questions for equality

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: book. My second entry for the prompt today.

Skimming the reader’s guide at the back of a book today, I read one question and halt. Here:

“You’ve managed such an extraordinarily successful writing career along with being a full-time father. What has it been like to juggle the two?”

Yes, what has it been like? Because I changed the gender. I can’t imagine this question being posted to a male author. The layers and the sexism in this question are spectacular.

First of all, what is a full-time mother? Does it mean one who is “home” with the kids? Not working “outside” the house. Maybe we should call it at work with the kids if it’s full-time. If she is a writer is that work but it’s not work if she is a housewife? Is she a “full-time” mother with a writing hobby unless it’s successful and then she’s a “full-time” mother with a successful career? How are they defining success?

What is a full-time father? Does it mean the same thing?

Are there part-time mothers? Is a mother who goes to work outside the house a part-time mother? I work. My husband was the househusband. We also had some daycare. Was he a full-time father? Was he a slacker because he took care of the house and the kids and played golf? Our son was six months old when I started my family practice residency. Was I a part-time mother?

The question feels to me like more of the same gender discrimination and devaluation of both genders. A woman who is a “full-time” mother AND a successful writer, wow, that is made noble. But I have never heard a man called a “full-time” father or any questions of a successful man about how he juggled his fatherhood and his career.

It remains infuriating.

The book is Anna Quindlan’s every last one, Random House, 2011 and the Random House Reader’s Circle asks the questions.

Well, gentle readers? Are you a full-time or a part-time parent? Why? Was your father a full or a part time father and was your mother full or part time? And do they mean the same thing?



all sounds become music

I am in RainShadow Chorale. My father was one of the people who started it in 1997.  I moved to Port Townsend in 2000, because my mother had cancer. She died in May of 2000. My father died in 2013. I had the joy of singing with him in this group for 13 years.

Our concert is weekend after next and I really love this one. We are doing a wild mix of pieces and moods with the theme from a Walt Whitman poem. In this time of so many people being afraid and angry and stirred up, going to chorus is healing. All of these people, unpaid, coming together to create these two concerts of beauty and unity and joy. A gift to each other and a gift to the community.

Ticket information on the website.

full fathom five

“Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Ding-dong.
Hark! now I hear them,—ding-dong, bell.”

Ariel in Act 1 Scene 2 of the Tempest

For Ragtag Daily Prompt: fathom.

All the things she had at one point wanted to be

someone said

we all contain all the archetypes

which archetype do you reject?
you say no, I contain no mother no father
no murderer no priest
rich woman poor woman beggar woman thief
doctor lawyer indian chief

princess is the role I reject
as a child as a girl
fearing to be used
fearing to be taken
wanting to be mine not his
not his ever
not chattel
not property
not owned

divorcee is a role I reject
realize I scorn it
then turn my face from abuse
and embrace it fully

lonely is hard
alone is easy

what is the difference?

my uncle says
I’ve never been alone before
I’ve always been the most
important person in someone’s life before

at least he thought so

which archetype do you reject?

we all contain all the archetypes

all the stories
all the stories that we know
if the only story that we know
is of poverty and despair
and hiding and war
discrimination and hatred
while the lighted box shows happiness
elsewhere while we suffer

the arch of the rainbow
may not be a story
that can be imagined

all the stories that we know
and tell

tell

_________________________________________________________________________

I will add this to the Ragtag Daily Prompt #54: reflection. Because it fits.

 

Mundane Monday #166: parent and child

My theme for Munday Monday #165 is parent and child.

I have this small statue in my clinic. I have a small collection of parent/child and mother/child art that I have collected for years. I was separated from my mother at birth, from my father and his family at 4 months and back to my mother and father at 9 months. I was sure that adults loved me but I did not trust them: they kept abandoning me.

As an adult I understand that it was because my mother had active tuberculosis and that the first separation saved my life. But…. I can love people, but trust must be earned.

A patient said last week that I had a political statement in my waiting room. “I do?” I said. He was talking about this statue.

If this is a political statement, I stand by it.

Attach your parent child picture, political statement or not. And much love and hope for every parent and child and love.

One entry from last week, Mundane Monday #165: sand:

KL Allendorfer: Sand.

 

 

The introverted thinker and the giant

My mother tells this story:

“The introverted thinker is three. I tell her to clean up her toys. She has a mat with cardboard houses and cars. I hear her in the other room, talking. First a low voice, then very high voices.

Low voice: “Stomp, stomp, stomp.”

High voices: “No, no, help, help! Run, run!” (small crashing sounds).

Low voice: “I am a giant, stomp, stomp.”

I peek in the room. The introverted thinker is kicking all the houses and cars over, being a giant. Then she cleans up the houses and the cars.”

And my mother laughs, and everyone who listens.

 

And do adults feel like giants to children sometimes? Giants in uniform who take their parents away? And can the child do anything? How helpless they may feel. 

My son took this picture of his sister.

Dream log: June 20, 2017

I am with my father and my sister. My mother is not around. I am not sure if she’s gone or dead. Dead, I think.

My father has gone off. My sister is 3 or 4 and I am 6 or 7. I am taking care of her. We are at a park and I am trying to get food. It is Thanksgiving. It is not cold, it’s warm. There are large family groups at picnic tables.

My technique is to move in on a family group. We play near them and I listen for adult names. We play close enough that I can hear but not close enough to impinge on the group. When they start to clean up and take things to the cars, I am ready. I slip in and hold my hands out for a bowl. The adult looks at me. “Aunt Norma’s.” I say confidently, because I know which bowl belongs to each adult. And which bowl I want. The adult hands me the bowl. They can’t remember which kid I am, but I know Aunt Norma’s name….I head confidently with the bowl towards the cars and quickly slide it under my loose sweatshirt. I bypass the cars and head around to my sister.

Now the game changes a little. We have a couple bowls so she guards them. I work the next table alone and score a left over turkey.

The problem now is that we cannot carry it all to the car in one trip. I debate about safety. We are living in the car. I tell my sister to stay with the rest of the food and I leave her, carrying the turkey. It’s still light and there are still a lot of people around. She is sitting on the curb, bowls behind her, between two family groups. I will get the turkey to the car and then run back to her. The two of us can carry the rest of the food in one trip. Then we will have food for a while. She should be safe.

I wake up.

I took the photograph within the last month. What and where is it?

 

Missing my father

Today is my father’s birthday and I miss him quite a bit, since he died in 2013. This picture was taken in clinic at the opening party. I left a message for another friend, also a singer, who has the same birthday.

Sad but I am happy thinking of him and I am still in the chorus that he helped start, Rainshadow Chorale.

birth

Reading about drugs

LSD
and that people re-experience the terrible trauma of birth

but wait: terrible trauma…

I had the grace and delight and sometimes terror
of catching babies, new and slippery and surprised
for nineteen years

they do not arrive traumatized

an older obstetrician
always gentle
when I would ask for help
deep calm and sometimes
he would wait for the newborn
and not rush us to the operating room

and if the child emerged
he would say “girl ears”
or “boy ears”
he always guessed
frequently wrong
his small tickle of humor
and the mother too busy at that moment
to notice at all
except that his voice was calm

I think of the one forming
in the womb
the sounds of mother’s heart and guts
dark and sounds
of father brother sister other

the first time I see
the new baby in clinic
I imitate the sound of the doppler
swish swish swish
and the newborn alerts, and knows my voice too

I think of the one forming
in the womb
and my daughter
who tried to come early
confining me to bed for three months
and adrenaline-like terbutaline
continuously
my hands tremble
my heart rate at one hundred
I knit to channel the figdets
six sweaters
and my daughter is worth it

I think of the one forming
in the womb
out of room
the space is too tight
can no longer stretch or kick
head down
ready

I think of the one forming
in the womb
saying now
I need more room
now and the cascade starts

we don’t know what starts labor
the baby or the mother
or both

now
I need more room
and the infant pushes towards the door
towards more room

and I have had
the grace and delight and sometimes terror
of catching them
slick and messy and bloody
as they emerge
into the light

open their eyes
and breathe
startled
at light and room and air