Sunday, April 24, 2016

I resolve (about four months late) to finally publish and own my New Year's resolution

I resolve to feel less guilty about everything. I grew up surrounded by Catholic guilt. Catholic guilt has nothing on "mommies trying to be everything to everyone" guilt. And yes this resolution is now getting published months late, but I will not apologize for that. See, I'm sticking to my decision.

In the past year-plus, I've read a crap ton of mommy blogs and articles. A lot are awesome. A bunch are funny. Some make me feel awful. I read it and then I read the comments and then I feel like I cannot speak without offending someone. They touch on everything: things you shouldn't say to someone who is overweight, underweight, pregnant, married, single, the mom of twins, the mom of six kids, the mom of adopted kids, the woman who has no children. I'm exhausted. I've learned to keep my pie hole shut. And that makes me sad. So I've resolved to speak and think with good intentions and also not feel bad about choices I'm making in life. I'm going to own what I'm doing, how I'm living and I'm going to support others doing the same.

I remember reading an article about why you shouldn't ask someone if they're having children or if they would like to have more children. I thought, oh shoot, I've asked that. I'm a bad person. But I'm not. I didn't ask it to pry or bring up painful issues in their lives. I asked it because I was curious, interested and because I care. I also knew that if that person said she didn't want to talk about it, I would respect it. Heck, if she said, I feel uncomfortable about that issue, I would understand.

I lost my father to cancer when I was 23. I can't imagine someone asking questions about my father and then being offended and thinking they should know it's a tough topic for me. That's not how we connect to people and understand them and become better people. I remember one of the best things a friend said to me after my dad died was, "I didn't call right away because I had no idea what to say." Honesty. Loved it. It was real.

I've also spent too much of my life looking through the world in passive-aggressive colored sunglasses. Someone will ask, "oh your son has a cough" and I immediately whine to my husband, "they think I should take him to the doctor" "why are they questioning how I parent." Then I feel guilty about being a bad parent. But maybe instead of getting ticked off, I should have said, "you seem to have experience in this department, is there anything you think I should do?" That's if I respect their opinion. If I don't I should "yes."

Let's face it, I'm not just doing it to be a better person, I'm doing it to save some time. 2015 flew by. Too many minutes got wasted on feeling guilty. And maybe if I stopped feeling guilty about not working out, I could actually spend time working out.

"Make Safe Happen"

My Facebook feed seemed to quickly go from a series of drunken young people to those very same people sporting a few gray hairs while cradling their newborn children to now a place where I can get stuck for hours on scary, negative news stories.

As a person who works in television news, I understand when people say, "I don't watch the news there are too many bad things on TV." Sometimes there are. I also believe most stations have gotten the collective memo on this and are going in a direction that blends positive community stories with the hard news of the day. But that's a bit of a tangent on local news.

Don't get me wrong, there are fun blogs, celebrity gossip and adorable pictures mixed into my feed. (I also understand Facebook is crazy smart, and I likely have more news stories because I click on them. Well played, Facebook.)

Today as I scrolled through I read about a shooting after prom in Antigo, Wisconsin. I used to work in Wausau, WI and Antigo was in our coverage area so I have friends posting about this. Awful. Just awful. Kids can't go to prom anymore?

Then I read about three children dying after IKEA furniture toppled on them. The posts explained how you should anchor furniture to the wall to keep your family safe. I need to do what? I started looking around. There are a lot of things that could fall on Jack. This situation and task seem equal parts petrifying and daunting.

Yesterday, we were at an event and there was a bounce house. My husband looked at me and said, I'm sure you won't let Jack in there. (I wouldn't because he's too little and the big kids had taken over.) But he was actually referencing a fear I shared with him after reading a story about bounce houses taking flight on windy days and children dying.

But here's the truth. My child will go to Prom (assuming he wants to). I will take a look at our less sturdy furniture and see if it needs to be removed. I will also make sure to teach him that drawers aren't steps/ladders and furniture is not a toy. But I probably won't anchor everything.

And Jack someday will go in a bounce house. Probably countless bounce houses.

A friend recently asked me how I handle it. How I handle being a parent while working in news. I know all the obscure, bad things that can happen. I told her, I handle it by trying to learn a lesson from everything but not allowing it to paralyze me. In this world where information is now at all of our fingertips, I felt compelled to share this with all of you. Having a feed of negative, frightening facts is not likely something you're used to. Here's my simple gauge. We've heard it before but one of the most dangerous things we can do is get in a car. I want to live a life where I experience the world. Therefore, I plan to get into a car almost everyday. Which means I have to be willing to do the other things too.

The title of this blog is "make safe happen" because it is a quote a grieving mother once told me. She had lost her 1-year-old son in a terribly tragic way. I talked to her and her husband about whether it's difficult to continue on without letting fear control everything for their other children. She told me her message, "make safe happen." That has always stuck with me. We can't control everything. As parents we want to. We can't. But we can learn, adapt, be smart and allow ourselves to live. And maybe start clicking on more positive stories to trick the Facebook gods into seeing we don't need so much scary stuff all the time.

(I didn't want to bog down the post with depressing news articles about the topics referenced above, but if you would like to learn more, I've linked info below.)

Antigo Prom Shooting
IKEA furniture deaths
Bouncy house problems
Safe at Sleep: story about dangers of sleeping in car seats

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Say what?!? Did the CDC just say "scarier"?

I work in local media. I have heard the complaints that we dramatize or sensationalize things, that we create pandemonium over a snowstorm, a potential new virus or a bed bug outbreak. At times I agree these criticisms are warranted, but for the most part, I understand that sometimes news is, in part, defined by that which is out of the ordinary. Therefore it may seem like a media outlet is creating much ado about nothing when they are alerting you to something unusual and interesting.

That said. This isn't the media. This is the CDC talking about Zika: "Scarier than we initially thought." Excuse me! My husband is constantly telling me I need to relax with stuff like this. And then the CDC goes and says something like this. This woman of a child-bearing age is a bit freaked out. 

My news roots do allow me to relax for a moment and find some facts. I figured if I'm going to start looking up information, I might as well share what I consider most interesting for women like me who plan to someday add to their family or who are pregnant now. 

First of all, you've likely seen the video. It is heart-breaking to see small babies with microcephaly. They're born with abnormally small heads and often have other issues because of it. Areas where Zika are present have seen an unusual increase in the cases of microcephaly which prompted health officials to believe there was a link between the virus and the condition. There had been debate, discussion and theories that perhaps something else was responsible for the microcephaly. Today, the CDC said Zika is confirmed as a cause of microcephaly.

At this point, there have not been any cases of a mosquito in the United States infecting a person here with Zika virus. People in the United States have gotten it, but it's believed they got it while in a country where Zika is present. Feel free to check this information for yourself. There is a graph at the bottom of this link. It's also known that Zika can be sexually transmitted.

Okay. You're thinking, "It's not in my stateside American bubble. No big deal." BUT...that's the issue. The CDC now says, "Zika may spread through mosquito bites in some states later this spring and summer." The agency specifically points to Florida, Hawaii, and Texas, but says it could spread to other states as well.

The other element that caused concern in me was the new state map. Zika has been found in a certain mosquito, and it's believed a couple kinds of mosquitoes could carry it. The CDC originally said there are 12 states where the mosquitoes that could potentially carry Zika are present. They have upped that to 30. Below is a picture of that map. You can find the map here too

Maybe the CDC is saying it's scarier because they just want people to be aware. Maybe they're hoping it generates the funding they have been requesting. Maybe they are genuinely concerned about an outbreak in the United States. It's hard to know the exact motivation, but I believe knowledge is power, so I thought I'd share. I also understand that you may have a gazillion more questions. I recommend checking out the CDC web site and surfing around it. They have a lot of resources including recommended travel restrictions which I didn't get into at all. (I'm not planning on going anywhere, and if my husband decides to shack up with someone who recently traveled to one of those places, we have issues beyond Zika.) 

And bottom line, a word of advice from my husband, try to relax about it. He's right. He just reminded me I was hesitant about us swimming in Minnesota lakes last year because of a brain-eating amoeba which turned out to be something else (although the brain-eating amoeba does actually exist too). It's important to be smart, but I think a lot of us have the tendency to get more freaked out about things than we need to. So fellow mamas out there, let's take a deep, cleansing breath together.