Just a quick word to let y’all know that I’ve moved over to My Mumdane Life. If you have enjoyed Shan’s Shenanigans I hope you’ll come on over!
Just a quick word to let y’all know that I’ve moved over to My Mumdane Life. If you have enjoyed Shan’s Shenanigans I hope you’ll come on over!
I have been missing writing lately, but the couple of times I have opened up my blog to add a post after a 3.5 year absence it hasn’t felt quite right, so perhaps I should clear the air. With April Fools approaching it seems a good time.
I have always strived to inject a humorous undertone in my writing, even when I’m actually quite worked up about an issue. Even the serious posts have been sprinkled with sarcasm for some comic relief. Over the last few years life has just seemed a bit too heavy to find the bright side, and try as I might I could not find my voice. Circumstances plus postpartum depression (and lets face it, the circumstances probably fuelled the PPD) did not make for a happy time. Some of this I will keep private (2014, you’re dead to me), but I feel it is important to share the struggles that J & I have faced these last two years because maybe somebody will read my posts and feel less alone. God knows how often I searched the Internet late into the night, looking for others who were sharing their similar stories.
Today, this image showed up on my Facebook newsfeed:
I cried because it reminded me that last April 1st was not a good social media day for me. In February 2016 J & I, after a year of trying to conceive without success, received a general diagnosis of Secondary Male Factor Infertility and the prognosis only got worse from there after each embarrassing and painful test. Although we did eventually beat the odds late last year (much to the shock of our medical team), pregnancy after infertility or pregnancy loss is not experienced the same as a pregnancy achieved by a couple who have never experienced either. I know because I have now experienced both. I’m grateful for people that are spreading the message that fake pregnancy announcements are not funny. Not. Remotely. Funny.
Did you know that in Canada 1 in 6 couples experience some form of infertility? In the United States that number is 1 in 8. Worldwide, the figure jumps to 1 in 4. I can tell you right now that before February 2016 I was unaware of these stats, and at that point I had been on this earth for 32 years. Male factor infertility? Literally didn’t know it existed. Secondary infertility? Nope. Wasn’t aware that was a thing either. Pregnancy loss is more visible, but no less painful. In fact, couples experiencing pregnancy loss are often expected to return to life as usual within an incredibly short period of time even by those who were privy to the loss. Their pain is minimized by society at large, which must only bring on a whole other level of pain, guilt and shame.
Infertility carries a lot of guilt and shame too. Infertility takes over. It destroys marriages. It destroys happiness. I’m not saying that it always does, or that everyone copes (or fails to cope) in the same manner, but what I am saying is I just didn’t know it could, and if you haven’t experienced it you probably didn’t know either. People say a lot of dumb stuff to infertile couples, and they just don’t know how painful it can be to have to hear them. I do hope to share more about different aspects of our infertility journey with you in the coming weeks and in typing this I hope it serves to hold me accountable to my intentions. For now I will leave you with this PSA from us Womb Warriors:
Don’t be a social media fool this April 1st. Fake pregnancy announcements haven’t ever been and won’t ever be funny. I assure you that someone you love has suffered in silence with infertility or pregnancy loss. Guilt, shame and/or embarrassment keep many people from speaking their struggles aloud. These posts are heartbreaking to a woman who may never feel life quicken in her womb, a woman who has lost a life that once grew there, or a man who may never know the joy of holding his precious newborn.
More often than not I put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) to air my grievances in a humorous manner. I do this to remind myself that my problems are small and the best way to let them go is to laugh at them. After all, I have a roof over my head, food on my plate, my health, my sanity (for the most part), great friends and family, a beautiful child with another on the way and so much more. The problems that I have can’t take any of this away from me, and so at the end of the day I can consider myself among the lucky ones on this earth.
Today I can’t laugh. Yesterday many individuals in Québec City likely woke up feeling as I do: Grateful for life, love, happiness, community etc. By nightfall much of this had been stripped away from them, as their family members and friends were gunned down during evening prayer just because they were Muslim. These families are experiencing an unimaginable loss. I can’t even type this without tears spilling from my eyes. A community targeted for what? This was without a doubt an act of terrorism. This is not my Canada.
All Canadians are immigrants. Well, all Canadians are immigrants except the First Nations from whom we expropriated the lands upon which our cities sit, but that’s another story. This country’s immigration policy is the reason that I am here today. On my mother’s side I am a first generation Canadian, as were and are my paternal grandparents. I can’t know exactly why my family left Europe when they did, but I can only assume they were in search of a better life here in Canada.
My father’s family emigrated from Poland during the early 1920s. We are Jewish. As a child I was always acutely aware that I was ‘different’ from my Christian friends, but I was never singled out or targeted for that difference. I distinctly remember thinking that I was proud to live in a time and a country where race and religion didn’t matter. I remember being annoyed at my grandparents’ discomfort that my best friends were German. It wasn’t until I was 13 and did a class project on Anne Frank that I understood why they were uncomfortable, though they never told me I couldn’t or shouldn’t socialize with Germans.
My grandparents’ immediate families were the only ones who made it out of Poland before the Nazis invaded. They were living in Canada with the full knowledge that their loved ones were back in the old country, living in conditions that we Canadians can’t really even fathom. They rarely spoke about it, but I do remember my Papa telling me that he was responsible for fetching the mail for his mother from the post office during WWII. He was a teenager at the time. His mother would correspond with her sister in Poland quite frequently, and he diligently brought home her sister’s letters until one day there were no more. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like for him. To know why the letters had stopped. To have to tell his mother yet again that there was no news. To know that it meant death and loss. To know that his empty hands were breaking his mother’s heart.
My family lost their loved ones during a war that persecuted innocent people simply because they were Jewish. How is this any different from walking into a mosque and shooting up a room full of people simply because they are Muslim? Our differences are what make this world beautiful. I have travelled around this world and back again and marvelled at these differences. What are people so afraid of? I share a lot more in common with my welcoming, generous Muslim neighbours than I do with a white skinned bigot. I am an invisible minority and I admit that sometimes I hide within that identity. You can’t deduce my religion or cultural background from looking at me. My skin is so white it’s almost translucent. My native tongue is English. My son is baptised into his father’s family’s faith. Yet had I been born in a different time in a different land I would have shared the same fate as my Jewish brothers and sisters, as would my children. Hate doesn’t care who you are, only what it can label you.
Many Muslims don’t have the luxury of being ‘invisible’, nor should they want to be. If you can’t tell the difference between someone spouting the hateful ideology of a radical offshoot of Islam and a Muslim family fleeing their war torn homeland where they have lost everything to that same radical offshoot, then you are the one with the problem. I will never condone hateful words or actions, no matter the colour of the skin or religious beliefs of the owner of those words and actions.
Despite the discourse of hatred and fear that has permeated present day politics and infiltrated many aspects of life in the western world as of late, I am pleased to see that there is push back. My greatest fear today is not ISIS or Al Qaeda or the average Muslim Canadian. My greatest fear is complacency. At least here, despite many other failings, we have a government that speaks out against this hatred even if we have citizens who would idealize what is happening south of the border and live out that hatred here. The sad truth is that those citizens are no different than the ones they truly fear and hate. The more you hate, the more they hate and so on and so on. It’s the worst kind of positive feedback loop or vicious circle. Although it is scary to learn that the number of people contributing to this dangerous discourse is far greater than I ever believed it could be, I am grateful for the many more voices I hear speaking out against it.
To the community of the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, I am truly sorry for your losses. This hateful Canada is not my Canada, nor is it the Canada of the vast majority of Canadians. We stand with you today and I hope we will prevail, God willing/b’ezrat HaShem/insha’Allah.
As I rang in 2016 listening to the dulcet tones of my husband snoring on the couch next to me and Carrie Mathieson saved America on Netflix yet again, little did I know that life as I knew it was about to end. I logged out of Netflix not knowing that the following day, the first day of 2017 (That beacon of hope! That clean slate!), would dawn with doom and gloom on the horizon.
By the end of each day my house looks like a tornado has passed through it. I’m pregnant and tired, sick of asking the four year old to pick up his toys, and just done with the day. Cleaning and tidying are for the morning, before I’ve been asked a dozen times for candy for breakfast (and called the meanest mom in the world at least a dozen times for denying the request), before I’ve caved and given my kid Cheetos for breakfast (because cheese is full of calcium and is therefore healthy), before life has generally beaten me down for the day. The day still holds a lot of hope at 5am, so that’s the best time for tidying. After coffee, of course. But sometimes the house is just so destroyed that I’m still cleaning when Hurricane H emerges from his room, and I count on Netflix for entertainment while I finish up. On the days when I haven’t even started yet I count on Netflix to allow me to enjoy at least one beverage while its still hot.
And so, on the first day of 2017 I turned to Netflix to save my morning (and let’s face it, that morning was going to set the tone for my year – I had a lot riding on that morning). “Mom, put on Neckflix while I eat my cheesies,” H requested. I obliged with , “What would you like to watch?”
All 9 seasons of Curious George had been on Netflix as of Dec 31st, 2016. On Jan 1st, 2017, every episode vanished. It’s usually right there at the top of the screen, under suggested shows, recently watched, continue watching… I scrolled through each list, panic mounting. I finally searched ‘Curious George’, staring at the screen in horror as ‘Titles related to Curious George’ popped up – the equivalent of a Netflix death sentence. A quick Google search revealed that PBS has signed an exclusive deal with Hulu this year and pulled all programming from Netflix. This means that our backup show, Caillou (which most parents hate but I have grown to love because, whiny bald bastard aside, HOT COFFEE), is also gone.
I’m sure all you other non-Pinteresty, average moms feel my pain too. My kid is acting like the world has ended and after many tears is now reluctantly lost in a Mighty Machines YouTube loop of despair. I fear he may never find his way out.
MY COFFEE IS COLD.
Bonus – further proof that PBS hates kids:
Bonus The 2nd – I confess that by ‘clean the house’ I really just mean ‘clean the kitchen’. The rest of the house I’ll get to when I get to it… I blame PBS.
Okay, so this season of The Bachelorette is over, and everyone is so happy for Des after she managed to take one day to get over being dumped by the supposed love of her life in order to get engaged to her second choice. In case you live under a rock and/or have a serious aversion to social media (if so, I’m glad my blog is an exception, thank you) and have never heard of ABC’s smash hit The Bachelorette, it’s basically a show where one woman spends 10 weeks sifting through a group of 25 men to find her one true love. It’s totally realistic.
I’m kind of embarrassed that I got sucked in this year. I’ve never watched it before. I was trying to reconnect with my girly side. It’s been a long time since I got to hang out with some girlfriends and watch a chick flick or Sex and the City. I’m a stay at home mom and rarely have a reason to dress nice or wear makeup. I have a son and am engaged to a real guy’s guy. I’ve begun to grow hairs on my chest and have developed a penchant for peeing outdoors. Ok, just kidding on the last two counts… although I did have to pee outdoors a few weeks ago when J’s stellar navigational skills got us lost in the middle of nowhere. I did not enjoy it. I especially didn’t enjoy that he laughed his ass off the whole time and I could barely go I was so embarrassed. What a jackass… I mean… so glad he could find humour in my humiliation, that sweet, sexy, ever-loving fiancé of mine… errrrr, right.
And on that note, the amount of times that Des talked about ‘real love’ on the show, and then proceeded to swoon over presents, poetry and romantic walks on the beach made my ears bleed. Apparently true love Bachelorette-style equates with Nicholas Sparks-style romance. Um, Des? Don’t you know Mr. Sparks’ romances rarely end in happily ever after?
So, I decided to make a 7 point list of what love really is in order to help out future stars of The Bachelorette. You’re welcome, o seekers of true love. You’re welcome.
1. … being able to tell little white lies and feel no guilt because you know you’re doing it to protect the one you love. And no, I am not advocating dishonesty. I’m talking about insignificant lies that protect no deep dark secret. Nope. Just the kind of tiny lie that is meant to cover your passive aggressive ass and protect the illusion that you are nothing less than perfect.
Example scenario: Your boyfriend/husband/partner always manages to throw his/her dirty laundry on the floor next to the hamper rather than in it. After asking politely several times, your passive aggressive tendencies take over and you find yourself tearing a beloved t-shirt into tiny pieces with your scissors/teeth/claws. Little white lie: “Oh Honey, no! I would never tear your favourite t-shirt to shreds. The dog/cat/baby dragon must have got it, that little rascal.”
2… never having to say you’re sorry. JUST KIDDING! Love is a big fat slice of humble pie and if you don’t learn to admit when you’re wrong and learn to use that word with sincerity, your love is probably going to drown in a big boiling vat of resentment. Ironically, the movie that line comes from ends in much the same fashion as a Nicholas Sparks novel.
3. … being able to put up with someone’s crazy quirks. Example scenario: Your husband turns to you in bed with that loving look on his face (you know, that look that normally tells you you’re gonna get some), leans towards you, reaches out and tucks your hair behind your ear, his lingering fingertips soft on your cheek, looks deep into your eyes while reaching for something off the night table behind you and says, “Honey, will you please pluck each individual back hair out with these tweezers I bought today?” Even though your brain is probably sincerely questioning your taste in men, you do as he asks, cuz hey, you love him and he loves to be hairless. C’est la vie.
4… being able to refrain from committing murder. Let’s face it. Part of the reason divorce is rampant is because we have this fairytale idea of love. We’re told it’s always there. We’re told we should want to always be with that person. That we should always miss that person when we are apart. Pft. It’s impossible to feel lovey dovey all of the time. The person you love is the person you spend the most time with. You see the best of them, but it also means you see the worst of them. If you can survive those worst moments you can survive anything. That’s love. If you commit homicide, that is not love. Therefore, not committing homicide = true love. (Don’t bother pointing out the fallacy here. I’m well aware.)
5… realizing that if the knife actually did slip/the pillow lingered a little too long/the vial of arsenic did accidentally get knocked over into his stew, you would miss him terribly. Yes, the love of your life will probably drive you cuckoo bananas, but you’d rather risk your sanity than live without him.
6… being able to survive his noxious gas. This is especially important to the stars of The Bachelorette. Men are smelly smelly creatures, but they can hide it well in the early weeks/months of a relationship. Ladies, 10 weeks is not long enough. Once you’ve survived your first Dutch Oven (intentional or inadvertent) and you still want to let that guy/disgusting creature/swamp thing touch you in your happy place, you’ll know you’re playing for keeps.
7… when, despite his protests and threats to retreat to the basement man cave, that man will give in to your request to curl up in bed with you and watch The Bachelorette. Watching The Bachelorette is probably way down there on that list of things your man would like to do. He might even rather stab himself in the eye with a fork, cuz hey, he’s got two eyes. He could be using his one remaining good eye to watch Duck Dynasty or Cops or ANYTHING ELSE. So yeah, watching The Bachelorette with you? Now THAT is love.
Yesterday a wonderful blogging friend of mine posted a link to an article in MacLean’s Magazine on Facebook, along with her expression of disgust at the author’s opinions. She wrote her response this morning, as have many others. I feel like writing about this now may be redundant, but as I have gone about my day with my son, feeding, playing and planning for his upcoming baptism (yes, I know I wrote about Passover yesterday… let’s just say we’re religiously confused, ok?), I haven’t been able to get this filth out of my mind. I don’t want my son to grow up in a world where there isn’t a public outcry in response to such sensationalistic attempts at journalism.
The article in question discusses the Steubenville rape convictions, sexual harassment sparked by the Sarah Thomson/Rob Ford incident, and the firing of Professor Tom Flanagan from the University of Calgary and as a guest commentator on CBC over his comments about child pornography.
I’m not going to address the Steubenville argument any further than to say that if it had been a drunk passed out football player who had been beaten nearly to death in that state, the perpetrator would surely have been convicted of assault quickly and perhaps even quietly. The noise surrounding this case is because the mere suggestion that the girl is in any way to blame and the boys’ actions can just be attributed to a ‘boys will be boys’ attitude is so morally corrupt that I can’t even wrap my brain around it. And clearly neither can many other people.
Sexual harassment… not much to say about that. There is a fine line between joking around and inappropriate conduct sometimes, and those who cross that line need to face the music. It’s about CONSENT. Do we really need to talk about this? I thought it was dealt with decades ago.
As for the firing of Prof Tom Flanagan from both the CBC and the University of Calgary over the child porn comments, I’m not sure that should have happened. I had an economics professor who argued each semester that child labour can be good for the economy. And yes, there is an economic argument for that. My professor was brilliant and made a tough subject easy for me to understand. I don’t think she was actually arguing that we all rush out and hire a bunch of kids, stick them in conditions of squalor and pay them one bowl of rice per day. She was simply arguing that there is an economic argument for it. I think this is the point that Prof. Flanagan was trying to make, though I wasn’t there and haven’t read a transcript, so I don’t know.
The problem with economics, however, is that its arguments only hold up from an economic standpoint. Economics assumes that all humans are ‘homo economicus’ or ‘rational men’ (excuse the sexist term, I didn’t coin it), and they simply aren’t. In economics this means that all people are assumed to act in such a way that maximizes utility as consumers and profits as producers. What is missing from this picture is that most of us are not motivated this way, and those that are would be considered sociopaths. We are sentient beings. We feel for one another. Morally, we know that rape, sexual harassment, and child pornography are WRONG.
Enter Barbara Amiel and MacLean’s Magazine.
We’ve been hearing both sides of the Steubenville incident for months now. We’ve been talking about sexual harassment for years. We can intelligently argue that Prof. Flanagan was not condoning the viewing of child pornography. This woman (I can’t bring myself to call her a journalist because there was simply no integrity in what she wrote), Ms. Amiel, is either one of the aforementioned sociopaths, or she has just gone way too far down the “shock and awe” path that some journalists are wont to take. It’s okay to be controversial, but it is NOT okay to trivialize the rape (and yes, even if it wasn’t the appendage that we normally associate with the term, it is rape) of a teenaged girl, incidents of sexual harassment and the viewing of child pornography. Many of her comments were callous and never in a million years would my brain have gone there. For example:
With regards to Steubenville Ms. Amiel wrote, “In a normal society, the girl’s mother would have locked her up for a week and all boys present would have been suspended from school and their beloved football team. Instead we had a trial and media circus…”
She refers to sexual harassment as a “term invented in the 1970s that ought to have been strangled at birth.”
She continues to miss Flanagan’s point and writes, “I always thought rounding up people for what they privately watch on their computers was a stomach-churning breach of civil liberties far more damaging than the private contemplation of squalid pictures.”
She further misses the point and declares that “the justification that without viewers there would be no market for child porn is accurate as far as it goes, which is about one millimetre.” Actually, there is a very good economic argument. It’s simple supply and demand. If the demand is there, supply will rise to meet it. That’s the way it goes. By making the viewing of child pornography illegal we at least appeal to some pedophiles who know that they have a sickness and know that their actions are wrong. Even if we are only deterring some of them from giving in to their illness, even if it’s out of the simple fear of getting caught and is in no way treating their mental illness, we are still reducing supply. To suggest that viewing child porn harms no one is seriously offensive. There are children being forced to commit unthinkable acts in those videos. Children, the picture of innocence. The ultimate victims.
Ms. Amiel states up front that these topics are ones that “any sensible commentator must preface with ardent assurances that nothing with the possible exception of matricide could revolt more, and only abhorrence flourishes in the breast of the commentator who now feels compelled to address these matters. You have to say that or your licence as a pundit gets withdrawn amid truly vicious attacks.” Well, no. Not exactly. As small as I am, I would like to ask MacLean’s to remove this article from its website, to fire Barbara Amiel, and to issue a formal apology to all victims of these types of crimes and pretty much just to human beings everywhere. Yes, we do need debate in the media, but there is a line that has been crossed here. These are important issues, but they need to be addressed in a way that is not so devoid of basic human decency. This is not healthy debate. This has gone too far. For shame.