Women; mothers, workers, blue collar, white collar, unemployed, underemployed, mothers- read Mary Elizabeth’s piece on Salon.  And let’s talk about what it means to be a mother, if that’s your choice, okay?

I love the way Mary Eliz. looks at both sides of the question: What will women do when they grow up? Here’s what I did. I dropped out of college, (having no long vision or guidance). I went to work full time in and out of my chosen field. I married after a too-short acquaintance, determined to make a good life. Adult life was a complete mystery to me, but I found out I loved to research and read, and I could learn as I went.  I had children; 4 in the early years, one more later.

“People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you’ll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow.”

Here’s what you don’t know about me from the above statements. I was dedicated to children, working with disabled children beginning when I was 13 years old. I was an ardent feminist and in college led women’s Consciousness-Raising groups (that was the BIG buzz phrase then). And I believed both in being a conscious woman knowing my options, and in being a loving, guiding mother. I believed I had the potential to be an amazing mother, and my own report card states that’s what I’ve been for a very long time.

“Have you any idea how many kids it takes to turn off one light in the kitchen? Three. It takes one to say, “What light?” and two more to say, “I didn’t turn it on.” “

Our living room extension was a preschool. I made my own bread for the family and I cooked up play dough on a regular basis, letting the children help with the kneading of it, and choosing the colors. Having a child with a disability became a challenge to learn everything I could about his disability and his rights and my responsibilities. I was an informed and active advocate during his school years, and in fact was hired by a school system as a paid advocate for other parents with children in Special Education. I made learning tools for my son’s use and then for other families. Our 4 children were in a 7 year age range. I worked harder at being a parent of young children than many do on their job sites in a regular workday.

“I take a very practical view of raising children. I put a sign in each of their rooms: “Checkout Time is 18 years.” “

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This life was exactly what I wanted. And I believe I achieved what I set out to accomplish. My daughters are strong, capable, intelligent and caring. My sons are all they should be and sensitive and caring too. My youngest son worked as a paid care-giver for his older brother during college years. And when there are problems at home I know we can call one of his siblings who will “talk him down” very effectively from his stubborn place.

Even a messy divorce situation gave me the opportunity to learn and grow as a person/woman/mother. I believe very strongly that there are many, many options for women, as many options as there are people. We – society- need to accept the options, support the choices, and above all provide assistance to parents who are raising the next generation. We Americans seem to have an appalling lack of knowledge of other countries’ values and effective strategies. We also don’t seem to value our mothers, our fathers, our elders, our children, our disabled people, our homeless people, our ill and mentally ill people… and on and on.

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”

Yet I believe each of us can address these issues. One person can make a difference. Start a community dialogue. Find a group of people willing to engage in discussion to find solutions to issues in your community. And most of all; be kind to other parents, the best, the worst and the ones who are muddling through- because it truly is a job harder than any other on earth.

“Stop sweating the small stuff. Don’t worry about who doesn’t like you, who has more, or who’s doing what. Instead let’s cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us. Let’s think about what God has blessed us with. And what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, as well as spiritually.  Life is too short to let it pass you by. We have one shot at this and then it’s gone.”

Thanks for listening. Quotes by Erma Bombeck who was an amazing social humorist, and who refused to be moved up to the top of the kidney donor list just because she was a well known published author and journalist. She died too soon.

Here’s a short video about Erma.

 

This is a story of 2 people I’m acquainted with and also a story about World Peace.

First, my young friend just 18 years old as of last week. I haven’t seen him in two years, and he’s grown taller, and grown up a bit too. What made me think to include him in this post; he and I are far apart on many issues; what we eat, what we believe, what we do for fun… as any 2 people can possibly be. Yet we also worked together for a year and a half, and had fun together. He introduced me to the tropical fish store, I tried to convince him that my preference for working in a quiet room wasn’t too freakish.

For a year and a half we worked very diligently on his reading and writing skills; no easy feat given the severity of his dyslexia.  Our lessons were imaginative and enjoyable, and felt only a little like work. He willingly let me use my imaginative lesson plans because he knew I meant only the best for him. My deepest wish; him reading/writing without embarrassment.

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I smiled a lot during the  accidentally meeting. I smiled after we parted and until I went to bed and even into the next day after I awakened. He has a sweetness to him. His mother cares for others, as a career, and he has grown up with children who are disabled, so his acceptance comes easily, naturally.

The second person is one who works full time in a governmental office to which I show up once a month to do a small amount of marketing for a major U.S. company. She serves others from behind a counter and often has biting comments. My observations of her demeanor led me to maintain minimal contact, until this morning.

Today I was denied access to her supervisor who is usually on site. My work supplies were not ready for me. Over the last year and half, they’ve been slowly encroaching on my job responsibilities, for which I was trained and continue to train on an ongoing basis. My supervisor suggested personality conflict. No, I think it’s conflict over territory.

So now I will be replaced there, lose that small amount of income, and also lose the assured sense of having done my job well and in a timely fashion. I had gone in with a plan. But it all went wrong. The supervisor would be out, out, out. I walked outside, made my phone call, and went back in to get the job done. It was then I heard this employee in her supervisor’s office with murmurings and laughter, and lots of “I said… and she…”

I don’t wish to be near nasty  people; people who need to make you small in order they feel big, people who do wrong for reasons known only to them and who cannot make an apology. So where does World Peace start?

World Peace starts with me and one other. That other could be you. It is my next door neighbor even though her partner plays very loud music outside that drifts in through my screen door. It might have been the employee behind the counter, but no, sorry, I can’t compromise myself in order to be ridiculed, so I opt to step away.

World Peace starts with my inner peace first, shortly followed by my willingness to be at peace around others. It’s the best I can do. And as a mother I remember that I am the model for my children, so why not for people in my world?

World Peace also starts with you, doesn’t it?

**Picture of my Nato- who rocks the extra chromo, according to dear friend Tony!

In a 1973 television series, Kojak, starring Telly Savalas, who had a shaved head, a  big grin and the cute line; Who Loves Ya, Baby. This phrase came to mind as I thought about the story I want to tell here.

Today when I was a hop, skip and jump from my workplace, I realized I’d left my cell phone at home. The problem with that is my middle son’s need to keep in touch with me while I’m gone and he’s home alone. So I went up to the Service counter and told the 3 women there of my problem and asked to use the phone.

Three hours later I was still working when an announcement caught my attention. The three young women, still there behind the counter, were grateful to have located the right “mom” to come to the phone. I reassured my son, who was very pleased with himself, that he’d gotten ahold of me. But… how did he do it?

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He doesn’t read. I hadn’t left him a clue. When I returned home I found my end of the dining table ransacked. There’s a calendar on the table with bits of paper stuck in the pages, and a stack of papers having to do with; our finances and bills, and Nathan’s care givers and their schedules and payroll that I compile twice a month. Somehow he’d found a receipt from where I was located, and punched in the phone number on the receipt, tried to explain that he wanted to talk to his mother, and then… ta da… there I was, on the other end of the phone line. (Did I mention he’s partly deaf and has garbled speech?)

In his determination to reach me, he also ransacked my bedroom closet. That’s where I hide his sodas, which I dole out sparingly, every so often as a reward for good behavior or a treat for staying alone.

There was a FB discussion a few days ago, among some friends of my youngest son, about I.Q. and something new being studied called R.Q., or the Rationality Quotient. I added my 4 cents to the discussion. Speaking of I.Q. I always think of the children I’ve worked with over the years; most born with disabilities, a few acquired them after birth. I remember a particularly intelligent young man born with Cerebral Palsy, which left his limbs twisted and almost useless, his speech beyond difficult to understand, and a fully functioning brain that would probably be ignored by most people he’d meet.

And I think of my Nato, who tests at far below “typical” intelligence, but who can use every bit of what he’s got to get where he wants to go. Like today. Today’s example of his “ableness” to find a perfectly workable solution to a problem, is not a singular event. He is able to problem-solve. I find him amazing and inspiring. And he both loves me and sometimes needs me, drives me crazy and makes me believe in the impossible. I love him, admire him,  find him at times frustrating and childish. But the love is most important.

So… Who Loves Ya, Baby?  Because most days, and most times,  feeling loved or giving love is the best thing you can do for yourself and another.

*Card above, a 2009 Mother’s Day card with an Erma Bombeck quote. Don’t copy my art.