Big Hearts

Dear Sweet Girl,

Last week, when your Daddy was out for the evening, you and I sat in my bed and I did your hair. I love drying your hair while you sit on my lap. I love the chats we have. I love that every day you say to me, “Mommy. I have a REALLY good question!” and then you ask about how stars are formed, or how electricity gets into our house from the pole, or how we eat green veggies but they come out of us brown. It’s mind blowing.

Well this particular night, we talked about emergencies, and how to deal with them. We went over 9-1-1 and how to call from my passcoded phone, and what info we’d tell the 9-1-1 operator. You thought about it, said the right stuff, and then looked at me with those great big, bright brown eyes with a bit of fear, and welled-up tears.

“What is it, Sweet Girl?” I asked.

“Momma, I don’t want you to get hurt. I don’t want to be alone,” she said. This was after our discussion of what to do if Daddy wasn’t home and something happened to me. “I don’t want you to get sick and die.”

This can be you. With better glasses, and much, much less money. And less testosterone.

This can be you. With better glasses, and much, much less money. And less testosterone.

“Oh, I know, honey. But this is for if anything happened, like I hurt my leg and couldn’t move, or if I just needed more help than you can give me. It’s not just if I died,” I told you. And I saw that didn’t help. The tears just filled your eyes to spilling.

“But I don’t want anyone to get hurt, Mom. No one. Not even anyone. Not you, or Daddy, or any of my friends. Not even robbers and people in jail. I don’t want anyone to need an ambulance. Ever!”

And I know what you mean. I know full well how you feel when the overwhelming feeling of trying to save everyone pushes down on your heart and your chest. And here’s what I told you, more or less:

There will be times, love, that people will laugh at you. People will tell you to worry about yourself. That people need to take care of themselves, and you can’t concern yourself. To them I say bullshit.

And here is the rest of what I want to say: We need people like you, who care and who love and who, despite the odds, try to help people. Maybe you’ll find a calling one day that serves people. And you’ll probably be poor (because helping people doesn’t pay well), and likely will see more than you think your great big heart can stand, and people will turn away. But we need you to care just the same.

For some reason, in this “great” country of ours, we’ve let our most needy fall through our nets. We see people reaching out for help as a drain on society, rather than an opportunity to show what a truly great nation can do for its most vulnerable. We celebrate the vapid and marginalize the poor. And we need people who are strong hearted and strong willed and strong minded to stand up and say THIS ISN’T RIGHT. Why are homeless mothers living in motel rooms with their children jailed for lying about residence so her child can get a better chance at life, but bankers who pulled the rug out from our nation are left blameless? We need to celebrate those who truly care: those who really would shed a tear for the injustice done to the innocent, or to those guilty of only being born in the wrong zip code.

As you get older, you will learn how to take that feeling of overwhelming anxiety and work to make your spot in the world better. To make a mark – even just a small one. Small marks in a great big world are what make up the change we truly need.

Keep thinking big, Sweet Girl.

Love,

Mommy

Questions I hate to ask.

Dear Sweet Girl,

Normally, I have very little issue asking people direct and inappropriate questions. I’ve asked people about money, sex, ex’s, tons of things I shouldn’t. If someone tells me that I shouldn’t ask that, I’m totally fine with that. If people tell me that I shouldn’t bring up something to their husband/wife/friend, I’ll generally abide. But I’m more or less ok putting people on the spot, as long as it’s not cruel or hurtful. For the most part, I think that as adults who so easily hide behind our blogs, and Facebook and Twitter accounts, we have lost the fine art of question dodging. Politicians still tend to do it well, but they speak more publicly than you and I.

Aw, isn't that precious?

Aw, isn’t that precious?

Which brings me to a question that I hesitate to ask. It’s not that I don’t want to know the answer, because I do. It’s just that I absolutely despise having to ask it. I never thought in my life that this would be an issue, yet it is. I’m trying to craft it in my head so I don’t scare people off, and make you into a kid who can’t do what other kids can, but it jumbles up on me all the time. How do you politely ask other parents “Do you have firearms in your home, and are they loaded? And where are they stored?” without sounding accusatory?

Baby, if you look at 2008 and 2009 and how many kids were killed by guns, you could fill up 229 classrooms. That’s 5,740 children. From that same year, the number of preschoolers killed by guns was double the amount of law enforcement those years killed by guns. If you want to look at how many were injured? 34,387*. I just can’t bring myself to be ok with you playing around these things.

We live in Texas. Texans, democrat and republican alike, love their guns. You play in homes where people have firearms. I know these people and have had conversations about it, and I trust them with you. But how do I deal with a new friend? A play date? A parent I don’t really know? I’m scared of this, because I hate it. I hate the guns, and I think they should be banned for civilians, and I don’t believe that the 2nd amendment is a good amendment. And I hate that people say “It’s our right! It’s in the constitution!” when they know damn well that so was prohibition and so was the three-fifths compromise and it’s just not always right. Because of this. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this. And this. And the other 700+ more since Sandy Hook that I don’t have the heart to even read. This is a great/terrible tool if you want to see for yourself.

So what do I do, love? How do I ask this question? Right now, I have to mull this one over. I’m working on it.

Love,

Mommy

*All stats taken from The Children’s Defense Fund.

You are not who you were.

Dear Sweet Girl,

Back in the olden days, there was no internet. If I were the praying type, I would fall on my knees and thank the good Lord for that piece of divine providence. I sometimes imagine situations I was in while in my teens and early 20’s that, if they were up on YouTube, would completely have ruined my life. Love, please understand this truth: The internet is FOREVER.

But let’s also get another thing straight here: you are not who you were. You are you, and you are fine, and you are good. Your life does not need to be “tainted” by things that happened in your youth. I am a person that had a youth and young adulthood that is miles, leagues, eons away from where I am now. I did good things and I did bad things. I had fun and I got hurt. I hurt others, badly. I was bullied and I was the bully. I feigned teenage angst and arrogance like I was gunning for a scholarship to Asshole University. I spent time with people who were good and bad. People who cared, and people who couldn’t have cared less about the world and the people around them. Some were seriously great companions. Some I can’t even remember the names of. I see some of them on Facebook and they are still talking about the same parties, and listening to the same music, and hating the same people. Are they bad for that? Not in a million years. But what it is is that so many have decided that those years were the absolute best they’re ever going to have. There’s no use in even trying to get better than that day.

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I am not who I was then. A lot of who I was came from dishonesty and the need to fit in somewhere. You will also, at some point, likely compromise who you are and what you feel in order to please someone. I can tell you that you shouldn’t do it, but you probably will anyway. I had a “friends” who actively mocked me for being Jewish. Like, they called me “heeb” and “kyke” and then hugged me and we’d have a beer. They didn’t really mean it, they’d say. And I would laugh and the shame would stay on me all day. They were joking! They were so funny! And I’d think “I have to get the fuck out of this fucking place”. And I did.

When you grow older, you will always be at the mercy of your former self in some way. You can jump a million miles away, and you will still be compared to the person you were once. Especially by people who really truly think they know you. And then you’ll come to a point that you realize that even those people don’t know you at all. I promise you, you can forge ahead and be a person you want to be, and find friends and partners who love you for your true self.

Don’t let who you were – at ANY point in your life – dictate who you want to be. Who you could be. You can reinvent yourself as many times as you need to in order to fully realize your potential as a person. You might disappoint a lot of people in your life, but the worst person you can disappoint is yourself. Constantly work on making yourself proud of your constant forward march. We’ve talked about this a lot in the past few weeks: everyone deserves another chance in our hearts.

Love,

Mommy

Find your God.

Dear Sweet Girl,

You may have noticed by my funny accent that I’m not from around here. While I throw a “y’all” down often, I do say “coffee”, “water”, and “chocolate” much differently than the folks ’round these parts. I hail from the far off land of Long Island, made famous by Linda Richman of “Coffee Talk” and by some guys cousin named Patrick Sullivan (seriously, I’ve met like 50 people in my post-NY life that have said “OH! My cousin Pat Sullivan lives on Long Island! Do you know him?” People, Long Island has 7.5 MILLION PEOPLE. If it were a state, it would be the 13th most populous, after Virginia, and 1st in population density!!! And I bet every single person who grew up on Long Island knew someone named Pat Sullivan.)

Ok, so Long Island has been full of people for a long time, many who have moved from the city (Manhattan) and the boroughs to a more suburban, kid-friendly area. Lots of Catholics, and lots of Jews. Lots. I have the double whammy, having a Jewish father and a Catholic mother (I prefer to be called Catholish or a Jewlic), which is a common enough combo there. We were a secular family, though, and other than a quick visit into Catholicism in my tweens, I’ve been happily not religious. You are also not religious, have no idea what religion is, don’t know about God, Jesus, Allah, or any of the other players in the scene. Is this good? I dunno. I can tell you this: we’re good people, us. We treat people fairly, we do our best to think of others, we work hard to instill a sense of community and charity into you. Really, other than the fact that we rely on science for most of our moral and ethical decisions, we’re giving you the same lessons. But we do live in Texas, and some people might try to make you feel terrible for this. Here’s where you throw down some biblical knowledge on them and be all “Matthew 7:1, bitchez!” We’ll go over that soon.

Touched by His Noodly Appendage

Touched by His Noodly Appendage

But as they say, love, there’s no atheists in fox holes. When we were going through the battle-for-baby and subsequent IVF(s), we prayed the shit out of things. We prayed together, holding hands, to a god we didn’t know for some help, ANY help to have a baby. All through IVF #1, the miscarriage, the cervical cancer scare, IVF #2, the YOU, the pregnancy, the delivery, the everything. And then, we just kinda stopped. Especially when Papa got sick and moved in with us. Watching my dad die in our house should have made me want to pray. But I was beyond praying for him to get better, because we knew that wouldn’t happen, so I couldn’t very well pray for him to die, which is what he needed. Oh, baby, it was so hard. But while God gives some people so much help and comfort, he became an anvil to me. Yet another person that I had to act a certain way for. And some people will tell you that GOD IS GOOD! and FORGIVING! and LOVES YOU!, that really doesn’t matter. Because if there is a God, and I’m wrong about all of this, then fine. I’ll have that conversation on my own one day. But sweetie, don’t think for one second that the lady in line at Albertson’s gives a fiddlers fuck about you when she talks to you about being saved, and then gets into her car and cuts you off or texts in a school zone going 50 with a pro-life sticker on her SUV. The world is full of hypocrites, love. That’s one of the sad parts.

What you need is to find your own god. He or She or It needs to be where you find your comfort. Imaginary or real, if it comforts you, take it. Because the world can get mighty hinky and yucky sometimes, and sometimes you need to talk to someone who won’t talk back.

Love,

Mommy