Mother’s Day

On Children
 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Motherhood: the single most fulfilling and accomplished part of my life. I will make no apologies to feminists for how beholden I am to my children – Thomas & Kalianna – who have made me richer by far. There is no time in my life as precious as those days from early infancy spent with you two. Still today women find themselves, perhaps in some ways more so than before, in that impossible position where they must choose between a career, great love, financial independence and motherhood. Often the factical will not bend to compromise, and it is as dramatic as choosing either/or and not both/and! Hands down I have always, despite painful loss, unhesitatingly chosen these two treasures. As I have said elsewhere: my children are feisty, strong-willed, and spirited, but they are also distinctively amazing young adults who each in their own way have evolved into caring, passionately driven by fortitude to fulfill their aretic virtues. I am blessed. But there are others who have been wonderful, committed, loving and supportive mothers and things have nonetheless gone tragically wrong. Gibran’s words speak mightily to all parents: our children are not our children! We are beings-alongside our children and in early life care-givers but never are we, nor should we aspire to be, care-takers. Alas they must forge their way through life on their own ultimate initiative and all we can do is pray that they will not run afar from their own happiness (eudaimonia).

Locker-Room Sexism

Locker-room banter is not just about Trump – it’s men everywhere

Men excuse themselves of this (Trump-like behaviour: Read the article!!!) suggesting that it’s innocent man-talk (oh, God, man up then!) whilst others refuse to admit they do it. I once dated a man who would send emails to male friends with pics of females (several were mine!!!!) saying things like: Look what I’m going out with tonight! What are we: trophies!!!?? Well, yes, my dear! Of course, to her face he’d say things like: “All I see is you!”. The hilarity might be more genuinely felt, were it not so tragic! Thing is, he’s not the exception, but the rule. (I mean no offense to this man should he happen to be reading along and recognize himself in my words.) I’d argue that it is the ugly and/or insecure who adopt this narrative, but that would fail to acknowledge the obvious. In the cock-pit of the extended male ego, prime place is often given those who firmly demonstrate their masculinity via these, otherwise, deplorable narratives (OMG, the innuendo is just flowing today! 😉 ). Now most men know that in today’s day the chances of getting some requires that they at least play along, and adapt their narrative, or feminize it, if you will. I’d say that that is a matter of demonstrating respect, and in some ways, to a certain extent that holds true often enough, but mostly it speaks to the poeticized verse of that former acquaintance of mine; i.e. “All I see is you!”.

Women are suffering from starvation these days. Men lack the equipment – oh, my!! – I mean the intellectual and linguistic equipment to seduce a woman, to woo her, so that guy (ugly or not) who adopts such ploys (and not always with the intent of a Don Juan who has become a Mastery at the Game of seduction, but quite accidentally, perhaps seemingly genuinely to his mind) is gonna get him some. Okay, okay, if you ain’t got the gift of the gab, just take her out for dinner, spoil her, and at least pretend you’re paying focused attention to her! Thing is, women know this! Thing is, men in the locker room, also know this. There is a sub-narrative, that subtext that no one is ignorant of. Women know how men talk behind her back. She knows that once the brotherhood is in full swing (Sheesh! 😉 ), poetry takes a backseat to pleasantries of respect! And men know how men talk; they know that if anything they mean to compliment (not always the case,  of course) the physical attractiveness of said woman (after all he’s not going to send pictures of ugly women!!!) and women should get this. Indeed, some women do! They are forgiving; indeed, some are secretly flattered! And herein lies part of the problem. Women have become enablers of this narrative.

It’s disturbing to me that my teenage daughter and her friends have already learned that boys will go through a crowd of girls, complimenting each (they often start with the most worthy and slowly make their way through the pack), until one (or more) succumbs to his flirtations whims. This quickly circulates, and though some may indeed succumb, feeling ahead of the pack for this, others may be hurt and offended and quiver in a corner, and yet others may with indignation call it ( 😉 ) as she sees it (funny how the male organ can be used in such a derogatory fashion, no!? 🙂 ). But she’ll still moan about her breasts being too small, and perhaps plan ahead for future implants; and more often than not she will feel secretly jealous of those girls who got all the stock men are looking for! There are some that will try to rise totally above this, but few will be made of that stock that finds them immune, and their sense of self-esteem still in tact. And those few that do will certainly recognize in themselves that they stand outside of the narrative at this look-out point very much as an outsider. So, girls begin to see themselves, value themselves, through the eyes…not the adoring eyes…of her predator! She admires herself, for those qualities that attract, and deplores herself for those qualities that repulse. She sees herself, as Simone de Beauvoir said all those years ago, as The Other. This is internalized and by adulthood seamlessly becomes the protagonist narrative.

So are Trump’s indecent remarks, only indecent because they were publicly and unapologetically voiced? Does he only suffer from stupidity? Is he merely socially inept? Well, not merely!! Until girls learn not to enable these boys and acknowledge themselves as uniquely oriented beings who must negotiate their inter-sexual and inter-personal relations dynamically, boys will grow up to be these men. We’re almost all-too-attentive and mindful of sexism today, and though it is no small victory that our forerunners won for us women today, we really need to get behind the momentum of this process (that one was unintentionally, promise! 😉 ) and provide the means by which our girls can readdress (sometimes biologically described as an otherwise instinctive drive…but we are not instinct alone!!!) the urges of boys before it becomes part of the fabric of social life.

Over and out!

A Tribute to Mothers

I wrote these updates for my children’s birthdays. It seemed the appropriate opportunity to express the overwhelming joy these two wonderful people have brought to my life. Mothers (fathers too, but today I speak to mothers who experience parenthood in their own way) know the challenges brought on that go far beyond physical exhaustion, and self-doubt, to accommodating paradigms that seem to cater (still) to lingering patriarchal ideals and a certain degree of self-loathing from which we draw some atonement for betraying what we often experience as the new and liberating feminist paradigm that would have us renounce the more self-sacrificial mode of being-alondside-our-children. I mean even as educated career oriented and independent women we wanted to have children.  More often than not most of us found ourselves assuming the role of the primary care-taker (however much you share responsibilities, most of us still think that we are sharing these!). This usually meant making small and LARGE sacrifices along the way that invariably were at the cost of our professional (and hence financial) advancement. Intermingled with frustration, and despair – and now I speak to my own personal experience – my children helped me grow in ways that would have otherwise been remiss. So though I take pride in having raised two amazing children, as the dedications below suggest, today I am thankful for how I learned a special kind of patience, and open-mindedness with them. I came to viscerally indulge intellectual schemes of thinking I long defended but always short of the practical challenges and potential (and ultimately actual) materials costs and risks evoked along the way. Courage, determination, even faith amidst often times excruciating pangs of self-doubt, I think have made me a better, albeit more complex, person (perhaps those that know me now feel inclined to step in and yell: NO!!!! :)) Being a mother today is a complicated affair, but still oh, so worth it!

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