When the tears fall…ask yourself why

Schools are closed and the office is closed in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m home with my kids, and when I woke up with them this morning, the first thing I did was ask them “Do you know why you are home from school today?” Of course they gave the right answer. They’ve been learning as much as a 3, 6 and 12 year old can over the last week about Martin Luther King and his legacy at school. I wanted to start the day with a lesson on the truly backbreaking and often dehumanizing work Dr. King and all who struggled and fought for Civil Rights in this country endured. I began by telling them a little bit about how not so long ago, people were separated in this country because of the color of their skin; that they could only live in certain places, go to certain schools, eat at certain restaurants. I was pleasantly surprised to see them all really listening. It was quite a moment for me.

I talked to them about standing up for what is right, about Dr. King’s stance on non-violence, and about the ugly reality of racism, hatred and segregation. How people faced dogs, fire hoses, being spit on, beaten, battered, all because they believed that everyone, no matter what the color of their skin, deserved to be treated equally. As I was speaking about the bravery of the people who had endured so much, I could feel my throat tightening, my chest hurting…and I began to cry. I struggled through, talking more about Dr. King’s legacy and how it lives on today through us, and about how we should always feel gratitude to those people who fought and died for what is, by it’s very essence, truth. We are different, that is true. But we are all human and no one, no matter how many letters they have behind their name has ever been able to define race in a way that denies that fact.

When the lesson was over, I began to reflect. Why was I crying? I cried because I want to be that brave. I want to be that strong…to sit in the face of hatred and anger and know that I am on the side of justice. I am humbled at the bravery of all those men and women. I am humbled by their grit, their honor, and their knowledge deep in their hearts and minds that they were struggling for something bigger than themselves…

I am humbled by the knowledge that they weren’t afraid to die.

I will end this with one of my favorite quotes from Dr. King. It’s a reminder to me to always speak. I do, for the most part. It’s time to make my voice louder. Time to do more. Remember:


For the times when you don’t get along with your mother

I realize the title of this post is long. Lots of words to reflect an often complicated relationship. I love my mother dearly. She is my biggest cheerleader. But she can also be my worst critic. And not in a constructive “hey, I see you doing this right, but this is questionable, but hey, this is awesome so I know you can do better” kind of way. It’s more like “that’s not how I did things” kind of way. (This is just a tiny sampling, and trust it is always said with a hint of judgment, a dash of disdain, and a pinch of  “my way is better.”) It’s frustrating. It’s aggravating. It’s often difficult not to react, to try to listen to what I feel is constant criticism with some kind of understanding (by now, I mean I’m 40 and my mom has been my mom my whole life!). I should be up to speed by now, right?

So my question, albeit a late one, is how on earth can I navigate my relationship with my mom in a way that is far more constructive? I’d like to, once, hear her comment about the state of the house or the state of my children or my parenting skills or my choice of wardrobe or my choice of food or reading or exercise or date or….you feel my pain? Yeah…so how to navigate in a way that doesn’t end in a clash that leaves me feeling like a jerk?

After careful evaluation, I don’t think there is a way to navigate this relationship. I’m just along for the ride. It’s a bumpy one, for sure. Yet, she is my mom. The mother who I know would do anything for me, even though I’m nothing like her. It may not make every criticism from my mother palatable, but knowing how much she loves me makes the medicine go down a lot easier.