Okay, kids. This is probably the only recipe I'll pass down, as you've had my cooking. In all seriousness, I want you to be good people. Here's the list of what I think that looks like.Dear Kids,

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about who you will be when you’re older. There’s so much I want for you in this world, but I think that more than anything, I just want you to be good. Because people who are good, and who embody genuine kindness, are the happiest. And they help blot out the ugly and the cruel. So I’ve been thinking about what it means to live a good and true and genuine life. Here are my wishes for you.

I hope you’ll be the kind of person who waits patiently behind the 80-year-old woman using 52 coupons at the grocery store. I know you’ll be annoyed and in a rush. But she comes from a different time, a time when pennies were worth something. Sometimes I wish we lived then. Don’t sigh in irritation when she counts out change. Smile and wish her a good day.

I also hope you’ll be a good tipper and patient with people in training—in any profession. Your mother was a waitress long before you walked this Earth. I’ll tell you from experience—if you are waiting on your food, more than likely, it’s not your waitress’s fault. She’s probably facing 4-letter words being hurled at her from an overworked cook every time she returns to the kitchen. Just be patient. You’re not actually starving. Your mom was also a cashier. And a pizza flipper. And a dishwasher. And a myriad of other service positions. They all took training and the patience of people like you giving her a chance. Be kind and tip well.

I hope you never leave a hotel room trashed or neglect to throw away garbage because this is the job of cleaning staff and custodians. No. These are human beings, like you. And while they have a job to do for which they are paid, they deserve respect and dignity. Please pick up after yourself wherever you go in life.

On that same note, I hope you have jobs like these. Wash cars to make extra cash. Deliver pizzas. Babysit. Wait tables and wash dishes. That’s how you’ll know and appreciate all that these jobs entail.

I hope you have self-awareness. I did not really develop mine until adulthood, so I don’t expect much when you’re a kid. But at some point, I truly hope you realize that you came from a place of privilege. Your nation of birth, your skin color, and your socioeconomic status provided you a great deal of privileges and opportunities. Learn about what that means. Understand it. And do something good with it.

I hope you read, read, read. Learn about your world, its history, and its cultures. Get lost in a murder-mystery that you can’t put down. Read books that make you cry. And think. And feel inspired.

I hope you get to know people who are different from you—religiously, ethnically, racially, economically, politically. Listen to what they have to say.

Please do things that make you feel uncomfortable. Try weird foods. Go places that don’t have chain restaurants. Go somewhere where you have to learn a new language or culture. Get the hell out of your safe bubble or else your life will be suffocatingly boring.

I hope you take care of your body, because you only get one. Nourish it with good stuff. Eat apples and broccoli. But for the love of God, eat the cake and drink the wine too. Especially at parties, weddings, and on vacation.

Don’t be a martyr. Work hard, but neglecting yourself achieves nothing in the long run.

I hope you learn to fail. It might be the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do. You need to learn how to accept the gut punch of failure, grieve, be pissed, and then get back up and go again. No one—and I mean NO ONE who is successful has gotten there without failing along the way.

I hope you assert yourself. I want you to be respectful, but also stand up for yourself and for others. Nobody is allowed to put you down and make you feel lesser than.

However, if you were wrong, apologize. And mean it.

Let go of anger. It only hurts you. I am sad to say that you will be wronged and mistreated in your life. I hope you find a way to let it go and lift that burden off of your heart. It is far too heavy and will keep you from living a life of joy. The moment you forgive, you’ll feel love seep into the cracks and fill you up where the anger used to be.

I hope you’ll always have each other’s backs. There are three of you, so you’ll always have someone to call and to count on. Don’t forget that when you all grow up and move all over the country chasing your dreams.

And finally, I hope you don’t fight over who gets Mom and Dad when we are old and decrepit. There’s plenty of us to go around.

 

Love, Mom xo

He appeared homeless and possibly under the influence of a substance. Or maybe he was just exhausted. But he was kind to us and we did not show kindness in return.“He has beautiful eyes,” the stranger on the street said, about my son. He then reached out and touched my son’s hand, gently. “You are a good boy, aren’t you? You look like your daddy.”

He was probably homeless, appearing very unkempt. He also appeared inebriated. He was slurring and swaying as he talked to us, on the corner, as we waited for the crosswalk to turn green. He was a stranger who was talking to, and touching with his dirty hands, my child.

It happened a couple of weeks ago. My husband and I took our three children into the city closest to our home. A small Midwest city, but a city to us. It is a place unlike suburbia—it is a place where there are good pizza joints, taxicabs, and trendy downtown lofts, rather than cul-de-sacs, strip malls, and yards where kids play. It is also where my kids see people who are homeless.

The man who approached us scared me. I didn’t know him or what he wanted or what he was capable of. We stood there, on the corner of that intersection, politely acknowledging him with forced smiles, with clenched jaws, all the while gripping the small hands of our kids, for a minute or so. That’s all it was—a minute. He did not pose a danger to our family, but rather showed us kindness. And what did we do in return? Nothing. We barely made eye contact. We counted the seconds until the crosswalk turned green for us to get away from him, away from his toothless smile, away from the smell of his unwashed clothes.

It wasn’t until we had moved beyond that street and were a full block away that we relaxed our grips a bit and allowed our kids to skip ahead a step or two. We breathed a sigh of relief and continued on our way. We didn’t look back to see where he went next or whom he spoke to next.

And it wasn’t until that evening, after a long day in the city, after my kids were tucked under their covers in bed, that I thought of him again. While replaying the scene in my mind, my previous feelings of fear had turned to guilt. I recalled then, hours later, that there was a hotdog stand on the opposite corner. My kids had begged for hotdogs, but we had said no, for we didn’t want to stop in such an unsafe part of town, where this man was lingering. It wasn’t until hours later that I considered what our alternative options were.

We could have acknowledged this kind man with more than forced smiles. We could have said, “Thank you, Sir. He is a good boy.” We could have purchased him a hot dog.

But we didn’t.

I am committed, as a mother, to teaching my children about empathy and compassion. We donate to various food drives every year around this time and my kids know why. They know that there are hungry people—hungry children even—who need our food donations. We round up old toys and clothes and donate those to those we call the “less fortunate” or the “underprivileged.” We drop them off at donation centers that are safely and comfortably located in our suburban town.

We keep our kids in their bubble. And by doing so, we prevent them from truly seeing, truly comprehending, what is on the other side of those donations—what a person looks like, lives like, who accepts our donations. We keep that world hidden from our kids, for fear of… what? Safety? Would we have put our children in harm’s way if we had bought that kind man a hotdog? Or do we keep our kids in their bubble for comfort? I realized, that evening, after my kids were sound asleep in their warm beds, as I wondered where that kind man was going to sleep that night, what the truth was. It is uncomfortable to expose ourselves to the “less fortunate” and “underprivileged.” It is a nice, feel-good deed to pack up unwanted things and deliver them to a middle-man—a donation center or drop off bin in suburbia. But coming face to face with the person who takes your unwanted things is a very different experience.

Where is the line? At what point does parenthood negate compassion? Of course it is our primary job to keep our kids safe. But what is the cost? What lesson did my kids miss out on, that day? We should help the less fortunate, Mommy says. There are hungry people who deserve food. Yet, when faced with such a person, Mommy took her kids and ran away.

I don’t know what would have happened had we offered that man a meal. I don’t know if he was homeless or under the influence of a substance or just plain exhausted. But I do know that I am not homeless. That I am well-fed and very privileged and very fortunate. And that there is more to teaching our kids compassion than dropping off old toys at Good Will.

This post was originally published on Bon Bon Break.

Am I #withher because she's a woman? No. But am I proud as shit that she IS this bad-ass and IS a woman? YES.One more day. 24 hours. And then maybe we can all chill the frick out and return to normalcy. Or not. Maybe there will be chaos. Mayhem. It’s hard to know, in such an unpredictable, unprecedented election year, what will happen at any turn.

Regardless, I’m hoping to celebrate.

I’m hoping to celebrate because I think my candidate is going to win. And, this will come as a shock to pretty much no one… #imwithher.

I know that much of the world thinks feminists like me are voting for her because she is a woman. Maybe some are. But I’m not. I’m voting for her because she’s incredibly qualified. She’s ready. And I believe she will claw her way through her tenure as president to do her best. Continue Reading