Friday, September 19, 2008

Do you really want to?

This morning there was a lot of chaos under this roof. There is always some chaos, but today there was an above average amount.

It was a no dress code day for my three grade schoolers, though my husband dressed them all in uniforms. When I came down the steps, they were crying and gnashing their teeth, and pleading with me to help.

I didn't know it was a no dress code day, my husband responded to the question, why are they in their uniforms?

The bus will be here any minute. There is no time for them to change.

I'll change them and take them to school today.

Do you really want to? he asks.

The teenager is not ready. She doesn't feel good and her pants are too long. Consequently, she is not ready to leave with her father.

Do you want to take her to school too?

On the way to school, she is crying, I'm going to be late, while Ethan speaks up from the back seat...

I forgot my library book, again. I promised I would bring it back today. I have to go home and get it.

We arrive at high school.

I'll call you when I'm done.

Oh, except I forgot my phone.

You don't mind if I take yours, do you?

We drop the little kids off in the car line and the vice principal wants to know why Ethan is getting out of the car?

Aren't you coming to school today she asks?

The library book story is recounted.

She assures him he can bring it on Monday, but he won't get out of the car.

My mom is going to take me home to get it.

She looks at me and asks, do you really want to?

As we make our second trip back to school, I contemplate all the times I have been asked the question DO I REALLY WANT TO? in the relatively short amount of time since I have been conscious. Each time, it was asked, I didn't really answer. I took it as more of hypothetical, thinking each time, do I really have choice?

When Ethan got out of the car, book in hand, obviously relieved that he wasn't going to have to avoid the librarian all day as his older sister suggested, I realized that the question wasn't a hypothetical. I could have let them go to school in their uniforms; could have made my husband drive daughter to school and get to work late; could have insisted that Ethan get out of the car the first time I drove school...

So I guess the answer is yes, I really do want to. Not that I enjoy necessarily driving around like a limo driver, picking up others slack, surrendering my cell phone at moments's not about the particulars. What I really want to do is help my family, and if something as simple second trip back home to get a forgotten book can make my son's day better, then yes, I really want to. If only all the worlds problems could be solved so easily.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Evidence

We did get into Martha's kitchen...
But you know what, I think I might like mine better. It's not as pretty, and it probably doesn't produce as good of food, but it's comfortable...

Truly, I am an idiot. What more can I say. You gotta take the good with the bad. Most times, I think the bad outweighs, but you'll have to be the judge

The Day is over, I'm smiling, and going to bed!!!!!!!!!

If you or kids haven't read this book,
go out and get it now. Just make sure
you get gas FIRST.

Read below. Then look here. Don't ask why. It's been a terrible horrible no good very bad day, It's 11:56 P.M., and for the first time in months, couldn't publish these pics below? When will it ever end. Hopefully 12:01a.m.? But who knows?

Laurie (ofthesevenstories) and the terrible horrible no good very bad day

Um, yeah... remember Alexander?

I do, as it was one of my favorite stories to read as a child. I think I probably liked hearing, like all kids do, that once in a while, everybody really has a terrible horrible no good very bad day...

Back then, like Alexander, I thought not getting the right color stripes on my sneakers was like a serious wrong. Not to minimize Alexander's tale. The message is universal. Sometimes a bad day is just bad,and there is nothing you can do to stop it. As a child, this is particularly true, because after all, you are in not control. You have to rely on the will of others. And sometimes things just snowball, and a day seems to go haywire and out of control...

Unlike Alexander, I didn't wake up with gum in my hair, but I did wake up like super,super early this am. Like we're talking 1:40; 2:40; 3:40, and omigod, it's time to get ready. I had showered the night before. I laidout my clothes. I packed my camera;etc. in my purse, so I'd be ready to go.

The GPS was loaded, and I was headed to meet fellow local blogger, Sarah, of Genisis Moments so that we could meet Beth, of Total Mom Haircut to attend the Martha Stewart Show in NYC to see her special on bloggers. From 3:40 on, I scampered and scurried as fast as I could to get to Sarah to pick her up so that we could head to NYC via the Trenton Train Station.

I got to Sarah's house at about quarter after five. She questioned whether we would make the train? I assured her that we would, thinking that absolutely that would be the case...

We were running two to three minutes behind the train we planned to take, but there were at least three or four others that would have been later, but still would have enabled us to get to the show. I drove fast. I followed the GPS. When the gas light came on, I figured, oh I've got time. How many times have I figured this and been fine? Oh, probably 6512498543215455 billion times, and I'm always fine.

Today, apparently, the 6512498543215456 billionth time, NOT.SO.MUCH.

That's right folks, one mile from the train station, WE.RAN.OUT.OF.GAS.

Sarah was upset, and rightfully so. She told me that she wished I would have stopped for gas the night before... What could I say except, "I'm sorry." Often and repeatedly.

I called AAA, and figured that they would be there quickly. I called Sarah a cab and thought she could go without me.

It took AAA 11/2 hours to find us. As it turned we literally were seconds from New Jersey, but technically in PA. As a result, the initial tow truck, coming with gas, turned around, stating that they didn't come to PA. Thanks so much for your help AAA. I'll definitely be renewing next year!

The cab, I called for Sarah, also never came. I don't even know why.

We called 911 New Jersey- but we were in PA; they told us to call the turnpike hotline- but we weren't on the turnpike- finally someone put me through to the police in PA.

90 minutes later, with absolutely no hope of getting Sarah to the show, the police and AAA arrived and we were back in business. I got gas, and we decided to make a day of it and head into NYC anyway to meet Beth, who did actually wind up making it to the show.

The consellation prize(?) was that we did get to see an afternoon taping of Martha's show, though it was not on the topic of blogging. It was about figs. I like figs enough, but, of course, it wasn't the same; and I was unable to shake the terrible, horrible, very bad feeling that came as a result of my having such a day when others were involved and affected by my day. And I was powerless to fix things, really fix things....

But alas, as it was for Alexander, and Scarlet O'hara, it will be for me. Tommorow brings a new day, a fresh start, an opportunity to try again.

Laurie (ofthesevenstories) and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

Laurie (ofthesevenstories) and the TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fessing up...

All of the "ist" groups that I could be associated with, I' m proud to say that I would consider myself to be a member of only one. Mostly this is a good thing, as there aren't too many ists groups that come to my mind that have positive values. For example, I do not subscribe to the points of view of the following:
*antagonists, well, this one may be debatable
*realists, in my opinion, this is not such a good group, at least for me.
*idealists; I used to be one, but then I grew up, as most of the members of this ist do
*apologists; I only rarely say I'm sorry, as I'm hardly ever wrong

Of course, there are some good "ist" groups, too. Sadly, I do not belong to those either.

I'd love to be a philanthropist, but I just don't have the money.
Once, in college, I thought for a while about being anthropologist, but then there was all that digging.
Also thought of being a sociologist; but they don't make any money. Good thing I decided to major in philosophy.
I have seen some psychologists and some psychiatrists. I'm not sure that they are good "ists". They sort of waiver between the two groups; hanging in the balance, in my mind. No, on second thought, psychologists are in the bad ists group cause all they can do is talk; and bill you 200. an hour. I talk and no pays me. Psychiatrists, on the other hand, are in the good ist group, as they can prescribe medication. Note, I am also not a scientologist. Sorry Tom Cruise. I liked you in Jerry Maguire, but not nearly as much as I like xanax.

There are two ists groups to which I think I do belong;

I think I am a feminist, although others may disagree. My husband often tells me that I am not. I reply, "well who is doing the dishes?" right before I put his laundry away.

The ist that I know I am, however, is a bad ist. I wish I weren't. I wish somehow I could take it back, erase it from my mind, separate the part of my brain that clings to the fact that I hate getting old; and thus I am an AGEIST. There, I said it. I don't feel better.

You see, today, I turn thirty four. 34. I am leaving my early thirties and entering my mid thirties. It is not place that I want to go. I am not happy here. I don't like the idea of wrinkle cream or doctor's visits to check and see if I have any of the 200+billion diseases that old people get. I don't like the idea of not being hip; or being untrustworthy; or having to grow up and be responsible. I like being the younger generation, the kid, the young one. Maybe its because I am the baby of the family. I don't know.

For the past several weeks, in anticipation of this day, I have been trying to mentally prepare myself. Mostly at night, I would have talks with myself, not out loud, I'm NOT that old YET. I would try to soothe myself.

If I live until age 90(ha!), I'm a good ten years from middle age. Not such a soothing thought. Next.

Thirty four is still relatively young. I am young. I have six years until I am forty. A little better, but still depressing.

Really young looking people are forty and older. Look at Brad Pitt. Oh yeah, he's a man and a Hollywood actor. Does not apply to me.

That vice presidential candidate chick is 42; a real person; and she has five kids. Maybe there is hope for me.

I saw on the news this morning that a new type of exercise is sweeping the older generation. Cane fu. Avg age range, 60. I'm not even close to that age; so I' m REALLY not that OLD.

Forty is supposed to be the new twenty; so in all actuality, I'm only turning fourteen today.

You know what, on my thirty fourth birthday, I actually want to be labeled a teenage mom. All of the sudden, it feels good. With age does come wisdom. So maybe instead of being depressed I should look forward to turning forty, I mean twenty.

Maybe in six years. Right now, I' m still trying to accept fourteen.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Keith, calm down...

My brother has a theory that there has never been any one by the name of Keith who is truly a success in this world. When he first mentioned this to me, I responded with, "well Keith Olbermann is successful, kind of, in his field."

"No, he's not," my brother replied, in a matter-of-fact tone. If their is one thing that my brother is, it's self-assured. Unlike me, he does not ever feel the need to justify, quantify, rationalize and explain everything he says so that everyone he says it to will understand and agree. I admire this about him; it can be pretty freaking annoying, but at least you know when he commits himself to something, he means it.

This is why when we had this conversation, and initially I didn't understand fully his assessment of Keith Olbermann, I didn't really inquire any further. Doing so would have gotten me no where, and because my brother and I are subscribe to different political ideologies, I thought "what the hell is the point?"

I am a registered Democrat.

I never really watched Keith Olbermann. I mean I knew who he was; I have listened to his commentaries when he is on a panel, but I never really more than glanced at his show, until last night.

Boy, am I glad that I didn't get into a raging debate with my brother over this guy. He is absolutely nuts.

It was sometime after 10 o'clock when alas, my head was able to hit my pillow, and I thought to myself, I think I might like to watch a little t.v. before I go to bed. I admit, I have become somewhat of a political talk show junkie, and that I have even watching Fox news, if I can't find any other political commentary, as of late. I turned to CNN last night, however, just in time to catch Keith going crazy. I wish I could you tube and put a video of his temper tantrum right here on my blog, but I haven't learned how to do that yet. If any one out there in cyberspace wants to help me, let me know...

If you didn't see it, you'll have to take my word for it, Keith was really out of line. I was only half paying attention to his commentary on Sara Palin and the whole lipstick on a pig debacle. Basically, he was defending Senator Obama and while I don't think the comment is the worst thing in the world, I don't know if I would defend it as much as I would say it was a mistake, everyone makes mistakes, and try to minimize its real importance in this real. If you ask me, Senator Obama should be more concerned about he how alienated millions of female voters
by not choosing Hillary Clinton as his v.p., but that's just my take.

It was Keith's tirade about Senator McCain that was super scary. He started off saying that McCain is trying to commercialize 9/11. He might be, but let's be honest, all of the candidates are watching their ps and qs today and trying to get voter mileage out of this day of terrible tragedy in American History. It's the nature of the political beast, and there is no way around it for any one running for office. He picked on Rudi Giuliani, and blamed him in part for 9/11. Again, could be partly his fault, but certainly, in his way, he tried to help the people of NYC in the wake of 9/11, and I certainly do not think that Rudi Giuliani deliberately did anything to bring about 9/11, which Olbermann implied.

Then he got on McCain for making a statement, in which he claimed that he knew how to capture Osama Bin Laden, and that if he was elected he would do so. This is when the foam starting coming out of old Keith's mouth, and his eyes began to bulge, and if I not mistaken, his skin began to turn green, and he muttered "you won't like me when I'm angry."

"Mr. McCain", he said, in the tone of a prosecutor delivering a closing argument on a mass murderer, (and now I'm paraphrasing) if you can find and deliver Osama Bin Laden to the United States government, and you don't because you don't get elected that is tantamount to "aiding and abetting" Osama Bin Laden.

Okay, like I said, I consider myself to be "liberal", but this is way over the line. John McCain, your candidate or not, is a former P.O.W. He risked his life for our country, and even if you don't agree with his policies or politics, I think it is an absolute abomination to link him in with Taliban leader, Osama bin Laden. I mean, Keith, are you kidding? What in the hell have you ever done besides sit your ass on a chair and talk nonsense for hours on end, and probably get paid a fortune to do so.

What angers me about this guy is that not only is he making outlandish and ridiculous statements about a man who served our country as a POW, he is simultaneously denigrating democrats everywhere. This is guy is no better than Rush Limbaugh, polarizing political discourse with hate speech to promote his personal agenda. I am revolted, disgusted, and ashamed.

Why can't people have level headed discussions about politics where they keep their disagreements to the issues and avoid distasteful, personal attacks. I expect better behavior from my children. Not that I always get it, but at least, I expect it.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The seven habits of highly ineffective, but predominantly happy, people

The start of school, is for me, much like the New Year. In fact since I was born in September, in all actuality, it is my personal New Year, and as such, for as long as I can remember I have spent many a September afternoon making resolutions about how the upcoming year will be better.

For example:
1) I buy calendars and highlighters and pens, and I make an attempt to write down important dates
2) I try to prepare the night before for the next morning
3) In my head, I make an imaginary schedule that includes a regular wake time, breakfast time, lunch time;etc.
4) I assign different days of the week different chores; Monday, I'll do the laundry; Tuesday; I'll run errands; Wednesday; I'll prepare all the meals for the following week ( yes, in the hypothetical realm I have very lofty goals).

Of course, a week or two into my new "schedule", I always drop the ball. The phone rings and I talk too long. The baby wants to go outside to play and we scrap the laundry for an hour wagon ride, or an hour of digging the dirt. The rain makes me want to stay inside and read or write or both and so we skip a trip to the grocery store and get take out for dinner....

A few years ago, I read the book, The Seven habits of highly effective people, and I had one of those Oprah aha!moments. Now I understood. Now that I saw all of those dynamic pyramids and charts. I'd put all into play and conquer the world...and then the phone rang, and I was pregnant, again, or the roof was leaking ,or somebody had cellulitis...

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I was really motivated and trying to unpack the rest of the boxes from our move LAST YEAR. Yes, I know. Mostly what is left in these boxes are old clothes, potential hand me downs, that I will likely hold on to and find, just after whoever the article would have been handed down to, has outgrown it; and books. So, I'm looking through the books and I come across the book about being highly effective.

I bring it up to my nightstand and I think, I should probably reread this. Obviously, I missed something. And then, in another Aha moment, I thought to myself, maybe in fact I did not miss anything. Maybe I should just embrace my ineffectiveness, after all, it isn't sooo bad, and it does have its pluses. So without further ado, I give you my list... The Seven Habits of highly ineffective, but predominantly happy people...

(1) In the morning when you first wake up and hear everyone else clamoring, close your eyes really tight, curl up in a bawl, and firmly pull the covers of your head. Just for a moment, be thankful that you are still in bed, even though every one else is up. After that moment, inevitably, you will be torn out of bed, but the feeling of relishing that last moment of sleep while every else faces the harsh reality of the am is really priceless

(2) Lose your keys, or purse, or something really important, at least once a week. This way you can stay home while someone else picks up your kids, a gallon of milk;etc. You'd do it for them, if you had your keys....

(3) Walk barefoot. Sure your feet will be nasty and dirty at the end of the day, but walking shoeless on the ground feels damn good. Plus, you won't have to justify to your husband why you need to spend thirty dollars and a hour on a spa pedicure while he watches the five kids. He'll be begging you to get the dogs cleaned up.

(4) Talk to people when they call. Or when you meet them in the store, or anywhere else. Not complete strangers. I mean don't end up on a milk carton, but when by coincidence you run into someone, stop and say a few words. Don't be in such a damn rush to get off the phone either. People are important; things can wait.

(5) Do things on an as needed basis. We are society of very prepared people. We go to Costco and buy enough goat cheese and laundry detergent and toilet paper so that we won't run out, because God forbid there'd be a snowstorm and we couldn't wash clothes for the five hours it takes to salt the roads.
When school starts, we amass wardrobes for our kids for the entire school year, as if that one weekend in August will be our last trip to the store before June.
So what if you wash the kids clothes the night before? Is there some law that says outfits for everyday of the week must be lined up in the closet and ready to go? Trust me, they look the same whether they come straight out of the closet or straight out of the dryer in the am. No one will know the difference.

(6) Co sleep. I mean what is all this bullshit that people can't get rest when their kids sleep in their bed. Yeah, I know they kick, and they roll over, and they wake you unexpectedly; but seriously so do partners and boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives, and no one is telling you to put them in another room and let them scream it out until they fall asleep. Besides, kids outgrow this. Trust me, they won't want to sleep in your bed on prom night; and if you think about that, it'll make the kicking and the rolling much more tolerable.

(7) Don't have too many habits, or things you "have" to do. In a flash, life can change drastically. The more flexible you are, the better you'll be at rolling with the inevitable ups and downs. Or, at least that's what I tell myself.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hello High School.Goodbye Sanity (or what I have left of it)

As if I weren't crazy enough navigating the ups and downs of life with five children, now the oldest one insists on going to high school. And a real at that. She rudely declined my generous offer to home school her with an eye roll, a sigh, and an "oh, mom, would please be serious." It is a well confirmed fact that she is more mature than I am. Did you ever see the show family ties? Well, let's just say she is Alex P. Keaton, and I a mixture of Elise (Meredith Baxter Birney's character) and Mallory (the dim witted sister, played by Justine Bateman).

"It'll be fun. I"ll teach you all the really important things in life- like how to do laundry, wash dishes, change diapers, and clean a house."
"I already know how to do those things."
"Yes, you know how to do them, but at home school, you would actually do them."
Another eye roll, sigh, and exasperated MOOOOOOOOOOM.

You parents of cute little babies, toddlers, even my friends with middle schoolers, you don't know what you are in for... remember the scene in Jaws...the opening scene where the drunk girl goes out for a fun night time swim, only to tire and lay on a buoy for a short rest. Her head, spinning from her obvious buzz, she is comforted by the large buoyant object-the only thing that she can lean on in the vast, open ocean. Unfortunately, she can only take a brief breath before an angry, great white shark attacks her, drags her under the ocean, and eats her.

This is the best comparison of what it felt like to take my daughter to high school.

I remember her first day of school. She was about 14 months old. No, she is not that much of a genius, when I say school, I actually mean day care, but for my purposes, the two are equivalent. This was the first institution to which I surrender her. That first day, I dressed her in this little yellow duck outfit. It was one of those long, wide tops that criss cross in the back and fasten with one large button. Not quite a shirt, and not quite a dress, it came as a set with little bloomers, which covered her diaper. I can still remember how it was trimmed in white ric rac, and how moved my fingers back on forth over that trim as I held her in those final seconds before I handed her over to the teacher. I ran down the hall as I heard her start to scream. I headed towards my car crying. It would not be the last time that I left her there and left in tears, but of course, things did get better. She really connected with her teacher, which is a nice, non obnoxious way of saying that she was the teacher's favorite. In most cases I shun nepotism, but when I left my fourteen month old baby in the care of complete strangers, some how justice for all became a lot less important to me than my own child's happiness.

She made it through day care and by age three, she moved on to nursery school. She was a "farm friend", and she loved it and flourished in this program. She still drank from a bottle, which I covertly snuck her every afternoon when I picked her up from school. She would be so tired that I'd have to carry her into the house, where she would watch the video, BARNEY GOES TO SCHOOL every afternoon before she took a nap. I would sing along because I developed a sort of barney related schizophrenia wherein I heard his voice in my head singing these songs ALL DAY LONG.

When we moved back to my home town from the south, my daughter started first grade at the same elementary school that I went to as a child. The school starts at age three, so as a first grader, she was the "New Kid", which is not always easy to be. I still remember the sleepover a girl in her class had. In a very small school, a mother who clearly wasn't thinking, or was thinking something she should have been, decided to allow her daughter to invite half of the girls to her birthday sleepover. It was on a Friday night. At the end of the school day, the mom picked up all the invited guests from school. My daughter watched most of her friends tote their sleeping bags and their overnight kits down the hallway before they merrily boarded this mom's minivan. Naturally, she was upset.

That night, I realized that there was absolutely nothing that I could do to make it better, and that while compared to the possible disappointments she could have been suffering at that very moment, that disappointment was extremely minor, her little self could not understand that; or if she could, she did care. It was the biggest thing in her life. For the moment. Which, of course was fleeting, but seemed eternal for at least twenty four hours.

In June, my daughter "graduated" from this school with more good memories than bad. Ready to move on and yet sad to leave. I was thankful for the summer, high school was still three months away.

Three months, however, passed quickly. Trips here and there and everywhere coupled with the day to day maintenance of the house, the children, and our Olympic hopeful cat made the time fly faster than ever. I wonder if each year will get progressively shorter as I get progressively older. Actually, I don't wonder, I know; but I like to pretend that I wonder, and that maybe I am wrong, and time will eventually slow down.

Yesterday was orientation. We took her to the high school that she chose. This was a departure from how I was raised. My parents told me in no uncertain terms that I would go to an all girls catholic academy, and I did go, kicking and screaming all the way. I made friends and had fun along the way, but I didn't think then and I still don't think now that it was the right fit for me. Who knows though? I don't look back and judge.

Anyway, off she went this morning, in a skirt not much longer than the bloomer combination she wore to her first day of daycare. There were no tears today. I dropped her off close enough so that she wouldn't have to walk too far, but far enough away so that I couldn't be seen. Imagine the embarrassment. Cell phone in one hand, my lip gloss (which I confiscated) in the other, she leaned into the door. "I'll call you when I need a ride",

And all that was left to say was, "I'll be there..."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Um apparently being born to a teenage mom does not ruin your life (cough, Barack Obama,cough)

A lot has been happening in the political arena these days. Between the conventions, the VP picks, the historic candidates;etc.etc. I'm not about to go on some diatribe about my own political opinions, so you can breathe a huge sigh of relief. What I do want to address is what I think may be one of the single best things that the American people can learn from this election, and that is that teenage pregnancy is NOT the end of the world.

Now I am not advocating that anyone call up their daughter's boyfriend and invite them for a sleepover. Whoa Betty. I was that kind of teenager whose parents looked the other way, sometimes, or just enough times for me to get into too much trouble. My daughter will not date until she is financially independent or forty, which ever comes first. Given her penchant for designer labels and the finer things, I'm thinking she will probably be forty.

I have learned in my life as a young mother, who had her first child at age nineteen, that "mistakes" happen, and they happen a lot more often than people would like to believe. The narrow stereotype of the teenage mother does not permit mainstream Americans to believe that good girls, smart girls, capable and competent girls can also be teenage mothers. As a result, a huge prejudice exists against teenage mothers that often extends to their offspring.

Just a couple of weeks ago, my daughter who recently completed middle school and is now headed to a different school entirely for high school confided in me that during her days at her small, private, elementary school, she was often teased about having the youngest parents by both students and teachers alike.

Just last year, she told me "Mrs. so and so said, she could be your mother, and my grandmother and she is only in her fifties." Well, whoop dee doo, I thought in my head. Amazing, the woman didn't even teach math, and yet clearly she was a mathematical genius to be able to calculate that!

I tried to pretend to be exasperated by that remark and by some of the other snippy remarks my daughter told me about. The truth was, I was surprised by none of them, I have heard them a hundred thousand times before.

People have asked me questions, such as "What did you start when you were like 15?" If I had a nickel for every time some one said to me, "You don't look old enough to have a child that age", or "you must have been a baby when you had her." As yes, babies giving birth to babies is a very common occurrence. I remember taking my daughter to school for the first time and the headmaster said to me, in a very condescending tone, "you look like you could be in eighth grade."

Of course, the stupid comments aren't so bad in and of themselves. What frustrates, and agitates, and angers me when people say these things, is the fact that they clearly lack any respect for me. Any person with a normal level of sensitivity would understand that such a subject might be difficult to talk about, and therefore would not, for example, ask me at the shoe counter how old I was when I started having children? The notion in our society is that young mothers are not worthy of and do not deserve respect.

Young mothers place a drain on society. They are not competent or capable of being good parents. Nowadays, the bar is raised higher and higher everyday as to at what age a person can be a really good parent. The acceptable age seems to be at a minimum 25; with people over thirty being concerned more perfect for the job.

It's kind of like the whole presidential debate. Do you need experience to be a great president, or is good judgement more important? Do youth or old age significantly impact what kind of job a person will do? Does doing something for a longer time necessarily make people better at it? Or does it depend on the person. The totality of who they are, what they believe, how hard they are willing to work, what their intellectual ability is, what their educational background is;etc;etc.

I believe it does depend on the person and that everyone deserves a shot. You can't simply judge people by numbers and facts on a paper; and you shouldn't look at people differently or believe they are less capable simply because they have made a "mistake", or they have made a lifestyle choice that is out of the norm. And yet I see this happen everyday. When people ask me how old my oldest child is, their faces drop. Their minds quickly attempt to calculate, to add up what, to them, just isn't right.

I hope during this campaign season, Americans will begin to reevaluate their prejudices against teenage mothers and their children. I hope that they will see Barack Obama as a historic candidate, not only because he is African American, but also because he is the son of a teenage a mom. A mom who loved him; who struggled against adversity; who stuck through the hard times to raise a son so special that he became an historical candidate for the presidency. Apparently, she was old enough, smart enough, competent enough to do a good job.

The story of Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter should also give the country a chance to see firsthand that all teenage mother's are not selfish, stupid, and lazy. The scrutiny that this poor, young girl will have to face as the daughter of a vice presidential candidate will most certainly be ten times the scrutiny she would face as an unknown teen mother; but I hope that her additional suffering will not be for naught. In a more modest setting that celeb teenage moms, this young woman will have the chance to show the nation that choosing to become a teen mom is, in most cases, a brave choice; a great sacrifice; and the type of job that only a person of true substance and character would be willing to undertake.

So many see this race as a win for women; a win for African Americans; and of course it is. But no matter what party wins, I see this as a win for young mothers everywhere. We mustn't hide in the shadows; we mustn't believe those who tell us we have ruined our lives forever. We mustn't allow society to define us. Rather, we must hold our heads high knowing we are capable of making the best of things; of turning our lives around; of putting our noses up in the face of adversity; and of raising children who one day might be president.

After all, everyone in this life makes mistakes, faces challenges, and comes to a crossroad. What defines a person is not what happens to them but how they handle it. Hopefully this campaign season will help to illuminate this truth especially as it pertains to teenage mothers. If it does, then no matter what else happens, this election will truly be about change.