Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

31 October 2007

Happy Samhain

I had planned on writing up a big old post on being a Goddess worshiper and Halloween in response to Pickel's post a few days ago about the Wiccan who lives down her street. But why should you read my piddley post when I can point you to my High Priestess, Starhawk? In reality, I just love her and she wouldn't know me on the street. Considering that I'm not in a coven or anything, I'm a pretty lame pagan to boot. But read Starhawk's piece on this New Year's:

Ghosts and goblins, witches on broomsticks, pumpkins, candy and spiderwebs…it’s that time of year again. Halloween—probably every child’s favorite holiday, combining the irresistible attractions of dressing up in costume and eating candy.

But there’s a deeper spiritual meaning that underlies the holiday for Pagans and real Witches—those who follow earth-based Goddess traditions that predate Christianity. As we (in the northern hemisphere) move into the time of cold and the dark of winter, we celebrate our New Year, and honor both death and regeneration.

I'm still working on accepting the whole life cycle thing in regards to death, but I'm getting there.

Technorati tags: Samhain, Halloween, Starhawk, pagan, wiccan, witchcraft

29 October 2007

Gifted School visit

Last week my partner in crime went to an Open House for Gifted School A. He's a mighty tough customer, so when the principal didn't introduce themselves off the bat, the school took a hit. In the end, he stayed way past the publicized end time to take in all the school had to offer.

The problem with gifted schools is that there aren't too many of them. This one is neither close to home or work. But in the end, I think it will be ok. The commute will change...Mostly that my partner won't be driving with us, but rather relying on the mess that is public trans in Chicago. Which next week is losing transit and authority.

OK, grumpy old lady moment...BUT when I was a kid, we had gifted programs integrated into our neighborhood schools. Are there that few gifted kids in Chicago that we need to house them in separate quarters? Are saving that much money? Are we pushing them that hard?

Now to visit the other 2 gifted/Classical schools on our preferred list so we can rank them on our daughter's application. Then we can mail it in, and then she can get tested.

Next up? Getting all the magnet school applications in order!

Technorati tags: CPS, kindergarten, school, Chicago Public Schools, education

25 October 2007

Retirement

Word on the street is that Denny Hastert will retire from his seat BEFORE his term ends.

Let me propose a new law right here. If you retire before your term ends and it triggers a special election, as Denny's action would do, YOU must pay for the special election.

Seriously, I get it how you don't want to watch someone in your job, especially a girl. But he ran, he won his election and buddy, you need to stay put. Especially when it'll cost the taxpayers to find a replacement. Add in the cost of candidates running a campaign in early 2008 and then again in November.

And yes, I have thought the same thing before when Dems step aside.

Of course, if you're very sick and need to retire, that's fine. But just to retire, nope...not...cool.

24 October 2007

For Melanie

When Melanie Stokes become pregnant, she seemed to have everything in place. She was a successful pharmaceutical sales manager happily married to a physician. She had a supportive family and her share of brains and beauty. She was a radiant pregnant woman, eager to meet the child inside of her and to begin her new life as a mother.

On February 23, 2001, Sommer Skyy was born, beautiful and healthy. When Sommer was only a month old, Melanie's depression had grown so severe that she had stopped eating and drinking and could no longer swallow. She began to have paranoid thoughts about others--she thought that her neighbors across the street had all closed their blinds because they thought she was a bad mother. She became gaunt, hallow-eyed, a shell of her former self. Then, she began searching for a way to end her life.


Melanie's was hospitalized three times in seven weeks. She was given four combinations of anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant medications. She also underwent electroconvulsive therapy. Her family rallied around her with all their strength, but in the end, Melanie jumped to her death from the twelfth floor of a Chicago hotel. [link]


Today legislation that bears her name may finally be passed and signed into law to provide funding for research into postpartum depression and create an awareness campaign. The House passed their bill last week. On the Senate side, Senator Menendez & Senator Durbin have introduced the Mothers Act bill. Both would accomplish the same thing except the House bill has an interesting amendment attached to it. It wouldn't just look into postpartum depression
SEC. 104. LONGITUDINAL STUDY OF RELATIVE MENTAL HEALTH CONSEQUENCES FOR WOMEN OF RESOLVING A PREGNANCY.

(a) Sense of Congress- It is the sense of Congress that the Director of the Institute may conduct a nationally representative longitudinal study (during the period of fiscal years 2008 through 2018) of the relative mental health consequences for women of resolving a pregnancy (intended and unintended) in various ways, including carrying the pregnancy to term and parenting the child, carrying the pregnancy to term and placing the child for adoption, miscarriage, and having an abortion. This study may assess the incidence, timing, magnitude, and duration of the immediate and long-term mental health consequences (positive or negative) of these pregnancy outcomes.
When I first heard that this amendment was attached, I hit the roof & flew off the handle. I am just sick and tired of the anti's attaching anti-abortion language to anything that moves. Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), who opposes abortion rights, said that although postpartum depression is a serious disease, it is "just as important to know the effects of adoption, miscarriage and abortion in order to properly help women" (Abrams, AP/Google.com, 10/15). I personally think they will end up being shot in the foot by this amendment.

Post-abortion syndrome has been shown in an APA study to be very rare. This is years after Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, despite his own feelings & a lot of political pressure, stood his ground and said there was no evidence that abortion was a risk to women's health. While I am still upset that money will be wasted on studying something that I think is already known, perhaps one more study will shut them up. Oh, wait, I forget, we're dealing with people who still cling to the idea that abortion gives you breast cancer despite study after study.

But I think the most damning report may come out of the adoption study. I personally support adoption and think it is one of the most courageous things a woman can do. BUT...if a woman desperately does not want to carry a pregnancy to term, I think that may cause more psychological damage. And there goes the anti's mantra of "Don't abort, adopt!" If the woman wants to carry to term and relinquish their child to another family, great. But if being pregnant makes a woman crazy, let's not force her. I firmly believe there are situations where abortion is better than adoption.

PSI: Blog Day for the Mothers ActThe silver lining? Perhaps we will have a better understanding as a society of how to treat & heal women who miscarry.

In the end, I hope that every single dollar goes towards solid science and an awesome PR campaign. I can't wait to see what comes of it.

To take action on the Mothers Act bill, click here.

This post was in support of BlogHers Act: Blog Day for the MothersAct

Cross-posted at Chicago Moms Blog.

Technorati tags: Blogher, BlogHers Act, depression, postpartum, Melanie Stokes, abortion, miscarriage, adoption

23 October 2007

Mommy Bloggers on Dumbledore

A few of my fellow Chicago Moms Bloggers were quoted in a story on Dumbledore's outing. We'll discuss the ethics of outing later. *wink*


Robin Moyher, who writes for the Chicago Mom's Blog, said that her son was not at all upset about the wizard's sexuality.

"So what? It's a fact of life," Moyher's 9-year-old son said upon hearing the news.


Love it!

"I think my kids would find it more captivating to discuss a character's magical power than a character being gay," said Devra Renner, author of "Mommy Guilt" and a contributor to the Chicago Mom's Blog. "Being gay isn't much of a mystery to my kids, as we've had ongoing discussions about families, those with two parents, one parent, adopted, etc. My kids know gay people. Magical people? Not so much."

Yes, my most favorite line is in bold.


Meredith Sinclair, who said that her 10-year-old is "obsessed" with the series, said she was not happy that Rowling has essentially forced her to talk to her son about sexuality.

"It has nothing to do with the feelings about being gay, or homophobia, or whether I accept it or not," said Sinclair, another contributor to the Chicago Mom's Blog. "What I'm upset about is that I feel like this author has such power ... and she's using that power to force parents to talk to their kids about [homosexuality] before they're really ready."

"It's kind of like the sex talk — I want the control to talk about it when I'm ready, and when my son's ready," said Sinclair, who explained that she and her husband would likely have a sit-down talk with their son so that he won't get misinformed by friends at school.


I adore Meredith, really. But I'm not in agreement. The more out gay & lesbian people are, the earlier we need to address it to our kids. Then again, my daughter has one super cute gay couple in her life. She sees them no different than the hetero-couples in our lives. She does know that they can't have a baby...Thanks Tango. But she knows they love each other. And isn't that all they need to know? Well at 4 anyway. I'm sure her 10yo already has some idea about being gay as it is thrown around playgrounds all the time. Hopefully Meredith has a good conversation with him about it all.

Technorati tags: gay, Dumbledore, Harry Potter, Mommy Blogs

21 October 2007

The hunt is on

When I was a kid, my elementary school held an annual Kindergarten Round-Up. It was essentially the school's way of hunting out kids who were old enough for kindergarten and get their parents to register them. Now I'm an adult, a parent, and I'm the one trying to round-up schools for my daughter to attend.

For those not in Chicago or with school-aged kids in Chicago, let me tell you what the deal is. We have this thing called "school choice" and here are the choices:

A) Send child to neighborhood school (ours is currently over crowded)

B) Apply for & pray to get into one of the following:
.....1) Magnet school: Admission is by a lottery. You have a higher chance if you live near-by, but there's no guarantee
....2) Gifted school: Admission is by testing. Tests how much potential the child has. Do they think out of the box?
....3) Classical school: Admission is by testing. Tests how much the child knows now. Are they reading? They could get in!
....NOTE: Even if you test as gifted/Classical, there is no guarantee because there aren't enough seats each year. So it's not how well you test, but how well your peers test.

C) Apply for a non-CPS school (private, independent, religious)

D) Home school: And you know I'm not doing that! It's nothing against home schoolers, I know some awesome radical feminist mamas doing a great job. I just wouldn't have what it takes.


Thus we have decided to dive into all options under B (yes, our daughter will be tested TWICE) and one application to an independent school. No, I'm not saying! Are you crazy?

So stay tuned and watch how a mama with a master's degree & a papa with a college education get totally confused by the simple idea of signing up our daughter for pre-school.

Technorati tags: CPS, kindergarten, school, Chicago Public Schools, education

17 October 2007

7 Things

Marcie tagged me for the 7 Things You Don't Know About Me meme, so here I go!

First, it might seem strange to some that I'm being tagged by a woman who is an adoptive mom. Don't adoption & abortion go against each other? Nope. Being a reproductive justice activist (IOW very pro-choice), I firmly believe in adoption. But the decision is up to each woman. Marcie knows it better than I, as she is involved in the adoption community more than me, that choice plays a huge part in adoption. "I know there are children out there who suffer way too much because their birth mothers did not treat their bodies well during pregnancy." Can we really believe that a woman forced to carry a pregnancy to term would do her best to care for her body? Marcie also asks, "I understand that it is a personal decision that has nothing to do with adoption…or does it have everything to do with adoption?" And of course, I think it has everything to do with adoption. Planned Parenthood Chicago Area has a great relationship with the Cradle.

Two: This type of meme is pretty hard for me since I've been pretty open in my blogging past.

Three: My partner & I are doing an excellent job at training our daughter to love 80s music. Since we play it a lot, she knows the words. Today we sang a duet of Wham! while I was making dinner.

Four: I have counter protested anti-choicers when I was 8 months pregnant. They really didn't like that.

Five: I had planned to go to every 'crisis pregnancy clinic' in Chicago when I first got pregnant so I could listen to all their lies & collect tiny fetus dolls. Alas, I was talked out of it by my partner.

Six: I thought about selling my eggs in college then realized that I wouldn't get top dollar for them because I'm not white, blue-eyed, or blonde. If I can't get top dollar, then you ain't getting 'em.

Seven: I admire adoptive & first parents sooooo much! I don't believe that I have the courage to not raise a child I carried. Yes, I'd rather abort. Selfish? Yes. Sane? Perhaps. I've read a bit about first mothers who can't go forward with life and get stuck mentally. That said, I really admire how adoptive parents juggle all the challenges with their child as well with the rest of society. (Where did you get him? But you're white and she's black!) As for us adopting...we've talked about it. But I believe that we're good with just one child. Thankfully with adoption, there isn't much of a biological clock!

There, you now know a bit more about me.

Technorati tags: 7 Things

08 October 2007

My Q&A With Elizabeth Edwards

It's taken me almost two weeks since the Chicago/SV/DC Moms met with Elizabeth Edwards. Yes, I've been that busy that I'm just now getting around to blogging my thoughts.

Unfortunately because I was busy that Saturday, I couldn't be on the conference call, I sent in a question. And guess what?! She answered it.

Next question came from Veronica (sent earlier, not present on call) who is concerned about issues for women in science in technology. She's asking what Elizabeth's husband's policies will do for students. Elizabeth talked about education for a while. The long term plan, she says, is to establish things like schools of science and math. North Carolina has one that she used as an example, but she says many talented students don't get in there. "Each state should have those options," Elizabeth said. She also said her daughter, Cate, a "math genius", was told "women can't do math" when she was a student. That needs to change. She added: "In India and China, they are producing 10x the number of engineers that we are producing."
---

Women in Science and Technology:

Incentive program that offers $15,000 per year for disadvantaged and those specializing in science and math.

My daughter participated in a mentoring program for identified women in science and math. Part of the reason that she is not in math today is because the mentoring program was too short.

We would establish programs like the schools of science and math. Each state should have those options and have enough of them so we are encouraging people into science and technology , especially women and people of color that may not get the right messages. We reach out to the people that would not otherwise get the message that they should participate. In India, they are producing 10X the number of engineers we are. We need to compete, or else we would loose our edge we have over other countries.

You can read all the live blogging here and here. Yeah, I'm pretty jazzed that EE answered my question. Hopefully I'll be able to ask her more questions, this time in person, when she gets to Chicago. And yes, I do think it's pretty damn awesome that a potential First Spouse is making time for the mommy bloggers. EE found that we're all not the same, we have our minds on much more than just "mommy topics" and our votes are very valuable. Come on, Bill...drop me a line! I swear I'll bring the potato chips.


Technorati tags: Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards, politcs, feminism, science education

04 October 2007

Free Burma


Free Burma!

03 October 2007

The Politics of Motherhood

Yesterday was an amazing day.

I was witness to the opening of a new Planned Parenthood clinic in Aurora. It wasn't so much that the clinic opened despite the desperate grasping of straws by the anti-choice community (they still are with two lawsuits that have no merit, in my eyes). It was the number of moms who showed up with their children.

The woman in the photo is a mom who brought her 5 1/2 year old daughter to the clinic. She explained it to her by saying that they were going to a party...with yelling. She's talking to a reporter about why she came out and why she brought her daughter. Bottomline, we were there for the same reason. We want to ensure a future where our daughters will have full control over their reproductive choices. Have a baby? Not have a baby? Wait? They will answer those questions. As the chant goes, not the church and not the state, they will decide their fate.

It's not even just about abortion for me thou. It's about our society recognizing that women's reproductive health is important. From birth control prices skyrocketing on college campuses to insurance companies labeling one woman's (doubt she's the only one!) miscarriage (aka spontaneous abortion) as an elective abortion and refusing to cover it. Can you even IMAGINE having a miscarriage and then your insurance company telling you that you had an abortion? At midnight? In the ER? F*** that!

This inability to take women's reproductive health care seriously bleeds into our birthing options. C-sections are on the rise and not just because we are too posh to push. Some insurance companies will push for a C-section in light of high malpractice rates/stats for certain patients. Then if you do have a C-section, deciding that you want to have a VBAC may be out of your hands.

All of this has to stop. My uterus, your uterus, and our daughters' deserve it.

X-posted at Chicago Moms Blog on Health Care Thursday.


Technorati tags: abortion, Planned Parenthood, feminism, motherhood, Aurora, health care