Routine/Mandatory circumcision?

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You have got to be kidding.

But no, apparently the CDC is preparing a proposal that would make it mandatory for all boys born in the US.

Frankly, I am so stunned I can’t find words for all that is wrong with this idea.

http://www.examiner.com/x-16813-Legal-News-Examiner~y2009m8d24-Circumcision-to-become-mandatory-in-the-United-States

http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/features_momsatwork/2009/08/us-circumcision-hiv-aids-routine-universal.html

Deep breath…

Okay, the NY Times article that apparently started the fuss doesn’t go quite as far as mandatory – but does use words like ‘intervention’ and ‘promoting routine circumcision.’

This is a case in which benefits need not only outweigh the risks, there had better be a clearly demonstrable reason.

This is just so wrong…

Family changes

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My sisters and I have had to overtly acknowledge some things recently that – while we have known them intellectually – we have always kept the emotional reality at arm’s length.

Our parents are mortal.

We will never again live, as a family, in our old house.

We may visit a few times over the next few months, but mostly to remove the few remaining possessions we have kept there.

Our parents are in their 90s. They are strong, proud, stubborn individuals who find a great deal of their strength in each other and in the family they have created together. They worked hard to raise their children properly, during some times when raising a watermelon would have been difficult.

Based on what I see of the next generation, they managed to pass a fair amount of wisdom along (maybe it skips a generation).

But things change and in our efforts to keep them safe and healthy and comfortable, it seemed wisest to move them from that house into an assisted-living apartment near where two siblings live and where my parents can get the care and assistance they need.

And they both ended up in the emergency room.

They have recovered from the rigors of the move and are settling into a routine. They have some of their own things there (furniture, pictures, dishes and the like) and they are adapting.

But the crises of the past week, even though over, brought us face to face with mortality and loss. So, naturally, each of us bottled it up as long as we could.

It is so easy to focus on the next task – in part because there are so many that demand our attention. But each of us needs to set aside some time to say goodbye to our old home and to the youthful faith that our parents would always be there for us.

They won’t. They would if they could, but they can’t.

They raised us to be strong, self-reliant, fair, and stoic. If you were going to cry, you’d better have damned good reason.

I think we do.

I suspect that my siblings and I will each weep alone once or twice over the next few weeks.

And when we all walk into the house that no longer is home to our parents, I suspect that we will all weep together.

As a family.

Family fortune

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There really are times I can’t believe how lucky I am.

I had a reasonably normal childhood, raised by parents who loved me and my sisters, we all seem to have developed into kind and thoughtful and generous adults and even our kids have turned into wonderful adults!

And we all love dogs!

I don’t know what it is that allows some individuals to have ‘normal’ lives and others have lives filled with tragedy or high drama or despair or pain. I don’t think anyone’s life is actually easy, you just don’t live very long without *some* challenges. But perhaps it is similar to the reactions of dogs (you knew that was coming, didn’t you!) – a self-confident dog will remain calm though alert and will not escalate a situation unless necessary. A shy or fearful dog will over-react or under-react, often with dire consequences that will just reinforce that dog’s sense that the situation required a stronger response.

Perhaps it is also because we have always known that no matter what else might happen, our family would always be there for us, that has allowed us to approach our lives with a confidence and calm (okay, *after* our teen-age years) that we have been able to pass along to our children. I know that when I was raising my sons I always knew that it was important for them to know I was there and would always be there for them, no matter what. I think they know they have my unqualified support and love, just as I have always known (at least as a child and then as an adult, let’s just forget my teens) my parents would be there to stand behind me and beside me and to help me get back up if I stumbled.

Yeah, I’ve been known to make some pretty stupid decisions, but I also always knew that even when I did make a mistake, I could find a way to fix it – or at least make some repairs and continue on life’s adventures.

I wish everyone could know the kind of support and love I have known and that I have tried to pass along as best I could.

It was the best gift our parents could give us, and we have been wrapped in that gift as long as I can remember.

Life

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Those of us who are parents have an instinct to protect our children from all manner of harm. That’s a wonderful wish, but sometimes it can keep our children from experiences that enrich their lives.

My mother and her sister didn’t have pets when they were growing up. My grandfather had had a dog when he was a boy, and when that dog died he was devastated. He vowed that his children would never experience that pain. He made that vow out of love for his daughters, the desire to protect them from hurt. But it also meant that they did not have the responsibility or the joys of pet ownership that they might have had.

My father did have a dog when he was a boy, and there are times he still misses that dog. When any of his children bring our dogs when we visit, the expression on my father’s face says it all – he remembers the fun, the companionship, the security, and the joy his dog gave him and he finds joy in knowing that his children have that same experience.

Our dogs teach us a lot about patience, responsibility, compassion, strength and love. They teach us about caring for another sentient being, about pride in accomplishment, about finding the celebration in the moment. And they teach us about pain, and loss, and honoring a life well-lived.

I would love to spare my children pain and grief, but I cannot. And I know that those are just the other side of the coin from love and joy. I don’t know how you can have one without the risk of the other.

And I would never want to shield my children from love.

As the Garth Brooks song says:

“I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance “