Hello, Again

December 21, 2011

Being the winter’s solstice, it seems a propitious day to offer up my “good-enough” parenting book, Privilege of Parenting, and to unveil my new blog home with much thanks to Sarah Fite (and for the book cover design as well).

One of my favorite psychologists, D.W. Winnicott, coined the term “good-enough mother,” intuitively arguing against the possibility, or efficacy, of perfection in parenting—assuring us that “good-enough” will help kids grow and thrive just fine.  This is probably true for all of life, the value of the middle path—trying our best for excellence, but not perfection.

While I wish I could offer up a better book, a magical book that could mean all things to all people and magically transform parenting into song and dance and sugar the way Mary Poppins rolls, I hope my book shall suffice to serve as a “hello” to anyone who sincerely wants to talk about parenting and work together for the good of all our collective children.

I also wish the book were shorter, but I simply couldn’t find the time to make it any more concise.

So, in a spirit of love and gratitude, I wish all who come across these words good cheer, encouragement through dark nights of the soul and fellowship in neurosis—in the service of all our kids.  If it takes a village, let’s be the village people.

Namaste, BD


December 14, 2011

“No!” My mom shouted at the cat, which promptly ran into the house through the open door.

It was a fraught morning, the moving guys ready to roll, the house empty after 50 years of life there.

It was not our cat; grey and white; lovely, really.  We had never had a cat.

My brother and I had spent the day before and late into the night boxing up and tossing out, giving away and sorting out.  The last box we’d found contained the last of my old papers.  I hadn’t lived in this house since 1978.  Circa 1975, apparently, I was writing short fiction about suicide.  Nice.  That short story was right next to my summer camp photo book and a picture book about Dachau.  Nice.  Late at night, on the last night of anything, things can get a little wonky.

My earliest memory is a view of arching trees on the windshield of the moving truck that took us to the house my mom was now leaving.  Those grand Dutch Elms had long ago fallen to disease.  I never much liked my childhood house, but I loved those trees, the scream of summer cicadas, the gold-green light dappled below the leafy tunnel and was heartbroken when the Village of Lincolnwood chain-sawed them all down.

I followed the grey and white cat through my childhood house.  It went to my childhood bedroom, empty but for paw-prints of furniture embedded in the carpet.  I followed the cat to my parents’ bedroom, the gold shag carpet sad, worn out.

I followed the cat and imagined that it was a spirit, gathering spirit and releasing ghosts, completing a long chapter that was now closing.  I followed the cat back out the front door and down the walk, myself walking out for the last time from my childhood house.  The cat lay on its back for a moment in the morning sun on a cold, clear Chicago December Friday, and then it sauntered off down the sidewalk, heading east, completing something for me, with me—free spirits.

I led the way at the wheel of my sister-in-law’s 4×4, heading east, with the moving truck behind me.  The re-grown trees arched in the windshield behind me.  We had pulled up from the west, all those years ago, and now we pulled away to the east.

Transition is hard, but my mom is happy in her new place.  And I’m happy for her.

Namaste, BD


December 7, 2011

Andy and I are walking up Fryman canyon.  It’s a splendid morning, the mountains are clearly wrinkled across the verdant valley, echoing our own slowly aging faces.  This is Sunday in the park sans George in my LA circa 2011.

“This is a perfect moment,” I say, stopping to appreciate the view.  “Our kids haven’t yet left and my parents are still alive, I’m halfway up this hill with you…”

“It is a perfect moment,” she says as we walk on together.  I grow a tiny bit sad, “But it’s not your perfect moment—your parents have already passed and…”

“For me, every moment is a perfect moment,” Andy says, simply.  I take this in.

“Then you’re happy and this truly is a perfect moment.  And I’ve nothing to say.”

(except, perhaps, Namaste)


November 30, 2011

“It’s a very simple machine.  I feel very connected to what’s going on.”

Will says this as we’re riding together on a crystalline Sunday as the clock arcs to noon and then crests it as we race like mad on the straightaway home.

Fixed gear bikes, or “fixies” are really a throwback to the first bikes—your feet do not coast but must continually turn as the gears do.  You can also pedal backward—and go backward (if you are skilled enough to not simply crash), and in this way a fixie echoes the very concept of time, at least as cutting edge scientists are now suggesting—as likely to work in reverse as forward… ultimately existing only as a way by which we experience ourselves, but in no ultimate sense real, fixed, sequential or causal:  it’s just one big eternal now, even if that blows us out of the matrix of our socially and neurologically constructed “reality.”

But I’m not here to hate on time.  Bob Dylan suggests that time is a jet plane, and it moves too fast.  Sometimes in parenting this is true, but sometimes time’s a slug and it moves too slow.  Maybe time’s a fixie and goes either way, or maybe a fixie’s just a fixie and a nice bike ride is an eternal pleasure, at least on a stunning fall day as golden red leaves tumble whimsically out of blue and branch.

Thus as we strive beyond ill-timed notions of immortality altogether and trade up toward an eternal to be found perpetually, in all directions, in all situations, in all beings and non-beings—again and again our children, the present moment and love, in all its manifestations, prove to be timelessly pulsing teachers of what it’s all about.


Native Spirit

November 23, 2011

What do the feathers of the fallen say?

On a branded monetized sanitized unoccupied day?

Due to the nature of entanglement, we’re best offering Thanks for this moment.

We’ve been every sort of bad and every sort of good, we’re the violence and we’re the hood.

The sacred and profane, they kinda get together, but in the light of day there’s an inclement “whether?”

So we run run away, yet there’s a luminescent tether…

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Maybe it’s all about love

November 16, 2011

“What are you, Johnny Appleseed?” Peter said, with what felt like mocking contempt.  He was teaching me to be a psychologist, a certain kind of psychologist.

Navy blazer, grey slacks, leather chairs, the austerity of analytic psychology itself a gardened hedge against the chaos of badly wounded psyches and the mayhem of human behavior.

Who am I to plant seeds?  And besides, perhaps it’s the tree itself, and not the snake much less God 2.0, that has played us:  “Hey kids, whatever you do, do not eat that fruit.”  It’s not only bears that shit in the forest.  Really love your peaches, but your tree shakes me.

It was a woman’s hundredth birthday party when I saw Peter in a lovely, albeit cool and drizzly, garden.  Over twenty years his blue eyes had grown soft and his graying beard was soft too.  His leather jacket was soft and his velvet handshake as good as a hug.  Looking into my eyes he said, about therapy, but probably about everything:  “It’s all about love.”

We have a little time

November 9, 2011

“We have a little time,” said my son, sitting at the kitchen island, alert by an extra hour “saved” by changing the clocks around.

So we talked about fear, about movies and about how things that we know are not “real” scare us nonetheless.  I tried to explain the brain, our mythos, our culture of fear, but only because I love my boy.  Yet we all love all the world, don’t we?

It was time to go, so we continued to talk in the car.  He said, “I’m not scared when I’m not alone.”

In and out of the Way of Parenting

November 2, 2011

We have no clue what mysterious force conceived our collective child.

She lands upon the steps before any church or temple has sprouted from stone, before God is even conceived by humans

Can we allow parenting to wind-sweep and wave-wash us until we’re sea-glass—smooth and soft and of great value only to children who are young enough to see the subtle heart of spirit in all things?

Tao Te Ching (well… sort of, I made it up—but was inspired by other translations)

The Tao Te Ching has been translated many times and in many different ways.  The legend of the text holds that 2600 years ago Lao Tzu (which means something like “old sage” or “old baby”) wrote down his wisdom shortly before his disgust with the chaos and disorder of his civilization compelled him to get out of Dodge and head for the mountains.

While I would highly recommend reading the Tao Te Ching as an inspiring text to help with parenting and with cultivating a tranquil and loving approach to the challenges of life, I’m personally striving to work my way to live the wisdom of Tao and that means less words and more stillness and non-action (albeit in the service of Love and compassion for all our collective children and our world).

Thus a little poetry here, a little cooking there, a walk to coffee, pick-up and drop off, pay bills and earn money, sleep and dream and meditate on the dreams… read the writings of my fellows, share my words, try to listen more, and more deeply, striving to hear the subtle spirit in the music all around us.

I hope this wasn’t too dreary or obscure to read today; I wish my words will bring just a little bit of extra peace to your heart, an enlivening of the feeling of abundance and trust in our shared world and our shared experience, a vivification of love and softness and surrender, a quickening of that noble parenting warrior who knows how to be tough and so can be gentle without thinking himself or herself weak.

Namaste, BD

Don’t Sniff Don’t Smell: When Kids Hate On Parents

October 26, 2011

How might thinking about Gaddafi’s lurid death help us to be better parents?

Collective rage and murder wrought upon a crazed dictator pulled from a sewage drain wearing gold pants and packing a solid gold gun, while bizarre on the one hand, also illustrates an important dynamic in human consciousness:  idealization and devaluation.

Whether plotting a coup or parenting a toddler or a teen, the relationship between idealization and devaluation is infallible:  idealization masks secret devaluation; devaluation masks secret idealization.

Teens, for example, often exhibit know-it-all contempt and pseudo-independence (if they are safe enough to swagger), but they eventually tame it down and transition from rebel-with-an-allowance to worker bee in the collective hive, that is if we have a hive worth working for.

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Occupy Parenting and We Occupy the World

October 19, 2011

As a parent and as a person in the world I’m very excited about the Occupy Wall Street (and Boston, Chicago, LA, London, Paris, etc.) phenomenon precisely because it has no clear agenda.  It is the perfect foil and counterpoint to the double-speak and confusion that has wrecked our collective global culture and left it ripe for transformation.

Of course many will swoop in to try and brand, co-opt, and “lead,” this zeitgeist of occupying, however, the brilliance of the “movement” is that instead of theory-driven, charismatic leadership, it is self-organizing and organically arising.

While the flower-powered protests in the 60’s ended the Vietnam war, they did not usher in the Age of Aquarius.  Perhaps a new paradigm of “occupying,” of simply existing and mattering is what’s happening here, even if what “it” is ain’t exactly clear.

Occupying is a radical transformation of the old order that is so amorphous, and thus so impossible to effectively oppose, that it does not affect social change, it IS social change.

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