Thursday, March 27, 2014

I have a confession to make-

One of the hardest things for Brooke and I to do is carve out time just for us.  We have to really work at it to have time where we aren't distracted by life.  I'm sort of proud that we are getting better and better at this, and I think it has been really healthy for our relationship.  It was just a few weeks ago, when we were just sitting around talking when I had an eureka moment.

Here is my confession.  I was not a good husband early on.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't awful, but I have come to realize that I was not as mature as I thought I was.  I still sort of had the college mentality, but I was living in "the real world." Brooke and I were too young when we got married.  Well at least I was. I have only recently realized this, and its not an admission that I am proud of.  When I got married in 2003, I didn't actually have a true grasp on what it meant to be a man.  I certainly didn't understand what it meant to be a husband. Without question, I didn't know what it meant to be a true partner. Would I do it all over again? Absolutely.  Ask Brooke the same question, she might tell you something different.  That's a joke, I think.  In retrospect, would I do certain things differently and handle life differently? Absolutely. Truth be told, I didn't start growing up until Reagan came.  Then we moved to Lexington and Caroline came.  Then Baylor Grace, then Hadley Blaine.  At that point we moved to Chicago and we were really on our own for the first time.  This is significant because it made me realize how much I lean on Brooke, and how important she is to me.  Ive heard the saying that kids make a good marriage better, and a bad marriage worse.  It is absolutely accurate to say they have made our marriage better.  However, I think a reason for that is because they made me better.  They made me realize I needed to grow up.  The girls made me realize I needed to be more careful with how I acted.  The girls made me realize I needed to be better with how I was to Brooke.  The girls made me realize how important my conduct really was.  I now know I need to take better care of myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. They are always watching me.  While I am proud that Caroline thinks its fantastic that she farts like her Daddy, I realize now what I need to do for them.  The greatest thing I can do for my girls is love their mother.

I have no idea why I was the way I was back then.  For the record, my parents raised me better than that.  I am probably harder on myself than anyone else is, but I am deeply disappointed in myself for those early years.  I can never have those years back, I can never give Brooke those years back.  I guess it is all part of life's maturation process, even the parts you are disappointed in.  I'm lucky to have survived those early years when I was not the man I should have been.  I am even luckier to have Brooke be blessed with the patience of a Saint.  Life isn't about doing it perfectly.  Its about doing it better than you did the day before.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

#TBT We shouldn't tolerate second class citizenship

I thought I would go way back for my #TBT (throw back Thursday) today.  This picture is one I am particularly proud of, one that probably guides me in my everyday work more than I realize.  It is a picture from the late 1940s in Kentucky.  What you are looking at, is a restaurant that my Great Grandfather worked at.  Delbert (who is in the foreground) worked at this place with his brother in law, my Great Great Uncle (who is in the background).  It was that side who owned the store, not my Great Grandfather.  This picture might not mean much to you, but I ask that you to put the picture in its historical context.  This was in the segregated South, during the height of the Jim Crow laws.  Not only was "separate but equal" rarely enforced, it was often ignored.  My GGF had no reservations about serving African-Americans.  In fact, as a result of their reputation, 90% of their clientele were African-American.   All my ancestors in this picture were raised on the Tennessee border. They are just removed from grandparents who fought for the Confederacy.  I don't claim they were perfect, but at a time when it was excused by society to treat a particular section of the society as second class citizens, my family did not.  I am very proud of that.

The next decade, late 50's early 60's, their business interests moved to more of a general store.  It was a store in the front of a "shotgun" house.  Again, my family's reputation preceded them, and much of their loyal clientele was African-American.  Not only did they proudly serve any person who came in the door, they even offered credit to the African-Americans.  This is something else that seems routine in today's world, I assure it was not back then.  They knew their clients, they treated them with respect, and they trusted them.  In return, my Great Grandfather was trusted, treated with respect, and had a loyal customer base.  He also had very little problems collecting on the debts that were owed to them.   That is what happens in a reciprocal relationship built on trust. 

Again, they weren't perfect.  While Delbert served in the Navy during WWI and fought off the Kaiser's men, I am told he liked the ponies a little too much.  Despite all that, he didn't tolerate someone being treated as a second class citizen.  Delbert's daughter in law was a fiery red haired Irish Catholic (God rest her sainted Irish soul).  Her family knew all too well, both in the homeland (Ireland), and here in America, how poorly Irish Catholics were often treated.  

I can't tolerate it either.  I don't care if you're African-American, Homosexual, Hispanic, Muslim, Jewish, or even a pledge.  Second class citizenship in America, in SAE, is unacceptable.  We are better than that as Americans, and we are better than that as SAEs.  Many of  y'all may think I am crazy, maybe I am?  You may also think that its a leap to make some of the comparisons in the above sentence.  I assure you it is not.  At some point in time you have to take a stand, even if it makes you uncomfortable, even if it leaves you vulnerable.  At the end of the day, there is never a wrong time, to do the right thing.