Tag Archives: gratitude

The Women Upon Whose Shoulders I Stand – Part Two

 

In a recent post, I acknowledged three women who influenced and inspired me: Mary Tyler Moore, Gloria Steinem and Melody Beattie. Here I celebrate two more who shaped how I approach my world.

In my family, anger was a subject only to be glanced at from the corner of our eyes. My father would verbally explode or keep his anger inside, only to sit up at night weeping in the wee hours. My mother was somewhat more direct and might say, “I’m cross with you!”  I don’t remember ever expressing my anger openly—it felt safer to retreat to my room and eat until the feelings faded. No one ever thought of sitting and talking about how to handle anger. In my twenties, Harriet Lerner’s The Dance of Anger opened new possibilities, both for understanding my own scary feelings, and how to survive others’ anger without total annihilation. It still sits on my bookshelf.

51-uhsb00zl-_sy346_

 

As a divorced mother in my forties, I struggled with how to co-parent my two young sons with their father. Was I doing it right? Would they be okay? No one I knew was co-parenting, and I felt more alone than ever in my life. Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s writing in The Dance  touched and nourished me. “What if the task is simply to unfold, to become who you already are in your essential nature—gentle, compassionate, and capable of living fully and passionately present?” Then I reached a few pages where she described her experience of helping her eighteen- and twenty-year old sons prepare to take part in their father’s remarriage.  Her words felt like sweet rain in the desert.  I was not alone! Others shared these bittersweet, mixed-up feelings.

71y45cnmkol

 

These women, by speaking and writing about their experience and perspectives, expanded my view of what my world could be.

Upon whose shoulders do you stand? Who has opened paths of possibility for you? If we share torchbearers’ names, others can find them and by their light, see a wider future.

 

Advertisements

What Hindsight Says

the_road_into_the_field_199302__1424911828_70.70.133.53

I wasn’t always sure that I wanted kids. My feminist self feared that motherhood would shuffle me off to the sidelines of life.  Early in my career, professional success gleamed like a silver bauble on the Christmas tree, and I had no way to comprehend how it might tarnish.

Nor had I any idea, really, what being a mother meant.  So when my then-husband and I took the plunge and I gave birth to two sons in my early thirties, I learned.  I learned that parenting is unrelenting, giving back only slivers of reward in the first blur of little sleep. That you don’t know if you’re doing it right. That there often isn’t enough of you to go around.

Yes, there were sweet cuddles, flashes of joy, and feeling like a hero when I stepped inside the door to my toddlers’ welcome. For me, the greatest rewards emerged when my children started to become themselves, and I could be in a relationship with those precious and unique boys.

Now I get it. I know why my parents would light up in the presence of my sister, brother, and me. Those years of intensity and challenge forged a bond that is tethered in my core.

My sons’ father was part of the same journey. We divorced when the boys were five and eight.  Right then, through hurt, I might have sought to care for them full-time myself.  I didn’t, because I knew their dad was important to them— they would suffer without his presence in their lives.  And I would be a better mother with time to breathe.

Looking back, I am deeply thankful that we co-parented them to adulthood. The biggest reasons are, of course, the men they have become. Having two loving parents seems to have outweighed the hassles of navigating two homes.

Another reason is their father.  Knowing the meaning they bring to my life, I cannot fail to recognize that they do the same for him.

Oriah, Thank-you.

I have never met Oriah Mountain Dreamer, but she set me on the path to write about co-parenting after divorce. She inspired me with her books: ‘The Invitation”, “The Dance” and others.  She writes tender, vulnerable thoughts full of what is possible.

It was three pages in “The Dance” that grabbed me years ago, where she described helping her young adult sons prepare to take part in their father’s remarriage ceremony. She saw them so clearly:  their self-doubts, their hopes of looking cool, their trying to sort through social rituals like escorting women up the aisle in church. I loved her for that. Then her own bittersweet feelings, of pride, regret, anxiety, and hope for the future seeped through the pages and I was stunned.

I had never seen my own mixed-up feelings on co-parenting reflected on a page in a book. Suddenly, I felt not alone. I had company on my journey with my own teenage sons, and it felt wonderful.  I had no idea a few pages of text could impact me so deeply. Understanding her feelings helped me to see my own more clearly, and to have more compassion for us both.

When I realized that the inside experience of mothers and fathers – their feelings and thoughts — wasn’t reflected in the books available, I realized that ‘someone’ should write a book, and that ‘someone’ would be ME. I was living co-parenting; I interviewed people on sensitive topics as part of my work; and I had decent writing skills.

It took years to even begin, and more years to find a range of other parents to interview, but the book, Co-Parent Stories: Harvest of Hope, is nearly done. I hope and believe it will do for other parents what those few pages did for me, and more.

Oriah, thank you.Blooms picture