How We Can Prevent Suicide

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Is there a Millennial who survived teenage angst without Linkin Park?

The world is currently mourning the loss of the talented Chester Bennington. I am, too. And, ironically, last week I completed suicide prevention training.

The question feels as urgent as ever: How can we prevent suicide?

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What do playgrounds say about us?

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One of my earliest school memories involves biting the dust while climbing an oversized metal spider in the middle of our playground. Morning dew and my mother’s shoe selection were equally to blame.

But I didn’t give up on the challenge. And, by the end of that week, I conquered the source of my fleeting Kindergarten shame.

It would be decades before I would see equipment that resembled that delightful spider I once cursed. Last week, in fact, I took our kids to a park with a similarly aged steel insect and a rusted merry-go-round. As you may have guessed, both still inspire squeals of joy…and caution.

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The Last Menagerie

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Breastfeeding. Is there an experience as bittersweet? I have devoted almost three years of my life to nursing. No bottles. No pumps. And – to the great shock of many – I still have a career outside of the home. Some would call this an accomplishment…or insanity.

Lately, however, something has been coming between my daughter and I. Two things actually. Ivy the Otter and Elton the Elephant – they must be held while my little girl nurses.

It’s a transition that has emerged slowly, but now my youngest’s message is clear: Mom, I am learning to find security outside of you.

But this isn’t my first circus – I know what comes next.

And every day I am left to wonder: Will today produce the last menagerie?

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The Great Purge

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Our Saturday morning began just like any other. We didn’t sleep in, the kids dragged their feet, and we departed our home at approximately 9 a.m. to peruse the local farmer’s market.

To the outside eye, it may have even looked like we had it together. After all, I teach an environmental health research class, we drive a Subaru, and we pay each month for curbside recycling. An air of confidence swept over me: We are saving the Earth.

Only my husband decided – at that very moment of peace – to remind me of reality: there was a mildewed child’s mattress in our trunk that needed to be thrown away. The mission itself seemed simple enough until we saw – quite literally – the writing on the fence: “No household or bulk waste.”

A bit stunned, my husband and I looked from the sign to one another. What are we going to do with our trash?

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The Career Not Taken

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When you are a parent, first birthdays always have a way of misting the eyes and evoking strong emotions. Just yesterday my little girl was afraid to take a step, and today she is sprinting. Twelve short months and all that remains are the final traces of a precious baby, our last.

I told myself I had it together. I told myself I could do this. But, the truth is, I have regrets.

I didn’t read enough stories.

I didn’t savor the middle-of-the-night embraces.

I didn’t slow down.

And – here on the other side of one – is where I begin to ponder other roads not taken.

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The Night Rape Knocked

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On the night of my eighteenth birthday, I heard a loud knock on my door. It was approximately 11 p.m., and my roommate had no plans to return until morning.

“RA’s! Open up!”

I peeked through the peephole. Two men, not much older than myself, sought entrance. In my naiveté, I opened the door.

“We heard complaints of noise. Are you having a party?”

I was stunned. Only three weeks into college, and I was already in trouble. But, quickly, my real error surfaced: I had unknowingly granted two strangers access into my room late at night.

It was 2 vs. 1, and I was in no position to win.

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The Hard Truth about Cloth Diapering

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You never forget the times when someone implies that you are a bad mother.

Recently, such a situation occurred in our church’s elevator. I had just nursed my daughter in the designated room and was traveling two floors to reach my husband and our Sunday school class. Sleep deprivation and perpetual nursing have a way of chronically weakening one, so I sent my daughter’s carrier and blanket with my husband. The baby and diaper bag were enough to juggle.

I entered the elevator with baby in arms. I took a deep breath, and the door began to close. Ah, a moment’s peace for communion with…

[Enter older, more experienced mother. Think Baby Boomer.]

“You’re wearing a jacket. Where’s hers?”

Few things sting quite like an unexpected, self-righteous bullet.

“Her blanket is with my husband.”

I departed with the kind of restraint that would make even Jesus proud.

We live in Southeast Georgia. The temperature reached the low-70s before the worship service ended just 90 minutes later.

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Deep Waters

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It all began with a phone call. The climax, that is.

Unsurprisingly, my husband and I had forgotten to re-enroll ourselves in a health insurance plan for the upcoming year. It was approximately 4:48 p.m. this past Friday when my husband desperately took action to beat the deadline. He called me with an urgent tone to obtain our daughter’s social security number in order to complete the process.

For the average person, such a request seems minor; to the mother on the verge of an emotional breakdown, however, this is enough to wage a war.

Where is her card? Oh, no, I can’t find her card…

[Cue wailing newborn and insert curious, no-personal-space toddler here]

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The Breast Commitment

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I have always held a healthy hatred for percentiles. Outside of the doctor’s office, they serve no purpose but to aid in a mother’s ability to boast.

Pediatricians, however, find them to be beneficial in understanding a child’s growth curve. In short, percentile consistency means your child is thriving.

“You need more rest.”

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