Tag: life choices

It’s Okay

It’s been a bit rough around here the last week or two.

But wait, first I want to say that I can do a spinning outside crescent kick now.  Not well, of course, but who cares?  I can do them.  That’s the point.  Which I may have already told you, I’m not sure, because baby spiders have hatched everywhere and have camped all over BBQ Sue which makes it likely that they  are also webbing up my brain.  It feels a little like cotton at the moment.

I discovered that I can’t enter the novel contest because you actually have to have the manuscript finished before you enter.  It’s Okay.

Max has strep throat.  He’s been in and out of high fevers since Wednesday night.  I keep giving him an Ibuprofin every time it gets close to 103°.  I know a lot of people into natural medicine giving me ways to reduce fevers naturally.  Or suggesting I don’t break it.  I know what fevers are for and I never interfere with a fever that’s 102° or lower.  The body should get to fight its own fight whenever possible.

I have allowed myself to feel guilty that I didn’t try anything natural before reaching for an aspirin.  I asked myself why.  Why not try something natural first?  And then, if I choose aspirin, why feel guilty?  Why should I go through such a struggle?

I know the answer.  I am not an extremist.  I believe in integrating past knowledge with current science.  I don’t think Westsern medicine is evil or necessarily more flawed than herbal and folk remedies.  My mother was an extremist and one time she refused to take me urgent care when I had bronchitis because it was my fault since I smoked cigarettes.  It wasn’t surprising because I’m not sure I ever took a single aspirin growing up, we never took antibiotics.  We got vaccinations but everything else was strictly natural medicine.  I respect my mother for that.  I do.  But I was really sick.  She took off for Dallas without me or my brother.  I can’t tell you how long she was gone or what my brother did during that time.  I know there was no food in the house.  I know my dad came to see me and found me passing out from the untreated infection and he bought us some groceries and took me to urgent care where I got some antibiotics.

I’m not telling that story to be mean about my mom.  Those are the facts.  She had her own very serious issues going on that weren’t being taken care of at the time.  I don’t hold that against her for a moment.

It did, however, make a lasting impression on me.  Passing out from fever and infection is both dangerous and needless.

I’m not actually here to argue about it.  I believe the truth lies in both the past, the present, and the future.  I believe it shows itself to those willing to measure them all against each other with common sense and honesty.

Tonight as Max’s fever skyrocketed (we only got halfway through taking the temperature reading before he rejected it in panic  and it had already reached 102.9°) I remembered his first real fever.  He was only 18 months old, had just started rejecting the food he’d been happily eating for a year, just started rejecting denim (which he would later explain, when he could talk, was because it was too stiff and rough), he was having nightmares, and we were already becoming aware that our son was different than most of the other little boys we knew.

He had developed a fever during the day and become listless.  It wasn’t too  bad but it was clear he was sick.  We put him to bed in a bit of a sweat and figured it was nothing much.  He woke us up at one in the morning (which he always did anyway) and I took his temperature which was at 104°.

That scared the hell out of me.

He was crying.

And then his nose started bleeding for the first time.

He was a pale baby with silver-white hair, all this pale and against that a stream of bright blood.

We didn’t have any baby aspirin or any kind of fever reducer.  He was bleeding.  He was screaming and hot and sweating.  I made Philip get up because I was so scared seeing him bleeding for no apparent reason from his nose.

I had no idea that the blood was going to be a main feature of my parenting life for the next 8 years.

Philip came to help, saw the blood, and promptly passed the hell out.

So I had a passed out husband, a very sick bleeding screaming baby at one in the morning and I had nothing for the fever because I didn’t think I was going to go in for that unnatural medicine crap.

I think we each have our threshold for seeing our babies in pain.

There is already so much pain in my child’s life.  I can’t spend all night over the thermometer with a cold compress hoping he won’t get febrile seizures or die.  In the old days, before aspirin, babies died of fevers all the time.  People, grown people, young and old alike died of fevers and simple infections.

Natural medicine has serious limitations and in some ways this is why we didn’t have overpopulation issues before industrialized medicine came along and made it a simple thing to stop and infection or a fever.

Aspirin and Ibuprofin are miracles of modern medicine.  I neither abuse them nor reject them when they can bring my child’s fever safely back to ground.

It’s funny that this is a big theme in my novel.  Modern medicine versus natural medicine.

After three days of Max “toughing” it out we took him to the doctor today.  A throat culture confirmed that he has strep throat.  So we are all taking antibiotics because I started getting sick last night and Philip was starting to feel the pre-sick drag too.

I went through the same mixed feelings about taking the antibiotics as I did over giving Max fever reducing pills.  Theoretically we could mess around with a bunch of infection killing home remedies.

But I have a policy which is that we never ever mess around with strep throat or bladder infections.

Modern medicine means we can dispatch it quickly and reduce the risk of rheumatic fever and kidney infections.

Meanwhile I’m struggling to keep up with my work and book and Kung Fu.

Which has been going great in spite of having pulled a calf muscle last week.  I just keep moving forward and somehow I keep making progress.  It’s embarrassing to say this but I’m having hip pain too and I’m trying to ignore it  because there’s not a damn thing I can do about it anyway.

It’s all okay.  For right now Max is finally eating something.  He’s barely eaten a thing for two days besides juice popsicles.  His fever is down again.  He’s not listless as he’s been for the majority of the past 48 hours during which he slept a record breaking amount.

My mother is moving in in a week.  Which is okay too because I am getting rid of crap and making room and our life really fits in half the space we have.  It’s crying out for someone else to fill it.

The three dog four cat life I’m about to enter into is the most stressful thing about this whole dealio.

Meanwhile I’ve been finding comfort in re-reading all the Mary Stewart novels I got over Christmas and now I’m going back through the Georgette Heyers.  I’m hungry for the antiquated atmosphere of 1960’s Brits in Greece and Regency England.  I tried getting into a Jonathon Kellerman, a mystery author I quite like, but kept getting distracted by his photo in the back of the book.  There’s something about pictures of him that freak me out, that are not real, and I’m not just saying that because of the makeup he wore in some of them (not meant to be noticed, think: anchorman-style makeup for the camera) but because he seems so vacant and excruciatingly uncomfortable and stiff.  He never smiles in them more than a Mona Lisa style lift to the lips.  He’s not unattractive or weird or creepy, it’s more that he could be BBQ Bob’s brother.

There now, I’ve mentioned both of my mannequins in one post.  They are feeling terribly useless.

I have come to the conclusion that I may only watch television series so I can find new songs to obsess over.  Do you know how hard it is to find out who performed the songs on shows?  Movies will list the songs they use in the credits at the end if you’re diligent and a quick shooter with the pause button, but shows often don’t list them.  I am still obsessing about a song I heard on an episode of the American remake of “Cracker” in the episode called “True Romance” and I will probably make periodic stabs at finding it out until I die.

Today it’s “Our Biggest Love” by Dylan in the Movies.

I heard it last night on an episode of “Mercy”.

We have to get Max back into therapy.  If I have to choose between Kung Fu or therapy for him I’m going to have to choose therapy.  Hopefully we’ll be able to afford him doing both.  We quit therapy because we couldn’t afford both and at the time the Kung Fu seemed most beneficial.  I now know that it’s a matter of his own safety that we get him back to the therapist.  I can’t share any details about what’s going on for the moment.  There is too much to share with and work on with Max before I do it here.  And I may need to get his permission.

It’s okay.

I can’t say I’m not stressed all the time, because that is my normal state and there’s only so much my medications can do for me, but on some level I feel like everything is going to work out fine, that we’ll keep riding the waves across the ocean of our panics, depressions, sometimes humorous issues, and we’ll stay afloat.  I know that we’re leading a good life.  Just because it’s always on the edge, just because we have no security, no reason to suppose we won’t be looking for a new place to live, doesn’t mean we aren’t living a good life.

I can never be a person who pretends for everyone that I’m not panicking or stressing or feeling hopeless.  I can’t bring that artificial sunshine to the dark hole of social interaction that is often expected.  Life is tough and it’s always going to be tough.  Even if we keep the house.  Even if we keep our jobs.  Even if we start turning beer caps into gold ingots.  I can’t tell you I’m great but I think I can say with some confidence that it’s okay not to be “great” all the time.  Or even hardly ever.  As long as you hang onto the days that are great in your spirit and let them illuminate the dark.  As long as you recognized the good days when they come.  As long as you can hang onto some tranquility in between days.

It is such a process to build a life for yourself that fits your personal needs and has nothing to do with other people’s expectations of how a good life should be lived or what it means to have a solid and healthy family life.  I think we’re still in the process of telling the world to “fuck off” with its expectations of us that it has without actually knowing who we are.

The best gift my diagnosing psychologist said to me is that whatever I need to do to live a higher quality of life is okay provided it doesn’t hurt anyone else or myself.  If I need to not read newspapers or watch the news to keep some of the nightmares and panic attacks down, it’s okay.  Even though so many people tell me it’s not okay.  Literally tell me I can’t be a responsible person if I don’t read the news.  Jay Judine said that was bullshit.

I get to decide what’s okay as long as I don’t hurt myself or anyone else in how live my life.

It’s okay to need to hide from people or minimize the noise in your life (both figuratively and literally) or not sleep with your partner in the same bed sometimes just to get better sleep, or to eat in private, or to watch movies for family fun, or to read romance novels, or to be imperfect, or to tear paper up into a million little pieces if it makes your palpitations ease up.

It’s okay to be who you are and to make your life work for you even if everyone else in the world thinks you’re weird or wrong.

It’s okay to be who you are as long as you don’t hurt yourself or others.

It’s okay.

Is a woman’s life pointless without children?

I just read a very interesting post written by a woman who objects to everyone thinking her decision to not have kids is their business and their assumption that the only reason she doesn’t have any is because she can’t have any.   Her objection, more specifically, is that anyone thinks it’s their business to ask what she’s planning to do with her womb in the first place.  The post itself didn’t spark my thoughts today as much as the many comments she received about it.

One commenter tells the author that she can’t know what she’s missing by not having kids.  Others talk about leading a “more fulfilling” life by having kids.  This all echoes a million different comments I’ve heard over the past decade on the subject of having babies: women claiming that their life can’t be complete without kids, that if they don’t have more than one child they can’t feel happy, that having children makes a life more meaningful, that having children makes them a better person.

I’ve got news for everyone:  what having children really does for you is wear you out, make you fatter (not universally, but very common), steals all your time for personal development, divides (by however many children you have) the time you have to spend with your spouse as a couple, each additional child you have robs attention from the previous children you already had (your love may be infinite but your time and attention are not), it robs you of sleep, robs you of relaxation, makes hanging out with grownups difficult, and drains you of money.

I want to take a moment to remember how angry I used to get when women I talked to who were working outside the home used to imply that my life must be mind-numbing and less worthy because I was a stay at home mom.  It’s always been my belief that if a woman decides to have children the best thing she can do for them is to stay home with them as long as finances allow.  I still believe this and career women without children assuming that staying home is an unfulfilling life choice are asses.

Since then I have encountered so many smug women with children who think their purpose in life (having babies) is the most noble and fulfilling one that a woman can have.   Women who think a childless life is less meaningful and fulfilling are also asses.

Smug career women are asses.

Smug working moms are asses.

Smug stay at home moms are asses.

What I want to say to the woman who suggested that you can’t know what you’re missing by choosing to not have kids is this: if I have two eyes in my head (or one really sharp one) with which to observe the parents I see around me I can know EXACTLY what I would have missed by not having one.  Now that I have one I can say authoritatively that I was NOT missing anything  necessary to make my life more fulfilling or meaningful.

I was on the fence about having kids for seven years (right after having spent a decade knowing absolutely that I didn’t want any) before I finally decided to give in to my hormones and have one.  The idea of having a kid had nothing to do with being fulfilled.  I was already fulfilled by my life, by the things I chose to spend my time doing, by the people I chose to know, by the goals and ambitions I already had for myself, and the new things I was always learning.  I wasn’t missing anything in my life, I just wanted to take a detour, to go in a new direction.

If I had turned out to be infertile I would not have been devastated, I would merely have been disappointed.  I wanted to experience family life but long before I even met my husband I had a serious sit-down with myself after dating one too many stupid men where I basically slapped myself upside the head and told myself that having fun, having a good life, and finding meaning was all my personal responsibility to myself and that I would end up so much less powerful if I looked to other people to fulfill my needs and dreams.

The plus of having my child is not about my own fulfillment, the plus is that having him gave me him.  I love him.  I am proud of him.  I won’t give him back.  He’s awesome.  He’s smart.  He’s handsome.  He’s talented.  I love him more than anyone else.

However, I didn’t need him to truly understand the circle of life, the fact that we’re mortal, or that parenting is hard.  I do understand some of the choices my parents made better now that I am one, but that knowledge wasn’t necessary to develop a strong relationship with my mother.  I didn’t need to have my kid to get closer to my spirituality or to improve my empathy or compassion.  Having a kid has not made me a better person than I would have become without one.

Being a cognizant, evolving, self-aware person is what makes me a better person.  My son is a big part of my life but I would never burden him with being responsible for giving my life meaning and fulfillment.  He will have to be responsible for his own and that’s enough.

So screw you all who think a woman needs children to be fulfilled just because you couldn’t figure out how to make your life meaningful on your own!

Fulfillment in your life should NOT depend on: anyone else.

How about this scenario: how about women stop being smug asses to each other and realize that all of us have different ways of reaching our potential and that the greatest thing we have is: CHOICE.

You will never hear me say that a woman can’t meet her greatest potential and meaning by being a stay at home mother.

Being a woman who chooses both a career and a family is the hardest choice of all, in my opinion, and regardless of the choices I personally would make, I respect any woman who can make having both work.

Lastly (and maybe most importantly of all), you will never hear me suggest that the life of a woman requires either a man or a child to make it meaningful, productive, beautiful, fulfilling, or complete.