Bad Mama

St. Bad Mama
August 31, 2008, 1:06 pm
Filed under: Disability, Parenting, Peanut, Politics

People have been asking me what I think about Sarah Palin. Seriously, like random people in the street. The nice part of living in Madison is that you can talk to a random stranger and odds are that person is someone who is also counting down the minutes until Bush is out of office. The bad part is that they may be planning on voting Green Party instead of Democrat because “Obama and McCain are no different”. Whatever. Here, have some more weed.

Anyway, I don’t really know much about her, not being from Alaska, but I have one thing to say about some of the coverage. As you may know, Palin has five children, one of whom has Trisomy 21, or Down’s Syndrome. Because she is anti-choice, there has been a lot made of the fact that she did not choose to terminate the pregnancy of that child, and that is supposed to demonstrate her character.

You know what? I call bullshit. This idea that only certain kinds of people can parent children with disabilities is bullshit. It implies that only saints would want children who are “damaged”. I have said it before, and I will say it again, that despite the stress and worry that come with all the surgeries and therapy, y’all are lucky if your kid is half as great as mine.

There were plenty of times in the beginning where I wondered why this had happened to my child, that I was told that God had chosen me and I then didn’t think much of God.   But really, I dare you to find one grandparent on their deathbed who can honestly say they never once said, Why me? Why my child? about their kid at one time or another. She was my first kid, and I didn’t yet know how deeply and unreservedly you grow to love them, more each and every day.

Like her or don’t like her, whatever.  Just don’t think that she must be a good person because she chose to parent this child.  She’s an experienced mother, and she has money, and therefore is already in a better position to parent that child than many who have to make that choice. Because that’s what it takes, really, to make that decision: Knowing that you will be able to love your child completely no matter what, and knowing you have the resources to do so. If people really wanted to keep the number of people who terminated those pregnancies down, then they would advocate for more services for children and adults with disabilities, better mainstreaming of people with disabilities in school and employment, and more funding for research into the causes and prevention of congenital abnormalities. Because if people didn’t see the birth of a disabled kid as the end of the world because they’d grown up around those kids and knew that they’d be able to live happy lives as adults with access to the healthcare they needed, perhaps they wouldn’t be so afraid.

Somehow, I doubt Sarah Palin’s election to VP will go very far towards those ends. But I’m always open to being pleasantly surprised.

In case you were wondering how Obama feels about disability issues, see his web page on disabilities here. And then you can compare it with McCain’s … wait, he doesn’t have one. The closest he comes is under health care. Just for fun, compare Obama’s and McCain’s pages about Autism Spectrum Disorder. If I hear one more person say Obama is unclear about how he is going to change things, especially compared with McCain, I think I am going to slug them.

August 29, 2008, 6:37 am
Filed under: Politics

What — what is that American promise? It’s a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have obligations to treat each other with dignity and respect.

It’s a promise that says the market should reward drive and innovation and generate growth, but that businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, to look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road.

Ours — ours is a promise that says government cannot solve all our problems, but what it should do is that which we cannot do for ourselves: protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools, and new roads, and science, and technology.

Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work.

That’s the promise of America, the idea that we are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation, the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper.

That’s the promise we need to keep. That’s the change we need right now.”

Barack Obama, August 28, 2008

August 20, 2008, 12:50 pm
Filed under: Disability, Parenting | Tags: ,

This morning, within the space of half an hour, I was asked the following questions:

  • Did something happen to me when I was a baby to make my legs like this?
  • Follow up: Why did they grow like that?
  • How does the Daddy’s penis get in to the Mommy’s eggs to make a baby?

That’ll last me a few years, at least.

Adaptation in action
August 20, 2008, 7:54 am
Filed under: Peanut | Tags: ,

This weekend Peanut went to a backyard birthday party at the home of one of her friends. These things are generally a mixed bag for her, as she cannot walk well on uneven ground and usually the kids are careening around too roughly for her. However, this time was a bit different.

I was home taking care of Squirt so I hear this second-hand, but as recounted, Peanut was laying on the ground, singing “I am the Princess of Scotland”* while the other kids? They took turns jumping over her. This was apparently an enormously fun game for all involved. She also led the singing of “Ring around the Roses”, as children danced around her.

She is so very, very cool.

*The other night she asked me to tell her a “wishing story”, wherein I tell her the story of a wish coming true. Her wish was to visit a castle. Since we are of Scots ancestry (among others), I told her we visited a castle in Scotland and discovered that we were the true heirs to the throne and the real owners of the castle, making her the Princess, and apparently me, Carrie, Queen of Scots. But with a better ending than the last one.

Welcome home
August 9, 2008, 7:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

On the next-to-last day of vacation, I got a phone call from my husband, who had gone back home early for work. “Call your dad. He didn’t say why.”

My dad doesn’t call me, normally. He is of the old school, where the child is responsible for keeping in touch. So this was weird.

When I finally reached him, I was right to be concerned. “Grandpa fell, and he may have broken his hip. I don’t really know what’s going on.”

Grandpa is his father. He is the man who gave us the down payment for our house, the man who paid for Big Daddy to go to engineering school. He took me in when my parents wouldn’t, and never said a word to my grandmother when he called me very early one morning and my boyfriend answered the phone.

Grandpa is my only remaining grandparent. It’s odd, because everyone kind of always expected him to be the first to go. He had been a heavy smoker for much of his life, and while fairly trim, wasn’t particularly active in his later years. After Grandma died, his daily glass of wine or beer became multiple glasses, and he started snacking on whatever junk food he could find. I moved in with him about six months after her death, because my lease was up and while he had learned to do his laundry and vacuum, he really seemed to need an extra person around. I moved out when Big Daddy and I were engaged, but a few years later we moved back in, to save money while he was in school in exchange for cleaning toilets and cooking dinner every night. He is a very important person in our lives.

Various phone calls finally got me the news: Grandpa had fallen while transferring between his wheelchair and recliner at the assisted living facility he lived in. Three days before.  You see, my brother and I were out of town, and they had a bad phone number for my dad, so we didn’t know. My aunt is a flight attendant based in Honolulu, but they were able to reach her. She doesn’t get along with my father, or me, or my brother, and it will soon become clear why. She didn’t call us, nor did she come in to town herself.

At first he said he didn’t have any pain, but later in the evening he started feeling worse and was taken to the hospital, where x-rays showed a crack in his pelvis. He was released back home the next day, because there wasn’t much else to be done for a 94 year-old man with a bone crack but to rest. Except that wasn’t true.

The staff at his facility were livid, but they didn’t have much recourse. No one was there to give the order to take him back or to his doctor, and argue with them for proper treatment. My husband and brother were back in town by Monday night, my father two hours away. But none of them knew.  He developed a fever, and a slight cough. On Tuesday evening, the director decided they could not care for him properly and sent him back to the emergency room, but to a different hospital. There, he was diagnosed with not one but two breaks in his pelvis and hip, a urinary-tract infection, and pneumonia.

The social worker later told me that my aunt said she had no way to find out how to get in contact with my dad or us. Which is blatantly untrue. She is in contact with other relatives of ours, who have our phone numbers, and she knows it. The worker ended up tracking down my father via google–much harder for her than it would have been for my aunt, as there is another person in his field with the same name who is a prolific blogger/writer, but easy to separate out if you know any of my dad’s details. Like his middle initial. She left a poor old man, blinded by glaucoma and cataracts and nearly deaf, practically incoherent because of pain meds, alone in the hospital because … the fuck if I know why. There is nothing at all I can think of that can excuse it, nor even a slightly legitimate reason. The level of selfishness involved is beyond my comprehension. I know there’s always another side to the story and it seems so outrageous that somebody might read this and wonder if there isn’t something I’m leaving out. All I can say is that even though she lives in Hawaii, the majority of my relatives prefer to spend Christmas at my house instead of hers.

They reached my dad on Wednesday morning. He called me, and I got my husband and brother over to the hospital to make sure everything was okay, as I was still a good five-hour drive away. Grandpa was resting comfortably, eating well, and responding to the antibiotics. When I got back and went in to see him, I spoke with the social worker and we worked together to find a nursing/rehab facility that would take him. We moved him in there early this week. He is getting physical, occupational, and speech therapy there, which he wasn’t getting at his assisted living home. Because I had been pushed out of the responsibility of arranging his health care by my aunt and a “concerned” relative a few years ago. I’ll be damned if I let them do that again. He seems comfortable and happy enough, and the care seems to be very good. My brother and I drop in randomly every day to check on him, and haven’t yet found anything to raise concerns. My aunt and “concerned” relative of course have not shown up at all.

You may wonder why I am doing this instead of my dad, and the answer is pretty simple: he can’t. His former drinking problem and stroke last year damaged his memory as well as taking away the use of his dominant hand and made coordinating something like this overwhelming to him. Which is a whole other post, because he had always been the one who “took care of things.” So now it’s me. God help us all.

There are other major life issues occuring within my family right now too that I am not ready to blog about yet, but I’ll have to sooner or later to process them in my head. Big Daddy and I and the kids are fine, though. I know that my biggest hit counts come when I post pictures, so I will try and do that soon, if I can get the damn picture software to work on this new computer.  We vacationed with eagles, ospreys, and loons on a quiet lake in the far northeast of Wisconsin, so gorgeous and peaceful I tried to find a way to live in the garage when our time there was up. Oh, it’s also a great place for 4-wheeling and target practice. I am from rural Wisconsin, you know. Which also means I have an opinion on the whole Brett Favre thing too. Because only here can you probably find a liberal, pro-choice, anti-war, almost-vegetarian locavore  who loves to blast targets off a rock with a big gun after driving 50 m.p.h down a gravel road on an ATV and talk about pro football.

True Story
August 3, 2008, 11:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Peanut: So, when I was at Grammy’s house, she gave me milk AND juice, together!

Bad Mama: Really?

Peanut: Yeah! True story.