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My Arvada Dad!

I have taken on a super fun side gig! I am writing for Neighbors of Northwest Arvada. June brought Father’s Day and a chance to interview my Pops and fellow (new!) Arvada resident.

Content isn’t available online but you can read the text of my interview below.

Happy June!

Happy Father’s Day Neighbors of Northwest Arvada! Did you know that Father’s Day did not become a nationally recognized holiday until 1972? We see you Dads out there; on the bike trails or tossing a ball around.

Good Dads are the best. In honor of the holiday, I took some time to chat with my own Dad and fellow Arvada resident about Fatherhood.

Hi Dad.

Hello Daughter.

You’ve been doing this dad thing for over 50 years, and we think your pretty good at it. As a dad of adult kids, watching your kids have kids, what advice would you give to someone whose brand new to this?  

Enjoy the time- it goes by so quickly. Play with your kids, be the goofy dad. Jump in the pool and be the shark. Wear the tiara for the tea party. When your kids are young, the days can be long, but you blink, and they are off to college. Enjoy the time when they think you’re still pretty cool.

I still think you’re pretty cool. What has been your proudest moment as a father?

Seeing my children grow up to become decent, respectful, talented world contributing people makes my buttons pop.

Well, that’s a pretty nice thing to say about your kiddos. Thanks! We are going to fire up the grill for Father’s Day, what’s the key to grilling a really great ribeye?

Start with a good quality bone-in ribeye. Season only with salt and pepper and have a good grill that allows searing the meat and then finish at a lower temp. Insist on chewing on the bone, it is Father’s Day after all.

Fine, you can gnaw on the bone, because it is your day. Speaking of your day, what is the appropriate gift? No gushy answers like world peace, go big.

A tie.

Really?

No, this is a little gushy, but I really have reached a time in my life where being with my kids and grandkids is always at the top of my wish list. And as my kids have gotten older, they now give us really thoughtful gifts!

That’s it, you’re getting a tie. Dads are known for bad jokes, what’s your best one?

In honor of my grandsons and because we were just talking about grilling, here you go…..Why didn’t Han Solo like his steak? It was Chewie.

That’s terrible. And kind of funny. So, you just moved to Arvada to be closer to family. What’s the best thing about living here?

Well, aside from being closer to all of you, we love that we are so close to the mountains. We can be out hiking and biking in minutes. I have also found a couple pretty good brew pubs and I might just try out goat yoga.

You’re crazy. But I’m glad you’re my dad.

To all our Neighbors of Northwest Arvada dads, granddads and really amazing uncles, we hope you have a fantastic day with family, friends and of course those little munchkins that made you dads. Go play and enjoy the day!

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How Should I Feel????

I found myself at Orange Theory yesterday evening.

My best workouts are somewhat anger enriched.

And last night I needed to sweat out some demons out in my head.

I pounced on the bike and started riding to the music. Orange Theory plays really great, sometimes a tad ragey music.

Blue Monday by Orgy started to play…… it’s an angry song- not a super angry song but it fit my mood…..

And I still find it so hard,

To say what I need to say,

But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me, just how I should feel today.

Orange Theory has these sayings on the wall, “Sweat Today, Smile Tomorrow.” “You’re only competing against yourself,” “If it does not challenge you, it does not change you.”

And I’m thinking, where is the rage wall? Where is the “I’m working out my inner demons? It’s not sweat, it’s anger juice“, or my favorite saying to work out to when I feel a touch ragey…… “%uck this $hit

Please note, the above is my internal cadence- I don’t run around Orange Theory saying %uck this $hit. But say next time you’re on a run and feeling a little angsty, try it, it really does work.

The song continued to play…

How should I feel?

How do I feel?

The song echoed what I have been feeling all day…..How should I feel.….my heart rate hit a high of 176….I was stinky and dripping anger juice. I think I got a little of this worked out.

Once I dug past the anger, I recognized what was at the core; grief.

I grieve. And perhaps because grief is a companion, I know when it’s here. This morning it sits next to me, sipping coffee and helping me write this all down. This morning it is silent and respectful.

Hello Grief.

I grieve for the families in Texas, for the immense, unfathomable loss. For how these parents now have to navigate life.

I grieve for you and I. For a society and decisions we no longer understand- for government and laws we are willing to accept knowing that the consequences are deadly.

The consequences are deadly.

I grieve for a society that on the darkness nights cannot accept anything less than shame, denial and blame.

I grieve that it all seems completely out of my control. I grieve that for many of us, it’s easier just to say silent.

I have never been good at being silent.

We need to acknowledge the broken- not the shame or the blame but the deeply, broken before it is absolutely unfixable. I don’t care who broke the window. Can we just say that the window is broken?

Let’s start there.

Cause I don’t know where else to start.

In the meantime, I’m going to try and work this shit out in my own head. Apologies in advance to whoever is next to me at sweaty Orange Theory.

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Trauma, Anger, Sadness, and Oh! Happy Mother’s Day!

Ah…..Happy Mother’s Day dear tribe. If you have followed me through the years, you know that Mother’s Day is somewhat problematic for me.

In fact I kinda hate it.

But I am happy to report that (so far) this Mother’s Day has been with love, laughter and sans tears.

For me.

But I think my whole tribe of Mama’s might be somewhat distraught by the goings-on of this last week. Roe v. Wade is a tinder box of emotions and the implications of what could happen in the next month are far reaching and catastrophic for women.

I do not say that lightly.

I have buried two very wanted, very loved babies. I gave birth to a full term stillborn son. I understand that life is really, truly is a miracle; a lovely, messy complex miracle.

After Samantha’s second Flight for Life trip to Children’s, I got an IUD. The thought of having another baby was absolutely terrifying to me.

“But you would be a great mom,” friends and family said.

Heeeeeellllll yeah! I would rock Motherhood. But if you carry an asshole genetic condition like we do, the chances of having another Little like Jack and Samantha is 25%.

1 in 4.

“Those are good odds in Vegas.”

Seriously, someone said that to me. 1 and 4…..after losing two kids, you should go for another because 1 and 4 odds are good in Vegas. I asked said person if they would get on a plane that had a 1 and 4 chance of crashing.

“Maybe not.”

But it wasn’t just the odds of having another medically complex child. It was me. I was a mess. I was traumatized, I was sad, I was angry, and I knew, I knew, I was not in a good place to have another child, or adopt, or foster, or focus on anything else other than healing my traumatized brain.

Trauma makes us do crazy things.

A couple weeks ago, the world watched Will Smith smack Chris Rock. We analyzed, we cancel cultured, we talked, we saidWill has anger issues.”

I made a note of this when I marched into my therapists office a couple weeks ago. “Was that Anger, or was that Violence? I get angry about things in my life but I don’t hit people.”

My lovely therapist pulled out the Anger doll from the movie Inside Out:

“Look at him!” I said, “Nothing about him says healthy Anger! Anger is a red, enflamed man in a tie. THIS is why we hit people, because a movie about all of our emotions says Anger is really bad, out of control, Anger is chaos.

This clearly is not a healthy representation of Anger.

For fun, she pulled out the Sadness Doll from the movie…..

Hmmmmm……I see gender stereotypes here. Poor Sadness, a young woman in her wooly sweater, round glasses and bob haircut. It is easier to console Sadness than confront Anger.

No wonder we fear getting ANGRY about what is going on. No wonder we choose to be quiet and frowny. A recent movie about our emotions says this is what we should be.

I may have given my therapist a complex about the Inside Out Dolls.

What is my point? Lordy, I am all over the place here. My point (and I do have one), is that it is easier to shame, to quick fix (you lost a baby, get another one), to try and solve, to vilify Anger and to succumb to Sadness.

And Trauma? That crazy outlier, just ignore it until it jumps up on stage and smacks you, shame it and then call it Anger.

We can be Angry my friends. We can tell our daughters, our nieces, our friends, our Granddaughters, that Anger is appropriate, healthy and necessary at this time.

Anger is not a man in tie.

Anger is Woman being told how she will live her life.

Oh and yeah, Happy Mother’s Day. I love you tribe. I love you fiercely.

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Connections Beyond Motherhood:

Hello Dear Readers! I now have a fun side gig as the Content Coordinator for a local magazine- here is the latest article around Motherhood. Happy Mother’s Day Lovely Tribe!

Connections Beyond Motherhood: 

Sunday, May 8th marks Mother’s Day, a time when we celebrate the person that has been with us from the very beginning. Flowers, chocolates, brunches, and homemade cards are just some of the ways to honor Mom.  Did you know the first proposal to make Mother’s Day an official national holiday was rejected? In 1908, Congress joked that if there was a national Mother’s Day, we would soon have to celebrate a national Mother’s-in-Law Day, hence the motion never passed. In 1914 however, Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, a national holiday to honor all mother’s. 

Ironically, the woman who started the campaign to make Mother’s Day an official holiday was arrested in 1923 for disturbing the peace at a candy convention. Nine years after its official inception, she felt Mother’s Day had become entirely too commercialized; focused more on profit than sentiment. 

Two thoughts run through my head at the statement above. I would find it extraordinarily difficult to disturb the peace at a candy convention. I would yell and shout and someone would hand me a piece of chocolate and then I would find it very hard to be angry. 

The second is that this lovely holiday established to honor the first person who held us tight and made sure our tushies were dry is sometimes a little difficult. 

For medical reasons, my husband and I do not have children. We grappled for years around how to ignore this holiday for ourselves but still honor our own mom’s who we happen to be quite fond of. 

I have also watched my Mom’s friends manage crowded restaurants with cranky, hungry children during Mother’s Day. “I would like to go away for Mother’s Day,” said a friend, “I would like my husband to take the children and I will spa with my girlfriends. It will be quiet, civilized and lovely, complete with food that I get to eat while it is still warm. Is that wrong?” 

I told her it was not wrong as long as I was one of those girlfriends. 

I have many friends who are Moms. I watch in awe as they raise beautiful, independent, amazing children. I also have friends who sadly have lost Moms. Recently on a girls’ trip, a friend and I passed a See’s Candy stand in the airport. “My mom loved See’s Candy,” she said with a sigh and teary eyes. 

We left 5 minutes later with a box of chocolates. As Mother’s Day approaches, I am reminded to send my friend a box of See’s , not only to remember her mom but that as we get older, good friends step in where our Mom’s might not be with us. 

Dictionary.com defines motherhood as ‘the state of being a mother,’ they also define it as, ‘having an inherent worthiness, justness or goodness that is obvious or inarguable.’ 

When I told this second definition to my friend and mother of three, she laughed, “Today none of my children find me Just or Good. The only thing that is obvious is how unhappy they are with me.”

Raising the next generation of amazing humans takes a village. My best mentors were adults beyond my parents: coaches, teachers, aunts, uncles and family friends. My friends now are those who talk openly about the challenges to raising kiddos and lean on their tribe. I love it when they lean on me and honestly, it’s a great excuse to see Sing 2 or ride the water slides one more time at Water World. Some of my best days are those when I can be the amazing aunt. 

To the Mom’s, Auntie’s, Grandma’s and friends who show up, Happy Mother’s Day. I have had the amazing opportunity to interview many families through Neighbors of Northwest Arvada and the resonating theme has been a sense of family and a community you can lean into. It takes a village; to you and your village.

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Grow

My nephew is trying out for swim team. Today we practiced our strokes in the pool- I’m not sure who is more excited…..I think I could love being a Swim Aunt.

As we walked towards the locker room, I looked at the signs, Men, Women, Family Dressing Area. “Are you okay to shower and change in the Men’s locker room?”

He rolled his eyes at me, “Hehe, I’m almost ten.”

Sigh….yes, yes you are almost ten.

I did shower and change super-fast so I was out before he was, and I may have stood too close by the Men’s Locker Room door while I waited for him. Hello Crazy Aunt.  

And while ten is shocking and I’m not quite sure how these years past so quickly, I’m okay with ten. I can look at this young person and think, “I can deal with ten. I’m not okay with you going into the locker room alone. But okay, ten.

It’s May and my social media is peppered with beautiful young adults. Adults I knew as babies. Adults who are now going to prom, graduating, getting scholarships, making the world a better place. Your children have grown and I’m not quite sure how that happened.

These photos are so bittersweet.

This clearly was not the path chosen for us. I don’t look at these amazing moments and think that could have been our Littles. But since so many of us were having babies at the same time I do marvel at how 16, 17, 18 years have past before me and how you have created, watered, fed and grown a beautiful (almost) independent person in this time.

Grief is a thief of time. Not just the time that could have been but in the time after. It takes time to just survive, time to rethink, recalibrate a new normal, time to watch that new normal crumble and rebuild again. It takes time to do the work and, in that time, you, my friend, have built a person.

When my grief was young, it needed constant attention. Like a young child, it demanded to be fed, held and coddled. I am happy to report I can now leave my Grief at home for a weekend and it will not destroy the house.

It’s a new time for many of us. I am thrilled to see your amazing kiddos go off into the world. I am grateful that as time has passed, I feel more present in this joy.

This weekend, I watched an interaction with my friend and her 16-year-old daughter: beautiful, sassy, testing the air with her new wings. As she ran off, I turned to my friend and said, “your child is my spirit animal.”

And Nephew, I will watch you and your brothers grow. I might even wait ten feet from the Men’s Locker room door.

Maybe.