Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Importance of Honesty in Mixed Faith Relationships

All told Andy and I have been together in some form or fashion for twelve or thirteen years. We met in college, started dating about a year after that and things quickly progressed once we were dating. So here we are now, 8 years of marriage, two kids, a cat and a dog. And most days the fact that we’re also a mixed faith couple doesn’t come in to play. We’re too busy living life to notice. But other times it does.

If you’ve met someone who has different religious belief than you do and want to pursue a relationship with them, let me share with you what would have made this journey a helluva lot easier. Honesty. Even if it’s difficult, even if it hurts, even if it may mean ending the relationship. Be honest. Because while there are a lot of good things in our relationship, it could all come crashing down because of the dishonesty that was sown at the beginning of it.

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Wake Me Up When September Ends

This has been a frustrating month.

I made several big decisions, and life seems o be enjoying sending every obstacle in my path, as if testing me and asking if I really do want to continue on that path. Take the genetic testing for Buddy. I called the place that does genetic testing, and they told me I’d need a referral from his pediatrician. So I call his office and they tell me to just walk into the clinic and get it done.

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Why We Need Planned Parenthood

“Do you know where I can get cheaper birth control pills?” she asked. “I can’t afford them at the local clinic.”

“Have you tried applying for Medicaid?” I asked. As I live in Texas, and our governor in his infinite idiocy refused the Medicaid expansions. So if this young woman lived in another state she would likely have access to Medicaid and free birth control. As she lived in Texas, though, this was not a guarantee.

“I tried, I was rejected.”

The nearest Planned Parenthood is over an hour away, a prohibitive distance for a lot of my clients. I explained this to her and she asked about the local crisis pregnancy center. I explained they do not provide medical services such as prescriptions for birth control. What I didn’t say was that the only thing they do is employ scare and shame tactics to sway women away from abortion.

I felt the frustration and anger I’ve been feeling all year. Earlier in the year I had several clients become pregnant at the same time (we joked about there being something in the water). All of them had wanted tubals after having their last child, but were refused for reasons that weren’t explained to them, even though one of them had five children. And though they had attempted to take care of their reproductive health, they were labeled irresponsible for getting pregnant. Even though none of them had planned their pregnancies they accepted them, even as they worried about supporting another child.

Usually a woman can get on pregnancy Medicaid quickly. At the time this happened the system was overwhelmed, and it took several months for them to get on Medicaid. A month is a long time when you’re pregnant. One, due to bureaucratic errors, had an even longer wait. Worse, she was starting to suspect something was wrong with the pregnancy. She looked ill, with a greyish tint to her skin. She was worried about gestational diabetes, something she nearly developed in a previous pregnancy.

But her Medicaid was delayed. And she lived too far away from Planned Parenthood to go in for a check up. The crisis pregnancy center couldn’t help her. She waited and waited, looking more and more ill each time I saw her. Her life, and the well being of her fetus was at risk because she could not get to a Planned Parenthood!

How in the hell is this pro-life?

Planned Parenthood provides a vital service for the community. The clients I see are impoverished. They qualify for foodstamps and other assistance. In the three years I have worked here I have NEVER seen a client have kids for the benefits. Like the group of clients I had at the beginning of the year most try to avoid becoming pregnant again, but due to a lack of access to reproductive healthcare, are unable to.

What I see is women wanting to get on birth control but being unable to afford it.

What I see is women having reproductive health crises and being unable to afford care for it.

What I see is women who are pregnant and unable to afford to see a doctor.

Texas is not expanding Medicaid. Planned Parenthood is under attack and there is nothing to support it in its absence. Where I work women do not have reliable access to reproductive heath care. And I see the harm of it. Every day.

End of Life Musings

It was November. Buddy’s birthday was approaching. I was midway through my pregnancy with Sissy and the big gender reveal ultrasound was scheduled for the next day. I wasn’t feeling too good. In addition to being pregnant I had some sort of respiratory infection. And I got a call about my maternal grandmother. She wasn’t doing too well. She would need surgery and there was a good chance she wouldn’t survive.

It wasn’t a big shock. She’s in her 80s. She’s been on a downward spiral for a long time. Dementia, strokes, and now a fall that shocked her weakened body. Besides, I’d been lucky to get into my 30s with all four grandparents alive. I told myself this was bound to happen eventually.

I took a day off work and drove up to the hospital. When I walked in my grandma was vibrant. “I’m so sorry I’m not going to live to see Buddy’s birthday.” She said.

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The Ups and Downs of Autism

Today has been easier.

Since Buddy started pre-school, we’ve seen exciting developments in his ability to speak. He’s requesting things well. He’s labeling things. He’ll point and name the cat, then he’ll point and name the dog, and then his baby sister. He’ll narrate what he’ll see characters in books doing. “Wash hands. Brush teeth.” He’ll tell people bye-bye. Sometimes I’ll have a small conversation with him. He’s still not where a kid who is nearly five should be, but it’s progress.

All the same, his behavior has taken a huge backslide. He’s been extremely clingy with me, throwing things, and constantly harasses Sissy. It seems if I set her down he runs over to push her. The only way we can get him to stop is to fuss over her. “Oh no, Sissy, someone pushed you! You poor sweetie! Why don’t you walk with Mommy for a bit?”

Seeing Sissy get all of the attention takes the fun away. But this Saturday he really escalated to attempting to bit her. We held firm with giving her the attention, and finally this morning he’s back to being gentle with her.

Autism is baffling. These last three weeks have been so hard because his behavior has backslide so much. Yet there’s the excitement over new words and his improved ability to communicate. But living with him has been so much more difficult.

Hopefully Saturday was the worst of it and things will settle down and improve from here on out. Today he’s even been entertaining himself, playing with some baby dolls and saying “Baby! Baby sleep!”

I Stand With Ahmed

I’m sure most people can remember what it was like to start high school. I remember I was nervous about making friends and fitting in. Considering I’m not very outgoing and rather introverted, this was doubly so. As the nerdy, geeky type, I would often wear “Star Wars” shirts and keep my books out in the open in the hopes that people with similar interests would notice and find me.

Ahmed Mohamed was starting high school. He was wanting to show his teachers what he could do and find a group similar to the robotics club he was in in middle school. Think about this. He was wanting to find encouragement and a group he belonged to. This need and want to fit in is extremely easy to relate to.

Instead he was accused of building a bomb, handcuffed, taken away from school, interrogated and booked. I nearly cried when I saw this picture. This look on his face is heartbreaking.

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Here is a kid who has a wonderful hobby, a hobby he can make a career out of. And instead he was treated like a criminal.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t schools supposed to be a place where teachers encourage creativity and learning? Or, in additional to racial bias, are we so accustomed to teaching to a test that teachers are no longer able to think and instead make outrageous accusations? Think of how this could have been different if this teacher had asked about how he built it, or what the wires do, or tried to understand what he had built rather than assuming it was a bomb. This teacher blew a precious opportunity to encourage a child’s interests.

I am so glad that President Obama, Mark Zuckerburg and others have stepped out to support Ahmed. Hopefully this will counteract any damage that was done. I’ve seen people minimizing this saying that this was “character building” or “people are falsely accused all of the time.” While something good can come out of a bad situation and “build character”, it does not mean it was right or okay for it to happen in the first place! And while people are falsely accused, it does not mean that they were not damaged by the false accusation. As someone who recently was on the receiving end of some false allegations I can personally state it hurts a lot and I have lost a huge amount of trust and am still recovering. I wish everyone who has ever been falsely accused had people rise in support of them like Ahmed did.

Which is why I am adding my voice to those who support Ahmed. Keep inventing, keep pursuing your passions!

Social Inequities

This article about fairness struck a nerve with me. I’m a counselor, and my clientele consists mostly of people who live in extreme poverty. Working with this population is frustrating for many reasons, but by far the biggest challenge is that the system is so stacked against them. As a counselor, I work with the individual, and I have to believe in an individual’s ability to change his or her life. But when I see people constantly being pushed back by a system that does a better job of keeping them in severe poverty than lifting them out of this, this gets challenging.

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