Monday, August 2, 2021

Over it. Get vaccinated.

This is what I look like when I'm meeting with patients today. They've reinstated the stricter PPE guidelines at work, given the recent resurgence of COVID cases and the fact that the hospital is back to nearing capacity. Not only do I have to wear my mask, but now I also have to wear a face shield or goggles. Can't you just feel the empathy? My first patient was visibly taken aback when he walked into the room, which is exactly what I'm going for when setting the tone for a session. 

I'm over it. I sit with struggling people and have to try to connect with them at their most vulnerable while wearing this bullshit. And that's best case scenario. Imagine if you were feeling paranoid, or scared, or suspicious, and this is what your psychologist looked like. Imagine that you and your kid had to talk about suicide and safety plans with someone and they literally have a barrier between you and them. And that's just at work. I'm over wearing masks period. I'm over the kids having to wear them everywhere and constantly running the risk analysis game about EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DECISION. I'm not languishing. I'm pissed off. 

Up to this point, I have encouraged friends to get vaccinated, but I've also tried very hard to mind my own business and let people make their own decisions. I've long been of the opinion that if it doesn't affect me and it doesn't hurt other people, it's really not my business. We protected ourselves and made the best choices day to day (to the point of fucking exhaustion, if I'm honest). I'm done. The decision to not protect yourself is affecting me now. It's affecting me, and it's hurting people. We have lived in the pandemic for a year and a half and now we're going back to where we were in March of 2020. It's bullshit. There's really no better way to say it. 

I am trying to understand the anti-vaxx position. I really am. I spent the weekend arguing with the only person left on my FB that is anti-vaxx, hoping to glean some information that would help me understand why they are so adamantly against something that to me seems abundantly clear. I'm going to be honest. What I've gleaned is that it seems to be rooted in egocentrism and selfishness. There is a huge anti-mask movement here since it was declared that the kids all have to mask in school, and the mask mandate has been reinstituted to include vaccinated people. Instead of choosing not to send their kids to school, the anti-vaxxers seem to want to lament about their loss of freedoms and the injustice of making little Timmy cover his mouth. If anyone has information that would help me see how reasonable humans could end up on the anti side of this argument, I truly and genuinely would be interested. Because I don't get it and all that anyone's been able to show me are memes, youtube videos, and snippets of articles taken out of context. 

The sad thing is, I've seen this scenario play out on social media so many times that it's become frustratingly predictable. 

"Everyone can make their own choices! I refuse to live in fear. It's no worse than the flu!"
"Ugh. So over the masks. Tried to run into the store real quick and the cashier gave me such a hard time about it! If your mask works, you're fine. Right? Some of us can't wear a mask all the time. Where's my rights?" 
"Sheeple! I encourage you to do your research and watch insert some rando video of someone spouting quasi-science
"Well, it happened. We've tested positive for the 'dreaded virus.' We think we likely caught it at huge gathering of like minded people not living in fear. So far we're doing okay! Just a little tired. So grateful for our community right now! Lots of rest and fluids. Thank you for those of you that have come by!"
"Wow! This thing is no joke! Hopefully we're seeing the worst of it." 
"The doctor is a little worried because my oxygen level is still low. Thank you for all the recommendations. So far I'm feeling okay and taking it easy." 
"Heading to the ER. Oxygen levels are still really low and it looks like we might need to get admitted." 
"Update: So-and-so was admitted to the ICU. Nurse says they're doing better and in good spirits. Hopefully they'll be home soon!"
"Update: I just talked to the nurse. The oxygen levels are still low. She said they've been awake for a few minutes but mostly unconscious. Send all your thoughts and prayers."  
Get vaccinated if you're eligible. I watched the first half of the pandemic (son of a bitch, why does that seem like the most accurate way to explain time right now?) rage through the prisons and now I get to watch the second half from the perspective of community health care. The vaccines work. I've seen them work. I've seen families where a kid gets COVID and the vaccinated parents don't. I've seen relatively healthy, unvaccinated people have really, really bad reactions to the virus. Being healthy and strong doesn't always mean safe. 


Monday, July 26, 2021

The days are long

 My babies are solidly not babies anymore. I was talking to Averson this weekend about some of her nightime behavior (after an especially loud and dramatic reaction to a dream in the middle of the night) and I realized that, when Eli was her age, we also had a five-year old and a toddler in the house. 

When I reflect on when the kids were small, I remember being so tired and feeling so...saddled. I loved it, but in my mind that era is perfectly illustrated by the number of bags I was constantly carrying. Parenting Littles, and the work that went into it, was so visual. It was the bags under the eyes and over each shoulder. It was the puke down the back of your shirt that seemed to be a permanent accessory. It was a baby taking a bath in a sink full of dishes while we all laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. 


There are so many things that I love about having big kids. They carry their own stuff. They wipe their own butts. I pretty regularly sleep through the night. My kids are HILARIOUS and they're even funnier now that they can err a bit more to the inappropriate side of humor. Parenting Bigs, though, is such a private experience. They're much more autonomous as people. The struggles and dilemmas are more personal, and honestly feel a lot more monumental. Eli potentially leaves home in THREE YEARS. We've been stuck in our homes almost that long. Syd is in that very weird transition stage between kid and teen, which feels like a constant tight-rope walk. And Averson. I fear that I'm infantalizing her in my attempts to keep at least one of the kids relatively simple.  

I texted a friend the other night after a conversation with Eli, and she responded with, "I think that's the first time that sentence has ever been said. By anyone." That's what I'll picture when I look back on parenting these kids through adolescence. Where when they were toddlers, all parents could relate to potty training, to sleep struggles, to sink baths, now they are all SO weird in such unique and unpredictable ways. Just when I think I've got it dialed in, another one comes up with another brand new sentence and my biggest task is to fix my face so my shock doesn't show. 

So, to all of you parenting Bigs, constantly trying to figure out what the fuck just happened and what the hell is going to happen next, I see you and I respect your ability to keep a straight face. We may be ping-ponging in different directions but we should totally high-five as we cross paths. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Fashion question: Knot or not knot

 Are we knotting t-shirts now? I thought it was a fluke when a woman at C’s end of year party complimented my outfit of my prairie maxi dress with C’s long sleeved, gray t-shirt knotted on top (it was COLD and I optimistically didn’t bring a coat.) But now I see The Mom Edit doing it too. Are French tucks out? Can triple c-section moms pull off the knot? Help!!

Evidence of my current t-shirt strategy, which is really to wave my hands in the general vicinity of a waistband and hope for the best 

Friday, June 25, 2021

The more things change...

 So... I quit my job. I tripped into a job offer outside of the prison, and every time I set a "I definitely won't take it unless" benchmark, the universe laughed in my face. So here I sit, in a very normal, very professional medical clinic, wearing jeans and hearing babies cry down the hall (OMG. ALL THE BABIES!!!) I went from an executive level chief position, overseeing a lot of staff and going to a lot of meetings to my new role as a Behavioral Health Consultant (confession: I didn't even know what that was when I applied for the job and said as much in my interview. Like I said, the universe is laughing.) 

It's been a bit of a...culture shock. For sure. And yet, some things stay the same. 

I was leaving the office about a week ago, and as I headed to the parking garage I noticed two men coming off of the elevator. They looked a little lost, and having just completed my new employee training about customer service, I thought "I should offer to help them!" Then I noticed that one had no shirt on and the other wasn't wearing shoes. Pragmatically acknowledging that I don't know where anything is, and that I'd be less than helpful, I averted my gaze and continued out to my car. When presented with shoeless, shirtless, lost people, it's best not to make eye contact I have found. That makes me sound like a terrible person. 

So then, as I'm pulling out of the garage, safely ensconced in my car, you can imagine my relief and disbelief when I see the SAME shoeless, shirtless, men being chased out of the parking garage by the security guard. And they're moving slowly because shoeless guy is also pulling up his pants. Now our cast of characters is shoeless, shirtless, pantsless. I HAVE to know what is going on. Were they nutty? Were they looking for a discrete place to express their love to each other? Was this a new type of scavenger hunt? The world is weird now. It could be anything! 

So of course, the next day I relay all of this to my boss to see if there'd been any gossip in the building about the semi-nude visitors. Y'all? She hadn't heard ANYTHING. That means that this did not warrant any sort of drama. But she took pity on my poor, new employee self and did some investigating. Turns out the pair had been looking for a *cough* facility, and finding none that were open to the public, chose to attempt to fertilize the parking garage. At which point they were discovered by our fearless security guard and escorted out. MID-SHIT. This poor woman had to come across a man, or two men, squatting in the parking garage and had to make them pinch off, stand-up, and walk out. I don't know how much they pay her, but it is NOT enough. 

I was sure it was a fluke. An unremarkable, but still uncommon, fluke and a quaint example of what it's like to work "downtown" now. And then, THEN, a week later, on my way to work, I see one of the guys again! He's standing on the sidewalk, this time fully clothed, holding a blanket matador style. I think to myself, "Huh. That's a little odd for 7:30 in the morning." But then as I drive forward, what's BEHIND the blanket comes into view. And Guy 2 is behind the blanket. Shitting on the sidewalk. The blanket was doing almost nothing to ensure his privacy and doing so much to draw attention to him. 

So yeah. Got a new, normal job. I wear jeans and people call me by my first name. There's scissors on my desk and I take my lunch in a mason jar. Still see shit and penises. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Eli is 15!

 I started this blog when Eli was two, and now he’s quite nearly a fully formed adult (frontal lobe notwithstanding.) I’m trying not to be too precious and sentimental, but if I could pick any human to make me a mom, it’d be this guy. He is sweet and smart and thoughtful and funny and stubborn enough to hold his own with his parents. He’s resilient enough to withstand all the parenting screw-ups and sarcastic enough to bring them up at just the right time (like when I thought I ruined Santa.) The world is better with him in it 

I will buy him wrestlers when he's forty and I suspect that he's good-naturedly appreciate them just as much then

Look at this cute baby. BABY! 

And now he's bigger than me and takes ridiculous pictures of us

Friday, June 11, 2021

Family Movie Night

 I think, like most families in our demographic, Friday night has always been "Pizza and a Movie Night." We've been doing it for years off and on, with all of us democratically choosing a movie and then either ordering or making pizza. It was fun, it worked, and it was predictable. Oh. So. Predictable. A few months ago I started to notice though that we were drifting. The kids had seen every movie on Netflix (or so they claimed) and with fewer movies during the pandemic it became a chore finding something everyone wanted to watch. People started drifting to their own devices, with Eli retreating to his room and Averson and Syd binge-watching the show of the week. Pizza, despite all the evidence to the contrary, can get mundane if you eat the same thing every week. I loved the idea of a family night but the execution was falling apart. 

Around that same time I stumbled onto Jennifer Borget on Instagram. The post that caught my eye was about her deciding what movie she was going to pick for their movie night that week. She seemed so excited about it! After a little digging, I found a post that explained how their family of five approaches movie night.  Each person takes a turn choosing both the movie AND the dinner for that week. I'm a little embarrassed by how mind-blowing this was. I presented it to the family and everyone was into it. It has been SO FUN. Our rotation goes youngest to oldest, and we've each had at least two turns so far. People are putting so much thought into their choices and its really fun to talk about it during the week. We have a rule that everyone has to participate and that the movie can't be too scary or grossly age-inappropriate (that bar is really high though). So far we've only had to veto one movie after Syd picked 47 Meters Down Unchained and Averson was crawling in my lap after the first five minutes. For dinners we've had pizza, Chinese food, burgers, pigs in a blanket, and pasta. It's been fun to watch the decision making process for movies too. I always try for something we've never seen (Cruella and Thunder Force). Averson likes to pick an animated movie about animals. Syd agonized over her choice, but aside from the sharks, she's picked winners from her own library of favorites (Maleficient was particularly well-received). Eli I think tries to push the boundaries just a little but has picked the funniest movies of all of us (Grownups was HILARIOUS and maybe a little inappropriate). C and my mom both try to find classics that they want to introduce the kids too. C showed Grumpy Old Men and my mom picked City Slickers. Both had us all laughing out loud. 

If your movie nights have become a little less fun, I highly recommend trying the rotation approach. It takes so much pressure off and everyone got a lot more excited about it, which is important when you're trying to find activities that you can do together when the age and interest ranges vary so widely. 

My turn is coming up. What movies have you loved lately? 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

These are going to be so cute at her medical school graduation

 C hooked Averson up with leftover frogs from a middle-school biology class. Her favorite part to dissect was the tongue, but the lungs came in a close second. I found a section of skin that she saved in her dissection kit. She now has opinions on the quality of formaldehyde. C pondered, out loud, whether he could potentially hook it up to a battery to make it's heart beat or it's legs twitch and I was successful in dissuading him from trying.