The woods in the morning seemed both peaceful and lively. Birds could be heard in the pines and oaks, staking out their territory. Squirrels could be seen scampering across the leaves that covered the forest floor, while in the branches above, the new leaves of the birches and maples were outlined by the sun’s rays. The leaves, too, could be heard, rustling to the rhythm of the wind.
Peace and energy emanated simultaneously from the woods. Birds squabbled in the pines and oaks about territory. Squirrels scampered over the leafy carpet. The sun’s rays tickled the newborn birch and maple leaves. The rhythm of the wind in the leaves played a lively tune.
2. Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons
Wild food is used at our house is a unique method of entertaining. Our “wild parties” which are dinners where the chief component of every dish is some foraged food, have achieved a local fame. Many different meals can be prepared almost wholly from wild food without serving anything that will be refused by the most finicky guest. Such dinners are remembered and talked about long after the most delicious of conventional dinners have been forgotten.
Euell Gibbons uses the passive voice, I believe, because he is a scientist. He is used to reading and writing technical papers. He may think that this way of writing makes his work seem more credible. I think it would be more interesting if it were active rather than passive. Here is my attempt at revision:
We are famous for the unforgettable “wild parties” thrown at our house. Guests, afraid to attend one of these unusual events, invariably experience a change of mind and leave satisfied yet anxious for the next experience. The party begins in the woods, with participants becoming attuned with Nature and searching for the gifts she wishes to bestow. We return refreshed, arms laden with our forest bounty, ready to perform the rites of preparing our dinner from wholly wild ingredients. Other epicurean experiences rarely compare with the sumptuous “wild” feasts we enjoy.
Crafting the Personal Essay
Age is often a strange measurement. Some say, “It’s not the years, it’s the miles.” Some calculate age by maturity– many women consider their husbands to be perpetually 14 years old (not mine of course!). Most people have heard about “dog years”. If a dog is 4 years old, it is said to be 28 dog years old. I propose another type of age calculation– “mom years”. This calculation consists of the cumulative value of a mother’s children’s ages.
I am 173 mom years old. I have nine children (Yes, I do know what causes that). My oldest child is 28 and the youngest is 9 (5 boys and 4 girls). If I add up the ages of my children, 28, 27, 25,21,19,17,15, 12, and 9 years, it adds up to 173 years. Since I have been in relationship with my oldest son for 28 years, I have 28 years of experience as a mother to him, likewise with the rest of my children. Therefore I truly do have 173 years of experience as a mother.
Even if you calculate the number of mom years I accumulated before my children reached adulthood, I have 143 years of experience in mothering– that is 18+18+18+18+18+17+15+12+9. I have experienced 6.92 years of pregnancy, 21 years of lactation, 16 years of homeschooling, 16 years of adolescents in the home (up to 4 at a time), and I have changed approximately 45,000 diapers (6 per day for 21 years). I dare say, I have learned a thing or two in all that time.
I am not ignorant of population concerns, a climate-change naysayer or a redneck who doesn’t understand environmental consequences, but I am a darn-good mother. I don’t recommend large families for the average person. I will even concede that it is probably a form of insanity to want so many children. However, I believe that the world could use many more families like mine.
I work at the WSU School of Nursing, helping to turn out nurses who will care for you and your families when you need it. My husband is a program manager at Hill Air Force Base helping ensure America’s security. My oldest son is a computer scientist with a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech, my next son is a neuroscience student and an Army reservist, my oldest daughter is a respiratory therapist at Ogden Regional’s NICU, my next child is a graduate student in medical physics at the U of U, and my younger children are coming along nicely as well.
My intention is not to disgust you with my bragging, but to make a case that I have something to offer in the area of rearing children and in making a contribution to society. I sincerely hope that a Master of Arts in English degree will help me to share my knowledge with young mothers, or older mothers, or with anyone else who would like to learn something from a 173-year-old mom.
I have been considering the role of marriage in society. A recent NPR program spoke about poverty in single mothers, it asked, “Can marriage lift single mother’s out of poverty?” More and more children are being born outside of wedlock. This is a subject that is close to my heart since I am expecting my first grandchild, a girl, in October. This granddaughter is the child of my 27-year-old son, Daniel, and his ex-girl friend.
The impact of this event has caused many ambivalent feelings in myself, and my children, who will now become aunts and uncles to this little girl. Because the birth is occurring without the benefit of marriage– the relationship of this infant to my husband, my self, and our children, is poorly defined. It might be different if the mother and father were in a committed co-habiting relationship– but only slightly better. We know that the mom does not want to be in relationship with my son, but that she wants to share parenthood with him.
Since they have a strained relationship, Daniel will likely not be in the delivery room when his daughter is born, he will not get to share the exquisite joy of spending many hours supporting his wife through labor and rejoicing at the birth. In addition to the 9 natural childbirths I have experienced, I have been a labor coach at other births. The sight of a man in tears at the beauty of the experience of what he and his wife have accomplished together, and the journey of parenthood they are beginning, is touching.
My son’s experience will be very different. He will become a father with all of the responsibilities of fatherhood and vey little benefit of family. He will be financially responsible for his daughter, but the mother will be the one who has daily contact with the child. He will miss many of those first moments- the first smiles, the first tooth, and the first steps. He will not get to come home from work to a little girl running to meet him and a wife to kiss him– but he will pay the bills.
This new infant will grow up passed back and forth between two households. The financial resources of the parents will be spread thin, they will have to purchase two of everything: two car seats, two highchairs, two beds, and two apartments. The child will eventually, most likely, have stepparents and split holidays and weekends between them.
I think that a shift in many perspectives, has added to the increase of children born to single mothers. Contraception has made it possible for people to mentally disconnect sexual activity from child bearing. They think that they are free to engage in sex without consequences. For those willing to consider abortion, this disconnect is more complete, but abortion can have profound lasting mental consequences on a couple– as does a pregnancy and childbirth.
One shift in perspectives effects what constitutes an acceptable spouse. Modern media has raised the bar. Sociologists talk about a “propinquity filter” a term that describes how people marry the people they are in close proximity to. You general don’t marry someone you have no connection with (mail order brides excepted). Now, because of social media, young people can compare their potential spouses with a nearly infinite multitude of candidates. Instead of being content to marry “the boy next door” or their “high-school sweetheart” with all his flaws, a girl looking for a man may hold out for a fictional “prince charming” just around the next website. Expectations are high not only in whom to marry– but how.
The average wedding costs $27, 000 (Reaney) in the United States (not including the honeymoon). I wonder what these young couples think they need! When my mother married, a wedding consisted of a dress (frequently hand-made), a ring, a clergyman, and a cake. My wedding was similar. Now, media-influenced couples, even from the lower middle-class, think they need to have an extravagant wedding, with thousands of dollars spent on flowers alone. Many couples postpone marriage because they can’t afford it. In reality, they can’t afford the type of wedding they feel pressured to provide.
Young couples are questioning the value of marriage. The threat of divorce is certainly a factor. Some couples feel that with a 50% likelihood of divorce, marriage is a poor gamble. Their solution for avoiding divorce is not to marry. They reason that a breakup is easier to recover from than a divorce. I believe that not making the commitment of marriage increases the likelihood of breakup. Commitment is the foundation of marriage. It is frequently the uniting factor, the element that carries couples through difficult times.
Without a firm, legally binding commitment, the lines of relationship are blurred. It is difficult for society to know how to relate to the couple- what should they be called? In the situation I have referred to, how do we as a family unit know where se stand in relation to this child? It is very awkward. I feel excited that I will have a granddaughter but my excitement is dampened because I don’t know how involved I will be allowed to be. It is a fluid and changing relationship.
I maintain that a significant benefit of marriage is that it defines a couple’s place in society, not only between each other, but with their extended families as well. Marriage defines the relationship of parents to the children, to grandparents and uncles and aunts. I would never use the term illegitimate to describe a person; it seems to imply that such a person does not count. I believe that every life counts, in a profound way. However, in my opinion a child born with out the defined boundaries of marriage is at a disadvantage because the closest relationships to him or her are ambiguous.
Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised that my old-fashioned ideas are not correct and the lack of marriage, in this case, will not negatively impact my granddaughter and the relationships she will have with her family, and society.
I do know that I will grow and learn from this experience and I will be wiser from it. In the meantime, I want to indulge in grandmother anticipation and excitement, but under the circumstances I feel that I must rein-in my emotions because of the undefined relationship I have with a woman I wish I could call my daughter-in-law.
Reany, Patricia. “Average cost of U.S. wedding hits $27,021.” Rueters. New York. 23 Mar. 2012: n. pag. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. .