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One of my friends (we’ll call her Hannah) has been slightly overweight all of her adult life. We never discussed it much as she never felt hindered by it, nor expressed desire to change it. Then, unexpectedly one day Hannah admitted to me that she had admired one woman in particular for nearly 20 years who was married to her husband’s colleague. Hannah almost-resentfully stared at the woman’s incredibly fit and slim figure at every work function. Then, at their most recent corporate gathering, Hannah was shocked to see that this same woman had gained some weight due to hormonal changes and major family problems causing her stress.
Hannah learned that this woman who Hannah had built up in her mind as having a very “easy life” – blessed with money and model-like genes – had spent the last 20 years in regimented self-discipline, following a healthy diet and strict work out schedule to avoid the actual genetic makeup of her overweight family. Hannah proceeded in a somber tone, confessing to me that she had spent an embarrassing amount of time judging and envying the woman as having an “easy” life. She confessed quietly, “I guess some women really do work for it.” She wrongly assumed the woman’s strong body and groomed appearance were as natural as the weather. She also wrongly assumed that money ensured happiness in their marriage.
My friend isn’t the only one who made a wrong assumption and believed the “lie of ease”.
If you have read my About Me page, you know I love watching QVC when I have time. Over the summer, I saw this stunning woman selling beauty cream. She was a vendor, not a QVC host. I was mesmerized by her beauty and really tuned in when she mentioned her age. I could not imagine that this woman was around my age when her figure was so slim and her skin so flawless. I stared at the kitchen television wondering what it must be like to have life “so easy”…a dream job, a spectacular face and body…
Then, I saw her again about a month later, pitching her products. In passing, she mentioned how having a regular routine was helping through a health struggle. Now, I was really intrigued about her age, children’s ages and this health issue. So, I googled her. To my deep sadness, I learned that she is battling a serious cancer diagnosis. She simply chooses to still pull herself together, do her hair and go to work, no matter how tired she is.
I was so angry with myself. I literally made a sweeping assumption that a woman who got a terrific job, who does extensive traveling and has the skin of a 25-year old must go home to chandeliers, servants and ease.
A little bit of effort on the outside tends to make onlookers (most but not all) think a woman’s “life must be easy” in all aspects.
Unlike when we were in our 20’s, effort is usually (for most women, not all) required just to reach “decent”. Why? Because by the time most of us are over 40, we’ve been through some stuff. We’re a bit worn out. We’ve cried a lot. We’ve grieved, been passed over, treated less-than and raised teenagers. Hormone changes begin, leaving sagging skin and soft muscles. Even mild effort is required just to feel decent, let alone look presentable.
This “making it look easy” goes beyond our appearance. People who also put in even a small amount of effort housekeeping, raising their kids, or volunteering, receive assumptions that they “have nothing else to do”. “If they can bake the brownies, they must not be that busy.” “Must be nice to have time to run the school fundraiser.” “Who has time to attend every one of Johnny’s games?” They too only have 24-hours in a day, they just decide to give up some Netflix to help out and support others.
I know better. The grass isn’t greener, it’s just different grass. It’s rare that I fall into assumptions any more, but occasionally I do. The truth is, when we admire something in someone else, there is usually considerable mental discipline and/or physical effort they are expending when we are not watching.
Excruciatingly few, if any, humans truly have it “easy”.
Why do we struggle to respect the health care choices other parents make for their children? I think the answer is: because “their decisions” potentially affect our own children.
Several years ago, one of my students gave a presentation arguing against the use of VeriChip, which are microchip implants placed in humans containing their medical information and/or for mere purposes of identification should the person go missing (they have since been referred to for many other uses as well). Her mother had given permission for a physician to insert the chip into her little sibling’s arm. My student proceeded to give an account of the side effects of the chip implant, including major skin issues including the body identifying the object as foreign as it attempted to push it out through the skin.
I was both revolted and riveted. I was unaware of the chip. Little did I know that the FDA had approved microchipping long before her presentation. This student had primary research and had effectively convinced all of us in the room that VeriChips (now being rebranded as “PositiveID”) which are RFID (radio frequency identification) was a grotesque invasion of the human body and basic privacy.
Why did I feel the urge to immediately judge my student’s mother? Because, as one news report previously claimed, all children will be microchipped ‘sooner than later’. This could mean my future grandchildren and I’m wholeheartedly in alignment with my student’s argument against.
Thus, the “it affects ME and MINE” answer to my question why we have trouble respecting others’ parenting health decisions.
I didn’t know the student’s mother but once I began to delve into the topic on my own a bit more, I was appalled. But, if she thought it was beneficial for her son (perhaps he had a chronic condition we are unaware of), I must respect that decision. The issue lies in whether or not someone else’s decision will mandate something in my own family.
For example, when my kids were toddlers and we went for pediatrician visits, it was a fine day out. Sometimes, it was even fun. But as the years wore on, medical staff were required to attend endless conferences where they were given nothing but worse-case scenarios for abuse, disease and reckless human behaviors. They were also increasingly required by law to impose or at the least, strongly push multiple new procedures, questioning and optional vaccinations. The results? More mandates even for the normal, healthy, rule-following families. Asking a sheltered 10-year old about graphic sexual possibilities at the hand of a relative or family friend literally causes anxiety and stress on the child.
I do understand the need for some “idiot-proof” rules. I understand that doctors are just too overwhelmed anymore to take the time to get to know their patients and families, especially those physicians who only see you annually. I understand that many are inconvenienced so many can be saved. Whether it’s the tedious TSA security checks thanks to terrorists or deeply disturbing medical questionnaires given to innocent 10-years olds thanks to the depraved, psychotic abusers in this world, we are forced to participate in activities we are not responsible for.
A few weeks ago, I came across news that pregnant Kat Von D had decided not to vaccinate her son once he is born. The only reason that I even recognized her name is because earlier this year I splurge-purchased on the best concealer brush that I have ever used, created by Kat Von D (Lock It). I knew the name Kat Von D from Sephora, but never heard of the show, LA Ink. There was a Twitter flurry of criticism with endless calls to ban use of her cosmetics line. I really didn’t understand why Kat Von D’s decision was anyone’s business but her own.One of the arguments presented amid the insanity on social media was that her child going to Kindergarten may affect the other children in the class, as perhaps KVD’s son would carry something (a germ? a disease?) as a result of not being immunized. But even that argument is weak, as if you are pro-vaccinations (and in full disclosure, all my children were vaccinated) your child is protected. It was rare to see any post where someone actually cared about the well-being of the child, it was really about their opinion.
Chatter about microchipping humans and Kat Von D’s lack of immunizing her child have quieted down. While microchipping humans is rare (and has since moved to hands instead of arms), it is out there: CBS News. Last year, The New York Times also did a piece on companies potentially microchipping their employees: Microchip Implants for Employees?
Whether new parents or those of us with college-aged kids, this parenting business is a marathon. We are fully responsible for choosing wisely for our own, but I am personally trying to get better about accepting others’ decisions. We’re already tired from the daily activity, we don’t need to stress ourselves further by what our neighbor is doing.
If a parent wants to go against the grain every once in a while, whether because they are young and inexperienced or older and worn out, I’m going to try harder to respect their decisions. But, like most Moms, I have a limit for my nest (not yours) and I draw the line at microchips.
Family Silhouette Image: freepik.com
Click on KVD brush image to see product.