BELGIUM:  Lottery

BELGIUM: Lottery

Lottery_K10KI’m going to ask you all to journey with me into an imaginary world. A parallel universe if you will. This world bears some similarity with the one of H.G Wells’ Eloi from his book The Time Machine. And possibly something from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games as well.

It’s a nice world to live in, really. You are relatively happy there. You get to spend a great deal of time with your child and you generally feel fulfilled. There is this small matter of the alien usurpers that govern the world but in daily life, you don’t even notice them. Afterall, they did manage to rule out world hunger and poverty, so at times you are even grateful to them.

Every once in a while, however, the aliens impose their Lottery. It is a constant little threat that buzzes at a corner of your head. The Lottery picks out subjects at random, which are then summoned to the alien High Office. No one really knows what happens there but everyone agrees it’s nasty. Sometimes the subjects are adults, sometimes children. Even babies don’t escape the Lottery. But it has never happened to you or anyone you know. So, you are quite comfortable and don’t even mind following the Lottery outcomes.

Until that fatal Lottery Day. You don’t even know your child’s name is picked until you see his hypodermal chip changing colour. At first you try to deny it. It has to be a play of the light. A mistake, maybe.  But then it is on the news as well. Your son is the new subject and he hasn’t come in yet like he should have. The aliens are coming for him.

Being accustomed to human habits, they allow you to go with him, although they advise against it. Of course you go. All parents do, the aliens say. Humans never listen to reason.

In the following weeks, your child is poked around. Needles, infusions and pills. He has to swallow big magnet-like sensors and gets extra chips. Wires go in and out. He is brave and endures. You can see his anxiety, but you assure him it should be over soon. That’s what they tell you anyway.

Then the pain comes. And his screams. Oh, his screams. You kiss his forehead, telling him to hold on. The aliens don’t give in to your pleas to stop. To please stop.

The pain comes and goes. In between, he is exhausted, but brave, still. You believe he is so much braver than you are.

One day, the aliens take you aside for a little talk. They inform you your child isn’t going to be one of those subjects that gets to go home after a memory wipe. Their studies show he actually is an excellent subject for their experiments. He is quite special. He is going to stay at the High Office forever. As long as his little body can endure anyway.

It’s your time to scream now. Your legs give in. You beg them to take you instead. There must be some similarities between the both of you, you plea. Maybe you would make an even better subject. You might be able to endure longer than your precious little boy.

Of course they don’t give in. That was not how the Lottery works. It’s your child they want.

So, day in, day out, you watch your child suffer. When you can’t bear looking, you still hear him anyway.

One day, the pain is exceptionally hard to cope with. Out of breath, your child tells you again he can’t do it anymore. He doesn’t even care for going home anymore. He just wants it all to stop.

For the first time you can’t find the strength to tell him to hold on. Why would he? The door is locked and guarded. And the aliens seem more thrilled with their results every day.

They will never let him go now.

This is why in Belgium, as of February 2014, euthanasia for minors was legalized.

We don’t have aliens here (yet) but we do have children suffering from terminal illness. Children with no other perspective in life than death.

Some are born into it; others see their life changing overnight. Some are in constant, barely sedated, pain; others are sitting out their time. Some have a clear will about what they want from life; others only know the difference between comfort and discomfort. Some will want to live; others will want to die.

I don’t expect you all to fully agree with this law. I do understand there are various objections, moral and religious. I do realize there are fears of misjudgement, or even misuse.

But for me, I’m mostly relieved and confident.

Relieved these children will now be able to make the most important decision of their lives. Confident they will be able to make the right choice with the support of their parents and doctors. They have my support too. 

How about you? Would you be able to support a child or a parent on such decision? Are there laws for or against euthanasia for minors in your part of the world?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by K10K from The Penguin and The Panther.

The picture in this post is credited to the author.

Katinka

If you ask her about her daytime job, Katinka will tell you all about the challenge of studying the fate of radioactive substances in the deep subsurface. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising four kids together with five other parents, each with their own quirks, wishes and (dis)abilities. As parenting and especially co-parenting involves a lot of letting go, she finds herself singing the theme song to Frozen over and over again, even when the kids are not even there...

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NETHERLANDS:  The Twelve Braids, or What Does It Mean to Be a Good Mom?

NETHERLANDS: The Twelve Braids, or What Does It Mean to Be a Good Mom?

twelve braidsImagine yourself in our situation. Your friends are getting married. The wedding is in beautiful Italy. You decide to go, even if it means leaving your two daughters with your parents-in-law, and just take the baby with you. Your in-laws arrive and you ask them to take your 3-year old to dancing class, show them where all the things are and tell them when to bring the girls to daycare. You’re excited. You pack your bags the day before the wedding and go to bed.

But you don’t sleep. Instead, you talk. You tell your husband that you’re not really happy with this arrangement. That you don’t trust your in-laws enough to leave your children with them. That you don’t even feel good about your decision to leave the children with anyone. In the end you start crying and tell your husband that your eldest daughter doesn’t like you and that you’re the worst mom ever.

And then your husband tells you that you’re an amazing mom. After you calm down and feel somewhat better he tells you that he’s not happy with this arrangement, either. You see, our little girl has just had the chicken pox, and according to my husband’s calculation, our baby would be at risk of getting it right during our trip to Italy. The baby was fussy for the last few days, he has had no fever, but his temperature is slightly elevated. What to do?

Consider two possibilities.

Number one: You decide to stay. You’re afraid that if he’s going to get the chicken pox, it will spoil your whole trip. You don’t want the other children to get it, too, and besides, traveling with a fussy baby full of ugly itchy red spots is no fun. You tell your in-laws in the morning. They stay for a few days, but that’s OK. Your MIL learns to accept your decisions and to get out of your way when you sit down to read a book. You learn to tell her when you’re overwhelmed and exercise your privileges as a mom.

When your children wake up in the morning, you feel as if you haven’t seen them for ages. You’re suddenly full of patience. You’re relieved that you didn’t have to leave without them. You braid your big girl’s hair in twelve pink little braids. You feel great. Your decision isn’t entirely selfless. You don’t trust your in-laws and don’t want to leave the girls with them, and that’s OK.

Number two: You wake up in the morning, check your baby’s temperature and decide he won’t get the chicken pox after all. You pack your bags, kiss the girls goodbye and leave to catch your flight. You have fun at the wedding, you dance and sing and eat delicious food. You realize that you haven’t had a vacation for ages. You enjoy waking up in the morning without having to get three children dressed and ready for the day. You get to have a whole conversation with your husband. You go back home and are happy to see your children again. You feel great and relaxed and you’re sure that going to that wedding was exactly what you needed right now. Your decision isn’t entirely selfish. You know very well that having a short vacation will make you more relaxed and a better mom. And that’s OK, too.

How did we choose? We stayed. I was sad not to be there when our friends said: “I do”. Our son didn’t get the chicken pox; his skin is silky smooth as always. So, was it a bad decision? No. Would it have been a bad decision had we gone? No. The thing is that while I decided to stay, if it hadn’t been for the chicken pox threat, I would have gone to that wedding.

You can make a selfish decision and still be a good mom. You can make a decision seen as selfless and make it for purely selfish reasons. It doesn’t matter. You’re a good mom.

Have you ever been in this sort of predicament? What did/would you do?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and mother of three in The Netherlands, Olga Mecking.

The photograph used in this post is attributed to the author.

Olga Mecking

Olga is a Polish woman living in the Netherlands with her German husband. She is a multilingual expat mom to three trilingual children (even though, theoretically, only one is trilingual since she's old enough to speak). She loves being an expat, exploring new cultures, learning languages, cooking and raising her children. Occasionally, Olga gives trainings in intercultural communication and works as a translator. Otherwise, you can find her sharing her experiences on her blog, The European Mama. Also take a while to visit her Facebook page .

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