Response to a frequently shared FB post about Hurricane Harvey

Response to a frequently shared FB post about Hurricane Harvey

The post below came across my Facebook feed today. A friend had shared it, and I read it, unfortunately. It wasn’t her post. I don’t even know if the original poster (Sam something or other) actually wrote it or just copied and pasted from elsewhere. I have no idea who to give credit to for this nonsense. A picture of a late 30’s-ish, white, bearded man in a fishing boat accompanied the post. The picture shows this man holding the hand of a lady in a wheelchair that he has presumably rescued from Hurricane Harvey and is valiantly taking her to shelter. Props to this man, first of all. Anyone that volunteers their time, equipment, money, items, skills and so on deserves respect…for that action. I would like to go through this post paragraph by paragraph though, because there are so, so many things wrong here.

The words in italics below are my own.

 

“Let this sink in for a minute…..Hundreds and hundreds of small boats pulled by countless pickups and SUVs from across the South are headed for Houston. Almost all of them driven by men. They’re using their own property, sacrificing their own time, spending their own money, and risking their own lives for one reason: to help total strangers in desperate need.” 

Men. Men with boats. Men with time. Men with money. Cool. *Sinking in*

“Most of them are by themselves. Most are dressed like the redneck duck hunters and bass fisherman they are. Many are veterans. Most are wearing well-used gimme-hats, t-shirts, and jeans; and there’s a preponderance of camo. Most are probably gun owners, and most probably voted for Trump.”

Someone must’ve gone out and taken a poll. How do you know what the rescuers are dressed like? I’d assume they are wearing shit they don’t want to ruin. I’d assume they are in uniform. I’d assume they are wearing whatever it was they had on when they realized their neighbor, cousin, friend of a friend, needed help. I don’t think too many go into a disastrous situation with their attire being at the top of their priority list. I’d assume the rescuers come in a billion different shapes, sizes, and outfits. They are individual people. Most might have voted for Trump. It’s a red state. If this disaster happened in a blue state, most rescuers would likely have not voted for Trump. It’s that simple. People don’t help based off of who they voted for, at least, I hope they don’t. Also, you are obviously a Trump supporter, dear poster, therefore, if I wanted to paint all Trump supporters with a broad brush, I could say that disasters such as these will only become more common thanks to Trump’s (supporter’s) denial of climate change, pulling out of agreements, and destroying environmental regulations. 

“These are the people the Left loves to hate, the ones Maddow mocks. The ones Maher and Olbermann just *know* they’re so much better than.”

I thought this was supposed to be a thank you to the heroes post, now it just seems like a political rant about how only alt-right men are disaster helper heroes. Ugh. I am on “The Left”, that god-awful category that must define every single aspect of my personality… I guess. Listen, I can’t speak for the entire left, nor can I define the entire right. What I can do is say that I don’t “love to hate” anyone. I don’t think I’m better than anyone…except this guy. 

“These are The Quiet Ones. They don’t wear masks and tear down statues. They don’t, as a rule, march and demonstrate. And most have probably never been in a Whole Foods.”

The Quiet Ones? What does that even mean? I’m from KY and any redneck hillbilly I know, and there are plenty, is not remotely quiet. Is this trying to depict the Strong Silent Man?Because most of the farmers/hunters/country boys I know are loud, proud, and irreverent. Obviously this is my personal experience, and there may be tobacco fields full of introverted Southern Gentleman out there,  I just haven’t met many of them yet. Also, who gives a fuck what their grocery shopping habits are? They probably haven’t been in a Whole Foods because their town DOESN’T HAVE ONE. Whole Foods exists in cities, urban environments, not in the towns bordering the fields, you guys. I live in a town of 100,000 people surrounded by farm land, and guess what? no Whole Foods round here. 

“But they’ll spend the next several days wading in cold, dirty water; dodging gators and water moccasins and fire ants; eating whatever meager rations are available; and sleeping wherever they can in dirty, damp clothes. Their reward is the tears and the hugs and the smiles from the terrified people they help. They’ll deliver one boatload, and then go back for more.”

Good. As I said before, anyone that is able to help either physically, monetarily, or emotionally deserves a pat on the back. They deserve a thank you. They don’t deserve to have this pity party thrown for them and then held up as some sort of hero-god that feeds off the tears of the victims as their only thank you. That’s weird. I think an actual thank you would do the job all on its own. 

“When disaster strikes, it’s what men do. Real men. Heroic men. American men. And then they’ll knock back a few shots, or a few beers with like-minded men they’ve never met before, and talk about fish, or ten-point bucks, or the benefits of hollow-point ammo, or their F-150.”

That’s what people do. Having a penis has nothing to do with it. Nor does shitting in the woods and killing your prey during bow season. Those things do not automatically qualify one as an upstanding citizen. Shooting things with your 30/30 doesn’t make you a “real man” anymore than only drinking Bud-lite does. I don’t know what makes a “real man”, but I do know what makes a good man, or woman for that matter, and it has nothing to do with how many antlers you have on your wall or how high your beer can pyramids are in your garage. Being a good person comes from how you treat those you love and, more importantly, how you treat those you don’t. 

“And the next time they hear someone talk about “the patriarchy”, or “male privilege”, they’ll snort, turn off the TV and go to bed.”

I don’t even know what to say here. Patriarchy and male privilege aren’t dirty words. If anyone snorts at the sound of a word other than “moist” then I’m gonna go ahead and assume they don’t know what that word or concept actually means. That’s where conversation can happen! 

So maybe they shouldn’t go to bed. Maybe the problem is, there is not enough of trying to see things from another’s perspective. 

“In the meantime, they’ll likely be up again before dawn. To do it again. Until the helpless are rescued. And the work’s done.”

“They’re unlikely to be reimbursed. There won’t be medals. They won’t care. They’re heroes. And it’s what they do.”

“AMEN.”

There’s nothing to pick on here. If the post had started with, “thank you to those that have helped during this time of distress in Houston. We understand it is difficult, dirty work and we appreciate all who have sacrificed their time and energy to do good”, and then ended with something like those last few sentences? Grreeaatt! That’d be a worthy post to share. This though, with the misogyny and politics and vast generalizations? No thanks. 

Mom Guilt

Mom Guilt. That thing that keeps me up at night realizing I could have done XYZ differently if only I’d had a bit of time to process, think, and come up with the perfect parent response like I just did lying in bed. In real life though, I don’t get moments to process. I act and speak in the moment because that’s what my kids expect me to do. They can’t ask me a question or misbehave somehow while I tell them I’ll get back with them on that tomorrow. Doesn’t work! So, I thought I’d make a list, as I’m wont to do, of all the things that make me feel guilty when it comes to parenting my two daughters.

Let it be known, first of all, that they are my world. I would literally die for them, to keep them safe, to keep them happy. I have never loved anything so much, and sometimes it hurts my heart because it is so full of love for them. That will never change. Even with all that love oozing from me I am not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination because I’m not a perfect person. I’m human like the rest of the world.

We parent based off the parenting we’ve seen, our own childhoods, and we try to emulate the parts we liked and try to avoid the parts we didn’t. The problem is though, that everyone has different childhood experiences and no one gets together, sits down, and compares notes. There is no one size fits all, how-to guide to parenting a child. I don’t know about most, but attempting to parent my two daughters in the exact same way would most certainly be an epic failure. They are too unique, too different from each other. I didn’t even have siblings so this whole sisterhood thing makes it twice as complicated. Am I parenting 1 child? 2? Or a collective at the same time? It is tough stuff guys. And guess what? I’ve never been a parent before this! No one has. You don’t get a trial run with a trial kid to see what works and what doesn’t. And even if you did, that child wouldn’t be your particular child. No one would be. You get thrown head first into the ordeal with no experience whatsoever. We are all learning as we go. In my case, I was still growing up too.

I had my girls young, and looking back, I was most certainly still a child myself. I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted to be. My brain was still forming and my person-hood was still changing. I’ve grown as they have. Certain aspects of being a young mom are great-like I’ll only be 40 when they go off to college and will still have a lot of life left to live if I’m lucky. Plus I’ll be able to do a lot more things with them that require a certain amount of youth and fitness. I can relate to a lot of the issues they face. The world has changed since I was a child, but it hasn’t changed nearly as much as it has for a parent that had kids when they were 30 or 40. I can still remember well what middle school was like, and first dates, and all those milestones. I know the technologies because we all use them.

The huge drawback, of course, is as I said, I was still growing up myself. I wasn’t prepared to give up nights out with friends at 21 years old. I didn’t want to miss out on my youth or that essential part of growing. I wasn’t prepared enough financially-I was waiting tables and tending bar late nights. I hadn’t yet finished my degree and that’s a pretty tough thing to do while raising kids. I probably lost my temper more easily as I had not yet developed the patience of an adult. I talked to my kids more as peers than as tiny people, although I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing…my youngest has an amazing vocabulary and I’d like to take some credit for that!

I also wasn’t ready to “settle down” yet. I didn’t have a stable relationship when they were babies, although I did attempt a marriage to give them that type of home life. It failed, of course. I was unprepared to parent the way I’d always imagined I would. The great thing is though, kids are flexible. They love(d) me anyway. We’ve grown together and built a beautiful family. They are smart, they are kind, they never want for anything.

They’ve seen the pitfalls of having a young mother, and they’ve seen the successes, and I hope they learn from all of it. They trust me and we have open conversations about body parts, boys, and puberty. They’ve seen me work hard at school, and at jobs, and they know that everything they have comes from hard work. They have seen, although, they were probably too young to remember, a failed relationship and a mother that stood up for herself and her children and was strong enough to leave an unhealthy environment. They’ve seen, for the past 5+ years of their lives, a healthy, loving home that is family centered and shows by example how a man should treat a woman and vice versa. Most of their memories will come from this relationship. It will be what they know and it is a good one for them to look up to. We’ve built holiday traditions and taken family vacations and made dinner table rituals. I think they will look back on these things fondly. I know I will.

Still though, after all of the good things, I find myself up at night beating myself up over parenting mistakes. Did I yell too many times? Will they grow up to resent me? Are good table manners really worth dinner arguments? What if they only remember the times I was tough on them instead of the good times? Is unloading the dishwasher really worth the arguments with my 10 year old? What if all the time I spent in the office, at home, but away from them, is seen as just that instead of seen as something they can be proud of me for…finishing a degree in something I enjoy? That’s a big one.

I help them with their homework and then I go to my office and spend time in there on my work. Then I make dinner, spend time with the family, and put them to bed. They give me a hard time about spending so much time in front of the computer when they would much rather me be playing with them. I give myself a hard time too. I try to explain that at least I am home, I am a room away if and when I’m needed.  Most parents are at work until 5 or 6 in a “typical” household, not that there is ANYTHING wrong with that. I’ll be there too in a year and I’ve been there before. But I worry that it’s still not enough time with them. I worry that it’s worse on them than being away. Out of sight out of mind, but with me home and still away in the office, maybe they think I’m choosing to be in there instead of with them. I worry that they’ll only have memories of me telling them to go play, or that I need quiet time instead of being proud of me for working hard at school and at home so that I can have a career to provide them with everything they’ll need–college for themselves, prom dresses, cars, gymnastics fees, braces, contacts, etc….I do it all for them. I also do it for myself though, and I hope they see that too. I want them to know that it’s okay, and not just okay but important, to do things for oneself especially if those things benefit others in the process. I hope they see that it’s never too late to succeed at something if you give it your best. That dreams don’t have to disappear once you reach a certain age. That mistakes are forgivable. I just want them to know I’m doing the very best I can and that it’s all done with love in mind. So much love.

Now, back to that list!

Things I worry about/feel guilty over:

  • Time in my office working on school
  • Not always being awake and present enough in the mornings before I’ve had my coffee
  • Being an introvert and needing periods of quiet alone time to re-energize
  • Not being a PTA mom
  • Not being a total free-spirit, hippy mom
  • Giving them too many responsibilities
  • Not giving them enough responsibilities
  • Getting frustrated too easily
  • Not taking them out enough
  • Not parenting “fairly” enough, even though they are so different
  • Being too protective of them
  • Not making enough crafts, not going to enough movies, not having enough days at the park, or enough tickle fights
  • Not making cupcakes with Caro every single time she wants to do them
  • Getting on to them too much about manners and chores and picking up after themselves
  • Saying the wrong thing when they ask me a question instead of giving a thoughtful, helpful answer
  • Them being jealous of one another
  • Spoiling them too much
  • Not teaching them enough life lessons and world lessons and also teaching them too much about life and the world
  • Not having enough friends for them to see me interacting with
  • Having an end of the day cocktail in front of them too often
  • Getting on to them about staying in their own beds, even though I secretly like that they want to sleep with me and I love snuggling up with them all night
  • Worrying that I treat Izzy too much like a baby sometimes, but also knowing she needs that security in her life when there are so many other struggles for her to deal with
  • Raising them in a town with no cultural awareness, a lack of diversity, less opportunities for fun, practically nothing in the outdoor world to do, racism, sexism, etc.

Reading over this, most of my worries seem pretty petty compared to the worries of people with serious problems. I am fortunate. I am not the perfect parent, but writing this has made me grateful for the parent that I am able to be now, as well as the parent I’ve been before. They are loved and they know that, and really, that’s what matters. I may not be teaching them 3 different languages and travelling with them around the globe, reading books every night, or taking them on month long camping adventures like I’d always imagined. We do those things though. It’s on a much smaller scale, but Izzy uses Duolingo on my phone to learn Spanish, and Caro and I practice German together. We all go over the countries on the map and make lists of where we’d like to go, and occasionally we sit down, all together, and read and work on the Little Passports packets they get each month. We read books together too, although not as much as we used to when they were little. I take them on vacations around the country. They know what feminism is and we talk about the body and name the parts correctly. We have discussions about racism and why it is wrong. I may not be the total hippy mom raising total hippy children, but they go to music festivals, they hula hoop and dance, and they know what glitter paint is! I may not be the perfect PTA mom coaching sports and baking cookies either, but we made a rainbow cake from scratch last year and then cupcakes for their classes on Halloween.

And you know what? We’re doing alright after all, and I guarantee, so are you. 🙂

izzy

Me and Izzy taking her first steps into the ocean a few years back.

Way Over Yonder

We are planning a move. Across the country. It’s a 24 hour drive across the country to be exact. If you have ever done that before then I give you mad respect. I’ve moved before, like 27 times actually. I’ve even moved halfway across the country, but..BUT, I have never attempted a move like this with children, a partner, and four pets. I am responsible for getting myself and seven other living breathing beings across the country with all of our items (and brains) intact.

I am 33 and a homeowner which also makes this move a tad more involved than all those moves I made at, say, 21 years old. I have things now, and oh boy, there’re a lot of things. Four bedrooms worth plus the garage of a wood worker (that means he has a shit-ton of tools) plus gymnastics equipment, kayaks, bicycles and so on. It’s ridiculous and anxiety inducing just to think about the logistics of it all. For the past 6 months or so we have been culling the things into piles for a garage sale. We now have a walk-in closet and an entire portion of the garage cordoned off for these garage sale items. The thing is though, we can’t really have the sale until we know what house we will purchase in the new state. Why, you ask? Well because I don’t yet know what furniture will be making the move or will be added to those sale piles until I know the house and what will work in it. We also want to keep this as cheap as possible since a good portion of our savings will be going towards the new home, which means we’ll likely be doing all of the packing, loading, driving, etc. ourselves.

I’m making lists on the daily to help keep everything coordinated in my mind that will need to be done in order for this move to be successful. I know there will be bumps and I know there will be melt-downs, probably even a few of my own, but I want to make this as smooth as possible, so if you have any tips from when you moved cross-country with a family and pets, I’d loooove to hear them!

To comment, click the title and scroll to the bottom of the page! 🙂

If They Only Knew

I am currently applying for jobs on the internet while eating a slice of Little Ceasar’s pizza-no plate-garlic butter container in one hand, pizza in the other, while wearing what my children refer to as The Moo-Moo. I only need a cat in my lap and a scrunchy in my hair to complete this picture….oh wait..

It’s a good thing in this age of internet that potential employers don’t require a selfie portrait taken at time of application to accompany the resume. Cause that would be great. I could just see the HR person now.

Jesus, Satan, and White Lights of Protection

I grew up in a very Jesus-y environment. Though my parents weren’t all that pious themselves, by any stretch of the imagination, church was life for several years. We lived in the country, surrounded by Baptists, and attended a tiny little country chapel approximately 5 times a week. There was Sunday School on Sunday mornings, regular church afterwards, Sunday night service, Wednesday night church, Youth Group on Fridays, and then a bible study or two thrown in at alternating member’s homes.

It never seemed like a bad thing at the time, it was just normal life as I knew it. I had friends there and we went to the occasional christian rock concert with musicians such as DC Talk, Third Day, and Jars of Clay. Meanwhile, back home, I was listening to the “worldly” music of No Doubt, Ace of Base, Stone Temple Pilots, and Van Morrison while dreaming of travelling the world one day.

Part of me never really believed all the church hype though. I remember thinking as a kid that how could a person go to hell just by being born into a different country and thus a different religion? How could I go to heaven just by virtue of being an American and asking Jesus “into my heart”? It never fully clicked.

The other part of me was being told to wear purity rings and promise never to have sex outside of marriage, obey my parents, don’t lie, and that the rapture is coming and I’d better be ready! This part would lie awake at night filled with fear and anxiety that if I accidentally thought something “impure” the all-seeing, all-powerful god would know, because of course, if he was inside my heart, then he was sure as hell inside my brain where the shit actually went down. This piece of me would recite prayers on repeat while lying in bed at night to prevent my mind from wandering into any kind of satan-ish territory. I had to guard against the evil forces because there was “an ongoing battle” for all the souls, especially those of the children, in this “spiritual warfare” taking place in a realm right next to us that we just couldn’t quite see. I’d even come up with little rituals to protect myself from being possessed by the devil himself. I was terrified of my own thoughts, actions, god, and the devil.

By the time I was 17 I had given up on religion and the church entirely, however, it’s taken quite a few years to realize how unhealthy of an environment it can really be when a child is submerged into a religion like that from a very young age. I’ll still catch myself lying in bed sometimes placing the white light of protection around our home…

Things I Do Everyday

On a typical day, not, say a vacation or camping or work/school day.

Take my Energy Gummies and my Women’s Gummy vitamins.

Pee.

Skip breakfast and then eat breakfast foods at an inappropriate time such as 2:00 pm and/or 11:00 pm.

Treadmill.

Scroll through Zillow looking at homes that I want to buy one day.

Spend way too much time on the desktop version of Google Earth.

Read articles, usually on Digg.

Wish Trump was not the president which then leads to stressing over healthcare, taxes, equality, climate change, and a whole host of other issues.

Internet spiral into one of the above issues and get sadder.

Budget my dollars on YNAB and check the reports section to feel proud of myself for saving like $10 this week.

Cuddle, snuggle, love on, my girls.

Wish Butternuts still loved me. He seems to have developed an irritation with me since I got back from Iceland. As in, he thinks I abandoned him and now wants nothing to do with me ever which makes me want to cry a little bit. Who am I kidding? A lot!! I miss my Butternut’s lovins!!

Tuck my children in bed with special sayings we have.

Brush my teeth.

Watch whatever random television happens to be on in the 30 minutes to an hour of “quiet time” I have before I am too sleepy to stay in a non-horizontal position.

Read. Current book, which I have already read twice (it’s been a few years!) is the book “Under the Banner of Heaven” by Jon Krakauer, my most favorite author.

Attempt sleep.

 

 

 

Things I Wish I Had-The Short List

The ability to sleep through anything, like some in my household that shall go unnamed.

Literally, if a dog farts, I wake up.

Motivation.

I was supposed to take a shower, do laundry, and go for a bike ride by this point in time today. None of those things have happened.

Probably because I don’t have the ability to sleep. Like ever.

Siblings.

All you guys with siblings don’t even know. But the grass is always greener…blah blah blah.

A sibling is a person that lived the same childhood as you. It’s someone that can relate to all the crazy shit you went through. It’s someone that is actually forced to love you!

Also, they could maybe bring me coffee and motivate me into doing something useful by making me feel super bad about myself in ways that only siblings can do.

Chicken Pad Thai.

Living in a town that has actual restaurants other than Applebees, Texas Roadhouse, and the like, is a privilege! Don’t take your tasty local food shops for granted! My lack of motivation has mind wandering in food directions.

My stomach is growling and I WANT PAD THAI!!!

 

It’s Not A Toomuh!

20170626_184302(Scratchy in his natural habitat. Bandaged tail hidden….because he’s shy.)

After slicing into poor lizard’s tail at the vet today, the doctor determined it’s not in fact an abscess, but a “fibrous tumor”. First of all, this veterinarian was about all of 5 feet tall, 70 years old at least, and had his entire nose taped to his face with what appeared to be scotch tape as well as masking tape. It was quite difficult to take him seriously after making eye contact. Scratchy only freaked out on him once before he was taken to a different room to drain the abscess that wasn’t an abscess after all.

Dr. McTapey came back in the room, informed me it was a tumor, and then suggested amputating his tail if it gets worse! I wanted so badly to say “it’s not a toomuh!!” in my best Schwarzenegger voice. But I digress…Mr. McTapersons said that the tumor likely isn’t causing any harm so we’ll probably hold off on that trillion dollar vet bill unless things get worse.

Did you guys know a lizard is an exotic pet? I did not. I also did not know when I purchased this guy for Caro 3 years ago that I would have to drive over an hour to have him treated for anything. It’s o.k. though, he’s part of the family and we try to take good care of our captive creatures. Obviously he’s happy to be back in his lizard cage and he just finished munching down on some meal worms, un-phased by his tumor or his bandaged tail.

Camp Time

I dropped Caro off at camp today. Well, not actually at camp, but at a parking lot filled with school buses that would take her to camp. She was so nervous last night and this morning. Nervous Caro is the equivalent of a person that just drank 47 cups of coffee followed by one of those 5 hour energy things. Super hyper, but also kinda sketched out by everything.

Example: We are waiting with all of the other parents/kids on the outskirts of the group and Caro is scanning the crowd saying “that looks like Heather, there goes Caydence, that’s Annie, there’s that one girl that I met that one time at gymnastics, oh hey! That’s fake Kadence!” (Fake Kadence is apparently how she keeps the many Kadences and Caydences separate in her 11 year old head.)

And then there’s me. “Go talk to them. Go say “hi” if you see someone you know.” “Uh Uh”,  she says while twirling her hair and moving her head back and forth so fast I wonder if she’s having a seizure. Not having it. She continues her search while biting her nails and pacing in place. Until….she sees someone that she actually really knows and then she runs off and forgets I ever existed. Thank god. I can’t imagine sending that child to camp without knowing anyone. She would have lost her damn mind.

IMG_20170626_082814_314.jpg

Of course I cried the moment she got onto the bus and quickly fake waved at me from the window. She’ll be back in 5 days, exhausted, and with a whole new slew of names she’ll “know” at future gatherings.

Meanwhile, I have to take Scratchy the dragon to the vet. He seems to have a blister/abscess/tumor on his tail and I just cannot wait to load a feisty lizard into a cage for his first car trip an HOUR away along with my super sleepy Izzy that has not stopped complaining since she got home from her dad’s this morning. Let the fun times roll ya’ll!!