Tag Archives: parenting

Personhood: Just say No to Sex

I appreciate the beliefs of the anti-choice movement, truly I do. Truth is, in 55 years of life I’ve never met a single person who was pro-abortion. Nobody likes it. It’s a terrible option. But sometimes it’s the only option, and just making the decision to go forward with it is hard enough without all the self-righteous brow-beating that’s become associated with it.

That said, I find this Amendment 26 in Mississippi, the so-called “Personhood Amendment,” overly worrisome. My daughter takes birth control for a medical condition. Is this going to become illegal? Will she just have to live with a condition that’s easily treatable, just in case she might have sex someday? It’s insane.

Anything that makes doctors nervous gives me pause, I have to admit. Plus, it’s just going to be a huge lawyerly clusterbomb from the word go: The only people who will benefit from this amendment, born or unborn, will be lawyers billing by the hour to deal with all the lawsuits. In a state that’s already so strapped for budget that it has persistent childhood poverty and is cutting education and human services, what we really, really need is an influx of state, local and federal law suits to gum up the judicial works and churn out money for the lawyers.

If the personhood people want to go after abortion, let them go after it straight-forward. I know how I’d vote on abortion, but I also know that I’m not going to vote yes on an amendment that might see my daughter have a miscarriage someday and be charged with homicide. With all due respect, I think a lot of well-meaning people need to really, honestly read this amendment, and try to see past the “save the unborn” to all it could potentially do to our daughters.

Upon pondering, it occurs to me… If the anti-birth control amendment passes next week, women will still have one line of defense. NO. Just say no. Ever hear of Lysistrata? Get ready, ladies, for one heckuva battle. But just remember… if he hits you, it’s assault. Just say NO to sex.

My New Motto: Say Yes to 26 and Say NO to Sex. With men. Ever.

Let’s see how that freak flag flies.

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Early Encounters with Death

My maternal grandfather died when I was five years old. He was buried on my sixth birthday.

That was my first brush with death, other than the death of my first kitten, Smokey, who was hit by a car and killed about a year before that. I never saw Smokey’s body: My mom or dad took care of getting it out of sight before telling me what had happened. But with Pa, it was different.

I was never a huggy, kissy child, and my Pa was a very huggy, lovey grandpa, or so I was told. I never liked to sit on laps and be cuddled, so even as a small child, Pa and I had reached some sort of standoff, apparently. I’d agree to sit on his lap for a few minutes and suffer through a hug, and that’d be that. Don’t get me wrong: I loved my grandpa. I just didn’t like being held. Never did, not from the start.

So it was all good with us. Everybody enjoyed a laugh about prickly Judy, who didn’t like anybody hugging her, and that was my oddity in a large extended family that seemed to treasure oddity.

When Pa died, of heart failure on an icy December day, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Mostly, I have two memories from that time.

First, Pa was lying down in the living room. I’d never seen Pa lying down before. He was a rugged, rangy Southern dirt farmer, accustomed to hard work and hard play. He always seemed to be moving, even when sitting down. But he just laying there in the living room, inside the oddest bed. Of course now I know it was a coffin, but I didn’t really have any words or experience to account for that. The living room was full, as it almost always was, but everybody was being very quiet. And I remember it was colder than usual, that the living room fire was barely lit, and it was so very cold outside. My adult self reckons that was to hold the body off from decay for a little while, but to my child self it was just another oddity.

The second thing I remember is my mother’s sweater. I spent a lot of that time on her lap (Mama was the only person I’d voluntarily allow to hold me). She was wearing an open sweater (a cardigan) I’d never seen before, soft and solid black. It had small, domed buttons that were pearly gray-white. I sat on her lap for hours, playing with those buttons and keeping an eye on all the comings and goings between the living room and the kitchen, and in and out the front door.

My Pa had a large family – 13 children, probably half of them married and parents by then – and he was known and liked in the small rural community, so there was a lot of foot traffic.

But when push comes to shove, those are the only real memories I have of my first encounter with death: the pearly buttons on my mama’s sweater and the oddity that Pa was lying down in the living room.

Sometimes I think it was a good thing that I had that experience. I’m glad I had the chance to experience death as a natural, organic part of life, not as something that happens shut away in a special building with machinery and mysterious goings-ons. Pa was alive and then he died, and his body lay in rest in his living room, where he had so often sat and laughed and fussed and talked, and it was perfectly right that it should be so.

That was the first and last in-home “lying-in” I ever saw. But I think it might have been healthier than how we do things now.

ETA: Pa died on Dec. 13. He had 13 children at the time, and 13 grandchildren. Family legend says that he had gone out to bring in the family’s 13 head of cattle, and that the temperature had gotten down to 13 degrees the night before. I can neither confirm nor deny any of the legend, but I’ve decided to believe it. It’s a little bit of cool, no?

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Watching the struggle

Few things are as tough as watching your child struggle with something and not being able to help.

The economy has led to her still being unemployed, more than a year past college graduation. She’s had one short-term job, and has been working diligently on trying to make and sell her beautiful one-of-a-kind origami earrings, but this month, for the first time, she wasn’t able to make her car payment. I worry that her self-concept is taking a beating, but she doesn’t want to talk about it.

Right now she’s got a custom job on hold which would help a lot. She’s also got two jobs that she’s short-listed for, but that basically means just… wait.

I want to help, but what can I do? It’s just very frustrating.

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