This is an article by a mother of four kids, two of whom are adopted black children. She blogs about parenting. If we don’t step up and start demanding adherence to decent social norms from people like the President-elect and his “White House senior adviser”, Steve Bannon, we are on a steep, slippery slope toward chaos. They have got to disavow these extremists.
If you care about me and my family, I hope you will read this. As many of you know, this year my family was targeted and harassed by a white-supremacy group known as the “alt-right” for having adopted black children. Their attack was brutal and relentless. They inundated all of my social media sites with racist…
via The alt-right movement harassed my family for having black children, and Trump is considering their leader for Chief of Staff — Rage Against the Minivan
Bless this boy, born with the strong face of my older brother, the one I loved most, who jumped with me from the roof of the playhouse, my hand in his hand. On Friday nights we watched Twilight Zone and he let me hold the bowl of popcorn, a blanket draped over our shoulders, saying,…
via Ray at 14 by Dorianne Laux | Tuesday, November 01, 2016 | The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor
I loved this short poem. It reminds me of a favorite epigram, by J.V. Cunningham:
Arms and the man I sing, and sing for joy,
Who was last year all elbows and a boy.
A beautiful expression by another blogger, “Another Old Guy”, of what Mother’s Day can mean to us middle-aged people going through the normal, but challenging, transitions of this stage of life:
A tribute to my Mom, as she deals with the impending death of Dad.
Disappearing Fathers by Faith Shearin
Sometime after I turned forty the fathers from my childhood
began disappearing; they had heart attacks
during business dinners or while digging their shovels
into a late April snow. Some fathers began forgetting things:
their phone numbers, which neighborhoods belonged
to them, which houses. They had a shortness of breath,
the world’s air suddenly too thin, as if it came
from some other altitude. They were gone:
the fathers I had seen dissecting cars
in garages, the fathers with suits
and briefcases, the fathers who slipped down
rivers on fishing boats and the ones
who drank television and beer. Most of my friends
still had mothers but the fathers
were endangered, then extinct.
I was surprised, though I had always known
the ladies lasted longer; the fathers fooled me
with their toughness; I had been duped
by their jogging and heavy lifting, misled
by their strength when they slapped
me on the back or shook my hand. I kept imagining
I would see them again: out walking their dogs
on the roads near my childhood house,
lighting cigars on their porches, waving to me
from their canoes while I waited on shore.
Source: Disappearing Fathers by Faith Shearin | Friday, January 15, 2016 | The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor
I have been somewhat AWOL in recent weeks partly because I am in the process of losing my surviving parent. And I am sad. But this is a beautiful piece, so I’m sharing it.
Source: What I want you to know about losing your parent as an adult
Sara Lukinson has written an extraordinary piece in today’s New York Times, about her relationship with her terminally ill sister and her role as caregiver while her sister is dying.
“What can I do?” I ask feebly. “Be patient,” she says. And I want to hide my inner impatience with shame. Because for decades, I’ve bristled at her edge-of-fear look, that hesitancy before taking a step. Only now it’s longer and deeper. Watching it seize her makes me feel I’m being sucked out of the sky. Her life had become a full-time managing of her disease, hiding the next turn in the road.
But until death is in the room, it’s easier than you’d think to revert to lifelong habits of instant annoyances, petty bickering.
A turn of her head, a certain faraway look, and I could forget she’s sick and get mad at her. I yelled at her not long ago over some important tax forms, I can’t remember anymore why. Horrible me.
Raging As My Sister’s Light Dims
Ms. Lukinson goes on to write:
Sitting with her I am calm and furious, loving and angry, knowing what a gift it is to have such a sister. Wretched to be forced, again, into the slavery of disease. Of having to serve it, and bow to it. I want to escape and be in the light of life. Then, I feel gutted and guilty for wanting to flee.
But here is how her essay concludes:
Now, as the breath of life ebbs away, I keep close to her side. She has never seemed braver or more beautiful to me. Still herself, still my sister.
Extraordinary. Both sisters.
Image: Jon Han, The New York Times
“Look at children. Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children don’t usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.” H.H. The Dalai Lama.
“Autoimmune disease. Heart disease. Chronic bowel disorders. Migraines. Persistent depression. Even today, doctors puzzle over these very conditions: why are they so prevalent; why are some patients more prone to them than others; and why are they so difficulty to treat?”
Sound like some outcomes of bottled up rage? Yeah, I thought so too.
This is a long read but well worth it, and it offers hope to adults whose “adverse childhood experiences”, or ACEs, may be affecting their physical and mental health decades later. The good news is that an ACE score can be partially offset by resilience factors, such as having other caring adults in a child’s life or the knowledge that even a flawed parent did love the child. You can test yourself for both ACEs and resilience here:
Got Your ACE Score?
I was raised in a household where children were never allowed to express anger. Not that all anger was forbidden or unexpressed — just children’s anger. A child’s anger was wrong — and bad. So I spent many years not admitting even to myself when I felt mad, and instead feeling sad and bad. And when I had children of my own, I wanted to teach them to know their emotions: to name them, acknowledge them and cope with them. Sort of like mindfulness for toddlers.
So I did a few things. I always told (and still tell) my kids clearly that I love them, every day if possible, even if it’s just a text now that my oldest is away at college. And when they did something that upset a member of the family, including me, I would say something like: “You did ___. That makes me sad. And mad. I am sad because (fill in the blank: you broke something I liked; you said something hurtful; you pushed your sister). I am mad because (fill in that blank: you know better; you hurt someone; what you did was wrong and here’s why).”
Then I would work with the child to address the situation: offer an explanation, clean up the mess, apologize to the sibling, take some time out to think about what just happened, reflect on why the kid did it, think of better ways to proceed next time. The idea was to model that we can be sad and mad, but those feelings don’t make us bad. It’s how we choose to respond to those feelings that can turn a situation bad.
I was reminded of this, reading another blogger’s eloquent post about Pagliacci, and anxiety and sadness, and how those can look like anger: Pagliacci Is In Town Tonight. I would add that not allowing yourself to feel mad can make you feel really, really sad. And THAT’S bad.
Illustration: Sad and Mad; found on thisisnthappiness.com