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March 24, 2000 7:50PM (UTC)

Virtual Reading Group -- The Mother Thread

Books
Marta Randall - 08:39 pm PST - Mar 17, 2000 - #3147 of 3276

It's Friday of a week that seemed to last a good 10 days since Monday, or more. Perhaps its the turning of the weather that made this week seem so long -- I think we have transited from winter into deep spring and into those delicately balanced few weeks in Northern California after the rains have greened the hills, and before the natural cycle has started browning them again. Great billows of wild mustard pillowing up between rows of grapevines or in lush patches through the pastures, amid grass high enough to soften the outlines of the hills. California poppies bright orange amid the blue of lupines, and more delicate patches of wild radish, tiny pink and white flowers on tall stalks. Red-winged blackbirds in the pastures, sitting on the barbed-wire fences or swooping across the road, vivid black and red movements against the green. The fruit trees are in flower now, too, and the California walnuts have taken on that slight green buzz that means that leafing out is imminent. The weather prophets claim that it will be in the 80s tomorrow. Wish you all were here.

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Raising your kids differently from how you were raised? Why?

Mothers Who Think
Patrice Janda - 10:16 am PST - Mar 21, 2000 - #194 of 215

...Your relationship with your dad reminds me of my relationship with my brother (seven years my senior). He believed in me and respected me (although as we grew into adutlthood his admiration became qualified by my being the perfect Woman of God). He thought I was the most amazing woman (girl) and always told me so. He lived his philosophy as well, and when I was very young I considered him the most brilliant man alive (once I asked him why he couldn't be the President--I believed in him passionately).
To disappoint him, well, let me say it did devastate me. I don't know why I'm sharing this, it's just that something between you and your father triggered this comparison. What is it about brilliant men and those they inspire? Is this kind of reverence a thing of the past?
My father "passed on" early, so my brother kinda felt he needed to watch out for me. And looking back I think it would have devastated me to displease my father as well (but not my mom--she wasn't critical in the slightest and loved me and pretty much everyone without qualification). Not that my father was the imbalanced man my bro turned out to be...he wasn't. I just think it's odd this kind of fear a great father can inspire. And by fear, I sort of mean respect and mixed with something else, though I'm not sure just what this other ingredient is.
To this day I harbor the feeling that there isn't a man alive as great as my father. Loving, quietly stern, generous, kind, well-respected, a doer, hard-workering, earnest, loved and protected his wife, fair, compassionate, much loved, humble. The few times I recall disappointing him remain with me to this day.
Once he caught me walking down the road with another little girl. We were holding a stick between us and swinging back and forth saying, "we hate Shari, we hate Shari," or something really mean about the this other girl in the neighborhood. He walked up to us, this giant of a man, and I knew I had seriously fucked up, he was stopping from whatever he was doing and coming over to reveal himself. And he told us what we were doing was wrong. Not the right thing to do. He didn't raise his voice or yell. But he looked at me and I knew he found no joy in telling me I my behavior was out of line and my god... my heart sank so low in my body, pinning me to that spot where I stood in the hot sun by the side of the road. Something was passing between my dad and I and I wanted to tell him that I was so sorry. But I knew it wasn't about me. It was about Shari. He wanted me to understand what my actions were doing to Shari. He knew I was capable of coming to this higher place--so he didn't say it more than once. His words were kind and direct and swift. And I remember him walking away, staring at his huge back as he returned to his work around the house. And me and my friend dropping the stick at our feet--not knowing what to do with ourselves.
I want to know how he got where he did, my Father. How did he find the core of me? And though he was there, holding my personhood in his large calloused hands--how did I know it was without question still mine? Mine to do with as I pleased.
When I see kids today who lack an obvious respect for their parents, it makes me sad. Because it's their loss. I'm not talking about that undeserved you respect me regardless of my actions kind of crap--but something else much less tangible. Along with respect, I so trusted my father. It was easy to do as he asked of me, because I felt he wasn't asking anything more or less of me than he would ask of himself. I want so much for my daughter to know this kind of love.

What I'd *really* like to say to my boss is ...

Business and Work Life
Lisa Simpson - 09:30 am PST - Mar 22, 2000 - #5 of 13

"You are a really good boss and a good person. I actually LIKE you, which is remarkable at this organization, considering my previous boss was a witch and the boss before that was transfered elsewhere after he harassed/disciminated against a number of his female subordinates, primarily me. So I'm grateful to finally have a boss who is not only a human being but who also understands that there is life outside work, and who has a sense of humor.
That said, it's really hard to maintain a positive attitude when I hear you constantly complaining - sometimes justifiably, sometimes not - about one or another of our colleagues; when you are generally WAY more stressed than the situation requires (my therapist thinks you may be a candidate for anti-depressant medication); when you give only negative reactions, zero praise and vague criticisms about my work (e.g., what does "you need to stay on top of this" mean in terms of ACTION?); when you focus on things like how messy my desk is rather than how good my work is - and it is good, and it could be better if I just got some good guidance, some constructive feedback, and a light pat on the back now and then."

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