politics aside

Recently, a friend, one of my readers, commented on a political photo and message I’d shared on Facebook. He said, “Christy, stick to your blog where you don't piss off 50% of your friends ... Ha ha.”  I “liked” his comment for its candor and lightheartedness. Soon after another reader commented:

“I have stopped reading Christy's blog lately. I'm not "pissed off," just not interested in political rant of any kind, from any medium.”

Then I put down my own thoughts, saying that my blog and any political posts I share are not mutually exclusive and then added that I was bummed.

But I’ve been rolling their words around in my mind the past day or so and have come to realize that, while it’s true that my blog and any political “rants” I make are separate, indeed life with Calvin has informed—impassioned—my political outlook. And the feeling leaves me with a hankering, not to rant, but to simply share my thoughts.

At this point in life I consider myself pro-choice. Though to be honest, when I was pregnant and awaiting the results of my eighteen-week amniocentesis—first feeling the hard mound in my belly that was Calvin—I knew I couldn’t abort him even if, say, he had some serious defect. It was a moment of understanding that there are probably as many different circumstances for why a woman—a couple—might consider abortion as there are stars in the sky.

Earlier today, while mulling the subject over, I recalled the stories of two authors whose books I’ve recently read. Both are parents of children born with tragic genetic conditions: one whose son will die soon, within the first few years of his life, the other whose son is terribly disfigured and disabled and whose prognosis is unknown at best. Both boys face vicious seizures, mental and physical hardship and suffering. These parent authors have each written that, had they known about their children’s plight, they might have chosen abortion. Their painful stories inform my opinion on the subject, which, for me, is not a black-and-white issue and not one to be judged, by some, appropriate only in the case of rape, incest and the health of the mother. And though I’m not sure I could ever choose to have an abortion, I still believe that the decision is as multifaceted as a snowflake under a microscope, as unique and nuanced as the nose on my face.

Our circumstance with Calvin also informs my opinion on health care. I grew up in a conservative republican household where my father believed in the slogan, “every man for himself.” And although I broke from that dogma in college, I have drifted further and further away over the years. Raising a severely disabled child whose future is uncertain and whose medical and pharmaceutical bills would likely shock anyone into a state of catatonia and—even with private insurance—could bankrupt most, I understand the importance—the right—for everyone to have health care. I don’t believe any of us should have to live in fear of losing it, live in fear of being denied it, live in fear of reaching an imposed cap. Are there really parents who believe that their child’s health and well being is a privilege that can so easily be whisked away? I must assume that there are.

And, being the mother of a disabled child I know what it is to feel marginalized, to feel misunderstood, to be gawked at, perhaps even judged, for having a retarded child. So I align myself with people who promote inclusiveness—not exclusivity—and offer fairness to everyone—women, the disabled, our immigrants, our gay and lesbian community, people of different races, ethnicities, religions, economic status—not only for select few. Because those who wish to deny others the same freedoms that they themselves enjoy have likely never walked even a few steps in my shoes, nor the shoes of countless others less fortunate than themselves.

And so, readers, at the risk of “pissing off” some of you, I write raw and, like Ernest Hemingway said, I “write hard and clear about what hurts.” My hope is that you will keep reading, have an open mind, and perhaps learn something new about a situation different from your own. Though, like my impassioned political canvassing on Facebook, I can’t apologize.

photo by Michael Kolster


  1. Hi Calvin and Family
    My name is Jenna and I came across your site.Calvin is a precious miracle, special gift, handsome prince He is a cute earthly angel. calvin is a smilen champ, inspirational hero, courageous fighter, and a brave warrior.
    I was born with a rare life threatening disease, developmental delays, 14 medical conditions.

  2. Terrific post and I'm sharing -- I believe that our oft-parallel lives are doing it here as well -- down to the opening up that happened in college. I so wish that we could meet and talk endlessly.

  3. Thank you for not shying away from the political in your writing. Politics and life are unfortunately inseparable: Your life informs your political viewpoint, and political climate and public policy have enormous power to make your life either harder or more tolerable.

    Having a child with a disability has transformed me from a political junkie into a political advocate. How could it not when there are people who would cut funding for my daughter's indescribably high medical expenses, her education, and for the supported housing she will no doubt need when I am no longer alive to care for her?

    Anyone who thinks the subject of "politics" resides someplace outside the subject of "parenting" doesn't quite get it. You're in a good position to inform them

  4. I absolutely love this and hold you up in your hard true things. Your son is lucky in parents.

  5. Christy: This is a great post. If this counts as a political rant, then we need to retire the words "complexity" and "nuance" from the English language.

    writing is hard work because writing is thinking. And reading is hard work because reading is thinking. Why wouldn't you want to write about politics? Could you even write if you didn't write about politics because the act of writing is a political act.

    If people don't want to read your blog because of what they call "political rants," then they aren't being good readers, regardless of their own political views or attitudes toward yours. And that means they aren't thinking. I shudder to imagine what your critics, as gentle as they are to you, might say about any number of authors.

  6. thanks matt, the woman isn't reading the blog because of my political links (not blog writing) that i share on facebook, like "go obama" and any scathing links from the ny times about romney/ryan/republican. perhaps even more sad.

  7. Don't waste any energy fretting about people who stop reading because of your political views. I agree whole-heartily with your political views shared in this post, and even if I didn't, I would still read your blog. After all... we find comfort among those who agree with us -- growth among those who don't.

    1. "We find comfort among those who agree with us--growth among those who don't." What a profound thought, what a necessary foundation! Your political position is a direct line to your personal experience (and not, like some, a rote mantra dinned in from childhood or worse, from clever advertising) and so is authentic, legitimate and credible. Its intensity is in direct relation to its causes, which in your case is almost overwhelming. Who can possibly make the case more meaningfully?