Thursday, October 02, 2008

My Take on Sara Palin

As the mother of a son with profound disabilities, I was initially thrilled to hear a woman say she, as a fellow mother with a child with disabilities, would be my advocate in Washington. The world needs people like us in power. There would be less war and more compassion. I am a firm believer in all mothers who work. Mothers and fathers of children with disabilities have already made a huge difference in the world. They have not only fought long and hard to make things better for their children and for the rest of the population of people with disabilities, they have worked to make this a more just and humane world for all of us.

But the next day I saw a picture of her with her baby on a magazine cover and started to have doubts. This child is an infant! Governor Palin has more experience in Foreign Policy than she has as the mother of a child with disabilities. Her foreign policy experience is based on trade negotiations with her two closest neighbors, Canada and Russia. And she's been doing that for several months longer than she has been the mother of a child with Down's Syndrome!

I would be a lot happier if this child were older and I knew this family had successfully faced the challenges that are clearly on the horizon for them.

My concern is more than "Walk the Walk before you Talk the Talk." The first three years of being a parent of a child with disabilities are hell. Parents and siblings have to come to terms with the profound way in which the core of their lives will change. There is a deep grieving process that must occur if the family is going to come to a place of acceptance and move forward into a very different future successfully. There are an endless stream of questions that must be answered, doctors and physical therapists and other specialists to be consulted. Children with Down's Syndrome often have medical issues that need to be addressed in the first few years. There is also the problem of dealing with the confusing issues of aid. How much financial assistance will the family require and is it available? What kind of in-home assistance will be needed for the extra care required? There is a seemingly endless stream of helpful people who suddenly think
they have the right to invade your private life whether you have invited them in or not.

It sounds like Gov. Palin has a very supportive husband who will have to become the primary caregiver and advocate for their child. But even though I took on that role for our son, I would have been lost if I hadn't had my husband close by to support me and co-parent. I can't imagine how Mr. Palin will manage if his partner is on the other side of the continent!

There is rage, confusion, sorrow and guilt to be faced and every day seems to bring a new insurmountable problem. Many marriages do not survive this initial period. Many careers are lost simply because the stress from home is too great. Someone who has already dealt successfully with this process might very well be transformed into a person who could change the world.

There are many women I would like to see in Washington. I think, after tackling the difficult journey of becoming the mother of a child with disabilities, Sara Palin might someday become one of them. But right now, I think it is really too bad she didn't blink.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Mom, originally uploaded by Unquabain.

I just thought this was a pretty good picture of me.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Poem Crazy

I have this book, "poemcrazy" by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge. ("This is a wonderful book..." - Anne Lamott on the front cover. What more can I say?) Copyright 1996 - so it's been sitting in my house 12 years, I guess. I haven't read it yet because I love the title and the recommendation, but it turns out it terrifies me. Poems are supposed to be OTHER people opening themselves up to me and revealing their wonderous selves. I love to do the work of listening to others as they reveal themselves. It is sometimes hard work, but that just makes the moment of illumination brighter.

What I failed to pay attention to on the front cover is the red box (red for danger?) which says "freeing your life with words". MY life! This book has assignments. This book is about Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge teaching me to illuminate myself through my own poems! My Stars and Garters!

Yes, she opens herself up and it is delightful. She is a compelling, creative, forceful, enchanting human being. But then she wants me to... write things.

So this morning I picked it up again and started at the back - something I do when I'm scared of a book. Chapter 56: Sometimes, if things aren't going to fall apart, we have to take them apart. This may be what's heaped in a closet or it may be the way we've been living our lives. Our culture doesn't see the value of this occurrence. When crisis or collapse is happening, it's almost impossible to recognize the unraveling, much less the honor of it. It can feel like being bumped backwards out of control downhill into chaos as we level the old to break out of what binds us and create something new and free. If we had a name for this process, maybe we could see it differently and recognize the forward motion despite all appearances."

I have been in free fall since my father's murder. Maybe longer ago than that. Maybe it is time to spread my wings and learn to fly. For my birthday, I am spending two nights at "Heartland Spa" to learn to knit exercise, nutrition, meditation and self care into a new lifestyle. I need to unravel almost 100 pounds before I can fly. It is more than body fat - it is almost 100 pounds of stress and pain and things I don't want to explore.

Sometime in the next few weeks we will purchase our first home. I am deliberately rewriting the rules of my marriage once again. I think Charley and I are far too interconnected to ever divorce, but we are not happy and I have always wanted a happy marriage and do not see why we can't have one. So I'm changing it.

Maybe it is time to read this book.

The other book I'm reading (one of the other books) is Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac. I'm carrying it around with me in my knitting bag. I am not making any of the projects in it, I am actually making two other projects: One of them is a hand dyed lace shawl from Lorna's Lace and the second is Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket in a Paton's silk/bamboo blend for my granddaughter, Zora. But reading the almanac is so wonderful. She shares so much wisdom about knitting and, if you are a knitter, it flows into life so neatly. For the same reason I bought Ruth Page's Gardening Journal. But I don't think I'll start that until we pick the house and I have an actual garden!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


T&Mom, originally uploaded by Unquabain.

Don't we look good together?


N&Mom, originally uploaded by Unquabain.

I could get used to this grandmother thing

Mommy and Baby on the Water Front

Here is my daughter in law, Cher and my granddaughter, Zora. Aren't they both lovely and adorable?

The Family

The Fam, originally uploaded by Unquabain.

Here we are at Kelly Point, Portland, OR. Those are my two older "grandchildren" - Actually they are great niece and nephew, but they asked me to be their grandmother and I was honored to agree. Sam discovered drinking from a bottle made him cool and not at all like a baby! One of the coolest things that happened, although only briefly, was playing nothing much with Charley and Ben again. This time I could keep up on my cuatro!