Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Bad Mom

21 May

New York Mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray, has publicly stated to New York Magazine that she had a hard time transitioning from full-time worker to full-time parent when her daughter was born.

Subsequently, the New York Post has taken it upon themselves to label her a “Bad Mom.”

Bad Mom

I am particularly struck by the assertion that “the disclosure — bound to horrify most moms — shatters the carefully crafted image of de Blasio’s close-knit family.”

Well I’m pretty horrified.  Mostly by the fact that journalist Bruce Golding apparently doesn’t spend much time around moms, or close-knit families.

Because let’s be honest.  Anyone who has ever done it knows that PARENTING IS HARD, Y’ALL.  And taking care of little kids IS OFTEN VERY BORING.  Doing it 24/7 is just not for everybody, at every stage in their lives.  And it doesn’t have to be.

In a couple of days (or less?), I will officially be on maternity leave with my third infant.  I am looking forward to it for all sorts of reasons.  I’m excited about meeting my little girl and spending time with her during these precious first weeks. I can’t wait to see her grow and develop.  And frankly, it will be a relief to not be pregnant anymore, even if that means being ripped apart and hooked up to a catheter for a day or two.

The weeks at home that I will have with my infant will be a blessing, and a very precious and important time of bonding, in which I will have the privilege of getting to know this amazing new person.  It will be a very special time – a very special time that I will also kind of hate sometimes.  I have done this before, so I know. I’ll be sleep deprived, recuperating from a pretty significant injury (I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to mesh underwear and ice packs!), and suddenly bound to someone who needs me around the clock for the most mundane and bizarre things (I’ll be honest – the whole idea of breastfeeding has always kind of weirded me out).  Anything I WANT to do, for ME, is probably off the table for a while, or at least made too complicated to still be worth doing once I work around nursing, nap schedules, etc.

I have an advantage this time, because I know what to expect and have ideas on how to keep myself from going insane.  But the first time, it came as a bit of a shock (as does everything about first-time parenting).

I suddenly went from a full-time job in which I learned and implemented complex processes to solve analytical and creative challenges, to a full-time “job” in which the most intellectually stimulating decision I made every day was which stain treatment to use for a load of laundry.

I went from something I was good at, to something I knew nothing about.  I went from feeling valuable and rewarded, to feeling uncertain and obligated.  I went from the top of my game to being physically and mentally impaired, and having my body go through changes that were entirely unfamiliar (and  uncomfortable).

I genuinely looked forward to returning to the world in which I felt somewhat in control – conversing with adults, solving problems that didn’t involve spit-up.

I was 40 years old. I had a life. Especially with Chiara—will we feel guilt forever more? Of course, yes. But the truth is, I could not spend every day with her. I didn’t want to do that. I looked for all kinds of reason not to do it.

-Chirlane McCray

Once I did return to the office, days that I worked were stress- and guilt-ridden.  I SHOULD be with my child.  She cried when I dropped her off with the nanny this morning.  I’m so tired.  I can’t focus on this project.  What am I going to do about childcare if it falls through (again)?

But days that I spent with my daughter were endless, mundane, and void of breaks, even during nap time – there was always something that I SHOULD have been doing while the baby was resting, but motivation was pretty hard to drum up.  The challenges that came with the territory didn’t always have solutions (Why won’t she nap???  If I have to spend another minute playing “stack the blocks” I’m going to implode), and even if they did, I was too sleep-deprived to figure them out.

I love her. I have thousands of photos of her—every 1-month birthday, 2-month birthday. But I’ve been working since I was 14, and that part of me is me. It took a long time for me to get into ‘I’m taking care of kids,’ and what that means.

-Chirlane McCray

It means the work is constant and mundane, but the stakes are higher – you’re suddenly solely responsible for the well-being of another person!  A tiny helpless person with constant needs and no self-sufficiency.  I couldn’t even take a complete shower without being called away by her cries.  (And that was my easy, happy infant.  My second child, due to physical ailments, was neither – and didn’t sleep through the night until he was 4.)

My first was an early walker (runner), at which time my role morphed into 24-hour caretaker AND suicide watch, because toddlers have the executive function and impulse control of a drunk monkey, and are nothing if not determined to end their lives at every opportunity.

toddler

I also struggled with a form of postpartum anxiety (which I did not know was actually a thing until years later) that I seemed unable to control.  So even when the baby was sleeping, I was not.  I would lay awake for hours indulging and silently weeping from night terrors.  Replaying imagined scenarios in my mind, in which horrible things happened to my baby under my watch; things that I would be either too stupid or powerless to do anything about.

So am/was I a Bad Mom?  Bruce Golding and the New York Post might say yes.  After all, there are moments and choices I have guilt about.  And I will readily admit that there are times I did not WANT to spend another minute with my children, and looked for ways to get a break.  I have a full-time job, and expect to again after my maternity leave is over – because I CHOOSE to.

Yet I don’t feel like a Bad Mom.  I am pretty secure in the relationship I have with my kids.  My friends and family tell me I’m a good mom.  My kids tell me I’m a great mom.  My family is what I would consider “close-knit.”  I adore my little hooligans, and one of the most rewarding pieces of my multifaceted life is being intimately involved in their development.  Yet, there is more to me than motherhood, and my devotion to my children is not entirely bound to the number of minutes I spend in the same room with them every day.

Personally, I think I am a Real Mom – a term that has enough room for the good AND the bad.  And I suspect that Chirlane McCray was/is also.

Because in the Real world, parenting is too big a role to be reduced to “Good Mom/Bad Mom,” based solely on the desire to spend every waking minute with one’s children.  It has to allow for both the joy and wonder of raising little people, and also the admission that sometimes it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.  The best way to handle that balance looks different for everyone, and that should be allowed.

 
Comments Off on Bad Mom

Posted in Current Events, Parenting

 

Apparently You STILL Can’t Put New Wine in Old Wineskins

01 Apr

worldvisionWow.  So World Vision reversed the policy change on allowing its legally married gay employees to engage in sexual activity with their spouses. (Despite media coverage to the contrary, the policy was not really around hiring gay employees.  World Vision already hires gay employees, provided that they commit to the Employee Code of Conduct).

Well done, Evangelicals.  You won.  You withdrew enough financial support within 24 hours to bring the organization to its knees and open its eyes to the true message of Jesus.

Which is, apparently, that God is more interested in winning cultural/textual debates than alleviating poverty.

I keep hearing that this is acceptable because “World Vision is not the only way to help the poor.”  This is technically true, BUT…

It might be the only way to help that child.  You know, the one whose picture is taped to your refrigerator?  The one you committed to financially supporting, and who counts on your commitment for things like food, shoes, school supplies, and education?  Sure, you can maintain that you’re still fighting poverty by putting your money somewhere else, but you’ve sent a pretty clear message to that child:

“Enforcing my version of theology may not be more important than (the broad concept of) helping the poor, but it’s more important than YOU.”

I commend World Vision for backtracking on their decision.  I am saddened that they were forced to make that choice.  But I can’t fault them for bowing to the will of the evangelical base because as painful as it probably was for them, it shows where their priorities are.  They sacrificed their own policies (and in some cases, employees) to do what is best for the children that they serve, even though it’s not something they agree with.  They put the children first and stayed true to their mission.

The organization was correct in asserting that it had made “a mistake.”  But the mistake wasn’t when it backed off of policing the sexual activity of its employees.  The true mistake was assuming that its patrons shared the view that needy children are more than pawns in a cultural war.

“There is a tremendous amount of energy going into these [marriage or sexuality] issues from within the church, and certainly because of who we are at World Vision, we see that the issues of poverty and suffering and caring for the least of these around the world, these issues sometimes seem less important than these issues of policy and sexual morality in the United States.”

Rich Sterns, World Vision

See also: How Evangelicals Won a Culture War and Lost a Generation

 
Comments Off on Apparently You STILL Can’t Put New Wine in Old Wineskins

Posted in Culture Shock, Current Events, It's a Controversy!, Politics, Religion

 

Monsters

15 Dec

DSC_7538True confession: I lie to my kids.  I perpetuate myths about Santa and magic elves.  I tell them that they can do anything if they just work hard enough.  When they’re afraid of the dark and have scary dreams, I hold them and assure them that monsters don’t exist.

But their dolls don’t magically come to life, and no matter how hard she works, the chance of my daughter becoming the president is pretty slim.

And monsters do exist.

They may not be hairy or slimy or blue.  They may not live under the bed.  But there are monsters in our world.  And like those conjured up by my son’s imagination, they feed on fear and seek to torment to the fullest extent those who are the most vulnerable.  Whether motivated by a twisted sense of vindication, an absurdly disproportionate rage, or a sick enjoyment of control, the price they demand of the innocent is the same:

Profoundly intense fear…

                                                …pain…

                                                                          …loss.

Today, a 20 year old man shot his mother, then drove to the school where she worked and opened fire on children.  The death toll is sickening.  The last moments of those innocents were moments of terror, helplessness, and the inability to escape.

The killer took his own life.  His struggle in this life is over, and he is gone.  But the monster lives on in the stain of his deeds that will haunt the victims and their families for years.  Every December as the world prepares for a joyous Christmas, a number of families will still be trying to patch the holes left when pieces of their life’s tapestry were senselessly and violently ripped out.  I hurt for these, and pray for God’s peace and comfort to rain down on them.

In the meantime, I will continue to send my children out into the world where I cannot guarantee their safety.  I will pray God’s protection over them.  And I will continue to lie to them and say that monsters don’t exist.  They will learn soon enough about the realities of evil in this world, but as far as I am able, I will not promote fear in them.  Because the moment that happens, the very moment I allow myself or my family to fear the uncertainty of life – that is the moment I have opened the door to the monster.

And while there are certainly monsters among us, we ought not to bow to them.

 
 

Hot.

09 Sep

 
Comments Off on Hot.

Posted in Current Events, Weather

 

Protected: A Lesson in Humanity

10 Aug

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

 
 

09 Aug

Xander Kahle Vento

1/24/2008 – 8/9/2012

Hero

Angel

Friend

 

Fly to Heaven, sweet boy.  Your life was too short, but your suffering is over.  We will miss your hugs, your smile, and the joy you brought to those around you.

 

Words

09 Aug

Last night we said goodbye to Koren’s favorite little friend.  For anyone who hasn’t been keeping up with Xander on Facebook (ah facebook, the modern telephone), he’s the four-year-old boy you may have seen on the news, who came to the aid of a 3-year-old girl struggling in the water.

He did save her and she is fine.  However, he apparently did so by keeping himself submerged to lift her above the water, or perhaps was hanging on to the side of the pool and lost his grip and went under – there are several versions of the story out there right now and I’m not entirely sure on the details.  Regardless, by the time he was discovered and pulled from the water, he was unconscious and without a pulse.  An off-duty nurse performed CPR until an ambulance arrived.  The paramedics were eventually able to get a pulse started just before he was flown to Cook Children’s, but were not able to bring him back to consciousness.

There was some hope Tuesday, as he started trying to take breaths over the ventilator, but his body temperature was too low so the doctors sedated him to let him warm up before he started to fight.

Unfortunately, when they took him off the ventilator the next day, there was no fight in him.  His temperature had normalized but he made no attempts to breathe and his brain activity had diminished further.

Yesterday afternoon, I started getting this sinking feeling.  I was hoping it was just the weather.  We had received an outpouring of love and encouragement from friends/family, and were in the process of making an audio CD collection of greetings for Xander from people all over the world.  I should have been in a relatively hopeful frame of mind, and actually was until mid-afternoon.  But as the day progressed, I found myself unable to shake this heaviness/anxiety.  I was pretty much useless at work, waiting for the time we could go to the hospital.

On the way there, we received a message from Xander’s mother: he wasn’t going to make it.

We arrived at the hospital just after the family had been told that there was no hope for recovery.  The atmosphere was heavy and thick with emotion and it seemed absurd for us to be waiting in the family suite, reading stories to our healthy, vibrant children to keep them quiet and entertained while everyone around us was grieving over the loss of their own.

Koren was admitted into the ICU room to see him.  It seems to have meant a lot to Xander’s parents that their son could be with his best friend one last time.

They had a counselor available, whose job it is to prepare children for seeing their loved ones in the hospital.  Before he went in, she showed Koren a picture book and explained what all the tubes and wires were that he would see attached to Xander.  I think it helped.

Koren blew Xander lots of kisses while he was in the room, but didn’t feel very talkative.  He took in the scene, and answered when spoken to.  He asked questions about some of the patches or pieces of equipment that weren’t in the picture book.  Fortunately, Xander’s parents do have several recordings of Koren talking to his sweet friend.

We didn’t allow Kaelin to go in.  This upset her, but Kaelin has grasped the concept of “never” (in this lifetime), and Xander’s loss was already hitting her hard.  For an intensely emotional child with the tendency to get “stuck” on certain issues, we thought it would be in her best interest not to have a somewhat disturbing visual of him burned into her mind.  Regardless, she cried herself into exhaustion on the way home.

Both kids had questions on the way home, which we did our best to answer.  The counselor warned us that we would probably get a lot of repeated questions, and to be prepared to supply the same answers over and over again.  Death is a hard concept, and every kid grapples with it a bit differently.

Fortunately, the kids both slept well last night and woke up in a good frame of mind.  They’re in school/camp today in an attempt to provide them with the structure and normalcy they are used to, but I will be picking them up early if either of them starts to struggle with the day.

The family will keep Xander on the life support through today, but sometime in the next few days will have to make the difficult decision to disconnect it.

Xander’s dad seems to be strong in his faith, and even though this is heart-wrenching for him, I believe he’s getting some degree of peace from that.  The family tells me Xander’s mom is not religious.  Seeing her lying in the bed next to him, talking to her baby and stroking his arm … I don’t have words for that.  It cuts too deep.

I am grieving today for this precious boy who always had a smile and a hug for everyone, and for his family that is going through so much hurt right now.

Xander’s rescue was shown on the news, both here and nation-wide.  CNN, the New York Times, and local news in other states all picked up the story of the 4-year-old hero. The mother of the girl he saved came to the suite last night to express her gratitude and regret and empathy to the family.  It was clearly an extremely difficult thing for her do.

Last night as we were leaving the hospital, Koren said, “Xander was good to save that girl.  But I wish he had just called for help.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

A fund was set up a few days ago by some friends of the family in order to help with medical bills, missed-work and other expenses – and soon, it appears, for funeral/memorial costs.  If you are inclined to provide this sweet family with assistance, please do so here:

 

Tastes Like Chicken

01 Aug

Supposedly, 630,000 people are flocking to Chick-fil-a in support of free speech and traditional marriage today.  Based on the lines at the various locations, I’m guessing that’s a pretty fair estimate.

A lot of vitriolic misinformation has been spread about Chick-fil-a recently, so while I understand the sentiment, I can’t help but wonder…

630,000 patrons go to a fast food restaurant.  I’m guessing most of them are families, but for the sake of being conservative, let’s estimate that each patron purchases only $10 in food.

That’s $6.3 million.  On chicken sandwiches.

On the other side of the issue, let’s imagine that the same number of people are currently participating in the Chick-fil-a boycott, and expressing their opinions by purchasing sandwiches at McDonald’s to make their point.  So, let’s say another $6.3 million in burgers gets spent at some point this week.

$12.6 million on sandwiches.  To prove a point or express an opinion.

While I’m sympathetic to making your views heard, let me offer something else to consider while you’re standing in line for that sandwich or burger.

  • $12.6 million could buy a cow for each of 25,200 impoverished, malnourished families – which would provide both nutrition and a sustainable way to earn money.
  • $12.6 million could provide 252,000 children in underfunded districts with school supplies for a year.
  • $12.6 million could sponsor 7,500 children in 3rd world nations for five years.
  • $12.6 million could put 175 students through 4 years of college at Texas A&M.
  • $12.6 million could plant 12,600,000 trees.
  • $12.6 million could open 42 new animal shelters.
  • $12.6 million could buy 6,300,000 children’s books for libraries and reading programs in need.
  • $12.6 million could purchase 378,000 first aid kits, 3,024,000 blankets, and 1,260,000 surgical scissors to help volunteer doctors provide communities in some of the hardest-hit regions (Haiti, Pakistan) with basic and emergency health care, essential supplies, and other forms of humanitarian relief.
  • $12.6 million could buy personal care items and toys for 252,000 families seeking refuge at women’s shelters across the country.
  • $12.6 million could provide 420 deep water wells, bringing clean water to up to 1,260,000 people in Kenya.

Or… it could buy sandwiches.

Just saying.