About a week ago I started a notebook for Shelby. A more detailed baby book, kinda, with handwritten notes from me for her to read when she's older. Little tidbits about what she did that day, or if we celebrated any firsts, like her first time standing unassisted, or saying "bye-bye." The beginning few pages I describe how she came to be. How she has a sibling in heaven and how much her daddy and I love her.
But I might be a little sneaky in my true purpose for these notebooks.
It's always been easier for me to express myself with words. Not necessarily verbally, but rather in writing. If Shelby happens to be anything like her mom, she might be the same way, and these notebooks could turn into the golden key to keeping the lines of communication open as she gets older. I know when I was a teenager, I was pretty quiet keeping most of my feelings to myself. Had I been a bit more open with my parents, I probably would have realized that being a teenage girl wasn't all that awful.
Shelby can use the notebook to draw pictures, write her favorite quotes, leave ramblings of the everyday teenager, or talk to me about things she may not be comfortable verbalizing. The notebook can be whatever she wants or needs it to be on any given day. She can leave it on my bed without judgment. Without the worry of having to watch me read it, or look me in the eyes for an uncomfortable conversation. I'll respond and leave it for her on her bed.
They may even turn into a nice memory for her to have when I'm gone. A tangible thing for her to hold on to, to read and look through rather than a USB port, or memory chip.
An old fashioned notebook in a very electronic driven society, something that will last a lifetime.
Recently my husband and I had dinner with our friends, Mark and Ashley, while they were home visiting from Florida. Somehow the conversation turned to the number of distractions there are when spending time with friends and family, and how kids rely heavily on electronics to keep them occupied. Ashley mentioned they don't turn the TV on unless the sun has set. I'll admit, I thought this was a little bizarre. I mean, who doesn't go home after a long day at work and turn the boob-tube on to catch up on your favorite sitcom, or the latest episode of Survivor? Even if it's just for some background noise while you wash dishes, or fold laundry.
Over the next several weeks I got to thinking. I spent some time paying attention to how much time we spent watching TV when there were other things, more productive things we could have been doing. I decided it's actually a pretty spectacular rule. In fact, I like it so much I'm going to start enforcing it with Shelby. Better to start now when she's not accustomed to watching TV rather than later when she's glued to it like gum to the bottom of a shoe.
One of the things I struggled with most returning to work after Shelby was born, was the amount of time I would be spending away from her. Two full days a week, plus nights, and early mornings just doesn't seem like enough time with her, especially not during the first year when babies seem to grow like weeds, transforming right before your eyes.
I think eliminating the TV for at least part of the night will help to increase the amount of quality time we have together. I'm all for iPads and tablets, but I want her to be able to entertain herself without relying on apps and Youtube videos. Plus, some of the best memories I have from being a kid are days spent playing outside with my brother, or game nights with my parents, no electronics needed.
Let's face it you're a lot more likely to have a meaningful conversation without Sheldon Cooper yelling BAZINGA in the background.
I wasn't going to post about the events that took place in Las Vegas, but I've seen so many videos and photos, that I now feel obligated to say something, even if what I say falls on deaf ears.
America doesn't need terrorist, or extremist to be ugly. What happened in Las Vegas happened because hatred is a dominating emotion in this country.
You can blame it on social media, you can blame it on the constantly evolving world of connectivity, but it doesn't change the fact that America has become increasingly more aggressive. I'm not talking about issues that loom overseas I'm talking about the war taking place in our very own neighborhoods, right in front of our faces. Black versus white, men versus women, age versus youth, heterosexuality versus homosexuality, the list goes on and on. The reasons to hate are never-ending, and although it is sometimes easier to turn your back on something you don't understand, or agree with, we need to find it within ourselves as Americans to try and understand, to look for commonality, to be more accepting of those that are different from ourselves.
What happened to American creed? Where did the pride we felt in emphasizing liberty, equality, democracy, and a preference for limited government, go? The majority of American citizens have ancestors who migrated to the United States in the last five centuries, yet we seem to have forgotten the Melting Pot ideals that once made this country great. No longer are we a nation of different nationalities, cultures, and races assimilating to create a unique and beautiful community of Americans. Instead, we fight what once made us proud and prosperous resulting in the mess that lies before us today.
"He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world." -J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur
Let's talk facts. Since 1970, roughly 47 years, more American's have lost their lives to a bullet whether it be a result of suicide, murder or an accident, than the sum of all American deaths from every American war dating back to the Revolutionary war.
Let that sink in.
Today roughly 92 American's will die as a result of a gunshot wound. That's 33,580 preventable deaths. 33,580 lives cut short by the hands of their fellow man.
So here's the question; will the events that took place Sunday night in Las Vegas be the catalyst for change? The answer is no.
Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virgina Tech, Charleston, the Washington Navy yard, and the Orlando nightclub, the list goes on and on, and although the nation mourned and reflected after each incident, precisely nothing has changed to prevent yet another tragedy from destroying more lives.
As history has proven time and time again, the tragedy will resonate for a few days, maybe a week or two. You'll read a story on social media, listen to the local news station, or watch a video while shaking your head in disbelief and disgust. You'll then move on and laugh at a cat video your high school classmate posted on Facebook. Further distancing yourself from the tragedy and eventually, it slips to the very back of your mind and becomes forgotten.
Nothing will change.
Guns, no guns, some guns, it doesn't matter. Guns are not the issue though they are a contributing factor. People. People are most certainly the issue. Guns do not kill people, people kill people, but guns are the means in which some choose to kill and for that reason and that reason alone there should be better regulations in place.
The idea that I am raising my daughter in a country so driven by hate is terrifying. I shouldn't be reading articles on how to protect my child in the event of a mass shooting. I shouldn't go to bed at night fearful that my daughter's life might be cut short by someone who does not find value in all human life, or because she happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I shouldn't, and I won't, teach my daughter to fear her neighbor. Instead, I will teach her love and accept; I will teach her to be open-minded but strong in her convictions; I will teach her to accept those who do not accept her; I will teach her to acclimate to what she cannot change, and to work hard for the things she can; I will teach her to be the difference, not the majority; I will teach her to be the change I wish to see in this world.
I'm not even sure what else to say. There's so much that needs to happen, that needs to change, but as long as people continue to operate in the manner in which they have for the last 50+ years, things are only going to continue to deteriorate. The "Great Melting Pot," or the "Salad Bowl," whichever phrasing you prefer, is filled with brown lettuce and spoiled veggies and I'm not entirely sure if there's a way to fix it.