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'A Christmas miracle:' One woman's journey with bile duct cancer

Jenifer DeMattia

By: Paige Jones

 

When Maikki Nekton unexpectedly found bruises dotted across her legs and became fatigued, she knew something was wrong.

“One morning, I woke up and looked like somebody had beat me up,” the 32-year-old Frederick resident said.

Concerned about her symptoms, Nekton visited her doctor, who thought it might just be a virus, but had some blood work done just in case.

“Within five days, I ended up in hospital... (and) it just got worse,” she said.

In June of 2014, Nekton was diagnosed with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), otherwise known as the disease of the bile ducts.

Bile ducts typically carry digestive liquid bile from the liver to the small intestine. For those with PSC, the bile ducts become inflamed and scarred, which can lead to liver failure or tumors of the bile duct or liver, according to the Mayo Clinic website.

The only known cure for PSC is a liver transplant.

After months of medical procedures and tests, the once-healthy Washington County Public Schools social worker and diehard New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox fan was now in and out of the hospital.

In August, Nekton received more devastating news; she was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer.

Friends and family rallied around Nekton. Seven of her close women friends formed the support group Team Maikki as a way to stay in touch with Nekton as she headed out to the Mayo Clinic in late August and provide encouragement. The group has raised almost $9,000 to help Nekton pay her medical bills, said Jenny Ritter, a close friend and former college roommate.

Others began the process of becoming a liver donor for Nekton, undergoing multiple blood tests, interviews and medical screenings. Weeks later, doctors named Jenifer DeMattia, one of Nekton’s closest friends, to be the best candidate. DeMattia had inquired about donating a portion of her liver, and in order to be accepted, needed to go through extensive emotional, medical and psychological testing.

“I was excited, but I was scared to death, not more so for me, but more so for her,” Nekton said by telephone from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

The two met in 2006 while working at Way Station, Inc., a non-profit located in downtown Frederick that provides services to those with serious mental illness and emotional and behavioral disabilities. They soon became good friends and remained close, even after they were no longer colleagues.

“I did it because she’s like... family,” DeMattia. “She’s like a sister to me.”

Meanwhile, Nekton underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, and became a regular visitor to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

But after DeMattia was named a candidate for Nekton’s liver donor, the week after Thanksgiving, things sped up. On Dec. 15, doctors performed a staging surgery to determine if they could go forward with the liver transplant.

“They actually look right at the liver itself and make sure your cancer hasn’t spread,” Nekton said, explaining the procedure.

However, test results from the procedure indicated the cancer had spread, and told Nekton she could not go through with the liver transplant.

“They had been pretty clear — people in this situation... (some) have a few weeks and some people have a few years,” Nekton said.

A few days later, DeMattia was called in to speak with the doctor, both assuming she would be asked to donate a portion of her liver to another patient. Instead, the doctors informed DeMattia the liver transplant would go forward after further examining the test results. Surprisingly, pathology results indicated the cancer had not spread.

“They’ve never reversed a liver transplant decision,” Nekton said of the Mayo Clinic. “It was a miracle, really; it was life changing for sure.”

DeMattia called it a “roller coaster of emotions.”

The next day, Dec. 19, DeMattia and Nekton went into surgery, the operation only taking half the time needed. Both women stayed at the hospital as they recovered, and continue to mend today. DeMattia is back home in Frederick while Nekton is still at the Mayo Clinic.

Weeks after the surgery, Nekton’s body has yet to reject the portion she received of DeMattia’s liver.

“She’s truly been given second chance at life,” Ritter said of Nekton. “It’s truly a Christmas miracle, that’s all I can say.”

DeMattia and Nekton agreed.

“Now I’ve had this transplant... I have an opportunity to live a longer and healthier life,” Nekton said. “I feel a new sense of life and I have so much more to give to other people.”

Follow Paige Jones on Twitter: @paigeleejones.

To stay updated on Maikki Nekton's recovery, visit her Caring Bridge page at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/maikkinekton

To donate, visit Nekton's Patty Pollatos Fund page at http://www.ppfinc.org/recipients-page/maikki-nekton/

Running into Autism

Jenifer DeMattia

By Katie Staines

There I was, sitting in my boss’s office yet again explaining why I needed to leave early to take my son to his doctor’s appointment for the 15th time in a month. As I sat there, staring at him, I just started sobbing that uncontrollable ugly cry. The kind of cry that you wish no one would see but can't hold back. It was as if I couldn't get the words out. Ashamed to ask for more time off to take my son to yet another doctors appointment. How could anyone possibly understand what I was going through? It barely made sense to me. Finally, I got myself together and took a deep breath. "Are you ok?" my boss asked, my hands covering my face. I managed to get out something and said, "I just feel like I'm running a marathon. I feel like I can't keep going on like this, something needs to change."

That was a couple of years ago and it was in that ugly sobbing mess that something beautiful was ignited inside my soul. I already felt like I was running a marathon everyday with work, doctors, paper work, insurance companies, and researching therapies. I literally felt like I was going insane. Finally, it was just all too much and I had to escape. It was time that "something's gotta change" was about to happen and quite literally the doors to the unknown swung open and off I went on a cold February morning out into the dark of the early morning just me, myself and I out there running for sanity. It was right in that moment that I decided to run a marathon. Not just any marathon but the Marine Corp marathon. Yes - this was the one, the same one I had signed up for in pervious years but never made it to the starting line. I was too chicken to commit all the way through to the actual run. This time would be different, this time it was to honor of my son and prove to myself that I could do it. The idea of starting the journey to 26.2 during the most difficult time in my life seemed a bit out there but like Seal said "we're never going to survive unless we get a little crazy". I wanted to survive and this was the something that had been missing.

What started off as surviving became thriving. The running brought me back to life, even if it was just for those moments that I was out pounding the pavement, I felt alive. I could breath again, feel again. I could continue my day with more peace, more hope, more joy. I could feel myself defrosting from the lack of strength. It's not easy to push yourself mentally, emotionally and physically during a marathon or marathon training, but that’s what it takes to fight Autism. It takes everything you have and more. The process of reaching the finish line takes time. You can't get to mile 26 before you run mile 3 and mile 10. If you put in the disciplined work results will follow. I had to prove to myself that in time this does pay off. There is a silver lining in this stormy Autism cloud. Don't even try to figure out Autism, just accept it and embrace the journey. It's a long road full of uncertainty. It will have countless twists and turns into many complex directions.

I trained solo, in the rain, snow, wind, heat, cold, whatever it was, I was there, running. I didn't make excuses for why I couldn't run that day. There wasn't such a thing as too late or too early. I made the commitment and didn't look back. These runs were my saving grace. It taught me how to pace myself, be in the moment, one mile at a time and to fight through the self-doubt while always moving forward and only looking back to see how far I have come. It starts with a simple decision to just stop thinking so much and do it. Run with no fear. I would pray, cry, sing, and laugh. I wasn't just running, I was dancing. I would take these times and make them my own. I would watch the sunrise or sunset, see the first flakes of snow glittering under the streetlights, letting the tension and the consuming thoughts of not being enough, not doing enough release. Out here there's no disabilities just abilities and everyday that I can look at my son and see his strengths is a day that was successful. Now I can truly see his progress and know that everything I'm doing now will, in turn, pay off in the future. Then we win every time and cross the finish line together. Of course the journey wouldn't be complete without all our family and friends cheering us on and encouraging us. As we continue to put one foot in front of the other, we see there is power in Autism and there is power inside each child, each family, teacher, and community that is touched by its reality. It is truly my son who gave me the courage to start and finish strong. 


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5 Things the Doctors Won't Tell You About Autism

Jenifer DeMattia

By Katie Staines

 

I can remember the day like it was yesterday. "Your child has Autism", the doctor said. It was an answer to my questions. Why is he not speaking or interacting? Why isn't he meeting his milestones? Why does he only like the spinning wheels on cars? Why is he having these melt downs if we travel a different route in the car? Why doesn't he look at us when we call his name or speak to him? - Why - why.... on and on ... I already knew the answer before the doctor said it but it was different now. It wasn't just me diagnosing, it was a professional in developmental pediatrics at Children's Hospital confirming - yes what you have been thinking all a long is correct despite the disbelief of those around me that may have thought this was a stage or phase. No it's real now - this is Autism exactly as you thought, you're not crazy, at least not yet... 

Now comes the frantic flurry of early interventions and so on to the doctors, therapist, ABA, OT, speech, infants and toddlers, pick one or any combination. Right away you start getting your armor on and getting ready to go into battle. Nothing can stop you! You are becoming a warrior Mom on a mission to do everything and anything to promote assistance to your precious child so innocent and unaware of the heavy load that has just been unloaded on you.

In the first year of an Autism diagnosis life becomes a whirlwind of getting together a game plan for your child's medical team and getting yourself educated on autism and treatments. As you are going through this you will get all the facts and opinions, sometimes more than you care, but here's a few things I have learned through this process that the doctors aren't going to tell you about having a child with Autism.

 

1. Your attitude will be your next biggest challenge. 

As Scott Hamilton said, “The Only disability in life is a bad attitude”. You must believe in yourself and know that you are doing everything you can to support and encourage your child the best way you know how. Even if it was a bad day - it's another day that you survived and sometimes that's all you can do. Your attitude will shape everyone's attitude around you. Yes - it's beyond challenging to keep up positive thoughts especially when you feel overwhelmed. You are going to have those self-doom days but just always keep in mind that in your child's eyes you possess super human abilities that will inspire them to grow not because of doctors or therapists but because of just being a constant presence in their life. I can't tell you enough that sometimes the best learning is done simply. By experiencing every day situations at the park, playing with toys at home, acting out a scene in their favorite movie, hiding under a sheet with a flashlight in the dark or just rolling around on the floor remembering what it was like to be a kid. Bring that magic into every day life and you'll see their souls light up. You are their first best friend! Be playful and have fun, even if it ends in a melt down, something great happened in those moments where a connection was being made. 

 

2. Be their advocate. Ask questions. 

Get the details and know what they are working on in therapy or at school. Don't depend on others to tell you how things went. Go and observe them in their classroom. Take the tools and knowledge they are working on in school or therapy and integrate it into your home. If you aren't getting the answers to your questions, keep asking until you do get your child's plan with doctors or the school to a place where you feel that they are getting ALL the services and amount of time that is needed. You know exactly what your child needs don't just sit back and let the "experts" decide your child's future. You are their voice! Don't ever be afraid to go against the advice they are giving or question their course of action. Your number one priority is your child and if it means you have got to be a bit of a momma bear with them, then by all means go for it. 

 

3. As you get your team of doctors and therapists together also get your personal support team together as well. 

Your support team should include trusted people that can help watch your child to give relief to either get things done around the house or allow for a temporary break to enjoy outside activities.  Balance is extremely difficult to achieve as well as the feelings of guilt that come from allowing others to step in and help but from my experiences it's essential for mental and emotional health. It's important in dealing with Autism and it's a life long challenge to do some things that make you feel more human again even if it's as simple as going for a run outside. It doesn't have to be a weekend in Vegas (but that would be awesome!) just give yourself moments that are just for you and continue to keep friends alive in your life. Taking care of an autistic child can be a very lonely, boring, and depressing life but you can change that by making the choice to get off Gilligan's Island and keep in touch with your needs and emotions. Also be sure that you go out with your autistic child. Be sure to plan out your trips and if needed take a helper or friend with you out in public to help with melt downs or wandering. Don't become glued inside your house out of fear. We all need to get out more and not feel like we need to fit into the mold of society. So what if you get stared at or judged by others while your child runs around a restaurant or starts reciting his favorite movie lines over and over very loudly. It's ok to be different. The more social situations you can put your child in, the more opportunities there are to change these awkward moments into a more comfortable routine for you both. 

 

4. Autism is a label/diagnosis for service, not a definition of your child. 

Autism is truly a spectrum disorder. Each child with Autism will have a variety of degrees and symptomatic issues from sleeping, feeding, sensory, emotional, social, and educational development that will differ greatly from person to person and from symptom to symptom. It's so true that if you know one child with Autism you can't compare them to another child with Autism. They are as unique as snowflakes both made from the same spectrum but showing their own set of abilities and challenges. Be sure to treat the symptoms not the diagnosis and don't be surprised how much these symptoms will change, go away or come back at any time.

 

5. Celebrate all victories no matter how small or big. 

In our house we get excited about using "I want" sentences to request needs or allowing a new food texture to be attempted or even bigger going out for one of those family outings and surviving with minimal melt downs. There's something that can be celebrated everyday. Take the time to verbally acknowledge victories in the moment. Allow your child and the family to be proud of making these accomplishments happen as a team and individually.  

There's so much to be said for families who are dealing with the gifts and challenges of Autism. Having this diagnosis can give you and your family new eyes to see the world. You'll never look at life the same. Sometimes you won't think that you can take another day of juggling the roles of working mom, teacher, cook, cleaner, protector, researcher, fighter, driver and not to mention keeping your other children happy and a marriage alive. But then you do it and you continue to keep moving forward making your own personal progress. There is a light at the end of this continuing tunnel, though which there is hardship, pain, anxiety and feelings of overwhelming confusion. There is also the truth that you have been blessed with the honor of being pushed way outside of your comfort zone, coming face-to-face with Autism without backing down despite every failure, every bad day, and every doubt that threatens to cloud the beauty that is your amazingly quirky, wildly wonderful child who just happens to have Autism.


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24 Examples of Your Life After Kids

Jenifer DeMattia

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By Dana Wisniewski

 

Occasionally friends ask me what life is like after kids. Since I have yet to fully encapsulate all of my feelings and emotions in a short and simple answer or even a long winded explanation, I thought I would provide a few examples of what life is like after kids.

Although everyone’s experience with parenthood is unique, I have found that there are a few universal laws that govern everything in the parenting world. Similar to the Law of Gravity or Law of Motion, there is a universal ‘Law of Parenting Contradictions’.

The ‘Law of Parenting Contradictions’ states that you will feel a mixed bag of emotions and feelings that are generally in complete opposition to each other, often occurring simultaneously. It’s darn right confusing.

Parenting is the best thing in the entire world and the hardest thing in the entire world. Time will go by feverishly fast, but other times it will crawl. You will love your new life with kids, but will also miss aspects of your old life (and that’s okay). It’s exhausting and exhilarating, and confining yet connecting. You will wish that you worked full time in an office far, far away, but also wish that you could be home with the kids full time. I would tell any new parent to get comfortable with these contradictions (and many more).

In my experience, this is what life is like after kids:

1. Forget 5pm, 8pm is the new happy hour.

And by ‘happy hour’ I mean the kids are finally in bed and you will collapse on the couch, too tired to change the channel, you will watch a Disney cartoon until you fall asleep around 8:06 pm. And you will be totally fine with the fact that there is no other place you’d rather be than sleeping on that couch.

2. Your kids will be the new alarm clock.

Not allowing you to sleep a minute past 5:59am (if you’re lucky) for at least a half a decade.

3. Play dates are the new ‘hot’ date.

Forget about going on a date with your partner unless you have both kids in tow (and your overflowing diaper bag) and it involves meeting up with another family of four for ice cream to ultimately see whose kids will have a meltdown first.

4. Carrying your kids is the new workout.

And you will wear yoga pants and t-shirts for an abnormally large portion of the day.

5. You will perpetually wonder what you did with all of your free time before kids.

But you’ll never be able to answer this question.

6. You will never have your own food or beverage again.

Your kids will lick it, backwash in it, drool on it and you are left with the aftermath. You will still eat it or drink it, not thinking twice.

7. Nap time does not equal down time.

You would think it’s a special, quiet time in the home. Nope. This is when you’ll decide to clean the entire house, organize the closet, pay the bills, clean out the scary leftovers in the fridge, and plant an herb garden.

8. Baby wipes are the new multi-purpose cleaner.

Not only will you be cleaning butts, you will be giving entire baby wipe baths to your kids. You will then glance over to the dirty dinner table for a quick wipe off, move over to the kitchen counter for a light scrub, then the appliances will catch your eye. You’ll finish off with cleaning the garbage can lid before you throw that thing away.

9. Care.com is the new match.com.

Finding a babysitter you can trust your kid’s life with is far more stressful than finding the person you will marry, procreate with, and spend a lifetime with. You will check out way more profiles for babysitters than you ever did on any dating site.

10. Family time is the new me time.

You may have fleeting glimpses of alone time, but it’s oh so rare.

11. The sound of silence will no longer evoke feelings of serenity and relaxation.

Instead, the sound of silence will severely spike your stress level because you will suddenly realize your kids are up to something.

12. Your sacred bathroom time now has a perpetual audience.

Taking a shower? Peeing? It doesn’t matter. And your kids will want a play-by-play of whatever you are doing in there.

13. A trip to the grocery store is the new get-away.

14. You will add an “ies” sound to the end of certain words no matter how much you vowed you wouldn’t.

You will say things like, “Can you put your sockies and shoesies on your feeties?” I cringe as I say it.

15. Getting ready in the morning (or in the evening for that matter) is reduced to spot cleaning the food off your shirt from your little one’s dirty fingers, and spraying some dry shampoo in your hair.

You’re then good to go.

16. You will realize the vision of what your life will be like after kids is nothing like your day-to-day reality of it.

17. You will look back on pictures of yourself before kids and think how young and rested you look.

Even if it was just months prior.

18. You will allow your children to do certain things like unroll 4 rolls of toilet paper or dump the entire salt shaker out if it allows you to finish cooking dinner or send out that important email.

19. You will have a new respect and appreciation for your parents, daycare providers, teachers and all restaurant servers.

20. You will wonder how children were raised throughout history (and still in many parts of the world) without access to modern conveniences like disposable diapers, the “Frozen” soundtrack, and squeezey applesauce.

21. The lower half of all your windows, doors and appliances will be decorated with smudges, smears and fingerprints for years.

 It’s a battle you won’t win.

22. After you have your second child, you will wonder why you ever thought having just one child was hard.

23. You will hear the wordswhat little angelsand think to yourselfif she only knew“.

24. You will hear the words “enjoy every minute, it goes by so fast” from the mouths of seasoned parents whose little ones are now grown and gone.

Fast? You will think nothing could be farther from the truth. But then there will come a day where you will find yourself offering those same words to new parents and meaning it whole-heartedly.

 And so sweet momma, enjoy every minute of this. All of this. It goes by too fast.

 

You can read Dana's blog here www.sandboxmeditations.com 


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Getting My Zen Back

Jenifer DeMattia

By: Cheney Goodchild

Like all mums I had an idea about the kind of mum I wanted to be when I had kids, and I strive to be the best mum I can be for F every day. At the end of some days I feel like I am a good mum, but at the end of others I think I could have done a way better job.

I have never been a very relaxed, go with the flow kind of person. I am a stress bunny. I stress about everything.  I am also quite stubborn & once I get an idea in my head it can be hard for me to let it go.


The only time I was completely relaxed was when I was pregnant. 9 months of me being completely relaxed. A lot of our friends couldn’t believe the “change” in me. The cruisy, relaxed me lasted for a few months after F’s birth. Slowly but surely though I could feel this feeling of zen starting to slip away & I was becoming more stressed again.

I find myself getting stressed when I do not get through the list in my head. You know, the.never.ending.list.of.things.that.need.to.get done. I start a job then halfway through I find something else that needs to be done. For example I am doing the dishes and need to put something in the bin only to find the bin is full and needs emptying before I can put more stuff in so I go empty the bins. Then in the garage where the washing machine and big rubbish bin lives, the washing machine has finished. So I get the laundry out and take it into the house to hang up after I have finished the dishes. I just start on the dishes then litte man lets me know he needs a nappy change. So I do that, take the nappy to the garage, come back into the house wash my hands and go back to the dishes. The water is cold by this stage.

In between doing housework I need to make sure I actually spend time with W & F before I run out the door to work. I feel really bad when F comes to me and sweetly ask me to play with him and I tell him for the umpteenth time “mama is just in the middle of doing this I’ll play with you later” or when I give the same response to him wanting to go for a walk. He loves going for walks. This is when I start to get frustrated because I have things to get done but my boy and husband need me too.

I have a very understanding husband though. He sees when I struggle and steps in. Giving me a sleep in or telling me to get out of the house and to town to treat myself or even taking F out for a couple of hours so I can rest. There are other things that I can do too, to help me manage these stressful moments.

1) Make sure I get enough sleep. This can be tricky as F isn’t a very good sleeper. In saying that, I don’t help myself either. I stay up way too late being distracted with TV and Facebook.

2) Not making myself into a martyr. Which lets face it is very easy to do. I am only one person. The washing can wait for tomorrow. People and relationships are far more important and surprisingly enough (head slap moment) my family’s actually quite willing to help if I swallow my pride and ask for it.

3) Doing things for me that I enjoy- after F is in bed. Like painting my toe nails, doing Yoga or Pilates or any exercise. Having a long relaxing bubble bath, or writing this blog. Something to remind me of who I actually am (more exploration on this front is needed though)

4) Taking time to read a book. Any book but perhaps not a parenting book because I read a great many of those already along with articles I find online.

5) Spending time with, and reconnecting with my husband. This does not happen as often as it should but when we make time it makes a BIG difference to how things flow around the house. After F is in bed we usually do a scramble around the house to tidy or we go and do our own projects that we didn’t have time for during the day.

I know I will not just be able to snap my fingers to get my ZEN back, it will take some time. I do hope it will happen though.

What do you do to take care of yourself? I would love to hear your suggestions.


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I Don’t Have Time for This (and other things every mom understands)

Jerome de Joya

By: Melissa Kirkner 

Every mother on the planet, even those in third world countries, could tell you that motherhood changes you in a way that makes you something like a consistently late, half dressed, sleep deprived, crazy person. The ones who look like they have it all together are either faking it or are accidentally having a really good day that you just happen to get to witness. It’s nice when things occasionally work out to be easy for us. It’s even nicer when we manage to create that ease ourselves. In my never-ending quest to get through every day without a trip to the ER and with my sanity intact, I have noticed that there are a (large) number of things I just don’t have time for anymore because these things make my day unwittingly hard.

Bad coffee. I don’t have time for watered down cheap coffee or overly burnt expensive coffee. If it’s watered down and translucent from the coffee-bar-pump-thing at the gas station, I have to go somewhere else. If it’s made poorly by the hipster at the expensive chain coffeehouse, I have to insist they make a new one. Either way, this is a huge time waster. Coffee should not be this hard, and wasting time by making it again or searching for it like I’m on a caffeine safari is likely to cause me to yell at people – probably my short people, and definitely the person screwing up the coffee. It’s just a bad start to the day. I have to get to work or the grocery store or the hardware store or fifty-seven other places, and there is a five-year-old wrapped around my leg. I prefer to make the coffee myself, at home, where the public is safe from my coffeeless dragon-lady ranting.

Broken credit card swipers. Specifically at the gas station. I cannot – CANNOT – take these children into the gas station. Ever. Filling the mommy mobile should take five minutes and only cost me the small amount of sanity that leaves my brain when I have to open the back door and remind my ten-year-old that his hands do not, in fact, belong on his little brother’s face. Instead, a broken card reader means we all have to go inside to pay for gas. Everyone suddenly has to pee, and then they all need a drink and two snacks even though we are three miles from home. Someone will inevitably find the very last half-tube of cheddar Pringles, and one of my other kids will decide he also can’t live without cheddar Pringles. They will fight loudly in the middle of the aisle in the damn gas station. Telling them no results in a three-way public meltdown. Negotiating with them nets me stares and judgment. Giving in costs me a fortune. Finally, thirty minutes and $94 later, I’m standing at the pump filling my gas tank. So, please excuse me if I seem to be hopping from pump to pump. We will all be better off as soon as I find a working credit card reader.

Food shaming. I said Pringles, and I know people cringed. I don’t care. I don’t have time to care. I have three boys, and one of them is almost a teenager. He lives on crap pretending to be food. Even if all I buy are bananas and avocadoes, he will find a way to eat only cookies for lunch. My youngest is five. He also lives on crap pretending to be food, but his vices are nuggets and pizza. My middle child is actually my best eater. He will choose salad over fries every single time. Eating out with this boy feels like a parenting victory for me in the midst of the never-ending chicken nugget war. All three of my kids have food restrictions. Three kids, three different sets of dietary needs. It isn’t hard to feed my family at home, but getting food anywhere else is a challenge. I spend an average of fifteen minutes asking for ingredients and reading labels before we can even order (or check out at the gas station). I don’t have the luxury of worrying about whether or not an onlooker approves of our Pringles or corn dogs or fries. I promise I’ll bake a whole free-range chicken for dinner and serve it with organic vegetables. And I have a kid who eats salad, so there’s that.

Owned parents. We all know them – the mom in the store who accommodates every order her demanding four-year-old beauty queen barks, the friend who can’t take calls or vacuum or leave the house between 9 and 10:30 or 12 and 2 or 4 and 5:30 because “that’s when the baby naps,” the parent on the soccer sideline ordering the latest equipment fad from Amazon in the hopes it can arrive in the next ten minutes right there at the field so her kid will have the latest and greatest. (Maybe I sound like I’m judging. I’m contradicting myself since I don’t want to be food shamed, but motherhood makes us crazy people.) I’m of the school of thought that parents who aren’t in charge and parents who give in to whims and fads are creating the very same group of entitled imps that they complain about. I’m a frequent user of phrases like “shake it off” and “who promised you fair?” I’m also a firm believer accomplishing my day and including my kids in that day rather than abandoning myself wholesale because it’s naptime. Mama has things to do, kiddo. Nap in the car. You’ll thank me later.

People who don’t get it. At this stage in my life, most of my friends and both of my siblings have children. I do, however, have a good many friends who don’t have kids for any number of reasons. My friends who have elected not to have children or who want kids but don’t have them yet are usually great about understanding that the boys and I are a package deal almost all the time. But there are some who can’t understand why I can’t drop everything and run to Vegas for a long weekend. I’m also super perturbed by the “come hang out” text that is immediately followed by the “without the kids” text. Coming to hang out without the kids requires a considerable flow of logistics that includes either procuring and paying a babysitter or inconveniencing a friend who probably also deserves to “come hang out without the kids.” I also grow amazing tired of trying to be a good friend to people who only want to come to my house when the kids aren’t around. When would that be, exactly? I would like very much to also be at my house when the kids aren’t there.

Melissa Kirkner is a friend to Bugs, Dirt and Mommy and the proprietor of East of Haleiwa where she writes about being a mom with a surfboard. Most importantly though, she is mom to Ethan, Matthew, and Luke.


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