Parenting has changed A LOT

Does anyone feel like being a parent has become even more challenging lately? I feel like parenting in the United States has become increasingly more demanding that it used to be for financial reasons, emotional reasons, and the increasing social pressure to make sure that our children are more successful than we were. I read a very interesting article by Claire Cain Miller in the New York Times back in 2018 and it’s really got me thinking now. I want to share some of it and my own thoughts with you.

Did you know that the word parent as a verb did not get widely used until the 1970s? This was around the same time as the explosion of parenting books all over the country. The ‘helicopter parent” was invented in the 1980s to keep kids safe from harm due to a rash of media attention frenzy child abductions. Even though these incidences were rare, the media ( like they do even now) focused us so strongly on them that it’s all we could think about and it changed a whole generation of parenting.

After the helicopters came the intensive parents. We are still most definitely in the intensive parenting era even now. Let me explain. Intensive parenting first showed up in the 90s and 2000s. We all changed our perspective with regards to our kids. Instead of viewing them as independent, joyful and capable of anything, we started seeing them as moldable, extremely vulnerable beings that needed to be shaped from a very early age. We had a lot of help with this thinking with all the child development research that was flooding our senses at every book store, social circle and media outlet.

So, what was the consequence of this intensive parenting shift? It sounds like it should mean that we spent a lot more time with our kids. In actuality, the real numbers of hours that parents and kids spent together did not change significantly, BUT, what we did during those hours changed a lot. Everything shifted to more hands- on interactions. We started doing more crafts, attending more recitals, going to more sporting events, spending more time helping with homework. Did you know that parents spend an average of five hours or more a week just helping with homework now, as compared to the 1970s? And we still worry that we are not doing enough. Another potentially unhealthy trend was that we started spending all of our leisure time focused solely on our children, instead of leaving anything for ourselves. We greatly increased structured activities, sometimes to the point that every single minute of our child’s lives, and thus our lives, was plotted out to the minute. Then came the overwhelming sense of guilt if you had a few minutes to yourself. We have started spending so much money doing this that we have created a new level of economic anxiety that we have never had before. To me, that is a recipe for disaster and resentment. When you leave nothing for yourself, how can you be the best parent you can be? I am not sure it’s possible. Of course, there is a finesse to the balance. I am not suggesting sitting and eating bonbons all day long while the kids run rampant like “Where the Wild Things Are” or anything.

We have taken this trend to another unhealthy level by tacitly not supporting the working parent. The job flexibility options to facilitate balance between work and home are just not universally available. Then here comes the guilt again about not spending enough time, but you have to work enough to feed them….and afford all their activities…don’t you?

Do you remember you felt free and joyous as a kid? Drinking from the hose? Playing outside until the streetlights came on? Not tied to a screen or having to go to ten activities in one day? Not every kid on the block was headed for an IVY league college? Was it so bad? Did you know that for the first time in history, it is actually about a 50/50 shot whether our kids will end up better off than we were? Studies also show that kids today aren’t any happier or more satisfied than they used to be either. Despite all this extra effort? Whaat?!

I think then that begs the question….what are we doing? Why are we doing it? I think we need to stop and think a minute. Slow down the relentless wave of activities. Allow our kids to think for themselves and be a part of choosing their own path. If what we are doing is not actually working, isn’t time we re-evaluated? I truly think that a child’s own path depends largely on the child. We all have heard stories of inner city children ending up rich and famous and likewise of privileged children ending up aimless with no steady job. No matter how many opportunities are thrown someone’s way or how many hours are invested, it is ultimately up to the individual to make the most of it. Let’s give them a chance to be independent. Let’s keep watching but not always interfering.( Within reason. I know even I can’t let things go all the time. ) If anything, you might have time to sip a glass of wine once in awhile and they might even end up happier. Isn’t that what matters the most? Just think about it.

You need to love your job…or stop doing it

According to statistics from February 2022, 65% of U.S employees are satisfied with their jobs, but only 20% are passionate about them. Notice that these statistics don’t address how many people are actively employed, it just speaks to the percentage that are. This makes it a little tougher to ascertain the true meaning of this. But let’s take them at face value. To be honest, with everyone’s behavior lately, I am surprised that the statistics are even this positive. I sometimes wonder if the majority of people in the United States even want to work anymore. I am extremely thankful that I have found some that do.

So, why is job satisfaction so important? Doesn’t it only matter that the work gets done? The short answer is no. The completion of work is not the only significant factor. Job satisfaction really matters. Let’s look at why.

Job satisfaction affects workers, which in turn affects the company. When workers are happy with their careers, they become better team players. They tend to align themselves in a sincere way with the company mission and goals. This leads to employees being PR ambassadors, spreading the word about how much they love working there and then generating more word of mouth business for the company.

There is way less job turnover when employees are satisfied. This means less HR headaches and less time and money spent on hiring. On top of that, satisfied workers are more productive and more motivated to complete their tasks. They will work harder and company profit will increase. It’s a win win.

So, let’s take a look at what makes jobs satisfying. 60% of U.S employees feel that their co workers are the biggest factor in their work happiness. This does not necessarily refer to their upper level bosses. These are the people that they work with every day. If they all get along, have each other’s backs, and work as a team,, everything goes better and is more enjoyable. Even if they are not a fan of their boss, as long as they get along with their co workers, things usually function ok. Another 74% of U.S employees believe that company culture is the biggest contributing factor. It makes sense. A healthy and positive work environment makes any day go better. I have to agree with this. Having a good team around me has made work more enjoyable than it has been in years.

What are some of the most satisfying jobs in the workforce? According to U.S News and World Report, PayScale and CareerBliss, this is the list of the most satisfying jobs available:

Chiropractor

Chief Executive

Conservation Scientist

Physician

Nurse

Physical Therapist

Teachers

Clergy

Psychologist

Surgeon

What is so special about these jobs? From my estimation, all of these jobs have some characteristics in common. There is variety. New things happen every day. The job is ever changing. They have an opportunity to advance. They involve helping people. They have higher salaries, which decreases bill pay stress. All of these factors contribute to job satisfaction.

What makes a job less satisfying? Less flexibility, lower pay, lack of benefits, poor work environment, no opportunity for advancement and high turnover rate all lead to less job satisfaction. Jobs that fall into this category include parking lot attendants, fast food cooks, dishwashers, cashiers, waiters, and retail salespeople.

Now, having said all of this, I am sure that a lot of employees don’t fit into these categories. Some cooks love their jobs. Some teachers hate theirs. I am not attempting to generalize. These examples are research-based. I realize that there are always exceptions.

We have discussed all the statistics. Now let’s talk about why I think job satisfaction is important. I think it is important because I literally can’t do my job well without it. I am grateful every day that I love what I do. I know this from the bottom of my heart. I have really been tested lately. Many of us have. Times have been really rough these last three years. I have worked without pay, through cancer, through family mental health issues, through my husband’s heart attack, and through the pandemic. I haven’t worked for reimbursement. I have worked because I love it. I still do. As long as I keep that in mind, and as long as that is still true, I will keep on doing it.

Dr. Katz

It’s Easter

To me, first and foremost, Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus. I get it. But, also for me, there is a lot of other things to celebrate on this day too. There has been so much rebirth everywhere. From the minute details of the daffodils blooming to the emergence of myself and my husband from illness to the rejuvenation of old relationships: there is a sense of fresh start everywhere.

Second chances are everywhere, if we take advantage of them. I think this applies not only to religion, but to life in general. I have to admit, there has been so much change to take in that sometimes it’s overwhelming as well as wonderful. I am sometimes not sure how to process it all. I make sure to never let it overwhelm my sense of gratitude, but I am noticing that there is still an underlying sense of anxiety and “waiting for the other shoe to drop” again in my every day life. It seems to be affecting my whole family as well. I think it’s just normal with everything we have been through lately.

I realize that I need to make a conscious effort to keep moving forward, and to help my family move forward with me. We need to make the absolute most of and learn from these second chances. We need to focus on what gives us joy, even if it is something as small as watching my grandchildren hunt for Easter eggs or as monumental as hearing that my latest scans are clear.

So, as you gather with family and friends today to celebrate our Lord, also take time to celebrate each other and life in general. Take nothing for granted. Embrace every opportunity. Learn from each other and your own mistakes. Savor every moment.

Have a happy and blessed Easter.

Dr. Katz

It’s Time To Get Back to the Smoothie

I finally went on a vacation after almost two years. It was amazing. In the weeks preceding it, I became acutely aware of just how much I NEEDED it: emotionally and physically. I felt like every cell in my body was about to burst with the drive to get the hell out of town an away from everything: my environment, my routine, my town, everything. In between the vacation cravings came the vacation fears. What if something terrible happened to one of us? What if we didn’t get to go at all? What if we didn’t survive it? Let’s be honest for a moment. Each and every time we tried to have time off in the last two years, something awful happened. A pandemic started. Someone had a heart attack or, my favorite, someone got cancer. You see what I mean? The vacation fears almost took over the vacation cravings to the point that we felt jinxed just to utter the word vacation. We started saying pause or any other euphemism to avoid saying the word vacation. It’s ridiculous I know, but it’s what happened.

So, the big day finally arrived. We were all packed and ready to go, BEFORE 2 am the night before. This in and of itself is a miracle…lol We celebrated each mile stone with vigor. Hurray we made it to the airport. Hooray we made it through security. Hurray we made it on the plane. And then, the celebrations stopped because flights were delayed…and cancelled. But, we even made the best of that and just kept switching gears as fast as they changed.

Finally, we made it to our destination: sunny Key West Florida. I had never been. It was gorgeous and hot and sweaty. I was in love. I thought for sure that it would be smooth sailing from there. It was, sort of. I realized quickly that we both had forgotten how to really take a vacation. We were kind of anxious at first, waiting for the other shoe to drop and wondering how we would handle it so far from home. I think we each took our own day to fall apart a little and lift each other back up again. It sounds like a waste of time, but it wasn’t. We needed that time to absorb that it would be ok and that we would be ok and that we were allowed to just have fun and relax. We did get the hang of it eventually.

It ended up being a marvelous vacation, plane snafus at the end not withstanding. We did relax. We did have fun. We ate stuff. We did stuff. We saw old friends. We tried new things. But, after a week, it was time to get back to the real world. I realized the routine I had been so vigorously campaigning against before we left was not actually a bad thing. There is safety and comfort in the routine. For chrissakes, for the past two years life has been anything BUT routine until lately. If I am being honest, things were finally getting normal enough to even be able to notice a routine. I told myself that the routine was dragging me down, but it wasn’t really true. The routine just let’s me know that I am okay and that things are ok. That’s a good thing.

According to Diane Lang, 40 % of our lives involve routines. Routines give us a sense of structure. They give us a sense of accomplishment. They let us know that we are doing ok. They give us a pattern to follow. They are even important for our mental health. They allow us a sense of what we can control. I think this has been especially important during the pandemic. I know that for me, being able to establish a routine has been essential in my continued healthy survivorship after cancer. The bottom line is, routine are not so bad. On that note, now that I am home, I think it is time to get back to the smoothie. I missed it while I was on vacation.

Dr. Katz

There is so much to say

Buddha Quotes positive attitude

Hello there! Long time no write. It has been an interesting month to say the least. My head has been spinning with a little bit of everything lately, to the point that I didn’t really know how to put into words that would make any sense. I am going to give it a shot now.

First and foremost, I feel so grateful just to be alive. I remind myself to take note of this every day. It was not guaranteed by any means. 2021 was just a shit show of one inevitable thing after another, not to mention trying to be vanquished by lymphoma. Well! I showed that stupid cancer who’s boss! But, almost a year later, I am still not quite me yet. There have been so many side effects and setbacks and I just had to sign a different consent form that added about 6 new pages of warnings and potential complications for chemo that I already had. But, I just keep on taking the hits like a prize fighter and keep on plugging.

Second, I am so grateful that my husband is alive. I was barely a couple feet in the rearview from chemo when he tried to croak and had multi vessel open heart surgery, without having any high cholesterol or anything! Talk about terrifying and out of the blue! Helping him rebuild both mentally and physically has been one of the greatest challenges of our lives. If we allow it, the what ifs could easily overwhelm us. I just keep saying no!

Third, I am grateful that my kids are healthy, at least physically. Let’s face it. Almost losing both parents in one calendar year hit them like a ton of bricks, even though they tried not to show it. They wanted to spare our feelings and not have us worry or feel guilty. Too late for that. I watched their struggle to process and still give themselves permission to carry on with their lives. There is no more hopeless feeling than knowing your kids are fighting a battle that you just can’t help with or fight for them, but that is partially caused by you. I get it. Feeling guilty does not solve or remedy anything. I just can’t help it.

Fourth, the ongoing business struggles between the pandemic and the after effects of me working less during my cancer treatment and trying to help when my husband was ill are still catching up with me. Not a whole lot I can do about that besides keep working my ass off. On the other hand, I feel very fortunate to still have and own my business after everything that has happened. I’ve always said that I am not in it for the money anyway…lol

Last but not least, there IS something that really keeps me going lately in a good way. Want to know what it is? It is my positivity. What do I mean by that? Well, I DON’T mean that I wear rose-colored glasses and have unrealistic expectations that set me up for failure. I DON’T mean that I skip around singing like Snow White all day. I mean that I am still able to help people every day, no matter what has happened. I truly believe that my positivity has impacted people all over, even in some of the toughest, most defeatist cases. I feel like it is really working and spreading to everyone around me. I truly believe that I have been able to be the metaphorical flashlight that I was aiming for to lead other people through dark times. I realize that I haven’t been able to get to everybody, but I will never stop trying. I think the key thing for me to remember is that I am keeping positive and advocating and pushing because I want to, not from some sense of duty or obligation.

So, let me bottom line it for you. There is a lot of crap still going on, but I am staying positive! Join me will ya?

Dr. Katz

Embrace where you are now, but don’t forget where you have been.

closeup photography of pink rose flower

I feel grateful every day just to be above ground and be reasonably physically and mentally healthy. I have a great family. I have rebuilt bridges. I have strengthened old relationships and built new ones. I am attempting to take even better care of myself and make myself a priority. I have made myself a mission of positivity that I attempt to fulfill at least once a day, no matter how small the triumph.

Wow! It seems like a lot of work doesn’t it? Frankly, it is, but so Worth IT! There are days when I get tired and don’t feel like putting in an effort. That’s when I have to stop and remember where I was even a year or two ago: somewhat depressed, frustrated, lonely despite people surrounding me, full of cancer trying to take my life, not able to work like I wanted to help support my family, mentally swirling with guilt and self-induced feelings of failure.

I have come a long way since then, but in order to keep my current path intact, I need to keep in mind where I came from and the lessons it taught me. I learned that no one can fully heal all of me but me. No one can really help assure my future without my help and driving force. I need to be mindful and grateful of the “good days” even if thrybaten’t as frequent as I would like. I learned that there isn’t always a tommorow, so I better make damn sure that today is the best I can muster. Nobody can do that for me. I’ve got to care enough to do it myself.

Dr. Katz

I pinky swear I haven’t forgotten how to be grateful. I’m just not taking things as well.

See the source image

The last couple of years have been really hard. My children were sick. We have all been “living” with a pandemic raging around us. I battled cancer. My husband tried to die from a heart attack. The list goes on. I know I know. You all know this already. Despite all this, I have continued to make it my mission to be a beacon of positivity unlike the planet has ever known. I am constantly in search of the bright side or the retrieval of the positive, no matter how small a portion it is. I get signs from the universe all the time that this is what I am supposed to do. I have had complete strangers reach out to me for help and guidance, which I love and I am happy to give. That is truly me in my element: helping people. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

So, I have spent all this time being tough and positive…still am. However, I find myself struggling a bit lately. It’s all fun and games when everything is going my way, so to speak. But, I have noticed sometimes, that when something doesn’t, it kind of crushes me for a hot minute before I can get a hold of myself. I start resenting and complaining, or freaking out all together. This kind of reaction is somewhat foreign to me and I find myself saying “Whoa Katz. Get a grip why don’t ya? You have been through way worse shit than this for chrissake!” ” You are alive! Does anything else really matter?” Most of the time that works, but I find myself having to do it more and more often lately and that bothers me.

Part of me realizes that there is an element of PTSD circulating around my brain with my serotonin, trying to convince me that there is only a matter of time before another shoe drops. It insidiously permeates my life still, forcing unreasonable reactions and fears. It is pretty par for the course after what I have been through. I think that my goal for now is to stop trying to push it away and acknowledge it and deal with it. I think that by trying to suppress it, I am actually giving the PTSD more power than it already has. I assure you that I have been taking all the outward steps: showing up to counselling, reading about it, talking to myself like I said, nodding when my therapist explains it to me. But, I really haven’t been doing the internal work. I have been so busy pushing forward toward my happiness mission that I haven’t really allowed myself time to recover or react.

This really smacked me in the face last Friday. I went for my routine mammogram. Some of the same techs were there that were with me last year when all my cancer stuff was ramping up. I got my mammogram done and those 45 angle views really pulled at my lymphedema on the side of my neck and it started to throb and hurt. Everybody did everything right..and I should have expected this to happen and prepared, but I didn’t. Instead, I laughed it off at the moment and went upstairs to my office, only to start bawling my head off in a flood of cancer memories the moment my MA asked me if I was alright. I just couldn’t stop. One memory/flashback after another started just flooding me over and over. I actually had to leave the office and felt really guilty doing it on top of it. I knew I just couldn’t be my best self for patients though. I literally cried half the day as I reexperienced everything from the whole last year all over again. Sheesh.

My point is, that I really have missed the boat on recovery and reaction somewhat. The strategy I thought was helping me “not to wallow” was actually preventing me from processing what was going on with me. I pushed it down and just kept pushing forward instead. By not allowing myself the time to really go through things…..while I was going through things…..I didn’t really do myself any good. Sure, I got through my cancer experience and survived. That is definitely a win. But, I bottled so much stuff up that now it bubbles over when I don’t expect it. That’s no good either.

The bottom line is that I am very grateful to be a survivor and I love helping others survive whatever they are going through, life-threatening or not. But, in order to truly survive and thrive on top of that, I have to allow myself to process and react to experiences when I have them. I need to not punish myself or second guess reactions and just….have them. I have to realize that, no matter how tough I am, I am still human. I need to give myself the same consideration and time that I give to everyone else. I promise that I’ll work on it.

Dr. Katz

It really isn’t supposed to smell like flowers, cake or pie down there.( To douche or not to douche)

Say it with me…feminine…hygiene…products. Whenever I hear a patient say,” Eww. It smells like vagina down there,” I find myself wondering well what the heck is it supposed to smell like for chrissake? It SUPPOSED to smell like vagina….BECAUSE IT IS A VAGINA! C’mon people. Let’s get real here. I would just like to know who first started the trend of convincing women that it shouldn’t.

Let’s go over a few vaginal facts and a few feminine hygiene product facts. Spoiler alert! They are not actually good for you! I am going to attempt to rationally explain why so bare with me please. What you choose to do with this information is completely up to you, but don’t say I never tried to save your hinterlands from ruin.

OK. Here we go. We all know that feminine hygiene products have been around for what seems like forever. I am talking decades at least. There are wipes, washes, deodorants, douches, creams, sprays, etc. You name it. We’ve got it. Everyone of them is geared toward reducing odor, using after intercourse, or cleaning up vaginal discharge. Did you know that there was a study in 2006 that reported that most women start using douches or feminine washes in their teen years, usually between 15 and 19 but some start as early as 10 years old! Whoah. There are mixed results demographically regarding whether Black and African American women tend to douche more than White and Hispanic women. Some studies say yes. Some say no.

You can see how the advertising gets you. Who hasn’t seen a commercial or a ad about getting rid of period funk or that not so fresh feeling? This kind of marketing can easily make some women ashamed of their own natural odor and set up an unrealistic expectation of some flowery fresh scent that is supposed to be down there. It is just one more way that we are potentially messing with a healthy self image. I am not on board with that. I think I have even found some of that stuff in my daughters’ bathroom!

Let’s talk next about what the biological environment of the vagina and vulva are supposed to be like. Vaginal ph changes throughout the lifetime of a woman. Usually during reproductive years, the pH ranges from 3.8 to 4.4. This range is essential because it allows the normal bacteria of the vagina to flourish. Bacteria called Lactobacillus are supposed to be there to protect it. Well, the pH balance in feminine hygiene products, regardless of what they tell you, is widely variable and usually contain ingredients that make the vagina way too acidic. We have studies that show that these products start wiping out the Lactobacilli within 2 hours and can even eliminate them all together by 24 hours! When this happens, an inflammatory reaction occurs because a substance called interleukin-8 starts increasing because the normal healthy bacteria are not there to stop it. This potentially leads to a much more wide varied growth of different bacteria, which in turn leads to bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, generalized itching and discomfort and even a greater risk of sexually transmitted diseases. A lot can happen when we get rid of the vagina’s natural defense system. On top of killing all the normal bacteria, the chemical in some of the products actually breaks down the vaginal wall. Here’s a kicker on top of that. Once women start having itching or discomfort from the products, they think they need more product to stop the itching! It really is a vicious cycle.

This is the last thing that I would like you to think about. Once you have damaged the vaginal environment, it can be very tough to impossible to restore it. Most research indicates that it will require at least two weeks after the last time a woman used an irritant to get any relief. Let me tell you, that is a rough two weeks without out much recourse available. Those are my patients that end up coming in chronically miserable and there is not a lot we can do but wait for all of the product to leave their system.

Listen, I am not about to call out any products by name but I am telling you that I am not a fan of anything out on the market right now. You never know, new items may come out in the future that are more conscientious of the natural vaginal flora. But, in the meantime, I advise you to just say no!.

Dr. Katz

My colonoscopy experience was awesome!

Ok. Ok. I know what you’re thinking. Eeew. How is that possible? There is nothing good about a colonoscopy. Am I right? Well, yes, you are right. A colonscopy is kind of shitty…pardon the pun. What I am really referring to is the experience and how I was treated. Let me explain.

I chose to have my colonoscopy NOT incognito, but at my local hospital Promedica Monroe Regional, where I go to work every day. Trust me, these people have seen the best and the worst of me for over 20 years now. They have saved my life multiple times, helped me in the OR, helped me deliver babies, etc. We have listened to each other. We have complained together and rejoiced together. Sometimes I see them more than my own family. But wait, they are part of my family! They are just not the family I live with. So, why not let them in on my health too?

From the moment I walked in, all crazy haired and no make up on,(yikes) they greeted me like family. We joked and laughed while they checked me in, while still making sure that all the proper protocols were followed. They managed to treat me like a patient, a doctor, and a family member all at the same time. Bravo! I almost cried…literally. Everybody stopped by to see me. They explained things as if I was fresh off the street with no medical knowledge. That might annoy some people/docs but I love it. We should explain everything to everybody. You never know if you might have a total brain fart about something you do every day….when it’s actually YOUR turn! As a matter of fact, I was stressing more about this stupid colonoscopy than I did about all my cancer stuff and chemo and procedures for the last year and a half. What the heck?! It was as if I just couldn’t handle the thought of maybe even one more thing being wrong. Thank God they treated me like family. It put me at ease right away. They went over and above. I have never considered myself on any sort of VIP terms because that’s just who I am. I even asked them why the special treatment? You know what they said?

Doc, you been through a lot and we all love you. We just want to take care of you like you take care of us. You are one of our own. I think my heart about burst out of my chest, in a good way, right at that moment. I realized then that they do see me. They see how much I care. They see how hard I try every single day, because I want to not because anyone tells me too. We have a mutual respect. I try to treat everyone well in the hopes that they treat me well. That’s what a team should be. It’s what I love about what I do. Well, I have to tell you, the ProMedica Monroe Regional Hospital team was the best I’ve ever seen! See you at work Monday guys! I love you!

Dr. Katz