These kids of mine show up exactly when I need ’em.
Yes, sometimes I want to trade them to Gail at Loveland Liquor for a case of Grey Goose, but most of the time I’m so fucking proud of the humans that they are proving to be.
Last week was one of those moments that I needed to see effortless humanity, the kind that you know is just natural, easy, breezy.
I spent the most of the day with my Home-Health nurse. This is a woman I’ve come to know pretty fucking well, as we spend roughly 32 hours a month together, and have for the past 18 months. Through hours and hours of conversation, we’ve learned a lot about each other’s lives. I have heard stories about her struggles as a single mom, going through nursing school, and now truly enjoying what she does as an infusion nurse and new grandma. I respect her dedication to her patients – she will not hesitate to fight a pharmacy or insurance company if (and when) they’re trying to screw someone out of their drug this week or bill them for thousands of dollars the next. And she is constantly reading and learning about her area of expertise – auto-immune diseases. Almost every visit she is giving me new info, keeping me updated with the latest articles, recent research, personalized for what matters to me and my health.
See how I’m trying to not paint her in a completely negative light?
Our similar interests and viewpoints pretty much begin and end with health. I have gently tried and tried to maintain those boundaries for the past 18 months, which also happens to be the same time frame that our country has gone through the scariest election and policy-making in my lifetime. I have calmly explained my differing views when she has defended #45, used rationality and facts when describing the difference between Muslims and terrorists, and tried showing compassion for victims of hate crimes that we hear about while watching the news together. And I’m a master at changing the subject – I can usually make my point without any personal attacks, then switch gears to a topic I know will distract from the obvious disagreement.
But last week I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t change the subject or smile through a gentle explanation or justify her narrow point of view.
I have no idea why she wants to start these conversations. She knows where our major differences cross those boundaries as well as I do – she is conservative, I’m liberal. She is also extremely religious, and knows that I am not. Most of the time I don’t care, it doesn’t come up, but everyone has a breaking point, right? I think I finally hit mine in more ways than one.
As we were settling into our routine, she mentions that she has to fill some surveys out for her nursing company. Within minutes of beginning her paperwork, I start hearing little sounds of annoyance. Huffing and banging on her keyboard, I knew she would eventually say something without me asking. It’s how she rolls.
And so it began……….
Nurse – “I don’t understand why this question is necessary”
Me – “What’s the question?”
Nurse – “The first part of this is demographics. I’m supposed to choose between MALE, FEMALE, or OTHER.”
Me – “So….. what’s the question?”
Nurse – ” There is no reason to have a third option on a survey directed at health professionals. Biologically, there are only two sexes, and it should always be the sex that is on the birth certificate.”
breathe, Amanda, breathe……………
Me – “Maybe they’re finally acknowledging that there are plenty of health professionals that don’t identify with the sex that is on their birth certificate. Maybe “OTHER” is a more honest answer, as some people might have been born with female sex organs, but identify as a man, so they choose “MALE” on those surveys. That option should have been on there a long time ago.”
Nurse – “I guess I can see that to a degree. It’s just hard to see this agenda creeping into the medical world.”
…….what. the. fuck……………
Me – “I’m pretty sure the medical world has always been full of political agendas.”
Nurse – “Yes, but don’t they see how it could be offensive to some people? I didn’t get into this job to be political.”
Me – “Every aspect of our lives is political right now. That one little addition to your survey is not going to ruin your life, but it may help someone else feel more accepted. That should be okay with everyone in the medical profession.”
I was getting heated, she was getting flustered, so we both knew to stop. She got a phone call, my drugs started to make me sleepy, so it ended. Ended with knowing we were on different sides, doubting that the conversation was productive, disheartened to be confronted with ignorance.
Then, as if the universe knew what I needed, my kids stepped in.
As I pick up my 14 year old daughter from school, she asks if we can give her best friend, Ethan, a ride home. They have been close since 4th grade and Ethan has been openly gay since 6th grade. Because they spend so much time together, I knew what was coming next – the inevitable “well, can Ethan just come to our house and hang out??” Of course.
Simple, right? Usually. But because of my experience earlier that day with Nurse Bigot, I saw it as a much bigger, joyous situation. I was smiling as they talked about getting their nails done and the hot boy in the car next to us. I noticed how completely natural it was for her to say “Ethan wants me to do his make-up again”. I was beaming with pride over their easy, non-judgmental relationship, their complete lack of awareness that not everyone can see past sexual orientation.
Then, to top it off, my 11 year old shows what a fucking awesome human he is too. When he walks in the door from school, I yell for the 2 teenagers in the basement to come upstairs so we can all go get ice cream. As they emerge from O’s room, with make-up actually very well done, my son says “Did Olivia do your make-up again? She loves doing everyone’s make-up.” Like it was the most natural thing in the world, like he would be more surprised if his mom had full make-up on than this teenage boy (rightly so).
Both kids, on the same day, showing up, showing me that even though there was one close-minded adult in my house that day, three kids of the next generation quickly followed with more grace and love than she could have handled. That math gives me hope – those that hate will be outnumbered in every house someday by kids like mine who just don’t give a fuck if you’re gay or straight or a guy who likes to wear make-up or a woman who chooses “OTHER” on a survey. For now, I’m thrilled to know that we had the odds in our favor that day.