Jekyll Island Beach 2012

Jekyll Island Beach 2012

Swimming Through Life

Thursday, December 19, 2013


The Rogue Speaks:

When I lived in Memphis, many years ago, I was good friends with a couple who lived down the street.  The woman, Sarah, was sweet and pretty.  She had quite a variety of rescued animals that she cared for in their spacious back yard.  There were dogs, cats, and even a couple of goats, and a few rabbits.  She devoted all her attention to her adopted animals.

The couple had three children--two girls and a boy.  The older girl pretty much took care of the younger two, because Sarah was always busy with her pets.  Her husband, a prominent doctor, did what he could to help out with the children, but he had a very busy practice, and was pretty much whipped by the time the weekend came around.  It was a good thing that he made such a good living, because keeping all those animals was costing quite a bit.

One day, the husband had just had enough.  He filed for divorce and got custody of his children.  Several months after the divorce, I ran into him and the children at the local children's museum where I had taken my little granddaughter for the afternoon.  While the children played on the dinosaur playground equipment, he and I sat on a bench and talked.  I asked him what had pushed him over the edge.  He was very quick with his response.
"Control," he replied.  "Sarah really didn't want to deal with the children, or with me.  She just wanted us to do what we were told, and no questions asked.  She wanted to be in control, and her animals fit the bill. Dealing with them is, well, it's easier.  Animals don't have opinions, don't talk back, and all they want is to be petted and fed.  So it was all about control."

I could see where he was coming from with that response.  Whenever Sarah "adopted" an animal that turned out to be hard to control, she simply found another home for it.  She wanted her life to be "simple."  She didn't want any conflict.  "How nice for her," I thought to myself.    She wanted her "pets" to adore her, no questions asked.  And for the most part, they did.

But life is not really like that.  As adults, we have responsibility to our progeny.  They depend on us to show them just how to live in the real world.  If we don't want to live in the real world, and if we always want things to only go our way, we are in serious trouble.  Animals are, well, they are just animals.  They do not  need to know how to complete their homework, drive a car, learn a trade, or graduate from college.  They just live to be fed and petted.

Our children want and deserve much more from us.  They deserve to learn the rules of life.  They deserve to be loved and valued above any animal.  They need to be encouraged to become the best and smartest, and most successful person they can be.  Of course, if they fight you on this, and are determined to live their lives the way they want to, without any guidance from you, at least you have given them the option.

Feed and pet your cat or dog or your goat, rabbit, pig, or whatever. And for sure, love them. Take them for their shots annually, and don't let them play in traffic.  Protect them.  As for your children, put them first in all aspects of your life, give them the best that you can possibly give, so they grow up to be upstanding, responsible citizens of the planet--adults who love, study, and learn, and have the desire to achieve far beyond any expectations that you may have had for them.

Are you familiar with the work of Philip Larkin, a british poet? Here is the first stanza of a poem that particularly speaks to me:

"They [mess] you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had,
And leave some special ones for you..."

If you would like to read the rest of this poem, please click on this link:

I wish I had been a better parent to my children.  If I could go back in time, and could have heeded the words I have written here in hindsight....

That concludes my offering for Alphabe-Thursday.  I may skip next week, so I'll see you next year!!!!!


Tracy Cook said...

i love the part about what our kids deserve so true

lissa said...

you're right, it's not like raising kittens, there's really no way around tantrums and anger and misunderstandings, not likely you can feed them a piece of carrot and make everything alright. it's probably why there are so many parenting books.

that's all I have on the subject. hope you have a wonderful day.

Karen S. said...

Oh my goodness, your post today really hits our family, presently. The control issue is one that my daughter-in-law's mother is dishing out one mean serving after another. I like that poem too, even with the F word, Hehehehehe! It really makes a lot of sense. As for your wishing you were a better mother, shame on you I say. I know I don't know all the back story, but I feel I somewhat know your character, and I know your children are all okay, and perhaps even quite better than many other young adults today. I know you are a super grandma too, and a good doggie mommy! So pat yourself on the back, I'd say you did just fine!

Judie said...

Karen, zi'm sure that my post hit a lot of families. I wish my children were all o.k., but sadly, they are not. I cannot say that it is all my fault, because genes have more to play in it than we ever suspected. I have three kids with ODD, and I think that both sides of the fence had a part in that. Actually, one side of the fence more than the other. Thanks for your support, my sweet friend!!!

BECKY said...

Wonderful post, Judie! I've read that poem by Philip Larkin. It's a wonder any of us are half-way "normal," considering all the generations before us....all who [messed] up their kids! One of my best friends passed away about two weeks ago. I mention her (not by name) in one of my chapters: "A wise friend once told me she believes part of our journey here on earth is to forgive our parents. It took me a long time to forgive both of mine for not being perfect—for not being whom and what I thought they should be. As soon as I did, though, I felt the burden of anger, sorrow, and regret lift up and out of me. I was finally set free."

Sue said...

Amen. Our kids deserve our best, and sadly for them, we do most of our parenting when we are young and untrained!

Ah well, we love them, right? And that's the most important thing, in the end.


Granny-Guru said...

What a sad story. I suspect mental health issues, likely brought on by childhood abuse. Children of alcoholics, for instance, often have an overwhelming need for control because their lives were completely unpredictable when they were growing up. But, it is likely the doctor tried everything he could to help his wife heal, even letting her have all those pets, in hopes that would be enough, so she could have some kind of normal family life. How sad for all.

Gattina said...

I think women like this one only love themselves and nobody else. It's very easy to combine children and animals living together, be a loving parent and also a loving pet owner. Kids adore to have pets it's part of learning responsibilities. I was never allowed to have a pet in my childhood and have missed this very much. As adult I always had pets, a son and a husband, but we were (and are) a loving family !
I know a girl like the woman you describe. When she was young she never wanted kids but always had animals but only beautiful once, not a poor rescue dog or cat. Today when she sees me with my grown up son, the little grandson and the cats of no special breed she is jealous ! She became old and bitter but has a beautiful little dog and ... a husband I admire, that he is still with her !

storybeader said...

I'm just so surprised that all the children went to the husband. I guess he was the one who wanted them around... Sad but it takes all kinds. Why did she have children in the first place? {:-Deb

Claudia Schlottman said...

Judie! You are BACK! Love this post and the love you put in it. Merry Christmas.

Lmkazmierczak said...

Well said. Have a wonder filled happy merry Christmas♪

Bruce Coltin said...

It is a rather sad story, but I think it would make a great movie. You might want to take a shot at writing the screenplay. Happy New Year, Judie!

Jenny said...

I love the ideas you expressed here...

I know I certainly did the best that I could with my children but sometimes I feel that my best wasn't enough.

Thanks for sharing this enlightening post for the letter "E"!

Excellent job!


Splendid Little Stars said...

yes, of course!
Sue said it well. We gain parenting experience only by doing and by the time our kids have grown up, we (hopefully) could do a fabulous job. But love (as a verb, and all its meaning entails) is indeed the most important thing.