Sunday, June 15, 2008

What Father's Day means to me

My whole association with the rite of Father's day is a little, um, skewed I suppose. As a child, I purposefully became "ill" so as not to have to attend day camp on the day they made Father's day gifts, I "forgot" announcements about father daughter teas, terrified that my mom would decide she should stand in, or worse yet, that she would send my grandfather. In my married days, I tried to really do something MANLY for my then husband on Father's day...neglecting the fact that I really know nothing about what constitutes acceptably manly versus stereotypically manly and I'm a poor organizer anyway. But hey I tried, and it is the thought that counts, right? Well, mainly it's the thought...for most people, anyway.

Since becoming a single mom, I've been back to rather wanting to hide away from father's day activities. But today I volunteered to help out with children's programming at church. We sat in a circle on the floor and we "lit" our chalice (a lovely little battery operated tea light) and as ever, our children let us glimpse their lives by telling us their joys and concerns. There was the usual assortments of birthdays being celebrated, grandparents coming to visit, doggies who were lost and found, and this week some stories of bailing out the basement. We came to the serious little blond girl sitting in the sitting in the corner. She frowned as she thought about what she wanted to say, "It's Father's Day," she sniffled, "but my daddy is in Iraq so he doesn't get to have a Father's Day." Her daddy, is in fact one of the nicest men I've ever met and it hurt my heart to see his little girl so obviously missing him. How different it made me feel. It made me remember that Father's Day, and Mother's Day too, is really more about the children.

It was brought to my attention some time ago that Mother's Day as it was introduced by Julia Ward Howe in 1870, had little to do with moms sleeping in or getting jewelery, or having a spa day. It had nothing to do with moms being appreciated at was instead a call to action, a call to mothers to use their maternal voices for peace.

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own.
It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

It has occurred to me that Father's Day was really just created as a "Me too" holiday, someone thought that what was good for the goose was good for the gander...and so it all is really just an extension of my UU fore mother's call for peace. The only thing any good mother can do in honor of Father's Day is to be a good mother. Continue to fight for the good of our children, which always includes their fathers...the ones who wake up and honor you on Mother's Day and the ones who don't, the ones who build go-carts, and the ones who build character. Father's day is about making sure that kids have dads to go round with, not about ties or barbecue grills. And also about the sacrifices we all make to make sure that can happen. Father's day isn't about gifting a father with a manly day, it is about gifting a child with a father, for every day. Thank goodness for Father's Day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Can you feel it?

Oh yeah...Loving Day. I just love that story. I mean could they have had a better name? Sigh. Well yeah, I know, I'm not the worlds biggest proponent of ANY marriage, but I think it is a personal choice you should be allowed to make (oh STOP it, I'm joking...mostly). But I wanted to take a moment first to say, I tried yesterday to post a few THOUGHTS about Loving Day but Blogger ate my post, so I ended up quickly just posting the nice little blurb my friend Becky gave me. Not even with the way cool picture of Mr. & Mrs. Loving.

The reason I had no time is...well...if you haven't heard, we've had a little rain here in Central Iowa. I was out filling sand bags with my coworkers for fun, just in case we had a repeat of what happened in 1993. Luckily, so far, that has been just busy work. And hey, I have something new to add to my resume (although I don't think my impatient boss will be giving me any recommendations based on my skills in this area.) Anyway, I just wanted to take a minute to remind you that the battle that Mildred and Richard Loving fought in 1967, the year before my birth, made lots of happy couples whom I adore possible today (not to mention, assisted in making possible two little people whom I love desperately). I also wanted to remind you that there are many of our fellow citizens out there who are desperate to marry someone (don't ask me why!) and it is not legal for them to do so. Don't let the battle end with the Lovings.

So that's my soap-box portion of the evening. I would like to tell you that my day was all kinds of Love Thursday magic, but that wasn't in the cards for me, so instead I'll leave you with Elton John...because I've had this song stuck in my head for days.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tomorrow is Loving Day

What is Loving Day?Loving Day is an educational community project. The name comes from Loving v. Virginia (1967), the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage in the United States. Loving Day celebrations commemorate the anniversary of the Loving decision every year on or around June 12th.Learn more about the landmark case and Loving Day here.

Monday, June 09, 2008


The interesting thing about having a child with a disability, or probably dealing with any of life's challenges, I suppose, is that it crystallizes your inner struggles or weaknesses and holds them up to the end of your nose so that you can look at them....really see them.

The idea that's been following me around lately is that I have so many problems keeping realistic expectations for my son. I can slide up and down the spectrum from having ridiculous expectations for a kid with his specific issues to having really limiting expectations for a child of his age. The problem isn't recognizing (after the fact of course) that I've had an error in judgement. The problem I have with this is it that I find myself coursing up and down this spectrum in response, trying to dial it in (which is really difficult when "appropriate" expectations can vary from hour to hour with this child) all the while knowing that the one thing I am teaching myself is to doubt my instincts.

As a parent, we are trained to believe that our expectations of our children will set the tone for their entire lives. Expect too much, they will feel set up to fail, unable to ever meet your demands. Expect too little, they will become lazy and complacent and never really know what it takes to reach and try. Ah the pressure! We can make ourselves crazy with our expectations of ourselves regarding the expectations we have of our children. OK, well, maybe that's just me.

The thing is (why is it, I can't type that phrase without thinking I'm ripping off Barb now?) this is just a magnified truth about who I am as a person. I am the woman who agonizes over whether or not I can call a friend at 5:30 because it is too close to dinner time, and again at 8:30 because I don't know when her kids go to bed...and by 3:30 two days later I'm sure she's probably miffed at me for not calling back. (Jotting down my list of psychosis? Gee, blogging is fun.) I struggle with ideas like the Law of Attraction because I consistently monitor how realistic my expectations are, and eventually I end up regulating myself right to the point of envisioning my life just as it is now. I guess I'm trying to say, I'm not an expert at modulating expectations. I'm barely a novice. And I guess I thought I'd be further along by this place in my life. But hey, Steve Pavlina tells me (yes, if you didn't know, all of his blog posts that millions of people read are actually directed at me, everyone else is eavesdropping) that no matter where you think you ought to be, you are where you are, and trying to start somewhere else is just...well...stupid.

So I woke up this morning with the decision to expect nothing, and instead, just follow my gut, with a tender questioning quality at everything I touch. I did some things with my son that some people, maybe even people that have more expertise with children with behavioral disabilities than I might have seen as really lenient. But my son, who is somewhat famous for NOT being a morning person, got out the door with a smile on his face and a soft sweet "I love you, mama." at the door. He also only told his brother to shut up once, which is sort of a miracle. I carried it through later when I dealt with another difficult situation, maybe being more demanding of my other son's day camp director than a lot of parents might have done. But ultimately, she rose to the occasion, and helped me place bigger expectations upon my son, even when she was ready to throw in the towel. But I felt along the way, trying to put my foot in the groove, rather than swinging wildly from one end of the spectrum to another, knowing that the spectrum was doing all the swaying for me.

No, I didn't conquer my expectations in a day...but maybe I did realize that they don't really accomplish as much as I give them credit for anyway. In fact, knowing what they are worth, how much weight to give them, when they come up, that is really the key.

But you probably already knew that. Next I'll be blogging about these crazy kids Dick and Jane and their dog, Spot. He runs you know.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Under my elbow

I never realized how hard it is to type with someone's head jammed under my elbow. It seems like everytime I sit down to work on the computer there is someone's head rammed right up under my elbow.

You never stop learning as a parent. Seriously.

Yes, I did.

QuitMeter Counter courtesy of