The news of the week is good news.
Our family friend, Dorothy, a Ugandan who has filled this space from time to time, had a change of heart and mind and decided, with her husband Patrick, to get herself to a Kampala hospital for a planned caesarian section after all.
You’ll recall the great concern in the last post about her delivery because of the danger of childbirth in places like East Africa, this concern expressed by several doctors including Jean before she then had to fly off to Canada.
“We got more counsel and realized the error of the teaching we were getting,” Patrick told me when he called just a few hours after the successful surgery and delivery earlier this week of a baby girl.
So there is joy. And great relief.
(But not before some amount of angst and a couple of newspaper columns now freshly penned on the entire affair, columns on not just Dorothy’s story, but the story of so many Ugandan women who are so deeply influenced, for the worst, by religious extremism on this issue. Stay tuned.)
The baby girl’s name is still being ironed out. Like in the Arab World, names tend to be long around here.
Liz, from her sources, thinks it’s going to be “Conqueror.”
Reading these days includes Andre Dubus. The story is The Winter Father.
Robert Clark, my writing mentor for some good time while I was studying at Seattle Pacific University, can take credit for introducing me to the beautifully rich and disturbing story teller.
The Winter Father is about a father who is trying to figure it all out after divorce. He takes his two children, a young boy and girl who still love him dearly, wherever the cold and snowy road leads on weekends. Often enough, they lead to the local movie theatre.
And now the winter father has a new girlfriend.
It’s hard to know who the movies are really for; the kids or their dad, and so, recognizing this, he’s been taking them less often. Dad explains this to his new girlfriend, “We still go about once a week.”
– Did you know Lennie’s has free matinees for children?
– I have a divorced friend. She takes her kids almost every Sunday.
– Why don’t we go tomorrow?
– With your kids?
– If you don’t mind.
– Sure, I like kids. I’d like to have one of my own, without a husband.
And so this story goes.
One gets the idea that Dubus gathered all his own pains (and, as good writers do, his imagined pains) like a hen gathers her chicks. Then he put them in this wrenching piece, which, to me, is not just a creative way but a more deeply-human way of sharing this particular family footnote that I just came across.
A longitudinal study based on 17,000 (17,000!) children born in 1958 and followed up at ages 7, 11, 16 23 and 33 reported the following:
- Children with involved fathers have fewer emotional and behavioural difficulties in adolescence
- Teens who feel close to their fathers in adolescence go on to have more more satisfactory adult marital relationships
- Girls who have a strong relationship with their fathers during their teen years showed a lack of severe emotional problems as adults; including having healthier body images and fewer eating disorders.
Of course, it’s not rocket science to draw the line between two-parent homes and stability. But it’s always good to have some social science to validate common sense.
Of course, you also know already what I feel about singleness (although of a different variety than of the above-noted girlfriend.)
I was single for longer than many, and had the Children’s Mother not come along, I would still eke out a fine existence without embarrassment or shame.
(And I am not one discount that divorce, for a variety of reasons, is, sadly enough, part of life. But for the grace of God go I.)
But really, intentionally looking for a life as a single with children by choice, shutting the man out and shutting out life as it’s meant for children? Are there not less harmful ways to be so selfish?
So Jon made the school soccer team as its goalie, and he will have some late evenings for practices and games. With the long school run, it means spending at least some time at the home of Yosias, his friend from Eritrea.
With this in mind, Jon has now said to me, ‘Yosisas says that he wishes his dad were more like you.’
‘How so, Jon?’
‘He says that you’re so hairy and muscular.’