Saturday, February 10, 2007

And now, something besides anxiety, sort of

I've been reading two books, Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and The Myth of the Perfect Mother: Rethinking the Spirituality of Women by Carla Barnhill.

The Kohn book I started reading after an exasperating attempt to implement an incentive chart. It didn't work for me. I felt that I spent all my time monitoring every blessed thing the girls did to see if I needed to add points or subtract points, and I had a sneaking suspicion that getting them to comply wasn't the same as encouraging actual kindness, helpfulness, and general character development. When I started investigating my feelings about incentive charts, I ran across Alfie Kohn, who has taken up arms against most conventional forms of behavioral modification in favor of, well, something rather amorphous that combines listening, respecting children, playfulness, and the avoidance of criticism OR praise as forms of parental manipulation. That last floored me, because it's drilled into us to praise our kids as much as possible. Though I have at times thought that gushing over every kind or nifty think my kids did was an easy way of not actually thinking about any of it very deeply. Oh that's so beautiful honey, what a great job you did! On to the dishwashing. He referances research that shows that children praised for doing nice things actually act less generously in situations where there's no "reward" and children begin to loose interest in projects and activities after parents praise their efforts, or they start thinking only in terms of how to earn another pat on the back. Anyway, I have only an imperfect idea of how to parent the way he describes, but has been a very thought-provoking read. I have another of his on my stack to read: Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise and other Bribes.

The second book addresses the problems with the "ideal mother" as promulgated by mainstream evangelical Christianity--the mom who never complains of boredom or dissatisfaction because motherhood is her ultimate calling, self-sacrificing, stay-at-home, homeschooling, success or failure measured by the behavior of her children, which in turn indicates how well she is training them in the faith. There's some of that where I work. One woman told me that she didn't believe teen rebellion was inevitable, if a child was reared properly (so of course rebellion would be a sign of poor parenting). Homeschooling is how you keep your children from the evils of evolution. Spanking is biblically mandated and if you don't you're some kind of liberal weirdo. I even heard one woman mention the Ezzo's, who are crazy wacked out Christian child rearing "specialists" who believe in something called "first time obedience," which sounds like it would be at home in a fascist regime. Then there was the time I read a forum discussion on schooling where one angry dad declared that he "wouldn't sacrifice his covenant children in the public schools." Well, back to the book. Barnhill is much nicer than I am, since I'm inclined to throw my hands up in exasperation and find a children's illustrated guide to evolution, so there.

Whew, for the most part

My biopsy came back benign, but I still have to have surgery. I have something called atypical ductal hyperplasia and aypical lobular hyperplasia, which could cause havok in the future. The surgery is outpatient, but I'll be under anaesthesia. It's called a benign surgical biopsy. They'll look again at the tissue to make sure none of the cells have become cancerous, to be safe. Such a relief. Thanks to everyone who dropped by with good wishes and prayers,

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


So, tomorrow I have to go in for a biopsy. I go with much trepidation. Not that anyone goes tripping lightheartedly. What is so disconcerting is that I was given the all clear after a second mammogram, only to have the doctor call me the next day. He had second thoughts about some areas of calcification and consulted a colleague and decided a biopsy would be best. I’ve now read altogether too much about calcifications (I have a lot, it seems) and the kinds that can be a marker of cancer. Which led me to read a bit too much about breast cancer, including the dispiriting information that small isn’t necessarily better. A small cancer no bigger than a pinhead can kill you and you could actually have a better prognosis with a cancerous tumor the size of a golf ball. With some cancers early detection doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. So, the fact that this clump of whatever is so small the doctors almost didn’t bother with it is no comfort at all. So I’ve been thinking about death and how much I don’t like it, no matter what glories await on the other side, and how I would I would like to not approach any closer.

I also haven’t had a lot of medical interventions that involved slicing, or puncturing in this case. My c-section was it. Beyond that IVs and blood draws have been my sole encounters with invasive procedures. The idea of someone sticking a big needle in my breast, even if there is a local anesthetic (and that causes me some alarm, too, as I have now extrapolated from my issues with Novocain to whatever numbing agent they will be using. They said I could go back to work afterwards. Ha! I’m going to eat chocolate and watch a movie, and maybe go to a bookstore.