What Makes Us Hide Our Needs?


This article isn’t political or activist in nature. It’s just another one of those serendipitous instances where I had a conversation with a friend which made me think long and hard and then got a different perspective from an unexpected source.

The situation that got me thinking was this. An acquaintance was at my house last week and we were chit chatting when she mentioned that she had been dealing with a significant medical diagnosis, one that had required surgery and was pretty scary. She hadn’t told anyone about it because she didn’t want anyone fussing over her or to feel obligated to do anything for her. She was my third such friend or acquaintance in the past year to do that. All three keeping their diagnoses secret because they didn’t want the attention or the pity or to rely on anyone else for help.

And I really, REALLY don’t understand that. I am lucky enough to have never had a debilitating or life-threatening illness, so I guess I don’t truly know what I would do in that situation, but isn’t one of the wonderful things about friendship that you know you’re not alone in the world and that you have someone you can share your thoughts and fears with and know that they will do what they can to help you through a hardship?

No Man is an Island...Shared joy is a double joy: shared sorrow is a half sorrow~Sweedish Proverb

I’m busy and overstretched, just like most moms. The responsibilities of work, kids, marriage, school, etc, etc often leave me overwhelmed and I don’t know how I could possibly get it all done. But I consider the opportunity to show a friend how much they mean to me a gift, not another burden. Whether that means a visit, a lunch to talk, or making a meal for their family…..it all seems like a small way to show the gratitude I feel for their friendship. Truthfully, I find it sad and a wee bit hurtful when a friend doesn’t give me that opportunity.

When my daughter was about a year old my grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He went through  a year of radiation treatments and generally felt awful all of the time. No one, except my grandmother, knew what he was going through and apparently the only joys in his life were babysitting my daughter and his weekly trips to Foxwoods Casino to play video poker. An intensely private man, he didn’t want his kids and grandkids to worry or fuss over him. I’m sure thought he was being selfless by bearing the burden of his illness alone, (forcing my grandmother to bear it alone is another story.) but I think what he did was incredibly selfish. He denied his family the chance to show him how much he meant to them and how much they loved him. He denied them the chance to try to give back to the man who had given so much to all of his family, and it felt like he didn’t trust us to handle his diagnosis in a way that would have been helpful to him. If he had died as a result of his cancer, we would never have gotten the chance to help him in that way.

At it was, he recovered from his prostate cancer, and I think when he saw the shock and hurt he’d caused by keeping this secret from his children, he was taken aback and then he was able to look at his decision from a new perspective. When it came to his many future illnesses and health issues he was never a complainer and while he always maintained his dignity and his spirit of independence, he was also more open to allowing his loved ones to demonstrate their love through actions.

James Taylor’s Shower the People is one of my all time favorites.

As I was mulling over these thoughts and how to best put them into an article I heard that unmistakable ping which means I have a new e-mail. One of the blogs I follow, The Grome Soapbox in an interesting mix of writers speaking on the subject of atheism. My favorite of the group, Larry, is funny and a bit irrevent without being cruel or demeaning. In one of Larry’s last posts he introduced me to a poetry blogger that you can find at http://www.patcegan.wordpress.com, and I do highly recommend you check her out. Her poems are short, simple and amazingly powerful and here is the one that spoke to me on this subject. Read it slowly and carefully.

Don’t Be Silent

Cry out your pain.
Let others know your need.
Do not be stoic, silent–
lament, cry as a baby cries
and releases the milk in its
mother’s breasts. There are
helpers in the world waiting
to hear those in need. Bless
them by giving them an
opportunity to help you.

Let others know your need. Bless them by giving them an opportunity to help you.

I would love to hear different perspectives or affirmations of my thoughts here so please comment. If you like what I’ve written, like or share the blog today and don’t forget you can also like me on Facebook. Thank you for taking the time to read. Go show someone how much they mean to you.

Fired for Sin in the Year 2012


Sigh.

You may have heard the story of Emily Herx, a language arts teacher at a Catholic school who was fired after the school learned she was using IVF in an attempt to get pregnant. IVF is not allowed by Catholic teaching because the Church believes that life begins at conception, and in the IVF process embryos are often destroyed which is counter to their pro-life stance. In accepting a job at a Catholic institution, Emily had to agree to follow “tenants of the Catholic faith”, even though she herself is not Catholic.

I’m not even going to argue that one. Let’s pretend that it’s okay for the work environment to intrude upon your personal and private business. I am also going to preface this post by saying that right now we only know Emily’s side of the story, so there may be more going on here than meets the eye, but if the facts hold up I’m going to stay appalled.

As soon as her employer found out about her IVF treatments, despite eight years of apparently exemplary performance according to her annual job reviews, she was was not offered a new teaching contract. I’ve never seen a school that can afford to throw away great teachers, but apparently this one can, because Emily was not even given a chance to make things right with the school and keep her job.

What this story boils down to is that a woman in 21st century America was fired from her job for sinning. Not for sinning with a student. Not for talking about her “sin” to students. Not for teaching her students anything outside of Catholic teachings….No, she was fired for sinning in her private life. Well, who in that school hasn’t sinned in their private life? Are you telling me that no one working at that school is using birth control? No one is having premarital sex? No one is cheating on a spouse? No divorcees? What about mass every Sunday? Lying? Taking the Lord’s name in vain? Where does one cross the line of their particular sin being a fireable offense?

I find it hard to believe that every other employee at that school is following all of the tenants of the Catholic faith, even the priests, nuns and other religious, yet they have contracts next year. In fact Herx claims that it is well known that there are members of the staff who have had vasectomies, use birth control or are divorced. Yet according to her statement, it was she who was fired and even characterized as a ” grave, immoral sinner” by the church pastor.

Are you $%&&%&* kidding me?!?!?!?!

This is a woman who, along with her husband, is struggling with the personal, emotional and financial ramifications of infertility. They have made a personal choice that their family is not yet complete and that IVF is the best way to complete their family. They are NOT Catholic. She is not a priest or even a religious educator. How is it okay for her to be fired over this issue and how is it okay for her to be called out as a sinner?

It smacks of “The Scarlet Letter” and is even more egregious in light of the Church’s sex abuse scandal. It boggles the mind that an institution that covered up decades of child molestation  and even reinstated priests who were known pedophiles under the banner of repentance and rehabilitation, can take it upon themselves to administer such a harsh punishment on a woman who, by all accounts, was unaware that IVF was even against Church teachings.

The double standard would be laughable if it weren’t so awful.

Wednesday Off


When I started this blog a little over a month ago, I decided to really try to post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, so I apologize but I’ve spent the last couple of days not blogging. I was preparing for my husbands’s 40th birthday instead. It was definitely time well spent since we had a great night, and I’ll be back on Friday!

Thank you again to everyone who is reading and I’ll leave you with a quote from Rumi!

Living Life With Passion


It’s funny how sometimes in your life you get the same message from a bunch of different sources and depending on your personal philosophy think “what an interesting coincidence” or “Hmm, the Universe (or God, or whatever your frame of reference) is trying to tell me something.”

That happened to me this weekend. It seemed that everywhere I turned I was getting messages about living life to the fullest, following your dreams, and how the world needs people who are passionately living their own lives instead of being just another cog in the wheel of modern living.

I noticed people around me who I know have gone against the grain of society and are living their own unique lives and just exude peace and joy. I noticed people around me who are not yet doing that but have started to understand that perhaps the expectations that have always been placed on their shoulders are a burden they are ready to release. I noticed my own reaction to my kids’ desires for their lives and realized I have to let go of some of my ideas about how their lives should be  and teach them that not only is it okay to live authentically, it is essential. Blog articles on the subject appeared in my in-box. Quotes and comments on the subject appeared on my FaceBook wall.

And what I choose to believe is this:

I have just made the decision to go back to school, and while I’m excited about it I am also apprehensive. It will be hard on me and my family. It will be expensive. I might fail, or decide it’s not for me. I might make a mistake at some point which will hurt someone. However, by pursuing this dream I am pursuing a passion in my life. Writing this blog, and exposing my personal thoughts is me, finally, at almost 40, starting to be my authentic self. I needed reassurance that I am on the right path and I feel that the energy of the Universe has placed that reassurance in my path.

I am grateful, and I am ready.

Reflection on Birthing and Reproductive Choice


In my last post I did a little Bill Maher bashing, but more importantly I brought up the bugaboo topic of abortion, and then spent a good chunk of the next day reflecting on how I feel about that difficult subject especially in light of my chosen profession as a labor and delivery nurse and, as of this morning’s acceptance letter, a student midwife.

In light of my return to school and following a dream, let me take a moment to post George Takei‘s Happy Dance, since his is much more fun than mine:

OK, back on topic……

I haven’t always been pro-choice. Actually, as a teenager and in the early years of my marriage I was strongly pro-life. I remember having a heated debate with a friend about this issue when I was quite pregnant with my daughter. It was somewhat horrifying to feel my baby moving inside me, and anticipating her arrival so keenly, while listening to my friend argue that every woman should be able to terminate a pregnancy if she feels she needs to.

My pro-life leanings never had anything to do with religion. Back then it was really about biology.  I was so fascinated by early ultrasounds and how you could see heartbeats, arms, legs and movement, and I couldn’t understand how anyone could decide where to draw the line  for abortion being okay, so I drew the line at never. I figured that a fetus, while not viable, was a potential life and deserved to have a chance to live. Of course, as you may have been able to tell by my previous post on sex ed, I was also all about excellent contraception information and access in order to prevent an unintended pregnancy in the first place.

Over the intervening years, I didn’t give the issue much thought. I was raising my own babies, trying to balance kids, work and an across country move and it just didn’t seem have anything to do with me or my life. The furor had died down a bit; abortion wasn’t a big topic in the news. It was all about terrorism, the war on terror and the economy. Then, all of a sudden it seems to me, abortion was in the news again. There were new protests, and new pushes to place restrictions on abortion, so I sat up and started to take notice. And what I noticed most of all was a shift in my own thoughts on the subject.

Maybe I’m thinking of my own daughter, and her options as she nears adulthood. Maybe I’m just being contrary and adopting liberal ideals in response to being in such a conservative area. Maybe I get to see babies born every day who are desired and cherished and want that for every baby that is born. However, as I reflect further on my change in allegiance, I think that the thing that has most influenced my opinion is that as I’ve gotten older and gotten more experience I understand that motherhood is not about being able to conceive. Motherhood is about raising a child.

Having a baby is the easy part. Nurturing, teaching, and enabling a child to be their best self is challenging beyond description. It is at minimum an 18 year job, and truly, it is a job that lasts as long as you live, and I feel that every child that comes into this world deserves parents who want them, who want to care for them, and who will do their best to love them.

There are so many stereotypes out there about the kind of woman who would have an abortion, the three most prominent I think are careless teenagers, women of low socio-economic status who use abortion as birth control, and older, professionally successful women too self-absorbed to have a child. In my experience, though, while there are certainly some women who fit into those stereotypes, most women who seek abortions are just like you (or me) or your best girlfriend. They are single, married, younger, older, and from every economic background. They are from every race and religion and every part of the country. I have sought out friends and acquaintances who have had abortions to ask them their stories and they are all deeply personal and deeply varied.

I have never talked with a woman who had taken their decision to have an abortion lightly, although I guess it happens. The decision was always made with a lot of thought and generally a lot of tears. Yes, there may occasionally be thoughts about the child that might have been under other circumstances, but there is not a lot of regret. They know that, for whatever reason, they were incapable of carrying and parenting a child at that time in their lives and were unwilling to bring a child into this world without the best possible start. Now with the benefit of time, and hopefully, wisdom, I see their point.

I can’t imagine a world where women are forced into carrying a pregnancy that they feel they cannot. Pregnancy and birth are such all-consuming, life changing events; women have the right to be in control of their own reproduction and the timing of when they become mothers. That’s what’s right for women and that’s what’s right for their babies.

Damn it, Bill Maher! Get Your Facts Right!


I’m suffering through my first case of blogging writer’s block. So, I did what any good blogger would do and started surfing the web, praying to the google gods to help me find a webpage that would inspire me and be good for debate.

One of the first things I came across was an article with a clip of Bill Maher discussing the newest Arizona anti-abortion bill…..promising! So I clicked it and settled in for some snark. I know, I know, he’s a jerk and he’s polarizing, but DAMN the man is good at snark.

I’m not going to attach the clip, because the advertisement at the beginning is longer than the actual clip and I wouldn’t do that to you, but the gist of it is that Bill was making fun of an Arizona law that redefines life as beginning the first day of a woman’s menstrual period, thus saying life begins two(ish) weeks before the poor woman even has sex! Ridiculous!

This warranted further investigation. I could feel my blood pressure rising, so it was back to google to see what information I could dig up. Sure enough, page after page about this law and about how stupid and backwards it was. How it showed how far the politicians will go to push their agenda. How it went in the face of every scientific fact known to man. Absolute outrage!

So then I actually tried to find the law, and here is the write-up in case you’re interested.

http://blog.azpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/f12-12-AbortionRegs.pdf

And was I outraged too? Well, yes…..and no.

Yes, I believe this law is detrimental to women. It is now the strictest anti-abortion law in the country and I believe that if it stands it is just another stepping stone in the fight to outlaw all abortion rights. It purports to help women who are being coerced into having abortions while basically coercing women into having a child, and is called the “Women’s Health and Safety Act” which just makes me cringe, because it is clear from the inflammatory language that it is putting the wellbeing of a fetus ahead of the wellbeing (both physical and mental) of the woman who has decided for a variety of reasons that she cannot carry this particular pregnancy.

However, that is beside the point of this particular post.

First of all, the law does not state life begins on the first day of a woman’s period, it states that pregnancy begins on the first day of a woman’s period, and to Bill and all of the other commenters out there on the web, I have to tell you, it’s not politicians, Republicans or religious folk who define pregnancy that way….it’s the medical profession that does that. Yup, gestational age begins at the woman’s last period and is counted for 40 or so weeks and pregnancy has been defined this way for a long, long time.

Anyone who has had a baby knows that when you walk into your healthcare provider’s office the first question they ask you is “When was the first day of your last period?”. That is how the “due date” is calculated and in effect the first two(ish) weeks of a pregnancy, the woman is not yet pregnant. Most women find out they are pregnant after they miss a period, and by the calculated gestational age are considered 4-5 weeks pregnant when in actuality they have only been physically pregnant for 2-3 weeks. Confusing, I know, but that’s how it is. I have to explain it all the time.

 I’m a little aggravated with Bill Maher for muddying the waters on this issue. If you’re going to raise a stink, you should know your facts first, and maybe he does know the facts and was just using the opportunity to make a good joke (I do understand the difference between satiric humor and factual commentary.), but once again I feel like its much more important to arm everyone with information about what’s really going on. There’s no exaggeration or rhetoric needed, so tirades like his and those of the other internet commenters don’t help. We want people fighting against the wrong laws….but for the right reasons.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please comment below.

Comprehensive Sex Education: Just Do It!


My poor kids…..having a labor and delivery nurse for a mom means never knowing when they’re going to be cornered in the house or trapped in a car with me and be forced to discuss sex. Can’t you picture the scene? I walk into a room where some unsuspecting kid is hanging out with a, “So, we need to talk about (fill in the blank)…”

Cue the eye roll, the sigh and the “Oh, mom.”

I won’t say I’m not uncomfortable with it, because sometimes I am, but seeing what I’ve seen in my career I am under no illusions about what teenagers can get up to when left to their own devices. And I always figured that if there were any holes in my choice of topics to discuss, that at least they would be discussed in sex ed classes which I knew my school district offered. So when the time came for my oldest to attend class I dutifully went to the parent meeting beforehand so I would know what the kids were going to learn. It never occurred to me that what they were going to be learning was how dangerous sex is both physically, emotionally and legally.

 
The mind boggles…..

I really, really want someone to explain to me the point of Abstinence Only sex ed, because as I see it the only point is to assuage the fears of parents who want to believe that if they tell kids “Just say no.” and some other adult type says the same thing, that will be that and they need never worry about their child having premarital sex.  Oy vey.

It just doesn’t work like that, and studies have shown this to over and over again. Kids with comprehensive sex ed have lower numbers of unplanned pregnancies and actually lose their virginity at an older age than kids who have abstinence only sex ed.

Information is so easy to come by nowadays. It used to be that kids would find out the juicy tidbits about sex from a friend with an older sibling or for the guys it was a friend who managed to get a copy of Playboy, hell, if all else failed there was always National Geographic…but information about sex was usually more about hearsay than actual knowledge. Today, any technologically savvy 10 year old can find out anything he or she would like, and probably some things they wouldn’t like, over the internet. They know if they’re not being told the whole story.

I hope I have instilled some values and a sense of the importance of sex to my kids. I would like for them to wait until they are much older and more mature before they have sex, but who are we kidding? What we want our kids to choose and what they actually choose are often two very different things. What I want my kids to know above anything else is that they can come to me or my husband to talk, that even if we can’t prevent what we may think is too early a sexual initiation, we can arm them with the information to prevent a pregnancy or an STD.

The analogy I think of is this: I don’t want my teens to drink alcohol. I know about the dangers of doing so from the minor (getting sick) to the major (alcohol poisoning) to the life-changing (driving and getting into an accident), and I also remember the allure of partying with friends. While I hope they are able to make responsible choices I have also provided them with alternatives if they do decide to drink. The fact that they know they can call for a ride if they’ve been drinking doesn’t make me think they’re more likely to drink; it means that they won’t feel forced into a worse situation than the one they already find themselves in.

Finally, my last big problem with abstinence only sex ed is that it seems to me that when you spend a kid’s whole adolescence telling them all of the bad things that can happen if you have sex, it will be hard for them to see sex as natural, healthy and fun when they get older. As I alluded to earlier in this article, I’ve seen a lot of teens with unintended pregnancies and STDs, but I’ve also seen a lot of grown women with unbelievable inhibitions surrounding sex which causes them so much pain, sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally, and that makes me sad for them, because they are missing out on something special. I don’t want my kids to turn me into a grandmother any time soon, but I will not guilt them or scare them into an inhibited adulthood either.

 

Related articles

States with ‘abstinence-only’ sex ed programs rank highest in teen pregnancies (rawstory.com)