My President

Since November 8th, I have refused to use the phrase “not my president.” It may sound silly to those who adopted it on November 9th, but it just felt kind of trite to me. Of course Trump would technically be my president, so why yell about it? What good would it do for me to say that he wasn’t my president before he had even assumed office? I even foolishly hoped that maybe, just maybe, he wouldn’t be as terrible as I imagined. Maybe he would be like ever other president and end up being far more moderate than his campaign.

It has been 10 days since Donald Trump became the president of the United States. And he hasn’t been what I imagined, but that’s only because in my mind I could not possibly conceive of someone who seems to so deeply hate every American value that I hold dear. And yet, here we are.

And so, I would like to be perfectly clear today and every day for as long as he retains this office: Donald Trump is not my president.

I am embarrassed to be an American, to be one of his constituents and I will not be quiet about it. Donald Trump does not represent me and he will never be my president because that is not who my president is.

My president knows that this country was founded on immigrants and does not fear them or build walls to keep them out.

My president does not cast aside refugees who are fleeing terrorism because we are also afraid of terrorists.

My president does not administer a religious test for people seeking refuge from certain death in their home country because my president believes in religious freedom.

My president does not appoint anti-semites to any position of power.

My president does not fire qualified people who disagree with him and is happy to hear differing opinions.

My president does not ignore the judicial branch, but respects that they exist as a check and balance and welcomes their sometimes frustrating part in the government.

My president does not take away health insurance from millions of sick Americans.

My president does not benefit monetarily from leading the country because his first and only concern is helping our country to prosper.

My president does not declare a run for re-election the day he is inaugurated as a political game because he cares more about governing than winning.

My president can respect that other people have drawn bigger crowds because he knows that there are many more important things happening in this world.

My president believes in real, verifiable facts.

My president believes in science.

My president believes in climate change.

My president believes in freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

My president does not hate people, and does not legislate hate.

So no, Donald Trump is not my president.

He is everything I loathe and I fear him more than any terrorist in any corner of the world. He is everything I am raising my children not to be. He is everything our founding fathers feared and everything they sought to protect us from.

Let it be recorded that I will not fall in line. I will not keep my head down and make it through this administration. I will stand up. I will resist. I will speak out for those who don’t have my incredible level of privilege. And I will never stop. I will not let history repeat itself. I will not fall in line.

Because Donald Trump is not and will never be my president.

2016 In Review

I’m laying in bed next to William, who is beyond overtired, so seems like as good a time as any to do a review of this year.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
I took on a managerial role at work and I think I’m doing a fairly decent job at it.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My resolution for this year was to be more organized, which I was in a few small ways, but mostly that was a big fail. My resolution for 2017 is just to survive it without losing my mind. I am feeling mostly optimistic about meeting this one.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! My sweet nephew Asher was born. My step-sister also gave birth to an adorable baby boy this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
A good friend’s husband died after a long battle with brain cancer.

5. What countries did you visit?
Just the US, but within the country I went to Louisiana, Nevada and Idaho (twice!) this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Will power. Sleep.

7. What moments from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
There were hundreds of small moments this year. Watching Elijah at Mardi Gras and both boys at the beach. Seeing them hold hands or play together. There weren’t many big huge moments, but there were so many good, small ones.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Coming off my PTSD meds and doing well after. My mental health has been generally good this year. I suppose this isn’t an accomplishment as I didn’t really do anything, but it’s something that happened that I’m pleased about.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Never having enough patience for my kids.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope. My husband almost died (at my hand) from a man cold, Will had HFM and had tubes put in his ears, but this was generally a decent year health wise.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Tickets to NOLA. That trip was magic.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Probably Elijah’s more than anyone else. He continues to be an incredibly compassionate kid.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Donald Trump’s. People who voted for Donald Trump. The alt-right. Nor-Nazis. Racists. Terrorists.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Student loans. Credit card bills. Our debt would blow your mind.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Our trips. We got to do some very fun things with our kids all over the country. New Orleans, Vegas, Boise, Ventura.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
Alllllll the Hamilton.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier
b) thinner or fatter? Pretty close to the same. Maybe like a half pound thinner.
c) richer or poorer? Ehhhh, sameish. We are budgeting better but our student loans more than doubled in 2016, so it didn’t make a great difference.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Active playing with my kids. It’s not where I excel as a parent.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

20. How did you spend the holidays?
We did Chanukah at home except for two nights at my parents’ houses and tonight at my in laws. Christmas was at my parents’

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
Nope, but there was no lack of love.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
The Great British Baking Show and even though I kind of hate it, This Is Us.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? A few former coworkers are definitely not on my list of favorite people anymore.

24. What was the best book you read?
The new kind of Harry Potter book/play.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

26. What did you want and get?
To sleep through the night occasionally.

27. What did you want and not get?
Hillary. Sigh.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Finding Dory.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 33 at a continuing education course in New Mexico.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Lost more weight.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Mostly clothes that don’t fit well. This is copied from last year and still very true.

32. What kept you sane?
Family, friends and the internet. Same as last year.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Meh, none. Same as last year.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The entire goddamn election and the fact that 60 million people think that a sexual predator should run the country. I cannot.

35. Who did you miss?
Is it wrong to say no one?

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Probably Asher, as trite as that sounds. He’s delightful.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
You cannot fully understand how hard something is for a person until you experience it. And that we could all stand to be way more compassionate.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“You want a revolution? I want a revelation. So listen to my declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’m ‘a compel him to include women in the sequel!”

Us v. Us

Last week, the Islamic center in our city received an anonymous letter in the mail. It said that Trump should do to Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews in the 20th century. The fact this has happened, let alone that it happened here, and in 2016, is nothing short of jaw droopingly disgusting.

Just a few weeks ago, a Facebook friend of mine chastised (honestly, she very nearly mocked) me for expressing concern about anti-semitism in California because, after all, we are a blue state. We live in a deeply “blue” area in a deeply “blue” state, and yet, our Islamic center received that piece of hate mail. It turns out that invisible veil of blue doesn’t really do much to keep hate out.

Our mayor wrote a letter proclaiming support and the community has been amazing. There didn’t seem to be a lot we could do and then a few days ago, a friend of mine coordinated a trip for us and our kids to visit the Islamic center (two trips actually, more of them are going tomorrow). And that happened today.

Prior to the trip, Elijah and I sat down and drew a few cards for the kids there. Just little notes about how we were happy to have them in our neighborhood and that we hoped our cards would make them happy. And with cards in hand, we went today for a visit. We met with several of the people there and then they brought us over to the pre-k class.

We opened the door and found a class of 12 adorable 4 year old boys, all just like my son. They were doing an art project with their teacher, just like my children do each day at school. The teacher, who did not know we were coming (the leader of the Islamic center did), warmly welcomed us in, included our kids in their project and before we could even take a breath, my boys and our friends kids were blending, seamlessly, in with the boys in the Islamic preschool. Because, here’s a news flash, they’re just kids. Their names might be a little different, they pray a little differently than my kids, but they all like trains and trucks and Lego and books. Because they are all kids.

I want to belabor this point because it seems like not everyone understands this fully. The families at our Islamic center are totally normal people. They’re literally us, just a few blocks down the road with a different religious symbol on their front door.

That’s the thing that seems to be getting lost among conservatives, these are just people.

They’re not scary.

They’re not devious.

They’re just people.

They’re just Americans.

They’re just families like mine who are trying to raise their kids to be good people. They’re just families who happen to be born into or chose a different religion than we did. And unfortunately, a terrorist group across the globe bastardized their religion, in very much the same way the KKK has bastardized Christianity. It doesn’t make all Christians racists and it doesn’t make all Muslims terrorists.

While I was in the classroom a little boy built an airplane out of Lego and when I told him I thought it was a cool airplane, he, a little frustrated, corrected me that it was a “jet airplane.” This probably sounds silly, but it struck me because it is an exact conversation I have had with Elijah numerous times.

These boys were just like my boys and it made me feel even worse for their parents. The fear they must feel for their safety and the safety of their children, even in a “blue” state, even in two thousand freaking sixteen, even in a country with a first amendment right to freedom of religion, must be tremendous.

Our visit today didn’t change anything. We don’t need pats on the back for going because it was literally the least any person could do in this situation. But we do need to continue to tell people, especially those who want to sign Muslims up for a registry, those who believe we should refuse to accept Muslim refugees who are dying by the THOUSANDS, running from the very terrorist group we ourselves are fearful of, that these children are just like theirs. That hating them, that ostracizing them, that marginalizing them, is wrong in every way. And if we allow this to happen, if we throw away the first amendment out of unfounded fear drummed up by a neo-fascist president-elect and a conservative media that is so untrustworthy with the truth it cannot be aired as “news” in other countries, we are destroying the very fabric of this country.

If we can’t see that those 12 boys and their families are more like us than they are different, and if we can’t teach our children that, then it doesn’t matter who is president. Because we have set ourselves on a course to repeat the mistakes of fallen republics the world over and no single president can stop us from our own self-destruction.

Four Point Five

Today my first baby is 4 and a half years old.

I cannot believe that my tiny infant, the baby who made me a mom, is 6 months from being 5 years old. That I will be enrolling him in kindergarten in less than 2 months. My baby. Elementary school.

When we had Eli, we really had no idea what we were doing. We had ideas of the kids we might have and how we would parent them, but truly, we had no idea and most of the time, we still don’t. But we know Elijah and we are so much better for it.

He is the kindest kid. I mean, he has his moments where he refuses to share like every other 4.5 year old on the earth. But at least once a day, he astounds me with his consideration of others. A few weeks ago we were at a store and J and I had to talk with the salesman for a while. We had brought our iPad and an old iPhone to keep the kids occupied because we know it was going to be a while and yet Will was struggling. At one point I walked to the stroller to check on him and Elijah didn’t notice. I heard him say, “William, it’s okay. You don’t need to be sad. I’m right here with you.” And oh hey, it still makes me cry.

The very next day, I took Elijah to a birthday party and when we realized Will wasn’t coming he looked at me, tearfully, and said, “do you think we can bring William back some cake? I know he’d really like that.” I mean. I didn’t teach him that. I wish I could take credit for it, but it’s just who he is.

He is also sensitive, often to a fault. He doesn’t throw tantrums and he rarely talks back or yells or does anything particularly overtly disobedient. But his heart breaks easily and often and some of our biggest parenting struggles involve his sadness much more than his sassiness or any significant behavioral disputes.

Last week I forgot his homework (his preschool does voluntary homework- 10 words brainstormed with parents that start with the letter of the week, it’s a thing we do together as a family and he LOVES it) and he kept himself together at school, but when I got to him to pick him up, he just melted into a puddle. I had actually brought his homework with me, he got a sticker for it, all was well, but his poor little heart. He was so sad that he didn’t get to read his words to his friends. He didn’t care about his sticker and his teacher had assured him that he wouldn’t get in any trouble, but he was still devastated.

He’s also pretty bright, but I think one of his greatest and maybe unique-ish traits is his ear for music. We were listening to Adele last month (at his request) and I realized that he was signing exactly one octave above Adele and I. I was gobsmacked. At temple, he knows all the songs, even those in Hebrew, and often he sings louder than the cantor, which is equal parts adorable and a little embarrassing. Thankfully, despite his sensitivity, Elijah is the purest extrovert and he will take that attention and happily run with it.

I think most of all, he’s becoming himself. He’s got little pieces of his dad and of me in the mix, but he is, at his core, Elijah. He is an absolute delight and we are so unbelievably lucky that he’s ours. He made me a mom and he teaches me something every single day. He makes me want to be kinder, he makes me want to be better at everything I try. He makes me a better person and I am grateful every day that of all the kids in the world, that he is mine.

In only 4.5 years he has changed me to the deepest parts of my heart, and while I adore this age and kind of want time to stop here, I also cannot wait to see the person, the man, that he becomes. I know, in my heart of hearts, that he is meant for something big and I’m just so grateful that I get to watch it happen.

From Here

I never thought I’d be writing this. We lost. She lost.

My first feeling is one of pure sadness. I wanted her to win. I’m not ashamed to say that I am sad. I saw a future with Hillary that I didn’t know I needed, and now that I’ve seen it, I can’t imagine life without it.

I imagined a society where people of every skin color, nationality and religion, every sexual orientation or gender status, would be equal. Where women would earn the same salaries as men doing the same work. Where maternity leave would be a national requirement. Where a government health insurance option would be the stepping stone to nationalized health care (like the rest of the industrialized world…). I imagined a place where my children would see women as powerful and valuable and more than just mothers or more than just teachers and nurses. Where women were leaders. A world where their role models, their leaders, respected others. A world where men who sexually assault women and who tweet anti-semitic memes, lose and suffer for their bigotry.

And instead, I woke up to an upside down world that I don’t recognize. I woke up to a world where my health insurance may be snatched away. Where my children might be uninsurable. I woke up to a world where my cousin might not be able to marry the love of her life because they both happen to be women. I woke up to a world where a politician is promising to take away my preferred method of birth control because he doesn’t like it.

So what now. Where do we go from here?

I felt like first I needed to address this with my son, who sat with us for some of the election coverage (truth be told, he’s THRILLED that Trump won, as Trump was on the red team and red is his favorite color). He told me last night that he hoped “my friend” would win and so when he asked this morning if she won, I had to tell him no. And he asked why. I was stuck for a moment, because there’s no easy answer for that, but what I told him was that in every story, it looks like the bad guy wins for a while. We talked about Finding Nemo, where it looks like Nemo is going to be given to Darla. We talked about Zootopia, where it looks like the savage animals will take over. We talked about his favorite book and how it seems like the good guys won’t win.

But they do. In all good stories, the good guys persevere and come out on top. I reminded him of the end of all those stories and more and how it we keep fighting, if we refuse to give up, the good guys will win. Our job is to continue to love our neighbors, to support those who need it and to continue to be a good guy.

I don’t know if he understood it, but I think I needed to hear it come out of my mouth as much as he did. I believe what I said. The United States is a good story. We are a story of hope and we will continue to be. The good guys will win. Love will win.

I plan to give myself a few more days of eating my feelings and crying whenever I read Hillary’s concession speech or think about a world where we can’t afford to take our kids to the doctor, but that phase will be short lived. And then it’s time to rise up. It’s time to fight for the good guys. To look ahead to 2018 and to figure out how I can help the future I dreamed of become reality. To get my metaphorical boots on the literal ground and champion democratic senators and representatives so we can gradually, politically, peacefully fight back.

I also plan to give, as much as we can, to organizations that protect the people who will need it most under a Trump presidency- Planned Parenthood, ACLU, NAACP, and many, many more. If you typically receive a holiday gift from me, this year, part of your gift will be a donation in your name to better someone else’s life. If that’s not your thing, then you can smile and pretend because this is bigger than you and me.

And so we look forward. To 2018, to 2020. To fighting the fight of the good guys. To keep our friends and families safe. To finally breaking that glass ceiling wide open and shattering pieces down on every person who held us back, who deprived us of this victory. You cannot stop progress. You cannot stop all of us who were so happy to be with her. Who now know what we’re missing and who are going to fight like hell to get it.

Why a Trump Presidency Terrifies Me

This is a post about politics. I don’t think I’m going to change anyone’s mind, but I’m going to write this anyway. Feel free to walk away now if this is not your thing.

I remember in 2008 and 2012 that there were republicans who made outrageous claims about what our country would be under Barack Obama. They said that he would institute Sharia Law. They said he’d take all the guns. They said he would single handedly destroy the country. I rolled my eyes until I thought they would fall out because the Barack Obama I knew wanted the United States to be successful. He wanted to build jobs and boost the economy and give us health care. He gave me hope for a future that I wanted for this country.

And almost 8 years later, he hasn’t instituted Sharia Law (because he’s not a Muslim, which we knew all along). He didn’t take any guns, even though arguably he should have. He helped rebuild the economy. He helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs. He provided healthcare to children and families. Yep, maybe the Affordable Care Act has issues (which, overwhelmingly, are the fault of the insurance companies who put their profit above all else) and maybe his tax plan doesn’t favor the wealthy, but this country is better than it was 8 years ago. Period. This is agreed upon by historians, economists, military generals and most reasonable people. We don’t have to agree on this, but statistically, we’re better off than we were 8 years ago.

And now it is election time again, and I feel strangely like I think Republicans felt in 2004 and 2008. Hillary is slightly favored to win, but Trump is a huge threat, and I am terrified. And I am trying to withhold some dramatics on this because some of it is certainly not based in reality, but at the same time, a Trump presidency promises some very troubling things.

I am concerned that he is a huge threat to the LGBTQ community in this country. He has vowed to nominate a justice to the supreme court who would oppose marriage equality. His vice president wanted to make requesting a marriage license a crime for gay couples and he supports conversion therapy for gay teens, which has been shown to drastically raise suicide rates in these kids. They want to walk us backward several years and overturn marriage equality. They want to allow states to decide, which will prevent families in states like Utah from being able to be married or receive the same benefits as straight couples. This will harm families- adults and children alike.

I am concerned about Trump’s relationship with Russia and with China. I’m worried that he does not have any understanding of foreign affairs and that his willingness to taunt and make threats to nuclear countries is putting a lot of people in potential danger. Do I think we will be bombed by these countries? Probably not. But might it cost us allies that could be important in the future? Yes. Definitely. And might it eventually lead us into wars we don’t need to be in? Yes.

I am concerned that Trump’s plan of using tax breaks for the wealthy only and trickle down economics, which has never worked and which helped lead us into the great recession, will undo all the economic growth of the last 8 years. Economists across the country have agreed that cutting taxes on the wealthy will only benefit the wealthy. This seems like an obvious move for a billionaire businessman who has done everything he can to avoid paying taxes, legally, I realize, for several decades.

I am so far past concerned that I can no longer see concerned in my rear view mirror, of Trump’s health insurance plan. Allowing insurance companies to cross state lines will definitely drive competition, but with the abolition of the ACA, companies will once again be allowed to charge women more, they will no longer offer free/affordable birth control (and they want to defund Planned Parenthood at the same time), college grads who are still finding a good job will lose the coverage under their parents. And people like me will be excluded or charged astronomical rates because we have pre-existing conditions. We will be prevented from getting health insurance in any affordable way because we are the ones who will use it. Because the insurance companies won’t make as much money on us because they’ll actually have to pay for things. My 4 year old son will not be able to get insurance if his father loses his job (which, if our health care system crashes, is a possibility) because when he was 10 months old he had a traumatic brain injury.

I’m concerned that Trump shows a complete and utter disrespect for women. If one single woman came forward and credibly accused a man of sexually assaulting them, that would be concerning. But when we have a presidential candidate, on tape, admitting to sexually assaulting women, and tens of women coming forward accusing him of doing what he said he did, I cannot dismiss that. Maybe it won’t impact his job performance, but how can I, as a woman, expect Donald Trump to fight for my rights- for equal pay, for equal insurance coverage, for childcare assistance, for anything, when he shows a complete and utter lack of respect for women? How can he lead a country where women make up half the population? How anyone, literally any woman on this earth or anyone who cares about a woman, could ever overlook this astounds me.

Hillary Clinton is not perfect and I will not pretend that she is.

She has admitted to making mistakes with her emails and maybe that’s off-putting to some people. But I’m assuming that you are also calling for Colin Powell to be investigated, as he also used a private email server when he was Secretary of State. And I’m assuming you’re calling for George W Bush and Dick Cheney to also be investigated as they deleted hundreds of thousands of emails after they were subpoenaed, and likely, many of them continued information about the Iraq war that was started on false presences. If you are only outraged about Hillary Clinton, you are either extremely ignorant of actual current events, or you are a hypocrite. Take your pick.

She was Secretary of State during the attack in Benghazi and she first, erroneously reported that the attack was related to a movie. She was wrong, she has admitted that, and provided all the requested information. She has been investigated up, down and in-between, and to the tone of thousands of dollars and hours, and found to be innocent in any wrong doing. And if you are calling for her imprisonment for this, I assume you are calling for the imprisonment of Colin Powell and Condaleezza Rice, under whom there were 11 and 9 embassy attacks, respectively. If this is your hill to politically die on, you better be calling for the investigation of Powell and Rice, or once again, you’re a hypocrite.

She’s a woman. And if that’s why you’re not voting for her, then you are a shitty human being. I am not sorry for saying it.

She stood by her husband after he had multiple affairs and he has been accused of sexual assault. Definitely we shouldn’t re-elect Bill Clinton, because he is not respectful of women, but if you are really punishing Hillary for staying with her husband and not punishing Trump for cheating on his wives, then, once again, you are a hypocrite.

Hillary Clinton is one of the most qualified candidates for president that we’ve ever had. She was first lady, which gave her a much better understanding of the stresses and procedures of the presidency than most politicians have. She was a two term New York Senator. She was Secretary of State. She has fought her way up from the bottom, from modest beginnings, through law school, as a public defender, all the way up to the precipice of the presidency.

If you simply disagree with Hillary’s policies in the same way I disagree with Trump’s, then it makes perfect sense that you wouldn’t vote for her and I don’t think anyone is asking you to do so. But if you are buying into sensationalized news stories from alt-right websites, and that’s your reason for not voting for Hillary, you need to take a hard look at your choices and your understanding of what’s really at stake in this election. Read the reports from experts in economics and military strategy and civil rights. Turn off Fox News (turn off MSNBC if you’re watching that too) and read stories from other news sources, look to news sources abroad. Look at what the world is saying, because aside from Russia, they are telling you to run, screaming, away from Donald Trump. And that should mean something.

There is no question that this election is historic, I just hope that it is historic for the right reasons, rather than for the wrong choice.

On Locker Room Talk

I have little intention of discussing politics here (I’m with her, and proudly, I might add), but I am going to set aside that plan for a moment. This is more important.

Last week an audio recording surfaced of Donald Trump discussing that he has sexually assaulted women, and it’s okay because he’s famous. If you haven’t listened to it, please do. This is how he speaks when he thinks no one will catch him. He was 60 years old. He was not a teenager who didn’t know better. He was a grown ass adult.

To say that I am beyond disgusted by this would be a dramatic understatement. I’m furious. It’s disgusting. It’s indefensible. And it should disqualify him from being a human being, let alone from being president of this country.

And the defense from Trump and his supporters has been that it is “locker room talk.”


I reject this.

All men do not talk like this and we should not devalue the experience of good men by lumping them in with this piece of trash.

Crappy people talk like this. Men who don’t value women talk like this. Men who think they are above women talk like this. Men who think women are sexual objects for their taking talk like this. This is not normal discourse and it should not be excused as such.

I want to be absolutely clear about something here- if you engage in this kind of locker room talk, and by that I mean, if you say these kinds of things or if you allow the people around you to say these things, you are not welcome in our lives. Period.

One of my most important parenting goals is to teach my sons to respect women and to understand consent. To treat women as equals. To respect their boundaries no matter what. And to respect their bodies. That kind of “locker room talk” is the antithesis of what I want my boys to hear.

And so if you talk like this, please see your way out. We have no room and no tolerance for you here. I’m not sorry and you won’t be missed. This is more than politics, this is humanity and I won’t stand for this from the people in my life.

Gut Struggles and Victories

About a month ago, we found out that William doesn’t have Celiac. I think I wrote he was being tested, but in case I didn’t, Will was tested for Celiac several weeks ago.

Well, he asterisk doesn’t have Celiac because if he also has a different issue he could have Celiac, but we’re feeling pretty confident that the test result, sans-asterisk, is correct. But, we still just don’t know what’s up with his gut. He swings back and forth between constipation and loose stools, he’s got a giant bloated belly and just doesn’t grow well. And his iron is like scary low. It’s less than half of the bottom level of normal. And it’s dropping. Despite a surprisingly iron rich diet.

Despite all of this, we had a fairly major William gut milestone this week. We have finally weaned him off all his reflux medication. We’ve tried twice earlier this year with epic failures both times, but this time, he’s off and without any noticeable issues.

Will was started on his first reflux med when he was 4 months old and was diagnosed with severe GERD with Sandifer variant. We added a second medication within a few weeks when the first med didn’t cut it and even then, it was almost constantly a struggle to keep everything controlled. It was a struggle to eat, a struggle to gain weight. A struggle to grow. And we dropped one medication almost a year ago, but this second one, it has been a struggle unto itself.

And now he’s off of it. Hopefully this will also improve his iron absorption since it can be known to reduce iron absorption, but I’m not holding my breath (dosage and timing seems to make it unlikely to be the cause).

I still feel like we are somehow missing the big picture for Will. It’s not food allergies (it’s also not FPIES, I’m fairly confident). It’s not Celiac. I just don’t know where else to look or if it’s time to stop looking and just live, which is mostly what we’ve been doing since the Celiac testing came back. He is growing, albeit slowly (6th percentile for height, 9th for weight!), and he is developmentally right on track. There is much to be happy about.

But even with that overwhelming happiness, it seems that I just can’t help but always have this small section of my mind on worry mode. Like there’s a tiny siren going off and I can’t ever fully quiet it. The majority of the time I can ignore it, but it never really stops. And maybe it won’t until we have an answer, or until all the abnormalities stop altogether. Hopefully the latter comes soon, for all our sake, most of all my sweet Will.

Into the Tube

A week or two ago, my Timehop app showed me a picture of Elijah at the eye doctor. I actually doubled checked the date because I didn’t think there was anyway that could’ve been a full year ago, and yet, it was. This event was only important because of why we made and attended that appointment- it was just a few weeks after Eli started complaining about headaches. They were on and off, but really slowed him down, and we wanted to rule out vision as a cause. Vision was and is still not an issue, which is good. But, in a year, the headaches have not stopped and the cause is still not known.

Which is why Eli is having an MRI tomorrow.

While an MRI in and of itself is hardly a scary test, because he’s 4 and because there is absolutely zero chance that he could even attempt to stay still in the MRI tube, he’s being put under general anesthesia. That’s where it changes from boring and loud to slightly dangerous and a little bit terrifying.

We booked it 3 months ago and I basically put it out of my mind since then. And now it’s here. Last week I was feeling way more apprehensive than I am now, mostly, I’m just ready to have this behind us and to have some idea of what’s going on inside his head.

My concerns are varied. I’m (reasonably?) worried that he has the same brain/cranial malformation I have. When I was pregnant we did several high level ultrasounds to try to rule it out, but we knew that we couldn’t possibly know for sure. It’s not necessarily been proven to be genetic (there is a strong suggestion of this though, so it wouldn’t surprise me), so that’s somewhat in our favor. Also, his headaches don’t really seem consistent with a Chiari malformation, which is also comforting.

I’m more worried that it’s going to show damage from the injury/bleed he had when he was 10 months old. If we’re being honest, I fully expect something to show up related to this. It would be kind of amazing if it didn’t. But I’m still sort of gutted by the idea of it. I know it doesn’t change anything, I know he is who he is regardless of whether there is damage from that event. I need no reminders. But I also know that hearing or reading that his brain suffered permanent damage from that event is going to be a lot for my heart to handle.

And then there’s the unknown. A year ago I was much more worried about that than I am now. The headaches haven’t evolved, they’ve ebbed and flowed (flown?) the duration of the year, he doesn’t have any other neurological signs, so I feel like the likelihood that there’s anything nefarious is virtually zero. I couldn’t possibly be more grateful for this.

I can’t possibly convey how ready I am to be past this event. I know he’s going to be fine. I know it’s not going to be pleasant and that Elijah is going to be scared, but I also know that this is the right choice and that having more information will be worth the unpleasantries required to get that information. And hopefully that information will be super boring and the only information we will get will be ruling out anything more than an unfortunate genetic predisposition for headaches.

Growing Safely

On first glance at my kids, it would seem very obvious that Will is a harder kid to parent. And in a lot of ways, he is. He is more temperamental than Eli ever was. He’s more prone to public (and private) tantrums. He has had a lot of health issues and he continues to be a less than ideal sleeper. And I adore him, just as I do his brother. But as Eli grows, I’m starting to see that while Will is in a tough season of life, Eli seems likely to be more challenging for me to parent.

Eli is extremely sensitive. I see so very much of myself in him, which is not necessarily a good thing.

He hates getting in trouble and he will lie, to your face, to avoid it. Not in a devious, trying to get away with being poorly behaved way, but in a, will do anything to avoid having adults be upset with him kind of way. He will ask, several times a day if we are happy, which is his 4 year old way of asking if we’re mad at him. And if we are frustrated with him, he gets incredibly upset.

But it’s more than that. He’s not shy, he will talk to any person on the earth without any concept of whether he’s interrupting their lives (so basically he’s a 4 year old), but he is self-conscious. He loves to sing, but if we try to record him singing, or if we stop singing, he will also stop. He worries about what his friends will think of him and if someone isn’t kind to him, it breaks his tiny little heart. He tells us he’s “feeling a little bit sad” at least once a day, as a result of something someone has said/done towards him. Granted, not all of this is significant in nature, today his daycare teacher made him feel a little bit sad because she wouldn’t let him push Will off a swing, but still. Lots of sad.

And this presents a huge challenge to me. Because I am that person. I hate getting in trouble, I live in fear that I’ll get fired from my job despite the fact that I work my ass off to be a good employee. I got in a disagreement with someone on social media this week about something I said and it ruined my entire day. Like Eli, I care deeply, WAY too deeply about what other people think about me. And I think it was my sensitivity and my tendency to let my hurt feelings show, that contributed significantly to my being bullied, heavily, in elementary school. When I say heavily, I mean to the point that I had to change schools after 2 excruciating years.

And that’s why it’s really tough for me to not “bully proof” Eli. I try to buy him clothes that fit in with other kids, sometimes accidentally pushing him away from his inclinations towards more “socially acceptable” things. I didn’t want to let him wear Sesame Street socks to school last week because I’m not sure that it’s still something the kids in his class like (but I did anyway). I want to make sure he speaks in a way that is age appropriate. I just, I have to stop myself, almost daily, because I want so badly to protect him from what I experienced as a child, but I know that doing that squashes his personality, which is arguably even worse. It’s hard for me to imagine sending him to kindergarten next year because I feel like I’m sending him to the wolves and I’m so scared that his incredible, gentle heart will be broken.

It ends up that while Will tests my patience daily, Eli tests my heart as often, if not more. I struggle more with how to help him grow up as himself, safely, than I do with all of William’s tantrums combined. I always heard that parenting was hard on the heart, but I never fully grasped the depths of that truth. I do now. I understand a small part of what it is to send your heart out the door, knowing fully that someday it will be crushed by someone else’s words. I understand the desire to wrap your child in metaphorical bubble wrap to keep them safe, even at the expense of fully experiencing life.

I realize that the issue here isn’t Elijah, it’s me. But I sense that this struggle, the need to keep him happy and safe while also allowing him to be fully himself, is going to span many years of our lives. I’m thrilled that I get to be his mother, the one who lives this struggle, because he is more than worth it and I adore this boy more than words could ever fully capture. I can’t wait to watch him grow up and grow into who he wants to be, even if it’s harder on my heart than I ever knew it could be.