Tag Archives: parenting

parenting by powerpoint

17 Mar

Everyday bad things happen, so-

I’ve drawn you a flow chart

to take you from point a to z

with arrows to the short cuts

so roughly won by me.

Let me help you jump over ditches

and avoid the dead-end streets.

Watch my greatest hits of

heartache, thought addiction, faux pas, shame, fear, regret,

so you can save yourself the trouble.

Look, simply, I can help you

avoid the ramifications of not heeding good advice.

I didn’t even know I had it in me, as non-linear as I can be,

to map it out for you, but I did;  I’ve a crash course on not crashing.

But I’m being asked another task, much different than what I’ve done.

The night now asks me to have a courage I don’t know how to muster –

I’m now to be the watcher and not the player and not the coach.

I’m now to calm my plotting mind.

I’m instructed not to imagine trains flying off of their tracks

even while I feel the lurch and screech

of the metal momentum – see sparking in the air.

I’m to observe as boats sink, as elevators release and fall,

as villains creep most uncartoon-like in dark shadows when you pass by;

who orchestrates such visions – where are the views of nature walks, of laughter,

of joy?   Why the fear, why the wrecks, why the destruction?

Why am I thinking of how my parents must have ached and quaked

sitting in hospital rooms, listening to white coat protocol-


except to release a real-life child to death, to unthinkable death.

I mouthed the words but I didn’t register the meaning –

because I’m still on the simpler fare—

that love is holding the tongue

and squeezing my own trembling body while

I watch and allow.

I am unable to live for another,

unable to undo words,

unable to iron out the wrinkles

of the kinks forming in the plan.

The night brings what the day allows me to hide.

The learning is only ever mine

and it can only be postponed, never avoided altogether;

now or later is  the only choice I get to make.



17 Jul

Part of not knowing what is true

anymore is an opening up to all sorts of taboo.

What have I sectioned off as valid and invalid,

appropriate and inappropriate,

good and bad?

Well, I’ll tell you, that sectioning fence falls in huge chunks

daily around here.

Tattoos are ice breaking, and beautiful.

Art that makes me curious and loving –

Yet, when MY 19 year old appears with a tattoo, unannounced,

a piece of flesh that was formed within my own,

my knees go quivery soft.  What is the difference?

I have a hard time even remembering to put creams on me  –

jewelry a rare afterthought-

yet I do cover my face with foundation, often, and draw little lines around my eyes

making appearing naked face, at times, a taboo.   Ridiculous – yet, no. habit, face, world –

silly comparison, nothing compared to

bold, relentless  piercing –

What am I to make of my feelings

when my daughter says her comment about being a dancer

led the whole restaurant to assume she is a stripper?

She laughs, I still cannot!

Why not a whole face tattoo?

Do I wince at cussing?  not anymore.

So mild, that!

Have I ever known a sex worker?

What if she were my granny?

Where do the fences lie?

Why do I lose my sense of humor when it comes to my daughters, sometimes?

OH, you gorgeous fence stompers!

A late night game of cards against humanity –

I feel easing around the dark collection of words with

this group of souls who embrace uncomfortable, strange, random, dark –

opening dear mama to whatever is arriving here now.

Where do I have trouble loving –

Where am I boundless –

open, observing,

impassively –

out and out and out – a land without ownership, a mind without opinions?

all the good stuff feels so scary

15 May

right before the birthing starts for real,

the body shakes and trembles

independent from all thought

flesh holds the fearing and the quaking on its own

at the precipice of seeming choice

the movement forward into irreversible transitions

stepping into new lands

the stomach empties

the muscles tremble

the bones rattle

what is this occurring?

what is happening?

what does my body know that my mind won’t let be said?

birth death long distance travel

we have traversed the universe, flying into bodies

as souls

at break neck speeds,

but here now imbibed in flesh, a short leap

to the other side of the world feels treacherous

a releasing of a child’s hand into heavy traffic

a speeding car and screeching tires

for effect

for a vision in the mind’s cinema

of a child run over in the street –

the movie is the body’s mechanism

for caution

do I watch the screen or

do I

leap into the lava in this life

feel the burn of every radical departure

fear bathed, I spend – I send – I quake – I release

I answer the invitation that arrives on my doorstep

I say yes yes yes, despite the recklessness my body tells me is occurring

one night in bangkok will be my daughter’s song

away from me, flesh away from me,

I overrule the tremble

I step on newly hatched legs

every day a glimpse of death’s transition

hinting at farther realms

the body can never grasp


spooky parent

22 Mar

world overlook

A few weeks ago:

My heart hurt – viscerally – i felt tight and achy deep in the chest

and it wasn’t my own pain.

I felt around my world, trying to find the source.  I knew, but I couldn’t help wondering how I could feel the pain of another so personally within.

It seems the journey of a parent is the experience of heart ache, in joy and sorrow.  The physical connection is ridiculous.

I think the cells of my two daughters and my cells mingling in the womb still have action at a distance all these years later – what a spooky happening!

Their cells mingle among my own and go off in alarm patterns in their times of stress or hurt or worry or in life crushing/life growing experiences and in big, joyful times, too.   Each intensity of theirs sends signals to the hormone fire stations in my body, who then rush out with the fight or flight chemicals in me.

How come I am tumbling through 16-year-old emotions instead of holding a steady opening?

How come I feel elation, walking through the aisles of the florescent lit grocery?

Sometimes the phone will chirp, and I find out the answer.  Or I may have to wait until the teary face or bounding joy comes bursting through the door, later.

I found myself typing words out, without a care for structure or meaning, just to take the edge off of my achiness, to sooth the hurt of my inability to change outcome or to walk through with them or even for them.  Each girl has all the tools she needs to deal with rejection, depression, re-creation, but it physically hurts in the process – me.  Detachment flies right out the window, of late.

I was overwhelmed again for just living this life, even as the sky hinted of a spring to come.  Two cardinals outside sang and flashed bright red in the bare winter tree for  me as I ran out in pj’s to take the girl downtown so she could teach little ones hebrew, releasing a song in my heart once again.

These girls and I will learn together about carving out the experiences we wish to have.  We will learn and relearn about finding our passions, our energy, our focus, our innate ability to create our thoughts and watch our thoughts turn into our flow.  We learn to find joy in the smallest of things, again.

My heart may take to aching again.  My hands are tied in this.  I allowed the souls of others to grow in my body and nothing I can do will stop the little cells from circulating in my system as these beings walk on through their own time tunnels.

I want to grab their hands and force timeline jumps – to sunny and cloudless skies – but they both get to choose for themselves.  I will walk my path forever entangled with the gift of these overlapping trajectories.

I’ve got this

18 Aug

Being born into this world, we step  into an enormous round and spinning clock.

We are timeless, yet we agree to play by the minutes and the hours, the days and years, the rising and falling of tides, the spinning sun and the orbiting moon.  We agree to begin and end, to bumble recklessly into birthing and dying.  We are pulled on by the seasons, the gravity, the breaking down of our matter – you can date our bones, after we are gone and tell when we were animated.  We feel the planets constantly pulling tricks on us with cycles of discomfort and harmony.  We agree to marry change.

Living near the coast is still so cool to me; the breathing of the earth is palpable in the rising and falling of her waters.  The tides were so evident when I lived on a boat.  All day long, my living area was rising or falling, except for those few tender moments at the top or the bottom where all was still for about 30 minutes. Some part of me probably still registers this cycle, deep in a seawater womb within.

When arriving at the beach, I must see where the water is meeting the sand; its position is a lucy goose clock, a conversation starter; is it coming in or going out I set to many walking by?  Most shrug; who cares?  I am blatantly ignoring the phone app for tide schedules, here.  I love the unknowing of such things, yet setting out for a stroll requires this information; at high tide, some parts the beach become inaccessible.  This island is always shifting; where once the beach was eroding, now it may be growing.

Lately, I’ve been feeling the pull of a longer cycle, less daily than the tide, but more seasonal…decennial even.

seasons of life

Tick, tock; where am I now?  Is the tide coming in or going out?

In one small moment,  I see the tides have shifted recently here in the cycling of my life.  I am somewhere new – a new section of the clock countdown of my life as marga.  It has been coming; it was marked on the calendar, but the actual playing out of it, this transition, came in a moment no one saw but me.

As a parent, as the tide is shifting toward adulthood, that movement can be difficult to detect.  Chloe not only has the strings to my heart memorized, she also, at times, can play the notes of a song that shifts the responsibility to me for everything from the chores to her happiness to the meaning of life, overall.  When does it, this life,  become fully hers?

Independence is occurring from the minute breath says GO!  Gradually, gradually, until, whoosh.  Where am I?

We were finishing up our meal of take-out Thai a week or so ago when Chloe became determined that I should watch a tv show that she likes.  We watched the first episode of “House of Cards,” until about 1/2 way through,  when I realized that we had not cleaned up our meal.  

I began to go to the kitchen when Chloe put her hand on my back and said, “I’ve got this.  I want you to just watch the show.”  She cleaned up the kitchen herself.

Why did this small gesture feel so big?

I know at 18 many would say, of course she can clean a kitchen by herself, and yes, she can and does, but it was the way she chose to do it, with love and care that marked some sort of shifting, with her focus, her kindness.

I am full of clichés, today. Might as well finish with a few more – Summer hints of fall. A rising tide lifts all boats. To everything there is a season. Maybe a purpose to everything under heaven, but more likely, every every every thing is an excuse to bring out the ukelele, devil cape, and red pumps, I am inclined to say 🙂

craving normalcy

6 Jul

I do have  sympathy for the following monologue that was performed for me in real time on Friday:

Why can’t you be like other moms?  Why don’t we have family friends like other families?  Why don’t you have plans for the 4th of July?  Why don’t we have a group of family friends who all get together for like bar-b-ques and vacations, dinners and stuff?  Why doesn’t my life look like my friends on Facebook?

I should have stayed out of town.  Why did I come home where I am unhappy?  Why are you so happy being alone? Why can’t you find a step-father for me?

(Oh good lordy, on that last one.)

The 4th of July, so american, every holiday, really, brings up the pull of normalcy, the old and insidious lie of fitting in – and standing out – at once.  To be like everyone else will bring happiness.  To be liked.  To be good-looking.  To dress well – to say the right things – to have activities and people to surround us – to have photo opportunities every few hours – to package our lives in an understandable and compelling form.  To be desired.  To be outside of the flow of normalcy feels wrong.  To be in the flow of normalcy feels wrong.  It is an interesting place, to be comfortable with the flow, finally, now, but to live with others who are still in the searching mode, wishing all were different, wondering,  Where is the postcard version of our lives?

I listen to the storms of discontent of teenagers who feel free to express themselves.  The storms are dramatic and loud, but they pass.  I offer a freedom that is so close that it is not even perceived.  I offer a large space for the sound and fury, for the rage not against the machine but to be more part of the machine…

I am present and still – and  content, even so (quietly so as to not intensify the suffering by the contrast).

Despite my lack of normalcy, the 4th of July dilemma works out beautifully!  We jog/bike to the river, where the fireworks can be view from 240 degrees – and after our arrival, with no car to park – we find a spot on a floating dock inches from the rapid current – families, smiles, colorful explosions reflected in the dark water, together with our american brothers,  yet doing our own thing, too.  In serendipitous wonder, we stumble upon a restaurant with a young woman singing with her guitar and we split an appetizer and relax and talk before our jog/bike back home, late at night.  We are whistled at from a car of boys and I question, Who are they whistling at?  I know the answer, but it is funny to throw myself in the mix 🙂

Stepping out of the role of parent, teacher, wise one, can be tough when the voice of complaint wants a response and there is no response that pleases – I’ve tried them all.

When I talk, I imagine my voice often sounds like this:

Years move on in measured beats, bit by bit, ever changing, chinese water torture/pleasure drops; something new is coming around.  Even if I think it is the same, it is not.  A malcontent teen has to experience on her own, and her movement and turning may be slow and then suddenly fast – any snapshot is not the whole story.

Shift shift shift the angle of your boom and watch the wind fill up the sail, let the line go slack and watch the stillness hold you there at sea – never motionless even then. Learn along the way.  Go below, stay above, jump overboard and swim with sharks, burn your skin, drink salt water, eat ramen and sardines for days.  Drown and watch another avatar appear.  Never Game Over – never never never – hell or heaven, every second, burn and rise, burn and rise – bread as flesh, loaves and fishes, fisher of men, age of pisces, dawning of aquarius, summer, fall, winter, spring, repeating yet never the same.

Stay in this vessel from ballast to the top of the mast, bow to stern, move throughout the river of time, see the full buffet – and do not skip dessert.  Today, Chocolate Mousse for breakfast, pleasure in the unplanned days that bring bike rides and frog symphonies, and cheeky waiters, and organizing rooms, and found lost items, and rolling thunder, and fertile silence.

Ah life, said Emily Webb, you are too beautiful to imagine.  Oh no, here are the actual lines:  Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.
― Thornton WilderOur Town

These words – a wave rising, not original, not profound, just a mass of water that wants to move up, then sink down again, again and again, for no reason.  Living life, in the moments, in the sensations, hello.


The Family Table Institute of Higher Learning

6 Jun


Sit down when you eat,

no matter what is happening,

out of respect for the plant,

the sun,

the rain that brought

you all here together at the table.

Civilize, purify your body,

your tongue,

your home,

by walking through this fire.

I am talking to myself,

not you, but please

listen in.

Though the ruckus at our table may make you fall out of your chair,

don’t pretend; it’s not like you haven’t heard

the word FUCK before.

Bow your head to this,

the smallest of things are given:


grain of rice,

a tear,

an apology unforeseen,

a smile.

Rough waters can calm to a gentle bath

with I’m sorry I spoke to you that way – yet

easy to miss

is the enormous turning

that has taken place within

for those words to ever be spoken.

Gather the smallest parts

of you

that you have flung away.

Sit down and eat together.

Remain through awkward silences;

wait out the shouting match;

the profanity, cruelty, fear,

see the pain beneath the anger;

hold tight, hold tongue,

and remain.

Miracles are often on the other side of hopelessness,

believe me,  only

micro moments on the other side;

you might as well be in a new

world now, one hidden and impossible

only a moment ago.

Peace is here,

if you have the courage to

sit still

when every part of you

wants to flee.



I was one of those moms who worked hard to soften her voice.  I have a driving force that longs for interactions to be lovely.  My learning has often had to come with some bold and ugly contrast to the soft and lovely shell to help bring me into the REAL.   And what is not to love about REAL.  We are hungry for truth, I think; well, I know I am.  And truth has the space to be whatever it is – it isn’t wrapping itself inside a packet for sale.  The stench of pain needs space to breath.

The life of the modern American teen is seasoned with raw and brutal information – I do see evidence of the Kali Yuga’s growing darkness since the time of my teen years and I do not often know how to help my girls navigate these waters.  Giving space for the truth of their feelings and experience often looks a bit intense and ugly, to my tender eyes, at least.  But I have enjoyed a rawness I’ve seen in film for the reflection it offers back to me.

I love family scenes in movies.

Some are able to capture the grittiness that comes from the mashup of personalities that come to gather at the family table.   I embrace that stab at truth, for our world often just reflects to us the washed up, dressed up, keep a lid on it version of reality.  We need to see the underside of interaction, for in this shadowy version, we can see souls at work on the deeper threads and themes of growth – the intense growth that people have chosen in the experiences of family.

Walking through the ugly helps us get to the otherside, but denying the ugly, turning away – only  extends and increases the shadow.   The messy yuck of feelings, denied their voice, grow into demonic howls of torture.

I say, now after all these years, give messiness the floor when need be.  I will be a mom who shows up for the graduation, dressed appropriately, as long as I am also showing up for the pie throwing (turkey in the lap) at the dinner table later.

It takes courage to live  this life, full of personalities, suffering, imperfection, failure, the word fuck flying around the room in anger!   Squeeze the illusions of conflict, confusion, identity, jealousy, every flavor of your suffering, out of your being in the vice grip of the family table.  Walk away with a diploma from this Earth School.




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