Raising children is the most harrowing, as well as life-affirming, experience there is. We live our lives under the illusion of control because to do otherwise would make us feel helpless and crazy. When we’re faced with things we can’t control, we can feel overwhelmed by worry. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I tried to eat right. But all day, every day, … Continue reading The Myth of Control in Parenting
When I was a child, my father was movie-star handsome and powerfully built, with sparkling blue eyes and a sharp, curious mind. He left early every morning to work at his own business and returned home to dinner and his many hobbies. He had a darkroom in the basement and was an amateur photographer. He taught himself to play the guitar. He studied and took … Continue reading Ambivalence When a Parent Dies
I hear some lawyers say, “I don’t like other lawyers. They’re money hungry and unscrupulous.” I hear some police officers say, “I can’t stand other cops. The job is the center of their life and identity. Not me.” I hear some psychologists say, “Psychologists are crazy. I stay away from them in my personal life.” I hear some teachers say, “Keep me away from other teachers. They’re bossy … Continue reading Bias Against Our Own Kind
When my older son told me he was moving off Long Island, where we live, to a city in upstate New York, about 225 miles away, I felt a pang in my heart. He was going to a better job, and a place where money bought a lot more than it does here at home. But he was my dining-out and beach-walk buddy. I was … Continue reading Parenthood: A Loop of Hellos and Goodbyes
I once knew a woman, I’ll call her Michelle, whose daughter died at the tender age of 25. That was 8 years ago, and Michelle still blames herself for the death. “Ellie was an alcoholic,” Michelle says. “But she was so much more. She was kind and funny. She entertained kids at the local hospital with her impersonations of cartoon characters and her homemade puppets. She was a girl … Continue reading Self Blame is Magical Thinking
I once had a co-worker who got married 3 times – to the same man. I’d met Leanne just as she was divorcing her husband for the 2nd time. “I should have known better,” she said with a sheepish grin. When I ran into Leanne a couple of years later, I asked how she was doing. “I married him again,” she said, rolling her eyes. “The … Continue reading If it Doesn’t Work the First Time
When I was a girl of 9 or 10, I was the oldest of 3 sisters (eventually there would be 4 of us.) At this time, a girl I’d never met became an unexpected visitor at my house. This was rather mysterious as she’d sprung up out of nowhere. She seemed younger than I, but was quite large — tall and ungainly. My parents said she was … Continue reading Family Secrets – A Popular Pastime
What? An affair? Cheating on your spouse? Am I serious? Kevin (not real name) was a married man with 2 kids. He explained to me, “My wife is bipolar and it’s depressing to be around her. She doesn’t like me and I don’t like her. But I can’t divorce her because she’s not capable of caring for the kids alone and neither am I. She’s often in … Continue reading Can an Affair Preserve a Marriage?
If a person has a brief affair in a relationship and the affair ends, should the betraying spouse keep the secret? After all, it seems that telling this secret would needlessly hurt the spouse who was betrayed and only serve to alleviate the guilt of the spouse who cheated. Right? I once met a man, I’ll call him Peter, who had a wife, 2 children, … Continue reading Secrets – Keep them or Reveal them?
Around the time one of my sons was 5 years old, I remember driving home from work feeling stressed. When I pulled into my driveway, I’d sit in the car for a full minute and breathe deeply to compose myself before entering the house. I didn’t do this to relieve the stress from my job but to prepare myself for the daily minor catastrophe that awaited me at … Continue reading Contagious Moods