February 17, 2014 by Jan Stone
Getting people to even consider changing the way they think about issues affecting others’ daily lives despite facts, common sense and logic is asking a lot. My colleague and I who created Elect2Care are reminded of this often. Yesterday I witnessed a “wow” moment and was reminded it not only happens one person at a time, even one day can make a huge difference. On Sunday both occurred: delivered by a 7 lb., 19-inch bundle now known as Patrick Xavier.
My oldest daughter gave birth to a son in their living room, surrounded only by people who love his parents and wish nothing but the best for the newest addition to the population. She handled it like a rock star, managing contractions without medication better than she ever handled a flu shot or a vaccine. And she did it despite a surprising number of people maintaining a constant chant about how wrong she was, trying to scare her out of her well thought out decision to give birth at home.
I’ve worked hard, experienced many successes, near misses and flat-out failures in my 50+ years. I attach two stellar accomplishments to my life: the 29-year-old who gave me a new grandson yesterday and her 21-year-old sister. You may say I’m not objective, but these two women have already tallied successes others won’t achieve in lifetimes. They run for cancer, create websites to reduce child poverty, raise funds that educate drivers about bicyclists on roadways, graduate from gifted programs, earn NCAA scholarships and All-American Scholar awards, work with local fire departments on civic programs, row to support violence against women, just from the top of my head.
Thus, to think one of them would risk the life of their baby if there were even the sign of a complication is hard for me to comprehend. Instead, his family did what they could to bring him into this world in a calm and loving environment. No bright lights, intercoms, waiting for the doctor before mom could push.
Shortly afterwards, my 21-year-old showed proof of her fast-growing maturity as she concluded: “We should never judge things we haven’t experienced. I was against my sister giving birth this way, and now it’s the only way I’d want to have a baby.”
Can you imagine how that recognition can affect change if it were to catch on? We shouldn’t judge the color of one’s skin until we’re relegated to the back of the bus. We shouldn’t judge what women do with their bodies until someone governs that judge’s body. How can we dictate citizenship by one’s ethnicity until we understand the culture of family’s risking everything to live in our country?
I didn’t get much time with Patrick Xavier Sunday, but made the most with what I had. The first time I held him tightly, introduced myself, and explained how much he lucked out today in two very big ways. First, by chance he was born a healthy white male in an upscale suburb of Chicago. Next, he has two brilliant parents who already love him unconditionally and will make the best of everything available to him.
The next time I got hold of him, I held him close and talked about how smart and loving his sister is, and how it isn’t fair that he should ever make more money than her for the same job. I said in all possibility he possessed the cure for cancer or AIDS, to not fear shooting for that desire if it possesses him. I told him how everyone in the room loved him despite his not uttering a single word, and how that’s not always the case for brand new babies, so it’s important he learn of gratitude and give back when he can.
In-laws who don’t know me very well were amused. My family has heard it before, and I realize as I write this that by their actions, they have believed much of it.
Patrick Xavier, you have genes sprinkled with brilliance, a keen sense of justice, great compassion and the desire to create a calm and loving environment for those surrounding you despite color, ethnicity or sexual orientation. I hope your calm and loving introduction into the world allows you to find peaceful solutions to the challenges you will face. I hope you, too, elect to care, every day.