Friday, May 13, 2016

Chronic pain is a thing. We need to do more about it.

I saw this article wander across my feed today...   Taking Painkillers All the Time Doesn’t Make Me an Addict.  In it, Ms. Jen O’Neal responds as an EDS patient to a doctor (who has been treated for addiction to painkillers) who thinks that all drugs across the board (except marijuana) are evil.

It struck home.

Chronic pain is something that we demonize in this country, because for decades we have taught ourselves that anyone who depends on pain medication is an addict, and addicts are weak, failed human beings. (No, they're actually not, but that's a different rant.) And because we equate medical dependency on pain killers with addiction to painkillers, people like me, who don't have mountains of medical history paperwork because our cases are relatively "mild", well, we just choose to live in pain, because getting treatment is adding one too many battles to a life that is already a war.

I have enough on my plate without a years-long fight for disability benefits, or presenting my case to doctor after doctor after doctor, praying I get referred to somebody who remembers the two sentence description of Ehlers-Danlos in the single lecture on chronic pain from medical school. I'm not exaggerating, I've actually been told straight up by the best family GP I've ever had that the single chronic pain lecture is where she remembered hearing the name "Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome". She had to look it up. I've had other doctors blink at me in absolute seriousness and express some variation of, "You have ... what, again?"

The one time I was on pain meds that worked, the doctor I was going to came under investigation for writing too many pain scripts, so he referred me out, to a Rheumatoid Arthritis specialist. Who took one look at the way I was standing (knees completely locked for stability), asked me to touch the floor, and wasn't the least surprised when I did it with flat palms without bending my knees. She knew exactly what I had, and sent me away with a new script for the same medication... at a dose that was half of what I had been taking. Without telling me. And like an idiot, I didn't look. So I ran out (even though I only took it on days I was working), 10 days before I could get a refill, and because it was a bad pain day and I had to go to work that night and was facing a 10 hour shift on my feet, I burst into tears at the pharmacy window. Not my finest hour.

I never picked up that refill, because that one experience of "okay, we've got a druggie" looks from the pharmacy staff and every shopper within earshot was humiliating enough. I toughed out my job (that I loved, and was GOOD at, dammit), for another month, and then I quit because I was losing any semblance of stability in the face of that much constant and aggravated pain.

I haven't been to a doctor for the EDS since, and I can't bring myself to apply for disability. Which means I walk two miles every day, good day or bad, because it's teaching healthy habits to my kids, knowing that I'm buying myself hours of significantly increased pain. It means that my resume, which is 90% food service (I was a manager, dammit) does not qualify me for any job that I can physically handle, and even though I would totally kick ass as a secretary or an office manager, I don't have the experience to be considered against people who have been in the field for a decade. So no job, because I can't face convincing a doctor, and another doctor, and another, and then the pharmacist every time I pick up a refill. No disability, because the idea of that process of apply - deny - apply - doctor - deny - apply - doctor - doctor - doctor - deny - repeat until it goes to court - approve ... the thought of it looms before me and laughs as heartlessly as any cartoon villain. I can't. Just can't. Don't have the wherewithal.

And then I find out that Ohio legislators are thinking about legalizing medical marijuana, which the studies are showing does wonders for chronic pain conditions... except the proposed bill only recognizes 20 conditions where patients would be eligible (you guessed it, EDS didn't make the cut), and even then it's so restrictive as to make consistent pain management nearly impossible...

But sure, go right ahead and judge me because I'm not a size 6 and there's a pint of Haagen Daz in my grocery cart. Go ahead and tell me "just apply for disability, since you're so sure you qualify", when you don't know that the genetic test for my condition isn't reliable because they haven't fully mapped out the human genome yet, so they have to go with a clinical diagnosis, which means I am at the mercy of the doctor, who may or may not have the slightest clue what Ehlers-Danlos is or how it presents or what it means for quality of life. Go ahead and tell me how self-hypnosis or prayer or crystals or dietary supplements or therapy or massage or yoga or gastric bypass (yes, the fat-shaming was awesome) cured your "constant pain". Go ahead and tell me I should just suck it up and get a job. Go ahead and tell me "wow, I'd love to be a SAHM, and with a sister living in to help with the kids too! I'm so jealous!" Just let me inject some ground up glass into your joints and have you walk around like that for a mile or so. Then we'll talk.

We can't keep ignoring and shaming chronic pain. It is destroying lives, and treating people like criminals and failures because they'd like to be able to stand or sit or breathe or work without hurting leaves far too many with nowhere to turn.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid...

So, I got basically zero sleep. Anabelle slept just fine. JJ, for God knows why, was all over the bed and couldn't lay still to save his life. Wiggle, turn, kick, toss, cuddle, squirm, "Bud, lay still," or "Back to your own bed, JJ", all freaking night. And of course he's perky and rested, and I feel like warmed-over roadkill.

Wanna know the real kicker? The only computer we have that can cope with Netflix has once again decided that it's not going to play nice. So I can't even stick him in front of an electronic babysitter for the morning.

What I *want* to do is make him sit in an empty Pack & Play with a tray of dry cold cereal, a water bottle, absolutely nothing to do, and spank him every time he wiggles or complains.

Because that's what my parents would do if I had kept them up all night, and that's fair, right? My turn, right?

Because I am not my parents, I will not be putting my 3 year old on the equivalent of lock-down. I will not be slamming doors and muttering imprecations at inanimate objects all day long.

He has a breakfast dray consisting of fruit, a peanut butter sandwich, and sliced lunch meat, which he loves.

He has a pack of crayons and a stack of fresh paper to draw on.

He has a room full of toys and books with which to entertain himself.

And I have explained to him in the clearest possible terms that there is to be no whining, complaining, or fit-throwing today, and that pretty much everything he says to me had best start with the words "Yes, Mommy."

So far, he's doing surprisingly well with that bit.

I'm doing surprisingly well with reminding him when he forgets.

The cats keep trying to trip me, I can hear the hus-beast snoring all the way in the livingroom, the baby is still sound asleep, and oh yeah... the Road Works department decided that our setback was a good spot to put a construction warning sign. Once again I seem to be the only person who knows how to load a dishwasher or put the clean stuff away, and it's a damn good thing there's a crock full of dinner ready to go, because the kitchen's closed today.


I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid,
I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid,
I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid,
I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid,
I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid,
I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid,
I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid, I love my kid.

It's not his fault he had trouble sleeping. He can't help it that he was restless. I have restless nights where I toss & turn all night long... or just get up and read a book.

*deeeeeeeeeeeeeep breaths*

Friday, September 4, 2015

Glass houses and the rule of law

It's getting political around here lately, I know. I promise, once I have a computer with a working webcam again, I will return (mostly) to your regularly scheduled baby cuteness, crafting explorations, and assorted Nolan family updates.

But for today... Kim Davis. The court official from Kentucky who closed her office and refused to issue *any* marriage licenses rather than comply with a Supreme Court ruling and multiple orders from lower circuit court judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Mrs. Davis has been incarcerated on a charge of contempt of court. Her lawyer has recently made a statement (here) that should have anyone with a working brain up in arms. Short version? She's being compared to a Jewish person living in Nazi Germany.

Just think about that for a sec. She is being held up as a modern day martyr, painted as a victim on a level with people who were murdered on a mass scale, because she refused to do her job. Her job which, so far as I can tell, does not require her to sin.

I was waiting on a friend's okay to share a response they had read, because it was simpler and better stated  than anything I'm going to come up with, but I don't feel I can wait on this any further, so I'll just make my own. Fair warning, I am LIVID over this. I usually prefer to let the political stuff percolate for a bit longer before I open my mouth, just because it takes me that bit of extra time to order my thoughts well, but this directly insults and minimizes the history of four people whom I love fiercely, and I cannot be silent.

If anything had the power to make me ashamed to call myself a Christian, it would be self-aggrandizing bigotry like this. She is not a martyr, people, and shaking our heads and turning an embarrassed eye while she allows her attorney to present her as one is no different from openly supporting her rhetoric. Let's not forget that professing a belief in God as described in the Christian Bible is damn near an unwritten prerequisite for even running for an elected office in this country, let alone winning one, certainly anything on a state or national level. The idea that Christians are being "persecuted" in this country would be laughable if it weren't so disgusting, we have never been so free and protected as we are here and now. It is that very freedom which allows people like Ms. Davis to think that their religious beliefs give them the right to ignore the law.

Kim Davis is not being persecuted for her faith. She is an elected public official who refused, in the face of a lawful order from the highest court of the land, to do her job. She closed down her office, sent all her subordinates home (forcing them to flout the law as well, whether or not they actually support her views), and refused to issue any marriage licenses at all, rather than issue them to same-sex couples in compliance with the law of the land. And yes, before anyone says it, I'm aware that Kentucky law still defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Federal law trumps state, and the Supreme Court has come down on the side of gays having the same right to marry as everyone else. Render unto Caesar, anyone?

 "But don't you believe that Christians have a duty to protest against laws they feel compel them to sin?"
(Because someone's going to ask, so here we go.) Of course I do. If the law of the land required me to commit murder, I would refuse. If it required me to submit sexually to any man who took a fancy to my body, I would refuse. If it required me to give over my minor children to the total control of the state, I would refuse. (Oh, wait... home school... so, already doing that.) I absolutely believe that people of good conscience and sound mind have a moral obligation to assess the laws as written and enforced, and respond accordingly. And by "respond accordingly", I mean don't put yourself in a position where a compromising law would apply to you. For example, the Amish do not run for public office, as doing so would require the use of modern technologies which violate their beliefs, and if elected, would possibly involve them in military activities. For avowed pacifists, that's a problem, so they just don't put themselves in that position.

If you believe that same-sex relationships violate God's law (I don't, and I can argue the relevant Scripture as well as anyone), then it's really, really simple to avoid that sin. Don't be in a same-sex relationship. Last time I checked, the law does not require Mrs. Davis to join in marriage with a woman, have sex with a woman, shake hands with a woman, or even trade air-kisses. It requires her to issue marriage licenses to couples who meet the requirements of law to wed, which, following the recent Supreme Court decision, same-sex couples most assuredly do. The law says not one word about the issuing of a marriage license being indicative of the court officer's *support* of that marriage, and in fact we expect our elected officials to do their jobs as required by the law, irrespective of their personal beliefs. Therefore, even by her own definition, her job does not require her to sin, it just plain doesn't.

One further point... and I'd say this falls squarely under getting the plank out of one's own eye before remarking on the speck in another's... Mrs. Davis? Is on her fourth marriage. Her **fourth**. The same Scriptures which she uses to support her defiance of the Supreme Court ruling also mention that divorce is unholy except under very specific circumstances, and that remarrying after divorce is committing the sin of adultery. I fail to see how her fourth marriage, by literalist reading of Scripture, is any less problematic than the same-sex marriages the law now requires her to license.

From where I stand, the walls of Mrs. Davis' house are formed from a perilous amount of glass, and she's the only one throwing stones.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Privilege Check

So I saw this on Facebook yesterday. And I had a moment of conflicting reactions, because of course all human lives matter equally. Duh, right? So I had that moment of "Yep", and my hand started heading for that share button.

And then my brain went, "Hold on there, cowgirl, privilege check."

Because, yes, all lives matter. But...

People have an instinct to demand that others notice them, acknowledge their story, validate their existence. When someone tags a post with #blacklivesmatter or #bluelivesmatter or whatever cause is dear to their hearts, there is a need to wave and shout and remind the universe that we exist too. That the lives we care about matter too. And they should.

Because we live in a society that has made the claim that all "men" (used here to represent humanity as a species) are created equal. That every human life is precious. We have come as a culture to the intellectual realization that even though those words, when originally set to paper, didn't really mean all people were created equal, but actually just meant all rich, white, straight, male people, they SHOULD mean that all human lives are equal. Equally worthy, equally valuable, equally precious.

The problem is that all our laws, our unwritten social rules, our habits and assumptions, they're all geared for the old system. And in that old system, various groups of people have been consistently treated as lesser. Less valued. Less worthy. Less human. Minorities when the ethnic majority is in charge. Women when the men are making all the rules. Non-believers when the religious leadership has the power. Children, because even a slave is bigger and stronger than an 8 year old. That's why even today incarceration rates for minorities are so horrifically out of balance, why women (all other factors being equal) still get paid less than their male counterparts for the same work, why we still fight over commandments on courthouses and prayers in Congress, why in this land of freedom and civil rights, it is still both legal and socially acceptable to hit, verbally demean, and publicly humiliate children in the name of "discipline". (Think about that, seriously. It's legal to hit kids, as long as you call it discipline, when committing the same assault upon the body of an  adult would likely result in someone calling the police. And see? There's one of my near & dear causes taking over.) Point being, when the old habits meet the new mindset, there is friction. There are people who feel the need to say "Hey, don't forget us, we matter!", because the old system says they don't, but the high-minded cultural ideals say they should.

When someone feels that need to wave their arms and shout "HEY, WORLD, I MATTER!!!", it tells me they feel unseen. Unheard. Small. Pushed aside. Ignored. I know what that feels like, and I don't much care for it. So I try, really hard, to resist the urge to shout back "I MATTER TOO!!!", because it doesn't always have to be about me, and because of my skin color and growing up with relative wealth, it very often is about me, or the people I focus on. Someone else asserting that the lives they care about matter says not one word about the lives I hold dear mattering any less, just that their lives matter equally and they feel like no one is paying attention. So I try to take a breath, keep my mouth shut, and listen for a while. Acknowledge those lives that someone feels are being swept under the rug. Validate those feelings of powerlessness. Make eye contact, communicate that they are equal in my sight.

Because I want my children to grow up in a world where those high-sounding words aren't just words. Where all human lives matter to an equal degree. I want them to see their mother taking that moment to pause and acknowledge another's situation, so when they grow up, they will remember that they matter, but so does everyone else. I want them to learn, when someone screams out "I MATTER!!!", to respond with...

I see you. I am listening.

Tell me your story.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

So Fifty Shades opened in theatres today.

Yet another time when I've kept my mouth shut because God forbid someone who hasn't taken a flying leap into the fandom have an opinion... but here goes.

My father was Christian Grey. My mother was Anastasia Steele.

He was handsome, charming, financially comfortable, educated, experienced. She was young, bright, and terribly, terribly naive. He was funny, and brazen, and could talk her into accepting lavish presents. She was a beautiful girl from a very small town, running away with the man who promised to show her everything, if only she obeyed his every whim. He was an actor worthy of the reddest of carpets. She was fooled.

She told me once that she knew on her wedding night that she had made a mistake, when he flew into a rage over nothing and flung his ring at her head.

But she stayed. Because he didn't mean it. Because his mother was a hag who brought him up badly, not his fault he has temper problems. Because she must have done something to provoke the outburst. Because good girls don't get divorced, a marriage is a contract, after all. Because it wasn't always bad, sometimes he was amazing! Because she had moved with him thousands of miles from home and if she tried to leave he would take her children. Because if she could just pray enough, be perfect enough, love him enough, he could change. Because, because, because.

I'm not going to even touch on the two-bit half-assed ignorant portrayal of BDSM, except to say that a Dominant who behaved in such a fashion would swiftly find themselves blacklisted with nobody to paddle. As a whole, the community polices itself well, and abuse/rape/consent issues are not tolerated.

The problem with Fifty Shades is not the kinky sex. The problem is that it's practically a how-to manual for sociopaths to gas-light themselves a nicely trained long-term punching bag. Sticking the fairytale marriage + children on the end of it is the most dangerous part, because it is exactly the conclusion that every abuse victim convinces themselves will happen if they can just be perfect. It tacks the ultimate carrot onto the myth of "If I love my abuser enough, they can change. If I love them enough, I can fix them. And if they're still being bad to me, it's my own fault."

What adult people do in the privacy of their homes with full informed consent all around, that's their own business. But Fifty Shades sanitizes portrayals of stalking, manipulated and withdrawn consent (did the definition of rape change when I wasn't looking?!?), and a dozen other points, dressing them up in silk sheets and champagne, that all come down to one thing, an abuser grooming a victim. We should not be normalizing this.

Let's be real here for a sec. This is not a love story, it is an abuse fantasy. Which is fine, lots of people have rape and abuse fantasies, but the vast majority don't go and live them out in daily life. For those that do, there are domestic violence laws. (Woefully inadequate, but that's another rant.) So if that's what cranks your motor, then fine, crank away. Not my kink, but whatever. Just don't try to tell me that it's a beautiful love story, or a dynamic and growing relationship, or anything other than an abuse fantasy. And don't give me that line about the "intended audience" either, books in the grown-ups section don't come with age ranges. So just don't. Call it what it is, acknowledge that's what turns you on, and process that for a bit.

Because I am the child who grew up in the house at the end of that narrative. The huge, spotlessly clean showpiece of a home. The isolated, broken mother, an intelligent and beautiful woman reduced to arm candy. The handsome, sociopathic dad, who flies into a rage if he is given a salad fork instead of a dinner fork in his table setting. The children, groomed and trained to be the next generation of victims. It's not harmless fantasizing. It's real. It happens every single day behind locked doors in rich neighborhoods, abuse is no respecter of wealth or station, race or creed. To you it might be your bedroom play, but to me, it is the first 22 years of my life. It affects my decisions and behaviors to this day, and it can never be just fiction.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What is up with Mommy today...

I find myself needing to process this morning, folks.

As summer turns to fall here in the Midwest, the nights are getting longer and colder, and that necessarily results in this guy here wanting to snuggle more.

Early this morning (it was still mostly dark), I had just finished nursing little sister back to sleep and resettled her on the bed when I felt the tell-tale nudging and patting on my opposite shoulder. Half-awake, I carefully turned over so as not to disturb the sleeping baby, and sure enough, there was my sleepy-eyed two year old sitting up and signing for milk. I laid back down and gestured for him to come over, and he wasted no time curling up against me and opening his mouth wide to nurse. As he latched on, his head on my arm, he gave this deep, contented sigh and closed his eyes. his whole body relaxing into warmth and comfort.

I was already drifting back to sleep, but that sigh, that moment of pure peace followed me, and I heard a voice say, "Laura, THIS is what he will remember."

Hours later and I'm still thinking about that. Because when I actually woke up, cuddled so tightly between my children that sitting up without disturbing at least one of them was impossible, that statement echoed in my ears, and for some reason I was overwhelmed with a deep, wrenching sorrow. Sadness just isn't a good enough word for that feeling, for the wave of pain that stops the breath and pricks stinging tears and, just for a minute, you wonder if it's possible for your heart to physically rip itself in two, because it sure doesn't feel like it's ever going to beat again.

I chose to disturb Ana, she's much easier to resettle.

Getting ready for the day while my son still slept provided ample distraction from that tearing, aching can't-breathe feeling, which is good because what I really wanted to do was curl up in a ball and tell the world to take a flying leap. I wiped my face, put Ana in her swing, peeled a banana and opened a cheese stick, spread peanut butter on a slice of bread and set it all on a tray with his favorite fruit, green grapes, all on auto-pilot. All in that distance that says, "Don't think, just move."

By that point JJ was awake, I could hear him calling "ah-ee! ah-ee!!" (Which is "Mommy! Mommy!!" in JJ-speak.) Ana was still asleep in the swing, so I went back into the bedroom. We spent a few minutes letting JJ nurse and wake up properly, both got dressed, and came back out to the living room, where we sat on the sofa and cuddled through an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Which brings us up to the present moment. My brain is awake, I can breathe, but I'm still trying not to think too hard, because I can feel that swirling undertow threatening to yank me off my feet if I look at it too closely.

And I don't know why.

That's the really awful part, I don't know why. Because that moment of flawless serenity and love was beautiful and all-encompassing. It felt like I could stay in that moment forever, right there with both of my children, happy, safe, content. That hour between falling back to sleep and waking up was the most restful sleep I've had in three months. For that hour... I remember the feelings, but ... what I think I remember of what went with them feels like unzipping a compressed file, or watching home movies on fast forward. Microsecond images, layered emotions.

This is what he will remember. A moment of total safety, love, contentment, security. He woke up cold and hungry, and Mother was there to make him warm and full.

This is what he will remember. When he is five and some precocious little girl thinks he's cute and kisses his cheek on the playground, he will remember that Mother kissed it first.

This is what he will remember.  When he is seven and he has to say goodbye to an elderly dog, he will remember that Mother makes it better.

This is what he will remember. When he is eleven and the hormones start making him a little crazy, he will remember that Mother sometimes feels a little crazy too.

This is what he will remember. When he is eighteen and graduating high school, when he looks at the boundless horizon of his looming adult life and feels afraid, excited, confused, invincible, and very very small all at once, he will remember that Mother will always make room for him, and strike out in confidence from that place of safety.

This is what he will remember. That from his earliest memories, Mother represents safety, comfort, feeling treasured, feeling secure, being challenged and built up, being supported and helped and even left to make mistakes and learn from them on his own, but most of all love. Being fully, wholly loved, without reservation or caveat.

And all of that is wonderful. It's amazing and beautiful and staggering in its vastness.

And it makes me deeply, unbearably sad.

And I don't know why.

Trying to figure it out is making me weepy again. In the time it's taken to write this out, I've stopped JJ chasing the cat with his play-stroller twice, changed three diapers, nursed Ana back to sleep and put her back in the swing. I want to cry, scream, shriek my pain at the heavens, or curl into a tight little ball and pretend the world goes away when I can't see it.

JJ knows something is off. He keeps coming up to me with a grape, a toy, a book, doing a silly dance or making faces, trying to distract me. After I got a little frustrated with him chasing the cat, suddenly I just stopped, picked him up, got him changed, and laid down on the bed with him for a minute. Just looking into his eyes. Told him Mommy was having a bad day, but I was gonna try really hard not to yell at him. Told him he could help me by by being kind to the cat and to his sister and doing what I ask the first time without whining. And for the past hour he's done just that. He just now buckled himself into that stroller (which he does when he wants to be reminded to stay put) and is quietly watching Sheriff Callie. Every few minutes he looks at me to see if Mommy is feeling better yet. It's not his normal "Mommy, come play with me" behavior, he's plainly been trying to jostle me out of my funk.

I think I'm going to let him.

Because all this feeling stuff is hurt-y and sore and it really kind of sucks.

And this other stuff over here, the loving stuff, this is better.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Modesty vs Breastfeeding in Church, Pt Two

Part One is my answer to a specific incident.

Part Two: A wider context 

If you read my blog regularly, you already know that I consider the Western attitude toward breastfeeding to be based on political/business-driven lies, antiquated, misogynistic, and just plain weird and silly. But this time I want to talk about that same attitude in the context of the Christian church community. Because it exists there too, often more insidiously than in the secular world, as proponents will use Scripture out of context to support the dogma of feminine modesty and mask the underlying oppressive and unBiblical attitudes toward women inherent in such a position.

Point of clarification? My church is full to bursting with amazing people who are supportive and nurturing and open to differing opinions and approaches to life. Over the years I have been a member, the subject of breastfeeding in public has come up several times, as my son was about six months old when I began attending services. The first time it was raised was when I asked the Pastor if it was alright to nurse JJ in the sanctuary. (Cut me some slack, this was 2 years ago and I wasn't nearly as confident then.) His response? "Of course! If you are comfortable, we are comfortable!"

Win-win, right?

Well, usually, yes. Most of the time, if someone is bothered, they're either willing to discuss it and try to understand my reasoning, or mature enough to select an option from the list I gave in Part One and mind their own business. But in the grand tradition of busybodies everywhere, there is always somebody who figures he or she is the authority on all things appropriate and it is her/his moral duty to censor the world and impose decency upon all. Within the Church, this presents a logical dilemma that we need to explore.

See . . . Jesus had his guys, but he also hung out with the chicks. A lot. And not necessarily the proper ladies of his day either. He pal'd around with the prostitutes, the divorced, the remarried, the single gals. He loved kids too. Given the lack of pharmaceutical birth control and Jesus' penchant for seeking out the ostracized, do you really think that there weren't any single mothers with fussy littles in the bunch? Unlikely. And to my mind, it seems even MORE unlikely that Jesus, who walked with tax collectors and Samaritans, Jesus who said "let the little children come to me," would be disturbed by the presence of a breastfeeding infant, require they use a bottle (really?), or demand that the mother and child remove themselves until they were finished with such an inappropriate activity.

That just doesn't track, folks. That dog don't hunt. Shop it somewhere else, I ain't buyin'.

Women were INVOLVED in the early Church. They didn't just cook and keep house and raise babies for the men, nor were they relegated to teaching baby sabbath school classes or singing in the choir, nosirreebob. There were women deacons, women pastors, women missionaries, and believe it or not, there's some argument that not all of them were married! You gotta know there were hungry babies at inconvenient moments, when they couldn't just drop everything and leave in order to feed a squalling infant. It doesn't make sense for those early teachers and ministers to have been subject to the modern idea that feeding a baby is indecent.

So I have a question, a question that pretty well encapsulates the whole issue for me . . . do we live under the curse of Adam or the sacrifice of Christ? Are we IN the world, or OF the world? Because, this idea that feeding a baby is immodest? It's a very secular, very modern idea. Even in the days when the Church dictated women's dress, behavior, and social activities to a degree aptly called "puritanical" in the modern mind, feeding a baby was a practical necessity and not considered immodest in any way, but a most ladylike and womanly activity. Mother found a convenient seat wherever she happened to be and fed the baby, and it was incumbent upon the men to look elsewhere.

Of course the Church has always been (overly?) concerned with female modesty, but it is difficult to discern whether these attitudes come from the church, or from the world. Very chicken and egg. At some point though, the Church has to look at the world's attitude that breasts are primarily sexual and question it. We have to ask ourselves why we, the Church, continue to bow to the worldly view that the female body is first and foremost a sexual object, and as such must either be displayed in the context of sexual attraction, or hidden away, lest a woman minding her own business tempt a male to sinful thoughts. We MUST ask the question, WHY do we continue to place the burden of preventing lustful thoughts or actions first upon the person lusted after, and upon the one lusting only as an afterthought? This is no different from the first response in Western culture to learning of a rape -- what was she wearing? Why does the Church continue to conform to the ways of the world in this matter???

It seems to me that it is long since time the Church took a hard look at how closely we follow worldly thinking on the topic of breastfeeding (as a subset of the feminine modesty issue) and insist on a paradigm shift. We need to acknowledge that while all human bodies CAN be sexual, that does not mean that female bodies are ALWAYS, or even PRIMARILY sexual. That while breasts are absolutely sensual and attractive in a sexual context, they need not be seen as sexual in EVERY context. So I ask again, are we IN the world, or OF the world?

Know how we change it? By deciding to change it. By saying "This is stupid, unhealthy, and impractical. We are adults who can discipline our thoughts, and by doing so, set example for our children." By taking a breath when we see a woman nursing a child, and instead of berating her and trying to hustle her away or cover the offending boob, we continue our conversation as though nothing untoward is happening. Because nothing untoward is happening! How do we teach our young people that there is nothing sexual, shameful, or immodest about a woman nursing her child? By not treating it as sexual, shameful, or immodest, but as normal, beautiful, healthy, and appropriate. These are societal constructs, nothing more, and by giving them credence inside the church, we give the world power where we should be honoring only God.

It's hard, but it is also simple.

We must choose to change.