Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recalling Labor Day in January

Exactly 30 years ago this morning, Annie went into labor.

Tomorrow morning—at 9:20 am to be precise—our son, Ceilee, will no longer be trustworthy. At least not according to guidelines proposed by free speech activist Jack Weinberger, who first advocated that standard back in 1964 (when Annie and I were not yet even 30 together). Annie was 30 when Ceilee was born, and tomorrow he'll be half her age (until her birthday 10 days later).
My how time flies.

Annie and I met in college during the late '60s, at the height of the societal foment spurred by the Vietnam War and the general trend to question authority and the status quo. We participated in student strikes in the spring of 1970, after Nixon invaded Cambodia. After dipping our toes briefly in the regular job market, we "retired" in 1973, traded in most of the middle class values we inherited, and sought a life in intentional community—where we could create an alternative culture based on cooperation (rather than competition), where security is based on relationships more than bank accounts, and where how you do things counts for as much as what you do.

Back in 1974, when we helped found Sandhill Farm, Annie and I understood what Weinberger had in mind when he advised not trusting anyone over 30.

Today, Ceilee is married, has a daughter who will be three in May, and is expecting a second child this summer. He drives a Cadillac and has a wardrobe that probably costs more than what I've spent on clothing in my entire lifetime. Unlike his parents, who invested in community, Ceilee—and his wife Tosca—are business owners (my entrepreneurial father is smiling in his grave), operating multiple cell phone franchises in Las Vegas. My how the pendulum swings.

Don't get me wrong. I'm proud of my son. He's a good father, a good partner, and, I suspect, a good manager. He thinks for himself, likes his life, has a solid appreciation about how his actions affect others, and takes full responsibility for what he does. That's the way he was raised and he came out fine.

To be sure, we don't see eye to eye politically, yet neither Annie nor I let that spoil a loving relationship with our son. We do not expect him to validate our choices by following in our footsteps (any more than we followed in the footsteps of our parents). He's his own person and that's as it should be.

Ceilee was the first child born at Sandhill, and I recall the whole community staying up through most of the night to help Annie through the labor. It took about 24 hours for her to fully dilate and on a cold, sunny Tuesday morning, our vernix-smeared son slipped out of Annie's uterus and into my waiting hands. He was born right in the middle of our bedroom and it was one the most awesome experiences of my life (ranking right up there with the Cesarean birth of my daughter in 1987, facilitating all the plenaries at the FIC's six-day Celebration of Community in 1993, and Ma'ikwe's and my four-day wedding in 2007).

Ceilee, you were well worth the labor to birth and raise you. I just hope you can learn to trust people who are under 30 (thousand dollars in annual income).

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