When In The Course Of Human Events

administration american flag country daylight
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

July 4th is a national holiday celebrating our country, but mostly recalling the unanimous Declaration of Independence of the thirteen united States of America. I believe that it is worth reading and studying the entirety of the actual document conceived and written by our nation’s founders. At least once each year it is incumbent upon us to carefully consider their words to determine whether or not we are living up to their courage and intentions. Take a few minutes to consider the meaning and importance of this document and then decide how to perform your own personal duties as a citizen of these now fifty united States of America. 


The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton


God Willing And The Creek Don’t Rise

beautiful boulders branches creek
Photo by Anton Atanasov on Pexels.com

Ladybird Johnson was a Texan through and through. Growing up in east Texas she adopted mannerisms and a style of speaking that is unique to our state. One of her best quotes always reminds me of my own mother, “God willing and the creek don’t rise.” My mama rarely gave a definitive RSVP to an invitation. Her assents were invariably prefaced with a “God willing” admonition. She often cautioned us to consider that events beyond our control might suddenly change even the best of plans. The sudden and very unexpected death of my father only served to demonstrate the wisdom of her thinking. I often find my self tentatively setting dates on my calendar that I hope will come to pass, knowing that the good Lord may have other ideas in mind. On this July 3, I am reminded all too well of the whimsy and challenges of life.

A year ago I was enjoying one of many events that would entertain me in the summer of 2017. I had already travelled to Cancun for a beautiful wedding and was luxuriating in the promise of more joy to come. My husband and I were spending the Fourth of July holiday with all of our children and grandchildren in San Antonio. Later in the month we were scheduled to camp with friends in east Texas near where Ladybird grew up. In August we planned to drive to a mountain cabin in Colorado to meet up with one of my brothers and his family to relax and hike, and then go to Wyoming to watch the total eclipse in one of the best vantage points in the country.

God willing it was going to be a fun filled summer, but things began to unravel without warning. On July 3, after enjoying breakfast and lunch with our family we were in the process of deciding what to do for the remainder of the day when we heard banging and a faint voice from the guest bathroom. Our inspection of the source of the noises lead us to the discovery of my husband Mike lying on the floor unable to rise on his own. It was immediately apparent from the crooked line of his mouth and the slurring of his words that he was having a stroke. From there life changed in ways for which I had no plans.

Of course we cancelled the camping with friends, the travel to the mountain cabin and the journey to view the eclipse. Our attention was focused entirely on making Mike healthy again. After his release from the hospital we returned home to Houston to begin a year long regimen of visits to doctors, healthier diets, exercise and enjoying life quietly from day to day. We had been warned that there is a statistical danger of another stroke that is most likely to occur within the first three to six months after the initial one. Needless to say I hovered over Mike like a hawk, noting his every breath, listening for signs of trouble. We were instructed not to go to isolated areas or places without cell phone reception and good hospitals, so we mostly stayed at home.

We watched the eclipse here in Houston along with others who had crowded into the Museum of Natural History in Hermann Park. The was not as dramatic as it might have been because it was not directly over our city, but we felt grateful that Mike was still here to enjoy whatever slice of life he was afforded. Only days after we heard on the news that the proverbial creek might rise here in Houston from the predicted rains of hurricane Harvey. We did not leave to find a safer place because we wanted to be near the Houston Medical Center if anything happened to Mike, and besides we could never have imagined how bad the historic weather event might actually be. We hunkered down as instructed by a county commissioner and waited for the storm to pass, only it took its precious time in doing so. In the process of constant rain for three day our little neighborhood became an island in a sea of flooding that was overtaking Houston and surrounding areas like Noah’s epic torrent. How could I have ever known just how much our creeks were going to rise? Who had ever even heard of 51 inches of rain in a single event?

It’s been a year since our trials began on July 3. Mike has not had another stroke, and God willing he never will. Houston has mostly healed but we still shudder when storms come our way. I suspect that we have an entire population suffering from a form of PTSD. I still worry from time to time and have not yet been able to plan the kind of adventures that I have always loved. I find myself tempering my enthusiasm for coming events with the realization that they may or may not come to pass. Our biggest journey in the last twelve months was a five hour trip to east Texas to visit with a former neighbor who is now in her eighties. Being with her was a healing experience for us because we have learned all too well the importance of embracing those that we love as often and as tightly as we can.

Some great friends were not as lucky as we were last year. I attended far too many funerals and still think about the wonderful people that I will no longer see. My home was spared from the damages of the floods, but people that I know had to deal with the horrors of  water rushing inside their houses. It took months for their lives to return to normal. In an ironic turn of events I experienced a small slice of their trauma when my own domicile was damaged from a rush of water coming from the hot water heater. Eight weeks of frustration later we returned to normal, but not without a taste of just how terrible the suffering of the flood victims had actually been.

We’re wiser and far more grateful for even the tiniest joys than I was a year ago. We’ll spend July 4, in San Antonio hoping for a better outcome than last year.  We’re also looking forward to finally completing the plans to camp with good friends in October, and it looks as though we may get another chance to view a total eclipse of the sun when it comes right over Texas a few years from now. There is much for which to be happy and new adventures ahead, “God willing and the creek don’t rise.”

Save the Children

adult alone anxious black and white
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

When my mother was only three or four years old her mother had a mental breakdown. The full details of the event are sketchy, but the certainty of what happened to my mom is very clear. The little tyke loved her mama and felt safe with her. When medical personal came to the house, restrained her mother, and then drove away in an ambulance the child that my mother was felt confused and betrayed. This event had a lasting impact on her that was so traumatic that it haunted her the rest of her life. She often spoke of the disdain that she felt for her father whom she held responsible for what she viewed as the imprisonment of her mom. She insisted that her mother had been a good woman who did not deserve the horrific treatment that befell her. Unlike her older siblings she was never able to accept that her mama had been very sick and in need of treatment. She had been so very young when she was torn from her mother’s loving care that it impacted the very essence of her thinking. The scars left by the separation never healed.

My youngest daughter endured a similar situation that was less dramatic but nonetheless frightening to her. When she was not yet three years old my husband contracted a fungal disease that required hospitalization and a long regimen of chemotherapy. Our family was thrown into a kind of chaotic state when we learned that the disease was often fatal. We spent months in a new routine of hospital visits and uncertainty. Years later my girl endured a bought with severe anxiety and depression. Her psychiatrist asked what had occurred at around the age of three that had seemingly caused the her to have an enduring sense of uncertainty and fear. He noted that something had so affected my daughter that she had buried deep seated emotions that were finally coming to the surface and causing her despondency. It was shocking to learn that something that had happened more than a decade earlier that was seemingly resolved had such a profound affect.

Young children see and hear and feel far more than we sometimes know. They are aware of what is happening around them to a larger extent than we imagine, but they do not always have the capacity to interpret the interchanges with their environment, particularly when the security represented by a parent is taken from them. They are unable to fully express the need for the warmth and love of a mother or father that is so essential to their healthy development. It is critical that they have all of their most basic needs addressed, and there is generally no better person to do that for them than a parent who genuinely cares for them. So much of the basic personality is formed during early childhood and every event plays an important role in development. As children we all cling to our parents and look to them to supply our most essential needs. When that relationship is suddenly severed children lose all sense of safety. Unless they are carefully counseled and loved the event will have a lifelong impact.

My father died when I was eight years old. People often marvel that my memories of the days following his death are so crystal clear. I am able to vividly recall people, conversations, the weather, and most of all my own jumbled feelings. I was far more aware of what was happening that the adults around me ever imagined. That being said, without the maturity of adulthood I am certain that I often misinterpreted my situation, and not in a good way. I became a fearful child, someone unwilling to take risks. I was afraid of people and life. It would take me twenty or more years to overcome the shock and awe of the sudden loss of someone that I so loved, and I became a somewhat neurotic and sad little girl. It was only through my study of childhood development and my association with truly caring people that I was able to eventually lay all of the demons that had so haunted me to rest.

For these reasons I am both appalled and concerned for the welfare of immigrant children who are currently being separated from their parents. I realize that we have laws, and the adults who come here illegally are breaking them. In that regard there are many needed discussions regarding the issues, but it seems certain to me that taking children away while their parents are being processed is deeply wrong. The consequences of such inhumane decisions will impact these little ones for decades. The trauma that our government is inflicting on them is morally untenable, as anyone familiar with children understands. In spite of efforts to provide food, beds, education, games and other such amenities to care for them the one thing that the little ones require is missing. They must have their parents to feel secure. What we are doing is so egregious that we simply cannot justify the actions with by quoting laws or even the Bible. We must know that we are bending the truth and God’s word when we attempt to do such things.

I love my country and believe in its innate goodness. It has of late been overtaken by an incivility that is toxic. There seems to be an attitude that winning is more important than being just. The good people in our midst are being pushed aside by bullies, and the ideals of honor and respect are all too often being eschewed by those who insist on all or nothing in their political dealings. As citizens we must join together in the common cause of decency, following the lead of heroes the world over who insist on standing for what is right rather than what will make them popular. We must end the ugliness by demonstrating our best natures. Now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of our country. We can no longer allow tactics that so scorch the earth. If we don’t save the children of the world regardless of the circumstances we are doomed to a dark future. Our best hope is in finding our natural goodness again and doing what we know to be right.

A Hero Indeed

administration american flag country daylight
Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

I grew up on a rather heavy diet of reading, and my first forays into the written word were fairytales followed by stories of the lives of the saints. I admittedly felt that perhaps those icons of religion were more superhuman than I thought possible, and so the ones like St. Theresa and St. Augustine who were flawed like I was became my favorites. Eventually I developed an addiction to biographies of famous people in which I learned of the human frailties of some of my heroes who nonetheless impressed me with their courage. In those critical moments when the world needed them to overcome their weaknesses, they rose to the occasion. Profiles In Courage was like a kind of historical Bible to me that outlined some of the finest stories of humans who were willing to risk everything to do what they believed was right. I suppose that I learned much about character from the many volumes that I devoured, and in the process I began to believe that there are special people among us who have the same imperfections that we all possess but also a moral foundation and strength that separates them from the pack.

The list of my heroes is long and eclectic but one of the traits that all of them shared was a willingness to admit to wrongs. They understood their own imperfections and fought internally to eliminate them, but in their humanness they sometimes lost those battles. Mostly though they were able to follow a path of righteousness no matter how difficult it sometimes became. People like Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Gandhi have sometimes been picked apart by people who have concentrated more on their mistakes than on the totality of their dedication to justice and compassion. I prefer instead to view them from an assessment of their willingness to make difficult and even dangerous decisions in order to do what they believed to be right.

Sometimes it seems as though we have a dearth of heroes in today’s world. I admire Pope Francis for his loving candor and I think that Jimmy Carter is one of the kindest people on the planet, but in general there is far too much tribalism and anger. Those who apologize for their missteps are often deemed to be weak or wishy washy. Instead we seem to prefer people who barrel ahead with bravado even when it is obvious that they are wrong. We mistake anger for courage, bullying behaviors for strength. From out of the crowd of puppets and posers a true American hero has emerged, and his name is John McCain.

John McCain is an interesting fellow. He’s from a military family who expected him to serve his country, something that he initially did willingly but with little enthusiasm. It was not until he became a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War that he began to truly understand what it means to be a patriot. His injuries were so extensive that to this very day he is unable to lift his arms to comb his own hair. When offered the opportunity to be freed simply because he was the son of an important military figure, he insisted on following the tradition of going in proper order. After much torture he broke at one point, a fact that haunts him to this day, but on the whole he demonstrated a kind of bravery that few of us would have been able to muster.

Upon his return to a normal life after the war was ended he struggled to know what to do with his life. His marriage foundered, another flaw for which he takes full credit. When he finally found himself he knew that he wanted to be a public servant and began a decades long career as a Senator from Arizona. His military background led him to believe in the necessity of working with his colleagues rather than fighting them. He often disagreed with their ideas, but was willing to find ways to allow everyone to win for the sake of the country. He was admired by his fellow lawmakers regardless of party affiliation and created lasting friendships along the way. He was a principled man who believed that it was indeed possible to stand for certain ideals without ignoring differing points of view and finding common ground.

Twice John McCain decided to make a run for President of the United States. In 2000 he lost his party’s nomination to George W. Bush, but came out on top in 2008. He had wanted to choose Joe Lieberman as his running mate but was talked out of that idea by his handlers, a moment that he still regrets. His campaign never really got off of the ground because he lacked the charisma of his opponent Barrack Obama, and his own party viewed him as being weak, lacking the kind of fighting spirit for which they were searching. He instead gave them fairness even to the point of defending Obama against false accusations. The fact that he was a good man seemed to have little appeal to the electorate.

John McCain has continued to be his own person, even as his party has taken a direction so unlike him. He votes according to his conscience, a trait that is all but lost in the present political arena. He voices his beliefs even when they are unpopular. He refuses to be beholden to the pressures of a base or the leader of any party, and while I may not always agree with his ideas, I am in awe of his conviction. Now he is dying and in his last moments on this earth he continues to show us how we should live. He is truly among the greats in my estimation and I hope that other politicians are taking note of his character because men and women like him are all too lacking.

I would like to think that the madness that is present day Washington D.C. is temporary, and that one day we will come to our senses as a nation and insist that our country be run by men and women who understand the necessity of working together for the welfare of all of us. I would like to believe that collegiality and respect will return. John McCain has demonstrated how to do that throughout his lifetime. Notwithstanding comments from our current president, he is indeed a hero.

It Takes A Village

close up of teenage girl
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Fit pitching seems to run in my family. If you’re not sure what that means, it refers to over the top defiant behavior by a child between the ages of two and five. My eldest daughter was quite adept at creating embarrassing scenes both at home and in public. One summer she wore fur lined reindeer slippers everywhere because she refused to put any other type of shoe on her feet. Not even two of us were able to hog tie her so that we might force a more appropriate type of footwear onto her tiny feet. I used to marvel at her strength and wonder if perhaps I had given birth to a superhero. I finally gave up deciding that once her little toes got sweaty enough she would surely eschew the footwear designed in Norway for harshly cold winters. With a mind of her own that is evident to this very day she persisted, and I endured shaming looks and unwanted advice wherever I went.

My niece was not to be outdone. She is the child of an Anglo father and an Asian mother, a beautiful girl who very much resembles my eldest, but has definite Asian features. My mother, my more grown up and matured daughter, this niece and I were once on a shopping adventure together. My niece was still a toddler, but with three of us to help keep her happy we were certain that there would be no problems. I don’t recall what set her off, but something did and she began carrying on like a demon possessed. Her cries and screams became exponentially more insistent with each passing second until my mom wisely decided that we had no recourse but to leave the shopping behind and get her home for a nap. My niece had other ideas and resisted our efforts to move from the spot where she was entertaining a crowd of critics with reproving faces. Picking her up was a bust because she wiggled from our grasp each time we tried that maneuver. When we attempted to get her to walk she lay down on the ground challenging us to drag her if we wished to move forward. Somehow we ultimately got her to the car but not without worrying that we were going to end up in jail for kidnapping as she yelled, “You’re not my Mama! You’re not my Mama! Go away!”

My eldest grandson was not to be outdone by the ladies in the family. On one particular outing he repeated his mother’s propensity for footwear after he saw a pair of very expensive tennis shoes that he wanted to take home. When we denied his request he went into an act of rebellion that outdid anything I had ever seen. It got so bad that I actually whispered to my daughter that I would spring for the shoes if she didn’t mind. Thankfully she stood firm because she was a good mother, insisting that he had to learn that we would not be moved by a tantrum. Having grown weak as a grandmother I wasn’t as sure of her reasoning in that moment, but I ultimately felt proud of her strength of character.

The good news is that all three of these children turned out to be quite remarkable. They did exceedingly well in school and were often complimented by their teachers and other adults for being exemplary young people. My daughter graduated from the University of Texas with a business degree and now balances an accounting job with caring for a household of four young men. My niece is a Pediatrician and works at Texas Children’s Hospital while mothering three boys of her own. My grandson was an honors graduate of his high school and is studying at Texas A&M University and serving as head coach of his neighborhood swim team. All three outgrew the behaviors that had once made them appear to strangers as spawn of the devil.

I have more often than not found that very inquisitive children sometimes become intractable, especially when they are tired. They want to freely explore the world and learn for themselves without barriers. Since we adults have to guide and protect them we sometimes have to inhibit their native curiosities and desires for their own good. We find ourselves locked in a battle of wills that is exhausting and might even make us look bad to passersby.

I feel great compassion for a parent who is attempting to deal with an angry child. Sometimes the struggle becomes so public because the little one does not care that he/she is creating a disturbance. It is apparent that the adult is doing everything possible to quell the situation all to no avail. I always want to help but know that my interference will undoubtedly make things worse. All I can do is quietly send signals of support to the harried adult.

There is a hilarious video circulating on Facebook in which a quite funny woman tackles the issue that mom’s everywhere have endured. She vividly describes the scene of a mother dealing with an uncooperative child in a public place. She wonders why there always seems to be someone in the crowd who signals unrelenting disapproval for the mama, even though we all know that sometimes these things happen. She notes that our inconvenience is temporary while the parent will continue dealing with the problem at home. She wonders why we can’t all be more supportive, especially given that this is supposed to be the era of solidarity with our sisters from all over the world.

In the age of Pantsuit Nation women are doing their utmost to break glass ceilings and join one another in #MeToo moments. Why can’t we also demonstrate a bit of understanding and compassion for anyone who is dealing with a difficult toddler moment? Why do we so often become judgmental rather than helpful, when anyone who has been a parent honestly knows that there are many times when we feel totally inept and defeated by the tiny creatures that we are working so hard to raise.

I always loved my mother-in-law because whenever either of my daughters behaved badly in front of her she would smile impishly and suggest that maybe they had taken after her. She would then recall multiple stories that her elegant mother had told her about her own childhood missteps. One involved a scene in front of a downtown department store which became so heated that her mother had to give her a little swat on the fanny to get her back in line. When my mother-in-law shouted that her mother was embarrassing her the reply from her mom was, “If you embarrass me, I will embarrass you.” My mother-in-law repeated this tale rather proudly as if it conveyed the strength and conviction of her mother that she believe inspired her to become a great woman in her own right.

Next time you see a parent dealing with a seemingly bratty child, try not to judge. Instead send a vibe that let’s the weary individual know that everything will one day be amazingly good if they just hang in there and do what is right. Show that we are all in this parenting thing together. Hillary was right. It takes a village.