Monday, May 23, 2011 By: Unconditionally You

Breastfeeding in Public: Gawkers Beware (Melissa)

Beware the booby flasher. She can be found in many places so be vigilant! You might find her at the local mall sitting on the bench. Perhaps you will see her in a restaurant next time you go out to eat, eyes glinting as she swings her breasts at you. Be sure to look carefully because they are everywhere and they want you to look at their breasts. They hope you watch as they lift their shirt and slowly expose the nipple. Are you looking? Is it making you uncomfortable? Because they can only hope it is! That is, after all their goal. Watch carefully because they are fast when they flash you in public places, mind you. Before you know it the head of a small child will be covering the area, which is quite unfortunate because they really wanted you to keep looking. Why do these children need to eat and get in the way of mommy's exhibitionism?

Let me be clear, that paragraph is very tongue in cheek.

Parents have to decide many things as far as child rearing goes. One of the big ones is wether to breast feed or bottle feed. I am not about to make this blog posting a debate about which is best, I will publicly say that FEEDING your child is the best option. Do what works for you, that is my stance. No matter which one you choose though, you have to feed your baby at times when you are in public. You cannot stay chained to your house no matter what.

Many parents (and I say parents because both the mother and father make the decision together usually, although the mother is the one who does the actual feedings if EBF) exclusively breastfeed. This means they do not use bottles at all, for whatever reasons they choose not to. Sometimes a breastfeeding mother is caught in public with no bottle of expressed milk in a bottle handy, but her breasts are ready to go for a feeding. Often a woman just isn't able to pump much breastmilk at all no matter how hard she tries, so bottle feeding is never going to happen for her if she exclusively breastfeeds. With all of these things in mind, a baby will have to eat at times and some of those times will be in public.

So here is an idea for those people that don't like the idea of an infant eating when they are out in public. Don't look. It really is that easy. Just avert your eyes and decide to look at something else. It is rude to stare at anyone while they are eating and that includes an infant and their mother. Mind your manners and avert your eyeballs. The whole problem is solved when you use the neck and eye muscles you were born with to turn your head and look away. If you are offended it is because you choose to be, not because anyone is making you look.

But why can't the mother take the baby to a bathroom? Oh wait, do you want to eat your take out food while someone is pinching a loaf in the stall next to you? I mean the smell alone is something that could kill an appetite, am I right? And do people not realize how long it takes to breastfeed? Try fifteen minutes on each side, at least. So a woman should have to sit in a stall for 30-ish minutes feeding her baby? Those toilet seats are incredibly comfortable so why not. I sure hope in this scenario there is more than one stall because the line of people that actually need to use the bathroom for its intended purpose may not wish to wait for the 30 or so minutes it takes to feed the baby. I challenge everyone who has said a mother should take her baby to a bathroom stall to feed it to eat their meals in a bathroom stall when they go out to eat at least 20 times. That is the minimum amount of times a breastfeeding mother would have to take her infant into a bathroom stall for a feeding in the first year of life.

Next time anyone thinks about getting upset about a baby nursing in public I wish they would stop and think about this. Would it be upsetting if the baby was drinking a bottle? No? Then why is it upsetting because it is a breast. Breasts are not just sexual body parts. They are designed for this purpose. There is nothing shameful or gross about a baby getting milk from its mother. If it bothers a person then they need to realize it is their own personal issue and leave the breastfeeding mom and her baby alone. Keep your nasty looks and comments to yourself. Or maybe one day the mom will whip a nipple out of a baby's mouth and squirt you in the eyeball with milk! Okay, probably not. But the nasty looks sure do deserve it. Just look away and you won't get squirted!
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 By: Unconditionally You

Why the Man Hate? ( By Melissa)

This is something that didn't bother me until I had a son. In fact, I probably engaged in it more times than I care to admit. After I had my son I had to see the world through the eyes of what it would be like to me a male in today's society and what I find bothers me.

I know this blog is focused on women, but as women we have a duty to the other sex to treat them as equals.

What? Men's rights? Why do they need rights? They have always had rights and women have always been repressed! Get outta here....

Let's be realistic. Traditionally men have had more rights than women. They are better paid than women. They are more likely to be in management positions in the work force. The list goes on and on, there's no denying it. Traditionally females have had to fight to have equality, again no denying it. However does this make it okay for one sex to push the pendulum in the other direction, ever?

I worked in a daycare environment for many years. It's no big secret that usually day care providers are normally females around child bearing age. At one preschool I worked in we had a young man who was in school for elementary education apply for the position of lead teacher, and he was hired. Honestly, he was more qualified than half of the staff because childcare is typically an entry level position with no college level experience needed. To round out his resume, he had children of his own as well. So here was an experienced dad and future educator on staff, great right?

Not really, in the eyes of many mothers that brought their children in to the daycare. "Is he.. going to be changing diapers?" I had one very concerned mother ask me when I was in the room by myself with the toddler age kids one day. I didn't even know how to answer that without feeling indignant on his behalf. Why wouldn't he? He was staff! Was he automatically suspect because he owned a penis? Other mothers would not really speak to him when we worked in a class together, but would speak to me only. This guy was always friendly and professional, plus really great with the kids. But because of his gender he was never quite accepted by many of the mothers as a day care provider.

I have heard mothers say when they are at a park that if they see a dad there with his kids they think all kinds of interesting things. For instance, if dad is letting the kids swing higher in the swings than what they think a mom might like they "Tsk tsk" in their own minds and hope mom comes along soon to correct the father. Or if the dad tries to have a conversation with them they figure he is a creep trying to pick up ladies at the park, instead of just another parent trying to strike up conversation. Some moms get so upset by the dad on the playground scenario they move to the other side of the playground (because he might be a pedophile of course!) or they leave altogether, never noticing the fact that the dad is paying little attention to them and having fun with his own kids.

What really drives me crazy is how men are thought of as people who think with nothing but their stomachs and penises. How many times have you heard the phrase "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach"? Or even worse in the case of a cheating spouse "Well I guess he just wasn't happy in bed now, was he? I will never have that issue, my man gets is satisfied!". I know we all like a good meal and great sex can't be scoffed at, but is that all men like? NO. Maybe there are shallow ones out there that only like to eat and have sex, but they aren't the majority. Most men aren't much different than their female counterparts really. They want to you to be affectionate, have great conversations with them, laugh with them, let them vent and even vent to them sometimes and lots of other things. Why do we minimalize them to their basic needs?

Something that we have been seeing in a legal prospective, especially in divorce and custody agreements, is that men are often not given equal rights. Slowly this is changing but it is still not equal by a long shot. The default for most custody agreements is for the mother to have full custody of the children no matter what. Men usually don't even fight this because they know how the courts work, they don't really have a chance in hell of it being any other way unless the  mother is very abusive, woefully negligent or doesn't want custody. And the abuse or negligence is often difficult to prove and the custodial parent can attend parenting classes to preserve their custodial status. The battle is an uphill battle, worth fighting of course, but it starts off on unfair ground in the first place based on the fact that one parent has a penis and one has a vagina. That is the standard criteria.

Even with no extenuating circumstances and two parents who are loving and stable the default custodial parent will almost always be the mother. For no other reason than she is the mother. The only good thing we have going for us in the court system is that more and more custody cases are becoming shared custody instead of primary custody by one parent and the other having every other weekend plus some holidays. Like I said, it's changing, albeit slowly.

I will leave you with this statistic about male suicide rates. Why are the rates higher for men than women? I don't know. I am sure there are multiple reasons outside of social ones. It is a very scary statistic to read though and makes me feel like we need to really consider the overall mental health of men. We need to realize they are not all closet pedophiles. They don't all think with only their stomach and penises. They are good fathers, teachers, coaches, co workers, people who walk past us on the street and sit next to us on the bench at the playground.

"Males have a significantly higher rate of death by suicide than females, with an age-standardised rate of 17.4 deaths per 100,000 males in 2007, compared with 4.9 deaths per 100,000 females."-
Monday, May 9, 2011 By: Unconditionally You

Blog Love Fest the Sequel (by Melissa)

You know what is better than an original? A sequel of course! The Blog Love Fest was so much fun the first time around that I think it is time to do it again!

For those that have never done the Blog Love Fest here is a link to the first Love Fest:
First Blog Love Fest

This is where you, the reader, get to share your blog. Tell us all about your blog. The title, a link and what it is all about. Also, tell us about you! What got you into writing? Who are you? Do you do this for fun? Do you want to be a famous writer one day or is this just a hobby?

Also, show your fellow commenters some love by visiting their blogs too! Really what is a blog fest without making it a virtual block party? Just BYOB (bring your own blog) and have some fun. :)

Also, feel free to leave your email, twitter and facebook info to promote your blog. I love making friends and I am sure you guys do too.

The Power of the Apology (by Melissa)

I have done and said plenty of things in my lifetime that have hurt people. There is not a person alive that hasn't done the same. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. The fact is that we are social beings and we are going to hurt each other from time to time.

I remember being 16 years old and I had a boyfriend named DJ who was a really nice guy. He was very sweet and would do pretty much anything to make me happy. I was quite immature and could not really handle being in a serious relationship. Simply put, he was more mature than I was and I knew it, deep down.

I broke up with him because I wasn't mature enough to handle the kind of relationship he wanted. In my defense, I was only 16 and didn't want to think about spending the rest of my life with anyone. He had made hints about our future together and comments of that nature. I liked him very much as a boyfriend but didn't want to lead him on to think that it would ever be more, so I ended things.

I also started a very casual relationship with someone else and word got around. DJ was very hurt by this, which I was so incredibly sorry for. I actually had tried to keep this casual relationship private, but a note I had written to the guy was found by his sister, who showed the ex girlfriend... who showed everyone who was willing to read it. You know, the usual high school drama. Also my first lesson that anything you write is not completely private!

All I can say is that I really agonized over the fact that I knew DJ was hurt by this. I never intended him to be. I tried to call him and he never answered my calls. I went by his work but he was never available to talk. I just wanted to talk to him and tell him that the casual relationship had nothing to do with him and that it shouldn't hurt him. That there was no comparison. That I had meant it when I said I didn't want a serious relationship. I wanted to hug him and....

What I ended up doing was writing him a letter and leaving it in his mailbox and it said all of those things. In the meanwhile pretty much our whole circle of friends had turned their back on me. The guy I was having a casual relationship with (which had ended and I was okay with that) had an ex in our group (the one who showed the letter I wrote to everyone) and it just made things very awkward for everyone. So, it was easiest for everyone to not associate with me I suppose. I didn't really blame them for it.

The apology didn't make me feel better. Not right away, not even a few years later. I thought about DJ often and hoped he was doing well in life. As I got older I stopped beating myself up over something that happened in high school. It's not like I had sex with someone while we were together, or flaunted a new relationship. I broke up with him and had a casual (yes, sexual) relationship with someone he knew. I never intended for him to find out, but he did. As an adult I feel good that I apologized for causing him any pain.

Lately I have been very agitated and grouchy over a personal situation and have been causing stress to someone I love very much. She and I have both been agitated and grouchy, she just has more patience than I do. Sometimes, apologizing opens the lines of communication and really helps to make everyone involved feel a little bit better. It might not solve whatever it is that caused the situation, but at least acknowledging that you owe an apology shows that you do care and aren't completely self centered. I really needed to self reflect and give that apology today.

Sometimes apologies are uttered and they have the power to be almost an anti-apology. For instance, have you ever heard someone say "Sorry about your luck." in a snarky, rude way? Are they really sorry? No, not at all. In fact, they are so not sorry that they are making a point of telling you they don't care by using the word "sorry" in a mocking tone.

Or when you go to a place of business and you get "I am sorry to hear that." when they clearly are not sorry to hear it. Example:

Me "Hi, I bought this Playstation game yesterday and it doesn't work. I would like to return it."

Store owner "I am sorry to hear that. Unfortunately we do not accept returns."

How I felt......

The only power the apology has there is to make me infuriated. It is not polite nor does it serve any purpose other than to say "Too bad".

How do you feel about the power of the apology? Is it wasted breath usually? Is saying I am sorry  very important? Does context matter? Does the recipient impact how much it matters?
Saturday, May 7, 2011 By: Unconditionally You

Then and Now pics (by Melissa)

Hey everyone! I haven't been posting a great deal because my hands have been bothering me quite a bit lately. Carpal tunnel sucks, lemme tell ya. Hopefully this will subside again soon like it did last time and I can go back to typing with ease.

So until then I give you some pictures that I have saved in my computer. I hope that will suffice!

Monday, May 2, 2011 By: Unconditionally You

Someone is Dead, a Man Had to Pull That Trigger (by Melissa)

As the title says, Osama BinLaden is dead, and a man had to pull that trigger.

"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction. So when Jesus says "Love your enemies," he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. ... The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." Martin Luther King JR

I cannot get this out of my mind. Should Bin Laden have had to die? I am not going to argue that point. I can't mourn his death. I won't celebrate it either. That would make me NO better than the very people we are fighting in this war. They think they are killing Americans for good reasons too, right? They really believe this, with all of their hearts, just as we believe that Bin Laden deserved to die too for his crimes. They celebrate our peoples deaths. When our soldiers are killed they think it is a wonderful thing. We think it is horrible that they feel this way. It enrages us further, because we love our military. We hate them for the lives lost during the September 11th attacks, and yes we hate that they celebrated those lives lost. They think we are sinners, we saw him as evil. I am not sympathetic to their cause, never take that from what I am saying. I am not even a little bit. But I won't ever let myself be like them.

The difference between us versus them?

These terrorists let their children strap bombs to themselves and walk into supermarkets, blowing themselves up.

Many Americans are praying for the mental health of the soldiers who are fighting the war over there. And for those that don't pray, we think of them constantly and hope they are okay and safe. 

But let's REALLY think about this. And no, I don't think I am over thinking it.

My mind went to the fact that one of our own had to take the life of someone else in order for this manhunt to end. I know he was trained to do it. He has possibly done it before. He will possibly do it again. It is his job, he follows the orders and he willingly goes in and does his job. I understand the mindset of a soldier, as much as a civilian can. I have known many soldiers (including my ex husband) personally and have had this discussion in depth with them about how do you deal with the actual idea of pointing your gun at someone and pulling the trigger?

I absolutely get that our military men and women know it's part of their job, and they are well trained to do it. But, they are human. They don't become robots when they enlist. All of the training in the world cannot prepare every military person for taking the life of another human. Even if you know they will kill you if you don't. Even if you know they are evil. Even if you know they are the enemy. Even if they murder the person standing next to you. There really could be some mental fall out from taking the life of another human being. It's why so many people come back from a combat zone after having taken a life and they have such huge issues coping.

Being in the military doesn't make you less human.

So, I am thinking of this group of Navy SEALS that went in. Yes, they killed Bin Laden. That wasn't the only casualty. We know his youngest wife (and keep in mind, wives of this man were not woo-ed and given the option to marry him) was used as a human shield to protect him. Was she innocent, or a terrorist too? We don't really know at this point. That's not really my focus. I am thinking of the men who had to pull the trigger. Bin Laden got to mark at least one more person for the rest of his life with the burden of being the person who killed him. Even though Bin Laden was evil and I cannot argue that he should have remained alive, I am sorry that any of our people had to be the one that lives with the fact that they had to kill a man.

So tonight I am not rejoicing that our troops have to kill. I am not dancing that Bin Laden got shot. I am feeling weary for our troops that they have the burden of fighting this war. I am sorry they are living in a world where they have to face the situation of possibly having to take the life of another human to keep the rest of us safe. I cannot know that feeling. I don't know how they make peace with it, or even if they ever do.

I hope they know I love them and appreciate them for their service to us though. Thank you for being brave.

Reality Based TV: What's Your Opinion? (by Melissa)

There was an EXCELLENT show on MTV... I am trying to remember the name of it. Something like "If you knew the real me" I think.

Anyways, the kids I knew that watched that show were STUNNED with the stories they heard. Not that they weren't aware that bullying and peer pressure happened. Of course they were. But the nature of the teenage mindset is to be intrinsically motivated, so oftentimes they don't see past their own struggles and maybe the struggles of the friends and loved ones they care about the most.

It was eye opening to them to see that the jock might have a drug or alcohol addiction. That the popular kid might have a mental illness. That the quiet kid might actually be suicidal. That socially perfect doesn't mean they have their stuff together and life is gravy.

So, in some regards I think reality TV can be educational, or at the very least socially eye opening. Is it always or even most of the time? No, most of the time it is purely for entertainment value and the fluff can't even be deemed semi-educational or slightly realistic. And that's not horrible really, we need entertainment, as long as this "reality" tv isn't hurting people. But we can't turn our nose up at the fact that some (maybe very little of it, but indeed some) reality based tv can have an educational and good purpose to it.

Admittedly, I am an  American Idol addict. Ever since I was a young girl I loved to sing. In no way am I a wonderful singer, but like many people I sing in the shower and sing to the radio.  Watching American Idol allows me live vicariously through the contestants my dream to be onstage and singing for an audience. The dream to be recognized from being an everyday person to becoming a star.

The problem I have with this is the judges and the voters. Probably because I tend to not agree with them! Having a love/hate relationship with Simon Cowell for years made it hard to watch the show. But honestly, you don't realize what you had until it is gone. Now we know that his judging style was harsh and rude but at least he had the decency to be honest in his opinions. Currently the judges are perfectly pleasant, and will tell a tone deaf person they are absolutely wonderful, if a little pitchy.

Where has the reality gone in American Idol? And don't even get me started on the voters. How can they consistently vote for people with very little talent and not vote for the ones who have real talent? Is it a popularity contest or a singing competition? Where is the reality aspect of American Idol?

Obviously it works though if I spent the last few minutes writing about it and WILL be tuning in to watch regardless of my opinion of the show being sub-par at this point. What can I say? I am hooked. Reality, or semi-reality wins.

So, what is your opinion of reality TV? Love it? Hate it? Is there any educational value to it at all? Is it purely fluffy entertainment programming? Are people on these shows being exploited for their issues (think Intervention, 16 and Pregnant, Teen Mom, Hoarders)?