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.

Advertisements

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.

What is Genius?

Went to the Jelly Belly Factory on a field trip with my daughter’s 2nd grade class. The young man assigned to escort us on the tour misquoted a brilliant saying by one of my favorite icons.

The guide delivered his canned speech, spoke of how long and complex the process to make even one single jelly bean, but that nothing great every came easily, “as the inventor, Thomas Edison said: ‘Genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.’”

But that is NOT what Tom said. He said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

So what is my issue with the mere 9% our tour guide misquoted?

Mr. Thomas Alva Edison was trying to tell us that to get good (‘genius’) at ANYTHING takes HARD WORK (‘perspiration’), and a lot of it. He should know. It took him and an educated team of men many years and over 5,000 exploded glass bulbs to invent the light bulb.

Still, you say, it’s only 9%. The 8 year old’s the tour guide was talking to didn’t even know what percent meant. And while this may be true, there were 15 adults with the pack of 40 kids the guide was leading. And the parents understood. Most had probably never heard the quote before. It is somewhat obscure, which is a shame because it is an astounding insight. What the tour guide misquoted did not communicate the gravity of Mr. Edison’s meaning.

In the beginning of the 4th grade our son failed several math tests in a row, and upon inquire we found he didn’t understand the material. When asked why he hadn’t asked for help from either his teacher or us, he confessed he felt afraid he’d look dumb. Having always done fairly well in math, when he got lost he felt too stupid to ask. He was supposed to be smart, but maybe he wasn’t he cried, clearly shamed.

I hugged him, held him, and reminded him of old Tom’s saying for the hundredth time. Then my husband and I got to work, played tag team, alternating afternoons, evenings and weekends to teach our son what he needed to know. Within three month of daily math he not only grasped the material presented but excelled to the top of Math Swap in his grade level and remained there through elementary school.

Our son now loves math. It’s his favorite subject. He works hard at it and that hard work just placed him in the most advanced math class at his new middle-school. Failing those math tests in the 4th grade turned into a great education for all of us. We got to see directly how hard work pays off. And though our son may not always tow the line of excellence, he now knows that ‘smart’ is not given, but earned.

The New York Times Magazine had an article a while back on ‘genius.’ It sited Anders Ericsson’s research on The Making of an Expert, which concluded ‘genius’ wasn’t born, as previously thought, but made.

“Outstanding performance is the product of years of deliberate practice, not any innate talent or skill.” According to K. Anders Ericsson, Michael J. Prietula, and Edward T. Cokely.

Most everyone starts out with the 1% inspiration. It comes with being human, and our ability to think abstractly.

Few of us have the tenacity, or the determination to endure failure after failure and continue through that last 5-10% it takes to achieve excellence. Most of us settle on gawking at greatness instead of pursuing it.

So, the question isn’t ‘What is genius,’ or even excellence, but what motivates persistence?

Good grades, or better at piano or guitar, or soccer, [or parenting] takes “deliberate practice.” We need to impart Tom’s wisdom to our children, teach them by example, with unwavering diligence that reaching their potential can not be achieved blowing most of the day in front of the PS4 playing Street Fighter X, or reading Harry Potter for the 5th time. To actualize ‘greatness’ means devoting the 99% perspiration— the time, energy and effort necessary to create anything of lasting value. Whether it be a school report, a science project or a math test, genius is not only doable for most every child, but for all of us with hard work and persistence.

Parental ADD

My cousin has two children. Her oldest, 15, was diagnosed with ADD when he was nine and has been on Ritalin since. He’s failing out of the private high school he attends in Manhattan. He lies, cheats, and steals when it suits him. He is volatile (way beyond normal teenage angst), and often violent with his mom and sister.

Her daughter, 11, also has trouble in her private school. According to her mother, she too has learning disabilities. She has very few friends, and is often cutting and cruel. She also lies constantly to get what she wants, and does whatever she wants regardless of opposition from authority.

The three of them live on the 10th floor of a posh apartment complex, in a huge flat overlooking the Hudson River in Battery Park. The Statue of Liberty, holding the torch of truth stands boldly in the bay and can be seen from almost every room of their home. My cousin and her ex-husband are very successful in their careers. She broke the glass ceiling only a few years out of graduate school and is now a top executive at the New York Stock Exchange. He is an architect. His style is distinct, and sought after, and can be seen all around Manhattan. Since both are busy professionals, the maid of the month raises their kids during the long work week.

Every time we get together they virtually drop off their kids to my care. Dad, before and after the divorce, has always been a marginal part of the scene, off to work, or squash, or rollerblading along the waterfront. Mom stays with us, but she’s not really with us. She’s on her tablet texting her secretary, or on her cell phone chatting it up with some high powered executive about market trends, or on her laptop writing reports. She goes out for a two hour run, or off to the store for diet soda. The entire time we’re together she has little to no contact with her children.

My sister also has kids, a boy and a girl, a couple of years apart. During their formative years she was a stay-at-home mom, sort of. Her husband, a successful real estate broker who used his limited free time for cycling, skiing, rock climbing, provided his family a McMansion with all the trimmings in a desirable suburb north of L.A. He hired a live-in maid to clean house and handle the mundane aspects of child care so my sister could pursue her many muses. And pursue them she did. She played tennis several hours a day. She went out with friends; shopped, and shopped; redecorated her house every year. She took classes in cooking, massage, religion. She was one of those soccer moms who sat in the stands and gossiped, or read People or Jane, or was on her cell phone every other minute, attending the game but not really there.

Unable to manage her son’s disruptive behavior, my sister took him for counseling when he was ten. He was diagnosed with ADD. He took Ritalin from 12 until he was 20. Now 27, he smokes pot every day, pays his rent and bills with poker winnings and a small stipend from an inheritance trust fund, has not gone to college and has little prospects for the future. Her daughter, 24, is still only a junior after six years in college. She lives on the money her parents provide without a clue how to make it on her own.

These two sets of kids struggle in life because their parents consistently catered to their own needs over those of their children. In doing so, they abandoned their kids to their own device, and left them to strangers, relatives, and society at large to raise them. Restrictions on behavior came from teachers, religious leaders and caretakers as commands—discipline imposed without love. Their parents didn’t bother to invest the staggering amount of time and thought required to help their kids decipher feelings, or examine abstractions like morality or values, or why they are important, or impart to them the seemingly endless list of rules we all must follow to get along.

The other day I was at the neighborhood pool watching my kids swim and play. All went well until a well-known rowdy kid arrived with his mom. She stood with her back to the pool and chatted on about her job, the upcoming hundred mile extreme run she was training 20 miles a day for, and the third Bruce Springsteen concert she and her husband had been to that week. She did not notice her nine year old son shoving kids into the pool, holding them underwater, pouncing, splashing and causing general havoc. Most everyone agrees her son, and six year old daughter, have severe ‘discipline’ problems. Though their mom labeled them ‘passionate,’ she admitted she was seriously considering her colleague’s suggestion to have her kids examined for ADD, or the latest variant: ADHD.

Even Wikipedia, can not state without dispute what ADD actually is, though a wide cross section of sources seem to agree it’s a behavioral disorder. Symptoms include Hyperactivity—like working all day, everyday, never putting your cell phone or tablet away; Inattention, the lack of ability to focus on one task for an extended period of time—like flipping from texting to your social feeds to your company message board while serving dinner, only occasionally acknowledging your family members. Impulsiveness is also an indicator, like going to see Bruce multiple nights in a row instead of being at home with your kids.

Though they possess the symptoms, these parents have never been diagnosed or even suspected of ADD, even though most have invested hours and dollars in personal therapy. Their kids did not inherit their lack of focus. The Attention Deficit Disorder they ostensibly suffer from by and large comes from parental example—adults who haven’t figured out that once they produce children, most of their own priorities must become secondary to the needs of their kids.

Rich or not, working—having to or not, parenting is about paying attention, being attentive and present— being there when you’re with your kids. Certainly, rules need to be continually taught and enforced, but also discussed at length, not handed down as edicts from on high. Kids need detailed explanations, reasons to partake in our code of ethics, and out of desire, not disdain. Society is not sustainable filled with resentful children who grow into parents that never mature beyond self-interest. Children can not raise themselves above solipsism without example from those who have.

The Terrorist Within

Strong winds shake the plane and rain sheets off the wings and streaks down the small windows as we sit on the runway waiting to take off. The 737 engines ramp to a high pitch roar. My three year old daughter sitting next to me suddenly grabs my hand as our plane accelerates, faster and faster down the runway, throwing us back in our seats.

The plane rocks with the storms powerful crosswinds as it lifts from the ground. My daughter stares at me wide-eyed and her face drains of color. Two seconds in the air and the plane drops ten feet. A quick collective gasp ripples through the cabin. My daughter is now china white and statue still.

I squeeze her hand in both of mine and tell her everything is fine and try to believe it. The plane pitches and tosses as it climbs through the clouds. Moments feel like hours as my mind plays out crash scenarios, and quiets only after the captain comes on announcing we’ve reached our cruising altitude of 35,000 feet with the promise of a smoother flight ahead.

Sunlight blazes through the windows. Above the clouds in the boundless blue our plane steadies. The collective sigh is almost audible.

Calm warms me just as my daughter announces she’s going to be sick, leans forward and throws up. Rancid chunks of egg and pancake from the morning’s breakfast soak her shirt. I stroke her head and back with one hand while frantically searching for a barf bag in the mesh pouch on the back of the seat in front of me. Two Sky Magazines and an Emergency Procedures brochure, but that’s it.

My daughter cries, ashamed, and tries to hold back throwing up more but I encourage her to let it out, though I’m helpless to contain it. Bile covered clumps drip from the armrest, her lap, and her seat to the floor. My husband sits across the isle and I ask him to go get a stewardess and a bag of some sort. He unbuckles his seatbelt and makes his way down the narrow isle to the attendants collecting snacks and drinks onto a metal serving cart.

Moments later my husband is back with five sheets of paper towel. No bag of any kind, and no stewardess. Apparently when he alerted them of our situation they told him he could find paper towels in the bathrooms.

I unbuckle my seatbelt and stand, take the sheets and start cleaning the mess. Five small squares of thin brown paper isn’t going to do it, so I ask my husband to go get more, and again request he summon assistance. He comes back with another handful of paper towels. Alone.

My ire rises. I leave my husband the task of caring for and cleaning up our daughter. The plane rides level and smooth as I make my way down the isle toward the back of the plane where a steward and stewardess on either side of the metal cart are passing out snacks. I inform them of my situation and ask for their help, or at least a bag of some sort. Both curtly assure me they’ll get to me when they can and tell me to return to my seat, as ‘federal law’ says passengers can not be standing when the fasten seatbelt sign is still on. As I turn back up the isle to go back to my seat a little bell rings and the seatbelt sign goes off.

It takes quite some time to strip and clean my daughter. I dress her in the only shirt I have available- the over-shirt I’m wearing. I feel cold (and naked) with only my sheer camisole. I clean the seat, the armrest, and am on my knees for another 10 minutes cleaning the smelly mess off the floor. My ire grows to anger when the cart stops at our row and the stewardess asks me if I want chips or cheese and crackers. I want to spit at her. Again I ask her for a bag and indicate the pile of soaked paper towels I’ve collected on the floor. She pulls a small plastic bag from a cabinet in the metal cart and hands it to me without comment. I glare at her as she moves on.

My husband fills the bag with the messy towels to capacity. Appeals for additional bags are ignored and eventually I go to the kitchenette and get them myself. The stewardess refuses to dispose of our waste and tells me where to throw it away myself. I have to get up to ask for water, for some crackers to settle my daughter’s stomach, for blankets and then I’m told to search the overhead compartments to see if there are any left. At no point during the five and a half hour flight does anyone respond to our request for assistance light, nor inquire as to my daughter’s welfare though I’d reported her ill.

The plane finally lands and we all shuffle out. The crew stands by the curved doorway with smiles and standard quips. The captain is young, good-looking, smiles broadly at me and nods. Three stewardesses and the steward stand together. They smile at me, then down at my daughter asleep in my arms. Both women thank us for flying with them, then their eyes drift to my husband behind me and their smiles remain as they repeat the phrase to him.

I manage to refrain from flipping them off as I hustle my child off the plane.

I’m halfway up the collapsible corridor when I ask my husband to take our daughter and wait for me at the top of the gangway. Before he can question me I turn away and head back toward the plane. There are just a few passengers still exiting and I make my way around them until I’m standing in front of the cabin crew.

I tell them my name, that I was on their flight, and that my daughter threw up shortly after take-off. Then I ask why, after repeated requests, they did not offer any assistance. They look at each other, then at me, and then the captain speaks. If I have a complaint, he instructs, I should write a letter to American Airlines.

I just want an answer to my question, I insist.

His eyes narrow, his handsome smile evaporates. He tells me under the Homeland Security Act if I don’t exit the aircraft immediately he’s going to call airport security. I stare at him. He’s serious. I’m too scared to laugh. I glare at the attendants one last time, shake my head and leave the plane.

My recent flight experience is typical of late. I hear complaint on complaint about the growing lack of service, and often the down right rudeness of most major airlines these day. Consumer advocacy groups are forming against them. Even if these groups manage to push through legislation defining acceptable conduct for airlines to adhere to, the problem, systemic to our society today, runs deeper than that.

We can’t legislate people to care.

Recognizing and responding to each others needs is a personal choice. It is also a global imperative for humanity’s survival.

Extremists from the outside are not all we should fear.

Indifference is the terrorist within.

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.