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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Auditory Hallucinations and the Responsibility of Being a Mom

In most cases, Auditory Hallucinations strike at the onset of deafness. Those who suffer from them say it's as if someone has turned on a radio inside their head. Music, which they have no control over, plays and plays sometimes to the point of madness. Scientists took pictures of patients' brains at the moment they said they were having an auditory hallucination. Then they took pictures of regular peoples' brains while listening to the radio. Both sets of pictures looked exactly the same.

I learned about this fascinating disorder last week while listening to Radio Lab. Leo Rangell was the first interviewee in a series of people talking about their hallucinations. One day, he woke up in the hospital to the sound of a Rabbi singing outside his window. Twelve years later, the music is still playing inside his head.

As Leo tells it, he didn't realize the music was inside his head. He really thought it was coming from outside his hospital window. With each new day as he got progressively better, the music changed. It got perkier, happier. Until he was riding in the car on the way home and realized that even though he was not beside his hospital window, the music was still playing. And this time, as he drove home fully recovered, he listened to these lyrics: "When Johnny comes marching home again, Hoorah, Hoorah."

At first the music nearly drove Leo crazy, but now in his late nineties he said it's become his friend. In fact, the music talks to him. If he really pays attention, he says there's always a reason for the song he's hallucinating. For example, a few years after his wife passed away, he woke one morning to the song "Bring Back My Bonnie to Me." Later that same morning, he realized it was his wedding anniversary.

This weekend I caught a severe head cold and have been sick as a dog. All weekend, I was snuffly, feverish, achey, and irritable. Poor Dwayne got the brunt of it. I wanted just to sleep. But couldn't seem to get more than a few hours in a row, because Noelle was battling an ear infection of her own and was extra needy.

The majority of my frustration stemmed from my pre-baby self, the me who believed that I had a right to a sick day, a day off - free of any responsibility. 'Round about Sunday afternoon, while I held Noelle's rosy little face in my arms, I realized for the hundredth time since having her that I'm a mother, and we don't get sick days. At least not for a few more years.

This may sound depressing to you, but it was actually freeing to me. Once I stopped trying to pass her off to Dwayne or grandma or grandpa and just accepted my responsibility, things went much better with the two of us.

Anyway, I woke up this morning to the sound of her squeaking in the other room. Dwayne had gone to work, so it was just me and her plus our colds. A song started playing in my head. Just the melody. I couldn't quite place it.

I thought of Leo Rangell and his songs and how they always mean something. Suddenly the lyrics clicked into place. It was the Beatles. As I sat spooning mushed up bananas into her mouth, these words ran through my mind;

"Eight days a week. I love you."

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Thought About the FLDS

I've been following the stories about the FLDS and I have found myself sympathizing with the women and children separated by this raid. This morning, as I sat in the Dentist chair, I listened to the latest talk show commentary on the story. The judges and attorneys kept talking about how we have "rescued" the children - all 416 of them.

But I gotta tell ya, I'm not sure I believe that their "rescued" state is any better than the alternative. At least on the compound they were with their families and mothers. Now they are in foster care, wards of the state, and vulnerable to who knows what, not the least of which may be neglect.

Dwayne worked with foster kids for a couple years. My friend Yvette has built her life and career around foster kids. Neither one of them have very encouraging stories about the foster care system. In my mind, those FLDS children are better off on the compound, surrounded by the support and network of their families, and parents - regardless of how many mothers they have.

Let me clarify - I don't agree with polygamy or child brides. Certainly not! But now there are reports that the 911 call by "Sarah" were a hoax and that leaves me asking the question, "So what abuses are these kids being subject to?" I hear tha fourteen year-old girls are getting married off. That's wrong, but during a recent segment of Talk of the Nation, Neal Conan interviewed an attorney and author expert in the field of polygamy who said that in actuality the FLDS rarely marry girls off younger than sixteen. And there was a time and place in this country when sixteen was considered the threshold of adulthood.

So tell me again, what have the FLDS done that merits tearing children away from their mothers? I'll grant you that perhaps I'm a little sensitive about this issue because I am a new mom. What if Christianity was in opposition to the law? I can't imagine having someone come into my home and take my little girl away from me because they thought monogamy was wrong.

Isn't there a better way to remedy the issue of polygamy than tearing families apart?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Poem I'd Like To Share with You this April

Before A Departure in Spring
by W.S. Merwin

Once more it is April with the first light sifting
through the young leaves heavy with dew making the colors
remember who they are the new pink of the cinnamon tree
the gilded lichens of the bamboo the shadowed bronze
of the kamani and the blue day opening
as the sunlight descends through it all like the return
of a spirit touching without touch and unable
to believe it is here and here again and awake
reaching out in silence into the cool breath
of the garden just risen from darkness and days of rain
it is only a moment the birds fly through it calling
to each other and are gone with their few notes and the flash
of their flight that had vanished before we ever knew it
we watch without touching any of it and we
can tell ourselves only that this is April this is the morning
this never happened before and we both remember it

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Oh Well Noelle

I've started a blog just for Noelle. All the baby stuff will go there, and I'll continue to write my reflections about life, including motherhood, here.