Maternity/Paternity Leave

Today marks my 2 year “blogiversary”. I thought I would “celebrate” by posting something a little different- but still related to being a working mom. I started this post over a year ago, long before my current pregnancy. I’m interested to hear feedback and/or discussion regarding this topic, although I know it can be sensitive, especially in our current political climate. So, for those that partake- enjoy, it’s my opinion and only supported by articles and blogs I’ve read online. Don’t expect it to be a thesis….

I don’t typically post controversial stuff on my blog. Well, unless you consider me working and having kids controversial, but then why read a working mom blog in the first place? Either way, I’ve noticed a topic that has popped up in the news on several occasions. No, I’m not talking about political candidate rhetoric. I’m referring to paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child. Now, I cannot speak about adoption because I’ve never gone through that process. However, aside from the fact that the baby comes from someone else’s uterus, you still have the emotional roller coaster, extreme lifestyle change and the “getting to know you” phase of a new person to take care of. So, it still applies. But, I’ll save that topic for people that have the experience to speak from that perspective. And for my male readers- I’ll cover my thoughts on paternity leave, just be patient, I’ll get to it.

If you look at the recent companies that have changed their policies regarding leave, the bulk of them are tech or “trendy” companies. They are looking to attract and keep, good talent. When talking with people, especially those that live outside of the US, most are appalled by our current leave policy- or lack of policy- in most cases. I’ve heard conversations on both sides of this- and have read the many comments on some of these articles which include valid arguments on both sides, along with ignorant, troll-like responses. So, because I can only speak about what I know, here are my thoughts on paid leave for parents.

I was fortunate enough to work for companies where I qualified for FMLA (12 weeks of leave with job protection) and that paid me for 6 weeks at 66% of my salary. Now, don’t get me wrong, I say that I was fortunate because a lot of people I’ve read about worked places where they had far less time, were not under FMLA, and did not receive any pay. That is unfortunate. I often think about the idea that when you have an employee who gets the flu, you send them home. You don’t risk them spreading the virus to others which can cause a huge decrease in productivity when you have several people out. I get it, getting pregnant is not contagious. But, attitude and morale are- and maybe more so. If your employee comes back to work depressed, stressed, and tired, that does not help anyone. If the employee is worth keeping, it’s worth offering perks that keep them there.

I do consider myself lucky. I could have not gotten paid, and I don’t know about you, but coming out of college with student loans does not lend a lot of flexibility to “saving up”. Not to mention all of the new “grown up” things that were then added. Plus, how in the world do you know how much to save? I mean, you can save enough for your medical costs (assuming you have a perfect, no issue birth) and then several months of money to cover living expenses (again, assuming that nothing goes wrong while you’re off). But even then, it would have taken hubs and I, on our meager salaries starting out, years to save the amount of money to cover the medical costs (roughly $5-8K for Elijah which was the most normal birth we had) and the household expenses for 3-6 months. Yes I know, it’s our fault we took out student loans, had a car payment, mortgage, utilities, food, etc. We could not have afforded to have any more time off unpaid. I only took the paid 6 weeks off to not affect our budget any more than it already had been. I was also lucky enough to not have any lingering health issues so returning at 6 weeks, although still too early in my opinion, was more doable than having to go back any earlier.

So, there is the financial side of this argument. Sure I suppose you can prepare for that technically. But what you cannot prepare for is the physical side of the process. Forget about the pregnancy itself, morning sickness, fatigue, and any other ailments pregnant women often experience. Let’s talk about the actual delivery. A good delivery would allow a woman to go into the hospital, labor for a short period of time and then pop out the baby. No IV needed, no drugs, no stitches and minimal bleeding. But, let’s be real. How often does that happen? Going by the number of women that I’ve known who have had babies, deliveries seldom go that way. Think about it, you are pushing a baby- typically the size of a small watermelon (if you’re lucky), through a part of the body that is substantially smaller than that. There is bound to be some scrambling of things happening there. The body goes through extreme pain and contortion (it feels like that anyway) in order to get the baby out. If not naturally, you end up with an incision in your lower abdomen. So, stitches in your abdomen or in your lady parts, either way, not fun.

Hearing all of that fun, messy stuff, can we talk about the fact that it is really only a woman who can have the baby? I’ve heard the argument that it’s not a company’s responsibility to provide paid leave for their employees, it’s a privilege. That’s correct, it is a privilege. However, why wouldn’t a business offer paid time off for employees. Let’s think about this. We have to assume that the employee having the baby is a good employee- otherwise why are they still employed there? Not to mention, the only employee that can physically give birth, is a woman. So for those that argue that if you can’t afford the time off, then don’t have a baby: that would limit a LOT of women to having babies when they’re young before entering the workforce (again assuming there are no financial challenges- see my remark about student loans), waiting until they retire (hello biological clock) or heck, why not just stay home and not work? It seems a little sexist considering women are the only ones that can actually perform the process of birthing. Again- adoption aside for this particular argument. I even heard comments along the lines of “that’s why women shouldn’t work”, but I’ll save those for another forum. I’m not interested in entertaining thoughts from the 1950’s at this moment in time.

Having said all of this, I’m not saying it only applies to women. It should be the same for men as well. What better support system than to have your other half there to help you when you’re exhausted, sore, emotional, etc.? Besides, it really wouldn’t be fair to say that only women can get this benefit. Yes, they go through the bulk of the process (remember my watermelon example) but men should be allowed to also have that bonding time with the newest family member. There is value in having full participation from all parents involved.

What could the down sides be? Your worker, who again I assume is a good worker as they are still employed, will come back re-energized and ready to contribute? The partner of that worker comes back knowing they were able to be there for some irreplaceable moments with their newest family member? This has been a very hot topic with a LOT of opinions, I get that. But I do also recognize our society is changing in a big way. People are yearning for more of a balance in their life. They want a rewarding career but also are seeing the value of having a family and not waiting until they are in their 40’s. I also understand that there are some businesses that cannot afford to provide this type of benefit. Maybe it’s time to look at other examples across the globe to see what works or doesn’t work. I’m writing about this not because I’ve been through this 3 times, and am about to go through this again. But because I hurt for those that are having children without any resources, or want children, and cannot because we as the leading country in the world, cannot put ourselves in others shoes and show understanding or empathy for people in situations different than ours. We can do better than that, if even making an effort to discuss in a civilized manner. It has to start somewhere.

 

 

Keep In Mind…

What’s a blog without one mention of the election? A good blog you might say!? I figured I would add my thoughts as it will be 4 years before I get the chance again. And who knows if this blog will be around then??

So, it’s that time again Every 4 years, the eve of the big election. Some of you may hide in a closet and wait for it to be over. For others, this is like the political Super bowl- regardless of who or what you’re voting for.  For me, I love watching all of this. I hate politics normally, but something about watching the electoral votes come in is just purely fascinating to me. Of course I’m sure there are people that would just like to watch TV without a political ad popping up. Either way, here are a few things I want to mention- and I will say- this post is candidate agnostic so you don’t have to lecture me about whatever party you hold near and dear. There are some observations that I’m trying to keep in mind.

 

  • Regardless of who you’re voting for, it’s not okay to demean people because they do not agree with you. On November 9th one of those candidate will be elected by our democracy to lead our country. And guess what, we all still live here! We all still have to work, shop, worship, etc. with one another. Consider life beyond November 8th.
  • In regards to the previous item, if it’s frightening, you know, life beyond November 8th– then GO VOTE! Whichever way you go, be part of the process and don’t leave it up to everyone else. As far as I’m concerned, I have no room to complain if I don’t participate.
  • At the end of this process, we are all still Americans. We may not agree with one another on everything, but that is what makes this country special. That is why, over centuries, people immigrated here for a better life. A life that is not oppressed, where they can practice religion, culture, and live their life outside of whatever cultural norm may have been oppressing them before. America is a melting pot of people and heritages that survived world wars, depressions and recessions, terrorist attacks, and countless things that would have, and people thought, should have, torn us apart. But we were resilient. Let’s not let our own democratic process divide all of us.

 

Enough of my soapbox, you get the idea. Even after this is all done, I still have respect for my fellow Americans. If you want to make a difference, participate! Treat people kindly and allow the process to run its course. And either way it goes, I’ll be celebrating on November 9th that it is finally over!!!

Bag Balm

Bag balm. We have a love hate relationship. It’s an AMAZING ointment to use for baby bottoms (it’s official use is for milking cows, but whatever). Seriously. My sister-in-law first told me about it when she had my nephew 11 years ago and we’ve been believers ever since. The stuff will fix diaper rash in no time. It’s not exactly great smelling, but it gets the job done. And when you’re dealing with a raw baby bottom, anything is worth a shot. The trick with bag balm, aside from its ability to moisturize, is that it is a protectant for the skin. So it is really hard to get off. You can wipe away the excess, sure. But just know there will be a little coating protecting that lovely epidermis of yours for a few more wipes or washings. It’s great. No need to reapply multiple times.

That’s where the love story ends however. Our first battle was several years ago when our sweet Aden was about 3 years old. He had the most adorable, fluffy, big curls ever. They were thick and fine and they fit his personality just perfect. aden

Aden decided that Bag Balm apparently looked like a “hair cream” and managed to wipe half a can into his delightful hair before we saw what was happening. Oh. My. Goodness. I didn’t know what was worse at first: the fact he had it in his hair or I would have to get it all over my hands just to get it out (as opposed to using baby wipes or a Q-Tip on their bottoms).  I mean, what’s a little extra moisture in his hair? Especially compared to having antiseptic smelling hands for a week? It couldn’t be that bad right? Oh, it was. There was NO way out.

aden-bag-balm

First, we scraped. That got the large chunks out, but it also mushed the remnants into his hair even more. We tried shampoo. Nope. We tried dish soap. That’s supposed to cut grease right? Nope. We tried homemade concoctions we found online. Nothing. Not a single thing was working to get that layer of grease out of his hair. So, the final option, a haircut. I was devastated and Aden, of course after being practically water boarded trying to get the stuff out of his hair, was not about to sit for a haircut. It took some patience, but my little innocent, sweet toddler went from his sweet 3 year old self to a small child after that haircut. He just looked so much older! And, it still took a good week to get that last layer of grease out.

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At the risk of totally humiliating myself, here is the rest of the story. Bag Balm and I stayed on speaking terms but had grown apart as the big boys were out of diapers and we thankfully didn’t have a lot of intestinal bugs. Well, until recently. Thankfully the most recent episode wasn’t as traumatizing as the first (at least not yet I hope). You see, it works great on babies, but really, it works great on all ages. When the big boys get a bug where they’re wiping a lot and it’s getting uncomfortable, we bust out the Bag Balm. Same with the adults. And recently, it had hit me. I don’t have the time to sit in a nice warm tub for hours on end (as much as I would like to), so we move to option B- option Bag Balm. Well, of course that day I had errands to run and quite honestly, I have about 2 options for clothing right now- maternity yoga pants and work pants. So, I opted for the comfy route (the yoga pants if you were wondering) and headed to the store. I wandered around Target, enjoying a rare moment at the store by myself, in no huge rush to get back. The bum was feeling better so why not take my time right? Well, I get home and we’re unloading groceries and hubs says, “Hey, you have a grease mark on the bottom of your pants”. I figure it’s just from chapstick someone left in the dryer. I look in the mirror. Nope. Not. At. All. I had a dark, wide, and quite obvious mark up the seam of the pants, basically covering the crack. I either had the sweatiest crack ever for a cool October day or had wet my pants and it had traveled up the seam. Nice. And, to make matters worse, it was a rare day where I was wearing a maternity shirt that didn’t cover my butt. So, the entire time I was at the store, I was walking around with my grease mark hanging out. That’s where it could get worse, I suppose. Maybe someone took a picture of me, unknowingly, and will post it online. Heck, maybe it’s already out there. So if you see it, just let me know. I want to be able to at least benefit from whatever ad money they’re making!

At the end of the day, I know I won’t break up with Bag Balm. Not with another little one on the way and one still in diapers. It’s too valuable not to have around. I just need to remember to keep my bum covered!

 

 

Big News!

I’ve been holding off on writing until we had everything confirmed and okay. We are excited to announce…our Baby Girl will be here in February!

The boys are thrilled and hubs and I are both in shock. I really thought our baby factory only made boys, so I was mentally preparing to be the only girl from here on out. We had always wanted 4 kiddos and knew that this was it. Boy or girl, it didn’t matter. Imagine my surprise when we found out it was a girl! Speaking of which, did you know that if you’re 35 or older, that’s considered to be of “advanced maternal age”? Well, because I have a dusty uterus, I was able to do the blood test at 10 weeks and find out what we were having. I really had a hard time believing it until we saw her lady parts on the ultrasound today (thus the delayed post). So, now I’m convinced (mostly) and preparing to better understand what this whole dynamic will be.

One of the most interesting things that I’ve encountered so far in my pregnancy- aside from the wicked hormonal changes- are all of the comments people have. Here are a few we’ve heard- but I would love to hear what others may have been told!

When someone hears that we’re having baby #4, these are responses we’ve heard:

  • “Are you Catholic?” Because apparently only Catholic people have more than 2.5 children?
  • “Wow, was that planned?” I’m not sure when that is ever a good question for anyone. I’m sure it’s not your business either way.
  • “How in the world do you do it?” You mean make the baby or manage the household? Those are 2 very different answers. I refer you to your parents or some knowledgeable adult for the first, and for the managing of the household, LOTS of communication is best.
  • “What in the world will you do if it’s a boy?” Geez, I don’t know. Maybe send him off to be raised by wolves? I mean seriously!? At this point, what is one more boy in this household?? I just would have needed more socks and Band-Aids.
  • “Don’t you hope it’s a girl?” I can’t lie, sure I was hoping it was a girl, but was preparing for a boy (see above comments). But most of all, I wanted a healthy baby. Honestly, I was a little freaked out the first week or two after finding out it’s a girl. It’s sounds so different from boys, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.
  • “Why would you want another one? Four is a lot.” Well, why do you want 2, or 1, or none? How about we refer to the earlier comment about it not being your business.
  • “How will you afford 4 kids?” Again, I refer you to the “not your business” comment. But if you just must know, we don’t say yes to everything and we try our best to live below our means. Which, while in medical school, means we don’t get to do super fun stuff all the time. It’s OKAY to say no!

There have been more, these are just a few of the common questions I’ve had. Apparently 4 kids is a tipping point in today’s society. Either way, we’re not letting anyone rain on our parade- I can just write about it and move on. Fingers are crossed and we’re praying that when the time comes for her to arrive, hubs will be at least able to get away from his rotation to be there in time. That just may be a fun blog post too!

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I’m Not Your Friend

After moving to the new neighborhood, there’s been a time period of getting to know the neighbors and the nuances of life here. Everyone is friendly and it’s a quiet area. There are several boys around Aden’s age so he’s having fun making new friends and playing outside. However, I find in most cases, I’m the mean mom. You see, we have a few rules in our household. Maybe this makes me a little cray-cray but whatever. Some of it is dictated by Aden’s allergies (I don’t have him carry his epi-pen yet as I’m pretty sure he would think it was a toy to play with) and other are dictated by the fact that we’ve experienced crazy and are hoping to prevent any repeat incidents.

 

Here are the rules:

 

  • When school has started, you do not play outside until you have your homework done. If you “forgot” your homework at school, you’re out of luck. I bet you’ll remember it next time! And for all of the people freaking out that they “need their exercise”, they play outside all afternoon in their after school program. So they’re all sweaty and stinky by the time I pick them up and have had their share of fresh air.
  • If you’re fortunate enough to play outside after homework, do not keep coming in and out of the house. Unless you’re about to pee your pants, stay outside until you plan on staying inside. If I hear you come in more than once, that’s a wrap. We don’t need a bunch of flies in the house and you certainly do not need to feed the whole neighborhood all of the lunch snacks I have in the pantry. It’s almost dinner time anyway.
  • Speaking of dinner time, when I call you inside for dinner, you better hear me and you better listen the first time. I do not want to be that crazy mom who is running around the neighborhood in my not so nice lounge clothes looking for you. If that happens, consider it being docked in pay and you’re inside the next night. And don’t even ask to go outside after dinner!
  • Don’t ask me 50 times if you can play in Johnny’s house. You have about 1 hour to enjoy and that means enjoy it outside. I don’t know Johnny’s parents like that so, no, you cannot play over there. Heck, I don’t even know what house they live in. Stop asking or you’re coming inside.
  • If you have your homework done, you’ve stayed outside and you came in at dinner and didn’t ever ask to play at Johnny’s house, you may get a chance to go back outside after dinner….if the streetlights are not on. If they are, that’s a night and it’s time to take a shower (because you stink like the outside) and get ready for bed. If you argue, you lose tomorrow night.

 

So, these are the rules we use. Maybe I’m mean, but it’s what fits our family and our kids. So recently, one of the boys came over and asked Aden to play outside. He, knowing the rules, told them he had to finish homework and eat before he could come out. They were a little puzzled by this. Aden, being the child who challenges everything, pressed me about why his friends can do certain things and he cannot. “Because I’m not your friend. I am your mom. My job is to make sure you can follow rules, stay safe, and be respectful. It’s not changing so stop asking.” He rolled his eyes and groaned. My reply: “That’s fine. You can stay in tonight.” Hopefully someday he will learn. And hopefully it’s before he’s an adult when we can actually be more like friends….

Med School- Another Truth

With year 1 and 2 under our belt, and the third underway, I thought it was fitting to talk a little about the not so bright side of med school. This will be more of a “keepin it real” post- from my perspective as the wife. I think it’s important to share the ugly side of this process for the people that have comments or are critical about my lack of participation in activities. I want to fully explain what is going on and ask to be cut some slack for the next little while until my head can stop spinning. My feelings are not unusual. I say that from extensive discussions with spouses/partners of other med students and from a number of awesome online resources. I’m telling you, get some med school wives together and that is some for real camaraderie! The only other place I’ve experienced that was as a military wife!

I’ve been really hard on myself about how crazy our life has been. Hubs finished second year, spent a month out of state prepping for his board exam, we moved (because everyone loves moving- especially during the craziest summer ever) and he started rotations. Oh, and I am working and traveling too. It’s a lot of work. Unlike anything else I can imagine. We’ve been through a military deployment and that was not fun but also nothing like this. Not in a “med school is more difficulty kind of way”. I worried about him making it home alive from Iraq, I don’t have those fears now (thank goodness!). Now I worry about thing like hubs getting stuck with an HIV sharp while working (which is surprisingly more common than you would think).

I’ve talked in the past about the different aspects of med school- getting into med school, details of the first year, signs of living with a med student, etc. Those were fun and all, but now I want to address the stuff that doesn’t get talked about. On a good day I feel like we’re hanging on by a fraying thread. I’m about one trip out the door from forgetting my purse, or a kid for that matter. All because I’m so worried about keeping up this facade of how we’re breezing through medical school like anyone can do it. I’ve been carrying such a guilt with me because in the midst of all of this going on, I feel like I am unable to do everything or sometimes anything. The house is a mess (of course things are still in boxes so I’ll use that as my excuse for now). I’m terrible about the little things. I think of how I should send a card or make a quick call and before I know it, a week has passed and I still haven’t done it. I have great little ideas but forget to put them into action.

So, here are the cliff notes of how I felt when we were going through each year. This may help explain- or validate- what you see from other med students and families.

Year 1- A very rude awakening, an initiation if you will, to the chaos of what medical school will be. It’s where you sign your life over to the institution that is promising to make you a “world class medical professional”. It’s the place where, if you’re single, it can still be overwhelming and hard to manage. If you’re married, and with kids, forget about it! It wasn’t made for you! You have to work that much harder to not only make med school work, but your family life as well. It’s the place where you learn how strong your spouse is, you learn how strong you are, and if you make it through, you feel like you can conquer the world. It’s a challenge in not only academics, but mentally and physically too. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Year 2- You’re on a bit of a high from surviving year one. You feel like if you made it through that first year, second year should be a breeze. It went by fast, you learned more than you thought possible in that time frame, and you’re still walking and talking. You’re getting closer to the clinical part, which, let’s be real, that’s the reason most people came to medical school. To work with patients- the hands on stuff. By now your spouse is used to the crazy schedule. I said used to not liking– there’s a distinct difference. This is also the time where you begin to realize that you’re too far in to back out now (what other job will cover the amount of debt you have) and you have the first board exam around the corner. You’re cramming to get classes situated and do well, all at the same time scheduling your rotations, which is such a methodical process that I could almost physically see the request being processed by the RAM in hubs computer.

Year 2.175- Step 1 time! It’s your first board exam and really the major exam that will determine, or have a huge part, in determining your placement for residency. So, no pressure!

Year 3- Rotations start and hubs is now super amped up about being able to do hands on learning. He’s successfully completed 2 rotations so far and just started his third. I will admit his first 2 were really easy compared to what’s coming in the next few months. He had fairly regular hours (aside from studying for step 1).  He did miss Elijah getting his tonsils out- I’m sure the first of many things that will be like that. But, it’s part of the process. The rotation he’s in now requires on call status so there might be times where he gets called in at weird hours of the night. That will be a new process for us. It’s going to be a learning curve for sure, but we’re over half way there so it keeps me going.

What always surprises me are when people presume that being doctor is “easy and carefree”. Both the path of becoming a doctor, as well as being a doctor, are neither. You sacrifice time with family and friends and you’re in high stress situations with a mountain on liability riding on your shoulders. Yes, there are financial perks. There have to be. Otherwise no good business person would consider medical school- the cost to attend is so high, you need a return on that investment to even break even.

All in all, it’s been highly stressful, exhausting and downright irritating sometimes, but hubs and I are closer than ever. He’s doing what he loves- which makes me happy for him. We are forced to communicate, not just frequently, but effectively as well. We plan better, even if in-between is a whirlwind. Most of all, we’re a team- so at least I don’t feel completely alone. Well, not until he has 36 hour shifts and then I’ll hog the bed and binge watch Netflix to fill in the gap!

When Will It End?

I don’t typically write controversial stuff. I woke up last night and checked my phone to see what time it was. I saw a bunch of news updates about the shootings in Dallas. Coupled with the recent shootings of civilians, my heart was heavy. I tried going back to sleep and couldn’t. So, I started typing.

I’m not sure if living in Minnesota makes it different. We’re closer to what has happened. If we lived in Maine or Montana, maybe it would be easier to say how unfortunate it was and what a crazy world we live in. But we live so close. So close that hubs was actually pulled over twice in a month in that same jurisdiction for minimal reasons. It hits very close to home. Proximity to the events shouldn’t matter, but I feel often it’s easier to just change a channel or turn off social media and pretend nothing terrible has happened. We have a problem. We as a country. Is it the culture of the police forces, the frustration of the black citizens? Where does it stop? How and when can we “start over”? I get that some were “justified” (rightly or not- I’m strictly speaking based on the findings of the legal system). But how, even when you do what you’re told, you still get shot. How can that help? How can we move past that? Are police trigger happy because they’re expecting the worst? Are black citizens on edge because they’re assuming they’re going to get shot and ultimately the energy becomes fatal?

It is not just about being confronted by police and getting shot. It starts before that. It’s about being singled out because of the pigment of your skin. About having a higher chance of getting pulled over because you aren’t as pasty white as me. Hubs was on his way to an ambulance ride along for school. He was dressed in business casual (not that it should even matter). It was early in the morning, still dark out. As he was nearing the hospital, he got pulled over for burnt out taillight. After a few preliminary questions, he was given a warning and left. A few weeks later, in that same jurisdiction, he was pulled over because a small part of the tag on the license plate was behind the license plate holder (apparently that’s a thing we weren’t aware of in MN). Why wasn’t it addressed in the first stop? Thank GOD the incidents were eventless. He was covered, lucky, blessed, whatever you want to call it- but he walked away.

I fear for him, my 3 boys and our countless friends and family. I have family and friends who are police officers, both black and white. I fear for them. I fear because I don’t assume the police will always shoot. I fear because nowadays a simple misunderstanding can take a life. Has it become a shoot now, ask questions later society? I’m not saying that all police are trigger happy. People are angry. Angry at a system that that we’ve been taught is supposed to serve and protect, yet people are being killed with little cause in some cases. But how can you generalize a whole population of police based on the actions of some ill trained or bad apples? Isn’t that the same as generalizing the whole black population as thugs? The cycle has to stop- but where?

I know not everyone agrees. If you don’t see a problem with what has been happening, please take a moment and walk through this with me. Imagine you are minding your own business, driving home from a long day of work, and are pulled over. Imagine, instead of the officer simply asking for your ID, you’re asked to put your hands in the air. Of course you’re puzzled. This is just a routine traffic stop and you certainly have nothing to hide or to harm right? The police officer approaches the vehicle with caution and you can see that there is tension. You are asked to step out of the car. Seriously! For a traffic stop? You don’t understand and you begin to ask. “Officer, what is the problem? Is there something I should be aware of?” The officer, feeling that you’re asking too many questions, asks you to put your hands behind your head and to stop talking. Because you’re puzzled and wondering what the heck is going on, you ask again. This time, the officer, feeling that you’re resisting the instructions, escorts you to the ground roughly. Your arm hurts, it’s pinned behind your back and you are still in shock as to why this is even happening. You should be sitting at home right this minute with your spouse, children, pets, whatever. You should not be on the ground, outside of your car, pinned by a police officer that is now shouting at you to sit still and quit resisting. Still not understanding how it has even escalated to this point, you ask again what is happening. Now you feel a weapon on your back. You are getting verbal warnings to stop talking. A simple misunderstanding, confusion, and it could end very badly. This was a routine traffic stop. Imagine now, that the person in this scenario is your child, your sibling. Can you begin to understand how terrifying this is for parents? For spouses? Families?

As a country, we need prayer, lots of it. We need to come together, ALL of us, and have a grown up discussion. Instead of talking about the symptoms, we need to talk about the actual disease that is plaguing our nation. We need to have a civilized discussion where all opinions can be heard and respected. Where people can talk openly without repercussions and criticism. We need people to step outside of their comfortable zones and see what is really happening. It’s easy to turn away and pretend this chaos does not exist. When you don’t feel it or know someone who could be a target, it’s easy to just nod politely and go about your business.

Also, do not misunderstand me. I am in NO WAY saying that one person’s life is more important than another. Historically black Americans were seen as “less than”. That perception, that has been dragged into modern day, in a nonchalant kind of way, needs to end. Black, white, police, civilian- we are all equal.

We cannot correct this issue until ALL people start to understand it and have sympathy of what is going on. I’ve had so many people tell me that racism doesn’t exist, racial profiling is fake. That is the ignorance that fuels this fire! I will be praying for our leaders, current and incoming. I’m praying that this might be addressed as passionately as the economy and terrorism. If we as a community, a state, a nation, do not push to make a change, when will it end?