What Childlessness Is this?

Anomaly? Perhaps. Trend? Perhaps.

If you have read previous posts you would know that I travel to work-a Chicago Loop location-on the METRA train. After so many stops several of us gather in the vestibule, antsy to get off the train. It is in the vestibule, on a daily basis, that we share the events of our daily lives, the latest front page news, TV programs watched, political viewpoints and so on.

It came as a surprise to me the other day when I learned that three of us four ‘regulars’-a married man in his early sixties, a married man in his late forties to early fifties and a woman also in her late forties to early fifties were each without children. I am the only one of the four who has children.

 Another surprise: the three of them along with their spouses-each couple-owned two dogs. They call their pets their four legged children! I had to wonder “Why pets?” and no children, but I don’t ask such questions. Maybe it is a matter of fertility. Or, a matter of fear?

 The only clue I gathered was when another woman, a mother, joined us one day. She talked about her kids and her dog. She asked the man of sixty years if he had kids. He replied that he didn’t. “I was afraid for my wife.”

 What he meant, I could not tell you. I was left to conjecture: was he afraid for her physical health? Her mental health?

 Now, all three train companions have highly positioned jobs. One man is a CPA for a major bank. The other man is a health care manager for employees of a major area hospital. The woman is a VP of an insurance company. She travels over 60% of the time.

 So, again, conjecture. Did they choose to be childless to fulfill career paths? Or?

I can not judge their decision but I am curious as to their decision’s formulation and their lack of formula (I had to spit that up, didn’t I?). 

Like me you may have seen bumper stickers of the sort “I love my (fill in the blank pet version), it is humans I can’t stand.”

 When I see this uncivil declaration renouncing mankind I feel a little rebuffed BUT not to the extent that I would riot or loot or cancel any exam to wallow in shameless emo. I wouldn’t even call Al Sharpton or Eric Holder in to intercede for the black folks included in this public denunciation.

It now seems that anti-human humanism is society’s soup of the day philosophy. What’s important is that animals be anthropomorphized into four legged children.

If you were to listen to my three train companions you would hear that they treat these dogs as children and better. They take their beloved pooches to doggie spas and to doggie festivals where special organic dog food is sampled. I am not mentioning half the luxuries bestowed to the beasts. (“Higher taxes for the 1% will help the poor. So I needn’t go out of my way. Besides, I give when the sad dogs on TV look me in the eye.”)

 Don’t growl at me. I am not an animal hater. I have a Parrolet named Henry. 

Henry the Parrolet

Henry the Parrolet

I have had dogs, cats, chameleons… AND, I have four kids who are human (though there were times when I thought they regressed to being four-legged animals).

 The pet over children choice fits in nicely with environmentalists. They seek to stomp out the fires of human passion:“Only you can prevent human existence.”

 The ‘’greenies’ spread their irrational fears liberally (e.g., the greenie-propaganda movie “Noah”.). They invoke population control-Malthusian-metric-hockey-stick spreadsheets. They generate CO2 free angst and so bloody on.

And, why, why have kids when life is so hard and so terrible and so there is so much bad in the world and so much work to do to stop climate change (“So many CO2 offenders, so little time”) that will kill us all if we don’t give ALL of our time and ALL of our money to stop it right now and lions and tigers and bears… Let’s let fear itself give us something to fear-a dictum not worthy of you or any generation.

 Besides all of the above manmade direness there is the inconvenience of children. You have to feed them, change them, follow them, correct them when they mis-behave (Oh, yes.), take them to Wal-Mart for a Christmas picture, introduce them to the morals you flirt with now and then. And, there is just too much of yourself you would have to give up to have a child.

 “I have my studies, my books, my Facebook, my career path to the seventh floor. I have my dreams. I have my “Me, My, I” to look after. First person singular comes first.

 This is where pets (and their owner’s bumper stickers) come into view. This is where I am told “Dogs”, on the other paw, “give me their unconditional love”. Yeah, that’s right. You have heard the same thing. Dogs love. Roll the Disney movie. Throw them an organic vegan Milkbone. Walk them with a proud humane cadence. Care for them when ill or itchy. Cuddle with them on your bed…but they are not kids.

  Kids? YES have kids! I’ll tell you why but not in smothering detail. You will figure it out.

 Here is hint #1: the reason to have kids is connected to the reason for the season-the Christmas season-in case the shelf-elf didn’t remind you what time of the year it is. And hint #2, the reason will involve a new vocabulary word: “kenosis”.

Per Wikipedia, “The New Testament does not use the actual noun kénōsis but the verb form kenóō occurs five times (Ro.4:14, 1Co.1:17, 9:15, 2Co.9:3, Phil.2:7). Of these five times it is Phil 2:7, in which Jesus is said to have “emptied himself,” which is the starting point of Christian ideas of kenosis.”

The word ἐκένωσεν (ekénōsen) is used in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, chapter 2 verses 6 through 8.  It is part of an early church hymn that is quoted by Paul:

 

Who, though in God’s form, did not

Regard his equality with God

As something he ought to exploit.

 

Instead, he emptied himself,

And received the form of a slave,

Being born in the likeness of humans.

And then, having human appearance,

 

He humbled himself, and became

Obedient even to death,

Yes, even the death of the cross.

 

To insure historical usage I unearthed my Greek New Testament and also “THE ANALYTICAL GREEK LEXICON: Consisting of AN ALPHABETICAL ARRANGEMENT OF EVERY OCCURING INFLEXION OF EVERY WORD CONTAINED IN THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURE with a GRAMMATICAL ANALYSIS OF EACH WORD.… I looked up the word transliterated as kenos. As used in Phil. 2:7–”to divest one’s self of ones prerogatives, abase one’s self”

 

Wow!

Jesus, Very God, divested himself of his prerogative as God and abased himself to become incarnate.

 We have heard it said that “God is love”. We have also heard that “God is eternal”. For love to be love there needs to be an object of love. For eternal God to be Love there must be an eternal object of his love. This means that within the dancing embrace of the Triune God are the eternal objects of each other’s love -the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (JWs, the Trinity is.)

 Now, imagine that the Godhead decided to include us humans in their dancing embrace of love. To do so, Jesus, as promised in prophecies of redemption, emptied himself of all his prerogatives as God (an overwhelming surprise for any orthodox Jew) and put on the vestment (the diapers) of created humanity.

 The simplest comparison that comes to my mind would be the following: There is a father who is the CEO of a multibillion dollar corporation which employs 3000+ workers. The company owns several private jets.

 The father comes home, takes off his suit coat and throws it on a chair. He takes off his tie and does the same with it.  He then gets down on the floor on all fours to play Legos with his four year-old son-all prerogatives put aside because of love for his son. His ‘position’ is laid aside to be taken up later.

 There is something about kids and about divesting one’s self of one’s prerogatives that enables one to be in a relationship and to love another. No one is saying this is easy but it is worth more than what you laid aside.

 Christmas, a celebration of the birth of Christ is also a celebration of our humanity, of kids and babies. Imagine God Very God incarnated into our evolved human form and doing so right at the fullness, the bar mitzvah of time! And, come to think of it there is no celebration of Roe v. Wade Day unless, of course, you are Wiccan.

 The cross is the nexus of man’s inhumanity to man and man’s sinfulness with a Holy God. Man’s redemption from sin was the outcome. God kept his word to redeem and He imputes his promise keeping righteousness to those, by faith, who believe.

 The resurrection of the Son of Man is a celebration of Mankind’s new humanity within the Kingdom of God.

 ~~~ 

Yesterday as I was jumping off the train onto my home station platform the METRA conductor, a large friendly black man who looks like he could play defense for the Chicago Bears said “Have a great evening everyone. Fifteen days till Christmas! ”We all smiled looking back at his glowing face.

 Christmas is the dancing embrace of God with man and man with man and man with himself.

 “What Child is This? The slack-jawed shepherds will tell you that a birth announcement proclaiming humanity’s promised Messiah had arrived via Angelic Express. They will tell you that they found the baby who would one day become King lying in a manger. How un-Godlike? Not for the God who laid aside everything to get on all fours and meet you where you are.

Let the miracle of the incarnation inform your decision to have children, whether naturally, adopted and/or fostered in your home. And then let those children become the objects of your love.

Added:

In case you are a worrier watch this video:   I can’t believe we made it.

 

My Two Youngest at Pritzker Pavilion

My Two Youngest at Pritzker Pavilion

 

One Nation Under Children

No, this post isn’t about the current self-aggrandizing, blame shifting, egotistic, inept and jejune regime. But, this post just might lend some insight into the domino effect of immaturity that toppled its way into the White House in 2008. In any case, the topic affects us all…

 In his recent essay “The Kindergarchy: Every Child a Dauphin” Joseph Epstein, observes our current parenting culture through his 70 plus years of perspective as a son, later as parent and also as a teacher at Northwestern University:

  In America we are currently living in a Kindergarchy, under rule by children…For the past thirty years at least, we have been lavishing vast expense and anxiety on our children in ways that are unprecedented in American and perhaps in perhaps any other national life. Such has been the weight of all this concern about children that it has exercised a subtle but pervasive tyranny of its own. This is what I call Kindergarchy: dreary, boring, sadly misguided Kindergarchy.

With its full-court-press attention on children, the Kinderarchy is a radical departure from the ways parents and children viewed on another in earlier days….

 Parents didn’t generally didn’t feel under any obligation to put heavy pressure on their children. Nor, except in odd neurotic cases, did they feel any need to micromanage their lives. My father once told me that he felt his responsibilities extended to caring for the physical well-being of my brother and me, paying for our education, teaching right from wrong, and giving us some general idea about how a man ought to live, but that was pretty much it. Most fathers during this time, my guess is, must have felt the same.”

 One of the direct results of the 1960s was that the culture put a new premium on youthfulness; adulthood, as it had hitherto been perceived, was on the way out, beginning with clothes and ending with personal conduct. Everyone, even people with children and other adult responsibilities, wanted to continue to think of himself as still young, often well into his forties and fifties. One of the consequences of this was that one shied away from the old parental role of authority figure, dealing out rewards and punishments and passing on knowledge, somewhat distant, carefully rationing out intimacy, establishing one’s solidarity and strength. Suddenly parents wanted their children to think of themselves as, if not exactly contemporaries, then as friends, pals, fun people.”  (emphasis mine)

 “On visits to homes of small children, one finds their toys strewn everywhere, their drawings on the refrigerator, television sets turned to their shows. Parents in this context seem less than secondary, little more than indentured servants. Under Kindergarchy, all arrangements are centered on children: their schooling, their lessons, their predilections, their care and feeding and general high maintenance-children are the name of the game.

 No other generation of kids have been so curried and cultivated, so pampered and primed, though primed for what is a bit unclear.

 

Epstein goes on to note, “The craze of attentiveness hits its most passionate note with schooling, and schooling starts now younger and younger.”… (emphasis mine)

 He also mentions the obsession of child naming and the hesitation or neglect, as I see it, of punishment for bad behavior. Spare the rod and you produce morally meandering Millennials.

 As I have observed and Epstein cites examples in his essay, our current culture is child-centric. It is Disneyland ad infinitum. The altar of childhood is now venerated with sappy-saccharine-syrupy feelings oriented animated movies. And the child-centric unicorn circling dance does not stop with the kids. The parents are on the same carousel standing next to their child.

 The parent’s toys are adult-‘proof’ but they still toys. The movies are just as inane as the children’s movies. They lack maturity and provide no food for thought, no intelligent repast. The “cloud,” the miasma where adult minds linger, offers nothing that is clearly discernable other than adults being totally distracted. Little eyes and ears take notice and also abstract away reality.

 As mentioned above, Epstein brings up child punishment, spanking and time outs. He notes that today’s parents tend to balk at child discipline wanting rather to make each experience a “learning experience.”

 To dote or not to dote, that becomes the question.  As a parent of four children (three are adults), I view today’s parenting as passing through our morally relativistic culture sieve:  the parent would rather not deal with the issue of bad behavior. The parent does not want to bother delineating good and bad behavior; he or she does not want to set boundaries. Instead, they would rather smooth things over, synthesize. They do so in order, I guess, to keep from being judgmental and to stay in the child’s good graces. And, then there is the matter of feelings.

 The child’s ‘delicate’ feelings, feelings most likely viewed through a parent’s projected sentimentality, those feelings would never be questioned by such a partisan parent.  

There are some who would have us believe that the child is always right; a child’s feelings, whether or not his or her motives are, are always pure, clean and off-limits. The questions a parent should ask him or herself are “Are the child’s emotions matching reality?” and “Does my child know what is truly essential, the gravitas of his or her actions and reactions?

“So often in my literature classes students told me what they felt about a novel, or a particular character in a novel. I tried, ever so gently, to tell them that no one cared what they felt; the trick was to discover not one’s feelings but what the author had put into the book, its moral weight and its resultant power….I knew where they came by their sense of their own deep significance and that this sense was utterly false to any conceivable reality. Despite what parents had been telling them from the very outset of their lives, they were not significant. Significance has to be earned, and it is earned only through achievement. Besides, one of the first things that people who really are significant seem to know is that, in the grander scheme, they are themselves really quite insignificant.

Growing up with only minimal attention sharpened this sense of one’s insignificance…”

 The consequences of so many years of endlessly attentive childrearing in young people can also be witnessed in many among them who act as if certain that they are deserving of the interest of the rest of us; they come off as very knowing. Lots of conversations turns out to be chiefly about themselves, and much of it feels as if it formulated to impress some dean of admissions with how very extraordinary they are..” (emphasis mine)

 The essay is found in Joseph Epstein’s collection of essays titled “A Literary Education and Other Essays.”

 There is a lot to be gleaned from Epstein’s observations, much of which is too obvious to spell out here. But, I will spell M-i-l-l-e-n-n-i-a-l-s.

 

Wisdom is known by her offspring, a tree by its fruit.

Adventures With Paradise

  

It was supposed to be a quiet evening dinner – just me, myself and I – Epicurious at a local food trough. But, the gods of Saturn had other plans for this mortal this Saturday.

Living alone I typically stay home at night. I make my own dinner and eat by myself, dribbling on clothes I know are predestined for the laundry.  But yesterday, a beautiful sun bathed Saturday, I decided to head out of the house for a meal in early evening.  This restaurant visit would be the first time I would have a dinner meal out in well over two years. Saturday breakfast at the Copper Fox is usually my big meal out.

At the Fox I down a repast big enough to choke a horse – eggs over easy, sausage, potatoes and multi-grain toast all drowned in black coffee. At that point having been sated for the rest of the week I then just eat simple throw-together meals.  But last night was different.  I was twitching to get out of the house.  I wanted to cool my ever-burning jets and pay for someone else to make me a meal. And, my serendipity was showing.

So I gussied up.  With some Ann Taylor hugging my bones and a smacking smudge of lipstick I headed out my apartment door and to my car.  Pulling out of the driveway the sun, heading in the opposite direction, shot a ray of reflected light onto my face from the rear view mirror.  I winced and thought, “This will have to do.  I can’t grow another.” I drove over to the next town.  There I knew I would find some restaurants that still served something beyond over-sized plates of Tex-mex carbohydrates with giant big gulps to wash it all down.

Once downtown I parked my car near the hundred-twenty year old county court-house and began to stroll down the makeshift-quaint First Avenue.  As I had learned this suburban hamlet became historic in one day.  All this happened when the city council decided it was time for their town to clone an Immigrant History.  This is verifiable.  The false histrionics I mean.

I once met the town’s historian (a full-time position in this small town!) at a bar about five years ago. While drinking down his bitters, gin and sweet vermouth he told me the whole spiel – the town wanted to appear folksy so it came up with an embellished history – two actual immigrant families who arrived in America from Sweden and who made their home in this town many years ago would come to define the town’s heritage.  With this little tinge of history the town councilmen whitewashed the town hoping to attract crowds to its festivals, art shows and local businesses. Voila!  A smorgasbord of fantasy folklore was created to charm the out-of-towners.

I was reminded of this as I walked past the town’s ‘historical’ center.  I continued to walk along the brick-paved street past the faux-historical showcase of facades.  Everywhere I looked there were gaggles of doe-eyed arm-in-arm couples taking advantage of the romantic spectacle that is this revisionist-town.

I walked by several restaurants, none of them appealing to my appetite, none of them worthy of my ‘thrill-of-the-moment’ twenty-bucks.

I walked on past the New-Age Gem store and its wafting cloud of incense. I passed Mama’s Gratto, a patio padded with doting couples – men doting their Miller Lites and women doting their chilled chards, both poking at a plate of shared antipasto.

I skimmed past the darkened window of Kwasimodo Sushi. Silhouettes stood out above the counter.  I passed the ever-strumming ever-piped mariachi music of the Mexican restaurant and crossed the street looking both ways for food, my stomach now on high alert.

There it was directly across the street – a new restaurant right on the corner.  An Italian wood-burning oven restaurant.  I walked over to the front door .  The menu was posted on a side window.  Inside the doorway stood a sidewalk sign offering “Special – Baked Oysters.”  This caught my attention.  The last time I had baked oysters was during a New Orleans Madri-Gras week that should never be remembered. ‘Nawlins food though, my palette can never forget, is delectable.  So in a trance-like state I ventured inside hoping to create a little culinary heaven for about one hour. Instead what I received was purgatory, a purgatory inducing purge-atory.

(Did I mention I live alone?  There is a reason for that.  I remain single because of George Bush. I went through a divorce while he was president. This is why I eat alone every night.  This is why I never hear Dream Weaver while I’m showering. This is why I don’t eat my Italian Wedding soup looking at some dreamy-eyed Spaniard whose thirst for life is matched only by his roaring appetite for friends to enable him. And besides this, there aren’t many real men anymore.  I don’t mean macho. I mean real as in solid stainless steel, not Formica veneer.  We have Formica veneer in the White House right now but I live alone because of George Bush.)

As I entered the restaurant I saw a throng of waitresses standing at the end of the bar.  Dressed in black from head to toe the girls were all in their early twenties.  The manager appeared to be giving them their instructions for the evening.  I waited at the door but there was no response from the crew so I sought a small table along a wall. I sat down on the long bench that ran the length of that wall. I sat facing the room.  From there I could see that there were only three patrons in the restaurant, myself and two young women.  A handful of diners were outside on the patio. It was just after five o’clock in the afternoon.

A waitress broke free from the meeting.  She welcomed me as she handed me a menu.  I ordered a Stella. When she came back with the drink I ordered the baked oysters.

I sat in the extremely chilled room and watched the crew scurry around the bar and in and out of the patio door. I wondered if flies would take advantage of the open invite. After a short while an older couple, a grandfather and grandmother, came in with three of their very young grandkids. They were shown a table along the wall, one table away from me. I sipped my cold beer trying to warm up.

Soon a young couple entered the restaurant.  They had brought with them their four daughters.  The daughters looked to be all under the age of ten.  This family was seated right next to me along the wall – the four girls sat on the same bench seat.  I soon learned that the youngest girl did not want to be there. She was adamant in her disapproval.

“Muh-maaaaa.”  Muh-maaaaa.” The youngest one whined repeatedly, “I don’t want to be here.  I don’t want to be here.” as she crawled from the bench to her father and then to her mother and then back to the bench. I was hoping my food would arrive soon.  I was quickly becoming de-romanticized about my evening out.  The Minestrone Moderne had morphed into Kinder-Kare.

With four children of my own, all now grown, I had brought my own kids to a restaurant early in the evening just like these parents had so as to not disturb the other patrons. But that was years ago and I had forgotten about the family hours.

My baked oysters arrived after thirty minutes.  They must have been fresh.  The half-dozen looked just dandy sprinkled with bread crumbs, Asiago cheese and some chopped herbs and shallots.  But as you know oysters are not eaten in the most delicate of ways.  So right then I wanted to be home – alone with the mollusks and far from the madding crowd

After downing the first oyster in the door walks another young couple with kids.  Guess where they were seated.  Yep.  On my left side.

To my left and to my right were antsy children, antsy children all wanting to go home or to go to MacDonald’s for supper.  Both sets of parents and the grandparents eager for a Saturday night on the town ordered wine.  Ah, the memories of wine’s sedative affects amidst the wails of youth’s discontent.

It certainly seemed odd to me that the three families with children were seated alongside me as the whole restaurant lay open.  But then it clicked.  I would naturally sit where parents of young children would sit on an early Saturday night. A lot of wine had passed under the bridge.

I finished my dinner, gulping down oysters five and six as fast I could with swigs of Stella.  When I was through I pushed the plate of disgorged oyster shells forward and almost off the edge of the table. I was hoping to get the waitress’ attention.  No such luck.  It would be another fifteen minutes before she would make her appearance at the kitchen doorway.  By now my stomach and head were both reeling from parenting’s noble strife.

When the waitress finally arrived she asked me if there was anything else I needed. I shook my head “No.”  I didn’t think they would have ear plugs on the desert menu and I didn’t want to ask for a bucket, either.

The check arrived after another curious disappearance.  I pulled out a wad of dollar bills hoping for enough cash so that I didn’t have to wait on her again.  I was in luck.

I set the bill folder down with the cash tucked inside. I looked around for my waitress but she was nowhere to be found again.  I grabbed my purse and headed out the door.  Ah. I heaved a sigh of relief as the warm summer air decompressed my thoughts.

Retracing my steps through Ersatz village I found my car and drove home.  Thinking that my parenthood had lost large quantities of its patience along the way I vowed that I would never go out for dinner again at night when the young and the restless were about. At least not until I become a grandparent and retrace my steps while sipping wine.

© Sally Paradise, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Life Lessons I Will Pass On to My Kids

Don’t hold grudges. I’ve known several people, mostly women, who’ve held a grudge against someone for years. They never relinquish their anger, they never forgive, they never reconcile. They just hold on to their anger because it feels safe and powerful to be angry. But, if you have ever prayed the Lord’s Prayer then you are asking to be forgiven in the same way that you have forgiven (or not forgiven) others. Don’t hold grudges because grudges hold you hostage and they keep others out of your ever shrinking world.

Learn to say, “I’m sorry.” Admit you were wrong. “I’m sorry. Forgive me. I was wrong.” Don’t ever apologize with a blaming apology: “I’m sorry but I did it because you…” I don’t know how many times someone has done this to me. I realize that it is not a true apology but the person’s pride which is speaking. A true apology requires humility. Don’t blame others in your apology. Make your apology by stating what you did wrong. Ask for forgiveness and then shut up.

Face your fears. What’s bugging you? What’s gnawing at your insides causing you to bite your fingernails, drink excessively, spend compulsively and complain incessantly? What are you afraid of? Spell it out on paper. Tell yourself the worst that could happen and prepare for that. Then, get on with your life knowing that the worst that can happen will be dealt with at that time. Keeping your fears alive might make you feel alive but your body, your wife and your friends will bear the brunt of your worry. Face your fears and decide what you will do proactively to address them.

Learn to adapt. Life is hard. Life will throw curve balls at you. Find ways to adapt to change. Expect change and see it as a challenge given to you by God to grow thereby. Sometimes you need new soil to make growth happen. Don’t be afraid. Get on with your life, welcome the opportunity and grow. Change makes goals and desires all the more defined and dearer. I’ve learned, duh, that God knows the beginning from the end. He is already where I am going. He knows my desires. He knows what I want without saying a word. He’s making things happen for my benefit.

Be open-minded. The fact that you are only human should be enough notice to you that you don’t have all the facts. You are not omniscient. Be ready to receive new information, ask questions and listen to others. This will help you discern whether you believe in only half-truths. You want the whole truth. You should be seeking the whole truth in every situation and not something which only fits your politic. Be teachable.  Jesus said The meek shall inherit the earth.

Don’t complain. I know someone who has worked for a company for over twenty years. This guy complains about his boss and how his boss handles things. This guy believes that he knows better than his boss how to run things. Every night he comes home to his wife angry and spiteful. He complains to her and to every one he’s in a relationship with. He’s miserable and he wants every one to feel his misery. My guess is that everyone around him is sick and tired of his whining. They wish that he would quit that job and do something with his life other than complain. But, he likes to recycle his misery. It gives him some measure of pleasure. So, his complaining continues. Don’t complain – just shut up.

Be thankful. You don’t deserve anything except to be physically and emotionally safe from harm. Be grateful and not full of grating discontent.

Be courteous.  These days more and more people are becoming uncaring, thoughtless and just plain rude.  The “rights” revolution is the effect of people becoming  more self-absorbed.  It has given people a sense that they can do whatever they want whenever they want.  Don’t be like them.  Be responsible and kind. Be aware of people around you.  Turn off the cell phone and the loud music.  Be polite and gracious.  Be a light in the darkened wasteland of self.

Choose good friends. I don’t have to tell you that bad friends will bring you down. Good friends will be there when things change for the worse or for the better. You don’t need Job’s friends so it might be better to be alone than to have bad friends. I am a lone and waiting for good friends. Mark Twain said, “Be good and you will be lonesome.” Sad, but often true!

Get married when you are young.  Marriage is good.  For a woman, having children and being a wife and a homemaker is much more fulfilling than having a career. Don’t waste your time trying to become something in the business world.  This kind of nonsense is just rotten leftovers from the feminist movement.  Many people including parents have bought into this notion. This movement thought that if you were equal with men in the workplace and careers you would be complete as a woman and be a success  Well, your body, your heart and your soul know differently. If you have a high school sweetheart and you are both in love and committed to having sex only after marriage I say then,  marry right after high school.  If you wait and marry someone at, say, 28 or 30 by then habits, mainly bad ones from living a single lifestyle, are already ingrained and are very, very difficult to work with. Marry early and grow together. Each of you will change over time and become different people.  This is a fact of life. But this won’t matter if you choose love and commitment over self-interest, if you choose adaption and not abortion of your love.

Love is learned.  Love doesn’t just happen. Love takes a lot of trial and error and lot’s of hard work.  Love is kind, gentle and patient. The hottest fires of passion happen when you have acted in love toward your wife or husband.  Love offers itself without asking for anything in return. Love does what is best for the other person.  It is not selfish. It doesn’t seek its own way. This is the opposite of what the world tells you.  Be aware of this.

Sex is good. Sexual relations between a man and a woman in a committed relationship is wonderful. Outside of this boundary sex becomes an animal reflex and diminishes your sense of self, your humanity. It becomes a cheap thrill.

Give.  Give freely.  Don’t hold back.  This pleases your Father in heaven.

God is not going to do what you can do already. You can ask God for wisdom but if God has given you wisdom already then don’t ask again hoping to get a different answer. You can ask for courage to do what you know. God will bring you through circumstances that will either produce courage/character in our lives or it will produce a stubborn rebellion. It’s your choice. Just know that God has given you liberty to decide what response you will have. Be ready to accept the consequences of your bad response.

Life is short, choose wisdom. Your body, your bank account and your buddies will be thankful you did.

We are family, blood, and we take care of each other. ‘nuf said.

Ask dad. In any situation, when you don’t know which way to go, ask your father. He’s come a long way and he knows the territory.

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” (often attributed to Mark Twain)

“It is a wise child that knows its own father, and an unusual one that unreservedly approves of him.” Mark Twain

Trust God with all your heart. He knew you before you were born.

Pray. Let your every breath and every heartbeat become a prayer.

Dad

Dad,
Masquerading man –
Provider, Decider, Chronicler,
Motivator and Love’s unlikely dance Partner,
A mischievous Mirth-er who’s my mother’s lover
(Confused by Eve but not alone),
A baseball phenom:
Always at bat for me;
Always fielding my bloopers;
Always never keeping score,
A figurine in flannel wearing
Camouflaged feelings in the blind
Savior of children’s happiness with
Strength born of recycled weakness –
Dad,
A Giver given.

© Sally Paradise, 2011, All Rights Reserved

I Miss My Children (Life in an Old Shoebox)

I miss my children –
The very life of them –
The up and down of seesaw,
And, the back and forth again.

I miss my children –
The laughter and the tear,
The playful and the pouting,
How I wish they all were here.

I miss my children –
The reason and the rhyme,
The rattled day’s disharmony
That never falls in line.

I miss my children:
“She had so many memories she did not know what to do.”
I miss my children and
I wish they missed me, too.

© Sally Paradise, 2010, All Rights Reserved

Tender is the Night, These Days

“One of the tendencies of this age is to use the suffering of children to discredit the goodness of God, and once you have discredited his goodness, you are done with him. The *Alymers whom (Nathaniel) Hawthorne saw as a menace have multiplied. Busy cutting down human imperfection, they are making headway also on the raw material of good. Ivan Karamazov cannot believe, as long as one child is in torment; Camus’ hero cannot accept the divinity of Christ, because of the massacre of innocents. In this popular pity, we mark our gain with sensibility and our loss in vision. If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw with the blind, prophetical, unsentimental eye of acceptance, which is to say, of faith. In the absence of this faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is a tenderness which, long since cut off from the person of Christ, is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber.” Flannery O’Connor, Introduction to A Memoir of Mary Ann, 1961

*The Alymers is a generic reference to the husband/scientist in a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Birthmark.