My Kids Aren’t Me, in Spite of Sharing the Same DNA

I think the hardest lesson for me in becoming a parent was learning to let go of my expectations for my sons.  Okay, I’ll be completely honest; I’ve only been able to partially let go of them.  I think it’s impossible not to have some wishes for our kids, but the focus here is really on how we have specific things we hope they’ll like or do that often mirror our own interests or fantasies.

When I was a member of the Big Brother organization it had the unexpected effect of turning out to be a parenting prep course.  The “Little” (the term for the kid you are matched with) I had was a young eight-year-old girl who totally didn’t like doing anything physical.  This was before I was married, let alone before I became a parent. 

In those days, they matched girls with Big Brothers, something that is all too rare today, due to fears enhanced by the media and the exaggeration of sexual harassment.  Another topic for another column, for sure, as the little girls without fathers need the “Bigs” just as much as the little boys do, so this is a terrible loss for them.  read more

Memories Are Made of This (My Father’s Day Column)

I am quite happy to write this column from the vantage point of some distance from the pain of my own father’s death and the time I was alone, separated, and then divorced, and raising my boys 24/7. But, it only seems appropriate to reflect on those times, the positive memories of my dad, and the contrasting struggle of teaching my boys, much younger then, to remember their own father.

My father was a unique man: stoic, hard working, resistant to complaints, and whining, and completely in love with my mother. David Sallan died where he was happiest, right next to my mom, holding her hand, at 90 years of age. They met when he was 17 and she was 14, by a lake in Michigan; he was the sun-tanned water-worshipper, she was the shy, pale, redhead with a brain. He was brawn; she was class. And, he worshipped her from the day he laid eyes on her.

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Mother’s Day and the Women In Our Lives

As Mother’s Day rolls around once again, I find myself reflecting this year on the different obligations we feel towards those mothers in our lives, at different times and passages in our lives. As this is the second Mother’s day since my own mother died, I can’t help but remember her with the fondest recollections, avoiding the sad, last, and declining years of her life when a stroke took away her sparkle and delightful personality.

Call me sentimental, but I can’t help but offer items of tribute to my mother, and just a few of the better memories, as they serve to remind and help me to be a better person whenever I think of them. My mother used to say about friends that if you want perfect friends you won’t have any. This would come up when I’d be disappointed in the behavior of a friend and I can still hear her words today when I feel let down by a friend. But, my reaction is tempered by remembering her words and the friendships she held onto for decades, by not carrying a grudge. read more