Archive for December, 2011

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

Moving

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

Walking

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)