Showing posts with label husband. Show all posts
Showing posts with label husband. Show all posts

Friday, November 27, 2015

begin again

Over the course of the last two-and-half years, I've talked a lot about inhabiting the liminal space between end and beginning, and recently a beautiful drawing captured this so well:

I can hardly believe I'm putting a Mitch Albom quote on this blog,
but I couldn't resist the artwork by Mike Medaglia at

The King James translation of Psalm 90 tells us that the alotted time of a human life is threescore years and ten. I feel like in half that time, I have lived an entire life.

My thirty-six years have arguably checked all the major boxes: childhood, youth, college, marriage, homeownership, babies, graduate school, widowhood. I have loved and birthed and buried and mourned.

The vision that I had for what my threescore and ten would look like died with Adam. That was a frightening, almost paralyzing, realization.

But as I learned to make my way through the dark wilderness, I realized that it was also liberating.

I get to choose a new life.

I get to make all the decisions of early adulthood over again: Where do I want to live? City or country? What kind of partner do I want? Do I even want a partner?  Do I want more children? Do I want to stay in academia? Is it the right place for me? Is it the best way to support my family? What other job would feed my soul?

I can choose differently than the last time I answered those questions. I get to reimagine the second half of my threescore and ten.

Some of those decisions are still under consideration; others have been made; some of the latter may yet change.

Selling Rambling Farmhouse and Rustic Lakehouse and moving several hundred miles to Lovely Apartment felt like the beginning of beginning. Having said good-bye to our cat Jack feels like the end of ending, the end of the season of leave-taking that began with #1 Cat's death just a month before Adam's. Although I know that there will always be periods of loss and grief in my life as long as there is love, at the moment, the light of hope is gaining on the darkness.

This is a good place to be at the beginning of Advent.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


For hours after my husband died, the phone just kept ringing. People were returning my, "Hi, this is Kate. Please call me as soon as you can," messages. Each call meant I had to darken someone else's day with my terrible news, and each of these conversations made the horror more real.

In the quiet of the evening, a different kind of call came. Mark had heard the news already and, having processed his shock, called to sit with me. In addition to the tragedy of the day, we talked about normal everyday things, and this was a conversation that reminded me I was still alive.

Then came the best call of the day. When the voice on the phone said she was calling from Gift of Life Michigan's organ and tissue donation program, I said, "I'm so happy you called!" I think she was a little surprised to hear the word 'happy.'

I had known that Adam wanted to be an organ donor. However, that paperwork usually happens in the hospital. I never went to the hospital, and I didn't think to mention it to the police officers who came to the house. By the time Gift of Life called, organ donation was no longer a possibility, but I gave permission to harvest whatever tissues they could. This conversation was a reminder that even death contributes to life.

The woman who called me was the epitome of compassion, but it was still a difficult conversation. It was not easy to give permission for the body of my husband to be cut apart when a part of me wanted to jealously guard all that was left. It was not easy to talk through a medical history that carried with it so many memories.

I did it anyway because I know that donation saves and enriches lives. My uncle lived more than ten years with a second heart. A friend lives today thanks to a live donor's bone marrow. Somewhere there are people whose lives are better for Adam's donation. One young woman wrote me a letter to say that her new knee means that she can ride again.

I'm telling you about this now because Adam was included in Gift of Life Michigan's donor honors ceremony this year. We could not attend, but they sent this:

So many donors. 

So many young donors.

So much new life. 

It's gut wrenching and beautiful.

I hope you'll consider being a donor, too. 

Mark your driver's license, tell your family, swab your cheek. Save a life.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


The way we Americans talk about the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) makes them seem like a linear process, but the experience of grief is anything but direct. Labyrinthine would be a better word, perhaps. Recursive is also not inappropriate.

For most of the last year, I've just been sad. Not really depressed, not bargaining, not in denial, just sad.

Lately, though, I'm angry.

I'm angry at Adam.

I hate all the tasks that are suddenly my job.

I'm frustrated by the estate process.

I resent my continued responsibility for Adam's things when he is no longer here to be my partner.

Adam's forgetfulness and his disorganization, the things that always drove me crazy, are still problems, but his wisdom and helpfulness no longer mitigate them.

This last year, for the first time, I felt like my marriage had compromised my career, and I'm not even married anymore.

I'm angry that he left me. He reneged on our deal.

I know that Adam's death was an accident, and that he didn't leave me by choice. Really, I do. But grief is not rational. Logic is not operative in this wilderness, and, in truth, there are far worse targets for my anger than someone who is not here to feel it.

 I get to be angry.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

a glimpse of remembrance

Your favorite film, your favorite cake, your favorite way to eat lemon sorbet.

Happy birthday, my love. Godspeed.

Friday, March 28, 2014

flannel hope

It was Monday in Chicago in July, and I had a terrible headache. I had just picked Jill up from Midway, and we were at Costco shopping for the food we would be cooking for my sister's wedding that weekend. I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at a display of flannel sheets. (cream with red snowflakes, they were cute)

me: Jill, I can have all the flannel sheets I want!
Jill: Kate?
me: Adam always complained when I put flannel sheets on the bed. He said they were like sleeping in Velcro. But he's not here to complain anymore, so I can have them all winter long. I love flannel sheets!
Jill: Silver lining! Are we buying some?
me: Um, no. Who buys flannel sheets in July? Let's go find the pork loin.

I've described marriage before as balancing on a tightrope in tandem, but I think it's also like trying to fit two people into a space that's very snug. Over time,  each spouse learns to wiggle and bend to make room for the other's knees and elbows. The rather surreal conversation above was the moment when I began to understand that I didn't have to bend to accommodate Adam's preferences anymore.

In the days following that conversation, my crazy family embraced more such realizations with me. Melissa bought me a fuzzy steering wheel cover, because I don't think having one compromises my control of the vehicle. Gwen and Sean gave me a silver owl, which I hung from the mirror in my car, because it doesn't actually compromise visibility, and I'm not worried about a ticket. Jill, Kathy, Tony, and my mom went a little crazy in the lighting section of the d.i.y. store, and the ceiling fixtures at Rambling Farmhouse now sport a variety of interesting and decorative chain pulls, because I should be able to turn fans and lights on and off without a step-stool in my own home, and I am short enough to walk under them, and not matching is its own beauty.

In truth, these objects are all kind of silly, and none of them were things that I had regretting giving up in service to marital harmony. After all, Adam had bent to accommodate my preferences, too, and you can bet that, were the tables turned, there would be towels on his bedroom floor, and he would be frying fish and chips in the kitchen, in bacon grease, without turning on the exhaust fan.

Suddenly finding myself alone on the tightrope was terrifying in part because I had gotten so used to sharing it with someone else, so accustomed to being attentive to and adjusting for my partner's movements. Bringing these silly objects into my life was a first step toward realizing that I could balance on my own again.

These small realizations led to bigger ones. I can look for a job anywhere, and then I can move wherever I find something. I don't have to own and care for land if I don't want to.

I get a second chance to decide what my life looks like.

The awful tragedy that ended the first amazing life I had built together with Adam does not diminish the possibility of a second beautiful life yet to be built.

I choose not to wallow.

I choose to hope.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

things I miss

There are things that I miss that are about Adam as an individual. I miss the expressiveness of his face. I miss the way he smelled, like Old Spice, engine oil, and sawdust. I miss the way he would scoot closer to me in the pew after the kids had left for Sunday school. I miss his culinary adventures, unpredictable as they were. I miss his laugh.

I missed Adam truly madly deeply on Christmas Eve when we stood in the darkened sanctuary holding candles and singing "Silent Night" because it was one of the few songs he knew well enough to sing with his whole voice.

There are other things that I miss not about Adam himself but about the role he played in my life. I miss having someone to share the duties of cooking and tidying. I miss having a co-parent. I miss having a sounding board and being someone's sounding board. I miss arguing and disagreeing and convincing and agreeing to disagree and then drinking wine.

I miss having that one person who has committed himself to always being there when I need him and who can demand the same commitment from me.

I miss the warmth of another person who is just here.

I miss having a partner.

Even my tribe of wonderful friends, who each take up a bit of the slack, can not fill this void.

Friday, September 6, 2013

first days back

The girls were so excited to go back to school this week. "I can't wait for school to start!" Anna especially had been bouncing off the walls the entire week before in anticipation. "Mama, did we buy everything on the list? Oh, no! I need pecil-top erasers!"

They are not attending the same school as they had been for the last three years. Since we're back at Rambling Farmhouse, they are back in the district where they attended kindergarten (both of them) and first grade (Anna). Although they hadn't been here for four years, each of them has found a couple of kids whom they knew before, and the space is comfortingly familiar. I've told the teachers and administrators about Adam's death but asked them not to share this information with the other students and parents, so for the first time in two months, the girls can feel like just normal kids.

As their excitement built, so did my trepidation. I had promised myself that when the kids went back to school, I would get back to work on my research, and my best frolleague Erin had agreed to start checking in with me after Labor Day. In the last week of August, I tidied my physical and virtual desktops, excavated pertinent books from boxes, and made lists of things to do. I felt ready, but at the same time intimidated by my own work.

On Tuesday when I sat in front of the computer, each step toward getting started needed to be followed by a break: Locate file. Knit two rows. Open file. Hang the laundry on the line outside. Read first page. Make more tea. Wednesday was better. I made actual progress on a project with an upcoming deadline, made some notes about what to do next, and set it on the back burner to percolate. Thursday started off well. I was reading for a different project, and I was seeing connections between this reading and other sources I've looked at. It felt good, like my brain was starting to work again.

After lunch, though, I had my e-mail open because I was working on correspondence and up popped an e-mail from the county prosecutor's office asking to meet with me.* My momentum ground to a halt as a solid ball of tension formed behind my sternum. I am not doing as well as I thought, I thought. Scheduling the meeting took about fifteen minutes of e-mailing with the secretary and a friend who will go with me.

I closed up the book I had been reading and walked away from the desk, knowing that I would not accomplish any more research that day. With another cup of tea and my knitting, I retreated to the armchair hoping to calm down. Eventually I did, and I was able to accomplish some of the house things on my list for this week, so the afternoon was not a total loss. And in the evening, I made brownies.

While I recognize that my emotional and physical response to the prosecutor's message yesterday was reasonable, it was far from convenient, and it came close to ruining my day. The other people in this complex situation have incredible power to ambush me and demand my attention. And that is so very frustrating.

I'd been thinking about this post all week, but the draft in my head was quite different from this. This week has been a lesson in living the wilderness between end and beginning.

*They want to discuss the charges they plan to file against the teenage driver in Adam's case. I'm to write down my questions and bring them. That's all I know for now, so please don't ask me anything. I'll tell you more when I can.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


I'm still wearing black, but I'm not wearing this:
I could give you lots of reasons.

It's heavy. 
It doesn't fit very well anymore.
Adam rarely wore his.
It's not really the embodiment of the vision I took to the jeweler who made it.

If I'm being honest, though, the real reason is that I just don't feel married. Sitting at dinner with friends the other night, I looked at my own hand and thought, Why are you still wearing that?!?

I've never believed in the family-reunion-up-in-the-clouds vision of the afterlife that is so prevalent in American culture, so I don't believe that Adam is 'looking down on us' or that his soul continues to have agency in my life. It is through our stories and our memories that the dead are present in the lives of the living, but that is our agency, not theirs.

So, I'll just put this over here.

I don't particularly feel single either. This is that wilderness between end and beginning.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

unusual grief

I don't think of myself as a maverick, but I've come to recognize that I'm not entirely normal, either. From physical things like my pear-shaped, short-waisted body and my food allergies to life choices like buying raw milk but not buying paper towels, I'm in my own space, dancing along to the melody of my own flautist.

The thing is, though, I don't go out of my way to be different, so it always comes as a surprise when someone points out that I am.

Grieving the death of a loved one is an intensely personal process, dependent on a variety of variables: the degree of relation, the suddenness of the death, beliefs about the end of life, previous experiences with death, the presence of a support network, and the personality of the mourner. Nevertheless, stereo-types and expectations about how the bereaved will behave in the world are ingrained and strong. A young widow whose husband died unexpectedly in the prime of life should, apparently, be hysterical when the police tell her what happened and thereafter be visibly distraught with tears on her puffy cheeks. Also, she should, apparently, be unable to smile. I clearly fail to uphold this stereotype.

Adam was my husband, but he was also my best friend partner alter ego. He complemented and completed me in so many ways that I'm reeling as I try to figure out how to be those things for myself. I feel like half of my soul has been torn away. I feel physically and emotionally raw like I am made of the tender new skin exposed after a burn. Despite the heat, I find myself reaching for my summer cardigans. I have frequently caught myself overlapping the fronts of these sweaters across my chest and then folding my arms to hold them in place, especially when out in public, especially in conversation with other people. I'm not cold. I'm exposed.

But most of you don't see that. You see me wearing black, but smiling and laughing. You see me cleaning my house and hosting a joyful celebration of Adam's life rather than a somber wake.  What you see is me coping.

Adam's death was my worst fear. I am living my phobia come true.

The first summer that I lived at Rambling Farmhouse, Adam had to make a short business trip, and I remember being struck by how isolated I was. "If I were to scream, no one would hear me," I realized, a sobering thought for a girl who grew up in a compact neighborhood where I could watch the neighbor's television from my bedroom window.

I worried incessantly every time Adam traveled, which was often. We developed rituals. We said "I love you" every morning and every night, even when we didn't like each other. He called or sent a text as soon as he arrived at his destination and right before he left to come home. Still, I worried. Adam finally said, "So what if I do die? It's going to happen someday. What will you do?"

We talked about the answer to that question a lot. We purchased life insurance, we invested money appropriately for people our age. We discussed that we both would donate organs and tissues if we could, that we both would be cremated, that he wanted his funeral to be a celebration of the life that he had lived, that each of us expected the other to keep living.  What you see is me following the plan.

I laugh and smile every day because my children and I are alive and healthy, because Adam made sure I had a good plan that will allow me to keep living, because life is beautiful.

I cry every day because I miss my other half, and he is never coming home again. You'll forgive me for not exposing my ravaged soul in public.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

don't wait for tragedy

Jenny, one of Adam's oldest friends, brought me several pots of perennials to display in the church and then plant in the yard. My friend Josie came Wednesday to help me with the planting. After days of sitting at the table sorting paperwork and crying on the couch, it felt so good to do something physical again. My body needed that. I even made it until late afternoon before realizing that it was exactly one week since Adam's crash.

Josie and I had a wonderful day. We used to garden together more often, but we'd fallen out of the habit in recent years, and that's a shame.  I'm grateful that Adam brought Josie and me back together in the dirt again, but I'm resolved not to wait for another tragedy before spending quality time with friends.

As friends who hadn't seen each other in ten or twenty years re-met and found their friendships, one of the refrains of the weekend seemed to be, "We should have done this years ago." It shouldn't be a funeral that brings friends together again.

A veritable flood of cards and letters has flowed into my hands this week. They tell beautiful stories of interactions with Adam, of his importance in other people's lives, of the happiness visible in me because of him. I have cried beautiful tears over these words. I wish they could have been tears of joy. I wish I could have shared them with Adam.

Don't wait for tragedy. Tell your loved ones how important they are. Tell your colleagues how they inspire you. Don't wait.

Friday, June 28, 2013

what I need right now

As most of you probably know. I became a widow this week. My husband died in a terrible car accident. I take comfort in knowing that his death was quick and that we were able to donate tissues to help other lives.

So many people have asked what I need or how they can help. I know you have been praying, and really, that is the most important thing right now. Just keep praying. Specifically, please pray for strength for me and the girls and discernment as I search for paperwork in Adam's unique filing system and then as I make decisions.

If you're coming to the funeral, I do have some specific requests:

1. Witness each other's grief. While grief is personal, and we each experience it differently, it's also social and we want to share it with others who grieve. There is not enough of me for all of you. Share with each other.

2. Do not touch my children unless you know them very well. If you don't know their names or can't remember which name goes with which girl, you don't know them very well. My elder daughter's composure is a thin veneer, and if you break it and spill her emotions all over the place, you will embarrass her. My younger daughter is shy even in the best of circumstances, and she just lost the foundation that gave her the courage to interact with the world. Hugging you will not make it better.

3. Do not cook for me unless you have cooked with me. I know it's tradition that the family says, "Don't bring food" and people do it anyway. Don't. With my allergies and crunchy granola tendencies and the children's pickiness, there are a lot of things we just won't eat. Most casseroles are guaranteed to end up in the compost. The chickens will love you, but I'll just grumble about having to wash and return the dishes. If you really want to bring something, bring fresh fruits and veggies (apples, bananas, oranges, cucumbers, snow/snap peas, carrots) or tea (green or black, Earl Grey is a favorite). Take the time that you would have spent in front of the stove and sit down at the table instead. Write down your favorite story about Adam and bring us that. It will sustain us far longer.

4. Pray for the others involved in the accident. The woman driving the third car is just as much a victim as Adam. The teenager has seen the consequences of her actions in a very real way. I wanted to go to the car to retrieve some things after the accident, and the sheriff's deputy refused to take me. The teenage driver can't unsee the carnage I've been spared. She will have that image with her for the rest of her life. Please pray for these women, too. I have been.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

marriage is phenomenally difficult

I’ve been contemplating this post since reading Jamie Gladly’s “[tap tap] Is this thing on?” post in August 2011. It’s not been an easy post to write and publish. I keep re-reading and editing with the intention of posting and then saving a new draft instead. 

Jamie wrote,
“I think this is the longest I've gone without blogging since I started this blog almost five years ago. It's been a tough summer and I couldn't seem to write non-whiny posts. I've been intensely frustrated with my marriage but that's not blog material. (Sometimes in the Catholic blogosphere it seems that everybody is in shiny happy marriages where they're jointly striving for heaven and Communicating Effectively and nobody else is fighting unproductively about the same damn thing for ten years. And counting. Am I keeping it real or bringing things down if I say that sometimes it's really ferociously hard to be married?)”

To which I reply, "Keeping it real, Sister!" Sometimes it is ferociously difficult to be married, and we should be talking about it with our spouses and with each other. The fact that, on some level, we expect marriages to run smoothly on love is part of the reason marriage is phenomenally difficult. That expectation sets us up for frustration. Marriage isn’t all sunshine and roses. It’s cleaning up puke and ignoring body odor. It’s sometimes putting your needs on hold to meet your partner’s. Then, it’s asserting your needs and asking your partner to make sacrifices. Marriage is balancing on a tightrope in tandem.  

I'm not sure that I would want to try actually balancing on a skinny little tightrope way high above the ground with Adam. We don't generally manage to dance very well down here on the ground. I am, however, proud that he and I have managed to figure out how to make our crazy partnership work for us for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, living in one house or two.

A big part of what keeps me sane is having come to the conclusion that long-term love is a choice and an action, not an emotion. Twitterpated Bambi and Fauna love is nice when it comes, but it doesn't stay. Adam and I know that even though we have committed to love each other until death does us part, we may not like each other every day. The following words have, on occasion, crossed my lips,  “I love you unconditionally, but the conditional love just flew out the window.” And that's okay. Because it is the daily choices to act out our unconditional love that create space for twitterpation to flourish.

When it comes down to it, really, twitterpation is just the chemistry of attraction allowed to flourish until one's cup runneth over. There have been times in my married life where I've been mildly attracted to other men or realized that were circumstances different, I could see myself in a relationship with someone other than Adam. I'm sure Adam has had similar experiences with his female friends and colleagues. The simple presence of these emotions related to other people does not weaken our marriage because we choose not to act on them.

Another tool for sanity is the recognition that any individual argument is probably just the apparent part of a deeper issue. Our ongoing argument about cleaning is a prime example. Adam and I fought bitterly and repetitively for years before we finally realized that the core issue is the difference between tidying and deep cleaning. I like things to be tidy, and I try to put things away as I use them. I sweep the floors often, but I'm lax about cleaning otherwise. Adam rarely just tidies. If he's putting things away, then he also gets out the simple green and the scrub brush. The debris that Adam leaves behind when he makes coffee drives me crazy, but my habit of sweeping the visible bits of floor without moving the furniture baffles him. Since we stopped shouting (at least about this topic), we've been able to learn from each other, and we're both better. But it certainly hasn't been easy or painless.

Conventional wisdom says that children of divorce tend to be either commitment-phobic or commitment-maniacal. It's pretty clear that I'm the latter, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't know if I could handle the niggling day-to-day frustrations of sharing my life with another person if I didn't have a long-term view. So, yeah, when it's working, it's wonderful, but making marriage work is phenomenally difficult.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

gun language

We've become more involved in 1812 and French & Indian reenactments in the last couple of years, and Adam needs an appropriate gun. Since he decided to build a flintlock himself, the house abounds with books, diagrams, and gun bits, and I am learning a lot. Characteristically, mostly what I'm learning is etymology.

Did you know that the three principal parts of a flintlock are the lock, stock, and barrel? I always pictured that idiom as referring to a locked wooden barrel full of some sort of commercial stock, molasses perhaps. Come to think of it, though, I'm not sure where on a barrel one would put a lock.

On a flintlock, the barrel is, of course, the metal part through which the ball travels, while the stock is the wooden part that the shooter actually holds and braces against his body when firing.

Linguistically, the most interesting part is the lock.

Men who carried flintlocks also carried their ammunition balls rolled into small paper packets with black powder. To load, you rip the packet open and some of the powder goes into the pan while the rest goes into the barrel of the gun with the paper and the ball.

Dealing with the powder in the pan is where the language gets interesting. A flintlock fires when the flint comes forward and strikes the frizzen, dropping sparks into the pan which then ignites the powder in the barrel and sends the ball flying. If you're thinking this is a complicated mechanism, you're right, and there are a couple of ways that things can go wrong. (Really, there are probably more than a couple, but right now I'm only interested in the ones that have produced idioms.)

The first is failure to fire. I'm not sure how the spark gets from the pan into the barrel, but when whatever is supposed to happen here fails to happen, we have a flash in the pan, a dramatic but ultimately unsatisfying spark that dies quickly.

The second way things can go wrong is firing at the wrong moment. When ready to fire, the soldier or hunter uses his thumb to pull the hammer all the way back or cock it. However, in order to push the frizzen forward to put powder in the pan, he has to pull the hammer back halfway. If the flintlock goes off while in this half-cocked position, chances are the person holding it is not ready, and the ball will fly in an unexpected direction.

Until I asked Adam to explain how this new thing inhabiting our house works, I had not realized how many of these everyday expressions come from the language used to talk about guns. Expressions like these continue to be spoken today because we hear how they are used, and we learn when their use is appropriate. We don't necessarily need to know the origin of the idiom in order to use it correctly. 

However, in order for phrases like this to become idioms in the first place, a critical mass of speakers in the speech community have to share the point of reference. These phrases are evidence of a time when every house had at least one flintlock, when hunting game or slaughtering one's own animals were the way to acquire food, when life on the frontier meant that every house had to be able to defend itself. This was a time when the majority of Americans lived intimately with their guns.

The newest idioms I can think of come from our technology. We might say that someone is out of juice or fully charged, not to mention the spread of abbreviated communication like FWIW, LOL, brb. I've been trying to think of mainstream idioms that come from newer styles of firearms, and I'm drawing a blank. Our guns are not the integral part of our lives that they once were.

Picture from: Marshall, Brian. "How Flintlock Guns Work" How Stuff Works, 2002.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Saying it like it is

     I'll be honest with you, there's a lot about Mitt Romney that scares me. He seems to have changed his stance on many issues over the years that he has been in the public eye. He rarely offers details, even when pushed for them. He is not my favorite candidate, but I don't hate him. I don't think that everything he says is evil and awful. It saddens me that so many Democrats and Obama supporters can not hear a good word from Romney's lips.

     Many among my women friends have their knickers in a knot over two comments in the debate on Tuesday, October 16, 2012, and I don't really understand why.

     The first is the "binders full of women" line. It probably would have been more clear to say something like, "binders full of curriculum vitae from talented women," but of all the things Romney said, is this really the thing we care about most? Personally, I'm more concerned about his tax plan, the details of which are still unclear to me.

     The second is the anecdote Romney shared about his chief of staff in the Massachusetts  gubernatorial office. Here's what he said:
"I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.
Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school.
She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you." (transcript courtesy of ABC)
So, after Romney went out of his way to include women in his cabinet, one of them asserted herself and asked for a reasonable schedule so that she could also be a mother. And he agreed. Governance is not a nine to five job, but Romney, as he presents himself here, was willing to work with a staff member who wanted to be home most evenings.The only part of the above statement I take umbrage to is the idea that it is only women in the workforce who need this flexibility. All caregivers, male or female, should feel empowered to ask for the flexibility they need to do their jobs well and take care of their families.

     Today, instead of talking about the challenges women and men face in trying to balance careers and families, and how that chief of staff was gutsy to ask for what she needed, people are saying things like this:

     I am a mother, and I have a professional career. I do want my evenings free. I want to be able to cook dinner for myself, my spouse, and our children, or to enjoy a meal that one of them cooks for all of us. Unfortunately, the realities of the American workplace make this increasingly difficult for me and for my husband. Every week I have to make decisions about whether I will stay on campus for a meeting or event and let the kids sit in after care at school or skip the meeting and pick them up on time. Whether I will put time into my family or into my career.

    Instead of taking pot shots at sound bytes, let's talk about issues and solutions.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, Adam

Dear you,
These are some of the poems I wrote in April 2010 as part of the National Poetry Writing Month challenge. Thanks for the inspiration. Merry Christmas ! 


Meeting You
I stand there stickily seething, contemplating
my brand new Mr. Pib perfume and body lotion.
You introduce yourself, offering help.
Gratefully, I accept. A decade later, I am still grateful
to a child and a can of soda on a camping trip.


I knew

I knew that you
would share my children
the moment I saw you
rescuing a friend's
child from a dreaded
splinter with
patience and a
pocket knife.


Talking to You

Your eyebrows say so
much, just by
going like this:
Always asking me
the question of
the moment.

The alarm goes off
"I slept great. You?"

You open the bathroom door
"I'll be done in just a sec."

The kids race between us,
trailing their argument
like a kite.
"They've been like this
since lunch. It must have
been something in the
peanut butter."


evidence they leave behind

socks on the sofa
pencils on the table
underwear under the chair
science experiments in the corner
crumbs on the tile
hugs in the morning
mischievous smiles


Country City Mouse

If only,
if only you had chosen me
if only...
you would not
end each day with dirt under your nails
you would not
spend precious hours commuting to your life
you would not
have to sweep the yard back out of the kitchen everyday
you would have
enough time for art, for poetry, for music
for unhurried creation and uninterrupted appreciation
If only you had chosen me,
had stayed on the coast in the capital...
If only!

All of that might be true
if only I had chosen you.
I would wear heels and suits
instead of slippers and sweats.

I'd plant in neat balcony pots
instead of sprawling yard plots.

With you, though, I would not
live in the harmony of seasonal time,
appreciating super starry nights
and putting up fruit in its prime.

If only I had chosen you,
would I value you? Or -
would I ache for this
the way I ache for you now?

You might have led me around the world
following fulfilling work,
but you would never have given me these
children, who are products of this place.

You would never have shown me this path.
I did not choose you. I chose this, and
I am finished with 'if only'

for now...


We Two

Always one step beyond,
you ground me
keeping me from
blowing in the wind.

Always patient,
you put up with
my waffling
in my decisions.

Some days,
I drive you crazy,
but where there is tolerance
there is love.