Making a Difference

In a world where text messaging is quickly becoming the main (and preferred) method of communication, where threats of a nuclear war still exist, where the president of the United States of America engages in immature and embarrassing rants via Twitter, and where racism in its many forms is NOT a thing of the past, I can’t help but wonder: how can I make a difference? Or more specifically: how can I make a positive difference?

As I turn on the news in the evening, I constantly catch myself trying to distract my daughter so that she will not pay attention to what’s happening around us. My goal is not to shelter her or make her oblivious to the “real world”. After all, sooner than later she will be out there on her own, having to fend for herself. But how do I explain to a six-year old that there was a mass shooting during a music festival, that an Olympic team doctor was molesting his young patients, or that a child almost the same age as her strapped a bomb to his waist and blew himself up for no good reason? What do I say to her when she asks me why someone shot Dr. Martin Luther King Jr? This is what she asked me last week, and I quote: “Why did a man shoot him? If you don’t like someone, you should just walk away. You don’t have to hurt them.” Yeah… Did I mention she is only six?

Lately, more than ever, I keep asking myself: how can I contribute to society? How can I make a positive impact? What can I do??? My husband and I donate to charities that speak to our hearts, but should we give more? We both work full-time while raising a small child, but is that an excuse to not volunteer more? Could we manage our time better? Are we managing our money correctly? The more I ask these questions, the more I think that I could indeed do more. But at the same time, I get overwhelmed by the thought of taking on more than I can handle. My life is hectic as it is, how do I add even more to my plate?

I can make the argument both ways, but in all honesty, deep inside, I want to do more. And I believe I will find a way to do more. But for now, I will stop beating myself up for feeling like I am not doing enough and focus on raising my daughter. That is a full-time job in itself and one that I find extremely important, as she is our future.

From the moment my daughter was born, I’ve said to myself (and to my husband) that I hope she becomes a better person than I am. Not that I am a bad person, but I could be better. There is always room for improvement. And I pray that she is better, much better. But in order for that to happen, I need to be the best parent I can be. She needs to see it in me. She needs to not only believe my words, but see me live those words. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “children are like sponges, they absorb everything”. It is absolutely true. They are very good observers and they are always paying attention to the words we speak, the facial expressions we make, and the actions we take. My husband and I have the very important job of making sure that we are not just a couple of hypocrites. There are too many kids out there being told to “do as I say”. We want to be the “do as we do” parents. We have no other choice, if we want her to keep trusting us.

We, as parents, have the obligation and responsibility to create a loving environment where our daughter feels happy and confident, but more importantly, an environment where she feels safe, both physically and emotionally. I want her to always feel comfortable talking to me, no matter how delicate the subject may be. I want her to feel like she can confide in me. I want her know that it’s ok to make a mistake, but that we should be accountable and learn from the mistakes we make. I want her to take responsibility for her actions, instead of blaming someone else, but I also want her to know when it’s not her fault, and when to make someone else accountable. I want her to know that she is in control of her life and the decisions she makes, and that her father and I will always be there to support her. We are her foundation, and I feel so humbled and blessed that she chose us to be her parents, her guardians, her guides through the most important years of her life. I also feel tremendous pressure and responsibility, but… I wouldn’t have it any other way!

As I write this post, another human being has made his grand entrance into this crazy world. My nephew. His parents are amazing people and I have no doubt that he will make significant contributions to our society when he grows up. And if I believe that, I have to also believe that, at least for now, the biggest difference I can make is through my daughter and the way I raise her. She is loving, kind, compassionate, and respectful of others and the environment around her. No, she is not perfect, none of us are. But since a very young age, she’s understood the difference between right and wrong. It is something that is common sense to her, and we all know how common sense is not all that common these days. So for that, my husband and I will gladly take credit. Sure her Montessori education has had a significant impact in her life (and in ours). But as parents, we have been her biggest role models, her mirror, her real life heroes. So I will take credit for having raised a good human these last six years. And if everyone out there could say the same thing, I would be pretty darn confident that we would have a bright future ahead. We desperately need a brighter future!

So back to my initial struggle… I will, at least for now, make an effort to let go of the doubts and the pressure. Because maybe, just maybe, I am making a significant difference already.







Country Living – Part 2

It has been a little while since I wrote “Country Living – Part 1”, so I had to go back and read it again to make sure I didn’t repeat myself. It turns out, I only told you guys about one animal that has come by. There have been many more since then, so let’s go ahead and get started.
The last post ended with the mysterious disappearance of the rooster that came by our house to visit… and to poop all over our porch. About three weeks after that, we had another visitor: a bird. More specifically a wren, which is a tiny little brown bird. It was trying to build a nest in our garage. I took it down, worried about what would happen if baby birds were born in there. But the wren came back and tried again, so I took the nest down again. The little bird still didn’t get the hint and it came back a third time, so I took it down once again and walked upstairs, frustrated. As I opened the door, something flew right over my head, something much bigger than a wasp or a fly. It was the bird. Somehow it got lost after its third failed attempt to build a nest and instead of fleeing the scene through the garage louvers, it decided to fly up the stairway and wait right by the door – maybe it wanted revenge against the nest bandit. Once it got in, it started freaking out. As you probably know, birds can’t see glass (if you thought that was just a joke, well, it is not). The poor little critter kept flying into our front door, then as I approached the door to try to open it, it flew up the stairway and straight into a window. Its little brain didn’t seem to register the fact that it was glass and not his escape route, so it kept trying over and over again. I started to panic at the thought of a dead bird in my house, but more importantly I felt really bad for her (or him?), so I grabbed my cell phone to call my husband … and realized that, of course, once again, he was out of town and unable to help me (refer to my previous post if this doesn’t make sense to you). I ended up calling my neighbor instead and her husband came right away to rescue me, I mean the bird. After the wren was safely guided outside, I took a deep breath and went on about my business… and so did the bird. It must have been really traumatized, because it didn’t come back into our garage again that Spring. Bird episode (almost) over. We had another bird visit this year, but that’s a story for another post. Now on to the next “wild” animal.
I am not going to go into detail about the fox, hoot owl and the two bald eagles that live in the vicinity. I am just going to say that they are actually pretty cool to have around, especially since they stay far away from us and our dog. Well, the owl tried to “attack” our dog one night, but once it got close enough to see her size (90 lbs.!), it quickly flew away. We have also had the pleasure of seeing baby raccoons hanging out on the oak tree in front of our house, and a marsh turtle that came by and laid eggs in our front yard. These last two “events” were neat too, especially for my daughter. And just when I was starting to get used to this country living, something happened. Something that was not neat, or fun, or cool.
The last wildlife story I have to share with you, at least for now, has a connection to the first one (yes, the infamous rooster story). I was in my office one morning, probably about 6 months after the first rooster came into my life, when I noticed a pick up truck drive around the cul-de-sac and stop in front of the lot next to my house. At first I didn’t think anything of it, because that used to happen fairly frequently. The lot was still for sale, so people would drive by, stop, and walk out of their cars to take a closer look at the property. But this time, that truck parked there for a different reason. I noticed the driver walking around to the back of his truck, lowering the tailgate and pulling a cage towards him. I kept watching it, not understanding what was going on and all of a sudden I saw it: there was a rooster inside the cage. Not a white rooster like the first one. This one had dark reddish/brown feathers. I quickly ran to the front door and by the time I walked onto my front porch, the man was holding the cage upside down, trying to get the rooster out. I yelled “Hey, excuse me, sir”. He ignored me. “Excuse me, sir!”, I said more firmly, and he turned around, still holding the cage upside down with the rooster holding on for dear life. “Sir, are you trying to release that rooster here?” He calmly responded “Yes”. So I said “This is private property, you can’t do that”. After those words came out of my mouth, I immediately realized that he was probably the same person who brought the other rooster to our neighborhood a few months back. His response was as astonishing as the thought of having a rooster dropper-offer around the area. He said “Well, it is either this or kill it, and I don’t feel like eating chicken”. What?!?!?! “I don’t feel like it either, sir, so you need to take it back”. He looked at me with an angry expression on his face, as if I was the one who said something absurd. And since the rooster held on tight the whole time, he had no option but to close the cage back up and take the chicken with him.
Every time I tell this rooster story, people laugh – and so do I. It wasn’t funny then, because I was totally perplexed at the fact that someone could actually do that. But now it is pretty hilarious, especially the dialog between me and Mr. Cocky. And another funny thing is that this man had a personalized license plate. I didn’t even have to write it down, I memorized it right away … just in case another rooster inexplicably appeared on my front porch. But needless to say, after almost a year, we have yet to see another chicken roaming around the neighborhood.