It’s Quiet… Too Quiet

It’s been a bit over a month since my younger daughter left for college. It’s been two weeks since the older offspring moved out of the house.

It’s quiet around here…

With both of them gone, the only humans here are my husband and me, and he works 50-60 hours a week. Sometimes he and I don’t actually see each other awake for two or three days at a stretch. I have cats, and some days they’re the only living creatures I interact with at all.

One would think that having quiet here would give me a chance to get more work done, but it hasn’t so far. I’m not used to quiet. I’m used to having to work around people saying “Mom, Mom, Mom,” or loud TV shows, or music blaring from two or three different sources. Sometimes those things are distracting, but to some extent I can usually tune them out because I’ve had over twenty years of getting used to working with those distractions.

Silence, though… silence is sometimes a lot more distracting. The bracing myself at 3:30pm for younger child to come home from school, and then remembering she isn’t going to, is distracting. The trying to figure out if older offspring is in their room or out with friends, and then remembering they’re in another state living someplace else, is distracting.

Probably over time I’ll get used to this. Maybe.

Back to School

In a lot of places, at least in the US, school has already started for the fall. Those who haven’t started yet will within the next week or two.

School Desks

For me, this year is kind of odd. My older offspring started kindergarten in fall 2000. Since then, every year in late August or early September, I’ve seen one or both of my kids off to their first day of school. And I’ve waited at home for them to come back and tell me how that first day went–or not, since when they were teens they didn’t always tell me anything.

But my younger offspring graduated in June and is leaving for college this week. The older one graduated in 2013, and is moving out of my home sometime in September.

I have no one going off to their first day of school, at least not the way it’s been for the past 16 years. No bus stop to walk to or bus stopping in front of my house. No one walking out the door with backpack and books, and coming home to tell me about their first day and all the things on the supply lists their teachers handed out.

I’m not quite sure how to feel about that. It’s a huge change for my offspring, but for me as well.

We’ll see how it goes.

Paperwork…

Sometimes it really worries me how many forms for how many different things need to be filled out. I feel like I’m buried under stacks and stacks of paperwork…

Piles of Paper 3

In the past few months, between changes in health insurance, my younger offspring heading to college, and me adding a job to the already-too-long list of things I do in a day, I’ve done enough paperwork to wallpaper an entire house, I think. And naturally it’s all papers. Not online. That doesn’t mean I haven’t done any online forms in addition to the paper ones; I’m just not counting the online ones because my head might explode.

This is mostly just a grumbly vent about the sheer amount of information one has to write and provide in order to do much of anything in our society nowadays. To me, it’s a wee bit excessive and ridiculous. Necessary, yes, but still.

And now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I have more forms to fill out…

Pronoun Problems

I had a dispute with my husband over the weekend about pronouns. My older offspring is agender, meaning they identify as neither male nor female, and as you can tell from the beginning of this sentence, they use “they/them” pronouns.

My husband has an issue with this. Not because he isn’t okay with my offspring being agender, but because he gets stuck on the fact that in school, we’re taught that “they” and “them” are plural pronouns, and he can’t wrap his head around the idea of using those pronouns for an individual. Individuals are singular, not plural.

I can understand the problem. When he and I were growing up, people didn’t talk about being transgender, agender, etc. People were male or female. Occasionally the news would report about someone who had undergone gender reassignment surgery, but that was about it. Everyone was either “he” or “she.”

I’m glad that isn’t the case any longer. People are more free now to identify as they choose to identify. But it does cause some issues with pronouns, at least in the English language. English doesn’t include any standard-use gender neutral pronouns that apply to humans, and I haven’t met anyone who accepts being called “it.”

The good thing about language is that it evolves. People have introduced attempts to create gender neutral pronouns. “They” and “them” are becoming accepted usage as singular pronouns for individuals who don’t identify as a binary gender, or for individuals whose gender is unknown. Someday soon, we will have words to use to accurately describe and discuss each other, and I think that will be awesome.

It just might not be so easy to convince my husband to let go of his high school grammar classes.

Being a Hero

My tagline as an author is “Anyone can be a hero.”

Being a hero means different things to different people. To me, it doesn’t have to mean any grand gesture. It doesn’t necessarily mean saving a life, or sacrificing yourself for someone else.

I’m pretty sure for most of us it doesn’t involve wearing a cape and spandex and flying through the air to fight supervillains, though I suppose anything’s possible.

Being a hero can mean something as simple as being friendly to that kid who always sits alone in the cafeteria because everyone makes fun of them. It can mean overhearing someone making a nasty comment about someone else and stepping in to say, “Hey, that’s not cool.” It can mean taking a few minutes to play with a younger cousin at a family dinner where everyone else is involved in their own conversations and activities.

Being a hero can mean recognizing that you have the power to make changes in your life. It can mean battling depression or other mental illnesses every day–and getting through each day still alive. That’s a win. That’s a hero.

Being a hero means a lot of different things, and that’s why I say anyone can be one.

Taking Care at the Holidays

For a lot of people, it’s the holiday time of year. And unfortunately, that can mean stress.

Even if you enjoy the holidays–and not everyone does–things can be pretty hectic. Shopping for gifts, if you observe a holiday that includes gift-giving. Wrapping things. Possibly cooking. Possibly traveling. Spending time with family members you might not see at any other time of year. At the very least, even if you aren’t celebrating anything, you have to contend with traffic, commercials, and far too many shoppers at your favorite stores.

Taking care of yourself is important at any time of year, butĀ for some, during the holidays it’s even more important. So if you’re part of the errand-running, cooking, traveling, present-wrapping throngs, remember to make time to rest. Watch a favorite TV show. Read a favorite book. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. Take a bath if baths are your thing.

Some people focus a lot during the holidays on what they can–or should–do for other people, but they forget to do things for themselves. You’ll enjoy the holidays a lot more if you’re relaxed and well-rested, so be good to yourself.

Choosing Who’s In Your Life

Most of us have family members or friends. Sometimes close, sometimes not so much.

The hard part is when someone who’s been close to us suddenly isn’t. Either they’ve backed off or we have, or maybe they’ve done something we just can’t accept. Maybe it’s an issue of physical distance, maybe one of emotional. Maybe we feel worse when we’re with them than when we aren’t.

When we let someone into our lives to that extent, and especially if they’re a family member, cutting them out can be difficult. It might even seem impossible. But if you feel negative when you’re around them, or if they’ve changed the way they act toward you to something hurtful, sometimes you have to make that choice.

We all have the right to decide who’s in our lives. Even being related doesn’t guarantee someone a place. People might say “I can’t stop talking to them, they’re my parent” or something along those lines, but that’s still a choice.

Choose yourself first. Be the most important person in your life, and surround yourself with people who make you happy, or at least comfortable. You deserve it.

So Proud

On Friday, the United States Supreme Court declared that every adult has the right to legally marry the person they love. Regardless of whether it’s a man marrying a woman, or a man marrying a man, or a woman marrying a woman.

EVERY adult has the right to be legally married in the United States now. In EVERY state.

rose

Growing up, I had three “uncles” (my dad’s best friend and the friend’s partners) who were in a committed triad. Not a typical, mainstream relationship arrangement. Not something most people in the 1970s-1980s would have even understood, let alone accepted. But those three men had, as I saw it, a healthier relationship than my parents. They were together for decades.

Even if only two of them had been together, they couldn’t have married. No matter how much they wanted to. Back then, legal marriage could only happen between a man and a woman. Even though they lived in Massachusetts, which was the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage, they lived here *before* that happened. By the time Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, my dad’s friend had passed away and the other two men had moved to a different state.

I found out a couple years ago that one of the other two men had also passed away. I don’t know if the third is still alive at this point or not, but I hope so. I hope he lived to see this happen. And I wish his partners could have as well.

Right now, I’m so proud of my country for recognizing and acknowledging that love is love, and that all loving adult couples should have the right to have their union recognized by the law. That all should have the right to share parental rights, to say goodbye to their loved ones in the final days, to share property. To share their LIVES in a way that’s legally recognized.

I’m proud for those who fought for this. I’m proud for those who have always believed this is how it should be. I’m proud to be able to say my kids live in a world where they can marry whomever they want.

When I heard the news on Friday, I cried. I don’t think I was the only one.