Category: Parenting

Butterfly Lessons: Spring 2011

for Isabella

Photos by Isabella

Yesterday during the lemony light of dawn
we write notes to each other on a tiny pad
stuff them into a book pocket—
messages to keep her bold.
Today by the sun-warmed pool
under the snowy Cascades
a butterfly lands
opens praying wings
of black and white stripes.
We are all entranced by the bold flyer
that swoops and returns to pool’s edge
How amazing the parents cluck
So close to the children.
But Isabella is the closest
fixes it with her large lashed eyes
It sits for photos and for praise
swollen from pollen in the nearby lilac.
Satisfied it sweeps off without a goodbye
IMG_0007and we wave together
happy for the visit


for Jordan

At the indoor garden
blue morpho lands on a his shoulder
then a convocation of owl wings on a plate of banana peels
Behind a pane of glass the volunteer snips the just hatched
In a few minutes a storm of wings released
in a flurry of amazed sighs
IMG_0006A swallowtail with a proboscis
lands on a fingertip
searches for the hibiscus pollen
holds on for a dear brief life
JJ runs away and twirls about
rushes into the enclosed hall
away from all that fragile beauty
drying their wings in a profusion of pride

Linda Drajem

Letter from the Lone Star State: Guest Blog

Last year, I wrote a letter to Matt Dooley, then a senior at the University of Notre Dame, who had recently come out to his teammates on the varsity tennis team and written about the experience for  Matt’s mom Michelle saw my letter, and sent me a kind note.  I asked Michelle if she would be willing to write a letter to Matt and our readers on a topic of her choice. Her letter is the first of many guest blogs that we hope to feature this year. Thanks for reading!

Dear Matt,texas-gay-300x161

Dad and I recently visited New Orleans. We’ve made this trip several times to attend conferences or other events. It is one of our very favorite cities. We’ve seen most of the important landmarks many times, including the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the past, when I’d seen this very imposing edifice, I found it architecturally and historically interesting.

This time, however, as we walked by this historic site, I felt particularly moved. The events that would be taking place in this building had personal significance. I prayed that God would give the judges reviewing the Ban on Marriage Equality the wisdom and courage to strike it down and allow marriage for all.

There are currently 35 states, plus the District of Columbia, that allow same-sex marriage. While some argue that it is a state’s right to rule on this, the impracticality and injustice of the situation fairly screams out. A couple that is legally married in one state would not have their union recognized in another. In fact, some states, like Tennessee, may actually nullify a marriage that was performed and recognized elsewhere. Everyday occurrences, like job transfers, the decision to move, insurability, etc, continue to be limited for these couples.

Many fear that the Supreme Court, when they rule this spring, may avoid making the controversial decision of marriage equality for all by declaring marriage equality to be a state’s right. I am most embarrassed to say that my beloved home state of Texas is NOT one of the 35 states that currently allows the marriage of same-sex couples, and that concerns me.

While I honestly believe that everyone should have the right to marry the one they love, in my heart of hearts, I have to admit that my feelings are personal. I want this for you!

I want to see all of my children in a happy, loving, committed relationship. Marriage should not be an opportunity afforded only to my heterosexual kids. As each of you was growing up, one of the many things I prayed about was that the three of you would find spouses who would love and cherish you. That prayer has not changed with the knowledge that you are gay.

As you know, I’ve been attending PFLAG meetings for several months. This has been a wonderful opportunity for me to both learn and to share. While there have been many moving moments, one that particularly stands out to me was at our pre-Thanksgiving meeting. Everyone brought a holiday dish to share. I sat next to a young man who mentioned that he was going to meet his boyfriend’s family for the first time over the Thanksgiving holiday.

It gave me hope. I found myself looking forward to the day when you felt comfortable enough to bring someone home for us to meet. Let me reassure you: if you bring someone home that you truly love, we will accept that person with open arms–the same way we accepted both your brother-in-law and your sister-in-law. Should you decide to marry (and I will defend your right to do so), I’ll wear a drop dead gorgeous dress and walk you down the aisle! I also want that wedding to take place in Texas.

The addition of both of your siblings’ spouses to our family has only enriched us. I have no doubt that whomever you choose to share your life with will do the same. We will welcome you both with open arms. Of course, in typical mom fashion, I will tell you not to rush into a relationship (just like I told your sister and brother), but to pursue your education and other personal goals first!

I also hope that the person you fall in love with has a family that loves and accepts you both. Most importantly, I want you both to be spared the devastation of being rejected by loved ones. But also, like your siblings, I hope that your in-laws become a second family. We can’t have too many people who love us in this life. I will gladly share you with people who cherish you, too!

In the meantime, we will support your right to marry with our voices, and our votes. More importantly, we will live a quiet example of love and acceptance. I truly believe that the mindset of most people is changed not by the loud, squeaking wheel of protest but, rather, by seeing others that you respect or admire demonstrating a behavior you hadn’t previously considered important. We will try to model a behavior that demonstrates this belief in hopes that others will come to emulate it as well.

Love,  Mom

Fathers’ Day Reflection

Dear Christopher,

What a joy it is for me to be around so many great dads. Now you may think, why of course, Dad, your grandfathers, you guys all fill the bill. That is true. But growing up I saw many dads who were not and some spectacularly so. They were remote and alcoholic, or plain abusive. Some of my mother’s uncles were very mean to their children. Lucky for me my dad was just a wonderful man. You remember how Pa was. He joked with us, played with children, and helped any of us in the family. Pa was truly a shining example of a loving father and grandfather—those merry eyes, that deep belly laugh, the teasing words that did not hide his kind actions.

ScanI could call him in the middle of night for help (and did on occasion) and he would be at our house. Not only did he work on our home, also he built furniture for all of us. I love my memory of coming home from work one day when you were a teenager and finding you and Pa in our family room installing bookcases that you worked on together. You were both lying on the floor kicking them in since the measurements to fit the wall were a bit tight! But as terrific as he was, he was not around much when I was growing up. He had to work two jobs, hard physical labor, and was on the couch resting when he came home.

When I married I wanted a partner who planned to be an active and involved parent. I made a good decision Scan 1because your dad was and is every bit of that. As you and Mark were growing up he was there at all stages, even changing diapers and feeding babies at a time when men did not do that so much. Later he would organize various activities such as playing ball, planting a garden, going to Boy Scout camp, planning our family vacations. He is an involved granddad as well. We both take great pleasure in being part of our grandchildren’s life.

Daddy & ZoeI have observed Mark’s parenting skills. He is also a very involved loving dad. He takes an active part in all of Noah’s many plans, building a tree house, creating a mountainous village around the Christmas train set, going camping with his kids. I see his special relationship with Zoe, baking and cooking with her, pushing her to try new adventures in hiking and skiing.

Also I have observed you and Patrick. It’s clear how much care and devotion your give your kids. There are games and fun as well as rules and homework. I have been on nature walks with your kids and have seen you100_0511 challenge them to go biking or kayaking. One of my best memories is seeing you play in the pool with your kids. They love being in the pool with you and Patrick. One time when Dad and I took them on an overnight in a hotel with a pool I saw how sorely they missed you. We were not nearly as much fun.

Yes, I feel lucky to have all you dads in my life. And your kids are lucky too. Very lucky!! The love you dads show is encompassing. Pa would have been proud of you all. Though he might tease you those twinkling eyes would shine!

Happy Fathers’ Day!

Love, Mom