BooWho

Things I want to keep in mind.

Month: February, 2016

Proximity

Proximity is the simplicity of parenting.

You’re there when they wake up in the morning. You feed them (even when they get fickle), you dress them (doing your level best to find matching socks – at least two of the same color scheme!) You put on their shoes for the day. You try to listen to their every word, dream, question, story; even if you have stories of your own swirling around in your head. Yours is the face they see through the window at school. They recognize your silhouette even in the darkest night. They know your voice, they’ve heard it since the very beginning. They know – if they run to you, you will provide safe shelter.

Being a parent involves a lot of sacrifice. High powered careers, trips to the gym, a lot of sleep, perfectly manicured nails or lawns, party weekends, immaculately clean homes and a flawless wardrobe – all can be cast aside in the name of parenthood. Once that little bundle disembarks, you begin to realize there is an order, a sequence. If you’re going to be there, participate, do your part, you must realign. Some things will be shelved for a time, others will be abandoned permanently. You can resent it or you can surrender peacefully.

Tiny arms around your neck. Happy smiles and giggles on seeing your face everyday. Wild hair, wet beds, runny noses, funny ideas, endless affection – they are all part and parcel to the reward. You never knew you could love so much and so fiercely. You never knew you could survive on so little sleep. You never knew you had such strength and character – not until you look into those little eyes and saw it reflected there.

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Why do WE tolerate it?

She was sitting on a bench window seat at the edge of the casino. It was noisy, the casino full of loud, boisterous gamblers. The evening show had just¬†released and the herd of attendees emptied into the casino, on their way to any number of bars or restaurants. Her face was somber, her pale skin looked puffy. Her hair was an orange-ish blond, pulled back from her puffy face. Her fear-filled eyes were locked with his. He was leaning over her, talking to her quietly, but I could feel the menace as I passed. I slowed my walk and turned to look back. He was obviously very angry and she was very frightened. If anyone noticed, they didn’t show it. No one stopped to step in or inquire as to her safety.

Was this a one-time argument? Was she in fear for her life or safety? Should I ask if she is okay? If I do, will it make things worse for her?

In the end, I walked on – just like everyone else. Obviously, I feel sorry and sad. Should I have tried to step in and help her?

This is a true societal dilemma. Domestic abuse is accepted or at least tolerated. There are no rules of engagement for those situations – the times you see a man belittling a woman or yelling at her or the times you might see bruises. What should you do? What can you do? If you have a friend who is abused – how can you help?

People always click their tongues, wring their hands and say, “Why doesn’t she leave him?” or “Why doesn’t she report him?” or “Why doesn’t she stand up to him?”. Put yourself in her place. Close your eyes. Imagine being completely alone and afraid.

Abusers use many different means of manipulation. Typically, they have control of the money/income, even if the woman is the major breadwinner. They control all decisions. Friends are few and far between and, usually, any friendship must meet the approval of the abuser. In an abusive relationship, the woman lives under constant fear of pain or even death. If children are involved, the fear will be for the safety of the children or they may fear losing the children to this maniac.

Most people don’t understand that the abuser doesn’t just one day wake up and start abusing. It is a process that begins with promises of deep, abiding devotion and love. The “I can’t imagine life without you” kind of love that every woman dreams of…during this period of love, there is such a vulnerability and the manipulation is so subtle, most women won’t even recognize it. This is the person they always go back to after an episode of verbal or physical abuse. The one with tears in his eyes and remorse on his face – the one who promises it was only done out of desperate love and fear of loss. It won’t happen again, ever.¬† Promises are made.

The dance steps start out slow and she thinks he’s just leading her around the dancefloor but then as the pace quickens, the gentle hand on her back is now on her throat, demanding that she follow.

Imagine yourself a 140 pound woman married for any number of years to a 200 pound man. In your time together, he has told you how very much he loves you. More than anyone else in your life EVER has, more than your family, more than any ex-lovers, more than your own children. You belong together forever. He would rather die than lose you. He would rather you die than see you with someone else. He loves your children and he would never let you take them away from him. If you ever left, he would take off with the children and you would never see them again. No one would be able to find them. Also, during your time together he has destroyed furniture, slammed his fist through doors, broken dishes in fits of anger. He has thrown you across the room onto the bed, he has slapped you, yelled at you and told you that you are stupid, useless and ugly. He’s slammed you against the wall and pushed you to the floor. You have no money, no car, no support system, no place to go. How would you leave?

The floating island

I just returned from a 7 day cruise. It takes a few days to readjust. One of the biggest advantages of a cruise is being completely cutoff from technology. That is also one of the biggest disadvantages.

I missed hearing from my kids everyday. I missed seeing photos of the grandboys! I felt like in that 7 days, they probably have all grown and left home by now! Does Ollie have a tooth yet? Is Jack in prep school? Is Charlie riding a bicycle? It was only 7 days but without a computer, phone and texting, any number of things could have happened and I would never have known! We could have returned to the zombie apocalypse!

But alas, no zombies when we arrived in the port of Los Angeles.

It was lovely to get out onto the boat and into some warm sun. Of course, for someone like me who gets chilled when the temperature is the low 70’s – it wasn’t nearly warm enough on the ship. I’m sad to say, I didn’t wear my bathing suit – not even once. It may have been 75 degrees, but with windchill, it was only 65! I wore a jacket most of the time! (I exaggerate, of course.)

In Mexico, it was warm and breezy, great to feel that warm glow. It was a perfect break from the snow we had left behind. I can see why so many people like to winter there!

The cruise ship is truly like a floating island. Two thousand some odd people are trapped there – sharing meals, drinks and hot tubs (ewwwwww!). You see a wide cross section of the world population – all different sizes, shapes, colors and cultures. Some people are very friendly (almost too friendly!) while others are not. And there is always the possibility of a language barrier – I can’t imagine taking a cruise on a ship where I didn’t understand the language! I was confused enough by all the various accents on board!

If you like to observe people – the ship is the perfect place. Each person or group of people, though in a larger mass of people, are in their own little world. You can see how they interact and if you are like me, it is fun to try to figure out where they are from, who they are with, what they do for a living, etc. I saw several couples who were obviously fighting, several who were on a “honeymoon” or anniversary trip, lots of older people traveling in groups (moving very slowly or with the aid of walkers or wheelchairs), some young people with young children (looking very exasperated by day 5), and lots of people enjoying the island and all of its treasures.

And there were treasures galore:
Every food and drink imaginable – all day long for 7 days! Great shows, with music, a comedian, a comedic magician, acrobats and dancers. Bingo, gambling, fun games and game shows for participation or to watch from the side. Excursions at each port and lots of shopping at local markets. Great tours to enjoy, whales and dolphins to watch, swimming and snorkeling if you aren’t deterred of the colder water…

Our cruise was a celebration – we traveled with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. We were celebrating his cancer free diagnosis. After two long years of various treatments, he is cancer-free and on the road to good health! We are so grateful. What a perfect beginning for 2016!