I have a lot of empathy for politicians these days. Ensuring that everyone has proper care without impinging on his or her freedoms is no easy task. The constituents have a lot of demands, and pleasing all of the people, all of the time, can be really challenging.
I know this because my family weathered its own Mommy Shutdown. Like the government, it was one of those train wrecks I saw coming — hell, in many ways I orchestrated it — but I was too set in my ways to steer clear of derailment.
Let me say for the record my Mommy Shutdown was nothing like what we lady breeders fantasize about. It wasn’t as if I took a hike to get my groove back, only to return to a post-Apocalyptic scene featuring an empty fridge, filthy house, and children looking like extras from the set of The Walking Dead. (They need me — they really need me!)
It all started with a simple dental appointment. My son had just gotten braces on, and the orthodontist told me that he needed his teeth cleaned once every three months.
I called to make his appointment and was told nothing was available for another couple of months.
When I asked when his last appointment was, I almost fell off my chair. He hadn’t had his teeth cleaned in nearly two years.
I had a Mommy Shutdown, and I didn’t even realize it! When I looked back, I could see what happened: a missed appointment here, an I surrender moment there where I couldn’t make our schedule work with the dentist’s, and before I knew it, I was negligent. I wasn’t serving my population. I’d shut down basic care, and because my constituents weren’t so focused on what is actually a pretty critical issue, there was no blowback. (I guess they didn’t read this “floss or die” article.)
There’s a possibility that it was all gerrymandering’s fault, but I’m not even sure what that is so I won’t go there.
Lucky for me, I’m a part of a special interest group — CNN said I’m a “popular mommy blogger,” so it must be true. And since moms are such an influential group, I get a ton of offers to try out new products and services. All I have to do is write about my experience.
This is normally not my bailiwick (not to be confused with gerrymandering), but in my panic over potentially not being elected “Mother of the Year,” I was in the exact right head space for the first time ever to take advantage of an offer to test drive a dental care website that my friend and super fabulous blogger, Jessica Gottlieb, sent my way.
So to get back on dental track, I went on Brighter.com, which is devoted to making dental care affordable to everyone. Basically it’s a marketplace of dentists you can choose from and get a super-low rate on whatever dental services you need. I really liked that Yelp reviews were integrated, so it was easy to find a great dentist right near me.
Since I would never ask my constituents to do anything I wouldn’t do myself, I tried it first and got my teeth whitened (something I’ve been wanting to do forever.) The dentist I found on Brighter was amazing, the price was fantastic (about half what my old dentist would have charged), and the whole process was delightful. (Note to my readers in places other than LA — Brighter’s only available in Los Angeles for now, but is rolling out nationally soon.) Best of all, they reminded me about my appointment multiple times — both via email and on the phone — so it was like having a personal assistant, with a better attitude and superior dental hygiene to boot.
Imagine that: a website that is easy to use, provides a marketplace of affordable healthcare options, and is dedicated to overall helpfulness. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the U.S. government offered such a thing?
On a roll now, I also went over to CVS’s Minute Clinic and got my kids flu shots. Here’s the funny thing about insurance: I have it, but it doesn’t cover any preventative care. So I pay full-boat retail rates for my children’s annual checkups, and flu shots are $20 more at the pediatrician’s office than they are at CVS.
Now I know I’m shilling, but this is America and actually, we do have choices. Well, us “middle class” peeps that everyone (READ: politicians) loves has choices. It’s not easy to see that sometimes, and the truth is, it is every man and woman for his or her self.
For his or her family.
My Mommy Shutdown stemmed from holding an unrealistic belief that just because I have insurance, all of my problems are solved. And so, without realizing it, I gave up. Or I lost my rights, or something. (I’m pretty sure I gerrymandered.)
But then, this is America, and we can all fend for ourselves. Not even out of choice, but out of necessity. I believe that basic human rights should be provided for (which makes me a liberal), but I also believe that to survive, you have to be fit and look out for your own (which makes me a conservative).
Actually, I’m neither nowadays. Both of the major political parties, in my opinion, are big phat babies that try to please all of the people, all of the time (well, all of their people, all of the time). Any parent — hell, any grown up — will tell you that shit does not fly when you are looking out for the best interest of people you genuinely care about.
I’m a mom, so I represent my own kind of country.
I have clearly defined boundaries, and I’m not afraid to enforce them.
I sweat the small stuff — like being asleep at the wheel when it came to getting my child the dental care he needed — and I work my ass off to fix problems and figure out how to get my family what we need in a way that we can afford.
I pay all of our bills, as I’m conscious that any debts I accrue will ultimately fall on my children, and it’s my job to make sure that doesn’t happen.
And I don’t EVER shutdown. I may stall out for a bit here and there, but it truly is up to me (and my husband) to keep us on track.
So if you see me pursuing life, liberty, and happiness, just know that’s a basic American right. And right now, it seems they are the only ones we truly have, so we might as well open up to new ways of not being shut down… or out.