Virtues from Motherhood: Shaking guilt

For all of Ava’s life it’s just been her and me. Ava’s dad has never really been involved in her life consistently and it’s never seemed to bother him that he’s missed every single milestone in her life and has little to no bond with her. That alone baffled me, how could you not be apart of a life you created?!

Confusion aside I was hurt and felt guilty, mostly guilty, for bringing Ava into the world with only half her parents to raise her. I never wanted her to be that kid from a broken home and I had hope that he would wake up and realize despite our inability to be together that he should step up and be a father. Sadly, not surprisingly, he chose not to and was completely absent from her life for five years, seeing her once a year and calling her maybe half a dozen times at best. On father’s day or parent’s day at school I always felt such guilt under my proud mom smile. I couldn’t help but notice her looking around at other kids who had both parents there all the time and though she didn’t look too bothered I knew it had crossed her mind. I knew eventually she’d ask why he wasn’t there or why he never answered the phone and I secretly hoped it’d be when she was much older.

Unfortunately my luck ran out when she was 5 and she asked me why her daddy never celebrated her birthday with her (for the record he was present at her first birthday but she doesn’t remember that). I was overwhelmed with panic and sadness and told her that her daddy was busy working but she was too quick for me and asked why her friend Riley’s daddy could work and be at her party. I held back tears when I told her I really didn’t know and that I would always make sure she had the best birthdays in the world.

Now I wasn’t lying I really didn’t know why he couldn’t call or send a card, I was just as confused as she was and at every holiday, school event or special occasion tears would well up in my eyes as the guilt hit me once again. I felt so bad and I didn’t ever want to show her that so I made sure I was at every event, every holiday show, every class party cheering her on twice as hard.

For a while I didn’t share that guilt with anyone I just kept it tucked away and let it gnaw at me silently. I found however that when I did share it with my friends, my family that they were angry or shocked that I felt that way. I was told that what I was doing for Ava was extraordinary that getting my degree and working was all going to give her the best life possible and that I was setting a good example for her, she was being raised by a strong woman. As nice as those things were to hear I still wasn’t convinced until my own mother told me a man being there physically means nothing if he can’t be there emotionally or mentally. I realized she was right, he couldn’t pick up the phone or mail a card, what difference would him standing in front of her blankly do?

I still struggle with this, sometimes I’m sad that she’s got maybe a dozen pictures with her dad in her 7 years of life, other times I’m angry that he’s just going on with his life and doesn’t seem to wonder what she’ll think of him but lately more and more I’m proud, proud of my daughter for being so smart and bright, proud of her for always seeing the bright side and proud of myself for showing her that there is a bright side, you just have to keep looking up.

Virtues from Motherhood: Tolerance

Tolerance. The word has been thrown around a lot these past two weeks in America. Post-election America seems eerily similar to a city that just suffered a massive earthquake, cracked. It is hard to ignore the division right now and even harder to ignore the lack of tolerance and regard for one another. This election was a high voltage one from the start for many reasons but the main undertones seemed racial and gender bias. It was hard to watch and harder to fathom how a country which made such progress on equality issues over the last 8 years could fall into such divide.

Before my eyes I watched friendships dissolve, families draw battle lines and a nation pick sides with what seemed like no middle ground. I couldn’t help but ask myself, what happened to respecting another person’s opinion or agreeing to disagree? I’ve always believed in picking your battles but suddenly every view I’ve ever had seemed like one. People were accusing one another, throwing stones and downright destroying the character of people both stranger and friend. Tolerance I thought to myself, how can people be so intolerant to political views? If that was one lesson to take away from this mess it’s to be tolerant of your fellow human being.

Everyone around you lives a life, carries a burden or hides a scar you know nothing about but that doesn’t mean you can be insensitive to it. In a perfect world everyone would agree, everything would accommodate everyone but the world is not perfect, and neither are we. We can try though, to be more empathetic and more open minded to peoples sexual orientation, life choices, financial status or where they’ve come from because at the end of the day our graves are all the same size. If there is one thing I want to raise my daughter to be it’s tolerant, open minded and observant. If I can’t teach her to open her eyes to all that’s around her I’ve failed her and I’d also be setting someone who can’t empathize with others out into the world.

So this week I ask my readers to open their own eyes, open their hearts and most of all open their minds, because a closed mind is a dark one and dark minds lead to an even darker society. Look at the person next to you in class, on the subway or in line for Chipotle and realize they live a life that may be a complete 180 from your own, and that you’re not any better or any worse than them for it. We live in a vast and beautiful country, but we can’t all live beautifully so long as hate is still allowed to freely roam society. Let’s raise our children, lets teach our fellow human being lets BE the tolerance, the change and the hope we so desperately need to see in this nation today.

Things I want my Daughter to know: Take root in your Principles


As I continue to make my way through the colorful world of adulthood, I’ve realized that sometimes you’re forced to choose between your principles and your social or economic wealth. Though it may seem far off or something the people you call friends or peers would never do, trust me little girl one day they will. One day you’ll be out for the first time without me, exploring your new found freedom at the movies or at the beach and one of your friends will suggest something far outside your comfort zone. You’ll have 1,000 thoughts fly through your head and you might even hear my voice telling you not to think about it but then the fear of loosing out on friendships and future invitations flashes in red through your mind.

Fast forward 15 years and you’re sitting in the waiting room for a job interview fresh from college. The interview goes great but upon receiving the job offer you realize that this company has a lot of unfair business practices and you know you won’t be happy here for long. The salary however persuades you to consider it.

My point here Ava is be it 12 years old 27 years old or nearing 90 you will always be forced to choose between what is easy and what is right. Realistically, it seems obvious and cliché that as your mom I’m going to tell you to choose right from wrong, which may not necessarily be easy. Yes, as your mom, it is my job to teach you and tell you what’s right. However, I would be a hypocrite and I wouldn’t be doing you justice if I wasn’t honest in telling you I have not always succeeded in choosing right but I can tell you that having done both; right is always best.

Through my teenage years I suffered from your typical teen angst and rebellion but I was also searching for myself, searching for where I belonged and my purpose. I found that purpose when I became your mother. Albeit I was young and having you propelled my life forward 100mph, it took me some time to get my feet out of the mud but knowing you were watching me pushed me onward. So now when I’m faced with two options either that easy A or that hard earned B, I go for B.

I go for B because I have learned that money is not happiness, though it makes life easier, a job where you’re not happy is not an accomplishment. I have learned that friends, who put you down, mock or ridicule your dreams and ideas are not your friends, they are toxic to your life. Standing ground in who you are and what you stand for makes you stand that much taller, it validates any hardship you may weather and most of all it makes you authentic.

Authenticity is an endangered quality in today’s society so if I can give you one piece of advice it is to be who you are, to stand by the values you hold true because those same people who pressure you tend to leave you in times of trouble. Your “most authentic” you is who you see every morning in the mirror, never be ashamed of her, never be ashamed of your passions even if they push you to pursue a completely different paths than you’ve ever know before or set you apart from the rest. That is okay; the road less traveled has the most abundant fruit. That my dearest little girl is how I am here today, writing to you, writing for this blog. I took a leap of faith I pursued what I have always loved to do, write, create and envision. It has brought me great success and I know that one day the things you love and are passionate for will bring you the same if you always remember your guiding principles are yours and yours alone and not one soul on this earth has the power to reroute or alter them except you.

Love Mom