Sherri Mandell has a Master's degree in Creative Writing and has taught writing at the University of Maryland and Penn State University. She is the author of the book Writers of the Holocaust. She has written articles for the Washington Post. She is married with four children
By the last week of the summer the mothers in the park were prostrate. I had to revive a friend with smelling salts. The worst heat of the summer. The pool was closed because of problems with unidentified bacteria and other floating matter. The mothers were beside themselves. They couldn't bear the thought of one day more with the children. One day more of inventing activities. How many projects can you do with egg boxes and food coloring? How many days can you have mud tramped through the house as the kids traipse back and forth into the house from the wading pool? How many days can you feed the children three meals, all before noon? How many baking projects can you manage in the stifling hot kitchen? How many mobiles with wire hangars can you help a child create? How many paper plate faces? How many crayon melts in the oven? There are always some mothers who enjoy summer.
Natalie (30) and Paul (30) have been married for 15 years and have 2 daughters, 10 and 8. They met at a health club in Manhattan. Natalie was studying nursing and Paul was a massage therapist. They married and in order to make money, Paul became a real estate agent. Natalie quit her studies and raised her daughters. They moved to the suburbs of Long Island. Now 15 years later, Paul is fed up with his job and wants Natalie to pick up some of the slack.
In this drama, the wife, Amy (38) plays the role of "mother" and her husband Tom (48) the "irresponsible artist." It wasn't always that way. They met when Amy was a model in a painting course that Tom taught at the local college. At that time, Amy imagined Tom to be responsible and sophisticated. Tom imagined Amy to be carefree and creative.
In this drama, the difficulty of combining two families is put to the test. Kimberly (43) and Greg (50) have been married for 1 year. Kimberly has a teenage daughter, Dina, 15, from a previous relationship. (She never married and was a single mom.) Greg, whose first wife, Barbara, died of skin cancer, is the father of a grown daughter, Tanya, (21) from his first marriage.
Dana is a public relations executive and Allan is a chiropractor. Both of them have worked during their entire marriage. They have two children in high school. Now that the kids are out of the house more, Dana and Allan have more free time together. Dana feels like she wants more out of life.
In this drama, Sue unconsciously sets up a situation that confirms her expectations. She is convinced that Ethan will not give her what she needs: support, attention and understanding. But notice how Sue contributes to the negative outcome that she so much wants to avoid. This is what we call a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's the act of turning your belief into reality.
As the couple raises children, they may feel exhausted, and be less willing to give to each other, support each other and listen to each other with deep caring. So when somebody, an outsider, comes along who shows interest in them, who makes them feel alive, the married man or woman may be poised on the edge of a male-female dance of excitement -- and danger.
Do you, husbands, go to bed in fear and trepidation because your wife is already asleep in the bed? Is she as sensitive as the princess in The Princess and the Pea. Will the slightest movement perturb her highness? When you ever so carefully and gently pull the bedroom door open, ever so slowly, will she scream, "Shut the door, you insensitive brute!"
You know why they usually don't let women navigate up in space. If they get lost, there's nobody around to ask directions from. There's nobody to tell you: make a left at the gas station. There's no way to tell if you've gone too far. Men don't mind wandering lost for aeons -- or returning the six million miles to earth -- as long as they don't have to admit that they're lost.
Toby and Michael
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