Once a year, generally in January, the President of the United States offers up a speech meant to secure his base, silence his scoffers, and reassure Americans and the rest of the world that he knows what he is doing.
I always watch this speech. I mist up a little bit, regardless of who is in office. I love my country, and I will always feel a sense of pride when I hear our president speak to the nation.
I’ve decided that as a way of introducing myself and my new blog, I’ll present the text of my State of The Minivan address. No illusions of grandeur here; it’s just that it has been a difficult day and it is either this or hard liquor. I’ve decided to be sensible, as it isn’t yet the weekend.
So, without further adieu (and with a special thanks to our current President for the framework of this speech), I give you…me.
Mr. Husband, Members of my Household, Distinguished Canines, and Fellow Parents:
Tonight, I come to you because I am alone in this house. Mr. Husband loaded up the vehicle known affectionately to me as the 'Mom Bomb' and took the entirety of the unwashed, unfed hoard to soccer practice.
It’s no secret that today was a difficult day. Since the time the school bus arrived at three PM, the debates have been contentious, and all sides have fought viciously for their beliefs. While a robust populace demands this level of vigorous debate, it was not a pleasant day for this mother, who yearned for a more perfect union.
Amid all the chaos, including my favorite candle which somehow made its way outside today for the dog to chew and the toilets that somehow never seem to get flushed by anyone but me, we are a family. We believe that we are bound together by love and affection as one albeit quirky unit.
Simply recognizing this fact will not usher in a new era of recognizing that clean clothes do not magically appear in drawers. It will not automatically foster a spirit of goodwill at the dinner table or keep children from kicking their siblings.
Respect for oneself involves respect for one's parents and one's family. While this is not a democracy, I generally find your observations amusing, unless the decibel level is overly heightened. Today was not a stellar day, but with the intervention of Mr. Husband, life got decidedly better for all parties. And arguably quieter.
Choosing to respect me is not an option. Might I remind you that I was not voted into office? Mr. Husband and I developed a close partnership over many late nights of coffee, which turned into wine, which turned into making out on his bachelor couch. And love was never a challenge in those early days. We liked other, we enjoyed each other, and we committed ourselves to one another in front of our friends and family for a lifetime of what we believed would be peace and tranquility.
We have pictures to prove it.
I hear the gagging noises from the members of my household, and I readily admit that I am not amused. I now address you directly. The people generally seated at our dining table did not create our love, but you were certainly added to this table because of it. Learn to accept it, as we have learned to love and accept you.
We have never measured your progress by standardized testing or by your ability to perform, but by your quality of life and the quality of life that you bring to us.
That being said, all of us must do our part to sacrifice for the common good. For the members of this household, this means as a bare minimum picking up your toys, doing your homework without being reminded, feeding animals, and taking out trash. The completion of these tasks brings about a sense of peace for all parties concerned.
But we have to do more. We also ask that you would use your indoor voices and seek peaceful means of resolving discord. We ask that you would stop looking at each other and making faces at one another, lest you incite riot.
We're looking forward. To win the future, you’ll need to take on challenges that have been decades in the making. (Just because you weren’t there or don’t remember doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.) In short, you are going to college. End of discussion. We’ll help you pay for it, but we’re not paying for a four year party. (Unless it is for us.)
We understand that your lives have been difficult in recent days, as we would not go through junior high school or high school again for all of the cake pops at Starbucks.
But understand that we are investing in you in the hopes that you will have a brighter future than ours. There are four of you, so we’re spreading out this investment, hoping that one of you makes it so that we get the good nursing home. The one with the heated, indoor pool.
As Robert Kennedy told us, “The future is not a gift; it is an achievement.” In other words, we aren’t giving you everything you want. Your future involves work, effort, and a commitment to yourself.
We provide you with educational, social, and travel opportunities, a vast network of friends and family members, health care, clean water, and peer-supported apparel. That we make you ride around in a seven year old minivan and hug you in public are tradeoffs. We would prefer a classier car, but you happen to be wearing it in your mouths.
And know this. Despite your whining and bickering, your wet towels on the bathroom floor, your pestering and your scowls, we believe in you. You are the future, and you are the pride of our lives.
We are the story of an ordinary couple who dared to dream big. And our dream is that one day, your gifts and talents should be used to make the world a better place. That one day, you will find someone to love and with whom to share your hopes and dreams. And that you also might have children for whom we will buy noisy, battery-operated toys in our old age.
As we raise you, we also seek to love and remember other children who, despite hardship and toil and super-human effort, do not have access to the gifts that you have been given. We remember them this night, and we seek to make their lives better through community effort and personal involvement. As you grow up, please do not forget them and remember to give out of your abundance to them.
Our family, in short, rocks and will continue to rock. To quote our current president, “our destiny remains our choice. And it’s because of our children that our future is hopeful, that our journey moves forward, and that the state of our union is strong.”
The state of the minivan is another story; someone needs to get a trash bag and get busy. It is like driving around in a dumpster.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God continue to bless families and children everywhere.