Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On Being a Martha

It happened again - I sat through another sermon on the importance of being less like Martha and more like Mary. I cannot remember how many of them I have heard in my life, but I know my reaction the minute I hear the lesson for the day being read. I brace myself. I glance around to see who is thinking, 'hmm, there she is, that ‘Martha’, I hope SHE is listening’. Okay, most of the time it was my own father, the man who named me (and joked about giving me the middle name Martha as well, to better match the way Jesus addressed the Martha of the Bible).
Now, I know that they are not talking about me specifically, but addressing a general attitude that is prevalent in our society. I get it. But think about this - how many other sermons are there where the pastor is up in the pulpit talking down about a person with a name that could be someone sitting next to you? Herod? Haven’t heard that one in a while. Pontius Pilate, nope. Jezebel? Not lately. Okay, there may be a few, but clearly this one speaks to me.
Martha was Jesus’ friend, right? So why the criticism of her? Was Mary really that much better? I mean, wouldn’t Mary and Jesus have gone hungry had it not been for Martha? And would Jesus have really wanted to visit them again if she did not take such good care of her home? I know a few Mary’s and yes, it is good to be a Mary every once in a while. I think my next chance to be a Mary will come when Evie goes off to college. T minus 16 or 17 years.
Was Mary herself even always a Mary? I wonder if her sister would have been living with her if that was how she was every day?
The problem for me is that I am incapable of saying ‘no’. I’m guessing that was her problem too. “Hey, Martha, go fix some dinner for us, will you? Jesus is coming to visit!” “Sure, no problem Mary!” “Hey, Martha can you help me with this?” “Of course!” Didn’t Jesus himself act like a Martha most of the time? Sure there were times when he said, "okay now we are going to take a break and pray" but most of the time he was walking hither and yon and helping everyone he could.
So let’s hear it for the Marthas out there who get it done and get it done right, the Marthas who work without stopping and never turn down a plea for help.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

25 Things I Know Now as a Parent

1. It is worth every sacrifice to spend as much time as I can with my babies - childhood goes by too fast.

2. Water, bubbles and giggles are three things you can never have too much of.

3. Letting them learn from their own mistakes can be hard and sometimes painful but the empowerment they gain in the end is worth it.

4. TV is not necessary.

5. I will never be done 'cleaning up'.

6. We don’t sleep alone in a bed with no covers, so why should they?

7. If I would not eat it, I will not feed it to my child (think pureed dinners in a jar).

8. No matter what the studies say, sugar makes children become little demons.

9. BUT - sometimes a lollipop IS the best way to buy yourself a little time.

10. Just because it worked for you does not mean it will work for me.

11. Buying shoes on sale and guessing on the size they will need in 6 months or a year will always backfire. If you do, buy big and then at least they will work a year later. Maybe.

12. Take pictures, lots of pictures!

13. It is SO not about you anymore.

14. We all do the best we can with what we have.

15. All those milestones you can’t wait to reach will come - being anxious will only make it seem longer and distract you from the present.

16. You know that toy that they ‘just have to have’? If you wait a week or two they probably won’t want it anymore.

17. It is always worth finding good quality shoes.

18. It is SO hard to hear the worst qualities of yourself come out of your children (picture the eldest exasperatingly shouting at her brother, “not like THAT!”) Oops!

19. Every day is a new day to try again to be that really awesome parent you intended to be yesterday.

20. Eventually you will have a day when you think, “I did good”. And you did.

21. Deep breaths can save a lot of trouble.

22. Take advantage of the “I DO IT MYSELF!” phase and let them learn to do it for themselves, whatever ‘it’ is.

23. There is nothing that will bring tears to your eyes like the gushing compliments from an elderly stranger, telling you how wonderful your children are.

24. Breastmilk really is a miracle cure.

25. When they wrap their little arms around your neck and say “I Wuv Oo, Mommy” you know you would go to the ends of the earth and back for them.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Hot topic, I know.

I recently had a student stop coming to my Bradley Natural Childbirth classes. I was not sure why until she started emailing me with long rants about how she ‘just could not understand how someone would go to the trouble of having a natural birth only to then pump her kids full of unnatural stuff (vaccines)’. REALLY? REALLY? You quit coming to a class that is here to teach you how to conduct yourself in labor to achieve your goal of a natural birth because you disagree with the instructors stance on vaccinations? Wow.

She thinks I am a hypocrite. But aren’t we all at some point? And does this really make me a hypocrite? Am I so upset about this because I do still question whether I did the right thing by my kids?? Possibly.

Vaccines are a very tricky thing because there are those who have been fully vaccinated and are totally fine (two of mine did fine with the regular regimen). Then there are those who have had horrible experiences that I could never deny were not at least contributed to by the vaccines themselves. There is a LOT of science to support both sides. Everyone is passionate about their stance. I’m passionately in the middle and respect those on both sides.

I have lived in a third world country and seen (and had) some pretty nasty diseases. I know a vaccine for malaria would save millions of babies and children every year around the world. I know some wonderful people who work in the medical field and refuse to deem the medical establishment as the devil that those opposed to vaccines view them to be. I owe the medical establishment a huge debt of gratitude for giving me my baby sister who otherwise would not have survived her first year.

But then there is the pharmaceutical industry. Individually I’m sure they are in it to help people but then as a large corporation there seems to be more than a reasonable amount of greed. Could that be driving the push for vaccines? To an extent, sure.

There is the argument that the rate of most diseases we vaccinate for dropped significantly before the vaccines were introduced because of the improvements in sanitation and hygiene. I buy that. Women stopped dying following childbirth when doctors realized they needed to wash their hands in between patients. But cleanliness alone was not enough to eradicate many diseases.

I like Dr. Sears’ take on vaccinations because he does not throw it all out the window as a vast and evil conspiracy. He evaluates each vaccines with it’s pros and cons and gives an alternate schedule for vaccinating children that is easier on their little bodies (after all who has not witnessed a poor little groggy babe following routine vaccinations?). This schedule has worked very well for Evie. My doctor is on board with this schedule 100% and completely agrees that some vaccines seem to be less necessary these days. Which is not to say that I will skip many of them as I do feel a sense of social responsibility as well - I don’t want to be the one whose kid starts a measles outbreak (but don’t get me started on what is behind the drug companies’ discontinuation of the separate MMR).

You can read all you want to support your own beliefs (it’s called confirmation bias) and say that you are more educated on the topic than I am. I did not go to medical school so I won’t pretend to know more than my doctor but I will educate myself in a balanced way so that I can feel empowered in my decisions.

We all do the best we can with what we have. That is the job of parenting.