Monthly Archives: September 2015

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Chapter 11

Standard

It has been this parent’s hope that our children become good world citizens. A hope that they become civic minded and motivated to help those in crisis. That they see a need in the world or even in their own neighborhood and lend a hand. That they are kind to those less fortunate. I believe this is an attitude that can only be taught by to them by their parents. And so the buck stops with me.

My children and the children of my friends and family have lived privileged lives. They have had food and shelter and access to good education and many opportunities. This makes me grateful in the face of the current events in the world. Right now one of the largest human migrations in history is happening as people flee Syria for safety in Europe. The magnitude of this event continues to stagger me. In every parent’s face I see desperation and fear and their hope to bring their little ones out of a nightmare and reclaim a home and normalcy.

I am so fortunate. I do not know the panic of taking what I can from a destroyed home and bundling my children into a rocky boat for a harrowing ride to a place where we could be turned away by border guards or unsympathetic people. I cannot imagine hiding with my little ones in some flimsy shelter as scud missiles destroy our neighborhood. I can watch from afar as children are arrested and jailed for throwing stones or just for being the wrong religion or ethnic group. I can sip my glass of wine as I watch the images of displaced families trying to find a home.

The problems I have faced I consider first world problems. What time is dance practice? Can I make the music recital? What should we have for dinner? Do I have to go to the grocery store again even though this grocery store is filled to the roof with goods and food and choices beyond any imagining? I can take for granted that there is a full grocery store, or a gas station to refill my car or electricity and heat in my home.

I’m not suggesting that anyone has an easy life. Everyone I know has suffered tragedy, heartbreak, sadness and despair. My little family has dealt with the devastating fear of a life threatening childhood diagnosis and months of hospitals and medicines and sleepless nights. But we have had access to world-class hospitals; Harvard trained doctors, cutting edge medications and were blessed with health and survival.

The parents we see running through the fields and along the train tracks are not so lucky.

What do we teach our children about the trouble of the world and how they can help? How do you not make them feel guilty for their great blessings but rather have them see that they have the power to make a change? I believe the truth to be by our example only. Compassion cannot be taught with words. Righteous anger at human injustices cannot be learned from a book.

Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

In this age of great connections through technology it is possible to assume I can understand the pain those fleeing parents feel. But I truly cannot. I just try to keep courage and compassion in my own heart and hope that the rippling effects of those emotions can somehow reach them. And then look to my own neighborhood to see where I can help.

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom — Chapter 10

Standard

It is every parent‘s dream that their child have a successful, fulfilling life in their career and relationships. As much as we want our children to follow their hearts, it is hard not to advise them to be “practical” so they can make a living wage and ideally not live at home any more. We want them to be happy as long as they can pay their own bills.

It was always a joy to see what our children had an interest in and we did our best to foster it. My son had an avid interest in the bones of dinosaurs and people alike. He studied ancient Egypt and loved museum visits when mummies were there to observe. He loved any toy that allowed him to painstakingly uncover a fossil or build a city out of Legos. He loved puzzles and mysteries. He loved scary books and movies. All of this convinced me that he would have a career in archeology, studying the ruins of ancient civilizations or research of some sort. And then he discovered that he had a love for music.

He started on piano at age 7 and became very proficient very quickly. When he participated in an Arts contest at his school district, the song he composed was so advanced, his music teacher had to write the actual notations because he wasn’t there yet. By 5th grade he discovered the trumpet and that became his instrument of choice for his high school years and into college. Then he taught himself the electric guitar. His love and knowledge of music grew. Jazz, reggae and alternative rock all had the same draw for him. As he grew more skillful he could easily switch from his jazz mode to his psychobilly rock mode in a matter of minutes. We loved that he had this amazing talent. But could he make a living at it?

As much as he loved music I think he had his own doubts as well. He went to college with no clear career path but continued with music there as much as he could. We realized that perhaps he wanted our blessing to say it was okay to follow what you felt in yourself no matter what. I myself had tried to follow my creative heart and went to LA to break into film and television. Although I had some success, it was not enough to sustain me and I left it for other pursuits. Yet I have never regretted that I followed my heart and spent those younger years living the dream. Could I ask anything less for them?

It’s an unfortunate truth that the creative life is not always the most sustainable one. Many of my actor and musician friends have had to work other jobs just so they can continue their creative endeavors. They have been told since youth to have a “backup” plan. Yet they continue to act, write and play music whenever they can because that’s where they are most alive.

In the end we gave our full blessing and support to our son to follow his heart. Youth is the time to stumble and fall and also the time to rise up and get to know who you are. He did finish college with a degree that included music. Since then his path has been a varied musical one. If it is not performance, it is education. He is following his heart. And guess what? He is earning a living wage, paying his own way, living the dream. He has that successful, fulfilling life that we had dreamed for him.

I have found as parents we fear for our children so much that we do everything we can to shield them from hurt or pain. We do things for them instead of teaching them to do for themselves. We inadvertently lower the bar and give them the message that they are not competent. We don’t want them to make our mistakes. We do them a great disservice without realizing the damage we are causing. Life is experiencing pain and suffering and joy and fulfillment and yes, following your own heart.

Kahlil Gibran wrote that children “come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.” It was hard to let go of that little hand. But if we had not, we would have never heard the music that has come from it