The Power of LOVE

Five days of labor, and the moment I held my son for the first time, his tiny warm body on mine, a tsunami of humbling awe so overwhelmingly powerful swept through me it literally took my breath away.


My 9 yr olf son’s guitar teacher was freaking out the other day over the impending arrival of his first child. Beyond a healthy birth, he was consumed with anxiety over the care and feeding of an infant, all the way up through guiding his teen. So I told him the secret of parenting, what makes the sacrifice not only tolerable but wildly enjoyable, and he calmed, and smiled, allowed excitement to peek through.

It’s never talked about—that intense, profoundly magnificent feeling a parent gets the moment their child is born, and forever forward. It’s expected we love our kids, and therefore taken for granted, which is a shame, because the intensity of that feeling is so spectacular and unique.

I’d listen to my contemporaries talk about their children before I had kids. They spoke of the long nights with crying, colic infants, “the terrible two’s,” “the f***ing four’s,” surviving the teen years. Sometimes they’d comment their Kylie had made the honor role, or that Jordan had just got first chair for his violin, and their entire countenance would light up. But those moments were rare compared to the complaints.

Like most women, I simply assumed I’d have children. I planned to have two kids in my early to mid-30s after I’d established my career and proven my own greatness. But it wasn’t until I was almost 40 that I became pregnant with my son, my first baby to survive after six miscarriages.

Nine and a half months of pregnancy, connected to the infant growing inside, and everyday was fraught with wonder, and fear. Five days of labor, and the moment I held my son for the first time, minutes after delivery, his tiny warm body on mine, a tsunami of humbling awe so overwhelmingly powerful swept through me it literally took my breath away. And as I kissed his downy head, his hands, each finger, I realized the joyful contentment, the sense of energized completeness, that electric connection I felt to him, for him— was love.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the intensity of love that could be attained until having children. I’ve been lucky and had loving parents, a few dear friends, the love I now feel for my husband, passionate and true. But it doesn’t touch the intensity of the love I feel for my kids. Virtually every time I am with my children, snuggle with them, kiss them goodnight, or just see them across a room, I feel that all encompassing love fill me up and consume me with tenderness, compassion and humility. Now 9 and 7, and they still takes my breath away. Everyday.

People who never have children, or don’t devote their life to raising them— as with adoption— will never know this level of love. In their lifetime, they will never understand the feeling that we call ‘love’ can be this intense. I’ve heard many of my contemporaries say with conviction that they’ve never wanted, and will never have kids, with rationalizations like “I’m just selfish, I guess.” But the truth is they’re only robbing themselves.

Life’s greatest gift is our ability to feel. We all experience pain and sorrow, happiness and joy to varying degrees. The unspoken gift of parenting is getting to feel the fulfillment and richness of that intense love integrated into every aspect of our lives, motivating us to be positive examples, and challenging us to consider others, and the future beyond ourselves.

The price of living with this intensity of love is the amorphic fear of losing it, which is why parents worry so much. Through the tantrums and the tears, the joy and the fears in sharing life with kids, the ultimate reward in parenting is the privilege of loving our children.

Selling Our Children

Corporate partnerships with public education are poisoning our kids for $$$. And educators and parents are letting them!

My 10 year old son came home yesterday and told me he had learned something new at school. At his [advanced] age, he told me confidently, kids start to smell bad because they get grown-up hormones, and therefore they need deodorant. He shared with me the packet he got from school, a plastic bag filled with a small, bright red deodorant stick of Old Spice, Red Zone, and a booklet titled, “About You. Puberty and stuff,” all compliments of Procter & Gamble, Inc.

My son uncapped the stick and extolled the translucent ‘aqua gel’s’ great smell, then sniffed under his arm to convince me he should start using it. He reiterated his teachers warning about becoming known as ‘that kid that smells bad.’ Then he retrieved the little booklet and read to me the “No sweat!” page that tells about glandular development through puberty and why it’s important to use “deodorants or anti-perspirants to control the [unpleasant] smell.”

Unfortunately, the school failed to teach my son, and every other kid in his class, the risks of using deodorant and related products like make-up and perfumes. One quick search on the net reveals several types of cancer and other progressive, debilitating illnesses that are now being correlated with using many of the popular body products.

Breast cancer, Alzheimers, and a slew of neurological disorders, study after study points to the potential for long term damage when people rub artificial compounds into their skin, especially young skin of developing bodies. While we can all argue the validity of these studies, and Procter & Gamble and their like do, loudly, there are simply too many clinical trials showing a link between using body products and cancer to ignore.

I have instructed my kids not to use these types of products, unless they are organic and have nothing artificial, and even then I don’t recommend it. Clogging your pours with outside chemistry, natural or not, probably isn’t a good idea. Washing with natural soap daily, or more if necessary, will battle odor as effectively as deodorant, and has not shown, in any controlled study, to be harmful.

Marketing to children is effective. Get kids while they’re young and you have them for life. Corporations have been targeting kids for a long time. The Ronald McDonald clown isn’t aimed at exciting adults. But only recently have public school districts begun accepting ‘donations’ from corporate ‘sponsors,’ and actively promoting products directly to students.

Apple supplies computers to our school district starting at the 1st Grade level. My son’s 4th Grade class has a hub they affectionately call ‘The Cow,’ a big white steel case bolted to the wall with 30 laptops in it for student use. Apple isn’t being benevolent distributing computers to schools. They know if kids get use to working with their interface, they’re more likely to buy Apple down the line.

Proctor & Gamble knows this too. Except what they are selling is potentially toxic.

Million dollar incentive deals that put Coke machines in the hallways of our high schools, and junk food machines in the cafeterias [regardless of our national obesity epidemic] are now restricted in most states. Corporations go around this ban by ‘sponsoring/donating/contributing’ everything from product samples to full-blown ‘educational’ programs to our schools. Puberty education is now being funded by Proctor & Gamble. The glossary of their colorful little booklet covered everything from circumcision to ejaculation, all while promoting Old Spice and Red Zone. The booklet was even fragranced and smelled exactly like the sample deodorant stick the teacher distributed to the students.

Public education must serve our children before serving themselves with corporate money. Funding for education must not be the sole consideration of every corporate partnership with our K-12 schools. To serve our students effectively, now and forward, it would behoove our school district administrators to thoroughly investigate what they’re getting before agreeing to promote crap, and poison to our kids. Since it’s unlikely to get any education admin to thoroughly do anything, it’s best to make it a law to eliminate corporate ‘partnerships’ in public education.

The Definition of LOVE

In a thousand lifetimes I can not repay my mom for her precious gift of love I now model to our children. But I can not buy into her belief [and society’s rhetoric] that family and love are synonymous anymore.

My sister is dead, I told the bank manager.

But she isn’t.

She lives in Washington with her husband, having moved from L.A. where we were both born and raised.

The bank manager expressed his condolences and accepted the paperwork from our lawyer to remove her name from our Trust and Wills as an executor to our estate and guardian to our children should my husband and I die before they’re of legal age to take care of themselves.

I told him she was dead to remove her from my psyche, distance myself from loving her. Five years ago she told my DH she didn’t want any contact with him, me, or our kids, her then 8 and 5 yr old niece and nephew, in a response to an email my husband sent her.

She’d missed our daughters birthday again, sent her a present with the one she sent for our son’s birthday three months later, and spelled her name wrong on the card. This wasn’t the first time. She’d disappointed our kids many times, missing birthdays and special events with a quick message left on our answering machine she couldn’t make it after promising to come.

Her sins were many, and mounted with the years without apology. My husband got tired of it, emailed her five sentences politely informing her the spelling of our daughter’s name, and asking her if she was going to send them birthday gifts to please do it on or around their birthdays.

My sister decided he was asking too much and emailed back that “though I am deeply in love with your kids, and it breaks my heart to do so,” she was withdrawing from their lives entirely. She informed my husband she would prefer no contact at all, with any of us, though she’d established what my children believed was a fairly close connection, email exchanges with my son, calling every few months to touch base with both kids.

She has, in fact, exited our lives almost completely. She sends the kids birthday cards when it strikes her fancy—two weeks late to our daughter last year, but managed to get a card to our son within days of his, professing her deep affection and love for him. It took all my will not to shed the card in a million tiny pieces, her sentiment to him for her self-image alone.

Love is an ACTION, what we do, not some abstract in our heads, my DH and I teach our children.

My kids relationship with my sister was important to them because they have no other on my side of the family. My mom died when our oldest was just 4, so she never really got to know our kids. She did love them though. Deeply. Profoundly. And they got that. How did they know?

  • She came to visit often.
  • She called them on the phone every couple days.
  • She mailed them presents on time, called to sing Happy Birthday on their special days.
  • She spelled their names right.
  • She stayed abreast of their lives through me, my DH, and through the kids, consistently showed interest in their interests and feelings, and shared her world with them.

My mother often extolled how much she loved the kids, to me, to them, to anyone who’d listen, but she also showed it, so my children knew it was real.

When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I knew when she was gone my connection to my remaining family would fragment. She was the conduit, fervently believed people come and go but family is forever, the folks with which your love an loyalty should reside.

And there is no questioning my mother’s love. She showed it to me throughout my life as she did with my kids, worked at staying connected, even though it was often contentious between us.

In a thousand lifetimes I can not repay my mom for her precious gift of love I now model to our children. But I can not buy into her belief [and society’s rhetoric] that family and love are synonymous anymore. As if not to be bothered to fill in where my mom left off when she passed, my sister and father checked out of my life, and within a year or two exited the lives of our kids.

My father, like my sister, practice love more in the abstract. He never talks to his grandkids, never calls [even me], never asks to talk to them when I call him, rarely even asks about them. He doesn’t acknowledging their birthdays anymore. I got tired of reminding him with multiple calls and emails weekly the month before their special days, then daily the week before. (Her body ravaged by cancer, and near death, my mother insisted my father take her to Toys R Us, then bought each of our kids their next birthday gift and made him swear to mail them on time. She was hoping to establish a tradition (an action) for my father to adopt for his grandkids after she was gone.)

The rare occasions I call my dad, he always professes how much he loves my kids, how important they are to him. He reminds me to tell them that grandpa loves them, and misses them. But I don’t. I tell them, “Popi says hi.” I don’t want our children to ever get the impression it’s acceptable to say you love someone when you take virtually no action to show it.

Love, like potential, is meaningless unless put into ACTION.

How Men Are

Journal entry to my 2.5 yr old daughter, for her to read when she’s of age, on ‘the nature of men.’

I have this lump in my throat as I write this. I want to cry, for the ‘Thousand Slights’ you’ll suffer. I want to shield you from that pain. But I can’t. And it makes me feel helpless and hopeless and scared. I love you, J.

You were in the playroom when I came in last night after shopping. You were building with Magnatiles, this beautiful amphitheater structure. Dad and your brother were playing Stratego on the kitchen table. At first I thought the scene was good and you were happy down there on your own. But as I put the food away, I noticed your face, I saw your sadness, and as I write this I can’t stop my tears.

Daughter of mine, I want to tell you about a billion things here, things I got along the way, and ponder with you the world of things I’m still missing. But one thing I know for sure, men are not wired like women. They’re not. They’re not connected outward, outside themselves most of the time. Most men anyway. And that is going to come back and bite you again and again. And hurt you. And I’m sorry. I wish it was different.

The thing is, throughout your life you’re going to have to work really hard with most men to bring them outside themselves. I’m not indicting men. After knowing many in my 45 years, marrying one and raising another, I’ve come to see that there really are genetic differences between us.

Men are genetically wired inward, their senses connected to their body, and inside their own psyche. Men have historically focused on tasks, not so much emotional connections. Our technology driven society no longer requires brute force to survive. Singularity of focus to battle the Mastodon is no longer necessary. This is not an indictment. Both sexes have many gifts for the other. Each of us needs to be more aware of, and responsive to others in our now blended roles.

Perhaps because women give birth, we are connected outside ourselves, naturally maternal, hardwired to be caregivers, paying attention to everyone in the scene for the most part. And even though women work along side men now, at this point in human development, it still falls on women to help men become more aware of others, plug into the complexities of their environment and everyone in it.

Dad and E were plugged into themselves last night. I’m sorry you were excluded. And I’m sorry I wasn’t there to make them more aware of how that affected you. And I know it doesn’t really count to say they had no intention of hurting you, but this is the work to which I’m referring. You’re going to have to bring most men to you— make them aware of your needs, even the needs of your kids. You did that when you asked dad to be on his team, but when he said no, you should have told him how that made you feel. Don’t just walk away and feel hurt. For one thing, they didn’t even notice they hurt you.

J, you are my ray of sunshine. You’re positively delightful by everyone’s reckoning who has the privilege of knowing you. I fear the ‘Thousand Slights’ will rob you of your lightness. I hope you don’t let them. Express what you need, how you feel. Keep pushing the envelope of awareness, and know evolution takes millennium. We are all works in progress, and we must learn from one another to thrive.