When Fathering Girls: Love and Protection

When Fathering Girls: Love and Protection

When Fathering Girls: Love and Protection

We’ve heard it over and over, but it’s still a truism, having a father is good for a girl. Having a father provides a girl with love and protection, encouragement and a relationship that is just WELL different, from what moms provide. Yes, there are troubled relationships between girls and their mothers and they could also occur between girls and their fathers. But for a girl to grow up and navigate the world of love and sex, marriage and children, or having children with a man without benefit of marriage, that father figure if he is loving and understanding, supportive and open-minded, can truly give that girl a head start. And if he is not?

Maybe he has only one of the above qualities. I don’t meant to describe the perfect father that maybe doesn’t exist. But I do believe a girl’s presence in a man’s life can soften his edges, open his eyes to the future of all of his dealings with women in a way no one else can. His daughter is the FUTURE of womanhood–as he relates to it. And he wants the best for her. Yes, he wants that for his wife, but caught in the constraints of time–he now sees more for his daughter. He sees change and advancement stretching out into the future and he routes for her. He begins to believe that girls, just like boys, can thrive.

This all might sound dated. You’re thinking–things have changed–all men are aware of the importance of fathering their daughters. We don’t need songs about it, like Billy Bigelow singing in the musical comedy, Carousel.

You can have fun with a son, But you gotta be a father to a girl.
She mightn’t be so bad at that, A kid with ribbons in her hair!
…But my little girl Gets hungry ev’ry night and she comes home to me!

Both parents prepare for their children and want to do the best for them. But life gets in the way. Families are so different now–with step-fathers and absent fathers and fathers raising children with no mother. The ability to fly from coast to coast, take jobs in different places or work remotely via the internet has also affected the composition of the family. Sometimes the mother is the constant, but sometimes it’s the father. That’s great, as long as there is a constant.

My father died when I was three. But I had a mother who was so loving and understanding, who put her children first, always, that I turned out all right. There were uncles in my life, fathers of my friends. They helped me see how fatherhood worked. Once, my father took me to see his brother, my uncle. But the man had a new television and was more interested in talking about how it worked. My mother related this little story more than once–how my dad came home with me in his arms and said to my mother: THEY JUST DON’T KNOW WHAT WE HAVE HERE. That’s father-love. I felt it then and it  sustained me through the years at some level, because I turned out all right.

The protective role of the father is needed more than ever in a world of Face Book and photo sharing, pornography and the sexualization of young girls. Readers might remember  when five-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was found murdered in the basement of her family’s Colorado home on December 26, 1996. JonBenet participated in child beauty pageants, because her mother had been a beauty queen and supposedly JonBenet wanted to echo what her mother did.

In an interview in 2012 her father, John Ramsey, reacting to the popularity of the reality television show TODDLERS AND TIARAS, said that letting his daughter compete in pageants is something he regrets. “Only because- that possibly might have drawn attention to us. I don’t know. But-  I think for- for advice to a parent is just recognize that- regardless of where you live, there- there could be evil around you. And- and don’t be naive about it. And keep your kids protected.” Even in death, that’s hard to do as a television series about JonBenet’s life and death will be airing soon.

Writer Naomi Schaefer Riley took a hard look at the reality show TODDLERS AND TIARAS. She wrote: One father, who had a rap sheet of drug and alcohol abuse, sued for custody of his daughter. The girl, now 6, was a regular on the pageant circuit, where she appeared dressed as Dolly Parton, complete with padded bra and enhancements for her rear end. Apparently, her father wasn’t happy about this.

Thousands of girls appear in these pageants, along with hundreds more on television shows glamorizing the whole culture of miniaturized sex objects. Last year, one of the 3-year-olds on the Toddlers & Tiaras reality show dressed up as Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman, before Richard Gere sent her on a shopping spree. Another little girl appeared singing Sexy and I Know It at a nightclub.

(My milllennial son was so upset about this he wrote a song about it.) I can’t imagine this for my daughters and granddaughters. I didn’t even like them watching the film Pretty Woman when it came out in 1990 and they were sixteen and twelve. I recently watched the film again. It is still true fantasy that could never ever happen to a prostitute. And I am sure the film has been used by pimps as a device to lure innocent but desperate girls. But many will still say ah, it’s so light-hearted! Maybe, but crosses a line that’s hard to pinpoint.

In her article Riley stresses the importance of fathers being involved in their daughter’s lives. She states: A protective presence lets girls grow outside the sexualized pressure of our culture. She is so right!

Where once fathers might play ball with their male progeny, now they can pick a sport or an activity that their daughters want to pariticpate in. And if busy work and travel schedules make attending practices difficult (and this can be mothers too) it’s not hard to find time to sit and talk about what a daughter has achieved in gym class or dance, softball or piano. SOMETHING! Attention and time with DAD is what girls need and fathers too. You can’t always know your child while they are part of the larger family crowd. One to one is meaningful and necessary. A game of chess or checkers, a walk, and the always possible drive in the car provides a quiet time to find out what’s going on in your daughter’s head.

Let’s hear it for slowing down the push to grow up; for reaching a plateau of growth that can be celebrated and yet HELD ON TO for awhile. Blink and your daughter (or your son) is beyond your control and you are asking what you did wrong. STOP THE CLOCK. Talk to her. Put her on the pedestal of attention she deserves. Protect her from stupid choices that can bring her sorrow. Love and protection are key. And beauty pageants? She’s beautiful in your eyes. Others eyes can wait until she’s an adult and ready to walk in the wide world.

Thanks to shutterstock.com and storyhighlighto and pinterest.com

When Fathering Girls: Love and Protection

Sorry-but this is NOT Cute.

Breaking Into The Conversation

Breaking Into The Conversation

You’re with a group of people. It could be family. It could be a gathering of friends. Or even your work buddies out to relax or maybe form a group to complain about something going on within the office walls. Then consider: you want to break into the conversation, but you can’t. Even with family gatherings this happens–no one is giving you an opening because someone is the leader, someone is choosing the topics and you find you are no longer listening but just waiting, waiting for a chance to break in. You lose the thread of the conversation. Or after a while you don’t even care.

CONVERSATION SHOULD BE AN EXCHANGE OF IDEAS 

  • We all anticipate being with people we care about and sharing conversation.
  • Often we are tired at the end of the day and eager for something fun.
  • And to add to our eagerness, we dressed up to be with friends for some meaningful exchanges.

This is part of being a member of society–the anticipation of TALKING to one another. You might even have some news you want to share and you’re just excited to be with this group and see their reactions and how they will support you. (Come on People, we still like the warmth of camaraderie and don’t have to open our minds and souls through Facebook all the time, but can wait for that gathering of hugs and smiles to give our news.)

We all crave that small spotlight when people will focus on us and listen to what we have to say. The KEY is the exchange. And friends and family can be so generous about our news or our opinions. From youth to old age–being able to steer the conversation is empowering and helps us grow no matter the topic:

a new job; the choice of a school or a career; the person we are dating or going to marry; the person we just broke up with; the death of a friend or someone being ill or someone injured or someone recovering. We made money; we lost money. We just met someone the group already knows; we have a new idea for our art work, writing project, music presentation. There are millions of topics. So enough–you get the idea.

But what if you’re having a bad time and you can’t break in or you suddenly don’t want to break in. There are a variety of reactions to this.

  • you give up and walk away
  • you try even harder to break in
  • you find yourself getting angry
  • you attempt to peel the person sitting next to you away from the group

I’ve been in situations with friends when the conversation was all about people I did not know. Everyone else was comfortable with remembering these folks, but since I didn’t know them, I sat quietly wondering when the conversation would take a turn into a topic where I could join in. Has that happened to any of you?

I think if you care about the group you are with you tend to be patient, maybe help yourself to another drink and wait for things to change. But if this happens to you a number of times, you tend to become sensitive to groups that do that. Your awareness of making a conversation COMFORTABLE for everyone in the room becomes one of your goals. When you are the host you are very aware of this. Conversation can be hurtful. Unfortunately it goes with bringing a variety of people together. Drinking can loosen tongues. You intended to have a fun party and maybe there are people leaving your gathering with hurt feelings and unless they tell you, you will never know.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO? WHAT WILL YOU DO?

There are going to be many situations in the next six plus months where the main topic of conversation will be politics. I think in some situations we will have to decide to preserve the friendship and so if the person is on the other side–better not to go there at all–or give it a try?

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Again, what will you do?

It’s a hard choice. Strong feelings about a candidate can make us want to get up on a bully pulpit and shout to the world. If only we could always stay on an intellectual plain of ideas. Tricky, tricky stuff.

FLOOD YOUR BRAIN WITH IDEAS 

I found this note in one of my notebooks: Each of us has a pool of stories, opinions that we offer in conversation when there is an opening, when we find the space to express our views. But what if this pool would become so narrowed down that we might be expressing 20-25 ideas. There is never an excuse for not reading and learning about possibilities. The world is wide open inviting us to read, consider and take new things in our minds and hearts. Maybe that will help us break into the conversation of living–and people will no longer ignore what we have to say. They will be eager to give us an opening–they will be looking to us to YES, guide the conversation.

AGAIN, WHAT DO YOU THINK?  WISHING US ALL GOOD LUCK WITH THIS ONE.

Photo: Merlot Marketing.comBreaking Into The Conversation

Breaking Into The Conversation

A Feminist Easter Story for Children

A Feminist Easter Story for Children

A reprint of my favorite Easter post.

Many people, Christian and non-Christian, have heard of Mary Magdalene. She appears in the Bible at prominent places in Christ’s life—two being at Easter: she was with the women who discovered Jesus had risen from the dead. And in another reading, she comes upon Jesus in the garden adjacent to the tomb. She mistakes him for a gardener. Such a lovely story to awaken deeper Easter meanings–this woman was highly regarded and blessed–a new idea for that time.

Easter is spring and rebirth and invites us always to look at our lives and to grasp new ideas, live our lives differently, make our lives better. Spring holds so many symbols of rebirth and rethinking. Even the plethora of chicks and bunnies says that on a small level. But the birth of new ideas is what we need to focus on. And what better way than to teach children, the coming generations, equality for everyone–male and female.

Maybe that’s why DuBose Heyward, a southern author who is best known for his novel Porgy that was the basis for Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, wrote The Country Bunny and The Little Gold Shoes. The title page states: as told to Jenifer, his daughter, who needed to know that her sex didn’t have to hold her back from becoming anything she wanted to be.

This heart-felt story cherished by many families during the Easter season, tells the tale of a simple mother bunny and how she became one of the five Easter Bunnies who travel the world bringing baskets of colored eggs and candy to children. With a copyright of 1939, it’s a tale ahead of its time.

The storyteller describes his heroine as: “a little country girl bunny with a brown skin and a little cotton-ball of a tail.” Her dream was to grow up and become one of the Easter Bunnies. “You wait and see!” she would say. But the Jack Rabbits with long legs and the big white bunnies who lived in fine houses scoffed at her and put her down.

After Cottontail grows up and has twenty-one Cottontail babies, these same Jacks and big rabbits really laugh at her. “What did we tell you! Only a country rabbit would go and have all those babies. Now take care of them and leave Easter eggs to great big men bunnies like us.” Heyward writes that “they went away liking themselves very much.” Note that Heyward’s editor wanted Cottontail to have a husband, but in the end she is a single mom.

The Grandfather Easter Bunny who is wise and kind, lives in the Palace of the Easter Eggs. In the story he must select a fifth bunny. This is Cottontail’s chance. She brings all of her 21 children to the tryouts where the Grandfather cannot help but notice her.

He tests her to see if she is as wise and kind as he is. But she must also be swift. When she scatters her 21 children and in seconds is able to round them up again, the Grandfather is convinced. She will be his fifth Easter Bunny. The writer tells us that when Cottontail arrives at the Palace of the Easter Eggs for this amazing duty, the other four Easter Bunnies do not laugh at her—“for they were wise and kind and knew better.”

Cottontail meets her challenges during this charming tale, her deep desire and loving heart capturing every reader and providing a sunny Easter morning finish.

Anita Silvey on her website A Book-A-Day-Almanac writes: The story stresses the importance of hope, determination, and courage. Not only was the book a feminist statement in a time when this perspective was rarely shown, it also celebrates the achievements of a brown bunny rather than a white one. Yet at no point does the reader ever feel as if they are being given a polemic—Heyward has created a totally satisfying world.

The copy I own is a First Printing, copyright 1939, paper edition. It is well-worn and well-loved. It might even be the one my mother read to me. But I know it’s the one I read to my three children. For anyone wanting to celebrate spring, rebirth and ideas that are meaningful–this simple story is powerful and yet gentle at the same time. Enjoy.

I want to thank my daughter, Christie, who is also a mother to a daughter and values this story for the simple power it holds for adult and child readers alike.

For more ideas on this interpretation go here.

Thanks to Istock Photos. Thanks to Washington Post photos.

A Feminist Easter Story for Children

Conversations: Younger Self, Older Self

Conversations: Younger Self, Older Self

Breathe in the perfume of the peony flowers parading down the front walk

What would it be like if my Younger self and my Older self had some conversations with each other. I decided to try it, to see what memories I could recapture and how they would touch me. To see how reflecting back and forward might illuminate some things. To see where I might still be going on life’s journey.

So Younger says to Older:  Walk with me, okay? Let’s go outside–come and take my hand. We’re going out the front door of the house where you were raised. The door is heavy, give it a push; the floor boards of the porch shift downwards toward the street and the steps creak. Breathe in the perfume of the peony flowers parading down the front walk–better yet, let’s run and pick up some of those petals, toss them up toward the blue sky and watch them fall onto the grass. It’s spring–the bushes are full around the front yard–so no one can see us. We can climb the mulberry tree, but don’t eat those berries and remember you don’t like it when you step on the fallen ones and they stick to your shoes. Messy. But hurry now, and let’s run into the backyard, ’cause the mock orange bushes are in bloom. Another great smell.

Jeanie might come over later and we can play in our fort behind the garage. But right now let’s swing. You take the swing nearest the garage, pump hard now and up you’ll go, up and up so that your toes feel like they’re touching the top of the apple tree. But your toes can’t touch the house–because the flowering apple tree hides it–but you know it’s there, that grey house in the sunshine. That’s where mother sits typing in the dining room. She’s always there when you need her. And your body shivers a bit with contentment–the swing, the grass, the clouds, the birds–and the very best, the sun on your face.

So Older responds back to Younger: I knew about love living in that house. I felt love every day of my life, and even though my father died when I was very young–my mother made up for that loss. And my brothers. Then I found a true friend, right in the neighborhood. A boy-friend at that. I found that “other” who loved me–my mistakes as well as my brilliant flashes of insight. Together we found our differences to be the best glue for our bond. And we helped each other through the ups and downs of becoming adults. And then we married and had three children. But Younger, you didn’t always understand that your life and its trajectory was NOT like the lives of many people. You didn’t get that. Then, as a teacher at a high school you truly woke up–met children who had no food in their houses, few changes of clothing, few chances in life. And then even later in your life, you found more wisdom when you decided to become a nurse and worked at a hospital where often your patient was a thirteen-year-old girl.

That was hard, Younger. Because you were still very much running the show and you wanted to be judgmental–to ask: Why had this girl not stopped the passion or experimentation or alcoholic stupor that was NOW bringing a new life into the world? Didn’t she have the voice in her head that we had, the voice to guide her? Well, it didn’t take long to realize she did not. She didn’t have the grey house and the mother typing in the dining room.

But Younger, my Older self decided that in birth there had to be hope. That somewhere in her world this new mother, though so young, knew what love was, knew because of someone. And she could parent, model, could repeat in her actions that love she once knew. Or her child would bring her into that light.

But it was a struggle–to crack open my older heart so that my belief in a sustaining relationship between this girl-mother and her child would overcome my initial negative judgment. So Younger, you know what happened? Conversation. I talked to these young mothers about love, about gentle care–I did that despite risking that they might turn away, think me a fool. I even mentioned caution with the male person in their life, the father of the baby. I encouraged that they focus on their child and not another sexual encounter. Later, I even became part of a social project called RISING STAR, teaching pregnant teens how to care for their unborn child through good health practices and how to set goals so that a high school diploma would be what they would seek instead of immediately having another child. (Read more about this period in my life here.)

Younger, you were so fortunate to have what you had growing up.The love and understanding of our family helped you achieve, helped you to become empathetic so that you could reach out to others and help them–something that continually brings peace and happiness back to me now.

The world says that wisdom increases with age. Younger, I believe that as we age, we learn how to examine life events with more care and with more empathy. When good things happen in our own lives, it helps us reach out to others–to want good things for others. It’s about spreading joy and love. Younger, I attempted that as a maternity nurse. I did that as a mother. But I was blessed because I was modeling back what I had already learned from my own beginnings, the love that filled my home–being you, Younger.

This conversation between us, Younger/Older has clarified some things. And I want to thank you, Younger, for one thing especially–your memory. That was a guide for me, a pathway, a map. When an Older me got scared or lost or wanted to give up–I remembered my Younger self, my positive beginnings and I held on to those. I know others can succeed, Younger, even if they don’t have what we had. But it’s a much harder journey. Let’s remember that. Let’s reach out and help when we can.

Photo Credits: daily mail. co. uk

Conversations: Younger Self, Older Self

But my Older self decided that in birth there had to be hope.

Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me

Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me

Art by Steve Hanks

This is a great time of year to think about mothers. Many of them are at this moment quite exhausted from preparing for the holidays and doing everything in their power to provide magic for their children. And many mothers do this while working full or part time, watching the budget that threatens to explode because of the season’s needs and continuing to monitor homework, prepare meals, and keep a household running efficiently.

Now We Are Six…How My Mother Financially Supported 3 Kids 

To steal from A. A. Milne’s book of poetry, I can remember six, a time when my older brother was 9 and my younger 3. A widow, my mother worked at home typing insurance policies in our dining room. At night she did what she called “processing” her day’s work. All we knew was her routine of sitting at a card table in the living room with paper clips, a stapler and even glue—a stack of paper gradually piling up until she was finished. And of course while doing this, my mother monitored our television watching or reading or stopped to help us with our homework. And this was every night, except weekends.

My mother taught me the rewards of a consistent and well organized routine—maybe today we call that multi-tasking.

Christmas and All the Trappings

So how did she ever find the time to do Christmas? One year my mother actually sewed a bra for the anatomically correct doll that I asked for, but who arrived without the proper foundations. If something needed to be assembled: a toy airplane or a pup tent—there was no one else but Mom to make sure things were Santa-ready.

There was the annual trip to Van Laten’s, the fresh vegetable store, whose parking lot at Christmas became a forest of freshly cut trees. Somehow we got one home each year—my older brother must have learned early how to lift the tree into the trunk of the car and tie down the trunk lid. Luckily our drive was short.

We never were disappointed during this economically challenging time of year. My mother must have scrimped and saved to make it happen. And we were always excited, full of the magic and truly grateful.

There were years when Mom developed a cold around the holidays—probably from exhaustion—but even so, she would get herself to our local church to sing Midnight Mass, somehow getting her high, clear soprano voice to function—a mini Christmas miracle.

My mother taught me commitment.

All We Need Is Music, Music Music

What can you do when there are dishes to wash or other mindless chores that must be accomplished? Easy, you can sing while doing it. How can you distract your five-year-old who doesn’t want her hair washed? Again, you can sing through it. My mother sang to us. Often. She had a beautiful voice. My grandmother did too, she being the fountain of good parenting, making sure that each of her children learned how to play the piano and another instrument of their choosing. Though my grandfather traveled and money was always tight, my Nana knew how to instill in her children a love of music, literature and art. And so did my mom. She drove used cars—but we had a piano! And eventually a good turntable and speakers—my older brother doing all the research and helping make this happen. Music filled our house.

My mother taught me love of the fine arts and that when you are feeling sad, you might try singing.

Kind and Generous

Through her openness and warmth my mother showed me and my brothers that acceptance can lead to happiness. There might have been a few weeks in my mother’s life when she felt anger or disbelief that she’d been left with three small children when my father died suddenly of a massive coronary. But there’s that old line about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off. Metaphorically, my mother did that–and never looked back. She made her life about us, and about always helping anyone who was experiencing sorrow of some kind. She replaced sorrow with gratitude.

The doorbell would ring and there was Gen and her daughter Mary Jane with a box of hand-me-down clothing for me. Hey! It was great. The clothes were lovely, Mary Jane growing faster than I did. There was also the friend who worked in a toy store or had some connection with one. Once a year, he’d arrive with very expensive toys—one for each of us.

When you can accept the generosity of others, the upside of that action is giving back. My mother always had a bag or box or envelope for people who cleaned for us. Thank you were two words that were often heard in our home and we took them with us, bestowing them on others throughout our lives.

My mother taught me to accept gifts graciously and to give back.

The Role of Motherhood

All my life I have been fortunate to be witness to good mothering—and I’m talking about my mother, my grandmother and the wonderful aunts in my life—role models all of them. They believed in me and helped me believe in myself, a process that is still on-going, a process that fuels the writing I do here and my book A Mother’s Time Capsule. One reader graciously wrote: I think your stories about motherhood had a striking effect on me because the stories brought home some things I think I knew unconsciously about motherhood (mine and my mother’s). So thanks for being able to write those stories.

You are so welcome! And thanks, MOM. You taught me well.

P.S. Google has made some changes, as Google often does. Currently, these changes have affected my POSTS being delivered to YOU if you use gmail. Please check your SPAM and move my posts, if you choose to, to your In-Box. I am working on this problem, but it is not solved yet.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Beth

Art, Steve Hanks via Pinterest

Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me

 

Nothing Better Than A Book

Nothing Better Than A Book

No matter where you are in holiday gift giving–there is nothing better than finding a good book to stick in a stocking, wrap up and put under the tree or offer for one of the blessed days of Hanukkah. Thanks to author and friend, Normandie Fischer, this post is bringing you seven amazing fiction choices to add to your Gift List. Check out the summaries below and head to your favorite book seller–after all tomorrow is Cyber Monday! And please join our author group for our Facebook Party on December 10th at 1:00 pm EST for Giveaways and chats.

Normandie FischerTwo From Isaac’s House, A Story of Promises Journey with Rina Lynne who though recently engaged decides to spend her inheritance before settling down. Her travel adventure starts in Italy where Rina meets Tony (aka Anton) an engineering geek whose Israeli cousins have convinced him to become a sort of spy.  When Rina comes on the scene, Tony loses a grip on his assignment and Rina, who is part-Jewish, forgets her fiancé, allowing herself to become involved with this Arab-American. Against the gathering storms of the Middle East, certainly more storms are brewing.

Ashley FarleyMerry Mary This novel explores a theme that is perfect for Christmas. Investigative journalist Scottie Darden longs for a child. While photographing the homeless for a series she calls Lost Souls, Darden comes upon a tent in a downtown city park were an infant child is alive, but the mother dead. Lacking her cell phone, Scottie follows her instincts and takes the baby home. She promises herself she will report the child’s situation, but as a strong bond forms, she rationalizes her decision to keep the child, knowing she might face a life on the run or worse–imprisonment for abduction. Farley’s story examines the connection between a woman who stumbles into the role of mother and the child who definitely needs that person.

Wendy Paine Miller–The Short and Sincere Life of Ellory James Ellory James has six months to live and she is only seventeen. As her mother frets and worries, Ellory agrees to create a bucket list for her remaining time on earth. But Ellory is mischievous, asking her neighbor Pete to help her make it look like she’s truly carrying out ten of her lifelong dreams. She’s actually decided to fake the entire bucket list concept, until she completes the first one of the ten, which just might be the most important one of all. Miller’s book asks the question: what if life isn’t about the things we do as much as it is about WHY we do them and who we do them with.

Me, Elizabeth A. Havey–A Mother’s Time Capsule Yes! I’m included in this lovely seven author group, but because you’ve heard about my book before, I’ll make it truly short. The book of 13 short stories about motherhood includes: a hyper-fearful mother; a mother struggling with the life-chore of revealing what sex is; an empty-nest mother facing surgery and loneliness;  a mother whose daughter attempts suicide; a pregnant single mother; a mother whose child goes missing–and more. “Lovingly detailed, sometimes heart-wrenching stories of real women who come alive on the page. Moving and powerful.” Anne R. Allen, bestselling author of the Camilla Randall Mysteries

Jane Lebak–Half Missing  As an arsonist inspector, Amber Brickman sifts through burn sites looking for evidence, working against the memories of weeks before her wedding when her fiancé was murdered. But family history never departs and Amber’s mother insists that Amber had a twin, stolen at birth. When a woman on the news looks and sounds like Amber, her mother is convinced–this is the missing twin. At first Amber wants nothing to do with what she considers insanity. But as her mother pursues the past, Amber is drawn into the search–one that requires she risk everything, her job and her heart, in the process.

Heather Webb–Rodin’s Lover Known for her historical fiction, Heather Webb’s Rodin’s Lover is the story of Camille Claudel, an aspiring sculptor who becomes the apprentice of the amazing and world-renown Auguste Rodin during the Belle Epoque in France. Claudel becomes his muse and as their love affair proceeds they inspire one another to create groundbreaking works of art. But being a woman in a time period unable to honor female achievements, Camille’s success is pushed aside by Rodin’s rising star. When she finds herself caught in a tragic dilemma, obsessed with him and with her art, crossing the line into madness just might be her only escape.

Robin Patchen– Finding Amanda  Seduced as a teen by her psychiatrist, Amanda Johnson is now a chef and a popular blogger. When she decides to write a memoir that will include the devastating events in her teen life and help her heal, her estranged husband Mark, a contractor and veteran soldier, tries to stop her, worrying that the psychiatrist might reenter her life and attempt to silence her. Amanda fails to listen to such advice and to hear that Mark still loves her. Vulnerable, she travels and does encounter her abuser from her past, only to have a stranger rescue her and offer protection. Now Mark must save Amanda from the psychiatrist who threatens her life and from the stranger who threatens their marriage.

As December approaches, I wish all my readers warmth and happiness. Holidays can be joyous–but they can also be stressful. Remembering the important things, like the love of family and friends, is what should truly be our focus. Sounds like a topic for another post!

Preserving the Privacy of Parenting

Preserving the Privacy of Parenting

What’s the latest skinny on parenting? Do today’s mothers and fathers read books to determine how they will parent? I did a search and found that many parental guides now have a specific focus: discipline without shouting; how to nurture a child’s brain; how to parent with love and logic and how to parent using the power of less. That is very different from my generation when you purchased one book that commented on all aspects of parenting: Dr. Spock, Penelope Leach, William Sears, and the team of Murkoff and Mazel. And as these books appeared, parents talked about them and how different viewpoints made us question an initial decision so that when the second or third child arrived we were doing things differently.

PRIVACY and the COPY GENERATION 

But my interest for this post is privacy. We live in the Facebook age, the digital age and slowly, without realizing it, the society out there can take over home rule, change the major rules of parenting. Society can subvert some of our initial decisions so that we are becoming lax in one area and maybe over-zealous in another. That just adds to feelings of confusion that all parents have had at one time or another. We question what we should do when the going gets tough. We struggle. But now the struggles about breast feeding versus bottle feeding, what diapers to use, what foods to introduce and when, if the child should sleep with parents, what toys the child should have, when to introduce him to television, when to let her outside in the yard alone, how to handle daycare, what type of preschool to select and on and on–now initial decisions made by the two parents can be pushed aside because others are doing something else. It can become the “copy” generation instead of the “let’s evaluate and discuss” generation.

PLAN, DISCUSS and DECIDE 

What’s the solution? Privacy. And I’m not referring to parents who are purposefully harming their children–doing things to them that are worthy of imprisonment–and thus trying to hide it. I’m just talking about a man and a woman who love each other and who sit together and discuss, plan, and decide how they will parent–or sometimes ask their own parents for advice. And know that you will alter and change as your parenting journey unfolds.

The major character in the novel I am completing gives an emotional speech at one point–about the interference that a horrible act perpetrated on her daughter and what it can do to her ability to just breath, to go on living. She doesn’t want to hear about another case, another parent who is suffering as she is. When we bring a child into the world, we deserve the privacy of loving that child and raising that child the best way that we can.

“I don’t want to hear about anyone else. Don’t tell me about anyone else. I’m sick of hurt and sorrow. It’s a private thing, raising a child. So private. I loved Sarah and protected her from the world…”  from ON STRANGE GROUND 

THE NEGATIVES OF SHARING

I have written before about the now common thread in our society to SHARE! The word share is a kind word, a loving word, but it can have very deleterious effects on people. We have to draw lines and preserve privacy. It’s just not smart to SHARE so much of our lives on the Internet. Or if we are asking for help or seeking advice, there are ways to then move to a more private way of getting that information. Caution should go along with sharing.

OUR BOOMER GENERATION? WE DONE GOOD!

And a final thought for those reading this who are aging parents–don’t deny what you have accomplished. Don’t let the changes in parenting make you question the decisions that you made. I wrote about this previously in a post, RAISING KANE: HOW PARENTHOOD CHANGES. And it does, generation to generation. But there was little my mother did with me that I objected to and now I will uphold all the decisions I made in my own parenting. Why? Because If I made mistakes, they were not intentional–everything I did for my children I did with love.

Yes, society changes, it gets tweaked, but the basic concept of loving and caring for a child doesn’t change. My grandmother was home all day with her children, but she also raised chickens for food, sewed clothing for her four children and maintained a clean house. She didn’t have time to play games with them, but she read to them every night. My mother went to work when I was in the seventh grade, so often I started dinner, folded laundry and always assisted in cleaning the house. When my mother came home–we were hers. When I was raising 3 children, I took care of my house and made all the meals, helped with homework and drove my children to extracurricular experiences–but they had chores and responsibility. I think that’s good and I admire women who today work full-time and set up the chore list. It helps build character and responsibility.

So moms-with-kids reading this–don’t change what you think is right because someone on FB is doing it differently. Don’t SHARE all your parenting skills. If you have special ones, then write a book instead. Let someone read and decide if they need to change what they are doing. Hold close to your heart much of your parenting journey and teach your children that some things are okay to SHARE, but others belong in what my mother would call “the bosom of the family.” Keep elements of your family history close to the heart where private matters should stay.

Thanks to: tabularasaisbr.blogspot.com and www.piedmontdisputeresolution.org

Preserving the Privacy of Parenting

WINDOWS–One Mother’s View of Her World

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

Dear Boomer Highway Readers. Happy Summer, a great time to kick back on the porch or patio with a glass of lemonade or something with more of a jolt AND READ A BOOK. It’s truly a summer necessity. In a future post I will be sharing some of my favorite reads for summer 2015–and I better get started before the summer is over.

In the meantime, here is one of the stories from my collection of short fiction A Mother’s Time Capsule which was published in May. This is the absolute shortest one, and if you like it, I’ll share more. Comments and questions? Greatly appreciated. So whether you have a rainy summer day, or a hot mid-afternoon break or even a porch lit with soft lighting on an evening when the fire flies are chasing the sky–please enjoy.

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

Windows

Kate is on the ladder. She’s got a roll of paper towel tucked under her arm. She’s permeating the film of old winter dirt with a thick spray of Windex and then wiping across and down in a definite pattern. She’s slipping into something familiar, the hot sun on her arms, the jiggling of the ladder, the tops of the evergreens brushing her bare legs as she leans over to swipe at a corner. Her position on the ladder allows her an abnormal height as she looks down into her daughter’s bedroom through the now clean pane.

She pauses to take in all that is there, thinking that maybe it’s her position, her being able to see the room from a totally different angle that makes the looking so interesting. She’s a voyeur seeing the rug running a different way, seeing the bed from the headboard down instead of the usual footboard up. And there are other things leaping into her vision.

On the bed, three books, a stack of notebook paper sliding into an arc over the side and a pile of rumpled clothing. Kate presses her face to the coolness of the glass. Brinn’s underwear rolled up, piled and scrunched and then on the floor, almost kicked under her bed but not quite, a box of Kotex. Kate pulls a clean towel from the roll. She gives the top pane another squirt and works her hand in a circle. They’ve talked about keeping these things rather secret, not secretive-scary, but reasonable.

Jody is only five and doesn’t need to be asking a lot of questions. Brinn could learn to put her private things away. But then it is all new to her. She’s had one period and Kate guesses today is the start of another, though Brinn seemed her usual crabby self, the one that can’t find time to pack a school bag, dress and eat breakfast before the bus. Kate looks back into the room as if to find another explanation. There is only one. Brinn doesn’t have her period again, the box simply got kicked out from under the bed.

Kate starts down the ladder, but something else moves forward in her mind, something she feels more than thinks, like a shiver to signal that she’s about to topple from the ladder—Brinn has her period and doesn’t need to mention it to Kate—ever again.

On the ground she lifts the light aluminum ladder and moves it down the side of the house. She’s almost done. She wipes her forehead and sighs, because it feels good, because that’s been a response to a lot of what she’s heard lately. And yet the sighs are often pleasurable.

Her mother: I’ve become a modern thinker. Well maybe not modern, but I think you do entirely too much for that man and always have. I think it’s time you stop it.

Hot sunshine on Kate’s arms, the contentment of staring at a clean window, the pull of the wind at her back, the caress of air on a sweaty forehead—yes, getting things done. She backs away and looks at the house, sees so much about it that is hers—the newly painted red door, the dug-out flowerbed around the tree.

Entirely too much for that man.

She wants to laugh aloud. Her mother doesn’t even watch soap operas, that she knows of, but the line is so perfect.

She climbs the ladder to do one more window. She is careful holding the sides, but distracted by the bird in a bush beyond that sings a song, wee-who, wee-who, like one note up, one note down, like the squeak of an old porch swing—the bird on the swing.

Other women have time to shop, I mean shop for parties they’ll attend—or they meet for lunch or play cards. Other women–” 

“God, I don’t want to play cards. Spare me that.”

Her mother was smoking a cigarette, the ashtray on the floor near her feet “so the smoke won’t bother anyone.” She’d just had her hair done, and though Kate is never really sure what that means, it looks okay, always the same. Her mother seems pleased.

“He’s been out of town, right?”

“Mother, my husband’s name is Ted and yes there was a business trip this week.”

“Well—when is it your turn?”

Kate has trouble adjusting the ladder for this last window. The ground is uneven and the ladder wobbles and there’s no one around to hold it for her. She could wait until Brinn is home, but she has to pick up Jody from Kindergarten soon and it would be great to finish.

She climbs, inching her way up. This is Jody’s bedroom window, the rumpled bed inside, stuffed animals everywhere. There’s never enough time.

And your children should do more. Delegate. I learned that from your father, God bless him. You don’t know how to delegate. Believe me, I’d never do some of the things you do.

She balances carefully, works at each corner where a thick layer of grime has settled. Kate on the ladder, sunshine on Kate. She’s good at pushing away things her mother says. Of course she had better not fall, her mother would explode in front of Ted. And then Kate gasps, the roll of paper towel slipping out of her grasp and falling. She holds on tightly. She’s at least a story and a half up. Her mother would have to nurse her, watch the children—she’d get to hear about the fall every five minutes.

She finishes by turning the soaked towel over and over until the window is clean enough. The bird is still in his swing. She starts down.

You have to say the right things to your mother, be tactful, but point things out to her. Then she’ll see that you’re not my slave. Ted’s take on equality—they discussed what he does, what she does. Think about the life your mother led when she was raising you. She didn’t do her nails and shop with friends. She worked like a Trojan. I’ve heard some of those stories.

Kate drops the Windex to the ground, grips the ladder, walks carefully to the shed to put it away. She worked like a Trojan.

And the story of stories comes circling back: “When you were just a little girl, I got locked out of the house once. I was hanging the washing and the door blew shut and I was locked out. You were asleep in the upstairs bedroom and the windows were open to the breeze, so I pulled a ladder from the garage and climbed it high onto the front of the house. I prodded you with a broomstick to wake you up. I knew you were old enough to go down and open the front door for me. I was just frantic going up that ladder. I had to get back inside to you.”

So how was it really, that day. She hanging laundry. Working like a Trojan. Was she panicked thinking that Kate’s father would be angry, locking herself out of the house, leaving the child alone? And what was she wearing, going up the ladder—a long-skirted dress, or maybe shorts and a blouse. Or was she in high heels, her hair done, smoking a cigarette, her perfect nails clicking on the metal of the ladder. Or was there an apron, the cling of soft fabric that is warm and scented like nothing but spring air. Or a worn apron with food stains, her feet bare, the wind tossing her about, sun on her arms, drafts catching her precariously.

Was she agile, was the ladder shaking as she hurried up it? In the room—a child napping and how old, four or five, tossing in nap-sleep, drooling on the pillow. A hot day and her mother leans over to the open window and calls softly Kate, Kate and then prods her child gently with the end of a broom. And the edge of Kate’s dream becomes a stick, becomes poking and the voice outside an upstairs window calling her name—but her mother’s voice, like a song.

Back inside the house, the phone rings.

“I’m lonely today. Could you just drop all those chores and go out to lunch with me?”

“I’ve got Jody. Have to get her from morning Kindergarten.”

“Of course you do. She eats, doesn’t she.”

Kate looks out the kitchen windows. She can’t hear the bird any more, can’t quite remember its song as the memory of her mother’s words lingers. I was frantic going up that ladder. I had to get back inside to you.

Thanks for reading WINDOWS. If you liked this story, there are 12 more in A Mother’s Time Capsule, available in soft cover and ebook.  www.elizabethahavey.com

Photo: ourvintagehomelove.blogspot.com and somavida.net and all you.com

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

WINDOWS--One Mother's View of Her World

 

 

 

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Mother's Time Capsule by Elizabeth A. Havey

A Mother’s Time Capsule

by Elizabeth A. Havey

Giveaway ends August 20, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Boomer Highway’s Advice from an ER Doc

Boomer Highway's Advice from an ER Doc

It’s summer, time for a repeat of a post to keep your children safe and healthy during the active summer season.

“You are never over reacting when your child is hurt,” advises Dr. Bernard Heilicser a veteran ER doc. “

If your first thought is ‘I should call the paramedics,’ do it. Your gut feeling is almost always correct,” adds Heilicser who educated and directed paramedics in South Cook County, Illinois.

Here are tips from Dr. Heilicser that can keep your children and grandchildren healthy as they enroll in sports or are just out there in the world having fun.

  • Always do ABC first—check airway to see if it is blocked; check for breathing and check for circulation.
  • Scalp wounds bleed profusely, so don’t be alarmed. Be more concerned about a head or brain injury, especially in an infant.
  • If your suspect a head, neck or back injury, don’t move the patient. Call the paramedics. “A head injury is always a broken neck until prove otherwise.” Do ABC. Move the environment not the patient—furniture, bike, etc. Cover the patient with a blanket, and allow no water or food.
  • Try to stay calm, hold your child and assure her first. However, if blood is gushing out, then you have no choice but to act. Stitches will be needed, if you see bone, tendon, or what globules inside the wound. Bright red blood pumping out is arterial bleeding. Try to put pressure on the bleeding and keep the patient still.
    If a finger or toe has been cut off, apply pressure to the wound, place the body part in a cloth, and ice it. Most often it can be reapplied. Time is essential. You have about six hours.
  • If a permanent tooth is knocked out, don’t clean the tooth or rub it. Have your child hold it in the corner of his mouth and get to a dentist within thirty minutes. It can be saved.
  • If your child gets a chemical or harmful fluid in her eye, irrigate the eye for about ten minutes. If necessary just jump right into the shower with your child, clothes and all. Then consult with your doctor.

A few things to do ahead of time to prevent and deal with traumas:

  • Know whether your doctor is equipped to deal with emergencies. Can you call her at 3:00 in the morning? Would she have the equipment to do an x-ray or would she just tell you to go to the closest hospital?
  • Is there a trauma center near you, a hospital that always has a surgeon ‘in house’ to deal with emergencies?
  • When was your grandchild’s last tetanus shot? A tetanus immunization is supposed to last ten years, but if your child has a “dirty” wound it is really good for only five. If the cut is deep, jagged, dirty or a cut from glass in a lake—get a tetanus.
  • Learn CPR. Doing something is better than doing nothing. It stops you from feeling totally helpless.
  • Don’t allow children or grandchildren to eat or chew gum on the playing field. During an injury the airway can easily become blocked creating a critical situation.
  • See if your Athletic Association has a rule forbidding a coach to move a child from the field. The game can wait. Your child’s injury comes first!

Remember this advice from an ER doc and keep your child healthy and happy.

PHOTO: Thanks to the Windsor Star

Innovative Laundry Products Help Caregivers and Their Clients

Innovative Laundry Products Help Caregivers and Their Clients

My mother and thousands like her remembered and recited this old rhyme to us:

Wash on Monday

Iron on Tuesday

Mend on Wednesday

Market on Thursday

Clean on Friday

Bake on Saturday

Rest on Sunday

She also taught us the song: This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes. And during our childhood, mom followed a schedule not unlike the one above so that we would always have clean clothing that was fresh and dry. It was a time when many moms had ringer washers and not everyone had a dryer. Doing laundry was not only time consuming–it was hard work!

Now that our mothers and grandmothers are aging, they still need clean and fresh laundry. But if you are a caregiver or if you occasionally supervise on laundry day, you’ll want to insure that “doing” the laundry is easy and safe. Working with heavy containers of bleach or detergent or bending over to dig detergent out of box are activities that aging folks should not have to deal with.

Purchasing innovative laundry products like Tide Pods and Gain Flings is the key. These useful and versatile products insure that grandma can do her laundry safely. And the results—they are even better than those she attained with her old products. Tide Pods are easy to use— take one from the convenient canister they come in and add it to the clothing in a front load or top-loading washer. No matter the size of the wash load, water temperature or make of the machine, the laundry will come out clean, bright and stain-free.

Caregivers know that providing a clean and fresh environment for an older person who may be ill is vitally important. Gain Flings are perfect when washing sheets and towels or any laundry that is heavily soiled. The product has a long-lasting scent like Moonlight Breeze, provides a powerful cleaner OxiBoost and when remaking beds and folding towels the odor-fighting power of Febreeze will still be working.

Having clean laundry has been an essential part of life for centuries—whether a stone and a fast-running stream was the method used or the sleek modern machinery of today. And if you are helping grandma with her laundry, she just might have a memory to share. Though I wasn’t doing the work when my mom was hanging out the laundry to dry–here is what I love remembering: the flapping of the sheets and towels as they wrestle with the wind, and the creaking of the laundry poles as they perform their Atlas-job holding up the line, and the intense scent that clings to my brother’s and my skin as we run under the warming linen. Mom always shooed us to the back of the yard. There we would flop down in the brilliant grass and watch as she stretched the wet fabric of the next sheet, working the clothespins onto it with a squeak, the taut line groaning. This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes—

Great memories to share while you are using innovative laundry products that make caregiving and laundry time easy and safe. And remember to keep these products and all cleaning products out of the reach of children.

 

Innovative Laundry Products Help Caregivers and Their Clients

 

Photo: countryliving.com

 

As a member of The bLink Marketing Network, I participated in this sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Proctor & Gamble. The opinions and text are all mine.