The Komen controversy: why “winning” still felt like a heartbreaking loss

Let’s start with a disclaimer: I’m pro-choice (but that’s NOT what this post is about) and a longtime donor/supporter of the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research. So when news broke about Komen pulling grants for Planned Parenthood – grants that funded breast cancer screenings for low-income women – I was among those who responded immediately with anger and disappointment. I was prepared to walk away from Komen for good.

The problem was, for the first time ever, I’d signed up for this year’s Michigan 3-Day Walk for Komen in August, and friends had just started to donate on my page when the Planned Parenthood news broke; so I felt compelled to keep my commitment as a final act of fealty. But how on earth was I going to motivate myself, I wondered, to raise the (considerable) money I needed when I felt like the organization just cold-cocked me, as well as many of the women they previously reached out to help?

Of course, as we all know now, Komen eventually reversed its decision, after days of heated debate and pushback, thus reinstating this year’s grants for Planned Parenthood. I marveled then at the power of the internet – how it seemingly sparked change in a short amount of time – and breathed a considerable sigh of relief for the women who relied on PP for health care.

I wouldn’t say, though, that I felt elated or satisfied. Not because I suspect that the fight isn’t over for good – I’m sure it’s not – but because I lost my innocence regarding an organization that had, for many years, had special, highly personal meaning for me. Continue reading

Sweet, comic valentine (for infants!)

After spending about 90 minutes of my precious and rare free time this evening tearing “Toy Story” and Disney Princess valentines apart; and doing the same with accompanying sheets of stamp-size stickers; and inserting the stickers – with surgeon-like precision – into tiny, diagonal tabs on the valentines; and folding the valentines in half; and affixing a heart-shaped sticker to keep them closed; and signing Lily or Neve’s name onto each one, I finally wondered, “What the hell am I doing?”

The answer, of course, is that for some inexplicable reason, I’m choosing to participate in the weird, self-perpetuating, down-the-rabbit-hole annual holiday ritual of parents – OK, fine, mothers – who have little ones in daycare, and thus have kids that are “instructed” in the ways of Valentine’s Day before they can even crawl. (I’ll add here that I love the kids’ daycare center, and my guess is that these rituals were likely, ironically, parent-driven originally more than driven by those who work at the center. I’ll also submit that I should, in the future, by kids’ valentines that require less assembly.)

Consequently, tomorrow, during a preschool Valentine’s Day party, Lily will randomly distribute 55 impersonal, unaddressed, grocery-store-bought valentines to kids who will probably look at them briefly, if at all, before they end up in the trash or recycling (all that painstaking sticker insertion for naught!); and Neve – presumably with the help of her caregivers, since the extent of her powers just now max out at “drooling like a waterfall” and “sitting up unassisted” – will give out 16 of the same cards to her cooing comrades in the same daycare center’s baby room.

So much effort – for what, exactly?

I was all uber-rational about such things when Lily was a 9 month old in the baby room. Yes, I got the pre-emptive Valentine’s letter that stated how many kids were in each class, and how we shouldn’t send candy or treats, but I ignored it – as I assumed the other “baby room” parents would – and brought a big fat bowl of nothing on Valentine’s Day.

Now cut to me picking Lily up later that day and finding a brown paper bag full of little valentines, signed with the name of her classmates (these babies had astonishing penmanship, I might add). After we arrived home, I stared at Lily’s pile of valentines with a mixture of bafflement, guilt, amusement, gratitude, and anger. For there was something undeniably sweet about this adults’ game of pretend – this puppet show of affection and good will that we parents played out through our infant children. Continue reading