Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Lesbian Moms Normalized on the Disney Channel

Sunday, television history was made as a gay couple appeared for the first time on a network that targets children viewers. The Disney Channel's sitcom Good Luck Charlie introduced a lesbian couple as the parents of one of toddler Charlie's playmates.

Except for the bit of history it makes, the scene was completely unremarkable.  Charlie's parents disagree over what is the name of "Taylor's mom", and this confusion is worked out when Taylor shows up with two moms.

And that's it. No awkwardness over the fact that they are a lesbian couple. No jokes that expose underlying prejudice or ignorance. Just, "Ohhh, Taylor has two moms," and life goes on. It is refreshing and wonderful in its normalcy.

This scene is exactly what one would expect from writers who have been instructed to make the show inclusive to LGBT families without addressing any controversies. It is a fair, responsible, and probably overdue form of inclusion if we consider that millions of American kids have LGBT parents, and at least half a million are being raised by lesbian and gay couples. (Numbers based on the 2012 Census.)

My kids don't need to watch LGBT inclusive television because they've lived these sort of scenes. We have friends and relatives who are gay couples, so it's kind of impossible to hide from our kids (not that we would.) And just today, in my 2-year-old's Gymfoolery class, twins showed up with their two moms. Then again, I live in a neighborhood known for its diversity and inclusiveness.

Sadly, religious fundamentalism disguised as family values is still alive and well in America, and dissenters will continue to taint these small human rights victories. We see it in this statement released by One Million Moms, which states:
Disney should stick to entertaining instead of pushing an agenda. Disney decided to be politically correct versus providing family-friendly programming. Disney has a choice whether to produce a program with certain fictional characters; the storyline could be re-written or changed. Conservative families need to urge Disney to exclude confusing topics that children are far too young to comprehend.
First of all, the Disney Channel needs some kind of agenda because they are taking on a certain amount of responsibility in creating entertainment for children. The Disney Channel has opted for an agenda that is not only inclusive, but in line with current shifts in mainstream values.

Then there's the old line about kids being "too young" to learn that *gasp* gay people exist! It's too "confusing" a topic for them to understand.

I've encountered this sentiment a lot in real life and online. Even the comments under After Ellen's article about this story includes:
i am 100 percent against this and i hate that they did this without some type of warning to the parents

And how about this breathtaking piece of cognitive dissonance:

We have loved this show since it started! although i am not against same sex parents, I however am outraged that they introduced them to our children without some sort of parental warning. when i decide to explain the different family matrix to my 9 year old it will be on my time and not by "Good Luck Charlie". I am now glad that the finale is coming because in my opinion this show will need some....

Implicit in such statements are that gay people should be in the closet whenever they are around other peoples' children, which is just cruel and absurd.

People who want to shield their kids from gays on television don't care that the real-world equivalents of Taylor's moms often seek out gay-friendly neighborhoods so they can avoid their kids losing friends, being mercilessly teased, or even beaten if they accidentally refer to their "moms" or "dads" at school. To such families, this small gesture of inclusiveness from a giant in children's entertainment offers a bright view of how far we've come, and where we're headed as a society.

To all those Nimbies out there, who claim to be tolerant of social change, but only if it's happening nowhere near them, so sorry if making LGBT families feel normal means you have to have an awkward conversation with your kid. No, wait, I'm not sorry.

Explaining homosexuality to little kids isn't complicated unless you make it complicated. Just say this:
You know how a man and a woman such as (name ANY happily married straight couple the kid knows) can fall in love, get married, and have kids? Well sometimes that happens with two men or two women, too. 
See how simple that is? It's almost verbatim what I told my kids as soon as they could talk.

If saying that makes you too squeamish, you have your mind in the gutter. It's your problem, not the Disney Channel's. Grow up and be more decent to your fellow human beings, because one of these days your kid might make a friend with two moms.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Kid Climbs on Sculpture, an Excuse to Mock Art

My friend Dave posed for this photo as a joke because he 
doesn't share my love for Mark Rothko paintings. That said, 
despite not being into this one piece, he values and respects 
art and would never let his toddler touch it.
Earlier this week, gallery owner Stephanie Theodore tweeted a photo she took of a child climbing on a Donald Judd sculpture on display at the Tate Gallery. For those who don't know who Donald Judd is, he's one of the most famous American artists from the 20th century, and his sculptures are worth millions.

Before I go further into the meat of this post, let me respond to the original tweet. I wasn't there and I certainly can't know whether the parents were knowingly dismissive toward museum/gallery etiquette, or merely ignorant. Mistakes happen. I won't go as far as calling them "bad parents." However, they would have been very sad parents had the child done any damage.

I share Stephanie Theodore's shock, and I would have done exactly what she did: first she told the parents why the kid shouldn't be doing that, and when they ignored her, she told the guards. And of course she also snapped a photo and tweeted. Of course she did - because it's a friggin' kid climbing all over a Donald Judd in the Tate! As a gallery owner who makes a living in the arts, Theodore would have been an idiot to not tweet that.

Now on to the real bee in my bonnet.

The photo tweeted by Stephanie Theodore.
Unfortunately, I stumbled on this story on Gawker, and made the horrible mistake of reading the comments. As I've come to expect when certain types of art (in this case from the Minimalist movement) are brought to the attention of the general public, Philistines come out of the woodwork to call the work junk and mock the art establishment that gives it value.

Many of the comments go so far as to morally denounce Judd for his success, such as this gem:
If your shelf-looking sculpture sells for millions of dollars, and you don't donate at least half of that to charity, you're fucking horrible.
That would be difficult seeing as Judd's been dead since 1994. Although I do wonder if this person is equally outraged by anyone who, against the odds, ends up producing something worth millions of dollars.

By the way, at least according to one study, the median salary of artists is $43,000/year. While this sounds comfortable, it is a far cry from millions (especially when you take the student loans into account.) More importantly, this median only represents the people who succeeded in turning their artistic aspirations into a career. The vast majority who study and practice art, especially fine art, work day jobs or live off spouses for years, and never make a living solely off our work. But by all means, piss all over the giants in our field.

The award for irony goes to the countless people who mocked a Judd sculpture for looking like shelves from Ikea. Not only was Judd an actual furniture designer as well as fine artist, but I guess they don't know that the Minimalist movement in art was a driving influence in design across the globe, including the aesthetics of Ikea.

As a working (and struggling) artist, as someone who values art, and as a parent who aims to raise kids to appreciate the arts, I'm so sick of this shit. 

We artists and art dealers, collectors, curators, critics - everybody who makes up the art world - are basically a subset of nerdom. To quote today's wikipedia entry on Nerd:
Nerd (adjective: nerdy) is a descriptive term, often used pejoratively, indicating that a person is overly intellectual, obsessive, or socially impaired. They may spend inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, obscure, or non-mainstream activities, which are generally either highly technical or relating to topics of fiction or fantasy, to the exclusion of more mainstream activities
Indeed, we spend an inordinate amounts of time on unpopular, non-mainstream activities. We tend to be intellectual. We often have our own, unique social quirks. The mainstream tends to not "get" what we do. And while some who don't share our interests still respect us and acknowledge that our creations/writings/purchases have value, others mock us and insist our activities are nothing but pretense.

I don't get sports fandom. What I mean is, I've watched games of basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and I feel bored. However, when I look around at other spectators and see expressions of deep emotional engagement, when I overhear people going into very detailed debates and discussions about strategies and plays, when I notice that there is an entire establishment of writers, historians, and museums constructed around sports, and when I see how sports have widespread appeal across nations and class divides, I recognize that this is a valuable, meaningful part of the human experience.

So while most people don't get Judd's work, it's important to acknowledge that the reason it's worth millions is because there's actually a lot to it. In its full context, to enough people, Judd's work evokes as much passion as Paul "Bear" Vasquez's reaction to a double rainbow:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

My Dentist Asked Me If I Breastfeed

Or maybe not.
My youngest turned two in December, and so the stage of my life where my boobs are daily food dispensers is near the end. Which is perhaps why I decided to finally get this off my chest. (No pun intended.)

The first dental cleaning I had after having my first baby, my dentist asked if I was breastfeeding. I answered yes. He stated, "That's good. It's much better for the babies." Then on to him saying other pleasantries while I have stuff crammed in my mouth and think, that was kind of weird. 

I'll be honest. I initially felt an involuntary twinge of pride. These days there's no end of articles and books droning on about the health benefits of breast feeding. And while overall breastfeeding has been easy for me, I did suffer some nasty soreness and cracking during the initial couple weeks. But is that really enough reason for feeling some kind of feminine pride?

In reality, I was just lucky. Luck that my and my kids' biology went along with my plans. More than that, nobody pressured me to do it. I personally preferred breastfeeding because it was cheaper, I'm home with my kids, and work flexible hours.

I discovered just how much I hate pumping when I worked a summer job. I ended up just letting the milk build up and giving my daughter a big feeding when I got home. If I had a full time job outside of the home, I doubt I would have nursed as long as I did. After all, cloth diapers are cheaper, too, but I gave up that annoying bullshit after less than six months.

Unless there's a dental reason to ask (which as far as I can tell, there's not), my dentist really shouldn't be asking his patients about breastfeeding. How would he have responded if I'd said no?

There are all sorts of reasons why women choose to not breastfeed or to quit early on, many of which they might not want to discuss with anyone. She might have flat or inverted nipples, not produce enough milk, need to go back on medication for a chronic illness, experiencing physical pain from cracked nipples. Maybe she's suffering from postpartum depression that is exacerbated by having a kid or plastic pump suckling on her tits every few hours. Maybe she can't get over feeling weird about pumping at work. Maybe she just wants to go back to drinking a perfectly responsible amount of coffee, beer, and eating junk food. All legitimate, and more importantly personal reasons for not breast feeding.

Bottom line, it's nobody's damn business.

I'm not mad at my dentist for asking. I know he meant well. That he asked and then praised me for making the "right" choice means he's read some of the before mentioned articles/books on the topic. Good for him. The mistake he made is in blurring the line between what is a legitimate basis for public policies, and what is a legitimate basis for personal judgement of individuals.

I'm also not mad at lactivists who argue for public policies that support breastfeeding mothers. For example, making lactation consultants accessible to all new mothers, insisting that employers provide time and an appropriate place for nursing mothers to pump, and ensuring that women are permitted to breastfeed in public. These and more are all important protections for women who choose to nurse.

It's also important to remember that it is a choice, and while the health benefits of nursing are well established, they are actually rather paltry, at least among middle and upper class people in the first world. Dr. Amy Tuteur drives this point home rather firmly in her blog post Does Breastfeeding Matter? 

Yes, babies in the third world died when their mothers were convinced to use formula. Formula isn't safe for families living in unhygienic conditions. Yes, there are correlations between higher infant death rates and formula feeding, but only where there are also racial and/or economic correlations.

It's wrong to convince every formula-feeding mother with access to clean water and easy sterilization methods that if her kid has allergies, or gets colds often, or has any kind of delays, that she might have prevented it by breastfeeding. Other environmental factors and genetics play much larger roles in infant health and development.

I like this simple list of benefits of both choices found on WebMD, with the conclusion:

Whichever way you choose to feed your baby -- breast milk, formula, or a combination of both -- the most important thing is that your baby is well fed, well cared for, and loved. So ditch the mommy guilt!

Of course that's harder to do when random people in your workplace, family, or your dentist start expressing their opinions about mothers' personal choices. Limit lactivism to issues of public policy, and leave individuals to make their choices without guilt.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Calculating What SAHMs (and dads) Are Worth

Someone just posted this graphic to facebook - that the average stay-at-home-mom is doing labor that in the paying market would be worth over $113K.  (They compare it to a second graphic that shows "Working Mom" as earning only around $67K.)

My immediately thought is that is bullshit. I know what day care workers, housekeepers, and drivers (which is most of what stay-at-home-parents do) get paid, and they sure as hell don't make six figures!

After looking closer at the details, I see how they get at such an inflated number. Basically they consider a bunch of stuff that typical stay-at-home-parents do as highly skilled (and thus highly paid) labor such as Facilities Manager and Psychologist.

I don't know if the people who created this are trying to be funny, but obviously it's bullshit to just state that stay-at-home parents do that sort of work when they have no professional training or experience in those fields and certainly couldn't just go out and get a job doing that sort of work.

Also, that's just an inaccurate description of what stay-at-home parents are doing. For instance, just because I have heart to heart chats with my close friends about relationships, hopes, and fears, and my friends' mental health might improve because of those chats, doesn't mean that I qualify as a mental health professional and that hanging out with me is worth an hourly rate of $38.02.

So I can't take it seriously. But if this is meant to be funny, I don't get why this is a subject to treat so lightly.

Divorce rates are still high, and it is well documented fact that single women with kids are disproportionately represented under the poverty line and while fathers tend to do better financially after a divorce, mothers tend to do worse. Of course the explanation behind these trends are that mothers tend to be the ones to put more time into childcare and domestic chores in a marriage, which means that they are sacrificing their long-term and future career while their spouse is benefiting from their labor. It works out fine if they stay married because as a family they can regard the working parent's paycheck as something they earned (and will spend) together. But if they divorce, the one who stayed home is screwed. provies a calculator where you can work out what your additional labor as a parent is supposedly worth. I tried to be more realistic about what I do as a SAHM, and came up with this list of duties:

Housekeeper 624 hours at a rate of $10.49
Cook 416 hours at a rate of $13.97
Day Care Center Teacher 2,184 hours at a rate of $13.47
Van Driver 364 hours at a rate of $14.02
Laundry Machine Operator 156 hours at a rate of $10.25

Total salary for the year of $59,188.

Are you fucking kidding me? More feel-good bullshit. After all, the average nanny makes less than half that.

My calculation is so high partially because it takes overtime pay into account, despite the fact that no day care workers, cooks, van drivers, or laundry machine operators are raking in mad overtime hours with time and a half. Hell, these days they are lucky if they can score a job that's full time.

It is the norm - in this shitty economy with growing wealth disparity - for every working class stiff to do all kinds of extra labor for no extra pay. Commuting. Balancing schedules for multiple jobs. Coordinating work schedules with those of our spouses and kids. So how can we say all this extra work is worth any money when nobody is actually getting paid for it?

My own modest calculation is really even less than $59K because you have to figure that about half of that housework, cooking, and laundry I'd be doing even if I didn't have children. So let's knock off about ten grand and then we say that as a SAHM I'm, in theory, worth about $50,000. Yeah right.

That is more than I could make if I didn't have kids and was just working full time in my profession (artist/teacher). Of course in reality I'm not making jack shit because being a stay-at-home-parent pays nothing.

So gee, thanks for reminding me of how much work I do for zero pay, and how much I'm financially falling behind every year, despite all the work I do. Checks for imaginary money always makes people feel great!

How about instead of living in lala land we acknowledge that this is a shitty situation. That too many people in America either work way too hard for barely enough pay, or live in poverty or totally dependent on the generosity of relatives because they can't find work that pays a living wage. That we don't as a society put a real value on the work of parents who are rearing the next generation.

This isn't a topic that calls for cutesy graphics and fake checks. We need to decide what sort of society we want to be part of, and take steps to achieve that vision. A good start would be increases instead of cuts for food stamps, subsidized day care and preschool for all Americans. And next would be truly universal health care that is simple and easy to use. We've got a long way to go before I actually feel like I live in a society where what I do is "worth" $59,000.

Friday, January 10, 2014

On Some Liberals' Distrust of Doctors

Baby Gaga is in for a checkup.
I make no secret of the fact that I'd be thrilled if one of my kids grew up to be a medical doctor. Doctors have job security and respectable status in society, which would please any parent concerned about our kids' futures. But another part of the appeal to me is the ethics. A doctor's job is to use knowledge obtained through science to try to heal people. What could be a more noble profession from the secular humanist perspective? 

The medical field isn't for everyone. Not only does it require a strong ability to study difficult subjects such as organic chemistry. There is also the gross factor: blood, guts, tissues, fluids, horrible smells, and basically being able to look at human bodies just as a mechanic looks at a car. I couldn't even handle dissecting a frog in high school (I got light headed and ended up being excused to the library. Oddly enough, I'm okay cooking a chicken.) 

Monkeys need doctors too!
Given the rigorous training and noble objectives, it surprises me that not everyone shares my deep respect for the medical profession. 

Some of my friends are dismayed that I would encourage my kids to be doctors. It's sort of the bizarro version of adults who discourage kids from taking an interest in the arts for fear they'll grow up to be impoverished, drug-addled bohemians. In this case, the fear is that as doctors the kids will grow up to be arrogant automatons, brainwashed by scientism and serving the corporate greed which supposedly drives the medical establishment. 

These are the sort of liberals - mostly highly educated, middle class, and white - who drive today's Anti-VaccinationNatural Childbirth, and other Alternative Medicine movements. 

I was reminded of this sort of contempt toward doctors while reading/viewing New Mom's Uncensored Photos Reveal the Beautiful, Messy Reality of Homebirth. It includes an interview with writer Ruth Fowler followed by the live documentation she and her photographer husband did of her son's birth on Twitter and facebook. 

Right off in the video, the interviewer refers to the "intrusive" nature of modern "technology", and it is clear that this story is framed as a human interest story about the beauty of a natural childbirth in contrast to the sterility of a conventional hospital birth. 

Ruth Fowler describes herself as not the extreme. She says to the interviewer, 
I'm not the kind of crunchy, granola mama who's like "Women who go to hospitals are bad mothers" I'm somewhere in the middle. My birth experience kind of reflects that. I'm somebody who had a natural, un-medicated home birth, but then I had to go to the hospital afterwards to get treatment that probably saved my life. And so I'm not an anti-hospital person. I just wanted to birth at home with my husband, with the people I care about, in the environment I care about. 

Doctor Lysi and Nurse Bebe get to work.
I found this statement puzzling. First of all, her birth experience doesn't reflect a moderate position. She had to be transferred to the hospital because she had a postpartum hemorrhage and would have certainly died otherwise. So according to Fowler, she isn't extreme because her distaste for the medical setting isn't so severe that she's willing to die to avoid it. That's a pretty low bar for extremism. 

She makes a point of saying she chose an "un-medicated" birth, but then used a whisky sour to help ease the pain. So in her view drugs designed to ease the pain of contractions and dispensed by medical professionals are undesirable, but hard liquor is just great? I'm not faulting her for the whisky sour (I've been in labor without pain meds for 24 hours, I know what that feels like), only the hypocrisy. 

Even though the headline of the Huffington Post article includes the word "messy", nothing messy is actually shown. The series of photographs show a beautiful, pregnant woman enduring great pain with dignity and ending up in a naked embrace with her newborn son. Then, suddenly, there is a jump to a couple of photos of mom and baby (hauntingly gorgeous) in the hospital, and the statement: 

… Nye was occidental [sic] posterior. He flipped to come out but shoulder dystocia ripped me apart. Then the placenta wouldn’t come out – some medical termI don’t know – which basically mean, it tried to detach and ripped more of me out! So I lost over half my blood and got transferred by great emt’s [sic] after the birth.
Felt awful but now recovering in UCLA Santa Monica on a TON of fentany1 (it kicks ass!) and blood transfusions and will be back home with Jared and Nye Soledad Iorio tomorrow. This mad experience Just reiterated how goddamn crazy birth is…
I don’t want to be an ass but this experience has taught me birth is beautiful and primal and mysterious and painful as ****. Thanks to my amazing midwife Racha Tahani Lawler for getting me through that, and her assistant Tanya and my brilliant doula Allegra Hill.

At this point my mind is screaming, what the fuck!? Does Huffington Post not realize that the messiest (and also terrifying) part of this birth experience has gone completely undocumented and downplayed? On her blog The Skeptical OB, Amy Tuteur lists crucial elements of this experience that have been omitted from any photographic or written documentation, including: 

Where is the photo of the postpartum hemorrhage with the blood pouring from between your legs?
Where is the photo of your husband’s face, horrified and frightened, as it dawns on him that you may bleed to death and leave him as a widower with a new baby?
Where is the photo of the EMTs hustling you out the door, racing against time to save your life?
What I find also concerning (and is noted, too, by Amy Tuteur) is how Fowler makes a point of thanking all the people who made her feel warm and fuzzy, but then neglects to thank the doctor/s and other medical staff who literally saved her life. Just as she wanted to give birth at home because that environment was one she "cared about", the midwife, her assistant, and doula are people she cares about, and the medical staff are to be treated as cogs in a machine. 

Little sis tries on big sis's lab coat.
A lot of people complain about the poor bedside manners of doctors as if the rift of contempt and distrust that often exists between doctors and patients were all the fault of one side. And as if things like a jolly bedside manner are worth a damn when one is lying on a table bleeding to death. 

This really gets me on a personal level since I am someone who attempted a totally natural childbirth with my first kid and vaginal birth with a CNM. (Neither were homebirths. I view homebirth as a reckless choice.) With both labors I experienced complications which ended with necessary surgeries. In the case of my second child I had a uterine rupture that threatened the lives of myself and my child. 

And I'll tell you what, while I appreciate the care I received from the very professional CNMs who did my prenatal care and were there with emotional support while I was in labor, I damn well feel immense gratitude toward the skilled obstetricians - both stern, serious-looking women - who opened me up and got my babies out safe! 

Sure, Fowler's not saying other people should do things the way she has chosen to do them. But she is romanticizing her experiences and then allowing that prettied-up narrative to be presented as reality. For a writer using documentation supposedly to better understand her own experiences, she seems utterly oblivious to the irrational prejudice she has against the medical establishment. 

My daughters may grow up to enter any number of careers. Right now my four-year-old wants to be a ballet dancer and painter, either of which would be amazing paths to follow. I certainly don't discourage those interests. But if either of them happen to grow up to be a stern, serious-looking obstetrician who saves the lives of women and babies, I'd be as proud as if they were Martha Graham or Louise Bourgeois

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Snowman's Fate

Yes, and in the grand scheme of things, won't we all.

All Heaven and Earth
Flowered white obliterate...

Snow...unceasing snow”
-Matsuo Basho 

While in graduate school in 2005 I took a digital art class as an elective and got to mess around with Flash. I ended up making this animation:

I showed the film to numerous faculty and peers during a final critique at the end of the semester. Afterward one professor who had come to know me, my work, and my secular humanist worldview quite well approached me. He laughed at the audience's reaction, saying, "Did you see their faces, all waiting for a resurrection that never came?"

I've thought about that a lot over the years. Indeed, the film was ultimately about death as a natural part of life. But how much did my naturalistic worldview, my inability to comprehend, much less believe in a literal soul or afterlife, influence my art-making process? Would someone who believes in a literal heaven and hell or reincarnation make such a film? And if so, how would they interpret it?

I was reminded of this recently when I acquired and read the excellent picture book Snow Day by Daniel Peddle. This is a wordless picture book. It tells its deceptively simple tale with a series of economical watercolors.

The story begins with a wide-open, snow-covered field. Under a bright sun, a child rolls up great balls of snow to create a classic snowman, complete with carrot nose. The sun starts to set in a brilliantly peach-colored sky, turning the two figures into blue silhouettes that match the long, slanted shadows they cast in the snow. The snowman is left alone under a sky glittering with moon and stars.

But then something curious happens.

I turn the page and suddenly I'm looking at the snowman from space. He sits atop the earth impossibly huge, gazing toward the red-rock moon. This is the point where things go from poetic-yet-descriptive to outright surreal. It is here I feel the snowman is much more than a literal snowman. He becomes a sort of everyman. A fragile, beautiful, transient being briefly erected as king of a humongous spinning rock in space.

I turn the page again, and encounter a breathtaking sunrise exactly behind the snowman. I turn the page again and now the snowman's body is encircled in glowing yellow light. The sun is the harbinger of death, and yet it creates a glorious halo around the snowman, highlighting his significance, his majesty, his tremendous State of Being right here in this very moment.

I turn the page again, and he is gone.

I have no idea what Daniel Peddle's worldview is, so I can't know how he meant his book to be interpreted. I suppose that anyone who believes in souls or reincarnation could interpret the light of the sun washing out the white of the snowman's body as the soul leaving the body and melding with some sort of afterlife or whatever (like I said, I can't really comprehend such concepts, so I'm not sure how to imagine the interpretation of someone who does.)

Maybe Peddle meant it to be just a funny book about how snowmen melt. Or maybe the snowman could symbolize something other than humanity, such as childhood.

That's the thing about art - once the artist puts it out there, it's for the audience to interpret from our own perspectives. And I find the humanist interpretation of this book as about the beauty of life and quiet, inevitability of death most poignant and powerful.

This picture book is geared toward (or at least marketed toward) the youngest of readers. My two year old enjoyed it very much. She could understand the story, pointed excitedly at "the sun", and at the end loudly declared, "The snowman melted!"

I liked it too (honestly I would have bought it whether I had kids or not) but for other reasons. I like to simultaneously ponder both the brevity and beauty of life. It reminds me to be appreciative, accept my tiny place in the universe for what it is, and not greedily hope for something else or something more. I think of this when I see butterflies or the remains of perished birds.

I read this picture book to my toddler in the hopes that experiencing it might play a role in her forming a mentality that regards death as part of a natural progression.

There will be no resurrection. But oh, the light before it burns out!