A Decision Forever Changed our Lives

People often ask how palmistry affects my daily life. The answer is always and forever. When I began searching for self-knowledge, it was easy to look at my hands and find excuses or rationalizations for being or not being certain ways. I’d think, ‘No wonder I’m distracted’. I’d rationalize, ‘I can’t say no because of my highly flexible thumbs’. I’d analyze and compartmentalize my weaknesses, faults, and bad behaviors. Years of counseling others made me realize that I can change my behavior and my hands will also change over time (my dominant thumb has become inflexible). As I practice what I preach, my hands affirm, confirm, and inform me about what decisions I need to make and actions I need to take to achieve a healthy balance between my thinking, feelings, and lifestyle.

mark, joanna, and cassie as a newborn2Twenty-two years ago, Joanna and I made a decision because of the hands of our new born daughter. I was 45. Joanna was 33. Cassie’s hands revealed that she’d face future challenges that compelled us to intervene from the get go. We committed ourselves to doing whatever was required to help our child gracefully rise to her life’s challenges and overcome her obstacles.

We proactively addressed the hurdles we saw in Cassie’s hands. Her very short index finger symbolized that she’d battle with her self-esteem and spirituality. Her short heart line indicated that she’d be serious and private, wouldn’t trust others, and would have a very hard time verbalizing her feelings. The close connection at the beginning of her head and life lines ensured she’d take everything personally and have a strong need for our approval. We appreciated her and made sure that we never took her for granted. We were careful never to patronize her, but praised her initiative and accomplishments. We never responded to anger with anger. We gave her space when she needed it and helped when she asked for it. Space was hard because we lived in a closet. We listened to her and encouraged her to listen to us. Had we been impatient, over critical, controlling, or judgmental, Cassie would have turned out very differently. Sure, we made mistakes, but we did our best to help her unfold as who she wanted and needed to be. As my friend Mikey Lutin says, “It’s easy to forgive your parents after you’ve screwed up your own kids”.

An abundance of wonderful qualities accompanied Cassie’s challenges. Her inventive mind, natural empathy, and brutal sense of honesty made her a critical thinker and a natural bullshit detector. She’s analytical, has a fertile creative imagination, a razor sharp intuition, and a love of adventure. She’s persistent and determined to face her obstacles. Even though she’s a serious minded person, she has a unique dry sense of humor and her friends love her. Her dominant index finger and heart line have both grown longer and stronger.

I want to share what our decision meant and how it changed our lives. Our first major challenge was in the financial arena. Our overhead was dramatically increasing while our income was rapidly dwindling. Joanna was a part time dance teacher and needed to take several months off. I was an industrial designer, hand reader, and part time adjunct college professor. I assumed my clients would see me when it was convenient for me. Not so. I passed on many good prospects because of bad timing. At first, I continued to see private clients in our small apartment, which was quickly becoming a large playpen. I had to find new directions for my career. Other at-home fathers had home businesses that included computer consulting, programming, editing, and word processing. Some dads were caring for other children as well as their own, pet sitting, or party planning. Our conversations often centered on downsizing and cutting overhead.

couple smallI decided it was best to work with special event planners. I’d pay a hefty commission, but I’d only have to sell myself once. My revitalized career entailed performing as a hand reader, astrologer, and tarot reader at parties. On my non-commited nights, I made house calls and wrote articles at home. I arranged all of my work for when Joanna was with Cassie. When an important job conflicted with both of our schedules, we’d ask Cassie’s grandparents or a fellow parent for help.

Being an “at-home dad” was far more challenging than I had anticipated. It’s a whole lot easier to drop your kid off at day care and go to work. Initially, I had minor challenges with chores such as diapering, bathing, dressing, fussiness, tiredness, and hunger. My greatest challenge was feeding. Cassie was an avid nurser. She often refused a bottle, even when it contained her own mother’s milk. There were many occasions on which I wished I had breasts. When a baby is really distressed, she wants the comfort of her mommy, no matter how connected she is with daddy.

It wasn’t until Cassie was two years old that I realized what it felt like to be a single parent. Joanna had always buffered me by being with Cassie in the early mornings, evenings, and weekends. Cassie and I took a trip to the country by ourselves for five days. We had a fabulous time, but her constant need for attention drained me. After five days, I felt exhausted. That short experience deepened my acceptance of teamwork in parenting, strengthened our marriage, and enhanced Joanna’s and my desire to share equally and go the extra mile.

A constant source of annoyance for me was societal stereotyping. Being out with Cassie, people would say “Oh, you’re babysitting today” or “Are you her Grandpa?” I’d reply, “No, I’m her daddy and a primary caregiver”. People assumed I did this because I was unemployed or unable to make a living. Few considered that I chose this path because I actually wished to spend the best hours of the day enjoying my child. Fortunately, I wasn’t alone. I met other middle aged fathers with children in the park.

My ideal day consisted of cleaning, organizing, and beautifying our home, and shopping for fresh food so that I could serve a hot delicious and nutritious meal at dinnertime when Joanna returned from work. Between chores, Cassie and I would work on art projects, bake gingerbread cookies, read stories, and watch kid’s movies.

Pippi smallIt’s amazing how hard it was to find healthy female protagonists. There were so many damsels in distress and princesses trying to turn frogs or beasts into princes. We discovered Pippi Longstocking, Harriet the Spy, Matilda, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and Tatterhood, but we ended up making up our own heroines much of the time. Cassie and I went on weekly expeditions to museums, galleries, libraries, book stores, botanical gardens, wildlife centers, parks, and beaches. I wouldn’t trade that time for all the Chi in China.

 

 

When Cassie was five years old she said to me, “Dad, you’re a wise man, but you could be a lot wiser”. I replied, “On yea, how?” “Talk less and listen more.” I knew that the time had come for me to focus on my own career again. Cassie and I still have our adventures. This photo of us was taken in North Harbor Maine a couple of years ago.
dad & cassie small

If you’re interested in learning more on this topic, you should check out these links:
“You’ve Got Mark Seltman and Joanna Brotman” – AOL Huffington Post
“Nature vs Nurture” – Youtube
“Palmistry and Marriage” – Blog entry
“Palmistry and Children” – Blog entry

One thought on “A Decision Forever Changed our Lives

  1. I LOVE this blog post and loved hearing more about your personal journey. It’s so inspiring, and as someone who fears being a parent some day, it gave me hope – not that everything will be perfect, but that it won’t be and that’s ok.

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