Friday, June 4, 2010


I am not an expert on daughters. But I can't remember the last time "not being an expert" kept me from sharing my opinion!

Yesterday Clarke says to me, "I don't want to have daughters, I want to have sons." I did not tell her that was once my wish too. I told her that having a daughter is awesome. And she said, "girls are too hard, boys are easy."

Oh yes, my dear daughter! From your lips to God's ears...

I said, "Boys are easier, but girls are better because girls are yours forever. You will carry them in your heart."

And the truth is that I carry all of my children in my heart, but there is something special? unique? different? ineffable (for sure) about being a girl and being a mom to a girl. For example: ee cummings. He wrote this poem (he wasn't big on titles, spaces, nor capital letters):

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-ee cummings

This is how I feel about my daughter. (And yes, I know this was not written to, for or about a daughter.)

Sometimes, in my mom's heart, all I want to do is sit on the couch and pull my babies on to my lap and hold them. And they are all much taller than I am, and there legs would splay, and it would be uncomfortable, and I wouldn't be able to hold them for long because my legs would fall asleep. But I follow that daydream/heart dream all the way to the end. And I am holding them on my lap and snuggling in their hair and stroking their cheeps and loving them with my whole soul.

I am holding you, Jason.

I am holding you, Clarke.

I am holding you, Brandon.

I am holding you now.

Wall Street Journal Article: Families With a Missing Piece

Todd left this article on my dresser yesterday. I had such a powerful reaction to it. So, I went online to print it out for teachers at our school and found a comment section. You know me and my propensity for sharing an opinion--so I did. This is what I wrote on the WSJ website, and when I look at it I see that it is longer than the other comments and more like an independent article. I'll be removing it in a few minutes (once Todd tells me it is inappropriate--notice I can't decide to self-edit, but will let him do it for me!) Anyway, I spent some time and thought on this, so here's the comment from the WSJ website:

My mother was killed in a car accident when I was 11 months old. Throughout my life, which included a stepmother by the time I was 2 years old, I have felt like the "only one." My father and step-mother had seven blonde and blue-eyed children and I, with my brown eyes, managed to feel even more isolated in a room full of people.

When I read this article, I was shocked at how the tears flowed. I felt understood and even "normal" given the circumstances. Because the article focused on individuals who lost both parents (vs. one), and on those who experienced loss around the age of 13, I still feel a little too unique. Even with the permission that the article granted me I could hear the voice that has been telling me for the last four decades, "you never even knew her, why do you mourn her?"

It was poignant to see the photos of families with their missing piece, or of parents with children and so much love on their faces. I have only one photo of my mother, father, and me, and it is formal. However, I am so thankful that my young mother wrote a journal article about my birth...her last entry. Many of her possessions were redistributed by step-mother, but this journal remains in my possession.

My 20-year old daughter happened to be home and still in bed (!) at 7:30am when I finished the article. I had such an overwhelming urge to run into her room, climb into her bed and hold her. And that's just what I did. I cried, I mourned, I whined, I let it all out, and while I had intended to follow the article's advice and cherish my sweet child, instead I was held by her. I have been cared for by so many women in my life that I began espousing the idea put forth by P.D. Eastman in his book, Are You My Mother. I have made a practice of learning a little something about living, learning, mothering, being a girl, and more, from every woman with whom I've ever interacted--including my own daughter. Still, I have felt a profound emptiness at not having a mother to call my own.

This article opened a door in my heart. It held up a mirror to behaviors I've engaged in, such as planning not to have children until after I'd lived past the age my mother was when she died (24). I gasped with grief when I read these lines: " Kids who get through by being stoic and behaving like adults often 'pay a fierce price—namely their childhoods,' says Ms. Hughes. They focus on trying to keep their surviving parent happy or on stepping up to handle the responsibilities of their deceased parent. "

As an educator I am aware of a handful of children at our school who have lost parents in the last few years. I look at these children and they seem happy, normal, playful, one boy returning to school within the week of his father's death. I am recommending this article to our staff so that we can better understand and support children with this kind of loss.

This article helped me to understand that my feelings of deep loss and loneliness are legitimate! More importantly it opened my eyes to the notion that I may be uniquely qualified to add my voice and volunteer my time to help grieving children feel less alone. I am looking forward to the release of the data and findings. Thank you WSJ, New York Life Foundation and Comfort Zone Camp.