Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Morsels of Poetry:
Khalil Gibran
- From The Prophet "on Marriage"

Love one another, but make not a bond of love.
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together.

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

- From The Prophet "on Children"
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.

On the Job Training: Motherhood - 3
So, what's the deal with the fathers?

I've been doing some informal research - talking to my female friends, moms at ballet, colleagues at work, reading O. Magazine and I've come to this conclusion..

No matter if you are Indian, Black, White, Martian.. the mom is still hauling the children around.

Yes, fathers help and will do the pick up/drop off's as well. They will help around the house and get the kids to eat their food. Fathers, please know this has not gone unnoticed.

Yet, mom's are the ones dealing with the school activities, birthday parties (as hosts and guests) and every other extracurricular activity. Mom's will make sure that sitting by the door is is a fully equipped bag for ballet/soccer/swimming/karate, etc. I think mothers gained experience from preparing diaper bags for all emergencies.

I am not sure if I'm allowed to even vent about this seeing I have 1 preschooler. I'm talking to mothers who have 2-3 kids at various stages of development and homework assignments. So, I get the impression that having 1 child is a walk in the park.

So, as I absorbed information from these informal research sessions, there was a nugget of wisdom. She said, "The problem is that we want the men to be 'mothers' but they can't be."

A mother knows instinctively when a child's tantrum is from hunger/fatigue vs. a manipulative control tantrum. She knows a child's needs must come first. Again, this might have been part of our training when we dropped dirty dishes or a hot dish of food to go breastfeed a wailing child. A father will remain focussed on his current activity until he is good and ready to deal with the child. By that time, the mother is livid her child has been held up.

And, that's where our frustration is.

So, is this a defect of the feminist movement? We were told everything could be equal in a marriage. However, marriage to begin with is not 50/50. It's actually 60/40 -- if you ask the wife, she's pulling 60. If you ask the husband, he's pulling the 60. Then, you have a kid and it moves from to 80/50. Oh wait, that doesn't add up does it?

It's as if an extra weight was added to your end and you're always trying to push it over to the father. He's willing to accept the extra load, but can't always take it.

So what do we do? I don't know. I'm just happy I came this far in analysing this. In a way, it's helped me manage expectations better.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

On the Job Training: Motherhood - 2
Where Am I Going?

So, last week I was driving A. to school and pulled into Goddard School. Drove in quietly towards the drop-off circle. I braked suddenly. "What are we doing here?"

I realized my mind was occupied with other things and I was driving on autopilot. For almost 4 years I have been going to Goddard School first and then to work. I admit, there were 2 other occasions where I had pulled into the school when A. was not in the car with me.

A. laughed and wanted to visit her friends. (On a side note, A. is having fun with her new school and says Hannah and Allison are her "best friends", but is really clingy and cries when I leave. I hope this will fade soon, and 4-year-olds are demanding so the teachers cannot always tend to her right then.)

Anyway, at work I related my faux pas to someone else and she said she had done something similar when her daughter was in school and had activities.

Suddenly, flashback to my senior year of high school. I was taking an SAT class at a teacher Mr. C's home on Mondays, Orchestra practice on Tuesdays and tennis whenever that was. My sister and brother had their own schedules.

I remember my mom showing up Mr. C's house instead of orchestra. It was a bit embarrassing because Mr. C mentioned it in class and turned it into a dramatic story; quite mean of him to have a "private" conversation with me in a loud voice. At the time I was frustrated that my mother couldn't keep it straight and she should've been better organized.

Now, I get it!

She had 3 kids with 3 different needs, plus managing a house and part time jobs. This is pre-cell phone and phone card era, so she (and us) could be disconnected and be at the wrong place. I have one kid and still show up at the wrong school if I'm not thinking. So, now I feel guilty for all the hassles that we bestowed on her. Also, I realize mothers also serve as punching bags for whatever the world doles out (i.e., my feelings toward Mr. C were transferred to her).

Is this the frustrating part of motherhood? That your kids won't understand until they are in your shoes? Do I have to wait for 30-something years until A. understands?

Hopefully not. Though I think so.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

On the Job Training: Motherhood - 1
When It's Time to Change...

Recently, my daughter A. changed schools. She’s been in Goddard School since she was less than a year old, when I returned to work. We thought she did well at Goddard, but we wanted to find a full time kindergarten for her, which they did not offer. There is a Kiddie Academy nearby which offers pre-K program and the full day kindergarten. Plus, there are other benefits that Goddard does not offer – more convenient hours, lunch and snacks provided and a brand new cleaner environment.

My husband S. was worried about A. going to a new school. He and I both felt a rush of our own memories, bearing the fears and anxieties that come with starting a new school or a new job. Now our baby girl would have to face them. S. was not sure this was a good idea. It took some time, but enough friends assured him a social 4-yr-old like ours would not have a problem. I tried to remain positive.

First day of school was last week and A. had to say good bye to her friends at Goddard. It was sad since she’s known them all her life. Miss B. the asst. director is in her late 50’s and the kind of woman that scared the kids into shape. One of the parents told me she threatens her daughter "I'm going to tell Miss B. that you didn't clean your room!" The child never moved so fast!

Moreover, she scares parents into shape. I felt so many times the school pushed me ahead with A. when I wasn’t even thinking about it. They told me when she needed to move to sippy cups and solid foods, and I was surprised. I remember receiving a phone call at work reminding me strongly that baby food was not acceptable for lunch and she needed to work on finger foods in order to move into the next class. So, this was another relationship that was going to change.

Anyway, A. and I baked the customary "farewell" brownies and made little trays for the teachers and staff. A. and I had visited the Kiddie Academy in the morning to introduce her to the teachers and environment. She smiled shyly at the teachers and looked at the toys and games in the room. Then she smiled and pulled me towards her, “Let’s go to Goddard now.” I tried to remain positive.

Thursday was her first day. She plummeted me with questions “Who’s going to be my best friend? But I don’t know anyone’s phone number.” I pumped her to go to bed to wake up early and get ready, which she did. In fact, she woke up an hour earlier and had time to just chill in front of the tv while I took a shower.

When I stepped out, I heard hysterical crying downstairs. What could be faster than the mind of a mother hearing a child cry -- is she hurt? did she cut herself? is she lying under heavy furniture?

I called out to her .

"We're late! we're late! wahhh..."

I told her calmly that we're not late and are on time. It made me realize the extent of her anxieties. I told her they would give her lunch, so I did not need to make her lunch today. "What if I don't like it?" she asked.

"Then I'll bring you something else. We'll find out." I tried to remain positive again.

When we entered the new class, we were greeted warmly and A. was led to a table with coloring books. She looked up at me quietly and I stayed with her a little bit. I asked the teacher what was for lunch. "Pizza bagels!" I asked A., "Is that ok?" and she smiled and said yes.

Then I asked I could go now. She smiled and nodded, and the teacher assured me she was ok. I gave her a hug and kiss and left.

I sat in the car and turned on the radio. That corny song from the 80's by Glenn Mederios was on:"Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for you"

And, I just cried.

I had been holding this inside and being positive for so long, I needed a release. And, leaving your child at the doorstep of a new school is as hard as they said it would be.