Category Archives: Think

We all contribute to our families’ success

“Who has more bills, you or daddy?”

My son asked me, while we were chatting in the kitchen.

“Neither of us do,” I answered. “Dad may pay a certain amount to use the gym, and I may pay a certain amount on my dance class, but we share a budget, and all of us contribute, even you and your brother.”

I went on to explain while his father is the one who brings in the most financially, and that it is important to recognize that, it is just as important to recognize the non-monetary contributions all of us make.

I spoke about how my writing, though not a big moneymaker, enables me to be home when needed, take care of household chores (however poorly I manage them), take his brother to speech services, and other tasks that would be difficult to complete if I was working full-time.

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I reminded my son his role (and his brother’s) is just as important as his parents. I explained how helping with the laundry, cleaning up his toys and being a good brother, all contribute to happy and well-functioning household.

We are all in this together, and we all play a part. Continue reading

To the moms who pump at work, we see you

I never intended to be a stay-at-home mom, so when it came time for me to return to work a few months after my oldest was born, I knew pumping would be a major part of my experience as a working mom.

Luckier than most, though far from ideal, I only had to go to the office once a week.

As a nursing mom, I had to pump on those days I couldn’t breastfeed at home. This meant lugging my pumping equipment, along with my regular bag and often my laptop back and forth from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

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It was cumbersome and exhausting and I still can’t believe women do this every day.

While at work, I had to hope the one spare office was available, otherwise my only option was to use the ladies room.

Yes, I pumped in the bathroom.

I would hide in largest stall and hope nobody could hear the pump motor, which always seemed ridiculously loud. I felt ashamed for pumping in that place, and for not demanding something better.

As far as I was aware, at the time, my company was not large enough to have to comply with any federal or state regulations on providing lactation rooms at the office. But even if they were, I was too exhausted to deal with it. On top of that, I was already grateful to only have to come in one day a week, and I didn’t want to push my luck.

Looking back, however, if I did speak up, and made my experience more comfortable, I might have been motivated to stay a bit longer. Continue reading

Fires put Australian wildlife at risk, here’s how to help

Like most people who grew up outside of Australia, I’ve always been fascinated by the country’s unique ecosystem and variety of animals found only in that part of the world.

Viewing koalas, kangaroos and other native Australian animals at local zoos was the closest I ever got to witness this incredible wildlife, and my hope is still to someday make it to Australia, so I can experience these creatures in their natural habitats. australiananimals.png

Sadly, those habitats are in grave danger, as fires continue to rage across Australia, leaving many animals without food, water, shelter and other means for survival. According to WIRES, an Australian organization leading the efforts to conserve local wildlife, more than 800 million animals have been effected since September.

WIRES has been working round the clock to rescue as many animals as possible, and is great need of financial support to carry out their mission. The organization has established a special emergency fund to address the dire needs of animals impacted by the wildfires.

Visa and Mastercard holders can donate directly through the WIRES website via these links:

https://www.wires.org.au/donate/online
https://www.wires.org.au/donate/emergency-fund

PayPal donations can be made here:

https://www.paypal.com/au/fundraiser/112574447199339912/charity/3562115

Donate through Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/donate/1386120504919105/10158318179549750/

For those donating from the United States, the exchange rate is favorable and your contribution can make a huge difference.

The impact of the Australian wildfires has yet to be fully understood, but it is clear they will have far-reaching effects on the Australian ecosystem and beyond. The BBC provides a thorough explanation of the causes, current status and implications of the wildfires.

For more ways to help the people, places and wildlife effected by the fires, check out this link from PBS.org.

 

 

 

Groceries and gratitude

“The card didn’t go through,” the cashier said, after I attempted to pay for my groceries.

I inserted my credit card into the reader once more.

Again, nothing.

I sighed heavily, baffled by why my card wasn’t working.

I don’t struggle financially.

My payments are on time.

I was annoyed.

After a failed third attempt, I used a different card.

I left the store still annoyed and embarrassed.

I hated the idea of people thinking I couldn’t afford those groceries — that I was deemed unfit by the credit card company to pay in such a manner.

But, as I drove away, I felt something deeper.

Shame.

Not the shame of feeling misjudged for my economic status,

But the shame at myself for allowing myself to think so negatively of those who are less fortunate that the mere idea that others would perceive me in the same light made me so angry.

I like to believe I am a compassionate person.

I support many causes.

I try to give back in my community and beyond.

And, yet, I am still part of a society which teaches us to put so much worth and value in one’s economic standing.

From a young age, we are inundated with the notion that those who work the hardest will be rewarded, and that those who are less fortunate than we are simply didn’t try hard enough.

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We are conditioned to believe:

Poor equals lazy.

Poor equals stupid.

As if there aren’t plenty of rich, lazy people roaming the earth.

But, thinking negatively of those who have less makes it easier to write them off.

It makes it easier for people like me to feel better about ourselves.

But, we all know the truth.

How much any of us has doesn’t make any of us a better human being.

Living in a huge house doesn’t make us any kinder.

Having a designer wardrobe doesn’t make us any more empathetic.

Driving a nice car doesn’t make our actions any greater.

Going on expensive trips doesn’t make our souls any more fulfilled.

Our stuff doesn’t make us better.

In this time of year when it is easy to focus on being grateful for the material things, I am going to remember that things I hold in my hands are nothing compared to what I hold in my heart.

I will encourage my children to think of others this season, and do my best to model acts of kindness.

I will pause before judging others, whose situations I do not know, and even better, try to take the time to learn more about them.

And, I will allow myself room for growth, and forgiveness.

A version of this post originally appeared on the Maybe I’ll Shower Today Facebook page.

Supporting our Vets beyond Veterans Day

The parades have ended, the uniforms are folded and tucked away, the little American Flags go back into storage, and life goes on. Veterans Day has come and gone, and while those of us who never served will go back to our regular lives, many of our veterans remain some of the most vulnerable members of society.

After giving so much to serve our country, many of Americans veterans come home to little support financially, mentally, and emotionally, and are left to cope with the difficulty of returning to civilian life all on their own. Far too many vets are in serious financial trouble, without stable employment, or living on the streets.

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Leave No Veteran Behind is an organization working hard to ensure that those who serve are not forgotten once they come home. Through education, as well as job training and support, Leave No Veteran Behind, helps get veterans back on their feet, while helping to bring these highly skilled people back into the workforce.

In my religion, Judaism, one of the highest forms of charity you can perform is to help someone who is struggling find a stable source of income. The dignity one attains by being able to support themselves and their families is unmatched, and to be able to give back in this way is an incredible honor. Therefore, I am thrilled to help spread the word about Leave No Veteran Behind and the great work they are doing to help our veterans.

Veterans are our family, our friends, and our neighbors. Let’s honor them not only with special celebrations and parades, but with real support and guidance.

Click here to support Leave No Veteran Behind.

 

Not all families celebrate Halloween

With Halloween mere days away, many American parents are scrambling to put last-minute costumes together, dealing with kids who can’t make up their minds about what they want to be, stocking up on extra candy, and hoping nobody gets into too much trouble.

This is a fun time of year for many families, and as Halloween has become an accepted part of American culture, it is often assumed most, if not all Americans celebrate it in someway.

This is not true.

For several reasons, lots of families choose to opt out of the Halloween festivities. Some feel the holiday puts too much emphasis on candy, others believe it’s too scary, others skip it for religious reasons. Continue reading

It’s not your fault, some babies are just hard

You push the stroller through the door of your local baby group, amazed you were able to make it out the door. Your eyes are bloodshot and droopy from not having a good night’s sleep in months. You gaze around at all the put-together, well-rested parents, each holding happy, well-behaved babies, and just hope, for once, your fussy child, will be able to get through this without screaming.

You wonder: what am I doing wrong?

Nothing.

You are doing nothing wrong.

Some babies are just hard.

This isn’t just me, science agrees, so if anyone tries to smugly shame you for not doing the “right” thing to soothe your baby, or believes they are somehow how superior because their baby sleeps through the night at two months, feel free to ignore them.

New parents who are gifted with an easy baby are lucky, that’s all.

Before I continue, let me insert a bit of a disclaimer here and say that I understand “easy” is relative. I am not trying to compare my experience to a parent whose baby required non-stop medical care, or any other circumstance beyond the typical scope of babyhood.

I am talking about developmentally typical, relatively healthy babies, and even when most of these factors are the same, some babies will be harder to deal with than others. That is just how they are born.

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Many parents learn this truth after their second, or third kid. They live in a blissful state of self satisfaction, believing they somehow cracked the code on parenting, and then, BAM!, out pops a baby who screams non-stop, and these parents realize they weren’t the “experts” they once believed.

Other parents, like me, are blessed with a more challenging newborn on their first go. And, if you haven’t spent much time with other babies (I hadn’t), you really believe that 1) this is just how it is, and 2) if you can’t fix it, it’s totally your fault.

I genuinely thought it was normal for my baby to want to be on my boob every 30 minutes. I assumed all babies hated sleep, or at least not sleeping on top of another human. Continue reading

I’m a mom who makes mistakes

I wish I could tell you about that one time I lost my cool in front of my kids;

Or about that time I forgot to send in something important to my son’s school;

Or that time I was late picking my kid up.

I wish I could tell you about that “one time,” but, the truth is, there’s more than one time.

There are many, many times.

Because, I am a mom who makes mistakes. Continue reading

Kids understand more than we think

“Why do we have belly buttons?”

My six-year-old asked me, while staring down at his own naval during bathtime.

I explained to him that his belly button is the spot where his umbilical cord connected him to my placenta, which is how he got nutrients inside the womb. I told him how after babies are born, the umbilical cord is cut and what’s left is the belly button.

I went on to talk about how his younger brother’s umbilical cord might not have been cut properly, which is why he got sick when he was born.

We talked about how he had to go to the hospital, and my six-year-old commented on how lucky his brother was to have good doctors working on him, and I agreed.

My son followed up by asking me if doctors still had to help patients even if they didn’t have money. I explained how doctors have a sort of “code” which demands they care for anyone, no matter the circumstances. I told him that afterwards, the hospital or doctor’s office sends a bill saying what is owed to the patient or the patient’s family.

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We talked about how our family fortunate to have the means to pay for his brother’s procedures and NICU stay, and to be financially well enough to afford quality healthcare for our family.

I told my son that some families aren’t so fortunate, and many have to do things like sell their homes, or ask others for help because their medical bills are too expensive.

My son looked at me and asked with the innocence of a child, “Why can’t it just be free?”

I could have just said, “I wish, or, I don’t know,” but I believe our children deserve honest, thoughtful answers. Continue reading

That daily glass could be putting you at risk for breast cancer

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, nor am I a scientific expert. This website and its content are not meant to be a substitute for peer-reviewed journalism. My purpose in sharing this article is to raise awareness on the potential risks of alcohol consumption, and while I did my best to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, I am aware that these points can be debated. I welcome your feedback in the comments.

What if I told you that drinking one of these every day could increase your risk of breast cancer by 12 percent? I’m guessing you’d think twice about grabbing another glass. You might even stop drinking it altogether. 

What if I told you that drink was alcohol? Would you still be so keen on giving it up?

When we think of bad habits that cause cancer, we think of smoking, eating poorly or spending too much time in the tanning booth. We criticize those who indulge in a daily cheeseburger, but would never do the same for those who partake in a glass of red wine at the end of a long day. 

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To be clear, I know several women who have breast cancer, I am not applying that they or any other person who has this horrible illness is at fault because they drink alcohol. Several factors contribute to breast cancer risk, including genetics, stress and just plain bad luck.

This article isn’t meant to shame anyone, least of all people with cancer, I am sharing this with the intent to educate and raise questions about “drinking culture,” and what that means for women’s health. Continue reading