and just need the butt and nut air conditioning…….

air flow

air flow

I have to say that I did do some research on this topic, (so I could point out to my sons where it really started), and found that the long held truth that this is about men showing their sexual availability is WRONG and is just a myth. The myth is that this started in prisons so men could show they were “available” for some “attention”. NOT TRUE!   However, the style is related to prison garb, which is usually too large for inmates and they are not allowed belts, so they have to constantly hitch up their pants.  Then some hip hop and rap artists took on the style as their own, and young men, (particularly young urban men) started copying the rappers they admired. Some cities have banned the style, and at my son’s high school “sagging” is not allowed, and you can be sent home if you can’t conform to the dress code.

And who can forget General Larry Platt:

So youth of America, listen to the General!!