Discourse on the intersections of politics, feminism, and motherhood.

Thursday, October 26

Kitty Heaven?

How do you explain the concepts of heaven and hell to your child when you don't believe in organized religion or Christian dogma? I was listening to a mother explain to her daughter why their cat had died and where the cat went when it died. The mother told the child that when we bury the cat in the earth trees, flowers, and grass spring up and create new life. I was drawn to this concept because I personally do not detact the human body nor mind from the natural world around us. I do not believe humans to be above nature, in a position to control and exploit the earth but think we are part of nature no different when it comes to birth, death, and evolution then any other species on this earth. When my child asks me I'm not to sure what I plan on saying but I do know that religious ideology that posits binary oppositions as natural -- good/evil, nature/nurture, or black/white will not enter into the equation. Clearly, this is not the only way of believing and I do plan on educating my child regarding the vast number of belief systems out there trying hard to make possible an equal level playing field for dialogue and questions. I guess then you leave it up to them?

Thursday, October 19

Where Does The Time Go?

I can't believe the month of October has almost come to a close and I haven't completed the second chapter of my thesis. It seems as if I'll never quite get it done along with chasing a ten month old, editing papers for publication, and trying to make a little cash. A colleague of mine suggested I start waking at 5 am to get two hours of work in before the entire house becomes over run with activity. I'm finding this extremely hard to accomplish and on the days that I can work, I work from home and seem continually bombarded with daddy duty uncertainties. The bottom line is, I'm still seen as available because I work upstairs instead of out of the house. I tell myself everyday, today I will get this done or that done and it never seems to happen. The little one won't nap, or there are some bills to pay, or phone calls to make. There is always something within the domestic sphere that seizes my attention.
I'm sure many moms have issues similar to these where juggling the many different componants of daily life with larger endeavors becomes extremely stressful and difficult. The babysitter helps out but that costs money, and daddy helps out but with limited ability, why I don't know. So alas the battle continues and I just want to say we will all make it through. We will all find a away that works for us individually because we have always just figured it out and done it. I tell myself to keep my head up, keep progressing foward, and take one day at a time. Look for pockets of positivity instead of what I forgot today or didn't get to and cut yourself some slack. We do the best we can and it is humanly impossible, in contradiction to what the new heroic cultural icon represents, to be all things to everyone 100 percent of the time. Ice cream sandwiches help to.

Wednesday, October 11

Manipulative Food Packaging

An article in the New York Times today is a must read for any mom trying to eat healthy, trying to teach their kids to make healthy choices, or just attempting to battle obesity. The article presents a overview of the work of Professor Brian Wasink who's experiments prove that consumers really aren't aware of how much packaging, environment, and food size effect how much and what we eat.

“To a person, people will swear they aren’t influenced by the size of a package or how much variety there is on a buffet or the fancy name on a can of beans, but they are,” Dr. Wansink said. “Every time.”

Dr. Wasink holds a doctoral degree in marketing from Stanford University and directs the Cornell University food and brand lab. His interesting experiments examine the cues that make us eat what we do. I can think of a number of moments after a meal when I said to myself, "why the hell did I just eat that?" Clearly, we all have choices but it's interesting to contemplate that our choices may be manipulated within carefully constructed environments based on benefiting a capitalist society.

Wednesday, October 4

College and Prescription Meds

If anyone remembers what it was like to enter your freshman year of college, the memories would most likely be reflective of stress, sleepless nights, trying desperately to prioritize and somehow always getting it wrong, high anxiety, attempting to juggle social life with school life, learning to self motivate or learning that you have to self motivate, drinking too much then flunking a test the next day, creating expectations for yourself and then not reaching those expectations, and many more I'm sure are fresh in the mind. My cousin who just entered her first year at the University of Georgia is currently experiencing all of these and I'm sure some more. After flunking a math test of which she studied for five hours to prepare, she was devastated. Because she has been plagued with anxiety and thus getting an upset stomach, headaches, sleeplessness, etc.... she decided to go and see a doctor at the college clinic which is available to all students seven days a week. She told the doctor what she had been experiencing and asked if there was something that might help her stomach problems as she was having trouble eating. Well, the doctor wrote her two prescriptions, one for valium and second for prozac.
I almost fell off my chair when I was told of this situation. The doctor asked no questions about any past medication use. The doctor had no complete medical history. The doctor didn't even try to suggest something in the way of a student support group before handing out the old pill remedy. The doctor didn't ask for any family medical history or if she had any allergies to medications.
Fortunately, my cousin has a very open relationship with her mother and called her right away. She didn't take any of the medications and ended up flushing them down the toilet after a few students had come into her dorm room and said I'll buy those from you. She knew that it was not the best idea for this doctor to have prescribed her these medications under these circumstances.
Unfortunately, many college students would jump at a chance to get some valium or prozac. Not only to sell it but also as a suppliment to drinking as it increases the effects at a faster rate. This reminds me of a situation in which my brother was wrestling at a college in Iowa. He had hurt his knee and another team member had hurt his rib. The coach handed out valium like it was candy and wanted to shoot cortizone in my brothers knee. My brother and his team mates didn't feel like they had a choice when the coach gave all the injured wrestlers valium to take before a match but lucky for him the cortizone shot was handled by the trainers and he said no thanks.
Seems to be an easy thing to access prescription meds while in college which remains largely invisible in the public debate about drug company's responsibility to the public. As more highschool and middleschool aged kids become addicted to prescription medication the move to college creates an environment where access is very easy. The evidence is there that this is a growing problem and lack of public visiblity undermines parent's ability to teach their kids to make responsible choices and undermines any college programs that work to help students with drug abuse.

Monday, October 2

What Are We Teaching Boys

As more highschool sporting events begin to be broadcast on national television the line between sports in highschool as an extracurricular activity and serious profit making capacity starts to disappear. Now highschool athletes are being recruited by the highschools themselves, are considering longterm athletic careers early on in age placing academic standing as a secondary priority, and are currently being exploitated by a sporting industry waiting to sign the next big celebrity sports star.
Much has been said about the problems that will inevitably arise out of this situation but no words have been uttered in regards to the now even larger gap between girl's and boy's sports. With value clearly placed on male athletes this broadcasting of male dominated sports continues to push girl athletes into relative invisibility except in the event of children's spelling bees or cheerleading. Girls basketball and soccer remain the only sports with visibility and limited at that.
If we start to glorify highschool male athletes at such an early age what does that teach young males? Isn't it giving them a false sense of reality? What does it say to our culture's young girls? Value and asset remain a battleground issue for individuals interested in gender and this issue only pushes the solution farther from reality.

Wednesday, September 27

The Second Hand Smoke Crisis

I wrote earlier on an issue regarding second hand smoke and children. Now the issue for me personally has become a family crisis. I spoke to my sister-in-law on the two choices I believe are best for my situation. One, just give my in-laws the print out that my child's doctor gave to me or just start restricting his time over at their house little by little so when the subject comes up then I have a platform to discuss the issue. She flat out said that if I was to just hand them the information then all hell would break lose and my mother-in-law is notorious for holding non-forgiving grudges.
So, I gave the information to my husband and said that his time was going to be restricted and that they could come to our house anytime they wanted. Well, this was interpreted as an attack on the parents and he did not think it fair to restrict our child's time over at their house just because they smoke and that they would be devastated. It did not end good. How does one deal with family members that believe 'a little' exposure is not going to hurt a child. Do you restrict it to once a week? Do you continue to reinforce the idea that the smoke is not an issue at all? Basically, I'm all alone on this one and run the risk of being labled the wacked out daughter-in-law when in reality my sister-in-law and brother-in-law both stay at another place if the situation can present itself that way. It just remains a silent issue. Of course the differences are that they reside in North Carolina and I reside 15 minutes away.
The things that bother me the most are when my in-laws get lazy. When there is a family gathering say during Christmas or Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law will just go and smoke in the bathroom with the door closed and my father-in-law will just go into his office and smoke which is right beside the living room. He will even sometimes go through the kitchen into the den while everyone else is in the living room as if they can keep the smoke away from the kids, all six of them mind you like they don't run all over the house and the smoke will magically disappear into the air, if they just step a few feet away. They also believe if they refrain from smoking in the house or the main areas, should I say, for a couple of days before family visits this will clear the air. This breaking of boundaries is what concerns me. I don't trust that they will smoke outside the house 100% of the time because they clearly do not believe that the smoke is harmful if it is not blown directly into the face of a child.
So, I'm at a standstill. Just waiting for the discussion to open the floodgates. They smoke a huge amount of cigarettes. They smoke in their beds while watching T.V. They smoke in their cars, the kitchen, the den, the office, everywhere. They even smoked after dinner right in the kitchen when I was over there and pregnant. They will even smoke outside the hospital and come into the room and pick up a newborn as if the smoke is not directly on their clothing. I have a really hard time understanding how one can ignore their own actions. How these things can be justified and how I need to handle them. I'm ready to stand strong and stick to my guns if that's what needs to happen. I'd of course rather have my husbands support but what do you do? What would you do?

Thursday, September 21

Elmo Evil?

Joel Stein has recently written an opinion piece in the LA Times regarding Elmo, a much loved Sesame Street character. He contends that the newer Sesame Street characters are much different than the older more adult based muppets that teach lessons through interaction with real people. He also takes note that Sesame Street has just added its first female character in 13 years thus as television show known for reflecting diversity may be ignoring gender equality.