Tag Archives: Parenting

New Beginnings Also Mean Endings

William the Graduate

William the Graduate

This essay originally appeared in Palo Alto Patch. I am reposting it in honor of all of the parents who are sending their beloveds off to college this month. Yes, one year later, and it is easier, much easier, but still bittersweet.

It’s graduation week around town. We’re hearing lots of speeches about new beginnings, following your dreams, and choosing roads less traveled. Students are told repeatedly “it’s all ahead of you.” But for those of us with children in cap and gown, it’s not all about the future. For us, it’s also about the past. Continue reading

My Gay Son Wants To Know If He’ll Be A Good Father. Here’s My Answer…

This essay originally appeared on BlogHer.

“I’m gonna getcha,” cried my son who had just arrived home from his first fall at college. It was Christmas and our extended family was gathered to celebrate. He, this newly formed man, was on all fours scrambling after his toddler cousin. Our collective laughter spiraled the room as the new-to-walking little boy mimicked Frankenstein in his efforts to get away. My son scooped his cousin up and razzed the baby’s belly creating fits of giggles for them both.

Later, my son asked, “Mom, do you think I’ll be a good father?”

It’s such a seemingly simply question. A boy wants to emulate his role models, he wants to give love as he has been given, he wants to care and guide and support a child as he has been cared for and guided and supported. But for my son, the answer is not quite so simple. You see, my son is gay.
Gay Dads

Image: DPA via ZUMA Press.

Continue reading

We Are Women. Hear Us Roar. Again.

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of Diablo Magazine.

Kriste Michelini and Children (Photo courtesy of Diablo Magazine)

It’s 7:30 on a Thursday evening, and 10 moms are gathered at Kriste Michelini’s interior design studio in Danville, drinking wine and eating off a veggie platter artfully arranged by Michelini. This isn’t a book group or PTA fundraiser. These mothers are busy trying to help Bridget Scott finalize the details of her business plan. She’s preparing to open her own chiropractic office, a lifelong dream, but is still determining the best way to incorporate the hours while placing family first. Scott wants to work while her children are in school and is confident she can find clients who will fit her schedule. But issues around finalizing a name and staff management are what she needs advice on. The other women, all business owners themselves, readily offer it.

Scott started Business Owner Moms (BOMS) in 2008 because she wanted to gather like-minded working mothers to offer each other support and guidance as they struggled to balance their professional ambitions with their personal lives. BOMS includes women such as Alamo’s Kristin Kiltz, a mother of three who quit her high-powered job at a public relations firm to set up her own PR consulting business; and Danville’s Julie Ligon, also a mother of three, who left her exciting marketing position at Gap to open one of the first franchise studios of the Dailey Method. The BOMS could have given up work completely to stay home with their children, but haven’t. Continue reading

Prom: It’s More Than Just A Dance

This essay originally appeared on BlogHer.

Daddy's Little Girl - All Grown Up

It’s prom season around our house. My seventeen-year-old son is a prom pro. He’s been to so many in the past few years, I don’t even need to give him the Prom Speech.  He knows the drill and I trust him. This year, however, his fifteen-year-old sister was invited to the prom. Funny how different my reaction was; I said, “No!” Continue reading

Speaking the Truth About One Teen’s Suicide

This article originally appeared on Palo Alto Patch.

Loving the Rainbow

I was browsing the local news the other day when I came across this headline: “Apparent Suicide With Chemicals Forces Evacuation in Redwood City.” It seemed so innocuous. A small bit, really. Not even worthy of an obituary. But I knew better. It was what the story didn’t say and what it got so very wrong that haunts me.  Continue reading

What Age Is The Right Age To Talk About Rape With My Daughter?

This essay first appeared on BlogHer.

My fourteen-year-old daughter is upstairs in her bedroom listening to Shakira on her iPod and studying for a french mid-term. Me? I am downstairs watching a horrific rape scene on a television show called Private Practice and remembering the stories I have heard from family, from friends, from strangers, and wondering, when do I tell her it isn’t all peaches and cream? Continue reading

How Do We Protect Our Kids In Cyberspace? The Old-Fashioned Way.

This essay originally appeared on BlogHer.

My son came home the other day and told me he heard from his college advisor that colleges now check out various social media sites to determine what kids are posting about themselves and others. I told him not to worry, his grandmother checks his Facebook page everyday to make sure he doesn’t post something he’ll regret. “I knew I shouldn’t have friended her,” he said only half jokingly. Continue reading

Guess I Can’t Stalk My Kids On Facebook Anymore…

The Womb Police

This blog first appeared on BlogHer.

When I was six months pregnant with my third child, I had the honor of toasting one of my closest friends at her wedding. I stood, wine glass in hand, extolling the great gifts of a well-met marriage rubbing my expanding belly for emphasis. After I sat down, one of the men at our table took away my wine glass and said, “I know you know your baby doesn’t need this.” Now, it should be noted, I hadn’t taken a sip from the glass, but that was not the point. This guy was just another in a long line of well-meaning men (and the occasional woman) who felt compelled to tell me what to eat, drink, and generally do while I was pregnant. Funny thing is, my doctor had actually advised me (off the record) to have the occasional glass of red wine. Continue reading

Managing the Gimmes During the Holidays

This article first appeared in BlogHer.

It’s that time of year again when the wants far exceed the needs. The Greek chorus of  “gimme, gimme, gimme,” swirls around the house drowning out the muzak of Christmas carols that began long before Thanksgiving. “I want a car,” sings my soon-to-be sixteen year old. “Well, I want a new laptop,” trills his thirteen year old sister. “I want an iPod,” chants their ten year old brother. In unison, all together now: “But all my friends have one!” Uh, huh.

Mmmm…well, let’s see. I want world peace, a cure for AIDS, the troops to come home, and if I am really greedy maybe I’ll even ask to lose the last five pounds of baby fat (even if the last baby is over a decade old). Guess I won’t be getting my wishes either.

How is it the Gimmes keep getting bigger every year? At three, the Gimme was a stuffed bear. At five, it was Thomas the Tank engine. At eight, a new bike. At ten? Well, see above. Clearly I have failed as a parent. I wanted children that spent hours hand-crafting special gifts for the ones they love. Children who get more pleasure in giving than in receiving. Children who actually stop to ask, “Hey Mom, what do you want for Christmas?” Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.

My father warned me about this.  I think I was sixteen or so, asking for a car no doubt, when he said, “Just wait until you have children of your own. I hope for your sake they aren’t Gimme Kids like you and your brother.” It must be inherited like blue eyes or a crooked nose.

And then it dawns on me. The Gimmes are a disease, a pandemic far worse than any flu, swine or avian. They are the product of a society drunk on the idea that we are defined not by who we are but what we have. My kids aren’t any more greedy then the next lot, they simply the reflection of a society built around crass Commercialism and it’s twin sister, Materialism (let’s just ignore their mother Capitalism for the moment). My children live in a society where commercials make up half of any television program, where product placement has wormed its way into movies, where the most important question the day after Christmas isn’t whatdcha do but whatdcha get. A society where the cost of privilege is the ability to ignore those in need and worry most about what you want.

I had fantasized the downturn in the economy would stop fueling the Gimmes but the pandemic is hard to control. Despite a continued spike in job losses, a concurrent rise in  welfare recipients, and a trend in foreclosures that has yet to peak, we are still bombarded with messages that engender material lust. Buy this. Lease that. Even presidents tell us to shop more; its our civic duty!

I can wash my hands and try to wear a mask but the Gimmes still seep under the door jam and into our home. Perhaps it’s time to stop the madness and fall back on that old cliche, the buck stops here. A recent article in The New York Times science section revealed that we have an innate desire to help. Another article highlighted the healing aspects of giving. Finally, I read research the links materialism to self-esteem. It was time for a talk.

So, we had a family conference the other night. I asked the kids what they could do for others. “Let’s volunteer in a soup kitchen,” one suggested. “Let’s adopt a soldier for the holidays,” said another. “I’ll use my allowance to fund a need at my school,” the third chimed in. “By the way Mom, what do you want for Christmas?” they asked. No worries angels, I just got my gift.