Saturday, May 31, 2008


Well, I have a new job. I edit obituaries for the local newspaper. For the most part, my job consists of reading about old men and women who have lived long, meaning-filled lives. But every once in a while, I have a day like today. First, a funeral home director sends me the obituary of a two month old infant. The grieving parents have written up some beautiful nonsense about how this baby made everyone want to live a better life. Then, a woman calls me to ask how to submit an obituary for her son.
"I'm sorry," I say, about to cry since I'm still upset over the baby.
"I've already buried two daughters," she says, "And this is so wrong."
"I know," I say, and again, "I'm sorry."
These are the ones that affect me the most, perhaps because they hit so close to home. The thought of losing one of my babies, or my husband (who is probably about the same age as the second woman's son)
almost immobilizes me.
I will be honest, death scares me. It scares me badly. The thought that I could possibly be happy again if I lost one of my boys just seems ludicrous to me.
I recently read The Voyage Out by Virginia Wolfe, and she describes a poignant death scene. The fiance sits and listens to Rachel's breathing slow and finally stop. He sits quietly with her for some time, and then, when his friends come and get him, he finally realizes what death means--he will never see Rachel again. All of a sudden, he understands. That's how it's been for me lately. Death is final. And even though eternity scared me (maybe I'll go into that later), finality scares me even more.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mothers Day

This will be somewhat eclectic. More and more efforts are being made to remind the American public that Mothers Day was originally founded by Julia Ward Howe in an effort to prevent more wars. Howe looked around at the devastation of the Civil War and thought, "I didn't teach my sons this. I taught them love, peace, and kindness. Maybe if more mothers spoke up, we wouldn't have as many wars." In the spirit of her original intent, many places around the U.S. are holding peace rallies today. I plan to participate in two--one where we are going to write the names of the fallen soldiers and civilians in Iraq (and maybe Afghanistan, I can't remember), and the other one a simple protest where we'll all congregate by the bridge here in town and let folks know that we support alternative ways of dealing with other countries.

On to the next point I wanted to talk about. Mothers Day has been hideously hijacked by Hallmark and the like. So for the last two years, I've been trying to approach Mothers Day from a non-consumerist ideal (although I admit I'm still consuming far more than I need to, so don't think I've made as much progress as I plan to). Last year, when my girl friends were getting bread machines and ice cream makers (neither of which is bad, I suppose), I told Alistiar that I wanted a day to myself. He took the boys and I rode my bike to a local park and read a book. I took a nap, I wrote in my journal, and all the time I was uninterrupted by my boys unless I went to them first. This year, as I mentioned, I'm going to the peace rallies and maybe my local UU service. I will probably ride my bike again. However, this year I'm also insisting that my boys (all three of them) join me (except maybe for the UU service). I want my boys to know how important peace is to me, and I want to set that example for them.

Lastly, a tribute to my own Mother. Right now, I admit that I have a lot of anger issues with my mom. I'm unashamedly blaming her for some of the things that are happening in my life while still recognizing that I am an adult now and will have to deal with these things from my own initiative (but that's another, whinier post). Let me just say that while I feel that my mother did some major things wrong (although nothing in the way of abuse, just not really preparing us for the real world), I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my mom loves me. I know that she did her best and meant only the best for me and my sister. I know that my mom has her own demons to face and that raising children in the face of demons is daunting. I hope I do well by my children in the face of mine. I suppose the one thing I'm grateful to my mom for trying to teach me (even though I eventually had to learn it the hard way) is compassion for others. My mom realized how difficult it is to make judgments about a person's choices in life when we don't know their inner workings. She reminded me of this several times in high school when I would make blanket judgments of the kids around me. I now realize how right she was and try very hard to keep my assumptions about people to a minimum. I'm even trying really hard to do this concerning her (although it's hard considering the anger I'm harboring right now). Anyway, even though I don't plan on my mother ever reading this, I love you Mom. Thanks for everything. I hope I can succeed in raising good kids as well as you did.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Little Something

I've been reading Dale McGowan's Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Children Without Religion. Very good reference for agnostic/atheistic parents in a religion permeated society. Anyway, here's a fun poem by Yip Harburg entitled, "We've Come a Long Way, Buddy".

An ape, who from the zoo broke free,
Was cornered in the library
With Darwin tucked beneath one arm,
The Bible 'neath the other.
"I can't make up my mind," said he,
"Just who on earth I seem to be--
Am I my brother's keeper
Or am I my keeper's brother?"

So there's your evening chuckle.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Are Child Molesters an Anomaly?

I recently got a temp job at the local newspaper. I get a lot of time to read the news now and I'm glad. However, this morning a coworker pointed out a story to me that made me mad, and sad, and a little depressed. A ten year old girl from a nearby town gave birth to a baby in the hospital about two weeks ago. She was raped. No one even saught help for this girl until she went into labor. The rapist was thirty-seven. I have a few questions. What factors go in to making a person decide that they want force sex on a ten year old? Are people like this an anomaly? Or do they have severe sexual entitlement issues? Were they sexually abused as children (in general)? Are cultural values to blame? Perhaps my readers could give me some stats, some information, some understanding of what leads to behavior like this so that we can take active steps toward eradicating it.

I know that the media can sometimes make different crimes seem more common than they really are because they only publish the worst crimes--but really, it seems that child molestation is becoming more common, and I want to know why. I also want to know what contributes to it, because I have two boys and I don't want to screw up so badly that they decide it's okay to have sex with ten year olds. Can you imagine the trauma that this young girl and her family (although why the hell didn't they seek help earlier) must be going through after all this? I don't want to be responsible for perpetuating hell.