Thursday, June 4, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner....... the REAL heroes.

I posted this on my Facebook page and the amount of support and messages telling me "thank you" have been overwhelming. As a result, I decided to post it here as well. The amount of support from veterans and their loved ones has floored me. The fact that the majority of the support has come from straight male veterans speaks volumes!!! Thank you for your support and love that you've shown. I am at a loss for words.

 I keep seeing people slamming the fact that American's have apparently referred to Caitlyn Jenner as a "hero" (though I have yet to see any of those articles). 

If you look up the definition of the word "hero" and you will find that the very definition of the word is sexist. Most refer to hero as "a man" and those that say "a person" typically then go on to state "usually a man".

But then, almost every single definition you find refers to "courage". Anyone that has ever seen firsthand the brutal treatment that homosexuals, transgender persons and similar have endured through the years knows that Caitlyn publicizing her transition took courage. She knew she would be vilified by many in the American public. I'm certain she knew the Bible belt would crucify her (literally if they could).

Throughout the history of Martin Luther King Jr there have been those that have taken affront at his being called a hero. The many men and women that were critical in the Civil Rights movement have been vilified, as people have screamed out that they were NOT heroes. This continues today (don't believe me? Google "Martin Luther King Jr was not a hero" and look at the results).

Most of the people that I've seen screaming that others shouldn't be called heroes are people that feel their sacrifices mean more than anyone else's. At the same time I've seen people that commit heinous crimes called a "hero", even as they face criminal charges for those crimes.

Caitlyn has shown "courage" and if you remove the ideal that the only heroes that exist are males, then Caitlyn - by the very definition of the word - qualifies as a hero. So do the many others that have publicly and privately stood up and fought for the rights of others. Rights that we all should inherently have. Rights that I have seen many soldiers say they proudly fight for, even if they don't agree with personal choices.

Speaking of soldiers, I've seen soooo many posts lately that state the ONLY TRUE HERO is a soldier and NEVER will anyone transgender be considered a hero.

When I see this, I think of one soldier in particular. A soldier who stated, “I have been a team and squad leader, a crew chief, and a machine gun section chief. I have been on over 400 combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and fought side-by-side in foxholes and remote operating bases. As I fight for my country in foreign lands, all I want it is to be able to serve openly while keeping the job that I love."

I think that every solider would agree that this man is a hero. So, take a moment to Google him. He should be fairly easy to find.

His name is Sgt. Shane Ortega

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Real Single Mother's Mother Day: No sugarcoat!

"You should treat Mother's Day the same as every other day!!! By leaving messes everywhere you expect me to clean up! Why should it be any different? I don't have time to go anywhere, I have to do your chores!"

Yes, that was me yesterday on discovering that much of the work I had done the day before was.... well.... undone. I was over-worked, exhausted, and aggravated. I was tired of cleaning and tired of being tired. Preparing to go out for my "surprise" seemed like too much extra work.

I actually decided to let my boyfriend take the kids out, and leave me home to catch up. My conversation with him went something like this,

"Oh quit that....If you don't go, I won't come."

"Just stick to original plan then."

"So, you're going?"

"Fine. The kids are looking forward to going with you.... you said you won't go if I don' I have no choice. You win."

"Hmmmm, I'm doing this for you...."

At which point in time I huffed and puffed around the kitchen, cleaning messes I hadn't made.

This is real life people. This is what happens when you are raising three kids alone. Full time. No assistance. No family support. No child support. Just you and them. Real life.

Being a single mother is NOT easy. It is not perfect. It is not beautiful. Raising children with special needs put an entire new, and typically misunderstood, spin on it.

Mother's Day represents, for me, a lack of sleep, a messy house despite hours of chores, never enough money, struggling to pay bills, a car that always breaks down, showers being a luxury, sibling arguments, no dating life, no social life, and a high level of stress.

Mother's Day this year was trying to shuffle everything so that we could have a fun family outing. Packing food, making sure everyone had appropriate attire, making sure there are enough diabetic supplies, cleaning out and vacuuming the van, making sure all pets were attended to, etc, etc, etc and then jumping in the shower last minute right before walking out the door.

Ironically, the founder of the American Mother's Day stated, "A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother - and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment." (Keep in mind, she died alone and broke in an asylum)

Mother's Day makes me sit back and reflect on all that I do, and how crazy it is that people tend to only recognize the efforts of mothers on a designated day each year. Worse yet that all parents are recognized in exactly the same way..... regardless of whether or not they've ever really even been a mother to their children.

Mother's Day makes me recognize all the days that I haven't recognized my children's contributions and effort....... the times they do chores without asking, show me affection, request board game night or movie night, or stay super quiet so that I can sleep late.

I'm thankful for my life with my children. I couldn't imagine a life without them. I couldn't imagine a day without fussing, disciplining, cleaning, cooking, mending, fixing, and so on. I couldn't imagine how boring and dull life would be without them.

But, I don't need Mother's Day. I don't need that across the board, same for everyone, recognition.

I get everything I need in the simple kisses, board games, snuggles, hugs, apologies, and  so on.

I don't need a special day, any more then my kids do.

Life is hard as hell for my kids and I. We know that every single day.

And every single day, no matter which of us loses our cool, we love each other.

That's all I need.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Scariest Journey

In three months my disabled son will turn 18.

For almost 4 years I have struggled as a single mother with my own disabilities to raise three children completely alone. Two of those have special needs.

In three months my disabled son will turn 18.

He stood to lose his medical insurance at that time.

His medical bills have topped 1 million dollars a year in the past. His prescriptions, including insulin but not including diabetic supplies, are over $2k a month. This only includes the ones his insurance covers.

I've spent almost 4 years trying to figure out how to keep the power on and how to keep us in our home. I resorted to loans over the last 10 months that put me in debt for the first time in my life.

I live in a state that does not have resources to help provide the care that my children need. The eldest will qualify only for 4 hours a day, 5 days a week assistance in many areas he needs help with. Even then, it's debatable if he'll get qualified.

He stood to lose his medical insurance.

He has more doctors and specialists then I can count without resorting to a pre-made list.

His medical records would fill any file cabinet you have in your home.

He stood to lose his medical insurance.

Pause a minute. Look at your child. Imagine the impending doom that comes with the knowledge that, without medical care and medicine, your child will die. Imagine the fear that comes with the ticking clock, counting down each day, knowing that soon that may be the situation you are in.

Imagine the options that you consider in those situations. The sacrifice you and your child would need to make just to ensure medical care. The rift that would be created. The emotional damage that would be done with having to choose to place your child elsewhere.....your firstborn....just to ensure his survival.

I can not begin to put into words the agony I have been through. The tears, the fears, the stress of having to put on a brave front for the world while realizing you stood to lose that which you hold most dear. Never being able to speak your fears, simply because they were to horrendous to voice.

Yesterday, our three year journey of trying to ensure he would keep his insurance ended.

Yesterday, our three year journey of attempting to get our government to recognize him as disabled was a success.

Three months shy of his impending doom, we prevailed.

Under the stress of the last three months, I broke. I came to the point where my fears overcame me and I felt I could not take another step. I contacted my college instructors and told them that I had to drop out, despite my being only half a semester in three classes away from graduation. I had weeks left to graduate, a straight A average, yet couldn't take another step.

In despair I drew away from most everyone I knew. I snapped quickly and found myself on an emotional roller coaster that made me feel insane.

I lost motivation to do most everything and each day merely went through the motions.

I stood to lose my child. My choice was either death through lack of medical care....or placing him with someone else. I would have opted for the latter, and lost my heart in the process.

If you had asked me at 15 where my life would be at 38, I would have told you I'd be happily married with a slew of children running around.

Things don't always turn out the way you plan.

My instructors ganged up on me. They pushed me to finish, knowing I was so close. They encouraged me, extended deadlines, and opened up opportunities to maintain my grades. I honestly feel like they carried me when I could no longer take another step. They are true champions and heroes. God knows community college instructors don't get paid enough to become someone's personal coach. Yet, they did. The entire rest of my life I will remember what they did for me.

My friends stood up and let me vent, sometimes for hours. They endured my ramblings about things that didn't matter as I strived to keep my mind off the things that did.

My boyfriend looked at me often in confusion, but bit his tongue and stayed a means of support even as I shoved him away due to his lack of understanding my turmoil. He couldn't relate. His life has never seen hardship such as that I have endured. His compassion endured.

My children, frightened by my fluctuating emotions and their lack of understanding (because you can't tell your children your fears), rallied around me. They expressed their love even when I must have seemed unlovable. They increased their efforts to behave and help out around the house. They pushed themselves extra when I couldn't take another step.

There are many evils in this world. I've seen them, tasted them, felt them. Life can be cruel.

Often, there seems to be no hope and you breath the darkness in with a suffocating thickness.

Yet, somehow, even when you've lost sight of it, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

My son will have medical coverage. His future is assured.

There will be those that will read this and be infuriated that their taxes are paying for my son to stay alive. They will argue that Social Security and Medicaid is merely a drain on a system already bogged in debt.

Yet, each day my son will awake with breath in his lungs due to that system.

Each year I will bust my ass to give back to a system that is keeping my child alive.

I see our system's flaws in each child that dies of hunger. I see our system's flaws in the elderly that freeze to death in the winter. I see our system's flaws in the mentally ill that die, abandoned and alone in alley ways. I see our system's flaws in the domestic violence victims that are killed by their abusers. I see our system's flaws in the faces of those traded for sex, or sold into other types of bondage and slavery. I see our system's flaws in the hard working two parent homes that still can't afford insurance. I see our system's flaws in the mother that feels ashamed when her child's meals are paid for by the government.

Yet, yesterday, our system prevailed. Yesterday, the system so many complained about SAVED MY SON'S LIFE.

And I am eternally grateful. I am eternally relieved.

You see, when the system you live in stands up and assists you to survive, you learn a sense of gratitude that will live within you every single day of your life.

You learn to give back in ways that create a better system, a more humane system, a system that works.

I am beyond blessed. My child has an opportunity to live at home, with his mother and siblings that would walk through hell and battle Satan himself for him. My child will not have to worry about running out of insulin. My child will not have to worry that he can't get the care he needs.

I am beyond thankful that I was born in this country.

I am beyond thankful that my child will live because he was born in this country.

I am beyond thankful for those that are in positions to work and do so. I am beyond thankful that their hard work is keeping my child alive.

I am even thankful to those that would scorn him this benefit and complain of their hard earned taxes going to pay for my child's life.

Thank you. Thank you to the instructors that go out of their way to ensure someone is successful. Thank you to the people that show compassion and give support even when they don't fully, or even at all, understand. Thank you to the attorneys and judges that spend their days pouring over medical files they do not understand nor comprehend, yet research so that they can. Thank you to the able bodied that work. Thank you to those that show charity and give to others. Thank you to the fathers that actually take interest in their children and aide in their support. Thank you to the mothers that do the same. Thank you to the parents that share their struggles so that others know they are not alone. Thank you .... thank you .... THANK YOU.

Because, I could have never done this alone.

My family would have never prevailed alone.

I am indebted to each of you.

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