Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dedicated to the Guy in the Planned Parenthood T-shirt

I'd like to address the 20 something year old, usually long haired, most likely unmarried, possibly single, and I'm sure childless guys who stand outside expensive grocery stores (because wealthy liberal types and I shop there), and ask, "Can I talk to you about women's reproductive rights?" with his clip board in hand and Planned Parenthood T-shirt on.

Oh. My. Goodness. My blood pressure rises when I see these guys. Because they're guys.  I understand that it's possible for humans to "fight" for something that they are not. For example a non-dolphin can fight for dolphins. But, does a fisherman who accidentally catches and kills dolphins in his net work for Peta? Not usually.

I also understand that "women's reproductive rights" is supposed to be a term that makes you think of the health and well being of women, but we all know it's code for "keeping abortion legal" when one is wearing a Planned Parenthood T-shirt (go ahead and argue with me, but you know I'm right...).

I want to be clear that this post is not meant as a debate about "choice." People have the choice to make all kinds of choices. Choices are good. I just want the guy in the shirt to have a more well rounded view of the world. I may be assuming too much, but I'm pretty sure the kind of pregnancy he wants to sweep under the carpet happened with a girl that he wanted to have sex with but didn't want to build a life with.

Here are some points so you understand where I'm coming from:
1)When I was first married, I went to Planned Parenthood to get on birth control. I didn't know that "Planned Parenthood" meant anything (that was a long time ago, so maybe it didn't mean what it means now). To me it was cheap health care and nothing else. Maybe the shirt guy doesn't know either. Maybe he's never watched the news.
2) I understand that raising a child takes A LOT of work/money/commitment/support. I know.
3) I will not judge women who are victims of awful situations (rape, incest, prostitution, slavery). I have not been in their shoes. I know women will continue to choose abortion because some will feel they must. I don't think making it illegal will change that.
4) I firmly believe that having casual sex or serious relationship sex, or a moment of passion/you're drunk sex and oops, you get pregnant (and by YOU, I'm talking about both people who had sex), when you KNOW you don't want a baby, is not a reason to have an abortion.

I've come up with a rule for my kids to know when it's okay to have sex with someone. It's pretty simple really. "If you don't want a child with the person, or shouldn't have a child with the person, then don't have sex with the person." That covers it. Call me old fashioned, but I still hold the belief that there's a connection between sex, pregnancy, and children. Not that sex ALWAYS leads to pregnancy, or that everyone should just have dozens of babies, but you should know that it's a possibility.

Back to the guys at the grocery store- I'd like to see these guys talking to others guys (instead of me- the mother of six).  I'd like them to say, "Did you know casual sex sometimes leads to pregnancy? Are you ready to take on the responsibility of being a father?" Or, "Can I talk to you about how to use a condom?" Or, "If you know kids aren't your thing, have you considered a vasectomy?" Or, "Can I share with you some information on how much it costs to raise a child, as well as some statistics about how married men are healthier, and more financially successful?" (I know, married doesn't imply that you're a father, whatever).

Last week after being asked, "Can I talk to you about women's reproductive rights?" by a guy in a Planned Parenthood T-shirt, I said, "No." And then I went back and said, "Actually I do want to talk to you. I'd like you to meet my son. He was born in a country with no health care for poor single women.  His mom didn't have options when it came to her unwanted pregnancies and she found herself in a terrible situation. But, when I look at this boy and his sister, I see two people that are loved. They have worth, they've been given a chance at life and I'm glad for that." The Planned Parenthood guy fumbled for words, "I don't have any kids. Maybe I'll change my mind after I do." Exactly. Why is he there raising money for something that he hasn't even had the chance to form a valid opinion on?

No, I do not want to talk about "women's reproductive rights" with the guy on the corner.  The subject of abortion should not be hidden behind a phrase. We should weep when we hear the word "abortion." It should never be used casually or as a high school debate topic. We should think of the situation that occurred for a woman to find herself pregnant and not have the desire or ability to keep that child. We should remember the pain and agony this girl or woman will go through while deciding what to do, no matter how it happened.

If those who find themselves pregnant know they can't take care of this child, then they should consider that their "accident" could be the best thing to ever happen to a couple who is unable to conceive. And we should be standing outside of grocery stores praising these women for making the harder choice.

A million people would love to raise their baby. The baby would no longer be unwanted. Something that was initially terrible, shameful, and secret, could become selfless, and beautiful.  Isn't that how all the best stories go?

Happy National Adoption Month.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Bully and The Beast -

It's been a big week at school! 

Last Thursday when I picked Ena up, her teacher was standing there with her. I quickly checked the time - thank goodness I was on time. I've been reprimanded three times already for being less than ten minutes late. "You don't want her playing outside unsupervised, do you?" Well actually, I think she's fine with the 250 other kids and 57 parents watching, but whatever... (I didn't say that).

I was on time on Thursday so I was pretty sure I was going to hear about something bad my sweet daughter had done. As it turns out, she'd been telling some kids that her African American Principle was in fact her DAD. "Dr. T is my Dad. So you better do what I say or you'll be in big trouble." Apparently this worked and she was bossing everyone around, including a couple of FIRST graders. Her teacher got a call from a mom informing her of my daughter's bullying behavior.

While I agree that she was wrong, I wasn't a bit surprised. She's as bossy as they come. I also couldn't help but think that she's a little bit of a genius, or as Kyle would say, a social engineering guru. Let's hope her wit will some day turn to good.

And then this morning I got an email from Royal's teacher. I laughed, only to keep from crying. It said something like this, "I was wondering if Hermon gets meds any other time besides after recess. Has he been evaluated recently? He seems so out of control in the classroom, in line, actually all day. He is either in constant motion or talking endlessly or making noises deliberately. I have tried to motivate him in positive ways with positive incentives, and some consequences. I don’t think he can help it but he is  “out of control.” Right now I am watching him “hooting” while he is supposed to be measuring plants for science. I asked him to please stop and he always says, "I’m not doing anything” or for not focusing on his work he says “what, I already did that” when he hasn’t. I moved him to the edge of the seats for less temptation but that clearly doesn’t work."
Okay, it said exactly that. I cut and pasted her email (I hope that isn't illegal or something, I hope no one thinks I'm oversharing his personal trials, I'll blog about why I do another day...)

These were my thoughts as I read it, "You see I'm not crazy, he does do all those things... She's living my pain... Dang it, he was doing so well at school... Does he take meds any other time of day LOL... He's hooting ha ha... He's lying Boo... He's not getting his work done Boohoo... Sh*t, school was his place of relief... (more mental swearing)... I see O'Dea in our future..."

So, ya. That's it. I love school. I love his teachers. I love the office ladies. I have a whole team of people who get to/have to help me. It's really lonely figuring Ena and Royal out on my own always feeling terrible for trying to convince people how hard it is raising kids with behaviors that are REAL. They're real. I love playing the advocate. I love fighting for what's best for them. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Let's Lower the Bar

I want to say something that Christians don't say. Before I say it- here is the set up. Nearly every week at church and often at our homeschool co-op, someone goes up on stage and talks about what God has done for them, what He's teaching them, how He's worthy of our praise and almost always ends by saying something along the lines of, "God is so good! He is one hundred percent goodness!"  Recently when I hear these words my brain says things like (brace yourself), "Is He good? Is He ALL good? Does He love me? Does He even care? What does "good" mean? Am I missing something?" Because I feel very distant from Him these days.

Sometimes I almost wish we weren't meant to have a personal relationship with God. I like thinking He's a big distant being that lives up in the sky lording over us tiny little beings. He has power to control what he wants, but he's not in our business. If this were the case then what I see when I look around, and everything with Royal and Ena, and all the other neglected, abandoned, abused, lonely, sad, hopeless people in the world would make more sense. I'm having a hard time making sense of it all. If God is so good, if He were all powerful...

I know someone could read this and say, "Why do you think you should be able to make sense of this?" Another may say, "You're problem is that you think you're suppose to feel happy." Perhaps, "You should be happy that He even made you and you're alive!" Or maybe, "You don't deserve anything!" Or, "You're losing your faith!" But even Mother Teresa said at some point that her prayer became a simple, "God," and nothing more. She didn't know what else to say.

How did I go from one who truly felt in my heart that God was all good all the time, to one who's prayer is, "God"? (I felt such relief when I read about Mother Teresa because if this could happen to her...). This leaves me wondering, is my problem due to God, or is it due to what I've learned about God from well meaning Christians? Have I learned the truth about who He really is, or have I learned a fabrication.

When I was little I hated my whiter-than-white skin tone. I was so white and scrawny, I wore glasses and had awful eczema on my ankles. And I hated my feet.  The very worst was swim class (I lived in Canada so we had weekly lessons at school). I loved to swim, but I hated standing in line in my swimsuit with all my classmates. To add to it, I didn't have my glasses on so the world was out of focus. Every week someone would say, "What's that stuff on your feet?" Eczema. "Why are you so white?" I don't know. Ugh, I wanted to crawl into a hole. I felt like I was on display with all my faults. Why couldn't I look like my Jewish friend Hannah with her olive skin, curly black hair, and red swimsuit with one strap and a ruffle. She was the most gorgeous and confident girl in the third grade class. 

We all have something we don't like about ourselves- usually it's something we have no control over, like our skin color or the size of our feet. We do what we can to pretend it doesn't matter.  Looking back I probably had ADD and learning disabilities but back in my time that was called DUMB. To make up for being dumb, I was obnoxious. I combated how I felt about myself (dumb and scrawny) by being loud and fun. I competed with myself by pushing myself physically, how far could I run? How many push ups and sit ups could I do? I would never allow myself to feel hurt if a kid was mean to me. In high school, this competition looked more like: how many boys could I get to like me? How much school could I skip but still pass my classes? As an adult: Look how clean my house is! Look how pretty, well behaved, creative and smart my kids are! Look how happy my marriage is! I'm a good mom/wife/house keeper. I go to church and bible study. I smile through financial hard times, I'm humble in the good times! We're so blessed. This all means I'm a very good Christian.

It's all about appearances.

At 42 years old, I've finally gotten to a place where I don't care about appearances. You want to know my shit? Just ask. I absolutely don't want to add to the "bad reputation" that the American Christian church has built for itself (that we are judgmental hypocrites), but... I wish Christians would stop acting like everything is so great and straight forward for themselves, and that everything is so terrible and shameful for everyone else. Why has Christian culture become us against them? Why is it all about appearances?

Let's lower the bar for the world and ourselves. We don't need to be beautiful, happy, and married with 2.5 (or 6 or 12) kids. We cannot expect perfection from ourselves- all good all the time. We can be broken, confused, lonely, and afraid. We can doubt, wonder, question, and wrestle. We can hang out with atheists, gays, divorcées, Buddhists, and Muslims- and love them. We can love women who have had abortions. We can smoke a cigarette. We don't have to teach everyone something, tell everyone they're wrong, alienate, or add to their shame. We don't need to do this to our Christian brothers and sisters or to our non believing neighbors.

We just need to love. Love ourselves. Love others. Because guess who didn't wait for us to be "so good" before He came to save us?

 Go out there and love someone. I'm stepping off my soap box now.