If you only know me through this blog then I will do my best to bring you up to speed on something that I felt needed to be said based on a rash of comments that ensued after a post I put on my personal Facebook page.
As I entered the checkout line in Wal-mart yesterday what I saw was nothing new to me. A twenty-something mother with her baby in a carrier tucked down in the stroller. Her items were neatly arranged and separated with paper checks on each stack. I quickly surveyed the situation trying to decide if this was going to be one of "those" checkouts or not. I decided she seemed really organized and this one would go fast. Then I surveyed the cashier. A grandmotherly type who had no business working that close to a freezing open door with a gentle smile and a steady hand. Yep, this was the line for me.
I quickly unloaded my cart full of cold medicines for every age in my home and gave the mom a smile. In just moments up walked some ladies who knew her and they began a conversation that was, quite frankly, rude to the cashier who was trying to make sense of the 4 or 5 checks being used to pay for items on the belt. She glanced at me with warm blue eyes that said, "I am sorry." Mine responded with, "It's ok." However, this behavior went on for quite a few minutes until the cashier could take it no longer, as there were issues with what the mom was buying with these funds. As I stood and surveyed this interaction, turning away five different buggies to other, faster lines, I decided I had had enough. This scene looks the same in South Carolina and Texas. I pulled out my phone, responded to a few text messages, checked our bank account, looked at my email, and then opened my Facebook. By this point this was borderline ridiculous. So...I quickly punched out, "If it takes you four WIC checks to get your food at Wal-mart, why are you carrying a $200 diaper bag and have acrylic nails? I will never understand this." This was the shortened version of all of her "amenities." I plopped my phone back into my purse and stood some more. By now I am sure she was noticing the "really?" look on my face that I could no longer hide. This surprises none of you I am sure.
In just minutes my phone begins to buzzzzz that is the indication of responses to posts on Facebook. I pull it out, still waiting, and yes, responses of similar disgusts. What followed actually blew my mind. In two years, 186 blog posts, and over 10,000 blog views I have never had a response so passionately about anything. And then it came. Posted by a "friend" on Facebook. "Maybe it was a gift from a rich friend. Tis the season to judge." Believe or not, I didn't respond to this right away. Thought about not responding at all. But I did. Here is what I said, "Oh (name)...if only I were that naive...." This is not what I wanted to say at all. I am older and wiser and trying to hold my tongue, unlike my 16,17,18,19, etc....self. So, here is what I have to say to that.
Dear Rich Friend,
Be a damn friend. This means that you look your "girl" in the face and say I know it is rough right now, so instead of the $200 diaper bag that you put on your registry I am giving you what you need. Diapers, wipes, and formula. You don't need those nails, highlights, fancy diaper bag, or new sneakers. Those don't make you a good mom. If you need to feel better about yourself after having a new, sweet baby then I will give you an in-home spa day and paint those nails the prettiest shade of red you have ever seen. I will get the best damn box of color you have ever seen and won't get a smudge on your forehead. If it is a bag you need then we will come up with something and you can get the fancy one later on. And those sneakers you have been eying. Forget it. If you have shoes that have soles, your good.
The Mama Who Gave Up All of Those Things to Have Her First of Three Girls 7 Years Ago
Now. Since we have that far-fetched scenario out of the way, along with what I think of it, let's get to the real point of it all. This is the problem with America. The young adults and youth of today think they are entitled to everything. Guess what? You are NOT! You are entitled to an opportunity, not an outcome. Let me say this again. You are entitled to an OPPORTUNITY, not an OUTCOME. We all have the opportunity to make the life we want. Don't roll your eyes and think some have more opportunities, or better ones then others. Maybe. Maybe not. What this country needs is what my mom calls "tough love." They need someone to tell them the truth, not feel sorry for them. Kick them in the ass (sorry mom, that is three now). Look them in the face, eye to eye, and say, "Life is a bitch sometimes. Get up, dust yourself off and let's get it figured out. Have pride for goodness sake. Work for what you want. Climb and claw your way out of this thing like your life depends on it. Because it does. We are here for you. We will support you for a short time. But you are going to support yourself for the long haul. You will love yourself more. We promise. That baby, will be a young man one day, and oh my what a story you will have to tell him." Why are we so afraid to say this? What good are we doing these folks by patting them on the back and saying in the softest voice we know, "It's ok honey, I know you are doing your best." Well, yeah, sometimes they are and that is just fine, but from my view across the Wal-marts of America that is not the majority here. And because I chose the frustrated, tough love, call-it-like-I-see-it perspective today I got mangled. Well, guess what? I did just that. I called it like I saw it. And I wasn't judging her. I was merely pointing out what she was showcasing. I didn't have to infer, wonder, or presume. What I said, I saw. What I wondered I questioned. I have no judgement except, yeah, she had some damn good taste. Her diaper bag was too cute, her sneakers I would drool over, and I would love some highlights opposed to my off the rack box of color that I pretend to get better at every month. But, that girl needs some tough love, not another manicure.
Now let me say this. As I finally rolled into my sick house after a 35 minute wait in line, and my phone is still blowing up, I tell on myself to Man. He says, "Oh no." See, he knows me from way back when. Way back when the look in my eyes told you fire was getting ready to come out of my mouth. I comfort him, and say, "It's ok honey." He says, "You probably know someone on WIC and you offended them without knowing they use it." This is my response. First, if you are on WIC, and this offended you, then I apologize to you. Second, let me say that I have known and do know people on WIC. One was a young high-school mother that used it to finish school and until she could get her feet on the ground because her parents put a little tough love in her rear and refused to fully support her. She is a very successful person today raising two healthy children and I am so very proud to have seen her come so far. I am even prouder to call her my friend. I have known another friend who would tell me how awful it was to go take her kids and sit in the line to get the stamps each month but she had to. And she did. Her husband was working two jobs and they were truly doing everything they could but just needed the boost to get by each month. She eventually began an at-home hobby that helps support their family, even though she works late into the night to make it all happen. Neither of these women had polished up nails, fancy cars, $200 diaper bags, or the best sneaker in town on their feet. But, they had pride, ambition, and resolve. For these situations, yes, absolutely that is what that money is there for. Please, use it. But because you figured out that you qualify and that now means you can go have x,y,and z too...you are robbing yourself and the system.
Lastly, if you truly know me, you know my heart. Yesterday showed me just who knows me and who does not. I thank those of you who were brave enough to speak for me before I knew what to say in my own defense. So, let me say this. Don't you ever use the Chirst card with me when you have no business using it. Christians are sinners. No one is perfect. Not me and not you. I sit in a pew more then once a week because I strive to know the Lord and be more like him everyday and I will not have anyone judge my heart but my God. He knows me by name and he knows my heart. And that, that is all that matters.