I’m sitting in a loose circle of chairs in a small classroom. This classroom is in one of the largest churches I’ve ever seen. It took me five minutes to find the front entrance and I had to ask someone for directions to the room. Around me sit a group of men and women, all of them older than me. They each take a turn introducing themselves and saying a little bit about why they are there. The circle gets to me and everyone turns. I take a deep breath.
“Hi. Um. My name is Erin, and my dad was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. We are placing him in a memory care facility next week and, well, I’m not doing well.” With this, my chin quivers and suddenly I am sobbing in this room of strangers, all of whom know exactly what I’m feeling. They’ve all been there in some form or another. I am not alone.
Alzheimer’s is one of those diseases that people primarily associate with the very old. It’s referred to as “Old-Timer’s” for a reason. Lately though, people are being diagnosed earlier and earlier. Most likely, it’s because science has come pretty far and the signs are clearer much earlier. It’s not dismissed as “Grandma’s just getting senile.” anymore. The problem (for me at least) is that with this earlier diagnoses, people (again, like me) are dealing with the fallout from the disease earlier in life than ever expected.
The disease is progressive and insidious. It steals away your past at the same time it’s stealing your future. It takes away your ability to walk, to talk, to chew. It takes your memories, your ability to remember to eat, your balance, and your ability to be rational. At the same time that I am losing my father in the present, I am losing any memories he has of my mother, of my childhood, of a large chunk of my life.
When I was in the group, one of the women said “I feel like I’m grieving for someone who’s still alive.” This shook me. I didn’t have words for how I felt until she described that. I’ve been going through the stages of grief, but continuously for six years. Each time the disease progresses, I start over again. I will grieve every time something changes until I grieve for the final time. I spend a lot of time in the denial stage. I’m excellent at denial. I’m working through anger right now. I won’t bother with bargaining.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I’m sitting in the memory care facility where we will be leaving my dad, shortly. His room is moved in, his recliner and his TV are set up. His walls are covered in family pictures, plaques from his time in the Navy and University of Georgia Bulldogs swag. His clothes are in the closet.
We’ve met the director, the staff and taken the tour. We’ve had lunch in the dining room and seen their grounds and the way their security works. Right now, the residents and my family are gathered in one of the sitting areas listening to one of the staff members give a presentation on Naval Submarines and bi-planes because a lot of the residents are retired military. Because this is a fairly new facility, there is only a small amount of residents currently. This makes me feel better somehow, like the less residents, the more the staff will be involved with them.
I’m terrified to leave. I don’t know if he will understand what’s happening or why we’re leaving. I keep having flashbacks to when my dad dropped me off at boarding school as a freshman. I was scared, angry and felt abandoned, even though, deep down I knew that boarding school was the best place for me to be. I hope he understands that we’re not abandoning him. I hope he’s not scared when he goes to sleep tonight. I hope he knows we still love him.
Over the summer, I caused a Facebook kerfluffle when I had the audacity to complain publicly about a man who sexually harassed me at a restaurant. Many people supported me, but the ones who thought I was being “unfair” were also vocal. What he said had to do with my boobs, and not even the worst thing that a near-stranger (or otherwise) has ever said to me. But I was at a place I’d previously felt safe because I knew the owner and pre-pregnancy, I’d been a regular. But now this asshole was the regular, and no one there claimed to have heard what he said to me, because he says shit like he said to me to women around the city all the time. Or maybe they did hear what he said to me, and chose to ignore it. Either way, he gleefully admitted, and expanded on, his comments to me via Facebook message, which I screenshot and posted in the then-growing comment thread for all to see (and some to blatantly ignore.) Continue reading
I think we’ve been pretty open about our feelings on this election. I spent Wednesday crying and eating my feelings. I wallowed for twenty-four hours and have been trying to process since. As a bisexual Hispanic woman and the mother of two autistic children who rely on social services – and as a person who decided in her mid-thirties to take on a bunch of debt to become a social worker – this result terrified me. I’ve never felt so uncertain about my future, and so frustrated by how to fix the world.
I’m well informed. I read widely and diversely. I am an armchair activist, flinging wokeness into the social media void! I have too much anxiety to deal with crowds and protests and lots of stranger interaction, so I do what I can from my home. I teach my children as much as I can, talk to my guy, my family, my coworkers, my friends. I pride myself on my progressivism. I voted for Hillary and encouraged everyone I know to do so as well.
None of that changes anything. We have a President-Elect who scares me. My privileged life, in the sense that I look white and straight and have been sheltered in a liberal echo chamber of awareness, has been shaken. My faith in humanity and the progress we’ve made as a country faltered on Tuesday, and that makes me so very sad.
As a cis/white straight-presenting hetero-partnered mother of two, it is a privilege for me to feel the outrage and horror I feel today.
As a rape and sexual assault survivor, well-meaning ally, and marginal member of the queer community (as a bi girl who fell in love with and married a dude), and someone trying to work daily to check my own privilege, I am human, and I am just plain scared. As a mother trying my hardest to raise two intersectional feminist men conscious of their privilege (& appreciative of consent) so that they can actually impact the world for the better from day one and don’t have to massively fall apart reading “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” later in life to start making themselves useful – I am a messy heap of mess.
Yesterday my mother watched our toddler while we voted, and told him all about the great civic duty we were participating in. A few times last night he asked “did you have fun voting, Mom?” But this morning I pulled my three year old up on my lap and told him that Mommy and Daddy did not get the President that we voted for. That instead our country has elected a president who is a Bad Man. I told him that this means that we might start to hear people say more things that we know are wrong. His dad explained that this President only thinks that people like himself are important. I reminded him that we know that everyone is important, no matter what they look like, or where they come from, or what they believe in, or who they love. He told me he thinks we should send the Bad President to jail. I told him he’s right.
And then I looked at my baby, who is too young to explain anything to at all, and I sobbed. Continue reading
Oh hey guys. We are living in an actual nightmare dumpster fire right now. Here are some thoughts about it.
The people of America did not elect him, our bullshit electoral college system did.
Electing this man to the highest office in our nation has given credence to every boss I’ve ever had who stared at my boobs, “accidentally” touched my boobs, called me a bitch for expecting them to do their jobs. It’s given every man who harasses me every single day I leave my house feel even more like they have the right to tell me I’ve got a great rack or where they want to stick their cocks. It legitimizes every sexual assault, black eye, and attempted murder I and millions of other women have fucking LIVED THROUGH. And those women who weren’t so lucky. Continue reading
It should come as no surprise that most of us here plan on voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton tomorrow. We wanted to share our enthusiasm.
Recently, someone on Facebook (because of course it was on Facebook) declared that the only reason women are voting for HRC is because they have vaginas and she has a vagina and women are blindly voting for a vagina with their vaginas. (That may be the most vaginas in one sentence). This was so incredibly offensive because A: We aren’t heathens, we obviously use our hands to vote and B: reducing women and their intellect down to their reproductive organs (YET AGAIN) is boring, lazy and completely false. Luckily, I can and did use my lady brain during this election cycle to inform and educate myself.
I would love to vote Barack Obama into the presidential office in perpetuity. Since that’s not a thing, I’m with her. Not just because I have a vagina. I know plenty of people without vaginas who are voting for her. I’m voting for her because she is standing with Planned Parenthood, and as someone who’s had an abortion, protecting a woman’s right to choose for herself is so incredibly important to me. I’m voting for her because she is standing up for the rights of LGBTQ+ people everywhere, ensuring their right to marry, adopt children, and be treated fairly at work and at school. I’m voting for her because she plans to implement a solid plan for parental leave, not just maternity leave, when a new child becomes part of a family, in addition to a fair amount of medical leave. I’m with her because her stances on incredibly important topics like racial justice, gun control, healthcare, education and so much more align with my values. Her being a woman is just a perk. I’m so proud that my son was born into the years that we’ve had our first African-American president and that he will grow up in the historic time of the first female president. We’ve come a long way, but we have so far to go. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish with HRC at the helm.
**I would like to point out that no one has accused any men of voting with their dicks, and we all know there’s at least one or two who’ve thought they were hilarious and done just that.**
When it comes to voting for an elected official, whether it be local or national, I look at who I believe will be able to lead the best. When weighing the options for president, there is only one person in the running I believe will be able to lead our country, and I’m with her! I know as far as social issues go, she will be able to keep our country moving forward, rather than regressing. I know she has the leadership skills necessary to interact appropriately with other heads of state. It’s bigger than just being excited to vote for our first female president (but come on, I’m super stoked about this aspect too): it’s being excited for the future of the United States and its residents. It’s time.
I could write a novel longer than War & Peace regarding why I am not (and you should not) be voting for Trump. But instead, I’ll talk about why I am voting FOR Hillary Clinton. She isn’t the “lesser of 2 evils,” she is a legit decent politician who stands and fights for the things that are important to me. She does not believe that healthcare should be something only available to the wealthy. She believes that women should be paid the same amount as men. NARAL gives her a 100% approval rating which means regardless of how YOU feel about abortion, she puts women’s health FIRST. Childcare is, in case you didn’t know, insanely expensive and Hillary Clinton wants to fight for you to lessen that expense. Hillary Clinton believes that LGBTQ community is full of, you know, people. People who have rights and interests just like those who don’t identify as LGBTQ. Her experience has taught her COUNTLESS lessons in foreign policy and negotiations.
I’ve been pretty stoked on Obama’s presidency. I have not agreed with everything he’s done, and I definitely am beyond angry that our healthcare plans are being cockblocked by bitter Republicans who are clearly benefiting from a private, non-universal system (and benefiting from blaming it ALL on President Obama.) But I think Hillary Clinton has the capacity to change this, and to lead our country into the future, instead of 100 years back. Fuck yes I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, and I’m fucking stoked to do it!
I’m voting because this a privilege so many people don’t take advantage of. This was not always a right for women to vote and still to this day our voices have not been fully heard. I vote so MY voice can be heard. I vote so that my daughter can be proud of me. I vote because I only get one body and I need to take care of it! I vote because I’m the breadwinner in my family and I need to continue to break through the oh-so-high glass ceiling.
I vote because I’m proud to be an American!
I’ve always liked HRC. She’s the First Lady I really remember from my childhood; I remember her proclaiming “Women’s rights are human rights” in China and her not giving a shit about her headbands and I remember her having the goddamn audacity to try to create universal healthcare. I remember discovering feminism beyond the suffragette mom in Mary Poppins while HRC fucking showed me how to walk the walk. That woman is nearly always the smartest woman in the room – can you imagine the amount of shit she has taken over the years for being strong and smart and unapologetic and having a loud laugh and RBF and all the shit that most of us get in small doses every day but, like, times a bajillion?? Like, my shoulders hurt thinking about it. And she has gladly, enthusiastically, boldly put herself out there over and over and over again because she believes in herself and this country.
Do I agree with her on everything? Nope. That would be terrible because I have some very uninformed opinions and I’m kinda ridiculous. Was there another nominee I vocally supported because his progressive stances are more in line with mine? Yup. But he lost and she’s still a REALLY GOOD FUCKING CHOICE. Is there a chance I would have voted for a Republican in this election, no matter the nominees? Not in hell. But, the fact that they did nominate a racist, sexist, idiotic, epitome of just about everything I loathe who has triggered more rape nightmares for me, a not-rape-survivor so I can’t imagine what people with sexual assault PTSD must be going through just seeing his dumb orange face…does that make me even happier that we’re going to have a Madame President for the next 4 years? HAHAHAHAHAYES.
(Also, she has plaaaaans. I know how much an organized, driven woman can accomplish and I can’t wait. Like, she has a legit plan for the autistic community. Please check out her website and go nerdcrazy.)
I don’t think I’m going to shock anyone by saying that this world feels really fucking shitty right now, especially if you’re a woman. (I mean, if you’re a woman, the world has always felt pretty terrible, because the patriarchy is real and has been for centuries. Things have just gotten like a million times more intense feeling.) I’m also not breaking ground by saying life in general is tough and adulthood is a goddamn bullshit factory. There are soul-crushing jobs and endless bills and cars that breakdown and kids don’t know that silence is a thing and partners that you love but drive you insane. I’m a constant mess of rage and sorrow and anxiety and exhaustion and joy and I know I’m not the only one out there.
If I had to do all of this on my own, I’d collapse. (This is not a dismissal of my husband, who is a rock solid partner but can’t relate to my Diva Cup adventures even though I tell him all about it anyways because SHARING IS CARING.) And that is why I am grateful every fucking day for my friends. Social media can be the worst, unless you are lucky enough to have an amazing group chat somewhere with strong, smart, funny, thoughtful, supportive, gorgeous, badass women.
What started as a way to share dumb memes and feminist cartoons has evolved into an ongoing discussion that keeps me sane. We share our personal triumphs and tribulations. We crack each other up and support one another fiercely. We have epic conversations about the world we want and the world we live in and how to bridge the gap between those two. We talk about farts and pizza and adorable animals and our super weird dreams.
Editor Note: Trigger Warning/Explicit Content – this is a detailed account of one man’s rape. It is brutal at times, as is the case with rape. It is also wonderfully written and we are incredibly proud to give him a space to share his story.
Our guest contributor is Christopher. He is a great lover of food and music, but not necessarily in that order. His favorite thing is being alive. In fact, he intends to never die.
My story isn’t one that I’ve seen or heard too often, but I’m sure it’s happened to other men, and maybe they could benefit from this. This is a rape story. This is my rape story, and I’m still getting used to applying that term to what happened to me. We think of rape as something disgusting that happens to women and children, so when it happens to a man, it becomes a story of emasculation, of weakening, a story that should probably be shouldered or tucked away someplace dark and silent. I chose a different technique. I turned my story into a comedic narrative and delivered it to a live audience in the form of a stand-up routine. I got a lot of laughs, and the live performance filled me with adrenaline and bolstered my confidence. I don’t like horror movies; never have. Typically, when I’m reluctantly watching a horror film, my instinct is to laugh at the highest points of tension, to giggle with glee when a scene startles the piss out of me. It’s not surprising that I turned the horrific story of my rape into a comedy. Sadly, this is also somewhat of a coming-out story, as this rape was my first sexual encounter with another gay man. This guy knowingly took my virginity. He took advantage of my inexperience and he premeditated this sexual assault. This is the real story, without the strategic timing and pauses for anticipated laughter.
It was 2001, and I was an invincible 22-year-old. I was a freshly-minted homosexual in that I’d come out to a modest handful of close friends and a few siblings. In truth, I’m one of those men who have always been gay, or at least since I was old enough to understand that I was different. I’d dated girls in my late teens, but by my 22nd birthday I was ready to be my true self. Only I had no idea of how to proceed.
I was working as a server and bartender at a chain restaurant. I was living in the DC-Metro area. I just needed that first door to open. His name was…I guess I can’t say his actual name. He had one of those names that should have been an immediate red flag, one of those names that always pops up on a 15 Most Douchey Names list. So let’s call him Trip. Continue reading
Because this is a feminist momblog, we spend a lot of space discussing women and our issues. However, we all know that feminism is for everyone, and we’ve each got some really fantastic men in our lives who may be underrepresented here. So, here’s a shout out to some of the rad dads we know and love and appreciate daily.
Dad – Pops, Old Man River, Groucho (that’s a new one I just made up but it fits, I promise). I would not be who I am without this man. LITERALLY. We are (nearly though not quite) the same person. Our political views are polar opposite (mine are correct, and his are not at all), but we still find common ground over cooking, Monty Python, and laughing at the misfortune of others. (Like the time he witnessed a dude in a tiny BMW think he was hot shit at the gas station, and he wound up pulling the damn pump out of the machine as he drove away. Oh man, did we laugh about that!) It’s a science fact that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and I think that’s what happened here. So sorry, Pops, this is all your fault but hey, I think you did a good job even though you probably have misgivings re: my appearance, taste in music, political beliefs, and my hatred of mayonnaise. Love you!
My Boo – I’ve talked at great length about THIS guy, and I still could write eleventy billion more words about him and how fucking rad he is. He’s got my back no matter what, he makes the best tacos I’ve ever had, he’s adorable, and he’s an amazing father to my son. He busts his ass every goddamn day, and inspires me to be a better mother, employee, friend, and person every goddamn day. We’re nearly 2 years in, and are still just as excited to see each other every day as we were then. The man talks the talk AND he walks the walk. Whatever this shit world leaves on our doorstep, I know that we can (proverbially) punch it in the face. I really cannot say enough good things about this dude, he’s the fucking best. Love you, boo!
My Little Boo – Yeah, I’ll count my kid here. He’s not quite a “man” yet, technically (even though WE WEAR THE SAME SIZE SHOE OH MY GAWD WHAT.), but shit, he certainly demonstrates a capacity for understanding as an adult does. (Not for everything, but for a lot of things, like how gay people are just, you know, people.) Being my kid cannot be an easy thing, I’ll be the first to admit that. And he’s doing a great job. His attitude is a little out of control at times (especially when he is busy getting BIGGER which is every other day I think.) But his attitude in general is kind, curious, hilarious, and understanding. We watch Wayne’s World and RuPaul’s Drag Race together, and he loves to draw with my Boo (and he’s really gotten quite good the more he practices – I’m super impressed!) Raising a child is fucking HARD. Especially when they’re smart, and they are basically YOU (I know from whence that attitude comes.) But I’ve got a great couple of dudes who make it enjoyable. Love you, Ham Guy!
My fucking homies – I’ve got a few tight homies who are rad and deserve a shout out here. My tight bros from back in the day, my boss, any pal I have who’s been there for me without expecting a “reward” for their friendship. I’m in the groom’s wedding party this year of one of these dudes! Super stoked. You guys, just keep on doing what you’re doing and always stand up and support women.
I am a world-class worrier. I worry to the point that if someone says “stop worrying so much!” I worry about why I’m so worried. Yes. I am a special snowflake. These days, the thoughts that keep me up at night are primarily focused around this rising tide of ignorance and hate that’s threatening to drown our country and the way that’s affecting my kid. I worry about how I will have to explain why some people hate his aunt and uncle because of who they love. I worry about having to explain why we are living in a culture where it is commonplace to have a mass shooting every week or so, and how he can protect himself. I worry about teaching him to respect everyone equally and treat everyone with respect and dignity and that no means no and not ever yes, and enthusiastic consent and drinking and depression and the why why why of everything. It’s so much.
But I am so thankful. Because as much as I am overwhelmed with the pressure and fear, I have a partner who is equally in this fight with me. My husband, an amazing father and a fantastic partner in life, who is hard-working and sweet and just as worried about everything, is in this fight with me. He’s just as involved in the (sometimes awkward) explanations and hugs and lessons that it’s taking to raise a child, especially a male child, in our society today. He is in the trenches with the boo boo kisses and teaching that colors are for everyone. Sometimes he is completely ignored and unappreciated by our son, who is going through a major mommy phase, but I see him, and I know others do too, and I am so proud to call him mine.
I come from a long line of strong women, for that I am thankful. I watched my grandmother do plumbing and electrical work around her house. I watched my mom research and do things on the computer most people my age can’t figure out. My Dads never treated me any different than the boys in the family. My family never told me I couldn’t do anything because I am a girl. Those things are important to me as I raise girls of my own.
We never talked about it though, my husband and I. I never actually said the words “I want to raise our girls to have no gender boundaries”. He just does it. He shows them that men can do the things that have historically been deemed “women’s work”. They see him do dishes and cook. Clean and do laundry. He takes care of the plants in the house. (I have a black thumb, I couldn’t keep a plant alive to save my life.) He also shows them girls can do whatever the hell they want. He has taught them to change and rotate tires, change the oil and do other car repairs with him. He just showed our youngest how to turn the water off to the house and had her help fix our leaking toilet and shower. Never once did he blink an eye or think it was strange for her to learn these skills.
He also allows them to be who they are. Some days that’s glitter and pink everything including a crown. Some days that sports jerseys and jeans with muddy shoes. He loves them and never judges them. My girls embody the mixed up world that is a young girl’s feelings and mind. They laugh, they are prissy, they fart while giggling hysterically, they are messy. They love makeup and cars. They dance and play basketball. They watch their dad closely as he holds open the door for them on their way into a building, and they return the favor on the way out. He sits through dance classes and has learned the difference between a lindy and a ball change. He also spent two weeks building a Lego VW Vanagon with them, including working engine and a peace and love poster. The girls have given him “makeovers”. He has had his toes done by them. He says that he doesn’t want to wear makeup outside the house but some boys do and that’s cool. He said he doesn’t want to wear dresses, but some people who were born a boy want to, and that’s cool too.
Bottom line is he doesn’t see limits for his kids just because they were born without a penis. He teaches them things he would have taught a son. He tells them to be kind to everyone. And love who they want (just no dating until they are thirty). He has taught them life skills, ways to be independent; the things I was taught as a young girl. But knowing their Dad has their back is the best thing he can do for them. Girls are complicated, girls are emotional, girls can be anything and everything they want and knowing that their Dad believes this too is the greatest thing he has ever done for them.
Here’s a small list of some of the stupid-awesome things my dad has done for me that have gone above and beyond the call of dad duty:
- driving me to see a friend’s shitty band play at Jaxx during a snow storm in high school
- driving into DC when I forgot concert tickets at home
- driving to Charlottesville to get me when my car broke down, then going back to get the car a few days later
- not disowning me for fucking up at college and allowing me to move back home after dropping out
- not dying when he had a surprise heart attack (very important)
- driving to DC in the middle of the night when I missed the last Metro home
- driving to somewhere outside of Baltimore in the middle of the night when my car broke down in the snow on the way home from a concert
- driving to Richmond at 2am to help me move out of a shitty ex-boyfriend’s house on no notice
- driving to Richmond in the middle of the day to help me move out of a shitty apartment on no notice
- providing legal advice when necessary (including “don’t do something that will require me to pick you up from jail”)
I’m definitely a fuck-up who has trouble showing how grateful I am, but I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am without my dad – my #1 buddy. Thanks for everything you’ve done and continue to do (because I still don’t have my shit together), and for being one of the good ones.
I have an amazing partner. He’s my person in so many ways and I try to tell him that every day. He doesn’t just support me, he encourages me. He’s the reason I always have clean underpants and my credit score isn’t in the “YIIIIIIKES” category any more. He’s smart, he reads faster than I do (trust me, this is impressive), he’s interested in things, he makes me pee myself laughing, he’s got artistic talent and the swagger of someone who knows who the fuck they are. He’s been through some shit and has never given up. He’s the reason I have the (mostly) pleasure of raising two sons and I absolutely love parenting with him. He gets all the high-fives from me.
One of the biggest reasons I love him is because he listens. He sits through my intersectional feminist rants and pays attention and now recognizes The Patriarchy before I do (sometimes). He has never assumed I can’t do something or understand the world because I’m a woman. He respects me and my choices, he’s never shamed me for my past or who I am. He values my input and we have amazing conversations about the world and society. We don’t always agree, and we’re both okay with that, because we both realize the other is a fully-formed, autonomous adult entitled to their beliefs and convictions. He’s changed the way I view the world, and I’ve changed the way he does. He’s never been intimidated by me, at least not how most men in my life have been.
We are equals and partners. We have each other’s fucking backs no matter what. We trust one another and challenge each other and every goddamn day I’m happy that my life’s path crossed his. I love you, dearest, Happy Father’s Day.
There are a lot of huge, terrible things in this world. Like, a lot a lot. I don’t have the energy or strength to discuss those right now. So I’m going to rant about something that isn’t truly important but has made my life a sort of living hell. And that thing is LEGO Dimensions, or the worst video game in the world.
My oldest son is 14. Like most teens, he’s obsessed with video games. The autism might make this fixation a little more intense, but I’m sure a lot of parents can feel me on this. Video games for kids are terrible now. Not their content, but this new thing of buying a million add-ons for each game. There’s Disney Infinity and Skylanders. We have an extensive Amiibo collection, which, as far as I can tell, do absolutely nothing. You can unlock special suits and characters, but from what I can gather, you can also unlock those things just by playing the game. But, no, we need to spend $13 a pop for plastic figurines in a variety of characters and variations – Mario, Gold Mario, Fireball Mario, 32-bit Mario in classic colors, 32-bit Mario in modern colors, Mario with his arms in a slightly different postion. Seriously. It’s a load of bullshit. But Cal has always been a Mario freak and we indulge.