Its Okay to be Sick

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I intended to reblog this on Christmas but the day got away from me. Even though some of us have gone back to work, for others our kids are home, our relatives expect our company between now and New Year’s and there are still some social obligations that many of us face and sometimes dread.

*Do I Look Sick* has some great advice on doing things at your own pace even if that means bowing out of some things.

My advice is something that I’m still learning: Always do what’s best for you. Don’t let well-meaning family members or friends pressure you or make you feel guilty. Pay attention to how you feel and to how many spoons you have left.

Have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season!

Do I Look Sick?

You know what? No one ever told me that. Ever. And I realized it’s something that I needed to hear.

See, we’re kind of taught that it’s really not okay to be sick. That you need to apologize for being sick. That you need to hole up and hide away when you are sick. I think that subconscious belief ingrained in us does a lot of harm. We feel like we need to say sorry – sorry for being a hassle. Sorry for missing a get together. Sorry that I don’t have good news for you.

That last one is especially prevalent as the holidays approach. I’m asked “Are you feeling better?” all the time. And my knee jerk reaction is a “yup!” until they say “Oh. Because I heard you were in the ER.” and I’m like “Well…..yeah. I had a really bad pain episode….I’m sorry.” I want very…

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Recs – Author Jane Breskin Zalben

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I know this is a week late for Chanukah, but when I was teaching I was lucky enough to find a series of children’s books by jane Breskin Zalben that were storybooks with animals of the Jewish Holidays.

When I was growing up as a child, there was nothing like this for me and my fellow Jewish children. Christmas had mice and rabbits and deer and all kinds of anthropomorphic animals celebrating Christmas. The Jewish holiday books that were available to me were serious. Chanukah was about the Macabees and not having enough oil, and it was a nice holiday and important, but where were the singing mice lighting the candles?

Jane Breskin Zalben changed all that for me, and after I had my own kids, I finally had a child-like book to show my kids the animal kids that celebrated the same holidays we did in much the same ways. It made my life more mainstream and not at the foggy window looking in.

Beni’s First Chanukah (my introduction to the author)

Papa’s Latkes (Chanukah)

Pearl’s Eight Days of Chanukah

Porcupine’s Christmas Blues

Beni’s Family Treasury

Beni’s Family Cookbook for the Jewish Holidays

Pearl Plants a Tree (Tu B’Sh’Vat)

Pearl’s Passover

Pearl’s Marigolds for Grandpa (sitting shiva)

Happy New Year, Beni

Happy Passover, Rosie

Leo & Blossom’s Sukkah

Beni’s First Wedding

Goldies’ Purim

An Uncomfortable Conversation

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Recently while I was driving, my eight-year old daughter started a conversation asking how people had babies. After a moment of almost going off the road I realized that she wasn’t asking how they are made but how they were born. She already knows they grow in women’s tummies. I’ve had three C-sections, so I started there, but eventually had to get into vaginal birth and it was still very basic, no problem.

Then the tougher questions came.

Do I need to have a boyfriend to have a baby?

Okay, good moment to express my equality stance by saying, no, you don’t need a boyfriend. You don’t need to be married. You can have a girlfriend. You can be married if you want. (There was a tangent taken that you do need a boy and a girl to make a baby, but you’re too young so we’re not going to talk about that, but no, you can be single and have a baby.)

So far, so good. Or really just satisfactory because this is the most uncomfortable, but necessary conversation to have with your child.

Then it got tougher still.

What if I don’t want to have a baby?

You don’t have to have one.

What if someone wants to make me?” (No idea where this came from, but she was concerned about it.)

I won’t let them.

What if you’re not there?” (Thanks for reminding me of the fragility of life and my impending mortality.)

If you don’t want to have a baby, there will be people who care about you who will make sure that you don’t have to have one. Or a boyfriend if you don’t want one. But don’t worry about that now, okay? You have a long way to get there.

Okay.

I could feel us both near tears by the end of this conversation, and I guess I put it out of my mind.

She was satisfied with the answers; I was satisfied-ish with my answers and all was well until the next time this subject (or another one like it) comes up.

This was weeks ago, and this morning at about 3am, I suddenly woke up and realized that with the way things are going in this country, my daughter may be more prescient than I thought. The irony that this came to me unbidden on the eve of the birth of Jesus is not lost on me. Perhaps he is the child of the most famous, single teenage mother to date. Not only a single mother, but a person of color living in her parents’ house, struggling with some tough decisions that a teenage girl should not have to make. Obviously, we know how her story ends; the Archangel Gabriel asked her and her faith led her to her decision, her assent to becoming the Mother of G-d.

I tried to ignore the replay of that conversation with my daughter in my head. It would not go away. I spent two hours tossing and turning and not sleeping when I realized sadly how relevant that exchange was.

What I thought of as a little girl’s worries about things she doesn’t understand are more relevant to today’s women than I realized.

There are women today who are forced to give birth against their will because someone else decided that they can’t have an abortion.

They became pregnant in the first place because someone else decided that they can’t learn how to prevent pregnancy.

Someone else decided that they can’t choose their own birth control and family planning; that their reproductive rights are nothing more than an antiquated notion as they are patted on the head and sent on their way.

These same people, who find the names of their football teams sacred, who can’t say the word vagina even when legislating against taking care of it, who choose to have vasectomies and abandon their own children are deciding that my child can’t make her own choices.

I realized that this world is not as far off as I thought it was.

In stating that I wouldn’t let anyone do that to her, it was the knee-jerk reaction of a mother protecting her child, but I won’t be there forever. Who will protect her rights when I’m gone?

We need to fix this now.

Right now.

No more Rick Brattins, representative of Missouri who wants a woman to have the permission of the father to get an abortion.

No more Bob McDonnells, former governor of Virginia, who wants to force women to undergo an unnecessary and invasive medical procedure before having an abortion (which has thankfully been ruled unconstitutional recently in federal court.)

No more Joe Walshs, Republican representative who said that there should be no exceptions to anti-abortion legislation including if the life of the mother was at stake.

No more Sam Brownbacks and Scott Walkers, governors of Kansas and Wisconsin respectively who followed Bob McDonnell’s trans-vaginal ultrasound stance.

No more Todd Akins and Richard Mourdocks.

This needs to stop.

Abortion needs to remain safe and legal for ALL women regardless of circumstances and socio-economic disparity.

We need to teach girls and boys alike that abortion is a last resort, but it is always an option. If we weren’t so afraid of premarital sex being the official bogeyman of a teenager’s life, we could talk about real reasons why teens should wait for sex. We could teach comprehensive sex education including PREVENTING pregnancy, which in itself would prevent abortions.

We wouldn’t be demonizing contraceptive drugs in their non-birth control use and glorifying and making easily available men’s erectile dysfunction drugs which are held up in every advertisement as take this, have sex.

I won’t be around to protect my daughter and make sure that her wishes for or against pregnancy are followed.

I need the rest of this country to look out for HER INTERESTS instead of their own.

At eight years old, my daughter should not be worrying about people making her have a baby or forcing her to have a boyfriend or be married if she wants a baby.

At eight years old, she may not fully understand it, but she knows it’s wrong and it worries her.

It worries me too.