Episode 34: Did Trump Ruin Marriage? Part I

 

This is a post I have been chewing on for like… a year. Almost a year. The photo attached to this post popped up in my recent memories on facebook. Heartbreak and a half. ALMOST A YEAR SINCE WE ELECTED THAT MOTHER FUCKER YOU GUYS.

Right after the election I was so angry and so upset. You know this. You read about it. But it was not just spilling out all over this blog, it was always spilling out all over my marriage. There was a lot of crying from me before bed. A lot of seeeeeeething at my husband’s complacency. A lot of firey firey aries rage threatening to swallow me whole.

I wanted to do a podcast about this right away but I couldn’t wrap my head around the conversation. Today it feels more grasp-able. We are all different people than a year ago. Today it’s easier in some ways to look back. This is a two-parter because I have too much to say and Kamel had a plane to catch.

Falling

On Sunday I fell down the stairs while holding Fae for the second time. Two times I have slipped and fallen without any warning only to see my baby slide down my body and go tumbling down the stairs herself. It is absolutely horrific. It’s one of those things you think about happening in an “oh my god wouldn’t that be AWFUL?” way. And then it does. And here we are.

This is also probably the 5th time I’ve fallen down these stairs. And not because I’m being ridiculous. Not because I’m on my phone or running or doing anything other than WALKING down the STAIRS. It’s also not a feeling of, “oh no. I am going to fall. Oh look I am now falling. Oh shit.” No, it doesn’t happen that way. It’s like this: I am walking down the stairs thinking of where I’m going and the 5 billion things I have to do when I get there. SDHGKAJFSKLAJSKDGJ I’M FALLING OW SKDGJSKLJDTGSKL.

So when you think, “Oh, I’ll make sure to hold the baby if I were ever to fall.” No. That is not true. If I had the ability to think, “I am falling must hold baby,” I would do it! But I don’t. Because all that happens is I slip without feeling myself slip and then my body flails. I watch my daughter slide down my body or fall to the stairs and tumble down like a rag doll while I am also tumbling down and desperately trying to get my body to do what I want it to do which is save my daughter, but we’re both falling and I am screaming and it is HORRIBLE.

Thankfully aside from bruising myself, no one has ever had any injuries. But I am not want to risk the completely traumatic event happening again and again and again. (Granted I feel like it’s already happened like 5 times too many.) So, what do I do? They are carpeted stairs and I fall whether I am in socks or bare feet. Has anyone had this issue? At this point we will do anything, but I would prefer it not be super ugly or crap quality/annoyingly temporary. Help!

The Dishwasher Part 1

Remember when I talked about the bats in the attic? How we all have fears knocking on our doors that we turn the volume up on? We ignore them or leave them for another day. Home ownership has removed a few of those fears (will we be able to afford the next rent hike?), but has added new ones.

Like: Will our roof suddenly leak?

Like: Will we be able to afford the sudden expense of something failing?

Like: Infestations.

Like: What if I don’t know that something is wrong because I don’t know anything about anything and then it’s too late and we have a problem that is 3x what it should be because Lauren is stupid.

And then last week our dishwasher leaked. And we discovered this problem when Kamel went into the crawl space and there was water there. And water was leaking from above. Through the insulation. We discovered this at 8pm. The plumbers came the next day. And the day after that the restoration people.

(Thanks, dishwasher, you piece of shit.)

The day the restoration people came was Gabe’s birthday and we were supposed to have a family party at our house.

Except that, um, this was our kitchen:

I did not bake him a cake for the first time… ever. We moved the party to my parent’s party room in their condo, and when we got home from Gabe’s birthday shenans the restorers were still working. They had a 12 hour day ripping up 7 layers of floors. Surprise! No one ever removed old flooring before putting new ones down! which means new floor will be about an inch lower than it was before.

The fans in the kitchen were blowing 24 hours a day for two days and then fans in our crawl space were blowing 24 hours a day for 4 days. We have no cupboards on that side of the kitchen and our counter top is being held up by those pieces of wood you see.

We do most of our dishes in the bathroom sinks.

The insurance guy comes tomorrow but this is still going to cost us SURPRISE money. And take months to fix.

Just a few days before we discovered the leak I had booked, with the help of a lovely internet friend (Hi Bri!), a family vacation to San Diego for May. Our first family vacation with just our family since Gabe was 18 months old. But, because we try to be responsible adults whenever possible, we had to turn around and cancel it because…. see above.

The kitchen is tented off with plastic zipper doors on the two portal entrances. And we are trying to keep our cooking/eating footprint as small as possible. It has been a mild inconvenience at best, and at worst it is an absolute scramble. We can use the kitchen, but I have to keep the kids out of there (zipper door wins!) and that makes cooking dinner and solo parenting difficult when I can’t see them and they can’t see me. Even when the doors are unzipped.

So the first homeownership bad thing happened. A sudden kitchen remodel. Surprise! I wonder what will happen next…To Be Continued.

It’s Done, It’s Over

… that’s what I said to Kamel after I watched President Obama’s final speech. I know he meant to inspire action and civic duty, but this was my imperfect Camelot. And we’ve been defeated by the troll army. I’m watching a poised and graceful leader bow out to make way for a genuinely bad person who will represent us all.

“Why are you crying, Lauren?” Kamel said to me, with concern. Because how could I shed anymore tears? (How am I welling up just writing this?) How could I be holding my hands to my face and really crying, yet again?

“Because…” I stammered, choking back sobs, “…because this is it. It’s done.”

“No it’s not,” he said.

Sometimes I just want to scream at him that he doesn’t get it. YOU DON’T GET IT. How do you not see?

“Yes it is. It’s over. That was it. And now… and now it really is going to happen and it’s all bad things.”

“It won’t be that bad,” he says to reassure me.

“Yes it will,” I say as I walk to the bathroom to get my toilet paper because we’re all out of kleenex in our bedroom.

“It will be that bad,” I reiterated as a fresh wave of tears sweeps over me.

Because somehow, even if I don’t agree, even if he never had my vote and never will have my vote, we have ALL allowed him to be the leader of this country. He will represent us in foreign affairs, he will hold the pen that signs new laws, that takes away freedoms, that declares war. His stupid little fingers will spew nonsense on the internet that will mean more because he will very soon have the title of President of the United States behind his name. And everything he says and everything he has ever said will be immortalized because he will hold that office.

I know that President Obama wanted to inspire hope and action with his final speech, but I do not feel hopeful. I feel sad and tired.

There is a game being played and the players are too far away for me to reach. The outcome happens and I can’t change it or stop it or influence it. I’m not rich enough, I’m not powerful enough, I’m not important enough. My dissension is an annoying gnat on a hot summer day. I am David and the giant is so big that I am squashed by his giant foot before I can even load my sling shot.

I want to be proven wrong. I want to prove myself wrong. But the run away train seems too far ahead for me to catch.

I am the lone woman screaming in the gallery of Congress while they drag her away. The conversation pauses on the hearing floor. And Senator Graham chuckles under his breath before saying, “At least we’re clearing the room for you…” before continuing with his buddy-buddy questions to Sessions. Because they’ve known each other for years and who the fuck am I?

Heading Into 2017

On the morning of New Year’s Eve we were on our way to the zoo with the kids. Kamel said to me, “Wait. Is TODAY New Year’s Eve? Is it? Oh my god it is! I thought I had another day! I feel robbed of a day!”

And that is a perfect explanation of how the year went for us.

Most of 2016 for us was a mad-dash. I made plans and then promptly forgot them, only to be reminded the day before, hours before, etc. I skated through by the skin of my teeth in all things. If your experience with me has been that I have all my shit together. Well, friends, that is all smoke and mirrors. My children are lucky to have clean pants and I am always surprised there is food in the fridge.

A lot of people wanted the last few months of 2016 to zoom by. They wanted to skip ahead to 2017. But I had the opposite feelings. I’m afraid of 2017. I am not really hopeful. I am not looking ahead to a clean, shiny new year. I am dreading the climate in the U.S. I am dreading the portrait change in the federal buildings. I am looking ahead with trepidation that the safety of my family may be in jeopardy, that the financial future looks uncertain, that the world is not a kinder, better, healthier place than it was a year ago. The end of 2016 has left me sad and full of feelings with no outlets.

So in 2017 I march.

In 2017 I will be stronger. I will run further.

In 2017 I will spend more time outside.

I will give more than I ever have to institutions who work to protect all of us.

In 2017 I will be sad but I will also be in action.

I will be kind but I will be unyielding.

In 2017 I will be tired, but I will do it anyway.

I will read.

I will drink less and sleep more.

And when the world is bleak and I feel lost, I will play. Because there is always hope somewhere and I need to remember to look for it.

When Is It Beyond Excuses?

I have had several conversations with people who assert that Trump supporters had a variety of reasons for supporting him, the major one being economical. I have talked to smart people I respect. I have read articles from smart people who know more than I do about the struggle the middle class is facing. I have tried to understand and empathize with the fact that we have forgotten the working middle class, the white middle class, the rural/coal/industrial middle class. I think that a large group of people do feel forgotten in regards to policy and politics. The world is moving forward and they are getting left behind. Coal is dying, if not dead. The reality is that we have to move on to other means of generating energy and that means a huge amount of job loss in coal mining regions. What I want for those people is a job evolution. I don’t know if that’s possible, but that is what needs to happen.

Anyways, that’s only 1 part of the problem. There is also the idea of values. I know many people voted for Trump because of his supposed stance on abortion. That’s a big issue for many people. I don’t agree with that, I will never agree with that, but being a 1-issue voter is a big problem. Unfortunately we vote for the whole package. It’s not always 100% what I agree with, but it’s always moving in what I view as the right path. That path is about inclusion, expanded liberties, helping as many people as we can, and pushing out policies and politics that are racist, bigoted, nationalist, and fear-based.

And though I find it very very hard to believe that those who voted for Trump somehow missed the rampant racism at his rallies, his disgusting sexual comments to reporters, about women in general, and in his past, and his bullying, inappropriate behavior – I do believe in the uninformed voter. The single issue voter who isn’t reading news articles online, who maybe reads only right-leaning opinion pieces poised as news, who lives in a fear based world where everything is a conspiracy. I’m wondering when we draw the line in the sand on understanding.

Ok you voted, you were razzle dazzled. I don’t know if I’m able or willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt in this information age. Even if you don’t agree with how the news covered Trump, the words coming straight out of his own mouth should have been enough to vote NO. But – I digress. Some people were sold false hope. Some people were in love with a bully that spoke for them. Don’t yell at the voters, angry liberal elite! They say. Yelling at them will only make the divide worse!

But at what point are there no more excuses for supporting him? 

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For those asking for understanding and empathy towards those who voted for Trump and for those who continue to support him, tell me when it’s ok to say that it’s wrong. When can I stop being understanding? Where is the line?

Even if Trump isn’t actively on TV giving a Hitler salute, a lot of people are in his name. If anything, he has lit a fire under an ant nest of white supremacists and neo-nazis and is doing jack shit to put it out. I’m not seeing Trump voters outraged about his cabinet appointees. I’m seeing a ton of criticism for demanding better of our president, I’m seeing a ton of criticism over protests. Where is the critical eye on the person in charge of pushing all the buttons?

And I do have a critical eye on those supporting Trump. A little less than half the country chose to ignore actual words and sentiments coming out of his mouth and hoped it was merely campaign rhetoric. It was a job interview! If you’re a person who is willing to ignore injustice, to ignore the worst parts of a person who is going to lead the free world, to ignore the treatment of those who disagree with him, to ignore his behavior on a public stage as he vies to represent an entire country…. if you’re that person, then I do look at you with judgement. I am holding you accountable. Saying, “Oh, I didn’t realize.” Is not good enough.

And for those pushing me to tone down my outrage, I will not.

**Edit, also THIS. 

This is Real

i-cant

Thursday

1.) My day started off at 5am, cuddling Fae.

2.) Everyone was showered and dressed by 6:30, when we had to wake up Gabriel.

3.) Why do toddlers become a screaming pile of irrational bullshit right before you need to leave the house?

4.) Why do they look at you 5 minutes later after you’ve wrestled everyone into the car and are sweating like, “why are you pulling out your hair, mama? Want a yogurt snack?”

5.) We bought a treadmill and it arrived today. In a box.

6.) The delivery man did not knock or ring my doorbell. He left it out front and snuck away.

7.) I cannot lift the box to bring it inside. Kamel has a hernia, he cannot lift the box either. Thankfully, this means that thieves probably can’t lift the box. Otherwise, why would they need a treadmill? This feels like some kind of ironic torture.

8.) Yesterday at bedtime Gabe said his ear hurt, which is pretty random since we were just looking at the moon.

9.) Maybe the reason my child is a mess is because he has a secret ear infection. He also has a cold. This could be a real possibility, making me mother of the year for the 3rd year in a row.

10.) On top of the fact that I am drowning in work, I now need to take my kid to the doctor (and my other kid bc she can’t drive) during rush hour. It’s going to be great!

Wealthy White Men

I live in one of the, if not THE, wealthiest neighborhoods in Seattle. As a renter, obvi. But it is a privilege to walk my kids down beautiful tree-lined streets with craftsmen mansions on either side, dreaming of what we’d do if we ever won the lottery. It’s a great neighborhood to exist in. But I have found my fare share of rich person entitlement. People have asked me on several occasions if I’m “from the neighborhood” and which streets I live on. I get the feeling they are wondering if I’m a home owner/renter/passing through. I’ve been asked if I’m the nanny while at the park, and it’s clear on Halloween that we are not part of the cool kid club of parents who hang out and drink on the stoops while their kids run up and down the block. What a life.

There is also some wealthy-neighborhood silliness, like the constant hum of leaf blowers, as everyone’s lawn service descends onto the block rain or shine, whether their are leaves to blow, grass to mow, or not. Right at nap time, even on Sundays.

And living in an apartment has its sacrifices. Dealing with partying neighbors at 10pm in the summer when everyone’s windows are open and you’re gritting your teeth because “They are going to wake up the kids and oh my god it is SO LATE when is this going to END.” Old people stuff.

We live on the back end of the apartment building with views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains over the roof tops of these very large, million dollar homes. Directly behind our building is an ally where kids ride their bikes or play basketball, homeowners have access to their garages and backyards, etc. And I can hear everything that happens in these homes’ backyards. Every pool party, every barbecue, every lost dog, argument, shrieking child. And mostly it is nice. The neighborhood sounds.

Last week at some point I kept hearing voices and it would jar me awake, thinking it was the kids waking up. I think one of the neighbors was having a camp out in their backyard. Then on Friday night I kept waking up to the sound of music. I didn’t realize how late it was until I heard a woman yell out, “It is ONE AM can you PLEASE BE QUIET!!”

I’m going to operate on a hunch that this was a mom. I recognized the frazzled, desperate, frustrated tone. It wasn’t just that the neighbors across the ally from us were being loud and keeping her up, they were also keeping up the kids, preventing them from falling asleep, etc etc. Fae has been teething all week and has been up every 45 min multiple times a night last week and this weekend. Gabe slept through, but I could hear the other babies in the building start to wake up. At 1:00am.

It was three men, clearly drunk, listening to a really, really loud exercise video? Or something? It had blaring music accompanied with a female voice’s encouraging instructions. They were fucking around in their garage with the garage door open. And when they heard someone yell down (Trust me, they heard, we all heard, because of the homes and the brick building we live in everything is amplified), they turned the music UP. Now these are not college kids, they are not lone wolfs, these are dads- at least one of them is. The people who live in that house have two kids, a boy and a girl, and he sometimes plays basketball with them in the ally.

And in that moment I felt like…. you fucking rich fucks in your fucking giant house. What? The kids are at camp? You’re having a boys’ night in? And you don’t give a fuck about anyone else but yourself? Ok, so you live in your perfect capital hill house, in the most ideal neighborhood, and you think your actions don’t impact anyone else? Better yet, you just don’t care. You know they do, but you don’t give a single fuck.

When we’ve been looking for homes, our agents will often warn us about being near apartment buildings because of resale. And yes, people in apartments can be noisy because everyone shares walls and floors and ceilings. We’re all crammed in here and I’m sure the neighbors are intimately aware of any disagreement Kamel and I have. Just like I know all about my landlord’s mother in law. But it has been a rare thing to experience overt unneighborly behavior.

I’ve lost my point in a sea of frustration. Nice neighborhoods don’t make nice neighbors. And the entitlement of wealthy white men is suffocating me at every turn this summer. There is no reprieve, not even when I’m sleeping.

Okayest Traveler

I’m still trying to figure out how to properly send you to my World’s Okayest Moms podcast without hyperlinking you to all of the places. But there are only so many hours in the day. I would love to be able to host TWO podcasts here, so you could listen in a post (as so many of you do), but I haven’t (meaning Kamel hasn’t) figured it out yet. Sigh. So for now, I will link you.

The specific podcast I am referencing is this one about traveling with tiny humans. And I think I’ve linked it here before. (There is a more recent one about co-parenting too! And how much I hate it, but it is also working out totally fine, but I hate it, but omg single mamas, you guys are killing it out there.)

I want to bring this traveling one back up again because I brain farted when we were podcasting and I didn’t tell the most horrible parenting story of my parenting life when I had the chance, even though I had planned to and saved my story for this one moment and EVERYTHING. And then poof. I dropped the podcast story-telling ball. Thank god there are three of us on there.

So now, I will tell you. The most embarrassed I have ever been as a mother happened in the San Francisco airport coming back from Miami. For full backstory, we had just gotten off a 5-6 hour flight, we had had to wake up the kids at there 3-4am. Gabriel had been very sad and very confused as to why we were making him get out of bed. He did not sleep on the plane. We were all sunsoaked and smelly and Fae eventually put on a pair of Gabe’s boxer briefs as pants while on our layover in SFO because her pants got too dirty and we had no extras for her to wear. Gabriel was living on a diet of yogurt bites and M&Ms. As a family, we were hanging on by a thread.

When Gabe gets over tired he becomes a maniac and acts out in ways that I do not understand. He becomes an anarchist. He will look at me like I’m not even there and act out for no reason at all. It is impossible to reign him in and it is totally the worst.

We had let him run free in the airport when we got there because he is 3 and had just endured 6 hours in a chair. And also because we had 2 hours to kill. BE FREE! We bought him a legit smoothie hoping he would drink it and eat some fruit. He had like 2 sips. We were sitting in these giant red chairs, per his request, and he was sitting and spinning and just kind of generally wandering around within my sphere of influence. The next table over from us was an older couple. The man was reading a non-english paper, and the woman was sitting across from him quietly. A few minutes later she got up and went somewhere else, leaving her section of the paper on the little coffee table thing in front of both her and her husband. In very literally a split second Gabriel reached over, grabbed the woman’s paper and flung it into the air as he walked past the table.

Let me let that soak in. He is walking past, grabs the section of the paper with his left hand, and flings it into the air without even looking at it as he walks by.

The sections separate and float down in different directions. What I believe are prayer cards that have been clearly removed from a very old book and that were folded into her section of the paper scatter.

And then I died.

I hiss in a loud voice, while marching over to grab my child, some form of parental scolding. The older man is just looking at me, saying nothing, with a face of total contempt and disbelief. Kamel is handling Fae and didn’t see what happened. I have to then explain to Kamel, breifly, what happened while I’m also explaining why he needs to keep Gabriel OVER THERE while I go back and run around picking up the paper and the prayer cards and trying to put them all back together again while I apologize profusely.

The man, my only audience, remains disgusted at my actions. Doesn’t utter a word, but watches me run around picking up all of the papers like a bad mother who can’t control her fucking kids.

I am still dying. It is a slow, terrible death.

When the woman comes back I hear him explaining to her what happened in a different language, while boldly gesturing in our direction. That’s when I shoo Kamel and the kids away. We need to go somewhere else, ANYWHERE ELSE.

Yes, yes children are an extension of our hearts living outside of our bodies. But they are also representatives of our arms and legs, and they move independently of us, so often to our extreme horror.