Pretty, Pretty Please…and Thank You

I’m ridiculously excited about going to see Pink in Tampa in a few days. I love her music. Its just so real. My favorite Pink song is problematic though. It makes me cry, and flowing tears will not make me look like a rocker, so I’m trying to listen to it everyday to not cry. So far, that’s not working, so I decided to write about it. I’m hoping that publicly sharing the gratitude I feel for so many when I hear the song will help me stop the tears.

The song is “Perfect,” which is the clean version’s title. The song is about someone who feels unworthy but the singer encourages her.

This song just speaks to me. Those who know me now, I know, don’t see a person who battles this feeling. When I hear this song’s chorus, I hear the people who were my cheerleaders from my youth, begging me not to feel less than perfect: my dad, my aunts, my grandparents, my sister, and John. John was the first person outside of my family that I truly let see that part of me, the struggle to believe my own worth. These people built me up, helping me to overcome being constantly torn down by someone else.

Twenty years ago, I said enough. I stopped believing, for the most part, that I was nothing. I still have my personal battles with that little voice who tells me I’m not good enough, but I’ve spent the last twenty years finding friends who are my champions. People, who when I’m feeling down, rally to lift me up, even when they don’t know they are doing so. I’m far from perfect and have many flaws, but I’m so blessed to have so many in my life who choose not to see the flaws.

This post is a thank you. I cannot express my gratitude enough. So to all of you, my family champions, my friend champions, thank you all for the times you’ve made me feel perfect, and I want you all to know that you are perfect to me.

Enough Already

I’m a Southerner, born and raised in NC. When I was a kid the KKK held a rally in my town that erupted in violence and I remember feeling scared not just for me but for my friends of different skin colors. It was my first experience with blatant racism.

While I support free speech, I find it disappointing when Southerners forget they lost the Civil War and insist on celebrating such a tainted time in our history. (Yes, my family fought for the Confederacy; not something that I find celebratory.). As a lover of history, I believe that history should be studied and remembered. I’m very patriotic too. Which is perhaps, in addition to not being able to accept slavery, I can’t celebrate the Confederacy. At best, these folks were not patriots of the United States, which is my home. At worst, their acts could be considered treason.

What I don’t get is why 100+ years later, some insist on celebrating the lowest time in our country’s history, and I’ll be honest, I don’t want to understand it. That’s one of my many flaws. I am very unforgiving of what I consider to be willful stupidity.

This weekend, one of these groups is gathering in Oxford, MS. Going beyond the “we love the South of the past” message, one person has been spewing violent threats on Facebook. The university has been proactive and sending messages to the students to avoid the areas of the march and to try to ignore the messages, not engaging with these groups. This is obviously not university sanctioned but if you’ve ever been to Oxford, you know that the university and city are closely intertwined.

Please pray for the safety of the students and the police during this weekend’s unfortunate events.

We can be better and I’m glad my daughter is staying away from campus and the square this weekend to be safe. She shouldn’t have to do so.

Not Such Sweet Little Lies

My husband John and I were talking last night and we talked about our parenting.  He was telling me how it had surprised him that I could be a tough disciplinarian when needed.  Finding the balance between loving and discipline is such a tough thing for a parent.

This morning, I’ve been thinking about one of those moments.  Our daughter was between 3 and 4 years old and we were eating on the run.  I had made burgers for lunch and there was some reason she didn’t eat with the rest of us.  Maybe she had been napping – I don’t exactly recall.  I remember cutting her burger into 4 pieces and giving it to her.  What she really wanted was one of those Little Debbie Strawberry Shortcakes.  I’ve said it before — Little Debbie’s are the devil!  She asked if she could have one a few minutes later and I asked her if she ate her burger.  She said yes so I gave her a Little Debbie.  I went back to what I was doing, but something wasn’t sitting right with me.  I went to our kitchen garbage can and there sat the uneaten burger.

I was furious.  I talked with her about lying but she just looked at me.  Then I said that we could go get some ice cream.  She was so happy and went to get her shoes, then I told her that I was lying we weren’t going.  She cried and I told her that now she knew what it felt like to be lied to.  She cried more and told me she was sorry and that she loved me.

This moment.  This was where I became tough and this is where the life lesson set in for her.  I looked at her and asked her, “how do I know you aren’t lying now?”  The look on her face still haunts me some.  I went on to explain that once you have lied, even a little lie, people can’t trust that what you are saying is true.  I told her that I never wanted her to lie again.

I will say, try as she might, she has not been a good liar since– she is desperately honest even about surprises and gifts.  She still talks about that Little Debbie event and how bad she felt.  I hate that she felt bad, but I’m glad the lesson sank in.  I might do this with more compassion if it were to happen today.  I would leave out the ice cream part, but I think, upon reflection, that probably the most important part of the lesson was the bit about trust.

What I love about this is not just that my daughter is so honest, but she struggles to deal with dishonesty of others.  She’s had friends lie to her and we’ve had discussions about the reasons why.  I know, though, that she struggles to trust them again, just as I have trouble trusting someone after they have lied to me.

I’d rather see someone admit to something terrible than to lie about it.  Once I see the fallacy, even over something little, like the definition of a phrase or the when a law became a law, I have no trust in anything that person says.

We Deserve Better

I’m sick of Brett Kavanaugh and the controversy surrounding him.  I’m appealing to my Republican leaders now to do something.  We deserve better.  Period.

I believe Dr. Ford.  What does she have to gain from this?  Besides, she is of my generation and the fact is, we didn’t speak up then.  Most of us still don’t.  And yes, I knew many, many situations and at least heard about several when I was in high school — we all did, and we didn’t say anything.

If Mr. Kavanaugh had a shred of decency, he would have owned up to his mistake.  Even if he had said, that he was intoxicated and didn’t remember that event  and how much regret he had for his behavior, I would empathize.  We’ve all done stupid things when under the influence.

He did not.  So, to me, it’s not the fact of what he did or didn’t do; it’s the fact the he’s not willing to own up to doing anything wrong. Especially after having some questionably truthful moments already during his hearings, I find myself questioning his character.

That’s the problem.  When someone is a Supreme Court Justice, his/her character should never be in question.  I’m not demanding perfection, but I am demanding excellence from the highest court in the land.  Excellence is when a person takes responsibility and owns mistakes, even making reparations if needed.

I know that our Republican leadership, or at least what used to be our Republican leadership, can find someone better.  We deserve it.

The Joy of a Dog

I’ve had a pet dog or dogs for most of my life.  I don’t remember my first dog, Arnold, but I do remember so many more from my childhood — Kelly, King, Benji, Pooh Bear, Buttons, and of course, my first adult dog, Raleigh.  But Sirius is different.

When we got Sirius, I didn’t want another dog; dogs, I thought, were too much work.  It was a Saturday in August and we were running errands.  As we were riding past a shopping center with a dance store, I asked John to stop so we could buy an extra pair of tights for Claire.  He thought it would be a good idea to go into the puppy store with Will.  I told him not to.  Twenty minutes later Claire and I went in the store to find Will in love with a cute, brown puppy.  He was five months old and on sale.  Will was pleading but we told him we needed to think about it.  John inconspicuously asked them to hold the dog.  In the car, he told Will that he would need to research the breed, Schipperke [skip-UR-key] and come up with a plan to take care of the dog, figure out the cost, etc.  Within 30 minutes of getting home, Will had it all figured out.  He and John returned to the store and Claire and I went to Petco for supplies. 

Neither Claire nor I were too happy.  I was worried about the responsibility of the dog and she was worried about our cats.  When we got home, we had a puppy.  John and Will named him Sirius after one of our favorite Harry Potter characters and that was that.  We were all in love with him.  The next morning, Sirius sealed the deal with me.  John started running the vacuum and Sirius jumped between the vacuum and Will and began barking at the machine.  I loved him for protecting my boy.

It wasn’t long before I loved him for being Sirius.  He was such a sweet, loving dog.  He was so good that he convinced me to give up my disco 40th birthday party and get another puppy instead.  That was when Harry joined our family.  A year later, we added Luna, making our puppy Hogwarts complete.

Sirius loved to be petted and would sit next to us, pawing our arms if we stopped petting him.  Every feeding time, he danced in a circle in excitement. Sirius was too smart.  When we first got him, he was constantly setting off our security alarm.  He could open every door and cabinet in the house, not to mention jump on the counters. Every night when it was dark, he wanted to go “night night” and lay with me on the bed until I went to sleep, usually moving to his bed in his crate after that. 

Dogs love us unconditionally.  If I scolded him, Siri didn’t talk back.  He gave me his paw and just wanted to be petted again.  In the age of becoming a parent of teenagers and now adults, having dogs was such a blessing.  As my kids grew and went to college I used to tell my dogs that they were my kids who wouldn’t leave me to go to college as a joke. 

Hearing the news that my Sirius, the dog who started our pack, had a malignant, inoperable tumor in his brain, was crushing.  Hearing that he was weeks if not days from suffering was unthinkable.  Knowing that he would leave us was heartbreaking. 

Will sent this to me.  Sirius was Will’s pup and I know being away from him at this time is hard for Will.  I think this is a nice way to close this post – a poem by Rudyard Kipling:

The Power of the Dog

There is sorrow enough in the natural way

From men and women to fill our day;

And when we are certain of sorrow in store,

Why do we always arrange for more?

Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware

Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy

Love unflinching that cannot lie—

Perfect passion and worship fed

By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.

Nevertheless it is hardly fair

To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits

Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,

And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs

To lethal chambers or loaded guns,

Then you will find—it’s your own affair—

But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,

With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!).

When the spirit that answered your every mood

Is gone—wherever it goes—for good,

You will discover how much you care,

And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,

When it comes to burying Christian clay.

Our loves are not given, but only lent,

At compound interest of cent per cent.

Though it is not always the case, I believe,

That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:

For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,

A short-time loan is as bad as a long—

So why in—Heaven (before we are there)

Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

I’m sad and missing my Sirius, but I’m celebrating his memory and his impact on me and my family.  His was a brief life, but it was a good one.  39109207_10156661792459772_5227790757686935552_n.jpg

Roller Coaster

I’ve been thinking a lot this summer about my life 27 years ago.  Newly graduated from college and searching for my first job. I was engaged with a wedding date set and searching anywhere within a driving radius of Raleigh.  The call that I was hired came a mere days before school started. My first job was at West Lee Middle School in Sanford, NC, which was about 45 minutes from Raleigh and a little more than an hour from my home in Greensboro.  I remember John meeting me in Sanford to look at apartments and we found our townhome that was our first place.

 

The funny thing is, I remember nothing about moving.  I remember all of my other moves, even the ones in college, but I can’t remember anything about moving into that place.  Perhaps my excitement about what today is called “adulting” just took over. I keep wondering if I realized at the time by moving into my own “adult” place that I was leaving my home with my parents forever.  I would never again live with them. And, of course, I wonder how my parents felt.

 

This thought process has been brought on because my son Will is adulting now.  This morning, with a car packed to the brim, he left for Nashville, TN, his new home.  I’ve searched my memories this week because I wanted to know how he is feeling beyond the obvious excitement.  That’s all I can get, excitement. He is excited and he should be. John and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Within a few weeks of beginning his search he found a job.  He has a fabulous place to live, and he’s ready to tackle adulthood full steam ahead.

 

The only problem is, I’m not ready.  For the past 23 years, Will has been with me.  Will has called my home his home. This is where I’m thinking of my parents.  I’m wondering how they were feeling when I moved 27 years ago. I don’t remember tears [mine flowed like a river as he drove away].  I just remember them being happy for me. The thing is, I’m happy for Will too. I’m over-the-moon with pride and joy. I guess that’s the thing about being a parent, the thing not in the how-to books; being a parent is an emotional roller coaster with every new normal that comes along.  It’s ok — I’m up for the ride.
will car

Fix It

I have a very dear friend who came to the US from Cuba as a 5 or 6 year old in the early years of Casto’s reign.  Her father brought her to Miami seeking asylum and she lived with her aunts.  It was at least a year or maybe two before her mother and younger sister were able to get to Miami too.  She talks of the difficulties of this time sparingly, and it has been over 50 years. 

The recording of the little girl from El Salvador truly struck me.  That little girl’s scared voice became for me my friend’s scared voice.  My friend wasn’t taken from her father.  She wasn’t placed in a detention center and still today I see the hurt in her eyes when she thinks of being away from her mom.  I can’t imagine this little girl from El Salvador in 50 years.

Seeking asylum in the US is not illegal. Frankly, I’m a well traveled citizen.  I’ve been to 33 states and 16 countries.  I didn’t know the difference between a port of entry and a border crossing. 

I can’t believe that my country would punish someone for not knowing that.  It sickens me.  It should sicken everyone to think of these children.  Kids should not be judged by or punished for their parents mistakes. 

There is something broken in our country.  I can’t believe that anyone in the country who came together to fight the Axis countries 77 years ago would support policies like this.  This isn’t making America great – it’s making America heartless.  We were the heroes in the past, and heroes are not heartless. 

Time For Change, Seriously.

There is a reason we don’t let five year olds drive cars.  We do let teenagers after they have passed tests and practiced using cars safely earn a license to drive.  There isn’t a lobby out there advocating to get rid of the license to drive and just let anybody do it.  Are there people who choose to operate cars without a license.  Sure.  Those people, when caught, are dealt with by law enforcement.  That’s the purpose of having laws and law enforcement.

Likewise, we need gun laws.  Period.  I don’t want to hear that criminals won’t honor those laws or that the laws punish the people who are law-abiding citizens.  If you need a license to drive a car, you should have a license to own a gun.  I’m not about taking away gun rights, but I am about protecting people.

It’s time for common sense.

Watching Her Sleep

Recently the kids and I watched the movie with Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck, and Bruce Willis…can’t think of the name right now.  It’s only relevant because as I lay here not able to sleep, the Aerosmith song from the movie is playing on repeat in my head. “I could stay awake just to hear you breathing…”

I have so many memories playing in my head tonight.  I don’t remember a lot about the first hours of Will’s life. It was a difficult birth and I was so exhausted. However, I remember Claire’s first night with such clarity that is seems like it just happened. She was born in the late afternoon and after getting a visit from her big brother and her granddad, we settled in for the night. I couldn’t sleep. I just laid there watching her. Her little bassinet was next to my bed and I could touch her easily. I remember waking her to feed her and not wanting to put her back down.

I’m laying in  hotel bed now, just watching her sleep. It’s our last night before I leave her nearly 800 miles from home. I want to wake her and talk to her. I want to hold her and tell her how much I’m going to miss her. But I know that would be “weird” as both of my kids would say. I pray they will both understand my “weirdness” one day. I pray that they both experience this wonderful gift of parenthood and that they not only love their kids but genuinely  like them too. I hope that they both have something so amazing that the ache of missing it is tangible. I know how lucky I am as a mom and I wish that for both of them.

That’s a long way into the future, though. For now, I just wish them happiness and enough homesickness that they miss me just a little…and I will lay here, watching her sleep.

We’re Not Going to Take It!

I’m an ancestry.com buff.  I spend a lot of time tracing my roots and I’m very proud of where I came from even though some of the characters in my past would not necessary be people I would admire today.  My family immigrated to the American colonies.  That’s right, colonial times [1600-1700s].  They came from Britain, but most of my family had immigrated there from France, Germany, and Italy [think the Holy Roman Empire].  My American roots are strong, but I still recognize that my heritage belongs to Western Europe.

I had ancestors in the American Revolution and ancestors that fought on the losing side of the Civil War.  I’m also a bit of a history buff too.  Generally speaking, most countries do not celebrate wars that they lost.  With that said, I feel like I need to yell this part so forgive the all caps here, THE CONFEDERACY LOST. Not every Confederate soldier wanted to fight for this cause – I have an ancestor who deserted the Confederate army more than once [I know I would have LOVED him] because he didn’t want to fight.  I recognize that many of these soldiers were fighting because it was their home they were defending.  I get that and I’m not wanting to dishonor them.  The Civil War is a stain on our history, though.  It was ugly and not something of which we should be proud.

I really don’t understand people who want to celebrate the Confederacy.  It was war that ended a very long time ago but the only ones celebrating it are from the losing side.  I don’t celebrate sports losses.   Scholars will argue that the Civil War was fought on economic principles and states rights, but most Americans feel the war was about slavery.  SLAVERY WAS BAD.  Slavery was horrible.  It was the culture of the time, but that doesn’t make it right. 

Robert E. Lee was a great general.  He had a distinguished military career before the Civil War and was offered a position of general in the Union army.  He chose to fight for his home state even though his personal letters imply that he was opposed to slavery.  Choosing to fight against his country was technically treason.  Lee had many admirable qualities but he became a traitor to the USA when he donned the gray uniform. 

So why do people erect statues of him?  He LOST a war and he was a traitor.  People obsessed with the Confederacy seem to miss the point that the Confederacy lost.  If they were truly obsessed with history then they would know this.  They would also know that many of these statues were built in the 20th century during the Civil Rights Movement – and we can certainly infer what the purpose of building these statues was. There are people who celebrate the South who aren’t racist, white supremacists, but if we are all honest here most of the people sporting Confederate Flag are racist, white supremacists.  In other words, they are the dishonorable dregs of our society.

I have a message for the white supremacist out there [though I do doubt anyone reading my blog falls in this category].  You, neo-Nazis are pathetic.  You are a low life.  Scum.  You are the people who say immigrants should go back to where they came from.  I’ve got news for you, Nazi, unless you are related to Pocahontas or Sitting Bull, then you have immigrant roots yourself.  If you want to celebrate the losing side of the Civil War, then you are delusional.  We Americans need to stand up to you and say not in my country!  We Americans need to call you out for your despicable behavior.  We’re not going to take it anymore!  America is a place that welcomes all skin colors, all religions, all genders. If that doesn’t appeal to you, Racist, then perhaps the USA isn’t the country for you. Perhaps if you don’t like it, you can trace your ancestry and go back to where your family came from.

Our country needs to come together, and people who live a life of HATE will never help us achieve the harmony our beautiful nation deserves.