My Dear Beloved

My Dear Beloved Family Member,

You are here out of love for me to help me in my time of need to get my life and house in order and for that I am more grateful than paltry words can even express. In the short time that you have been here this week you have helped me immeasurably. I am incredibly grateful. I love you.

I am also trying very hard to take in the lessons that you are here to teach me. People say that people come into your life to be a blessing or a lesson. I think that this may be true, but the truth is that the two are not mutually exclusive and some, most even, are both. You, my darling, are definitely both. The funny thing is that the lessons that I am taking from our time together are not the ones that you thought you came here to teach.

You preach with evangelical zeal about your beliefs and opinions with such ferocity that you seem to be deaf to the beliefs and opinions of those that you are trying to convert. I feel that you wield your convictions with great passion and authority to bring as many people as possible to the light of your ideals. I love your passion and faith. But I need for you to take the lesson from me that, after a few times, the passion that you’re are wielding with such enthusiasm stops feeling like an offering of a gift and begins to feel like a club.

In my opinion, after you have given me your truth 2 or 3 times, I have either accepted it or not. Your continued efforts to “improve” me indicate to me a couple of things. First, you might think that I’m not smart enough to pick up what you’re laying down. I don’t believe that you think that I am stupid, but I want you to know that that is the message that I am recieving from you sometimes when you tell me AGAIN what you think I should be doing differently or better.

Second, my opinions and beliefs on that subject are invalid in a way that yours are not. You are very righteous in your convictions. You have found your path and it is a glorious one. I can see why you wish to share it.  But it is not my path. I  am forging my own path to my own truth. AND IT IS JUST AS VALID AS YOURS. As much as you believe in the validity of your path, I believe in the validity of your path. I expect the same in return or it makes it very hard to have any true exchange of ideas and thought. When I hear you proclaim that something “is the TRUTH and is REAL” I know that it is. For you. But it may not be for everyone else and I need you to allow for the possibility that yours is not the only way.

Third, when you continuously bring up the same “issues” that you feel I need to change, you are letting me know that that is the only thing about me of value or worthiness to you. When you dismiss my other activities as a nice hobby or something not really worth doing, you are rejecting the parts of me that you deem aren’t of import. This is very hurtful and does not convert me to your cause. In fact, it has the opposite effect. I will tell you, and this is the TRUTH and this is REAL, that in the heat of our argument last night, I very nearly asked you to leave my house. Because, regardless of the condition it is in, I will be treated with respect and dignity in my own home. That is a condition that I place upon your being here. The reason that I didn’t is because I know that the place you are coming from is one of love and good intentions. I want you to take the lesson that your message is being lost by the method of delivery.

You were correct in some parts of your rejection of my evaluation of my own shortcomings and ways of dealing with them. I am not “unique.” So take this information to heart, because I can guarantee that I am not the only one who is feeling this from you. Many people that I know, in and out of our family, are reluctant to instigate a confrontation, especially with someone who doesn’t seem able to really engage in an equal exchange.

If you offer me the gift of your wisdom from your experience, I cherish it. I will take it in my heart as a treasured keepsake from a loved one and use it if it fits or works for me. I hear you and I am receptive.

If you again offer it, I am appreciative, a little less receptive, but I still hear you.

The third time, I will begin to resist your offering and will not be receptive. The loudness of your actions begins to drown out my ability to hear your words.

If you continue to push your offering on me, then I know that the offering is not about me, but primarily about you getting your way. You are a very intense person and many people, as I have in the past, step back and allow you to sail on by on the wind of your breath. But, in my home, with regard to my self and my child, it is my sacred task to defend our hearts from attacks of any kind, no matter how well intentioned. So, save your breath and get down and row with me.

I have opened my home and my heart to you to reveal my greatest failings and some of my most shameful secrets. In every way possible I am at the most vulnerable place that I have ever been in my life. I am trusting you to take care of me and treat my heart and mind as gently as you can.

I do not feel accepted by you as I am. I feel judged and found lacking. This negativity is not conducive to growth. In fact, my reaction to it is to close off, shut down, and resist you with all of the same stubbornness and zeal that you push with. We are from the same bloodstock after all. I am sharing with you not from a place of anger, but from a place of love. Because I do love you and, especially right now, I need you. But, I am not willing to pay the toll that you seem to want to exact from me in payment for the help.

I will, if pushed enough, refuse your help, even as badly as I need it. I hope you can accept this offering of my truth from the place it is intended, which is a place of love and peace and connection.

As I accept the lessons that I am learning from you about how to defend my convictions, assert myself, and maintain my boundaries, while still advocating with love.
Thank you for the lessons.

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Wrestling With Things

Child C just started wrestling for the first time. This is a sport that I know almost nothing about. We are both learning an entirely new language and way of moving and thinking. It’s really challenging, but after a few practices C says he really likes it. We were lucky enough to be coached in soccer by one of the wrestling coaches who has taken C under his wing to help him get up to speed since many of the wrestlers his age have already been wrestling for years. We would be floundering without him.

Coach shows us how to fly.

That’s Child C in bright blue.

After practice on Thursday we went over to say thank you to the Head Coach. He asked C how long he’d been wrestling. We said, “Three days.” He was really surprised and said that C has a lot of natural talent and is meant to be a wrestler. While we owe our coach for our technique, I think we can thank Daddy for our talent. Spouse A wrestled all through school. He is really excited that Child C is in wrestling now. More excited than any of the other sports we’ve done. Wrestling is his sport and seeing C participate and enjoy it is really making him happy.

And there is the rub.

Many of the coaches are dads who love wrestling and help out the team and their kids. Spouse A’s disabilities keep him from participating in sports with Child C in a significant way. Most of his injuries are in his spine which naturally precludes any significant amount of wrestling and/or wrastling* (or walking or  running or standing). My heart hurts a little when I see the other dads at practice with their kids and between practices when they can tussle and rough house together. This, I think, is the hardest thing for Spouse A and Child C when it comes to Daddy’s disability, some of the easy physicalness that they both miss out on.

Child C in blue and yellow.

working on single leg takedowns

*defined for us here as play wrestling 🙂

Six Word Friday: kept

Dear Mama, I wish you knew

that you are kept safe, warm

in the chambers of my heart.

Dear Mama, I wish you knew,

as I am starting to learn,

that you were enough. More than.

Dear Mama, I wish you could

have kept them at bay again.

Like you had managed to before.

Dear Mama, I hope you know

how very much you are missed

and loved.                               

and loved.

                             and missed.

I’ve kept you long enough. Go see MELISSA for more six word fun.

Beautiful Beginnings

My friend is getting married today. So I thought I might write something for her and her beau.

My dear friend,

On this very special day I wish you every joy and blessing that you could possibly want. I won’t be there with you, but I know that you will be radiant and you will both be resplendent.  You will be lifted up with love from family and friends, near and far. Your lives are already woven together and will only be further secured by this tying of knots.

go learn to tie this beautiful knot by fusionknots (I neglected to add this link earlier though I meant to)

 fusionknots.com

This joyous occasion will not be the best day of your life. Nor should it be. Because you know, and I know, that marriages aren’t made on wedding days. So let this day be one of the many best days of your life and a beautiful beginning to the rest of your lives together.

Man Up Monday: A Real Man

My Dear Son,

When it comes to being a man, we will work together to develop an idea of what we think a man is. Our ideas will, of course, be informed by the images in the media. But as we are free thinking, intelligent beings we are able to seek out those examples that are most in line with our values and refuse or analyze those that are not. We will start with my and your dad’s ideas and build from there. We will add Daddy’s later. For now, this is just my list. These are the most important qualities that I believe a man should have. But, they are not reserved only for men. These are qualities that a woman should have as well. As you get bigger, you will hear people describe something called a “real man.” This is what they feel is the ideal of a man. There is no one definition of a real man. In fact, one person’s ideals might change over time. The reality is that there is no definition of what a real man is. If you try to act like someone else’s idea of how a real man should act then you are probably not being true to your own self and heart. As Daddy likes to say, “To thine own self be true.”

 

Man Up Monday: Football

My Dear Son,

I know that you love football. I could rail against the violence and cookie cutter gender roles that so obviously are present in this sport and its portrayal in the media. I will not. I will teach you that even within this sport there are many different roles played out. There is a vital role on the team for multiple types of masculinity if we only look.

The more traditional definition of masculinity can be found in the linemen. Big and strong, they give and take the brunt of the physical force bandied about in this battle. You have your daddy’s build, a longer, leaner body type that probably won’t lend itself to the linebacker model. Perhaps you will be a running back. In this role the man is not large and built for blocking. He is more slender. He is fleet of foot. He relies upon his eyes to show him the way through the opposition to reach his goals. With help from his teammates, he is able to use his quick reflexes and agile body to navigate across this minefield to where he can coordinate his feet, hands, eyes, and mind in concert to catch the passes thrown to him.

The linchpin of a football team on the field is the quarterback. Of course, the quarterback needs physical strength and nimble feet in order to fill his role on the team. But the quarterback, more than anything else, must be smart. He needs to be able to see the bigger picture, make quick decisions, and implement those decisions into actions while in the face of adversity in the form of the players on the other team. If it is my choice, I think you will make a great quarterback one day. But none of these players would win this game without the other players.

We also must mention in our roles of masculinity the role of the coach. I hope that we remember the coach as knowledgeable leader who has played the game before and is able to show you how to play, how to maximize your talents, and how you will best be an asset to the team. Do not mistake aging for losing strength. While it is true that the coach might not run as fast as you can, he has the knowledge to see things that you can’t and choose the play that will allow for the best possible outcome.

All of these positions are legitimate, valid pictures of strength. It takes all of them to make it possible to have a good game and win at it. Remember that in many ways football is all about life, but in no way is life all about football.

 

Man Up Monday: Tough Guise and Intro

I recently watched the movie Tough Guise in my Gender and Race in Political thought class.

Here is a portion of the description from Mediaed.org where it is available for purchase. It is also available online for watching.

“While the social construction of femininity has been widely examined, the dominant role of masculinity has until recently remained largely invisible. Tough Guise is the first educational video geared toward college and high school students to systematically examine the relationship between pop-cultural imagery and the social construction of masculine identities in the U.S. at the dawn of the 21st century.

In this innovative and wide-ranging analysis, Jackson Katz argues that widespread violence in American society, including the tragic school shootings in Littleton, Colorado, Jonesboro, Arkansas, and elsewhere, needs to be understood as part of an ongoing crisis in masculinity.”

Perhaps because I have a young son, I was inspired by this movie to do something to promote alternate views of what masculinity is or can be. I’m calling it Man Up Monday. I will try to post something on (hopefully all, but certainly most) Mondays dedicated to the healthy raising up of our boy children in to whole and healthy men. So, with that in mind, here is an except from another essay that I turned in in that class. It’s a 5 page letter to my son about masculinity and role models. This time I can break up the text into more manageable chunks-unlike the last one.

My Dear Son,

I love you and am enjoying watching you grow into a young man. Let me tell you that I will do my level best to keep society or family or even your Dad and I from confining you into a box that defines who you are based on some stereotype of masculinity. I promise to help you follow your dreams, whatever they might be, even if they are seemingly hyper-masculine like racecar driver and bull rider. I will help you learn to be strong in the face of adversity, not because men must be strong, but because people must be strong and persevere when we feel like giving up.

I will make every effort to show you alternate definitions of strong. In challenge to the mainstream media’s sledgehammer definition of strength, I will find role models who show you how to be strong in quieter, softer or more subtle ways. I think we may be off to a good start, given my obsession with dance shows. Male dancers are often some of the strongest athlete’s in the world, but they are so graceful at the same time that it is often overlooked. I will teach you to look at our culture’s stereotypes with a critical eye. I will show you how to “win battles” with words and knowledge. I will preach to you of Dr. King and Gandhi whose strength was not brutish and violent. Their strength came from nonviolence and peaceful ideals.

Look for Role Models in Football (his other love) next week