Family First Inbox: Issue 824| December 27, 2022
“I credit my ‘entitled’ childhood and G-d-given gifts with the ability to embrace the challenges and remain sane”
It’s Not the Doughnuts [Inbox/Issue 822]
I feel I must respond to the letter writer who expresses her anguish over a dearth of her diabetes medicine... because she believes the reason is that it’s being diverted to help the obese.
Her attitude left me shocked, then saddened.
I had successful bariatric surgery over five years ago. I consider myself lucky that I was able to have the surgery, lose weight, and keep it off. Believe me when I say that if I could have lost weight through conventional dieting, I would have done so. Surgery is not an easy way out.
My husband, because of health issues unrelated to his weight or BMI, isn’t a candidate for surgery. He is going through the process to be approved for Ozempic. His health, indeed his life, is just as important as those of diabetes patients. And just like the letter writer, he needs to have whatever option is right for him made fully available.
By her own admission, the letter writer has an alternative, albeit not an ideal one: insulin. My husband doesn’t have another option. And before other readers start saying things like, “Well, stop with the doughnuts! Exercise! Wire your jaw shut! Develop some self-control!” and other such compassionate comments, I’d say that this blanket fat-shaming has no place in frum minds.
I’m not going to divulge my husband’s health issues to your readership, but let me reassure the writer and others who are nodding sagely at her comments that there are two sides to every situation. Obese people aren’t always so because of doughnuts. There are numerous medical reasons beyond lack of self-control that cause obesity, and quite honestly, if a commonly used drug prescribed for one condition can be used to treat another, what’s wrong with that?
Instead of blaming obese patients for selfishly taking your medication when all they have to do is shut their mouths, how about lobbying Big Pharma to produce more of the drug you need?
Wishing the writer, and all of us who need one, a refuah sheleimah.
This letter is dedicated to the immediate refuah of Miriam bat Sara.
Pain Permitted [Musings / Issue 822]
I have a feeling the essay about how special needs don’t always feel so special, written by a mother of a son on the spectrum, invoked some strong reactions, so I want to put in my two cents. As I’m also the mother of a son on the spectrum, I read this essay eagerly, feeling tremendously validated because even though my son is delicious in so many ways and is developing and learning and doing so fabulously, some days (most?) are just plain hard.
I feel sad I can’t host guests with ease, or chat easily with friends at a kiddush, because my son dominates my time and attention. I feel embarrassed when we’re in a store, and my son, who looks like a pretty typical kid, behaves in a way that screams, “This mom is incapable!”
I often feel exhausted, drained, and tired of it all.
At a recent party for the children in my son’s (special) school, I mentioned to some other mothers how resentful I often feel, parenting this child day after day. There was almost instant relief and recognition on their faces. One mother actually stated how good it feels to realize she isn’t the only one, that she isn’t a horrible person.
I recently met an acquaintance who went through a traumatic birth in which her baby nearly didn’t make it. The baby was at that time in a high-level NICU in another state. When I inquired with concern about how she was holding up, she insisted that baruch Hashem she was absolutely fine and couldn’t understand why people would think otherwise.
Having myself gone through a trauma several years ago shortly after the birth of a child, which threw me out of my groove for years, I was left feeling like I must be the world’s biggest wimp or that I lacked emunah, or both. Perhaps as a society we’ve created an expectation that nisyonos should be handled with aplomb, and that’s the only acceptable (public) response.
Thank you for expressing real feelings and experiences. There are many of us who have had similar experiences. Perhaps by first being “allowed” to express the raw emotions in our hearts, we’ll eventually be able to come around to acceptance.
13-Year-Old Mystery [Mind the Gap/Issue 822]
I read the informative account of a mother’s quest to help her baby eat normally with great interest. I was surprised to come across this article just as my son put on tefillin for the first time this week. Could it be that laryngeal cleft was his issue 13 years ago?
Back then I was desperate to figure out why he coughed and choked every time I fed him. At the time I ran to my pediatrician and then to many lactation consultants to find a way to get the milk down without all the commotion.
One consultant recommended using a shield that has a tiny hole, so the milk came out very slowly. This stopped the coughing and the choking. I used it for a few months, not realizing that the fat in the milk was unable to come through that little hole. My baby was basically skin and bones with barely any hair due to the lack of nutrition.
On Shavuos night, four and a half months later, my husband was up all night, learning in shul, and so was my little guy. He refused to sleep and just stared at me, huge eyes popping out of his little bony face. I ran to the doctor right after Yom Tov. She took one look at my distraught face and announced, “Eis la’asos laHashem, the time has come for you to stop nursing and give a bottle.” (He was able to drink smoothly because the milk came out slowly.)
This declaration was devastating for me. I was a huge believer in giving a baby mother’s milk. I was also afraid I wouldn’t be able to lose the weight I’d put on during pregnancy if I didn’t nurse.
Of course, I did what needed to be done, and when I look back at the photos of that time, I feel terribly guilty that I was unable to see how malnourished my baby was because I was blinded by my belief in nursing.
I’m grateful to Family First for giving me clarity to a mystery I’ve held on to for 13 years.
It Starts in School [Inbox /Issue 822]
The recent article about excessive materialism really spoke to me. I’m a Bais Yaakov high school girl in an out-of-town community. I’m disturbed by the outrageous spending habits of Bais Yaakov girls my age. (Yes, even in our out-of-town high school!) Girls have become so desperate to be ‘’with it,’’ they’re willing to buy used Golden Goose sneakers or Moose Knuckles coats from eBay, or fakes from AliExpress.
For those who think buying Michele watches for teenage girls (or younger) is outrageous, Micheles are already a thing of the past and have been upgraded to the newer and better Movado watch. I can’t even begin to think what type of watches these girls are going to ‘’need’’ when they’re in shidduchim or getting married. There seems to be no end to all of this.
As a high school girl, I can say that walking into school or any store causes a lot of self-consciousness. You can see girls turning around and squinting their eyes to see what brand shoes someone is wearing. Even girls who have both parents in chinuch come in with high-end luxury items that you see on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. You can’t tell the difference between the girls whose fathers are lawyers and girls whose fathers are rebbeim.
The fact that these girls’ parents are giving in to their wants ‘’because everyone else has it’’ is disturbing. If this is what girls today are focused on, then what kind of luxuries will the next generation of Klal Yisrael yearn for?
An ‘’Out-of-Town’’ Bais Yaakov girl
Materialism Helped Me [Inbox /Issue 822]
I’ve been following the conversation regarding materialism and entitlement and all the voices insisting we stop the tidal trend. I have a different take. I’m in my mid-thirties. I had a blessed, stress-free childhood. I was a star in school and star in camp and had everything going for me. I was a really top kid.
Guess what? I needed all that to give me a strong foundation so I could ride the waves Hashem lovingly created for me. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I went through several life-altering challenges that challenged me to my neshamah. And I emerged, and am emerging daily, stronger, newer, and a better daughter of Hashem.
Yes, after all is said and done, I credit my “entitled” childhood and G-d-given gifts with the ability to embrace the challenges and remain sane. (Oh, of course, therapy as well! But therapy only goes so far.)
While we should do the best to raise our generation’s children to be mevakshei Hashem, let’s remember we don’t run the world and we don’t know why and who is really “entitled.” We also don’t know who may need to draw on the strength they got from being entitled.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 824)
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