Advice to my daughter...post 1

Dear Ruby,

I should be writing about our latest adventure to the Florida Keys with Nanee and Hop. And I will, at some point soon. But right now I've got all this other stuff swirling around in my head with our recent life situation, and I want to get some of it out, explain some things, and give you some advice.

I made a new years resolution to write weekly. Already broke it. Whoops! Modification: my new goal is to write monthly with important advice to you, that I have found vital to my life.

Back story number 1: the government has been in a partial shutdown since 12.22.18. This impacts us, since that means part of the shutdown and therefore, lack of funding, is the USCG, so Papa isn't getting paid. We've already missed one paycheck, and will likely miss at least one or two more. It is stressful, frustrating, depressing, and we aren't sure when it will end. We are absolutely not the only ones impacted... your best friend's family is in the same boat, as are many of the local families we know. The best way to describe it? Heartbreaking.

Back story number 2: I was raised by someone other than Mimi and Podge. Yes, they're my parents now, and are the best example I have for so many things, but they are my chosen family, not my biological family. That is a LONG backstory for another day, but I wasn't raised with the idea to do for others. If my biological parents helped others, they never demonstrated that to me. So as an adult, I have tried my best to incorporate a core value into my life: KINDNESS.

Kindness comes in many forms. Paying for someone's drink behind me at the Starbucks drive through. Carrying around blessing bags to hand the homeless food, drink, and supplies when we see them. A gentle compliment to a mom at Target with the screaming toddler that she is doing awesome. Donations to local community drives (food drives, birthday bags, etc...). And I try to make this a part of who I am, on the regular.

Because of the government shutdown, and lack of paycheck, we will have to dip into savings to make ends meet. I'm working a LOT lately to earn more to go towards bills, instead of just fun money and groceries. We aren't sure how long we can go until things get put on credit cards, and loans are taken.

But this past weekend, kindness was given back to us, tenfold. One local mom (a complete stranger) gave us a LOT of fresh fruit, and another (also a stranger, I've never met or spent time with either of these generous souls) took my veggie list to the grocery store and delivered everything we needed for the next week, and then some. A tutoring family gave us some eggs, cheese, and other groceries, and my neighbor gave us some yummy leftovers, plus a pork tenderloin and veggies, which we have on the menu for tonight. And this morning, yet another mom in our community gave us more eggs, and two complete meals, meat included. Another mom in our community, Montclair Moms, teamed up with friends and neighbors and strangers and organized a food drive for families in our neighborhood, and we picked up a bag of food plus a pizza from them yesterday. A mom friend that I've only know for a year and a half has texted twice offering to help with bills as we need it. Telling me that dipping into savings is silly, and she's there for us. I am overwhelmed with the absolute unconditional kindness being shown, not only to us, by both friends and complete strangers, but being shown to all the families in our community who are impacted. In fact, I'm so overwhelmed right now, typing this, I'm tearing up. Incredible. In the face of all the stress, there is a big, bright light shining through... KINDNESS.

I didn't know this sort of kindness even existed, or that I'd ever be on the receiving end of it. There is not enough gratitude I could express to thank everyone who has helped us. There aren't enough words to say thanks to all those doing for us and for other families.

I also want you to know , my sweet daughter, that Mimi sent us some money, to have on our trip to Florida. She said to spend on fun things, and so we used it to treat you to ice cream almost every evening, and some adorable new "flop" shoes, but most of it went toward travel expenses and other bills. Kindness. And unconditional love. When I tell you the story of my family past one day, you'll know why I chose Mimi and Podge and Aunties: complete and unconditional love, and never any judgement. But again, another day, another post.

We have been given SO MUCH this past weekend, for a small family of 3, that it would take us months to use it all. So we took a portion of it and gave it to your best friend's family... they have a family of 6, and are struggling as much as we are... but I'm not entirely sure they have the family or community that can help them like we have found.

In a few short months, we (hopefully) transfer. I have been waiting to leave northern VA since the minute we moved here... but this? This community we've found? I don't quite know if it can ever be replaced.

So, after a long winded story, much expression of gratitude, thanks, appreciation, and gratefulness to friends, strangers, and family, my advice to you? BE KIND. Always. Unconditionally. No matter what. Because karma is real. Doing onto others as you'd want done to you? It is real. And I've experienced it.

Love,

Mama


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