Fathers Can Be Nurturers Too

Stephen and FlowersFathers Day actually sprang to life in 1910, the same year as the day honoring mothers. However, Mother’s Day was established as the second Sunday in May in 1914 and took hold as a celebration much faster. Father’s Day also arose in other places, each unbeknownst to the other and was celebrated sporadically for many years. In 1957 Senator Margaret Chase smith proposed it be officially established the third Sunday in June. However in the end it wasn’t until 1972 that President Nixon signed a congressional resolution establishing it like Mother’s Day, on a continuing basis.

It may seem strange that it took much longer to establish a day for fathers, yet until fairly recently in our western society, their role has been more often that of the protector and provider than of the nurturer. My children’s father was a case in point. My first child was about 6 months old when I had to go out and leave her in his care. I asked him to change her diaper if need be. On my return she wore an unfolded cloth diaper, pinned at the corners with the rest of the cloth dangling between her legs. Men didn’t care for their infants then.

It delights my heart to see fathers caring for their infants or toddlers in public. I see them now in markets as well as on sidewalks, in crowds at gatherings and at the beach. This is a new phenomenon in our society and I believe it is an important step toward happier children and a more balanced family life. The tenderness of men is a strong instinct and one I am very happy to see given a chance to blossom. In many older families one or more animal companions may take the place of human children as objects of nurturing love. It is healthy to care for a dependent whether animal or human. The heart thrives on the giving of affection.

My husband Stephen has taken to fathering a collection of succulents. He has evolved a garden in pots that he tends and looks after, calling them “the babies.” Once in the years when we owned our home and had the space for it, I was the gardener in the family. Two years ago he began by purchasing one small succulent garden. It was entirely his idea and he cared for it throughout the summer. He enjoyed it so much that soon he purchased more pots and more succulents and began putting together more miniature gardens.

Now his original single pot has expanded to five and he cares for them tenderly. It makes me happy to see him visiting them several times a day, making sure they are healthy and have enough water and generally caring for them. There is no limit to the nurturing instincts of fatherhood. They can be applied to any and all of creation. Our world came into being with a combination of different energies motivated by a creative force that continues to this day. We are the gardeners here, and the more participation in its nurturance that can be encouraged, the better.

Tasha Halpert

Driving Through the Past to the Future

grafron-photo-2          Children have little to no sense of the future, and they don’t have much of a past to remember. They live mainly in the present moment and that is why they might say, “I want it now!” because that is the time they know most about. For adults as they age, the past may tend to trail behind them like a long scarf. For them all too often it may be more vital than the actual present. The future may seem a vague, perhaps even fearful place to contemplate.

When I think about my childhood I have a collage of images: things I did, places I lived and played, those where I worked at learning. My adult past is far more present because it is more recent, especially the time I have lived here in Grafton. Because I have been in one place for twenty six years, my memories are attached to particular places. Some of these have changed others have not. All of them are in some sense present in my mind.

Recently, as I was driving through town on my way to the library, I looked around, remembering. When we first arrived here twenty six years ago, quite a bit was different. There was a furniture store where we bought our wicker porch set. There was a bookstore where we browsed and purchased a variety of books. There was a drug store with a marble soda fountain, where we found things to buy that we needed.

Some of the places I’ve mentioned have gone through several different transformations since. Yet my mind still holds the memory of what they looked like then. It’s almost as if in some way they still exist because I remember them so vividly. Yet it does not do to dwell to long on the past, or in it. If I become disappointed because the bookstore is no longer there, I cheat myself. I obscure the enjoyment of what is there because I am drenching it in regret.

As I drove through the past of my remembering, I was also driving toward the future. The years that we have spent here in this town have been good ones in our lives. Each place we have lived has held both difficulty and joy, sad memories and happy ones. I have no regrets about leaving any of them behind for where we are now. In my mind I can see, like an overlay, all the different times and places that have been and still are part of my life here.

The past and the future are not divided from one another; rather they are a seamless whole through which I travel at will. What is most important is to keep my eye on the present moment. If I don’t I am liable to lose my way or get into an accident. The present moment, while a product of all that has gone before, has its own uniqueness. It may bring me something I need to do in the future, or possibly something from the past that needs my attention. Either way, the present moment can help me to live mindfully and do the best I can.

 

Wrinkles by Tasha Halpert

As I went out to bring in my laundry, I reflected on how much I love hanging out my clothes. I have a number of racks I use to do this. Not only does it same money on the electricity for the dryer, it makes them smell good. I feel sad when the days get so cold I can’t dry my clothes out of doors. Even then I’ve been known to use the racks inside in the hallway. Dryers are probably the biggest energy hogs in any household, and I like to save the environment as well as my pocketbook from that burden.

The clothes I had hung outside were ready to come in. I’d been delayed hanging them up. My denim skirt crunched up in the washing machine since the night before had dried with its wrinkles intact. My first thought was, oh, now I’ll have to iron it. My second thought was no, nowadays wrinkles don’t seem to matter much. I laughed and hung up the skirt. By the time I was ready to wear it, some of the wrinkles would probably straighten out by themselves.

I grew up in an era when wrinkles were considered unacceptable. Making sure that my clothes were wrinkle free was an important part of my growing up years. Laundry was much more complicated than simply throwing the clothes in the washing machine and dryer. Though I never used it myself, I have memories of something called “bluing” that was used to make clothing whiter. I also remember starch used for shirts and other clothing as well.

Once an iron was an important household tool. From colonial times through Victorian ones, most homes, unless they sent out their laundry, had several flatirons. These would be heated on the ever burning cook stove or hearth. It was important to iron carefully because it was easy to scorch the white aprons, shawls or petticoats most women wore. Now heavy black iron flatirons are common in antique stores where they are sold for door stops.

I doubt many twenty-somethings own or have ever used an iron. Either they don’t need to eliminate wrinkles or they have clothes that don’t accumulate them. Permanent press probably eliminated many commercial laundries. In the past wrinkles were unacceptable, considered the sign of a careless or sloppy person. What I don’t remember is at what point clothing wrinkles ceased to be important to eliminate.

Wrinkles in the skin, most especially facial wrinkles seem to be another matter. Try to find a woman’s magazine without ads for wrinkle removing cosmetics or cover-ups. Judging from the ads, women and even some men also spend lavishly on plastic surgery. This seems sad. To me frown, smile and other lines present a record of a person’s lifelong expressions as well as of their attitude toward what life has had to offer. Perhaps one day these wrinkles too will become more generally acceptable.DSCF0175