Ariel brand laundry detergent just released a commercial that is more than just an ad. It’s even more than a sweet snapshot of a family at home. It is starting a conversation about gender equality, standards of upbringing for girls and boys and whether or not those things can change. Continue reading
1. “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.” – Lilo & Stitch (Walt Disney Studios)
Disney has ways of making all of us cry, but one of the universal “Hold on, let me grab the tissue” moments was when Stitch reminded Lio what “ohana” means. No matter what our family looks like or whether they are blood related to us, family sticks together.
2. “I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching, they are your family” – Jim Butcher (source)
Family isn’t always about blood relations – it’s about being there for each other. Don’t get so caught up in logistics.
3. “Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.” (source)
Our loved ones may not always be around when we need them, but know that they stay with us even when they go.
4. “Families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.” (source)
We may move on from our homes, but families help us keep our feet firmly planted on the ground.
5. “Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.” – Michael J. Fox (source)
We can trust a man who got his start in Hollywood on a show called “Family Ties” to know a thing or two about family bonds. Plus Michael J. Fox is just an all-around good guy.
The hospital room where my father lay deathly ill from emphysema was small and sterile. All of his friends in Alcoholics Anonymous were gathered in the waiting room telling stories and recounting fond memories of their time with Dr. John Mooney. This was 1982 and my father had been an upstanding citizen of our community for 23 years. He was a well-known surgeon who plummeted through the gates of hell with a drug addiction, along with my mother, until a series of miracles and loving friends forced him to get help. In the recently published book, When Two Loves Collide, by William Borchert, the readers can follow the heart-ache, pain, despair, and loneliness, on a spiritual journey with an ending that has touched thousands of lives.
The crowd that was gathered at the hospital that day seemed jovial. There was laughter along with the tears. At times, the nurse had to plead for silence as patients were complaining about the noise. It was a room filled with love and support. That’s how AA folks are.
I sat in a chair in the corner facing away from the group in dirty blue jeans. I wanted no part of the camaraderie. I was 20, strung out on drugs and homeless. Because my parents got sober in 1959, they understood addiction. In fact, they dedicated their lives to helping others. But they had done all within their power to get me sober, to no avail. They were pretty sure their only daughter, would die a horrible alcoholic death. A letter I received from them in 1980 read:
Dearest Carol Lind,
Your father and I love you very much, but we have accepted the fact that death may be the answer to your alcoholism. Although that would be the worst thing imaginable, we will have to find a way to be okay. You are always in our prayers.
Mama and Daddy
They had turned me over to God and gotten on with their lives.
My home was a small tent by the railroad tracks. In the mornings, I would awaken with leaves tangled in my hair. My mom found me there and asked me to come say “good-bye” to my dad.
So, as I sat in my corner of the ICU waiting area, I was alone. My father was the most important person in my life. He was witty, charming, and brilliant. But I couldn’t stay sober long enough to have a relationship with him. I wanted nothing more than to walk in his room, hold him, telling him how much I loved him. Instead, I sat in my cold metal chair, shaking, and thinking about getting high. When the doctor let me go in to see him, my dad looked at me with disgust and sadness in his eyes and asked me to leave.
Thank God for second chances. Much to the doctor’s surprise, my dad recovered and was released from the hospital. Several months later I hit my bottom with drugs. I asked for help and began my own journey into recovery. My dad was mostly home-bound. I learned in early sobriety to be helpful to others, so I spent time getting to know him & helping him. In his pajamas he taught me about the intricacies of baseball. He educated me on the many species of birds outside of his window. He showed me how to forgive others – no matter what they had done. He taught me about being of service to God and my fellows. I was able to make amends the best I could. An alcoholic or addict causes harm in ways too painful to express. But he forgave me. He did that not only for me, but for him. So he could have peace of mind.
Ours is a story of hope, forgiveness, and love. It is not a sad tale. When my father passed away on November 10, 1983, he knew I was safe and happy. That’s all he ever wanted, I suppose. I thought he wanted me to have fancy titles and prestige, but what he wanted was to lie down at night and not worry about his daughter. I am forever grateful I got sober in time to have a relationship with the greatest man I ever knew.
* * *
Carol Lind Mooney is an Attorney and Certified Addiction Counselor with over 30 years of experience helping alcoholics and addicts. She owns three recovery residences in Statesboro, Georgia and is a co-owner of Willingway, a nationally recognized treatment center also in Statesboro. She is the daughter of Dr. John and Dot Mooney, the subjects of “When Two Loves Collide,” the new book by Emmy-nominated writer Bill Borchert. The book is available on Willingway.com, Amazon.com, books.com and in most major book stores.
For the most part, I make a big effort not to tell “cute things my daughter said” stories to anyone but the grandparents. I have a list of topics that are often boring to other people, and this subject definitely has a place there.
But I simply can’t resist telling these two connected stories.
Every Sunday night, we have “Movie Night,” when we watch a family movie. A few weeks ago, I chose the 1937 movie “Lost Horizon” (a great movie if you haven’t seen it).
My eight-year-old daughter was so delighted with the movie and the idea of Shangri-La that she was inspired to write a sequel, about what happens when Robert Conway returns to that magical land. “I’m going to call it ‘Lost Horizon: Everyday Life in Utopia,’” she told me. Everyday life in Utopia! I love that phrase so much. It’s my new motto for my happiness projects.
I’d told her about the word “utopia” and what it meant. Some days later, I was reading aloud to her from Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. I explained that Camazotz, in the book, was a “dystopia,” and gave a little lecture about how that was the opposite of a utopia. My daughter listened patiently.
About a week later, as we continued with A Wrinkle in Time, I asked in a teacherly voice, “Now do you remember the word for the opposite of utopia?”
“Metopia,” she said, without missing a beat. It took me a moment to get the joke.
Everyday life in Utopia and Metopia!
If you watched the movie Brave and then saw the recent corporate rendering of the willful protagonist, Merida, you may have been taken aback. The film’s Merida was modeled after the 13-year-old daughter of director Brenda Chapman – she’s wild, sweet, and pretty but in an unglamorous, un-womanly way (as would be expected of a girl her age.) The makeover, all in the name of princess branding, portrays her with an hourglass figure, waist as tiny as a Barbie doll’s, “vapid,” “unrealistic,” and “vacant looking.” Take a look for yourself:
When these are the images our children receive as messages of what to aspire to – and Merida’s strength and courage are conflated with her tiny waist and heavily made up face – it’s no wonder advertising and media have perpetuated a culture of body-shaming. I don’t have kids yet, but I can imagine the turmoil I may face if my future daughters (or sons!) ever ask to dress up as a Disney princess… Ariel’s sea shell bra, Jasmine’s sultry eye make-up, and all of them with long, flowing straight hair, slender figures, and perfectly proportioned features. There’s nothing wrong with being “beautiful” in a mainstream, heteronormative, Western aesthetic, except when that kind of beauty is elevated above all other forms, and when that alone is what’s associated to success, strength, and heroism.
So what are we to do?
Mom and photographer Jaime Moore provides us with an excellent example. Instead of gifting Belle gowns and Cinderella crowns, Moore decided to commemorate her daughter’s fifth birthday by dressing her as five real-life heroines for a photo series entitled “Not Just a Girl…” The series pays tribute to Amelia Earhart, Coco Chanel, Susan B Anthony, Helen Keller and Jane Goodall – powerful women and influencers in their respective fields. Moore explains her motives on her website:
My daughter wasn’t born into royalty, but she was born into a country where she can now vote, become a doctor, a pilot, an astronaut, or even President if she wants and that’s what REALLY matters.
Here are two of the five photo juxtapositions, both of which portray just the kind of confidence, sass, and radiating inner beauty that I hope my daughters and sons someday feel in themselves. And it just goes to show that we really have no need for Disney princesses with so many incredible real women out there to inspire us.
What real-life role models would you encourage your kids to look up to?
There is nothing quite like a trip to the laundry room at 2 AM. Especially if you are tripping barefoot through dewy grass, under guava trees, past a tire swing. Especially if you are burning between the legs and carrying reeking sheets in a massive, infuriating bundle. You will never forget this one, sister.
For two months I thought I was pregnant. “Thought” is too subtle. I dreamt in horrifying wakefulness, every passing minute a sharp reminder. I’m too young. I have no idea how to be a mom. Have a child with that brute? Dear God, no. The days tore through me as I wandered around, disembodied. My belly, my legs, my beating heart – they became possessed, first in my mind and later in the heavy discomfort that literally weighed me down. It was a long, bloodless summer.
I have never been raped. But they say one in four women in the U.S. will be sexually assaulted at some point in her life. This fear has called on me. First when my beloved clutched my neck and showed me just how strong those muscles were. I forced his arm away and held my tongue until…a more appropriate moment. “I’m sorry,” he later said, sheepishly. “I thought you wanted that.” I was left to comfort and assure him all was well. Next time I want to be surprise-strangled in the midst of tender love, I’ll make my desires known loud and clear. Asshole.
Excuses come to mind…. I’m not a prude. It was an honest mistake. He felt really, really bad. And then I marvel at my eagerness to explain his behavior away. It must, after all, be my fault. Part of me still believes this. What wretched girlfriend would so mindlessly mislead her man and cause him the pain of embarrassment? My neck aside, curse the woman who would ever wound a man’s pride. And, to be honest, I’ve kept my mouth shut through worse.
Fear came knocking next on the indigo latch door of a hut in rural New Zealand where was I staying during a 3-month solo backpacking trip. The pillow from which I awoke daily to falling guava pits now accommodated two heads. Months had passed in the span of days, and I reluctantly welcomed an unlikely companion into my fairy house. I had vacillated between disgust and intrigue. His eager, forward advances, flowers on my door, accentuated brushes past one another in the kitchen. The whole seduction at once nauseated and thrilled me.
In truth, I saw it coming. The festive air of night, the dancing, the liquor, my own brilliant and sensual self-awareness. When I finally closed the door of my little hut, I knew it wouldn’t stay shut for long. He came to me like a fugitive, calling gently at first, then stealing in eagerly.
Events spiraled in a wild, painful frenzy. I lost my footing on some astral ledge and slipped through the next minutes in terrifying confusion, trying to keep up. He didn’t notice. He did exactly what he had come to the fairy hut to do. For a sliver of time I existed only as an enveloping cosmic hole. A vessel into which the frantic lover might dump all his longing, his rage, his memories, his guilt, his sensitivity, his insecurity and his hunger. And it was my responsibility to let him do so.
I lay still for a moment, used up. In the past I might have turned to my side and fallen numbly asleep. But rage slowly devoured me. I sat up and faced him, as I had never done a sweetheart before. Words fell like poison from my dry mouth: How dare you? You miserable, pathetic excuse of a man. How dare you abuse me in this way. His shame sickened me. The panic in his eyes, the clammy palms, the hasty retreat.
The crisp night was a welcome relief from my hut, once so lovely and solitary and girlish. My arms laden with sheets, at least I was free. Back to sweet solitude. Back to the night and me. Who knew what the morning would bring? But for the next few dark hours I was free in my fiery, impassioned rage. Free and fierce and licking my own wounds.
In the end, I wasn’t pregnant. But there also wasn’t any blood for the rest of the summer. And my body didn’t feel like my own for nearly a year after the fact. At least it would never be his again. We agreed to forget the night. As though I could forget, as though I would want to forget. How, after all, could I then raise my future daughters to know the power they hold within their bodies, and the great and terrible responsibility it is to be a woman?
That night will always exist in my archives. And the fear I have tasted, the rage and shame, too. Sixteen and twenty are fond memories, but I would shrink from visiting those eras again. That girl has mountains and friends and new ideas to comfort her now. She knows that her mind and her beauty and her soul are nothing short of holy, and should be treated as such.
By sharing our memories with the intent to inspire and not to frighten, the girls of our past selves and of the future heal and reclaim their power. After all, there is so much to look forward to. The air is still sweet and fresh after dark, and I still welcome the hope of new love. Somewhere beyond the moss and vines, true freedom awaits. And it will find a fierce, warm, and intoxicating home in my arms.
A few years ago I embarked on a mother/daughter project that became one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It was a book project I did with my mother, Thursdays with Mom & Michael; a daughter’s loving tribute to her mother’s weekly dinner parties in Aspen.
The project came about because my mother is the queen of entertaining and she was hosting weekly dinner parties in Aspen. Each week she would invite a new group of ten interesting folks to share in an evening of lively conversation, beautiful table settings, and delicious food from Aspen’s top private chef, Michael Rueggeberg. I came up with the idea of photographing these parties and assembling the images in a book. I hired local photographer Karl Wolfgang to shoot the tables, food, and people and what happened is that the pictures were amazing. These parties were the talk of the town.
Because Michael was only available on Thursdays, we titled the book Thursdays with Mom & Michael, and the rest is history. Historic, I say, because my mother decided to donate ALL AUTHOR PROCEEDS to the charity closest to her heart; Evelyn Lauder’s The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Sadly, Evelyn Lauder passed away recently of cancer, but my mother is a twenty-five year breast cancer survivor and she is here to make sure a cure is found.
The reason my mother picked breast cancer research is that finding a cure is what is important to her. She is one of those brave women who reaches out to others with cancer, even if it’s at the table next to her at a restaurant with someone she never met before. She is the rock and support for others personally who have the disease. She also started the Wellness Center in Cincinnati, Ohio — an organization that reaches out and lends support on many levels to cancer patients in our hometown. We all have our mission, and my mother found hers.
My point in telling you about our mother/daughter project is to say that if you can find something meaningful to do with your mother, it is invaluable. For us, it was a way of bonding that went beyond shopping together or having lunch. It was so much fun working with her on an entirely different level of creativity, and she only hung the phone up on me once! So, I consider that a triumph.
We decided to self-publish the book rather than wait years for an editor or publishing company to pick us up. And then decided it cost so much to make it ourselves we would rather donate all our money to a charity. Without a blink or hesitation my mother chose her friend Evelyn Lauder’s amazing charity, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Evelyn Lauder of the Lauder family championed this amazing organization which funds labs and scientists — innovative clinical research at leading medical centers worldwide because their mission is to achieve prevention and a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime.
To blow our own horn, we have donated a substantial sum to the foundation — and we won the IPP Gold Medal book award for food and entertaining. My mother calls this book her “celebration of life” and we have been blessed with some celebrity fans with an Aspen connection who also support our project by buying their copies; Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, Felicity Huffman, and Hill Harper. If you would like a copy knowing your money goes to an important charity go to Amazon or www.anitarosenberg.com.
You never expect to run into your mother in certain places: a nightclub, a concert, or at one of those juice-detox bars that are springing up everywhere in Los Angeles. But how about in the middle of an intersection on Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills? I mean, I really ran into her….or I better say I crashed into her! Yes, with my car, in the middle of a posh residential area in the flats of Beverly Hills. Luckily she was in her car as well or I could have done serious damage.
“I grew up hearing the story of my mother riding on the train from Brooklyn to Long Island. She was pregnant with me while holding my sister on her lap, who, for the entire train ride wouldn’t stop screeching. When we were teenagers, my mother told my sister and me that she was so humiliated at not being able to quiet her child that she fantasized throwing my sister out of the train. Her fantasy even included her feigned shock at the baby ‘falling out the window.’ My mother ended the story by saying that she imagined screaming ‘my baby, my baby’ to cover up her crime. She told us the story without shame- it just was what it was- her honest unsanitized, experience.
While uncomfortable and sometimes outrageous thoughts can go through your head mental health professionals have always said what separates the healthy from the non healthy is whether you act on those thoughts. If it stays in your head, you’re just human and can still be a wonderful mother.
Talking to so many mothers and listening to their self-recriminations informed our creation of what we call the perfectly imperfect mother. We use the word Perfect with irony. She is perfect because she isn’t perfect. She is our perfectly imperfect mother, a real person with plenty of confusion, positive and negative feelings and contradictions, allowing daughters to relate to their mothers as human beings.
The Perfectly Imperfect Mother meets almost all of her daughter’s needs when she is a baby, and as she grows, slowly frustrates some of her daughter’s needs to give her the ability to deal with failure. The Perfectly Imperfect Mother gives her daughter the message that she wants her daughter to be moral and responsible, to have the strength to make her own choices and appreciate her own abilities and talents. The Perfectly Imperfect Mother doesn’t see her daughter’s struggles or frustrations as proof that she isn’t a good mother. Instead, she sees these behaviors as appropriate individuation. She understands that her daughter may make very different choices in life from the ones she made and doesn’t interpret this as a rejection or as a failure of her mothering.
The Perfectly Imperfect Mother acknowledges that, by being imperfect, she is helping her daughter learn to face the complexities of life. Her role is to help her daughter adjust, cope, and persevere. Mothers shouldn’t try for perfection because perfection creates an impossible ideal, one that no daughter can either emulate or live up to.
Women are bombarded with so many unrealistic images that don’t really occur in real life. As a national morning show co-host told her viewers, “In order to juggle my job and be a good mother, I require a staff of good people helping me juggle all my roles including looking this good. I have a nanny, a trainer, a hairstylist, and a makeup expert.” While we all know that nobody is perfect, it doesn’t stop our inner voice from critiquing ourselves and setting unrealistic expectations.
What is most important to know is, if you are empathic, responsive, and respect boundaries, a lifelong close relationship with your daughter is probable.Children are very resilient and can accept imperfections when their mother exhibits the above qualities. This goes both ways, you will be more forgiving of your daughter’s flaws if she can demonstrate empathy. Empathy is the foundation for mature relationships; it promotes connection by inviting intimacy. We define empathy as an awareness of the impact of one’s behavior on others and a sense of responsibility for this. Empathy is also associated with sympathy, warmth, and compassion.
Mothers shouldn’t try for perfection because it’s a set up for failure. Perfection creates an impossible ideal. By being imperfect, a mother helps her daughter learn to face the challenges and disappointments of life, which inevitably happen.
Characteristics of the Perfectly Imperfect Mother:
- Meets a daughter’s needs as a baby, and can meet her daughter’s needs as an adult, but not necessarily immediately;
- Understands that her daughter’s failures can build resiliency (Permits her daughter to fail in order for her to become resilient);
- Is empathic;
- Is responsive;
- Respects boundaries;
- Permits her daughter to make her own choices;
- Refrains from stepping in to fix things her daughter can do for herself; and
- Doesn’t take her daughter’s failure or imperfections personally.
- Helps her daughter adjust, cope, and persevere
Dear Parenting RoadMap Guides,
Yesterday my daughter Julie’s parked car was rear ended by another car and she called me before she called the police. I could understand her call if she was hurt and frightened, but this was just one of those aggravating, pain in the neck situations. I really wish she had told me about it after it was done and dealt with. I feel like her personal 911. What’s going on?
We raised our daughters to feel entitled, and when they can’t or don’t want to do something, we jump into action and fix it. For example, one mother told us of a recent experience with her adult daughter. “In a snow storm my daughter did not even have a shovel in her apartment to dig out her car because consciously or unconsciously she expected that my husband and I would move mountains to shovel out her car to rescue her.”
Our daughters often don’t know that they are in peril because we save them before they feel danger. They don’t set themselves up with provisions to be self-sufficient. Many may not know how to take care of basic needs because we have created such a finely woven safety net. Our hyper vigilance makes it harder for our kids to walk away from us.
The concept of family has changed. We raised our daughters to believe that families are democratic. The truth is that today more families are less hierarchal. We encouraged our daughters to have a voice, and as adults they use their voices to summon our assistance. This change may create some role confusion for adult daughters. It also presents new opportunities for closeness, which we may not have had with our own mothers.
It isn’t that our parents weren’t interested or loved us any less; it’s that they were satisfied to hear about our lives, whereas we want to experience things with our daughters firsthand. We fight to stay in the game. Our daughters may expect more from us because we are the first generation that focused on our children’s happiness to the extent that we were involved in the nuances of their lives. We were devoted to making our daughters’ lives less difficult, if not easy, believing this “helicopter” caretaking would create happiness.
- Communicate your confidence in her ability to be an independent self-sufficient woman.
- Develop respectful interdependence to support more collaboration and less hierarchy, which will enable your daughter to chart her own course.
- Be an active listener and give advice only when asked.
- Empower your daughter to take care of herself by resisting the urge to fix everything.
- Encourage a sense of well being by telling your daughter that you respect and admire her for how she handles herself and the decisions she makes. Of course, this praise must be genuine.
- Provide support, which is different from enabling behavior (continued dependence).
- Encourage her to learn to live with the consequences of her decisions.
- Refrain from saying, “I told you so,” when a decision she makes disappoints her.
- Be open to the choices your adult daughter makes, even when those choices may not be the ones you would make.
- Believe that your adult daughter is okay and can stand on her own, and let her know that.