Tag Archives: parenting

A Thousand Cranes

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Photo by jwskks5786 via Pixabay

My son and daughter-in-law have just returned from their honeymoon in Japan. In their account of their amazing and extensive travels, they told me about the Children’s Peace Monument at ground zero in Hiroshima and the young girl who inspired it. Suddenly familiar memories came flooding back. In the early 80’s I was enthralled with a fusion jazz band aptly named Hiroshima. They sang a song about a thousand cranes based on the true account of a young girl named Sadako Sasaki who survived the initial bombing of Hiroshima only to sicken and die from radiation induced leukemia seven years later. Sadako believed the ancient adage that if she could fold a thousand paper cranes she would be healed. Although she was unable to finish the thousand cranes, her friends and family continued her work and spawned a global peace movement.

When 9/11 happened I remember vividly sitting down at the dinner table that night, saying a prayer for the victims and crying. My children were 9 and 13 at the time and needless to say there was a lot of confusion and worry about what was happening and could something like that happen to them. There were many conversations in the days that followed about fear, death, mortality and living your life as you choose despite the fear or the terrorists would win. Since that life changing day, I have burned candles daily with that same fervent and innocent faith of Sadako Sasaki that my prayer for peace and safety would be answered.

Sadly, devastating bombings have continued since that fateful day in August of 1945, one just last week in Manchester, England. Today in Kabul. Yesterday in Baghdad. Paris, Cairo, Brussels. No place is immune. Sadly children are once again victims. Our human sorrow seems to be never-ending. We are at the mercy of those who believe in a cruel and evil god. It is not the god of people who love their children and families and work hard to build a life together. This god has no faith. This god has no religion. This god has no heart.

If I could fold a thousand cranes to fly into this evil and sweep it away with the power of two thousand wings, I would do it even if I grew too old and my hands too stiff to fold. I will never stop fighting for a safe world for my children to live freely and love openly and raise their own children and build a happy life.

20170525_203049In an account following the A-bomb drop on Hiroshima, the crew of the Enola Gay, the plane that carried that devastation, recall being caught in the shockwave of the explosion that rocked the plane and knocked them off their feet. They looked back over their shoulders to see that huge white mushroom cloud unfold. They understood what they had done but could not imagine the extent of the horror their mission wrought. The irony is not lost on me. Drop a bomb to stop a war. Adults start wars but it’s always the children who suffer for those sins.

I think of today’s suicide bombers who detonate themselves and forfeit the chance to look back over their shoulders and struggle with what they have done. Instead I believe they come face to face with their evil god and only then realize the magnitude of their mistake.

In the helplessness of yet another tragedy, I steadfastly light my candles every evening and offer up a prayer for peace on earth. For harmony even among differing beliefs and for the chance for all children to grow and realize their potential. For the safety of my children. For the safety of all children, young and old. For the hope that the power of the peaceful will eventually override the power of hate. That we will finally achieve that nirvana here on earth. Peace.

Transitions

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Tree of Change by Kimberly Vohnsen

It is said that the only constant in life is change. The world turns and us with it. We all change roles and jobs and sometimes partners. I never realized my life would spin so fast when often it felt as though time moved so slow. But these days there are moments when the world swerves so rapidly I feel I must grab onto the nearest proverbial light pole even as I wonder who that older woman is reflected in that storefront window. It doesn’t seem fair that the moment I begin to truly appreciate something in life, time snatches it away to make it suddenly a thing of the past.

Transitions are never clearer than in the faces of our loved ones. My children’s baby faces have morphed into the faces of young adults that sometimes cause me to double take. I can still see them in there, those beloved cherub cheeks and laughing eyes. But their expressions are those of older, wiser beings. On the other end, our elders are slowly leaving us and I realize I am becoming one of the next generation of elders. How can I still feel so young when all of the signs tell me otherwise? I color the white from my hair every eight weeks because I don’t recognize that emerging face under the fading hairline. I am certain that vanity is only a small part of that but perhaps I am just denying that face in the mirror. It’s not right to try to stop time but then I do not always see it that way. I see it as me aging on my terms. Other times I feel as old as the hills, dragged down by my own worry or guilt or just plain fatigue.

Still as I glance over my shoulder I sometimes wonder who that tall handsome young man is about to marry his long time sweetheart or that beautiful young woman navigating love and life in this brave and scary new world. They can’t be mine. I am far too young. They are far too old. I have not fully accepted that this transition and the hundreds of other transitions before this have occurred but there is no disputing the evidence.

Yet transitions are good too, they can be very good. They can spin one from a scary, stressful life situation to a calmer one and thank goodness for that. Like changing horses on a Ferris wheel, the ride can be bumpy or smooth. And here is the beauty of life’s transitions. For better or worse and despite of or in spite of all of my life’s transitions, I am still alive. I have been gifted with two children, a boy and a girl, a man and a woman. Two I can teach and two I can learn from. Two I can love and two I can fear for. But I am not ready. I’m not ready for this life transition. They cannot be gone from my cozy, safe nest so soon. But that is how change happens. Constantly. Dispassionately. Relentlessly. Sometimes I struggle to keep up.

In what felt like a blink of an eye, I was pregnant, I gave birth, I was a young mother, I was an older mother, sometimes a good mother and sometimes a not so good one. Then it was time to send them out into the world. Now I need to look to myself as they look forward into their own lives. That’s a transition too. When I was a childless young woman I only thought about myself and my needs and then for the past three decades I thought about my children’s needs. The world turns again. The human experience is a thorny and wondrous thing. How did I get to this place? That journey is a reflection for another day.

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Passage Through Time by Gerd Paulsen

For now I gaze at the Pacific sky, at the fast moving clouds that blink with brilliant moments of sun illuminating the spring awakening. Another transition. I wash my glass until the red wine stain is gone but like all residue, it leaves a shadow.  Our past leaves the residue of all of our experiences as well, our thoughts and deeds, our actions. Our sins.

I can mourn these transitions or I can celebrate them. I can dance to the music of transitions; David Bowie’s “Changes”, Al Stewart’s “Time Passages” and I can toast them with my residue stained red wine glass. But secretly I am still coming to terms with all of them. I am grateful for all the moments with my children I have been gifted with and I will try to let go of that little kernel of sadness and loss lodged next to my heart as I move forward. Perhaps the next transition will take care of that.

Confessions of a Baby Boomer Mom – Connections

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strike-51212__340What did we do before social media? Well I know what we did, of course and what we didn’t do. We didn’t know our friends and acquaintances every move, thought, or action punctuated by a thumbs up or a heart emoji. We never saw thousands of photos capturing life in real time, sharing public and private moments that our friend circle and beyond have shared and shared and shared yet again. Snapchats and Instagram exposes life in instant time. And yet the great irony is that with all of this isolating technology, we do feel connected.

I do know what we did back then although I cringe to hear myself refer to the past as if I were withered with age. Life was just a bit quieter and moved at a slower pace although that just seems so in hindsight. At the time, I felt like life was fast. But one could wait for days or weeks for a phone call from a friend. We took so much on faith. No news was good news so our loved ones were fine. And then we had so much to tell each other once we did connect. We spent hours over dinner and drinks talking face to face, catching up on each other’s lives.

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Fractal 19 by Florin Florea

As much as one of my major pet peeves is the practice of staring at one’s cell phone at the same time someone is sitting across from them, waiting for their attention, I must confess I love social media. And it is mostly because I have been allowed to glimpse into my children’s and friends and family’s lives without having to waiting for the phone to ring. Social media lets me see things they like without them having to tell me. I can see what they are passionate about or angry about or events they might attend and even hear their voice in the world as they express their views. Social media is a helicopter parent’s dream!

But as with all seemingly magical gifts, there is a downside. There is a certain level of voyeurism in social media. Friends, family and acquaintances “friend” you and allow you to peek into their lives for better or for worse. Conversely they can peek into yours. It is up to me what I put out into the social media but sometimes more can be exposed then I might want it to be. What need does being a presence on social media fulfill for me? I find it ironic that I feel connection with the most disconnected medium there is.

This is truly a brave new world. We open ourselves up to others in ways never seen before. Sometimes our lives get opened up without our consent. Hacking is a sport, it seems. The goal is to see who can score the biggest revelation about a person or an organization or even a government. Conversely a person can hide who they truly are behind an attractive persona. They can reinvent themselves, be someone completely new. We could all live in an alternative universe with alternative facts. The truth can hide behind the many facades of social media or it can become something entirely different. That certainly seems to be the reality that we find ourselves in now. The irony. How ironic. How I love that word.

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Social Connection by Appanna

But going back to my original question: how did we get along without social media? I can’t even say because we have now lived so long with it.  Social media allows a person to follow another person into places they may not have realized. I am happy to see glimpses of my children as they move through life. A Snap here, an Instagram there. A book that has a face, complete with eyes and ears and a loud loud voice.  A post with a photo worth a thousand words. A Tweet that can uplift or shred a person in just 140 characters.

It’s odd to have an online presence. I can actually Google myself. Social media has allowed me to be a writer. It allows my writing to reach readers from around the globe. I love checking my WordPress analytics to see in which country today’s readers reside. What is more social than having your thoughts and words, your story reach someone thousands of miles away. It is a small world indeed. I relish being able to watch my nieces and nephews and siblings and friends and my children fumble and navigate their way through life.
Yet I must I confess this both excites me and scares the heck out of me. We all open ourselves up in a way that is both brave and reckless. Yet that is the world today and we must keep pace. Which brings me, as always, back to my children. How I love this tenuous thread that keeps us connected. I can still keep them close as I let them go. The irony of that is not lost on me. But I don’t care. I will selfishly and joyfully keep whatever connection to them they  will allow me to. It’s not the only connection and it is most certainly not the most important one. But it is one I am grateful for.