I didn’t used to swear like a sailor, but… As I was becoming a mommy I realized I was going to have to mend my ways. I didn’t want my child exposed to a bunch of swearing, especially my own. I decided to be more thoughtful about cursing. But I wasn’t willing to give it up altogether. Instead, I decided to use my own words. They got me through the need to curse. Most of my new curses came from one of my favorite sci-fi shows, Farscape. The characters were always in trouble and they were on the far side of the galaxy, so they had their own words to swear by. Here are a few for your perusal used in a sentence:
Frell: What the frell are you doing now? (also) We’re really frelled now!
Dren: I’m not going to eat this dren!
Yotz: Where the yotz did you hide my stuff?
Hezmana: How the hezmana do you expect me to do that?
You can try some of these or make up your own. It is OK if nobody knows what you mean, these words are for you. My favorite is from the Dune books by Frank Herbert. When I can’t find anything else to say, I just mutter: “Shai-Hulud!” That always seems to take care of it.
I don’t really believe in life styles. I would rather live stylishly, if anything. My vision of living stylishly would be having a comfortable home that people could feel comfortable visiting, always appreciating the people in my life — especially my family members and creating value with my life. What is creating value? By helping others even when I am imperfect by example. I work towards helping my community and environment instead of hurting them. I recognize day by day how precious our lives are, how valuable. I try to move forward with joy.
I don’t think about whether my neighborhood is esteemed by others because it is trendy. I don’t strive to have people admire my car or my child’s education. Instead I want my neighborhood to thrive, my car to work and my child to become a genius at being happy. I feel truly fortunate that I can make choices about these things and how I spend my days at work and at play. I doubt that I am living a slick or enviable lifestyle. Instead, I am trying to live happily and perhaps, in my own way, stylishly.
The mother is the sunshine of her home. When she cries, the clouds appear on her family’s horizon. Yet, she who steps on her misery, stands higher. (This is a paraphrase from the German poet Friedrich Holderlin.) What causes a mother to cry the most? She worries about her children. If her children are fine, she worries about the suffering of other mothers. That is the point of the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. It is not just your own children who are the future, it is everyone in your community’s children. We need to support those mothers who are struggling in their families. That is one of the things that doulas do. We also point out where help may be needed, so that other friends and family of a struggling mom can bring help. What is help? Maybe it is a listening ear. Maybe it is joining in with prayers. Maybe a hot meal for her family. Sometimes, the deepest worries can be lessened by a helpful community of mothers who care.
In the news, two of Norway’s prime minister’s male cabinet members are on paternity leave. The Reuters article then goes on to let us know that in Norway both parents get an automatic two weeks off after a birth. Then they are offered a combined 46 weeks of fully paid leave or 56 weeks at 80 percent of their normal pay.
Ten weeks are reserved for the father and are lost if he remains on the job (So, the other 36 of 46 weeks are for the mother. These can be taken concurrently with the father’s leave, or divided up between the 2 of them). Many fathers take more for themselves as their wives head back to work.
Later this year the maximum leave in Norway will expand to 57 weeks, with 12 weeks to the father, and the government intends to expand the father quota to 14 weeks later.
What do U.S. parents get? According to the Wikipedia article on parental leave, we provide no paid leave at all for mothers or fathers, but parents can have 12 weeks of unpaid leave. “The United States is the only Western country that does not mandate paid parental leave, although the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 mandates unpaid parental leave for the majority of American workers.” This also puts us behind almost all of the countries in the world, including Trinidad and Tobago where moms get 13 weeks paid leave. In Guatemala, the mother gets 84 paid days leave and the dad gets two paid days off for the birth of his child.
So here I am screaming, “Why should we be so far behind in this“? We are better off economically than Guatemala and they can afford it. Therefore, we should be able to!
We need to step it up, for mothers, fathers and baby’s sakes!
My husband, Chris Bailey, came up with this idea. His idea is that people get seduced into thinking only of “the current emgergency”. A person, family or even nation, can operate for a certain time on the adrenaline of worry about an emergency. We set aside other concerns and make this emergency our top priority. We live our lives on adrenaline. Our lives are not normal, but that is because of the emergency. We don’t eat or sleep properly, we don’t worry about the details of our lives, unless they are details about the emergency.
We can as people, families and even as a nation, continue this way for some time. But eventually, we can’t continue to live life on our nerves. The current emergency becomes daily life. Now the question is: do we live daily life as if it were an emergency? Do we eat badly, sleep less, not care about details of making our budgets work, not keeping our confidences private or allowing joy into our lives? Do we grimly live as if we are running through a very long emergency?
At some point, even in the most grim of circumstances, life becomes normal life again. We find joy in small things and we allow ourselves to rest. We stop living life on our nerves. This is natural and normal. We even begin to make small plans for a future without the current emergency in it. What will life look like without the current emergency? Will we be able to meet it with joy? That becomes our next question.
Everyone’s lives involve emergencies. Sometimes it is caring for the serious illness of a family member. Sometimes it is a crisis at work or at home. For nations, sometimes it is war or terrorism. But regardless, we cannot live our lives in emergency mode. We have to live our lives.