NetanYaHoo!

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Spoiler alert: I’m going to talk about Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress today, and I’m going to say complimentary things. If that’s going to make you irrationally or irascibly angry, please skip this post.

He began his speech by saying a ton of very nice things about President Obama. Most of them were quite perplexing in light of Obama’s open diss of Netanyahu yesterday, and Obama’s repeated snubs of both Netanyahu and Israel throughout his presidency. But that is not the subject of this post.

He segued into something I found so fascinating I want to discuss it in depth. He talked about modern-day Iran (Persia) and compared it to the historical story of Purim. Interestingly, Purim this year starts Wednesday night, and it is preceded immediately by the Fast of Esther, a day when Jews the world over fast in acknowledgement of the perilousness and precariousness of this time of year for us, beginning with Creation, but highlighted in the Purim story.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar, here is a brief summary of the story of Purim: In the town of Shushan (in Persia) there was a king called Achashverosh (sorry, but I only know the story with names in Hebrew). He was married to a Queen named Vashti, but he became displeased with her, and so he began searching for a new bride. Around this time, there were some people who were plotting harm against the king, and the plot was overheard by a Jewish man named Mordechai, who reported the plot and saved the king’s life. The king wrote down Mordechai’s name in his special book, vowing that one day he would repay Mordechai, who had saved him.

The king’s search for a bride was looking fruitless, although his men commanded every eligible maiden to appear before the king for possible selection. Finally, a beautiful girl named Esther came in front of the king and he was enchanted. Esther just so happened to be Mordechai’s niece (in other places it says cousin). Being a Jewish girl, she was afraid of marrying the king, and of going to live in the palace, but she consulted her wise uncle who advised her to marry the king but not to reveal her Jewish status. They did marry, and she was a good wife to Achashverosh, and he was happy with her.

One day, Esther becomes privy to the king’s right-hand man, Haman, hatching a plot against the Jews. Haman hates Mordechai and the way Mordechai behaves, showing more reverence to G-d than to Haman. He thinks Mordechai is arrogant and obnoxious. So Haman decides to kill all of the Jewish people in Shushan and he wants the king to sign off on the decree. He casts lots (in Hebrew “pur”, with the plural being “purim”, and thus the name of the day…)to decide on the best year, month, and day to annihilate the Jews and it was settled. All that remains is for his plan to be carried out, so he builds gallows upon which to hang Mordechai publicly, a way to show who the real important man is in Shushan, and who it isn’t…

But Haman isn’t content just to plot destruction, he also wants to make sure he is properly honored. So he asks the king what he would do to honor someone who really really REALLY deserves honor. He is delighted to hear that the honoree would be given a kingly robe and crown to wear and a royal horse to ride upon. He would be paraded through the streets so everyone could see him in his glory. Haman is jubilant!

Meanwhile in the palace, Esther is in a quandary over how to save her people from Haman’s plot. Again she seeks the advice of her uncle Mordechai who tells her she must go directly to the king. The only problem is that approaching the king without being summoned is an offense punishable by death. Esther knows that doing nothing is a death sentence for not only her, but for all of the Jews. On the other hand, if she goes to the king unbidden and he is displeased, she will be killed as a result and the Jews will die anyway. Mordechai tells her that she must take the risk, but that in preparation she should fast and pray, and that he will tell all the Jews of the nation to do the same.

Esther does go to King Achashverosh, who as I said before is pleased with her as a wife and regards her highly. She tells him she is quite distraught because she just found out someone is trying to kill her and her whole family. Achashverosh is beyond outraged that someone would dare threaten his queen. He pleads with her to reveal the name of the scoundrel who would do such a thing, and she tells him: It is Haman.

In the end, in what is a theme of Purim, Achashverosh is restless so he looks through his book and remembers that he promised to honor Mordechai, and it is Mordechai who is paraded through the city in splendor. It is Mordechai who wears the robes and crown, Mordechai who is seated on the king’s horse, and Mordechai who is given honors and accolades. It is Haman and his sons (co-conspirators) who are hanged on the gallows, and the Jews are saved at the last minute and against all odds.

Why did I tell you all of this, and why do I think you may be interested?

This morning I got an email from a Jewish woman’s group I am a part of saying how interesting it is that right now (Purim time) a Jewish leader is going in front of arguably the most powerful leadership in the world and pitching the case for the survival of the Jewish nation. The head of modern-day Persia, better known as Iran, wants to have nuclear weapons. Among those he wishes to destroy with said weapons is the modern State of Israel (the “little Satan”) and America (the “Great Satan”- sorry, did you think we were immune from animosity?). Sadly, as most sane people know, when nuclear weapons are deployed, they aren’t exactly containable, so it isn’t exactly a strike with limited ramifications. But I digress.

Things look dark for Israel, and not for the first time. Not only is the country surrounded by far larger countries sworn to wipe it off the map, filled with people sworn to drive the Jews into the sea, but now there is a modern-day Haman who stands on the precipice of being nuclear-capable. For no clear reason (even in the Purim story Haman had some reasons…), the leader of Iran is passionately dedicated to Israel’s destruction. So Netanyahu went in front of the American Congress to ask for our help.

Make no mistake. He was very explicit on at least one point: With America or without, Israel will do what it has to in order to stay alive. And I say, good show, old boy!

But America is in a unique position in history, too. We can either aid and abet a potential war criminal in going nuclear, or we can make his mission that much more difficult. For all the weight America throws around unnecessarily in the world, here is a chance to do some good. Whether you like Jews, hate them, or couldn’t give a rip either way. There are certain facts at play. Israel is the only democracy in an unstable Middle East. They are now and have always been an ally of the U.S.. A nuclear-armed country led by a violent psychopath is in nobody’s best interest.

I kind of feel like if the Purim story happened now, Haman would just have waltzed into King Achashverosh’s palace and said sweetly (fingers crossed behind his back), “Oh, I didn’t mean what I said about destroying anyone. That was all a joke. Hahahaha. Really. I was being so silly. I just want nukes cuz I like the stickers that y’all put on them!” And Achashverosh would turn around and give him like 10,000 tons of enriched uranium and plutonium. “Would you like any reactors to go with that, or do you have your own?”

Or maybe he would cut aid and services to his supposed friends, like Obama did today.

But, like in the original Purim story, I choose to believe that things turn around in unexpected ways this time of year. When it seems like insanity rules the day (not that I’m calling out anyone specific here…), things go topsy turvy. Right always comes out on top.

Benjamin Netanyahu is a masterful speaker, but more than that, he is a masterful thinker. He knows more about how things operate in the Middle East than most people could ever hope to learn. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I’m hoping that Netanyahu can be our people’s modern-day Mordechai, because it seems pretty clear that, in every generation, we face a present-day Haman.

G-d deliver us from evil…

If He Does Something To Another Woman He Will Do It To You

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This little gem can be extrapolated to include women, pets, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and about any scenario you can imagine. This should be tattooed onto every college girl’s forehead so each of her friends would be forced to see it constantly and it should be put on Technicolor billboards on every road and thoroughfare. This is something that every person knows but almost every person forgets. We each tell it to those close to us, and then proceed in our own lives as if this rule doesn’t apply to us.

Why is this coming up now? Luckily, I am not having firsthand experience with it. I am watching an episode of People’s Court. Not for the first time, and not for the zillionth time, a woman has lent a man money, this time perhaps in the best example of this genre of these sorts of cases, woman A lent the man money to pay back child support for his kids with woman B. The man also has kids with woman A, who he also currently owes back child support to, but in a grand show of chutzpa he is counter-suing woman A for having him arrested for breaking into her house, feeling very pouty about the fact that he had to spend 9 whole days in jail on the burglary charge. (Guess who bailed him out on that one? If you guessed woman B, you get the trash TV award…)Uncommonly, woman A got the deadbeat to sign a promisary note (lucky thing, since he has no stable job). Woman A supported this man throughout their relationship, and that’s a good thing since in addition to his no job and his failure to meet his obligations to his first set of kids with woman B (those kids existed before his kids were born with woman A- sorry to reverse the alphabet on you…) HE HAS TWO OTHER KIDS WITH WOMAN C!

Yes, ladies, he is a charmer! You too could meet a guy like this! Not that woman are immune from being sketchy. All the time there are cases where woman borrow money under questionable circumstances, or beg/cajole/manipulate their way into men’s pockets and then try to slip out of their debts by batting their eyelashes. They get money for all kinds of stuff, from paying the cable bill (why does everyone think they need cable???) to getting plastic surgery. I don’t think I have ever heard a case where someone says they needed money for groceries, perhaps because people who are truly down-and-out know how valuable money is, so they wouldn’t so casually scam someone else out of it. Or maybe that just wouldn’t make scintillating TV. Or maybe I just don’t watch enough; perhaps I need cable…

Another popular type of case, almost too numerous to count, is the ‘bought a used auto/something went wrong/ I want my money back’. For those of you who are new to this planet, let me give you a newsflash: private party sales of used vehicles are AS-IS transactions. That means you buy at your own risk. That means it is worth $100 or $150 to pay a mechanic to go and check out any used car you are seriously interested in buying. And for anyone who thinks they can’t afford to do this, I would argue that you can’t afford not to. One of my daughters, in the market for her first, and later her second car, was not looking for anything pricey. But obviously she needed something reliable and didn’t have lots of extra cash to throw into unforseen repairs. So we found a perfectly nice man- really a lovely excellent human being- who drove to any reasonable location and did a super thorough inspection of several cars for her. We avoided a few disasters that looked like they would be fantastic cars- one even being sold by a good friend of our good friend, who had (honestly!) no idea that the car his own wife and daughter had been driving had a serious problem brewing with the undercarriage. But time after time someone one these court shows will have a case where they know nothing about cars, but they like it- so they drive it around the block, and I guess the radio works, so they buy it. Then a week later the car explodes- or sometimes the radio get static on it or something equally sinister- and they are suing to get their money back. They are always asked: “Did you get the car inspected?” And the answer is always the same, a sloe-eyed, “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo…” But this is another situation where we think there people we deal with are more honest. We will know better. We will be able to tell if a car isn’t good. We would never buy a lemon.

If everything we believed about the world was true the courts would be empty and we would all be rich and thin. I’m not sure what is so seductive about denial that isn’t so seductive about the truth. I have always wanted to believe that I could deal with anything as long as I was at least clear about what I was actually dealing with, but from all appearances it looks like I am in the minority. I am honestly perplexed about why that is, but maybe some of you can shed some light on that. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part…

Acting White, Growing Up Black, And Being Disappointed In The NAACP

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I’m in the middle of a super interesting book by Ron Christie called Acting White. It goes through the history of the idea behind African-American (the term he prefers, and I don’t) behavior that would allow then to succeed in society but is labeled as “acting white”. As someone who grew up in a majority black community I am quite familiar with this concept, and I am finding both his background and his explanations fascinating.

It’s worth noting at this point that I went to order a copy of this book on Amazon, and the reviews were somewhat scathing. People ripped his accuracy as well as his perspective (both of which I found to be reliable, but he is a black Republican, so some degree of backlash is to be expected), and overall rated his book much more poorly than I would have expected. Anyway, I bought the book, because although space on my bookshelf is a jealously guarded thing, this is a book I want to be able to reference again and be able to lend to other people.

At the same time, I was reading a book by Amy Chua and her husband Jed Rubenfeld. You may have heard of Amy Chua because she wrote a highly controversial book called Battle Hymn Of The Tiger Mother. In that book she describes the child-rearing practices of Asian and Asian-American parents, and how they produce such incredibly successful children. She was roundly excoriated in the media, and I’m told on social media as well. What she said was viewed as abusive, racist, and worse. But she was only making observations on the way things truly are.

In this new book, called The Triple Package, she and her husband discuss, “how three unlikely traits explain the rise and fall of cultural groups in America”. The three traits (since I don’t want to keep you in suspense) are: 1) a superiority complex; 2) insecurity; and 3) impulse control. When a group (such as Asians or Mormons) exemplifies these traits as a general rule, they will excel in society. Statistics (cited liberally throughout the book) bear this out. The book is well written, and really interesting to read. It seems thoroughly researched and solid, the way I like my non-fiction to be. But I got to page 172 and had an, “OH MY GOSH I HAVE TO BLOG ABOUT THIS!” moment…

They are talking about certain schools in New York that admit kids based on performance. Because of this, the schools are full of Asian kids. They give background on how many Asian kids get extra tutoring, even at great expense to their impoverished parents. The Asian kids forgo other activities to work hard at academics so they can do better at school, etc etc etc. Okay, so far so good- it all makes sense, since they are trying to explain why two of the top schools have about a zillion percent Asian kids even though that is not reflective of the population. Because, remember, the schools are basing admission solely on merit. Are you with me?

Then the authors drop this bombshell: “Asian studying habits and their disproportionate admission to New York’s elite public schools have provoked considerable backlash. In 2012 the NAACP Legal Defense Fund filed a federal complaint against the city, objecting to the vast underrepresentaion of blacks and Hispanics, claiming that admitting students solely on the basis of test scores was racially discriminatory.” (emphasis mine) Now my question is- what the heck is that??? isn’t using objective criteria the OPPOSITE of racial discrimination? Isn’t a blind academic test (which, by the way, is actually probably unfair to the immigrants and children of immigrants- namely the Asians- more than anyone else) the epitome of racially-neutral admission?

But wait, there’s more. The authors continue with this gem: “Still others object to the whole practice of sending kids to after-school and weekend tutoring (which the city provides for free and Asian kids disproportionately take advantage of- this is my note, and not in the text of the book), saying that Asian kids study ‘excessively’ and that the regimen is too hard on children.”

The authors conclude, and I am not even making this up, but I will point out here that both of then are Law professors at Yale!- that, ” THESE OBJECTIONS ARE ALL UNDERSTANDABLE…” Obviously the emphasis here is mine, as is the indignation, as is the full spectrum of incredulity. These authors, both highly accomplished people, both of them parents of successful children who they push to play instruments and perform to rigorous academic standards and engage in meaningful extracurricular activities (yes, I read Mrs. Chua’s first book), these authors think that it is understandable that people object to kids who work hard getting into good schools? They believe that it is racially discriminatory to allow kids who score well on tests to earn places in top schools? Yet they both work at Yale?!?!?!?!?!?

Color me skeptical.

And the NAACP, which last I heard was the National Association for the ADVANCEMENT of Colored People is devoting its resources rather than lifting up people of color instead to bringing down people of color that they don’t approve of? So if you are a dark color you should get help, but if you are a light color, like yellow, you should get trampled on, even if you work super hard, in order to let people who slack off and sit on their behinds take your place. Is that really advancing anyone’s cause?

There is no magic to the success of the Asian students. Children with equal IQs consistently outperformed their peers of every other race and ethnic group. Families living well below the poverty line invested money into their children’s education before anything else, often spending up to a quarter of their annual income on education-related expenses (One example is a family of 5 living on $20,000 a year who spent $5,000 a year on extra tutoring for their three children. Let’s agree this level of sacrifice is uncommon is other ethnic groups.)

Am I the only person who has a hard time with this lack of logic and this discrimination in the guise of non-discrimination? When intelligent people become temporarily unintelligent because they are blinded by an agenda or a popular ideology it raises my hackles. Maybe I do the same thing without even realizing it, and it makes me wonder if the people who engage in this kind of weird rhetoric really buy what they are selling or if they feel like they have to set reason aside for a higher purpose (in this case redress of past grievances). I can’t comprehend how in one minute someone is rational and sentient and in the next they say things that defy logic.

All that said, the book is a compelling read, and absolutely worth your time. With the exception of that section, I found it pretty engaging stuff. It’s just a shame that I am left to ponder why, when it comes to certain topics, rationality unravels and the unwitting reader is left with feckless drivel.

Facebook- Vehicle for Connection or 11th Plague on Humanity?

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Plenty of people use Facebook to reconnect with old friends and lost family members. But it seems like far more people fall through the looking-glass of Facebook into Crazyville and emerge as stalkers, obsessives, or cyber-bullies.While some dabble in petty mischief, a fair amount commit outright crimes. Facebook is the new black ski mask of society.

All that said, however, I will admit that Facebook does have a place. For example, it allows me to spy on my children. While most of them don’t have FB, and won’t any time in the forseeable future, there are one or two who do. These adult children got FB for very specific reasons, but me getting FB (which I do not currently have) would allow me to keep better tabs on their lives. I could see, for example, what my son ate for breakfast and what movie he saw with his wife. From time to time there will be certain photos I wish I could see, and it would be easier if I had FB. Frequently online there are things I can’t sign up for, can’t access, and can’t be a part of because I am not a Facebook minion.

I can’t say I don’t feel a small amount of pride when I encounter one of these exclusionary messages. ‘Ha!’ I think. ‘I haven’t capitulated to the man!’ But I can’t pretend it’s wholly convenient. I can’t show support for causes I stand behind. I can’t join certain organizations. I miss out on coupons and online promotions. And no, I’m not willing to create fake Facebook profiles just to take advantage of these things. In general, I am a play-straight-or-don’t-play kind of person.

I know people who have tended toward shady activities. When they were caught in continued shady stuff, they shut down their profiles rather than cleaning up their acts. This is clearly a user issue and not a Facebook problem, but in the age of cyber-shade-on-demand, Facebook is just one more way for sketchy characters to reach out and touch someone. Needless to say, I’m not a fan.

In a tale of all-about-me, I will tell you that there are most certainly people from my past who I absolutely want to avoid. I would do a lot to not have them contact me again, and the few times I have contemplated creating a Facebook profile, I spent a not inconsiderable amount of time figuring out how to bastardize my name so that I could hide from both the people I know I want to avoid and the people I don’t know yet I want to avoid. I know there is no guaranteed way to hide from someone on a mission to discover you, and I know sometimes people stumble across you for no better reason than they either have really good luck or you have really bad. Either way, though, this sours me on the whole Facebook sitch.

I know people who have Facebook and it has added a lot to their lives. For some it becomes a time suck, wasting huge amounts of time which a few have to squander and others can ill afford to lose. Families have been able to stay connected across miles and sometimes continents and others have been torn asunder by Facebook’s toxic ability to give people the illusion of invisibility even though they are not anonymous and not hidden. Children and teens have found sources of inspiration on page after page, yet reports of bullying severe enough to result in suicide are not unheard of. And pages devoted to myriad flavors of self-destruction are everywhere. Sigh.

So is Facebook great or awful? Is it the catapult to launch society blissfully into the next era or the thing that will bury our humanity? Or, like most developments, is it a neutral tool, dependent only on whose hand and intentions it finds itself at the mercy of?

Like the riddle of licking the tootsie pop, the world may never know…

The question for me is: what do you think???

Something Wicked This Way Comes

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Generally speaking my line between good and bad, black and white, and right and wrong is thick, dark, and immovable. This causes no small amount of consternation, frustration, and aggravation to those near and dear to me, but this is as much a part of who I am as my height and my eye color. It is the way I have always been and I don’t see it changing any time soon, although I am working to soften my delivery when I have to explain to someone (especially people I want to continue having a relationship with) why what they are doing is horribly incorrect and misguided.

In my old age, however, I have had a novel situation arise. I have a certain family member who I would like to keep in my life. But they have a certain family member who they would like to keep in their life. And this family member is downright wicked. This family member has done me dirty over and over again, but lest you think I have done something to provoke their behavior, they have done pretty sketchy things to most of the people they know. As an interesting aside, which isn’t an aside at all, they have even done a fair share of dirt to the person who wants to keep contact with them. File that under ‘Things that make you go hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm‘.

This shouldn’t concern me at all, except that the person I want to keep in my life (Are you confused yet? -Keeping score?) let’s call this person Max (Because this person’s name is not Max…)- likes to defend the other person- let’s call them Satan (just for kicks…)- a lot. Max likes to tell me how I misunderstand Satan and judge him too harshly and am unfair to him- but then tells me that I shouldn’t say anything when I try to explain why I think the way I do. I am frustrated about the relationship and aggravated that Max is such an eager lap dog when it comes to Satan, and although I have an inkling about why this is the way it is, it’s still hard for me to stomach. It’s hard for me to countenance keeping someone in my life who is willing to stand behind someone who is such a not great person, but I have my own reasons for not wanting to ditch Max. So in this equation, Julie=Max.

Except that Max isn’t bad, just misguided.

Or maybe I am justifying.

But here’s how I justify: If someone is truly evil- for example, a child molester, they must be cut off. And a person who stands by such a person is supporting evil and they must be cut off too. Certain things are just unforgivable and that’s pretty much it.

Other sins, though, are a little grey-er, and this is where I flounder. Let’s say someone lies about minor things. That’s bad, but not lethal. I don’t think they need to be completely shut down, but I wouldn’t be able to say they were an upstanding character either. There are people who do things I personally disagree with, but they are legal, so this is grey for me too. An example of this is drinking alcohol. I can’t stand drinking. I hate it, and hate being around it. But if you are over 21 and you occasionally indulge, I certainly couldn’t say you should be cut off, although I can tell you I 100% won’t be around you while you are doing it. Obviously I wouldn’t tell someone else not to have a relationship with you based on this, but I don’t think it says great things about your character either. Sorry, but it’s true. This is a great example of me being very extreme in some of my beliefs and this is one of the reasons I know I need to try cut people slack sometimes.

So back to our story.

I want to stay connected to Max. Max wants to stay all up in Satan’s good graces. Satan’s behavior definitely encompasses the grey, but doesn’t extend into the clear black. So what’s a principled renegade to do?

I’m so much more comfortable living in the world of clear boundaries. I get crazy with ambiguity. I want to be proud of myself that I am growing as a person and learning to tolerate other people’s idiosyncracies, but instead I feel like a sell-out and a hypocrite. I’m not sure if I am making the right decision because Max is important to me, or the wrong decision because I am tacitly supporting someone else’s bad behavior.

It would be so much easier if everyone was just as intolerant, stubborn, and neurotic as I am ;)

Cutting Edge Medicine

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As I sit here typing, it is unclear whether or not my son’s surgery has failed and he will have to go back for yet another surgery. The last few days have been another blur of uncertainty, another whir of calls to doctors with ambiguous predictions and dubious things to try at home to see if the complications he is experiencing can resolve themselves or not. Just when I thought I had no more energy to cling to the carnival ride that has become our lives, it has taken yet another hairpin turn.

Today I took my son out of the house for the first time, because he was getting cabin fever. I told him he was underestimating how much energy an excursion would take, but he staggered around a store like a drunken champ. He was giddy with happiness to be out and about, and it was me who returned home with shaking legs and a spinning head, faint with exhaustion. He fell into bed while I got his medications together and put up a pot of soup. Technically the outing was a success, but truthfully it was a disaster. Or maybe the reverse is true. I have no stamina and no reserves of energy to draw from for these types of activities. We weren’t able to find what we went out to get, but it didn’t matter because my son was glad to be among the living again. As for me, I consider it a valuable lesson learned…

As far as his medical status, I am trying very hard to keep a positive perspective. As a person of religious faith, I know that everything happens for a reason. But I know that as an intellectual principal, and I tend to believe it with my mind. My problem is that I don’t always feel it in my heart. So I have moments where I am almost incapacitated by worry. Even though I can know things like, “If God takes you to it, God will get you through it”, sometimes I still feel panicky. I know other people who are the opposite. Their hearts overflow with love for their fellow man, or desire to serve their Creator, but when it comes to intellectual principles, they come up short. Sometimes I envy them, because I think their faith is more pure than mine. I imagine them having an easier time, and feeling more connected spiritually. Meanwhile, I struggle with trying to walk the talk of my religion when I face tests like the one I am going through now. It isn’t easy stuff. But if it was, I guess it wouldn’t be a test.

I feel like an ocean lives inside me right now, with the waves and the undercurrents all battling for limited space, and all sloshing around my guts just mixing everything into a giant slush. I am unglued by very mundane things like putting away clean dishes, but I am more unglued by the idea of seeming unglued so I am managing to hold it together. I am proactively aggravated that some of the people reading this blog will be thinking, “Here she goes again, sharing too much personal information. What a hot mess…” And I angry at myself for caring what other people think. So I am leaving those sentences in, and those people can judge me or give me a break.

I am upset at the cosmic injustice of not being able to protect my child from everything he is going through, and very relieved that it isn’t worse, and that it isn’t multiple children, and that it hasn’t been way worse before now, and that so many other things are not wrong on top of this. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

And not to let fear wipe that away.

That is the main thing.

Always the main thing.

Always.

Speechless In Seattle

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A few weeks ago I had to be in the hospital with one of my children. I stayed with him for the entire time, and while I have decided not to discuss publicly the nature of why he was hospitalized, I can tell you that it was a shattering experience for both of us. The days leading up to him going in were stressful for the entire family, more so than I would have anticipated beforehand, and the days since have passed in a blur of sleepless nights and pain-filled days. While I have had plenty of experience dealing with my own medical issues, dealing with those of my child has been a whole new and pretty bad ballgame. We have been home for almost a week now, and I still don’t feel like I have any sense of equilibrium back. I feel like a stranger in a strange land, trying to function in the world of the normal, and I’m having trouble with things like remembering that laundry needs to be done and meals need to be made. I still sort of have one foot(or one half of my brain) mentally in the hospital, and instead of coming up with menu ideas I’m juggling medication combinations to be the most potent with the least side effects.

I can truly say that I have no clue how parents of children with a chronic illness manage their lives, since this short stint of ours has come close to undoing our family. Our youngest child, put on the back burner, became attention-starved and sad. Our other children, eager to help wherever they could, took on too much responsibility and I’m sure have issues of their own that they are trying not to burden us with. *h, usually the eternal good Samaritan, has been travelling for business way too much considering what’s been going on around here, but he hasn’t had a choice. And I finally hit the wall with my own health yesterday and crashed.

What’s been worse than the physical toll, though, has been the emotional toll. Having a child who is significantly sick is like no other challenge. It shakes you to your core and makes you feel like the weakest most vulnerable person there is. For someone who makes a habit of fighting like a mama bear for her cubs, coming up against hospital policies, teams of surgeons, various residents, miscellaneous doctors, and nurses in every level of competency was just plain exhausting. You never want to make a decision that will put your child in harm’s way; worse than that, though, you don’t want to fail to question someone else’s decision that IS putting your child in harm’s way. And unfortunately sometimes there are grey areas. Not everything can be researched in the moment a decision is required (especially by someone with no internet on her 1990’s flip-phone- that would be me…). So you do the best you can and hope you are making the best decisions.

You listen to your child cry and you know there is nothing you can do.

You watch your child suffer and you know you are powerless.

You try to be strong but really you are breaking inside.

And then you break some more.

Luckily kids are resilient and they are strong and they heal from things. We have moved from acute crisis mode into picking up the pieces mode. I asked a friend to make me some fish I’ve been craving, and she offered a salad and some roast potatoes along with it. I certainly won’t say no.

Mentally I want to clean everything in sight, just to set my world back in order. Physically I want to crawl under the covers with a bowl of thick creamy soup and not come out again for at least a week. Realistically, I will do neither, but I will make supper tonight, clean as much as I am able, help my son manage his health, and try to stay as loving and sane as I am able for the rest of my family.

I have been so shell-shocked for the last few weeks that I literally have had nothing at all to say. But I am hoping that my brain has come back online, and with it I can be back to the blog. I’ve missed you guys :)

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