I guess I’ll see you next lifetime…

Moving back to a place you’ve lived before comes with a lot of peculiar experiences. One of which is running in to people you’ve known before. Today, I ran in to someone I knew in my early 20’s, when we were both different people.

She was someone I crushed on so hard. I went to the coffee shop she worked at every day, just so I could see and talk to her. I was so young, and in such a strange time of my life. I didn’t understand the world the way I do now. After several months of coffee shop talk, she invited me to a party and I went. I was introduced to a world I’d never known, and while I was trying to make small talk (hell for an introvert) I was trying so hard to fight the urge to run.

I didn’t make any new friends, or get folded in to the social scene, but after the party I decided to ask her out. She said yes and we hung out a few times but nothing ever came of it. I met my ex wife, and moved away. A few years later I ran in to her again at a club. I was dancing, and was really excited to see her. When I said her name, she immediately corrected me and gave me a new name, new pronoun, and a huge hug. I was also given an apology for the weird/abrupt way our dating had gone. In that moment, I understood. He looked so happy, and I was happy for him.

Today, I went out to breakfast with my family. Sitting in a small (amazing!!) bakery across from my husband with my daughter on my lap and my son outside with the puppy and his best friend I saw him again. He came in with what I can only presume is his wife (rings, matching tattoos, public displays of affection) and they were both smiling. I looked at him, and looked at my husband, and realized how my life has changed. It also brought me back to a conversation I recently had on social media.

I live a hetero normative life, yet I do not identify as heterosexual. Outside looking in, I am presumed straight. I have to fight for acknowledgment as a member of the LGBT+ community instead of being relegated to “ally”. My sexuality is fluid and I haven’t identified as straight since I graduated high school. I have had girlfriends, boyfriends, a wife, and now a husband. I am attracted to men, women, and trans-gendered individuals.

As I sat in that bakery this morning, so much was clear to me. One thing was that I am incredibly happy in the relationship I am in right now. I love my husband, and am incredibly loved by him. I love our children, and what we have worked so hard to build. I love how far we’ve come, and while we’ve not always had it easy, it has been worth it.

As I looked at the man who I’d once known I realized that we’d both lived entire lifetimes since we knew each other. I could have said hi, and said “I knew you when”, but really…while a moment of connection would have been nice, it was great just to see the light in his eyes when he looked at the woman he was with. The strength and confidence he carried himself with. Which lead me to wonder, do people see that in me? Do they see the love I receive when I move through the world, and if not, what do I need to do to make sure it shows?

I kissed my daughter and looked at my husband as the boys and puppy appeared near the door. I felt calm. There is so much chaos in our world, and I embraced that years ago. I thrive in chaos, and show up as my best self when I feel useful. I am learning to allow the peace to permeate my soul. I am growing.

 

Jump up, kick back, whip around and spin…

…then we jump back, do it again (Ninja-go! Ninja-go!) -The Fold

“There is no such thing as balance, you have to make choices.”
I just said that to my neighbor and had a HUGE ah-ha moment. Y’all…its TRUE. 

I have been deep inside my head and my emotions lately. I have been letting things fall through the cracks, my joy has been elsewhere, and I have been a bit of a mess. I tend to be very change resistant, and there is a lot of change going on for me. I am moving. I am moving back to Santa Cruz, where I originally found “my people”. Its only 33 miles but I am telling y’all, it feels epic. 

My son is ending his elementary school years in 8 days. 8 mother trucking days. My baby, my Moo, will be a MIDDLE SCHOOLER!!! Now, he’s had the attitude for a while, so…let’s not imagine some kid who is angelic and innocent, okay? Hahaha. 

My Toddlerface is potty training. She wears underpants. By choice. I’m not complaining about the decreased diaper laundry, but it sure feels strange. She is also nursing less and less. She is growing up. In front of my eyes. 

I have been feeling this pull, to allow God (as I understand It) to work through me in my life, but I am terrified of letting go completely. Admitting that publicly is a strange one. I know my purpose, it is clear: help families, especially mothers and children. Help mothers be conscious, curious, compassionate, and contributing so that they might raise children who are the same. In that, we change the world. Not me. Us. 

In all of this I see how in reality, there is no balance. Balance implies a little here and a little there, but that cannot be. I cannot keep hedging on our move, I have to commit full force, for my sanity and the security of my family. I cannot “balance” my passion for my family, and I don’t want to. I get so caught up in trying to balance…a little here, a little there…that nothing is getting done with my full attention.

That written, today I am saying goodbye to balance. I am committing to this season of my life that is so wabi sabi that I am probably both waving AND drowning. 

What season of life are you in? Tell me about it, and what you’re doing to enjoy it fully!!! 

You’ve got to stand for something…

…or you’ll fall for anything.

I don’t know where the original quote is from, and I’m feeling Google-lazy in this moment. I’m actually hearing the country song by Aaron Tippin play in my head. Oh how I thought he was amazing when I was young. I think I actually fangirled pretty hard when I met him. Youth…I miss it.

I was asked recently where I am showing up small in my life. I found it easier to answer where I am fully showing up. One of the areas I certainly show up small is in my writing. I am so afraid of offending anyone (and I realize there are many people on the internet who LIVE to express that they have been offended) that I don’t express myself. I recognize that I am not for everyone…and I actually like that because it means I’m authentic. Having typed all of that, I still haven’t found my niche in the world when it comes to giving/helping, which is something I am sensitive about.

At any rate, last week I attended the preview of the video they will be showing my son for his “Family Life” unit at school. There is no actual sex ed involved, but I went to the preview to make sure there were no negative statements made about masturbation or LGBTIQA identity. The video itself was almost 11 minutes long, and even with out any specific sex education, they still found a way to make a hetero-normative statement. After the preview, the teachers opened up the room for questions, and I bit my tongue. All I could think was “How many kids in the 5th grade and this school will see this and take it as a knock against who they are? Will they offer ANY education about LGBTIQA at all? What am I risking by bringing this up? Is it even relevant if the parents would kvetch anyway? Do I want to fight this right now?”

I did not. I did not say anything, and in my silence, I feel ashamed. I *did* have a conversation with my son when we left where I discussed that the video was all stuff he already knew (proper anatomical names, changes he’ll go through, etc) as well as the line that was hetero-normative. My son has two moms, a known donor/Papa, a step dad, and his mommy’s girlfriend. He has heard the term hetero-normative before, and he has been told all his life that it is perfectly fine if he has a boyfriend, a girlfriend, both, or neither. A few months ago we read the book George (if you have a late elementary/early middle school child, I cannot recommend this book highly enough, or even as an adult) and discussed what it means to identify as transgender. We discuss this stuff in our home because it is important.

When I was given the opportunity to discuss it in public I froze. I wasn’t in front of my kids and I choked. I was in a room with people I knew would disagree, and I didn’t feel like fighting. I say that because I recognize it, not to excuse my silence. In our home and in our lives as a family, we bring up real issues. We talk about race, privilege, socio-economics, sexual and gender identity, intersectionality, kindness, love, and compassion. We have to talk about these things if we want to change the world. As a mom, I believe parenting is Guerrilla Warfare on society. I change the world by putting conscious, compassionate, and contributing individuals in to it. Last week, I failed my own mission.

I can accept it, because I can learn from it. I can examine it and adjust. Like a sailor who has found themselves off course, I can realign myself to ensure arrival at my destination. I cannot have that moment back, and that makes me feel a little sad. As David Gibson says, “Daily gradual growth”, and that is what I’m committed to. So, here is to standing up, taking up some more space, and expanding my “offense” field. I will not apologize for who I am anymore, or for my beliefs, though I will say that I am 100% open to learning and hearing other opinions/beliefs/ways. I will not even say “no offense, but…” and have taught my children not to do so either.

When I express something, if it makes you want to talk, know that my “door” is open to respectful discourse. I welcome conversation. Comment, email me, engage with me. I will not tolerate disrespect, to me, my children, or of any one else, so make sure to keep any comments/emails on the up and up.

 

Hard work? Heart work!

Anyone who knows me can tell you how passionate I am about children and families. I come alive the moment that anyone talks about ages and stages, child care choices, parenting philosophies, and much more. I absolutely live and breathe for children and families, it is my belief that raising productive, compassionate children is guerrilla war fare on society as we know it. To me, this is how we change the world.

As parents, we know the work we do…day in and day out. Whether you are a SAHM, a WAHM, you work part/full/double time outside the home…you know what it takes. Yet, when considering child care, the first thought is often (necessarily) financial.

Yesterday I was a part of a focus group for a fabulous woman on Periscope. She was asking about what people would want from a certain time of coaching and what they would be willing to pay. It was a small group of people, but I learned a lot from participating. We all want the greatest value for our money, right? So, it makes the most sense that we want to get the best we possibly can for each dollar. Except when it doesn’t.

When we talk about our children, many of us would say we want the best for them. Each generation tries to give their children a higher quality of life than the last. In doing so, we have created the “Entitled Generation”, but that is a post for another day. So often, parents look at child care from a purely financial perspective, which I understand, as most working parents are living pay check to pay check. I invite you all to consider how child care is not only hard work, but heart work. Considering how much we spend as a society in therapy, our emotional selves are very important.

As a child care provider, in any capacity, obviously we are caring for the base physical needs of the children. However, there is much, much more that goes on. People do not go in to child care because it makes a ton of money, we do it for the love of children. It is because of this love that we nurture, guide, teach, model, and discipline the children that we care for.

Those of us who have made child care our lives take that a step further. We educate ourselves in our field, and continue our education throughout our careers. We take the time to develop our socio-emotional selves to provide excellent care and support of not only the children, but their families also. Parents, think back to your nannies/day care center workers/preschool teachers…remember how they listened to you vent at the end of a hard day? Or how they supported you and your child/ren through that divorce? How they helped you problem solve regression issues after that move? These are all examples of the deep love one should have to be in a care giving position.

All of that support is invaluable, right? But hey…let’s keep it real…we don’t have billions of dollars to give to even the best of the best caregivers, and if we did…we certainly wouldn’t have that money anymore! Sometimes, parents don’t approach child care from the heart, they approach it from a purely business standpoint. As such, they end up with a business style relationship. The turn over in child care is exceptionally high, and takes a rather large toll on the care giver and the children.

I believe that with more support, parents can make more informed choices, and care givers can offer more across the board. While it *can* be as easy as touring your local child care center, enrolling your child, and moving along…what if you could have a better relationship with your child’s caregiver? What if you could have a better relationship with the parents of the children you care for?

I want to help families. I want to help families because I want to change the world. I want to help put great people in to the world who go out and treat each other well. Who stand up for what is right when no one is looking AND in the face of opposition. I believe that to do that, we have to change stuff on the other end. People are not developed like businesses, they are raised in the context of their culture. I have worked with children and families for 22 years. It is time to start sharing what I’ve learned with more people, and learning more along the way.

What can I learn from you? I’ll never know if you don’t tell me…so please, talk to me! Leave me a comment, shoot me an email. Tell me your story as a parent or caregiver. I want to hear from you!

-Erin