When they both wake up from their naps and their lids and limbs are still heavy with sleep, they crawl onto my lap and we rock until the world comes into focus.
To all the moms who protect us when we’re at our most vulnerable, and when we’re ready, send us out freely to tackle whatever project we have our sights set on, all the while waiting if we need to climb back into their protection once again.
This casting of love and faith sends our kids out a little further each time, but, fingers crossed, they will know they can always come back, that we will always be waiting, and eventually they will come back not because they need us—they will have learned to navigate the world on their own—but because they simply want to be with us.
Are we planting seeds of compassion and kindness? Of patience and perseverance? Of confidence and work ethic? Of love and inclusion?
They will grow into what they’re surrounded by and nurtured with now. We’re doing our best to model love and light. And not mess them up too badly.
I hope they get my love of books and their Dad’s dance skills. I hope they look for beauty but also learn to sit with sadness. I hope they’re quick to share a laugh. I hope they chase whatever makes them happy and are kind along the way. I hope they always know our family is home, that there will always be a place for them, and that they are deeply, irrevocably, and unconditionally loved.
The Super Bowl is broadcast in over 130 countries in 30 languages. Viewership estimates for the 2020 game range between 99.9 and 102 million, making it the tenth most watched game in Super Bowl history. With that many people tuning in around the globe and so many brands using it as a platform to promote their products and services, it is undeniably a cultural touchpoint.
Fox reports that 103 million tuned in for the 2020 halftime show—over a million more than actually watched the game.
My husband and I recorded the game with plans to start watching as soon as we got our two-year-old and three-year-old to bed for the night. We finally turned it on around 8 p.m. but by 9 p.m. I was so tired, I went to bed.
When I woke up the next day I immediately saw online chatter of the halftime show and as the morning went on I heard more from parents in our community.
Parents who watched with their kids or hosted watch parties for their children and their friends were left flabbergasted during the performance. Do we turn it off? Let it play? Valid questions for any parent to have, especially if children other than their own were in the house.
I finally got a chance late Monday afternoon to watch the show. Initial takeaway? I liked it. As the day and week went on, I read articles pushing for a parental warning for future halftime shows, listened to Alt.Latino radio unpack the show, and discussed it with friends and family.
While a warning or rating can, of course, help a parent decide whether or not to let their children watch the halftime show in their own home, it won’t prevent school-aged kids from hearing about it the next morning at school, at a practice the next afternoon, or seeing it on YouTube or news loops for the next week. With 103 million people seeing the show in real time, it’s going to be talked about.
When Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” occurred in 2004 I remember it being the talk of the high school halls the next day. I did not watch the halftime show that year (I’d, once again, gone to bed early). But, in 2004 our high school selves didn’t even have our Motorola Razrs yet (they didn’t hit the market until the third quarter of that year). So, the wardrobe malfunction was largely contained. It wasn’t at our fingertips to search, pull up, and watch and discuss among our peers. Today, the average age at which a child receives their first internet-enabled cell phone is 10. Even if your child does not have a cell phone, they likely have a peer in a class or practice who does. The halftime show is accessible long after the game is over and when parents won’t be there to police it.
As a parent, I would rather have my children watch the halftime show with me. Where I can guide the conversation, provide context, and answer questions they might have.
Sure, there were elements of the show I wouldn’t have chosen to have performed exactly as-is, but it wasn’t my show to choreograph. And that is a lesson in and of itself: the artist gets to decide the scope of a performance, not the audience.
Ultimately, J.Lo and Shakira’s halftime show was a performance of empowerment. It was a celebration of culture and women. A championing of career. A call to be who you are, unapologetically.
Songs from across their decades-long careers were included in the mash-up and cultural nods were peppered throughout the performance. Shakira’s widely-memed tongue-flicking is an act of celebration in Lebanese culture called zaghrouta. Their clothing and dancing echoed carnival celebrations throughout Latin America (also already seen by and introduced to any kid who has watched the animated children’s movie Rio). This attire also was not new or atypical for Shakira and J. Lo performances. A concerned parent can do a quick search on announced performers and see previous shows. And as far as a “family-friendly” expectation for the Super Bowl goes, I’d be curious as to know whether parents are discussing the rap sheets of some of the athletes competing in the NFL (past and present). And bottom-line? Women can wear what they want.
Shakira and J. Lo are two of the most-recognized Latinas in the U.S. and yet xenophobic Americans still only want to view them through a specific lens—a belief that J. Lo and Shakira should only perform in ways that Americans deem to be “appropriate” or “acceptable.”
When J. Lo brought her daughter on stage, started with Springsteen’s Born in the USA, and launched into Let’s Get Loud, I got chills. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s performance is ushering in the next-generation of Americans to a more accepting society. A place where what you wear, where you come from, and what your gender or sexuality is, does not dictate what you accomplish or who you become.
This was a performance about being you–with pride, of not forcing yourself to fit into someone else’s prescribed notions or expectations for their comfort. All things I want to teach my children (along with discussing the elements of the show I could’ve done without) when they’re old enough to stay up for the halftime show, and I can stay awake long enough for it too.
I am not a medical professional. This information is from our personal experience and a medical professional should be consulted in healthcare decisions.
Almost one year ago our son had bilateral tympanostomy tube insertion surgery—more commonly known as getting “ear tubes”.
During this procedure a small hole is made in the ear drum and a tiny tube is inserted which allows air to move in and out of the middle ear.
We had always assumed ear tubes were only for kids who had excessive ear infections.
Garrett had his first ear infection at seven-months and he had five more infections over the next 11 months—for a total of 6 ear infections (two of which were doubles) in a year.
At this time we went to a large pediatric practice where we usually saw a different pediatrician each visit. Each doctor would look in his ears, note they were fluid-filled and infected, and write a script for another round of antibiotics.
Whenever we took Garrett in for follow-up appointments the infection would have cleared but the fluid remained in his ears. Each provider assured us sometimes it takes longer for fluid to clear after an ear infection, but the good news was the infection was gone.
On Garrett’s sixth ear infection the pediatrician spoke with us about tubes and said Garrett was “on the fence” for the number of infections that suggests tube surgery is necessary. This pediatrician said we could wait and see how Garrett does and if he got another ear infection in the next 8 weeks he recommended moving forward with tube surgery.
As we waited to see if Garrett would get another ear infection he started having falls. He fell down the stairs, would fall off a chair while seated, and trip when playing. As most 18-month-olds take tumbles while learning to navigate the world around them, we initially credited this clumsiness to Garrett’s young age.
In addition to the ear infections and balance issues, Garrett was also behind in speech development, saying very few words and most of the words he did say were approximations. My husband was a late-talker and many others assured us that all kids start talking at different ages, so again, we were operating under the “give it time” notion.
But it all just felt off. It wasn’t adding up. There were too many separate flags signaling something wasn’t right.
When Garrett fell down the stairs a second time I made an appointment with the doctor to discuss balance concerns as well as bring up Garrett’s speech development.
The pediatrician we saw this time looked at Garrett’s entire history and completed a full physical exam. Garrett didn’t have an ear infection at this time but he still had fluid in his ears.
This pediatrician explained to us that persistent fluid in the ears can impact the vestibular system—which controls our balance, how we know where we are in space, and how we move our bodies. The presence of fluid in the ears can interfere with how the vestibular system works. She also shared that fluid in the ears can also cause hearing loss and result in a speech delay. And finally, that persistent fluid in the ears creates ideal conditions for infections.
And there it was. She put it all together. The ear infections, the falls and balance issues, the speech delay—it was all related to the fact that Garrett had had persistent fluid in his ears for the past 15 months. The pediatrician said we should schedule tube surgery as soon as possible.
The ENT ordered two hearing tests with an audiologist prior to the surgery—both of which revealed Garrett had a hearing loss.
When we brought Garrett home from surgery he put a small blanket over his head and continued to pull a blanket over his head or cover his ears with his hands for three days. He was fully hearing for the first time in nearly a year and a half and the volume and noise was outright overwhelming.
Within a month after surgery Garrett’s vocabulary took off. Most of his words were still approximations but he was saying new ones and saying them daily. He was no longer falling off chairs and was tripping less often. He stopped getting ear infections.
Tube surgery is one of the best things we’ve done for Garrett and had we known sooner that it addressed more than ear infections, we would have scheduled it earlier.
My hope is this finds another parent somewhere who is on the fence about tube surgery. Or another parent who is desperately trying to identify perceived silo issues with their child that are actually all connected. As parents, we can research, ask for advice, and take our kids to a dozen different doctors, and still feel like something isn’t adding up. That gut feeling—mother’s or father’s intuition—is one of the best things we can rely on to keep pushing for answers for our kids.
I wrote this the other day as part of a passage about growth in stillness and reason in waiting but this idea that there are many things we can change and few we can control has turned and turned in my head.
We have all made decisions that have led us to where we are in this exact moment. And while we have made choices to get here, we can’t always control the circumstances.
Since November 2017 Levi and I have had a second child, finished old jobs and contracts, listed our house, sold our house, went under contract for one house, bought a different house, moved 3.5 hours away to a brand-new town, our two-year-old and one-year-old both had surgeries, we started new jobs and contracts, and essentially started life over. Finding where the grocery stores are, our way around town, new doctors, new friends, new routines.
And it has all just felt like A. LOT.
We couldn’t control the kids’ health situations, when houses hit the market, whether or not a seller is willing to remediate black mold, or work projects.
Those are all circumstances we had no power over.
But we could decide what we could change in each of those situations. We could get the kids the help needed to improve their health, we could walk away from a house and buy a different one, we could say yes to great opportunities and take a leap.
And while the past year has been challenging, there has been growth in that too. All of the challenges seem a little more manageable if I can sort out what’s out of my hands and what’s in them. If I recognize I have no control over something, it’s easier to let go of it and ask, what can I change?
There is a lot we can’t control. But there is even more that we can change.