By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
When I was a little girl growing up in Duluth in the Seventies, my mom used to watch The Carol Burnett Show on prime-time TV every week. I just adored Carol Burnett, and so did my older sister, who named her baby doll Carol, and managed to con me into naming mine Burnett. A doll named Burnett! Of course, I'm proud of it now, for the creativity and boldness such a name for a baby doll suggests, qualities I admire and seek to emulate. I still remember most of the song Carol sang at the end of her show: "I'm so glad we've had this time together, just to share a laugh and sing a song, da-da-da da-da da-da da-da da-da-da...comes the time we have to say 'so long.'"
I tell this story because, in fact, the time has come for me to say so long to you, the readers of Minnesota Parent. I feel a little like Carol used to look as she danced around the empty stage in the deserted theater with her mop. Transitions are disorienting, even when they are chosen and welcome.
As we announced a couple of months ago, I had the thrill of finding out in February that a book proposal I co-wrote with Katie Allison Granju--a long-time Minnesota Parent contributor, one of the first writers I connected with through parenting lists on the Internet, and most recently a contributing editor to Minnesota Parent and a dear friend--was bought by Simon & Schuster.
This is a huge and exciting step in the direction I've always intended to go--that is, toward developing my own work as a writer. Naturally I plan to sink my whole heart into writing this book, and it dawned on me awhile ago that in order to be wholehearted I'd simply have to clear my slate a bit. I examined the slate and here's the bulk of what I found, in no specific order: my husband and our kids, the rest of our family and friends, our house and home and gardens and pets, my internal and spiritual life, my work as a writer, and my work as an editor.
Hmmm. I know I said those were in no specific order, but coincidentally, when I racked my brain to decide what needed to give, there was only one clear option. I can't take any more time or energy away from my marriage or my children or our respective families, and if I put my friends any lower on the priority list, I won't have any. The house and gardens and pets already skate by on the bare minimum. And I have to write. That leaves editing as the sacrificial obligation.
Once that all came clear, the decision was, if not easy, simple. August will be my last issue as editor of Minnesota Parent. I send my love and good wishes to each of you as you continue the tradition of enriching our lives as parents and people through sharing the stories and experiences that bind us. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to walk the path together.
Here's something to ponder as you face real and potential transitions of your own:
love is a place
& through this place of
(with brightness of peace)
yes is a world
& in this world of
--e.e. cummings, Poems, 1923-1954
This juncture in my life is a yes, a fertility and a conception that will end in yet another birth. Just as, I might add, taking on the role of editor of Minnesota Parent three years ago was a yes. I have nothing to lose in admitting to you that I was terrified when my good friends (and, dare I say, mentors) Tom and Kris, who owned Minnesota Parent back then, called me at home one day and asked if I'd be interested in the job. I had three little kids--they were going on six, four, and one at the time.
The prospect of a monthly deadline sort of horrified me, as did the notion of learning, in front of all of you, how to edit a publication. But the scariest thing--and also the most thrilling thing--to contemplate was the opportunity to take big risks and head the magazine in the direction I knew I'd want to go: toward a highly personal, somewhat radical, very eclectic mix of essays and articles and poetry and prose by experienced and new writers revealing the secrets within outer identities as families. More than anything else, I just wanted to get us all talking, and to see that reflected in a thriving letters section. Jubilant and a wreck, I said yes--and over the months and years, so did you.
As I say yes again to this newest phase, I feel a continued gratitude for my years at Minnesota Parent. Perhaps especially for the warm, personal support I've felt from readers toward my own family. For those of you who have gotten to know me, John, Sophie, Max, and Lillie by following our chronicles on this page, I extend my thanks for your many thoughtful comments over the years. How fortunate I have been to feel upheld in my stumblings as a parent by so many loyal readers who've cheered us on through two moves, three sets of August birthday parties for our three children, all those many road trips to Michigan, New York, New England, and Quebec, our journey through founding a charter school, Sophie's transition from homeschooling to a Waldorf classroom, and the countless mundane but meaningful passages that've wound their way into my editor's journal. I've been especially touched by your thoughtful responses to--and warm acceptance of--my habit of exploring childhood memories in this space. Doing so has been a joy and a privilege.
As for all those kids, love them as hard as you can, and believe in them the way nobody else can. Take a risk if you need to. I love the letter published in this issue from a reader who, after reading the essay "The Last Summer of Childhood" in last month's issue, was unexpectedly inspired to plan a special summer with her own children. Let that letter writer inspire you to do something you've always wanted to do for yourself and your family.
As Buddha said, "Be a lamp to your self, be like an island. Struggle hard, be wise. Cleansed of weakness, you will find freedom from birth and old age" (The Dhammapada, translated by P. Lal).
Or, to wrap up on a more contemporary note, we have Jewel:
Lend our voices only to sounds of freedom/No longer lend our strength to that which we wish to be free from/ Fill our lives with love and bravery/And we shall lead a life uncommon
Stay in touch with your thoughts and ideas--you can reach me now and after next month at firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace, love, and blessed be!