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Losing a Parent ’ Category
Wednesday, December 26th, 2012
Oh, don’t let the title fool you. I think my blog is simply amazing. Maybe the best out there… (ha).
But in all seriousness, I do want to talk about someone else’s blog.
I got so caught up in the Sandy Hook tragedy there were moments where I felt like I was neglecting my own family while grieving for those in Connecticut. Then a friend sent me the following blog and it seriously helped me shift my focus.
The author isn’t at all cold-hearted. But she is logical. And from what she said, she too, goes down a dark path when tragedy strikes others.
At one point in my mourning my husband said, “You gotta snap out of this. If you want to be depressed, be depressed for everyone. Have you seen what’s happening in the Congo lately?”
Of course I had, as I read the New York Times every day (until I had to stop last week because of my emotions). I told him though, the thing is, Sandy Hook is much more similar to my life than the atrocities being committed in the Congo. It’s no more or less tragic. But it is different. I could “feel” how those parents in Connecticut must have felt (or so I thought before reading this great blog below and realizing I couldn’t and shouldn’t put myself in their shoes).
Phil didn’t buy my rationale. And I really don’t either.
I will continue my crusade for Gun Control no matter what. But instead of putting myself in the shoes of those who have lost their children, I will walk in my own shoes. I will hold on to what I have and know. Not only is it far better for me, but in many ways it’s also respectful to those parents who have lost so much. I can’t imagine what they are going through. And why should I try? It does no one any good.
But don’t take my word for this. Please take a moment to read this incredible blog post on Mama’s Minutia. She says it much better.
Picture of blog via Shutterstock
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congo, Connecticut, grief, grieving, Gun control, gun laws, mass shootings, NRA, oklahoma, Oklahoma open carry, Sandy Hook, violence | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Mom Situations
Thursday, December 20th, 2012
I was going to write again this morning about my anger at the gun lobby.
I was going to write about my anger at largely the GOP and how they are in bed with the NRA (though certainly the Democratic party needs a backbone as well to stand up to the gun lobby).
I was going to write about the mental health debate that is now at the forefront. I wanted to talk about the contradiction that the very same people who support the NRA agenda also don’t want their taxes raised. And guess what proper mental health facilities require? Money. From taxes. So we’re in a bit of a quandary aren’t we people?
I was going to ask you all to enlighten me. Democrats, republicans, survivalists (your end of the world comes tomorrow, right? I hope you’re snug in your bunker. Some of them now have televisions in them. Funny thinking about what television you’ll watch when the world ends, huh?), I’m all ears. I want to understand what you suggest we do about incidents like the Newtown massacre. If you say mental health, are you willing to have your tax dollars support it? I am. Not sure what we need, exactly…institutions? I am not sure some of these mass murderers would have been placed in one anyway. But I’m willing to try anything–and help pay for it. After all, we can’t expect someone else like Warren Buffett or Donald Trump to foot the bill (though Donald would certainly benefit from some mental health himself…)
But I digress. I was also going to write about video games. What is the correlation between these awful, violent games where kids learn to kill and become desensitized…and the violence in our society?
These are the things that have been running through my mind in the moments where I’m not grieving for the people of Newtown. I want to understand how this could have happened. And how to prevent another one.
But then I came across something that ignited even more rage. Oklahoma! Yes, the state made famous by Rodgers and Hammerstein has added more fame to its arsenal. You ready for this? Back in October a law was passed allowing you to take your gun to yoga class! Or anywhere you want! Loaded and unconcealed! Yes, this requires many exclamation points of excitement!!!! Want to walk into a bank with a loaded weapon? No problem! The only place you can’t carry is a government building, a school or a bar. Whew. But if you want to do downward dog with your gun next to you, you can. Breathe an extra Namaste while you’re at it. It may be your last.
This may be the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. Well, almost.
You see, when the law went into effect, Oklahoma became the 15th state to allow people to openly carry firearms with a license. Huh? Fifteen states allow this?? Quoting from the New York Times article, here’s the skinny: “Those 15 states include Utah, Iowa, New Jersey and Connecticut. Several other states, including Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada, have even more permissive laws that allow the carrying of unconcealed firearms without a license. All but six states and the District of Columbia allow some form of open carry, said John Pierce, founder of OpenCarry.org.”
But here is where Oklahoma is different than the East Coast states, including Connecticut. Again, quoting from the article:
“On the East Coast, open-carry laws generate little controversy because several states make it hard for average citizens to acquire the permits necessary to display unconcealed firearms.
Oklahoma is considered a “shall-issue” state, meaning that once a resident meets the legal requirements, officials must issue a license. Others states, including New Jersey and Connecticut, are known as “may-issue” states, meaning that even if a resident satisfies the requirements, officials may or may not issue the license because they have the discretion to consider other factors.”
I mean, are you kidding me? WTF?? The thing is, Oklahoma isn’t the only lenient state either. That’s why we need federal reform. From the top. Speaking of… I love how no pro-gun rights senators (31 of them were asked) would appear on Meet the Press this weekend. Cowards I call them.
I applaud President Obama for saying he’ll propose something. Because something is better than nothing. But if he doesn’t, he loses my support (though I suspect the real problem will come from the members of Congress who bend over to the NRA). I applaud Senator Dianne Feinstein for saying she’ll push for an assault weapons ban. And I vow to never contribute to another politician unless he or she has actively pushed for gun reform. It trumps everything else I believe in. Because none of it matters if you or your children are going to be gunned down.
To those of you who say there’s a .000001% chance that it will ever happen to you or your kid, I use the old adage, yeah, until it does. Then it’s a 100% chance.
Once again I reiterate what I said in my Newtown piece: no one is saying to make guns illegal. No one is saying to get rid of the Second Amendment. But what does need to be amended is the right to carry assault style weapons. That should no more be a part of the Second Amendment than the right to carry around a nuclear bomb.
I know people who hunt. People in my own family. Whom I love. But if you’re a hunter who requires an assault weapon to kill your prey then a) you’re not a real hunter and b) find another hobby. Like knitting.
Lastly, I will say, it’s a helluva lot easier to write from a place of anger than sadness. And right now I don’t feel like being sad. I don’t want to look at the pictures of those murdered children. I don’t want to imagine how those parents feel.
I’m now going to sign off and play with Emmett. I’m going to pick Fia up from school. I’ll probably hit Target, maybe even the grocery store. A typical day for me. Any one of those Newtown parents would kill for a day like mine. Sadly, for them, someone killed that typical day. Forever.
By the way, before you comment on my blog, consider the following from Nicholas Kristof’s latest column. He is responding to comments (in italics) made after his incredibly, fact-driven piece that was published last weekend. (read that one here).
What happened in Newtown, Conn., was heartbreaking, but gun laws are feel-good measures that don’t make a difference. Norway has very restrictive gun laws, but it had its own massacre of 77 people.
It’s true that the 1994 assault weapons ban was not very effective, even before it expired (partly because it had trouble defining assault weapons, and partly because handguns kill more people than assault rifles). But if that law’s ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines had still been in effect, Adam Lanza, the gunman in Newtown, might have had to reload three times as often.
As for Norway, its laws did not prevent the massacre therelast year. But, in a typical year, Norway has 10 or fewer gun murders. The United States has more than that in eight hours.
If people want to kill, you can’t stop them. Even a fork can be deadly. On the same day as the Connecticut tragedy, a man attacked 23 schoolchildren in China with a knife.
But, in the attack in China, not one of those children died. What makes guns different is their lethality. That’s why the military doesn’t arm our troops with forks.
Gun suicides (nearly 19,000 a year in the U.S.) outnumber gun murders (more than 11,000), and a gun in the home increases the risk that someone in the home will commit suicide. The reason is that suicide attempts with pills or razors often fail; with guns, they succeed. When Israel moved to have many soldiers store guns on base rather than at home, its military suicide rates plunged.
We have the Second Amendment, which protects our right to bear arms. So don’t talk about gun control!
There’s a reasonable argument that the Second Amendment confers an individual right — to bear a musket. Beyond that, it’s more complicated. Everybody agrees on a ban on fully automatic machine guns. The question isn’t whether to limit the right to bear arms, but where to draw the line.
I’d like to see us take a public health approach that reduces the harm that guns cause. We could limit gun purchases to one a month to impede traffickers, make serial numbers harder to file off, ban high-capacity magazines, finance gun buybacks, require solid background checks even for private gun sales, require microstamping so that bullet casings can be traced back to a particular gun and mandate that guns be stored in gun safes or with trigger locks.
And if you need to enter a code to operate your cellphone, why not to fire your gun?
If you were at home at night and heard creaking downstairs, wouldn’t you want a Glock in your night stand?
Frankly, at that moment, I might. And then I might creep downstairs and fire at a furtive figure in the darkened kitchen — perhaps my son returning from college to surprise the family. Or, God forbid, somebody who lives in the house might use the Glock to commit suicide.
The gun lobby often cites the work of John Lott, who argued that more guns mean less crime, but scholars have since thoroughly debunked Lott’s arguments. Published research makes it clear that having a gun in the home simply makes it more likely that you will be shot — by your partner or by yourself. Americans are safer if they rely on 911 for protection rather than on a gun.
Nancy Lanza is a case in point. She perhaps thought that her guns would keep her safe. But they were used to kill her and then schoolchildren.
As children were being rushed out of Sandy Hook Elementary School, they were told to cover their eyes. I hope we don’t do the same and blind ourselves to the lessons of this tragedy.
Picture of Oklahoma courtesy of Shutterstock
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Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read
Saturday, December 15th, 2012
Last night was rough. One of my two babies were up just about every hour. Emmett kept losing his pacifier. Fia couldn’t find her stuffed doggie. Emmett’s teething. Fia’s scared of her shadow. And so it goes.
This morning, bleary eyed, we both looked at each other and confessed to the same thought:
Thank god we have children who are crying out for us.
We knew those families in Connecticut would do anything to have their babies back…
Those poor mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, uncles, aunts and grandparents would do anything to hear their babies crying out in the night. They never will. Sleepless nights will take on a whole new meaning. Darkness has fallen. Evil has been revealed.
Like everyone I am heartbroken. I am trying my best to compartmentalize so I don’t walk in their shoes and take my mind to the darkest of places.
And like many people, I am angry. How could this have happened? Again?? And Again??
Many people are saying, “Now isn’t the time to debate gun control in this country.” But I say: REALLY? THEN WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME? BECAUSE 20 INNOCENT BABIES WERE MURDERED ALONG WITH SEVEN WOMEN–MOTHERS THEMSELVES.
Yes, I’m pissed. I’m infuriated. I want to scream. And I want this country to change. Quickly. Because god forbid this happens to my child. Or yours.
As Nicholas Kristoff said in his Sunday column: Why can’t we regulate guns as seriously as we do cars? The fundamental reason kids are dying in massacres like this one is not that we have lunatics or criminals — all countries have them — but that we suffer from a political failure to regulate guns.
I have a hard time believing that when the Second Amendment was adopted, our Founding Fathers thought we all have the right to bear Weapons of Mass Destruction. And sorry folks, but if you are allowed to carry around guns and rifles that can spray out enough bullets to kill that many people in a matter of moments, then those are WMDs.
Let me repeat what I am saying here: It is NOT a Constitutional Right To Carry Weapons of Mass Destruction. Do you understand????
The studies back up the facts: More Guns=More Homicides. Look it up. Click on this link. Do I need to make myself more clear?
Those of us who think that the easy access to guns had oh, possibly something to do with this massacre are not saying, “Guns should be illegal.” We know that isn’t going to happen. We are also not claiming that violence won’t happen even with stricter regulations. It still will. And yes, I know a school was firebombed back in 1927, killing 40 some kids. And that the Tokyo subway was bombed with Sarin Nerve gas, killing 13. Your point, is what?? Shit happens? No matter what? Horrible, awful, violent shit? Yes, I know. We all do. But what really infuriates me is that the gun-toting NRA lovers refuse to even engage in a debate about gun control. They refuse to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, if a young kid of 20, who was a lunatic, hadn’t had access to guns, then perhaps this wouldn’t have happened. Shame on them. Shame on everyone who supports them. And pray to your god that you never have to walk in the shoes of those Newtown moms and dads, sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts and grandparents.
People on the gun-loving side are saying, “…more money needs to go into mental health.” Yeah, we get that. There are a lot of wack-jobs who need treatment. But really, it’s a lame diversion. Is that really the best you can come up with? And if it is, why not look at both gun laws and mental health? Why can’t you be a lover of the NRA and still recognize that the system is F-CKED?
My favorite quote is, “Guns don’t kill. People do.” Like my brother said to the idiot who posted that on my personal Facebook page:
“@Tara…there’s an enormous world of difference between pulling the trigger on a weapon of mass destruction and the damage you can do with a butter knife — just to use an example less absurd than the trite and infuriating cliche you cite.”
Yes, I will be defriending Tara…whoever that is. I don’t need 513 “friends,” most whom I don’t even know. So goodbye to those who spew out garbage.
Other people talked about how, “We can’t prevent senseless violence. People will find a way to kill no matter what.”
Oh, okay. So let’s just do nothing. In fact, let’s just do away with any and all regulations and move to pure anarchy. Genius idea, folks. That must mean you also think that after 911 we shouldn’t have put restrictions on people carrying knives (not just butter knives either), explosive devices and paper cutters on airplanes, right? And that we shouldn’t have beefed up security at every airport across America and the world? What world, by the way, are you living in?
You’re basically saying that if someone wants to mow down a classroom or blow up a plane, they will find a way. And therefore no restrictions should be put in place? Well then here’s an idea: let’s start selling knives at airports–hell, even guns–for people to carry on with them. Or sell them at convenience stores near schools? (well, you can practically get a gun anywhere already, so sadly, that’s not a stretch). Why not? Isn’t that part of the “right to bear arms?” I guess it doesn’t factor into the gun-loving culture that WMDs weren’t around in 1791. And that maybe times have changed.
If we can’t even have a reasonable discussion on this, then we are doomed. As a nation, as a culture, as a society. Think about it.
In the meantime, I go back to what I am: I am lucky. I am tired. I am lucky to be tired. Because my children are alive. They cry to me in their dreams. I cry back…
Thank god we weren’t part of the screams coming out of that firehouse in Newtown when the parents were told their children were gone.
…I tiptoe into my babies’ rooms. I pick up Emmett. I find “my spot.” It’s a crevice under his chin. When his head is slightly tilted back, my lips fit perfectly into it. I keep them there and feel how soft his skin is. My nose is in the crook of his neck. I breathe him in. I whisper into his ear how much I love him. And that he is safe. I place him gently back in his crib.
I tiptoe into Fia’s room. I place my hand on her stomach and feel her breath. Her warmth. She is my little oven. I touch her hair. It is damp with sweat. I brush her wet bangs off her forehead. I hold her hand. In her sleep, she clasps back. I whisper to her as well. “Mommy loves you. You are safe.”
And for this night, and this night only, I tiptoe back to my bed, knowing what I say is true.
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For information and resources on dealing with the tragedy, visit the following on Parents.com:
9/11, Connecticut, founding fathers, Gun control, massacre, Newtown, restrictions, right to bear arms, Sandy Hook Elementary, second amendment, shootings, terrorist attack, weapons of mass destruction, WMD, WMD's | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Mom Situations, Must Read
Monday, August 20th, 2012
My first cousin was killed in a freak accident. Yeah, I know this isn’t a great way to start off a blog post. But I don’t know what else to do or how to write about it. He was 44. A great dad to two sons, ages 12 and 13. His mom, my Aunt Nancy, my Baba Yaga, is “my person.” She is perhaps the one I am closest to in the world. In a mother-sister-best friend kind of way. No one will ever understand our connection. And that’s okay. We kind of like it that way.
In 2007, Nancy and I went down to Florida for what we called “Rehab Tour 2007.” My mom had been in a drunken blackout for a year. Crack, alcohol and god knows what else. There were dog feces everywhere. There were three huge talking birds with feathers and sh-t covering every surface. There was a dead rat embedded in the carpet. And this is just the quick summary. It was too much for us to tackle alone.
We went to the bank, pulled out as much cash as we could, then picked up day workers and begged them to clear out her place. Even the refrigerator and stove went. We hired cleaning ladies who worked side by side with us, pouring buckets of bleach on the walls. We went to thrift stores and bought replacement furniture. Nancy had just survived Hurricane Katrina and we kept saying, “Pretend we are helping Katrina victims.” It made it more of an out-of-body experience.
That mantra and some amazing martini’s got us through.
At one point I said to Nancy, “If we can tackle Mount Mom, why don’t we climb Mt. Kilimanjaro?” A friend had suggested the trip to me the week before. Nancy said she’d think about it.
After three days of hard labor, we picked up my mom from rehab. We took her shopping for groceries; we put together a “schedule” for her to follow; we went to AA meetings (I loved them so much, I briefly wished I was an alcoholic). But as we said goodbye, neither of us were that optimistic.
Ten days later she got on her scooter, went to the liquor store and bought a bottle of vodka. She was hopeless.
But Nancy and I had each other. Even though our mission ultimately failed, we felt invincible for what we had done. The Mountain was now calling.
Fast forward six weeks. We are in Tanzania, caked in mud, trekking up the Shira route. For 7 days we battle rain, wind, snow, sleet and bitter temperatures. Nancy is 64 years old and has lived at sea level most of her life. Our guides call her “Super Mama.” I could tell on summit day they were skeptical if she would make it. But on March 7, 2007, she was the first to reach the summit. At 19,343 feet we stood on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, arms in the air, touching the wind. We knew we could do anything. Or so we thought…
But burying your son isn’t supposed to be part of that equation.
Justin was so proud of her for climbing that mountain. He, too, had his mom’s sense of adventure and determination. He was a kindred spirit in that way. Words can’t describe the loss. Healing–even acceptance–seems like an insurmountable mountain to climb. But carry-on we must. What choice do we have?
Mothers aren’t supposed to bury their sons. Children aren’t supposed to bury their fathers.
We hurt. We grieve. It’s the price you pay for having loved so hard.
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AA, addict, adventure, alcohol, Baba Yaga, climbing, crack, death, drugs, drunken blackout, freak accident, funeral, Hurricane Katrina, Mt. Kilimanjaro, summit | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Mom Situations
Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
Before Phil and I had kids, we used to joke that with our combined genes we shouldn’t procreate. Depression runs on both sides. Autism runs on his. Bipolar and addiction are strong on mine. And we both suffer from mild depression/anxiety ourselves. But despite these “bad genes,” what we really meant was we didn’t want kids. It was our excuse to remain selfish over selfless.
Thank god we changed our minds, because being selfless is far more gratifying. Plus, we have still retained plenty of our selfish lifestyle. We do date nights. But instead of coming home to an empty house, we get to kiss our babies while they sleep. There is nothing finer. We still take trips–we just take them with us. And frankly it’s far more fun. We still hike. Only now we each have a baby on our back (probably a better workout anyway). The things Fia sees in nature and her delight in something as simple as a spider web makes it far more interesting. But I digress. That’s not the point of this post.
In a recent interview, Sarah Silverman said she doesn’t want to have children for fear of passing on the depressive/mentally ill gene. Some called her brave and responsible for this. I call it ridiculous. An article in Time pointed out, rightfully so, that, “the same genes that can cause depression may also encourage the sensitivity and sensibility that gives Silverman her creative talent.”
I caused a decent amount of controversy when I wrote about my decision to stay on antidepressants while pregnant. Some called me selfish. Others said I shouldn’t procreate. But far more people came to my defense. Many were relieved to find they weren’t alone in their decision to do the same. Plus, studies show the drugs I am/was on had no greater chance of causing birth defects than pregnant women who don’t take anything.
I hope Fia and Emmett don’t struggle from depression or addiction. If they do though, I have the resources and information to get them proper help. I also believe that raising a child in a loving, stable, and nurturing environment counts for something. In my early formative years, my home was all that. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that things got a little ugly. Even so, I still turned out fine (I think). I contribute to society (I think). In fact, I have often said I’m grateful for the hardships I experienced. It made me the person I am today.
I have no doubt my kids will make this world a better place. They already have. Whether they end up suffering from a “bad gene” is beside the point.
Here’s who I don’t think should procreate: Abusive, neglectful people. I believe they will become abusive, neglectful parents. I’ll add lazy and inept to the list. And those who have more kids than they can afford who keep procreating because they’re probably too lazy or inept to use birth control. But a smart, witty, compassionate person who happens to suffer from mental illness, like Sarah Silverman? I bet she’d make a great mom and raise interesting, well-adjusted kids. There are plenty of reasons to not have biological children. And plenty of good, noble reasons to adopt. Or to just stay childless. But don’t make it because of a mental gene. There are far better excuses one could come up with.
Photo of Human Body via Shutterstock
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addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, autism, bipolar, depression, drug addiction, drugs, gene, gene pool, pregnancy, pregnant, procreate, Sarah Silverman, selfish, taking antidepressants when pregnant | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Mom Situations, Must Read