New Motherhood, Pink Eye and the Pursuit of Perfection

Bears can do it, why can't you?

There’s this golden period in motherhood. It’s the time right before you give birth to your first child. You feel connected to the sacred league of mothers, minus the final push and you’re sure you have it all figured out. The battle cry of soon-to-be moms is “I would never do that.”

You could have convinced me to get my Never Manifesto tattooed on my lower back, because I was positively going to stick by it. I swore up and down that I would make everyone later themselves in sanitizer before touching my baby, including myself.

I went to the evil, mom-shaming hell hole that is Pinterest and found adorable ideas like little bottles of hand sanitizer that said “Thank you for cleaning your hands, I’m ready to be snuggled.” So cute. I stocked up like I was preparing for the 2009 H1N1 scare.

Then my baby was born. 7 pounds, 13 ounces of pure love and joy. I could practically see the germs leaping onto her. I hunkered down, ready to squirt hand sanitizer at anyone who came near. But, somewhere between the 1 millionth 3 AM diaper change and screaming fit I stopped caring what was on my hands.

I wiped all manner of bodily fluids on my shirt, my bed, my hair. What did it matter? Everything was dirty and I was convinced it would remain that way in perpetuity. My Never Manifesto was shrinking fast. I was mentally reviewing all the ways I had failed as a new mom when I realized my eye felt like sand paper.

I went to take out my contacts and there it was. Red, puffy, and full of crap. It was like some metaphorical mockery of my life. The 1950’s housewife in me was really disappointed. Wasn’t I supposed to have a baby propped on one hip, laundry on the other and a pot roast in the oven?

Only on Instagram my friends. I’m guilty too, you know. I sure as hell didn’t share a picture of that. But I’m sharing it now because I know how my life as a new mom looks. I share only the best parts. The laughs, the smiles, the sweet face as she sleeps. Sometimes behind all that I have a sick case of pink eye.

I’m just like any other new mom, winging it one cup of coffee at a time. Parenthood and perfection will never mix, sometimes it just takes a little pink eye to figure that out.

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Cassidy Goodson to be tried as an adult, 14-year-old could get life in prison

Today I mourn the lives of children taken far too soon, both Cassidy Goodson and her son. This whole ordeal is utterly sickening on so many levels, but what truly breaks my heart is this young woman’s future. So many questions are going unanswered and so much is at stake.

I simply cannot wrap my mind around the idea of adult and juvenile charges. There are crimes for which a person can be arrested and there are people who commit those crimes, some are adults and some are children. How does our society determine what constitutes an adult crime? Heinous or not, she is still a child. This is a 14-year-old girl who is not fully matured dealing with adult situations far beyond her understanding without adult guidance. Her parents neglect in this situation appears to be going unnoticed.

In no way do I condone killing children to avoid responsibility, but at 14 her goal was not murder, so much as it was an attempt to cover up the situation. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I would break something which I would then hide to avoid getting in trouble.

What really irks me is  how could a mother not know her 5’3 100 lbs 14-year-old was pregnant, even after multiple pregnancy tests. At 14, this young girl couldn’t drive herself to get feminine products, so the mother must have noticed that she was not asking for them. Baggy clothes or not, it’s hard to carry a baby to full-term without your friends, family or teachers noticing.

Furthermore, why was this 14-year-old girl pregnant to begin with? Was she having unprotected sex on her own free will or was she raped? Then comes the birth, which must have been extremely painful and agonizing alone in the bathroom no matter your age. It must have taken several hours, during which time the mother was alleged to be home. How did this mother not notice her child was in the bathroom an extended period of time with the water running?

Talking about safe havens for pregnant teens is completely beside the point. Here you have a completely terrified 14-year-old with a baby, sitting in her bathroom trying to solve the problem on her own. She has no means of transportation and likely no knowledge of these types of facilities. Her actions were that of a scared, immature teenager who has no understanding of  the consequences of her actions. To say she does is to say that a 14-year-old thinks and reasons like an adult. I am not saying that Cassidy Goodson does not understand that murder is illegal, or that the end of life means death, what I am saying is that she did not fully comprehend the scope of  her actions.

A National Institutes of Health study proposes that the part of the brain that restrains risky behavior, including reckless driving, and thinking skills is not fully developed until the age of 25. Yet still the young girl will be charged as an adult. Luckily her age prevents her from getting the death penalty, but it does not prevent her from getting life in prison.  If she were tried as a juvenile, the toughest sentence she could get would keep her locked up until she turned 22.

Apparently the State Attorney Jerry Hill justified his decision to try Cassidy as an adult, saying that the facts demand first-degree murder charges.  The facts demand a closer look. The facts are that this young girl should have never been pregnant to begin with, she shouldn’t have had to endure labor on the floor of her bathroom alone and she shouldn’t be locked in a prison for the rest of her life for a decision made as a child. Despite the criticism I may receive from these beliefs, I stand by them. I am disgusted and outraged. I am disgusted that two lives had to be lost, that teenagers aren’t given access to the birth control they need to prevent this from happening, and that they don’t feel safe telling someone at their school or at home what is going on.

I truly hope that in the future Infant safe haven laws are better equipped to handle teens who don’t have the transportation or means necessary to access these programs. Absteinence-only programs and schools and denying students access to birth control is not the answer. We cannot turn a blind eye to these problems and act as if they aren’t happening. It’s truly unfortunate that Cassidy Goodson may have to become the poster child for a better future for pregnant teen girls.

Metropolitan Ministries fights a growing homeless population in Tampa, Florida

MORE HEADS THEN BEDS

Metropolitan Ministries is a well-known name to homeless on the streets of Tampa. Outside children are at play, a man is asleep on a bench and a few people puff idly on cigarettes. Masses of people waiting inside tell a sad story about our economy.

9,566 homelessness men, women and children were counted in the 2009 Hillsborough county census. Orange-vested panhandlers are the only ‘truth’ most people ever learn about the homeless.

The reality is many of those people are not homeless, Jay Molina, director of compassion and action said. In fact, Molina said, the median age of the homeless in Tampa is nine.

Why are nine-year-olds homeless? Because their parents are.

“There aren’t enough shelters out there to house families. There are shelters out there to house single individuals, but there are few that house families,” Karl Celestine, director of outreach & prevention services said.” That’s because it’s not typical for families to be homeless, but that’s happening more every day.”

Tonight, Metropolitan Ministries said approximately 8,000 people in Tampa won’t be able to find shelters. On any given day, Celestine said, Metropolitan Ministries can have 40-50 families on their waiting list for housing.

AnaMaria Mendez, director of community relations said, “We had one case where a single mom and her child had been sleeping in a parking lot because it was well lit.”

Cases like these are not uncommon. The faces of the homeless, however, are often lost amongst ideas and generalities. Organizations like Metropolitan Ministries work to correct the problem.

“In our programs we train them through educational classes, so they will have a different perspective on how to live,” Celestine said. “We teach them how to fish as opposed to giving them the fish.”

Metropolitan Ministries offer services such as GED classes, an employment lab, counseling, money management, childcare and educational opportunities for children.

The homeless and needy often find out about these programs in a unique way. Rather than through commercials, radio programs and advertisements, the success of others speaks volumes.

“People often find out through word-of-mouth. We’ve been in the community for close to 40 years. We are pretty well established,” Mendez said. “People know this is where you come to find these services. “

As shelters struggle against a growing homeless population, the community can do their part and they are.

The job and housing market may be declining, but good will is increasing. People are becoming more empathic as reality hits home, literally. They feel the pull of the economy on their finances.

“There has been an increase in volunteers,” Mendez said.  “People want to give back, they want to feel like they are part of the solution in helping their fellow neighbor.”

Gov. Rick Scott’s State of the State Address, budget cuts, unemployment

Gov. Rick Scott isn’t making popular decisions, but he says he isn’t here to. In Scott’s first State of the State Address, he focused on creating jobs.

Scott audaciously called the session an “emergency session” to assist the 1.1 million unemployed Floridians. He claimed companies are relocating to Florida because it is becoming more “business-friendly“.

Scott’s claims about the details of businesses relocation to Florida may have been a slight exaggeration. Scott said Chromalloy, a high-tech metal casting company, came to Hillsborough county and created 400 new jobs.

A spokeswoman for the company said it would bring 25-50 new jobs in addition to the 240 jobs already there. Best case scenario that is 290 new jobs, not 400. Whoops, looks like someone failed elementary math.

Furthermore, Bing Energy, a company Scott claimed relocated to Tallahassee because of his tax cuts, decided to move before Scott was in office.

Despite Scott’s gleaming praise of Florida educators, his proposed budget includes $3.3 million in education cuts, an issue caused largely by his decision to lower property taxes.

Florida educators protested Scott’s decision by gathering in Lykes Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa. They were among protesters in 25 other cities in an event called Awake the State.

As promised, Scott created one of the most fiscally conservative budgets in the nation. Though, like many of his decisions, this has not gone without controversy. Can anyone say high-speed rail? We didn’t need jobs anyway, right?