Bärli – First March

You took part in your first exercise of democracy on Saturday. With Momma strolling you through a crowd of hundreds of women (and men) and children, you marched for Womens’ Rights.

Many times, people would stop, look at you, and tell you to remember the day. You will not. Some said you should run for president some day. I hope not, but will support you, if you decide to do so. When Mommy’s voice joined the others saying, “This is what democracy looks like,” you looked up at me and smiled. Sometimes, if Mommy was very loud, you laughed.

Mommy was never an activist and many of the women marching were similar. But, these are important times. Important things are slipping away – civil liberties, progress in the various areas of equality, common decency. Mommy has to raise her voice sometimes.

For me, the Womens March was about more than politics, that’s why I wanted to take you with me. It was about coming together as a community and supporting each other during a challenging time. I don’t care if you are political, but you will be informed, okay? You will never take your most powerful weapon, your vote, for granted. That is your brain’s only defense against corruption, injustice, and oppression.

Mommy wishes she was in Geneva, using her degree and expertise to make a difference. Dallas feels like a wasteland to her, in that way. But, Saturday morning was nice. It was nice to scream and raise my voice, and it was wonderful to have my full-of-potential son with me.

Screen Shot 2018-01-23 at 10.12.06 AM Mommy and a great lady she met that day…you are in that stroller, buddy!

Ladies, this is killing us: Domestic Violence and Guns

Sources are at the end of this post.

A woman is shot by a current or ex intimate partner once every 16 hours.

We have congressional leaders unwilling to implement gun safety measures that the vast majority of Americans want. The anniversary of the Massacre at Sandy Hook found the head of the NRA celebrating the holidays at the White House. The NRA is actively working (and succeeding) to stop meaningful legislation aimed at domestic/intimate abusers’ access to guns.

Reports indicate 4.5 million of our fellow sisters have been threatened by an intimate partner with a gun and 1 million have been shot. These are the NONFATAL statistics and these are only the reported incidents.

Ladies, we must do something to protect our sisters. Unlike the NRA, I do not believe the answer is arming ourselves; unless we are arming ourselves with protective legislation and local/state/federal regulation. Violence begets violence. We must examine the example we set for our children.

Most of my well-educated circle of friends and colleagues believe we have mandatory universal background checks in place – we do not. Licensed dealers are required to perform a background check; however, the exchange of guns through transfers, online sales, etc. comprises roughly 40% of ALL gun purchases. These are done without a background check.

Every time there is a mass shooting involving children, we collectively cry and mourn. When the dust settles, it’s always the same – history of domestic aggression/violence/abuse and collection of firearms.

When will that crying be replaced with collective anger and action?

Here’s what I’d like to suggest: if every woman in the US joined the NRA, we would control it. We could implement meaningful change to protect our sisters, trapped in domestic and judicial situations they cannot control. We can’t stop mass shootings, but we could take a step toward curtailing them.

What else can we do? The #MeToo movement is strong and powerful, as was the Womens’ March. We have strength in numbers. Why don’t we save ourselves?

Support anything Chris Murphy does, same with Gabby Giffords. Support your local shelters, CASA, any organization trying to implement meaningful change. Share this post, write your own post (with sources for statistics and information), do SOMETHING.

Vote. Stop this epidemic.

Every sister is my sister.

I don’t want to hear stories about an abusive husband murdering of his wife and children over a looming divorce he does not want, or a boyfriend with a record breaking a restraining order and killing a roomful of employees at his girlfriend’s office, or another mass shooting by a white male with a clear history of domestic violence and an arsenal of firearms. Enough! Aren’t we all sick. Aren’t we all tired. It is enough.

One of these stories could, and odds are will, be about a friend of mine. A family member. Me. It’s enough.

images.duckduckgo.com

Sources:

https://www.thetrace.org/2016/02/woman-shot-killed-frequency-domestic-violence/

http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/05/heres_what_the_nra_got_strippe.html

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1524838016668589?journalCode=tvaa&

Thousands of Guns, No Background Check Required

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nra-guns-domestic-violence_us_5967dd57e4b01741862645f2

http://fortune.com/2017/11/07/domestic-violence-shootings-statistics/

Domestic Violence & The Lautenberg Amendment

Did President Donald Trump Host the NRA on the Anniversary of the Sandy Hook Massacre?

Graphic: theodysseyonline.com

Thanksgiving – Vomit on the Menu

Bärli,

A few days ago, I think I’d told Keeli, who works with me at Nerium, or someone else, “Luckily, Henry has never thrown up.” Last week, Coopie was really sick with a stomach bug, and Uncle Chris took such good care of him that Uncle Chris got sick. That’s what sparked that discussion.

So, it’s only fitting that, the day after Thanksgiving, you gave me that gift. Your first throw-up. Thanks. Really, thanks so much. 😉

Let me tell you what happened when you blew chunks BECAUSE…it will show you what you have (other than molars coming in).

Mommy was upstairs putting on her shoes. You’d been fussy, but I was going to run to Target with Aunt Jenny. We’d been trying to take the Christmas picture with the Ayres Little Men, but you were just not having it. I knew something was wrong with you. You are NEVER that kind of upset. You are such a happy boy.

Anyway, Mommy was upstairs. Uncle Chris was playing it cool, but he was a little worried something was really wrong (more than just a fussy baby). Apparently, Lindy was holding you and Uncle Chris was watching you like a hawk. He saw you do something that let him know you were going to be sick and he went straight toward you to get you. Aunt Jenny immediately sprung into action and got some plastic bags, Wyatt got paper towels. Coopie was standing really still because I think he was upset you were sick. He’s still pretty young and you were crying a lot.

(This, of course, reminded me of Pop at Marie Gabrielle’s. A similar situation, I’ll tell you about someday, when I looked over, saw Pop, said “Chris!,” and Chris and Pop Pop went into “EMT Alert” mode, as I call it.)

Why am I telling you a story about the first time you threw up?

Mommy gave up her heart’s home, Switzerland, because she wanted you to have a family that loved you. Mommy is sad about it a lot and she always will be. You might feel, someday, sad that Mommy left. You’ll hear lots of stories about Switzerland and how hard it was for Mommy to leave.

Don’t feel sad. Read this.

THIS is why Mommy brought you here. These people. This family.

Better than any country, any beautiful apartment in Bern, any wonderful job in Geneva, any sanctuary in Luzern…better than that? The family we have. They are not perfect and we drive each other nuts sometimes.

Nevertheless, it’s worth anything Mommy had to leave to see Lindy, Uncle Chris, Aunt Jenny, Wyatt, and Coopie surrounding you when you are sick,  or celebrating your birthday, eating eggs for the first time, getting your first tooth, etc. Angel and Vanni were there the first time you said “purple.” Pop Pop literally saw you take your first breath. It’s worth it.

I’ll take the barf, I’ll give up my beloved Switzerland…for those people.

Sherin Mathews

Sherin-Mathews-Missing-Toddler-Texas.jpgI imagine myself traveling to India with the intent of expanding my two-person family. I would do it in a heartbeat.

I imagine seeing a beautiful girl with a dim, but present, sparkle in her eye. She is not speaking, but I feel her speaking to me. I imagine myself feeling I am her mother.

I imagine she has never known the love every child should know. I imagine she is hungry, sad, and weary.

I imagine bringing her to my home, and giving her love and nourishment for her body, soul, and spirit.

I imagine struggles because she is malnourished, frustrated because she cannot communicate, and tired of being passed from home to home. I imagine myself feeling similarly frustrated at times, but overwhelmingly blessed by her.

Here are the things I cannot imagine.

I cannot imagine purposely causing harm to her for any reason under any circumstances.

I cannot imagine putting her by a tree in an area with coyotes at any time during the day. I cannot imagine letting her do anything unsupervised in an area with coyotes.

I cannot imagine punishing her for not drinking milk.

I cannot imagine letting her out of the house for any reason at 3AM.

I cannot imagine not calling the police (my family, my friends, and anyone else I could call) immediately upon the realization she was missing or possibly hurt.

I cannot imagine waiting five hours or five minutes to call the police.

I cannot imagine leaving the area in my car, even to look for her.

I cannot imagine doing laundry when she was missing because I can hardly imagine breathing.

I cannot imagine not cooperating with every police or FBI officer and every search party to find her. I cannot imagine not leading those search parties myself.

I cannot imagine withholding information about her location nor can I imagine lying about what I’ve done or not done to her, accidentally or deliberately.

I cannot imagine not imploring Acura’s Navigation system to track the GPS information and AT&T to do the same with the phone of anyone who might have harmed my daughter.

I cannot imagine 10 days passing and not being honest about the circumstances.

And, I speak for many people when I say this last part, I cannot imagine ever forgetting about this little girl. As long as she is missing, we will continue fighting for her to be found. We will never stop until she is found.

My prayer for you, Sherin with the sparkle in her eyes, is that you are peaceful for the first time in your life. You deserved better from our world, I’m sorry you have not had that. I do hope you have that now, wherever you are.

#SherinMathews

 

 

Ex Tenebris – Lux

This time, last year, was the most difficult of my life. I was afraid you would come early and I would be alone.

Your father was making my life a living hell. Though I was on bed rest, and I had horrible sciatica that kept me from being able to walk more than tiny steps, I was forced out of our little flat many times to finish the process for your Anerkennung because he did not.

Every day that I did not feel you moving around, I worried. The majority of my hours were spent talking to Lindy or Godmum or the Henrys or anyone free to talk. I cried a lot; it wasn’t the hormones. It was fear that you wouldn’t be healthy because of all the stress.

Usually, I watch West Wing twice a year. I watched it twice in those 2 weeks. I had it on all the time. I wrote dozens of spreadsheets about budgets, potential costs, etc. assuming there would be little help from your father. I reorganized your nursery a few times day.

When you and I were alone, it was bliss. I would sing to you, I would sit in your nursery with the furniture Pop Pop, your grandfather, gave you. I put together a rocking chair for you, maneuvering around my big belly! I made sure to give you everything you needed for a good start.

But, emails and messages would come. Every communication from your father was awful. Every lie he wanted me to tell, every cover-up – I refused. This made him angry and punitive. He is still punishing me and so is she. She doesn’t know the truth. But, I know her truth from last summer. I know their truth from the past few years. I also know my own. I will have no qualms telling you mine and you can judge for yourself one day what you think of theirs, collectively and individually.

One year later. This week was the last week for any sort of an agreement. After months of back-and-forth, it is over. For what purpose was there a reason to fight with me, you will ask me one day? I don’t know. He does nothing to help care for you and hasn’t asked about either of us since September 15, 2016. I suppose, again, he just wants to punish me and you, by extension.

I gave up. I proposed your father give me full legal custody, the judge and his lawyer didn’t like that. So, I proposed your father have possessory custody, your father didn’t want that either. At the end, he only wanted to terminate his rights and obligations, which I would not let him do. YOU can decide to terminate those obligations. Not me. And, definitely not him. You are his child and you have the right to know your father and your half siblings, if you want to someday. He cannot take that right away from you. He cannot threaten me OR you anymore – not through his messages, emails, or his lawyer(s).

As I look forward, like any parent would be, I am scare of a million things. I am also brave and resolute. I will do whatever I need to do to give you all the love, financial support, healthcare, education, and anything else you need. I will happily do that alone.

Du bist Mama’s Bärli. Ich liebe dich mehr als alles. DU bist alles das wichtig, rein, und gut ist. Wo ich gescheitert habe, du musst nicht leiden. Ich werde alles für dich möglich sein.

After this, as far as I am concerned, I won’t need to talk about either of them again until you are older.

Ex tenebris – lux. Amen.

First Steps on Swiss Independence day (of course)

Little Bear, you took your first steps on one of Momma’s favorite days – August 1st. This is the day that Switzerland celebrates its national day. I’ll tell you a lot of things about it when you’re growing up. We may even go see the little hill with the flag.

“Bower,” our family’s patriarch, just wrote to Momma and said, “My boy already knows history!  He was waiting for this auspicious moment. R.” Indeed.

You let go and walked straight to me. Didn’t look down. Didn’t stumble. Didn’t have the nervous heartbeat that Momma had. Just walked right to me.

On August the 1st.

When Momma lived in her beloved country, she celebrated Swiss National day every year and we will continue to celebrate it. In 2009, I hugged a St. Bernard, ate Raclette, and watched fireworks fill the sky over Zürich. In 2014, I sang at The Hospice of Grand St. Bernard. I opened my mouth and sang the Schweizerpsalm, by memory, in front of a wonderful crowd. It was magical. Last year, I was in the hospital because we were trying to keep you cooking! I still sang the Schweizerpsalm.

This year was such a sad August 1st for Momma because ich habe Heimweh aber du hast mir die Schweiz gebracht. Bärli. Möckli. Augöpfli. Ängeli.

I dream that someday, maybe, your first steps across a Swiss bridge will happen in Luzern on an August 1st? Maybe your first steps climbing a mountain will happen in the Valais on an August 1st? Maybe your first steps in a new office will happen in Geneva on an August 1st? Probably not. Most offices would be closed.

Anyway, great dreams. Crazy dreams. Just like Momma has always had.

 

Dallas – are we #DallasStrong? Next step #Shavon

I use the hashtags with intended respect to the movement “Dallas Strong” and the memory of 13-year old Shavon Randle. 1499120394-21972030_14990282510_r

Yesterday marked the anniversary of a horrific crime in Dallas that united a nation in abject disgust. A blue president joined a red president to grieve the abominable nature of shootings targeting our brave men and women in the Dallas Police Department and Dart Police. Twitter was filled with people expressing sympathy through #DallasStrong. Our police chief and mayor focused on unity through peaceful and productive reactions, not incendiary ones. As a result, the city stayed calm.

I am a single mom and supporting my son alone. We will be “diner” people for the rest of my life, though I hope he will have the option of five-star restaurants, if he should choose them. One reason we will be “diner” people is my desire to pick up the check of first responders I see. Paying 20 dollars for 2 Lunch Enchilada plates at El Arroyo for two female DPD that protect this city? Nothing.

My fervent prayer is that our DPD and Dart police officers realize how much this city not only supports them, but will not tolerate crimes against them. Do we expect the DPD and Dart Police to operate fairly and justly? Absolutely. Every life matters.

So, why do I mention Shavon? Because it’s time to protect the next group that needs protection – our children.

Dallas, let’s be truly #DallasStrong. Let’s be a city that calls out the fact that every person implicated in the July 2017 horrific Dallas crime detailed here is a person of color that is or is under the age of 30.

Children are not born criminals and/or drug dealers. Poverty, fear, and desperation are the birth parents of drug dealers and criminals. Cities allowing and tolerating socioeconomic, especially health and education, segregation and inequality are the birth parents of drug dealers. Ignorance, apathy, and insouciance are the birth parents of criminals. Children, like Shavon, have one job: take full advantage of the education afforded to you.

As adults, we have many jobs. At the local level, one of the most important jobs we have is making certain that every child is given the best start we can given him/her.

These alleged criminals were Shavon’s age. What did Dallas do to help them achieve good health? good educations? good homes? SAFE homes? SAFE schools? SAFE communities? Conjecture here, but I’m guessing their “jobs” as children were not strictly focusing on school. Take a look.

According to city-data.com, here is a comparison between crime stats in Highland Park (a small community in Dallas county with excellent schools) and Lancaster (Shavon’s community) in relation to the US average. What you will notice is primarily two-fold. First, notice the stark contrasts between these numbers (there are no stats for Lancaster in 2014 or 2015). Second, this is key, notice that the trend in HP and the US is a decrease. It’s not so for Lancaster.

HP Stats – 2013-2015

HP

Lancaster Stats – 2011-2013

Lancaster

Next step in #DallasStrong is being stronger. There is strength in being honest about what we are not doing well, as we saw last year. Our brave men and women in blue needed our support. 2017 – we are failing our children, Dallas. We need to be honest, get #DallasStrong, and step up. One of the best ways to step up? VOTE. Inform yourself about candidates supporting a stronger public school system with better pay for teachers, better security (not armed security), etc. Support candidates fighting for healthcare for all, not just those who can afford it. Support anyone trying to pull people up, instead of kicking them when they are down. Volunteer and get involved in educating all Dallas’ kiddos – not just your own.

A better start for our kids. Shavon deserved it. Her family deserved it.

#DallasStrong – the new chapter. All of Dallas’ children deserve it.

 

The Day of Your Baptism

IMG_9635It was sunny in Dallas on June 17th and 2PM in the afternoon. It was an interesting sunny for Dallas, Texas. We’d had lots of rain and the sky was actually quite dark that morning. But, when it was time for you to be baptized into the community of faith I’ve chosen for you at this point in your life, the sky was full of sunshine.

Your entire God Squad was there for you that day.  Lindy and Pop Pop were there, wearing a corsage and boutonniere, respectively. Your Auntie and The Dude were there. The Ayres Little Men were Mother Amy’s helpers. You were surrounded in love.

You were baptized in All Saints chapel at the school your family always supported, even when it was not easy to do so. A mere hop, skip, and jump from the chapel is the Ayres Physics Lab. ESD sometimes forgets how deeply our family has loved it and I do not know why. Regardless of this sporadic amnesia, I am pleased you were baptized there.

In the ESD memorial pew were five roses – representing your great grandparents and a classmate of Mommy’s. IMG_9633

In the baptismal font was a special blend of holy water – some from Dallas, some from Mommy’s church in Luzern, and some from the holy River Jordan from Momma Sproaty’s trip to the Holy Land. You were blessed by water and God’s armor will protect every hair on your head.

There were two baptismal candles, including one from Lindy’s baptism. She has kept it for years, not even using it during the baptisms of her own children. It shone brightly, decades later, on your baptism, as if it was holding in so much of its glory in anticipation of that day.

Your godfathers were there. Your grandfather and uncle were there. Uncle Robert was there. Bop, Joe, Joe-L, Davey, your cousins, Rob, Bob, Hollye, Mike, Taffy, Rob, Father Casey, Larry, and a few others were there. Your father was not there. He did not call or write to Mommy because he will not speak to me. He does not accept my emails or my phone messages. I sent him a Tweet, which broke my heart. He did not respond. There were good men at your baptism, my son.

IMG_9608

Godpoppa and Mommy sang the hymn from Switzerland we sang at the Hospice two years ago. Mommy sang in German, then in French, and then we sang in English. Just as we did. Mommy held her Luzern rosary. Switzerland was well represented in water, song, and body. That made Mommy so happy.

Godmomma, Sproaty, and Godmum dressed you, as is the tradition. They robed you in the christening gown purchased in Firenze (Florence, Italy) in 2007 by Lindy. This gown will, we hope, be worn by Ayres children in the future. IMG_9620

You slept. You were so peaceful, you slept. Even when Mother Amy dropped the holy water on your brow, you barely stirred. You were the incarnation of the peace of Christ, my Bärli.

We all promised to support you during your faith journey. No one will do so more than Mommy. Whatever path you choose for yourself, after we have walked the first leg of your path together in the Episcopal Church, I will support you. I only pray you choose a path paved with the virtues of peace, tolerance, and love.

What a blessing you are.

Here is the God Squad: IMG_9523.JPG

I Did Not Make a Huge Mistake

For now, I have decided not to do the interview requested of me by a reputable reporter in Switzerland, who was to come to Dallas today. I remain appreciative of his diligence and grateful for the professional courtesy shown to both Henry and me since the press found out about Henry. However, the following is all the information I need to give (at this time).

My objective today is to publicly correct two wrongs – one done to my son and the other done to the people who protected (and still do) my son. All of the following can be substantiated by various communications from 2016 to the present.

In the fall of 2015, I started on the path to secure a meaningful life in Switzerland, my beloved and chosen home. I had some good friends, including Christophe, and I was on my way to graduating with a respectable degree in international law and economics. I hoped to spend the rest of my life in the country I loved while helping to make a real difference at the WTO in Geneva.

Everything stopped for me in January of 2016 when I realized I was pregnant. Let me be crystal clear: the best decision I ever made was having my son. Now, I will try to correct two grave wrongs, which have bothered me for months (in addition to a great many other atrocities).

Correction:

My son is not a mistake. My son is a gift to all who are blessed to know him. He is strong, already has a kind heart, and possesses a smile that brings joy to everyone upon whom his light shines. He is not anyone’s “schweren Fehler.” Any lawyer somewhat adept at public relations should have pointed out how vile and disgusting such a statement was. In my opinion, it was also patently false. There were (and are still) many mistakes made by his father, but Henry was not (and is not) one of them.

Correction:

Because a “version” of our story was purposely told to the press mere days after Henry’s birth, my son and I were consequently quite vulnerable. The staff, doctors, and Hebamme of Salem Spital went above and beyond the standard expectations for people in their positions to allow my son and I to be protected during a challenging time. Careful consideration was shown to every possible need and security precautions were put into place to safeguard Henry, my parents, and me. Salem Spital should be commended for the exemplary service and care they provide their patients and guests. Commended – not falsely blamed and treated with disrespect. I will no longer tolerate anyone condemning or  accusing Salem Spital of impropriety in any way.

Similarly disrespected during this time were my OB/GYN and my lawyer, Anna Murphy. Ms. Murphy fairly and fiercely fights for my son. My concerns, as they should be, are secondary to what she believes is right for my son and in full accordance with Swiss law and KESB protocol. She is an excellent lawyer, who was undeserving of the disrespect she received from the two people who should have been grateful for her protection of this child. My OB/GYN was the greatest blessing to come into our lives in Bern. Her discretion, professionalism, and personal encouragement helped me navigate my way through a very challenging time. She, too, is undeserving of any disrespect and derision from, again, two people that should be a) grateful and b) understanding, being parents themselves.

On a personal note, as a foreigner, I was very grateful for the kindness and support shown to me in the last few weeks of my pregnancy by the authorities in the Zivilstand in the Bern Cantonal offices and the people I spoke with at the KESB. These representatives, of their respective agencies, certainly demonstrate what is “right” with the system in Switzerland. I will never forget the employee who came to my home on her way to work to retrieve necessary papers because I was simply unable to walk due to sciatica. Anyone claiming Swiss people are cold or unfriendly, tell him/her to contact me. I have evidence the exact opposite is true of a great many Swiss people.

When a baby is unexpected, women have an advantage in only two ways. We have the ultimate choice on whether or not to have the baby and we have the immediate bond because the baby is a part of us. It was my experience, during the past year and 5 months, both of these advantages can be cause for tremendous conflict between a man and a woman. Punishing me for having these advantages is one thing – punishing a child is another.

My son, in addition to the other articles with that horrible headline, I’ll make sure you read this someday and I hope it eases the pain of what he said and did. We, you and I, both know who and what you really are – a miracle.