Mommy Madness

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I’ve never shot a handgun before. This year, my husband bought one with his Christmas money. He brought it home last night and was eager to go out and shoot some cans with it. We live outside of town, so he headed out to the backyard.

I’ve always loved a good adventure, so when he offered to teach me to shoot it, I agreed. I shot probably five times just to try it. When we returned to the house, both of us realized that might not have been the best idea.

See, I’m pregnant. Almost 24 weeks along. We just found out it’s a boy.

Now, I inwardly shake my head at parents who follow their kids across the playground like they’re made of porcelain. Just let them be kids. And kids sometimes skin their knees. You can’t always be there to protect them, so teach them how to handle life’s bumps and bruises. Easy, right?

Not so easy when it’s your kid. I went into protective mother mode (i.e. high alert) and did research online to find–unsurprisingly–mixed opinions about the safety of shooting a gun while pregnant. Of course, the general consensus was to avoid it as a precaution since we still don’t know about all of the effects it may have on the fetus. Generally, the risk can come from lead exposure and loud noise on developing ears.

Just like that, I became the overprotective mother on the playground. Basically, my whole system went haywire with worry. From five shots in a matter of mere minutes.

I washed the clothes we were wearing, including the gloves I had on. Wearing the gloves had been a lucky fluke. I put them on because it was cold, but they may have protected me from some of the lead exposure. At least that’s how I’m validating it to myself.

I even soaked in Epsom salts the next day. My midwife has cleared me for Epsom soaks as long as I don’t let the water get too hot. And as an extra precaution, I soak for 15 minutes or less using a timer to be sure. It may not have done anything but ease my mind, but in that moment, that’s what I needed.

I have vowed not to target practice again until after the baby comes.

Now, logically, I know this probably wasn’t the best decision, but it happened once and only for a short amount of time. Most of the research cites high levels of lead exposure and continuous loud noise to be the main culprits for safety or developmental issues. I seriously doubt this one time will be detrimental to the baby in the long run. It was stupid and I shouldn’t have been so hasty, but I can’t go back and change it now.

So I guess this is my first real dose of parenthood. All parents make mistakes when raising kids. And our critical society is usually quick to point it out and lay on the guilt trip. But nobody’s perfect.

I didn’t have to admit my mistake to anyone. And I know I could receive backlash about it. It was an early lesson. For one, I need to stop being so hard on myself. I believe good parents do the best they can with what they know and what they have in life. They aren’t perfect, but they are trying to do the best thing for their kids. Even if someone else doesn’t think it’s the best thing. There are too many opinions out there. You’ve just got to trust yourself and your instincts and do what you believe is right.

Secondly, it’s easy to judge when you’re not the one in the hot seat. We should all learn to stop being so critical of how someone else is living their life. And on the other end of that, we also must learn to work through and past the criticism we may receive for our decisions and our mistakes. Even if that means powering through it while covering our ears.

So here’s to starting out 2017 with a dose of forgiveness towards ourselves and giving other people permission to live their lives and make their own decisions without our judgment. After all, we’ve all got enough of our own lives to live without dictating someone else’s.

Have a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year everyone! Be good and gracious to yourselves!

 

 

Photo credit: AlicePopkorn via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

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Working for the Weekend

Perhaps it’s just my age. Maybe I feel a little jaded from the bad luck I’ve had trying to build a career. Either way, I see things much clearer than I once did. There’s a very twisted mentality towards work here in America.

There are some in society who believe that you aren’t working if you aren’t bleeding. They believe that we must work ourselves in a hole with no breaks, no crying, no distractions, and most importantly, no enjoyment (This is work after all).

I know work is a part of life, but that doesn’t mean it should consume our lives. And it’s okay to laugh and enjoy it. I’ve worked for too many companies where laughter is forbidden. But studies prove that this “crack the whip” mentality at work is ineffective compared to the simplicity of letting employees take a break or have some enjoyment in their work.

Check out this study about taking regular breaks at work. Or for less jargon, read this article from The New York Times that references it. This study says that people who take regular breaks are actually more efficient in their work. Without breaks, we become stressed out and less effective while we work.

There are also countless articles like this one that talk about the small amount of vacation days that Americans actually use. We end up sick, stressed, and overworked despite the vacation time that we are given. Don’t even get me started on how far behind we are in the amount of vacation days Americans are given compared to other developed countries.

August was such a crazy time at my job. My boss has been on a three-month leave, so I’m doing half of her job in addition to my full-time job during our busiest time of year. Unfortunately, the lady doing the other half of my boss’ job has the “crack the whip” mentality. There were others that agreed with her, so I was outvoted in taking any sort of break.

We were paid to eat lunch, so we were expected to cram our food and get back to it immediately. I would rather have clocked out and been allowed to catch my breath for just a few minutes. And those legal 15 minute breaks that are supposed to be included in your workday here in America? I haven’t worked a job yet that included them (in my 15 years in the workforce). It isn’t about to start now.

At the end of the terrible storm that was August, we had more corrections than I’ve ever had to deal with. So many mistakes were made. Most of those mistakes could have been prevented if we weren’t so overworked and frantic. Most were simply a matter of paying attention, but we were too tired to catch it. We spent a significant amount of overtime dealing with these mistakes in the aftermath. It cost us our sanity and our employer the overtime.

Had we been given the breaks we should have been given (both legally and ethically), much of this could have been avoided. I wouldn’t have had to dedicate my entire month to work. I came home, showered, and was too tired to do anything, even the things I enjoy. I went to bed early every night because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Every morning, I would cringe and sigh as I lay in bed. My life had been consumed by work without my permission.

Now, I’m not against working hard and I’m not saying we should all be lazy. But if you work hard, you should be allowed to play hard. Better balance in our workplace could help both employees and employers. If everyone wins, why do we resist?

I know a LOT of Americans who deny themselves breaks and buy into this mentality. They are shamed otherwise. They’re told that breaks are a sign of laziness. To work hard is to never stop. They are told that hard-workers don’t need breaks. That we can do it all. The way our society has painted “hard work” is slave labor. It’s wrong. I don’t know why we are so keen to destroy ourselves or let someone else destroy us. I’d rather thrive.

Working hard doesn’t mean all those things that “Corporate America” has burned into our brains. We can work smarter instead of longer. And smarter means we all win. Breaks are not evil. Laughter is acceptable at work. We can work AND enjoy it. That will make us better, not worse employees.

My millennial generation has watched companies promise great things to their employees (like pensions, improved wages, etc) and not follow-through. I distrust my employer and the government. Neither will follow-through. The government isn’t going to take care of me in retirement. And when I reach a certain age, my employer may eagerly trade me in for a newer (i.e. younger and cheaper) model. It has happened to people I know.

This whole situation has showed me the bright side of entrepreneurship. I feel braver now. And though starting my own business is a scary concept (my husband and I are still rolling this idea around), it’s starting to seem more inviting. I don’t want to reach retirement just in time to die. I want to have a high quality of life. And I hope work can be a part of that. Too many people have worn out their health from employers who demand that they work as slaves. Instead of enjoying their retirement, they are sick and frail by the time they get there. I’d rather have less money and more health.

Take a well-earned break today. And make a better tomorrow for yourself. One that you deserve.

It would help all of us if we stopped working for the weekend and starting enjoying all aspects of our lives, work included.

Happy Labor Day!

Bad Disease

I am grateful for trustworthy medical practitioners. You’re supposed to be able to talk to your doctors and dentists honestly. But when they don’t deal honestly with you, a barrier comes up. You won’t be able to get the best medical care possible while the barrier is there.

I switched dentists. Not long ago, I had my first cleaning with the new dentist. This new office was fantastic! They put me at ease from the waiting room onward. The ladies at the front counter were friendly and seemed to be content in their jobs. And so was everyone else I met.

They talked to me about my teeth and my past dental history and everything was put out there in a nice neat row. I didn’t feel that I needed to lie and they seemed to truly have my best interest in mind. They even took photographs of each individual tooth and let me see the pictures and ask questions. That was cool!

Now, I know, this is probably how it is supposed to be. So let me briefly describe dentist #1 for you. I’ve never been afraid of the dentist and I take good care of my teeth. I don’t even eat much candy or sweets.

But with dentist #1, I began to get very anxious. The dentist and hygienists made catty remarks about other dentists in the area. Then, they proceeded to tell me how I needed thousands of dollars of work done to my mouth, including braces (which I’ve already had). I left in an emotional haze. I called my husband and bawled. We could not afford it. Did I need it? Did I really have four cavities? I haven’t had a cavity since I had baby teeth and now I have four?!?!

After the tears dried, rationality settled upon me. For some reason, I continued going to this dentist for another year. Each time, they told me I had cavities, although at one point they decided it was maybe two. But they were so wishy-washy with where and how many that I don’t even think they knew. So I never got them drilled.

I left the new dentist office with the great news: No decay. No cavities.

Some doctors and dentists don’t want you to be involved in the medical process. They may feel that you have nothing to offer that could contribute to their expertise. They shut you out and tell you about your health and your condition. But that creates an incomplete equation.

The doctor or dentist doesn’t know your normal diet or other habits that inevitably affect your health in some way or another. They don’t know what you are feeling or where the pain is unless you tell them. So why do they cut you out of the conversation? (Dentist #1 also told me I have sensitive teeth, but I don’t recall ever cringing while eating ice cream.)

I believe doctors should be developing a relationship with their patients, not categorizing us. Each of us is genetically different and no situation is exactly alike. As patients we have a right to be treated as a human being. (Where’s Patch Adams when we need him?)

More importantly, as a doctor or dentist, it is your ethical duty to provide care that’s in the best interest of your patient. Not the insurance company. Greed is a bad disease, my friend.

So now, I’m rewarded for trusting my gut. Not only did I save myself money, but my healthy teeth were not drilled for the sake of padding someone’s pocket.

Question the things that don’t feel right. Just because someone says you are sick or you have a medical problem does not necessarily make it true. Get a second opinion.

Listen to your body. It’s the only one you’ve got. No one can know more about your health than you. You’re the only one who spends 24 hours of every day inside your body.