It’s a Super Tuesday… or So They Say

Last week, I spoke about Super Tuesday. Well, here we are. The Democrats are down 3 people, two of which actually had some sort of momentum while there are still people in the race that probably have no business being there. That means the two realistic options are Biden or Sanders, neither of which bring any sort of excitement for me. Neither of which I can stand behind. And likely neither of which will win in the election against Trump, which is even less exciting for me than anything else.

With many candidates who have dropped out of the race backing Biden, I wonder why. I really wonder why. Half the time the man stumbles over his words and I’m convinced he doesn’t even know where he is for the most part. His ideas were that he’s done everything that has made America great and fought against everything that wasn’t. At least that’s what he says. I’m fairly certain that facts disprove this. He’s meme-worthy for sure, but we already have a president that goes viral for all the wrong reasons; we don’t need another bumbling idiot in the White House. Yes. I hate saying that about them because it disrespects the office and as much as I dislike the president, I don’t believe in disrespecting the office. Even if he doesn’t believe in that.

Then there’s Bernie. I didn’t feel the Bern last election cycle with him and I certainly don’t feel it now. Don’t get me wrong, I get the appeal. He has his convictions that he believes in and doesn’t care about the establishment. He is the anti-establishment candidate in many regards as Trump was. The establishment doesn’t want him to win and will try to stop it, but they may not be successful. He promises a better future in such an idealistic way, again like Trump, that it can blind his more fervent followers. Sure, I love the idea that I can send my kids to college without worrying about the costs or that I can worry less about medical bills. But what does all of that cost? Much like Trump his concern seems much less about the middle class, a group that seems to suffer no matter who’s in office. Whether they want to just give free stuff to the lower or upper class, the middle class still has to carry most of the tax burden.

It’s not that, generally speaking, the rich aren’t getting taxed a massive amount. That’s a half truth that we’re told. They get taxed a higher percentage and may pay more when they have to. But they have rich accountants that minimize what they owe as much as possible. The middle class are hit the hardest with tax bills, primarily because they may struggle to pay what they owe. Most middle class people live paycheck to paycheck. A massive $2000 tax bill at the end of the year isn’t really that feasible. And now we have to pay more for programs? Why not make budget cuts to programs and fire unnecessary personnel or reduce their paycheck? American’s have to make cuts to balance their budget, even the difficult ones. Why can’t the government do that?

That’s the problem today. You are really choosing between an old, out of touch man that wants to keep things the way they are or an old, out of touch man that wants to make radical changes that our country probably isn’t ready for. Or you could vote for any of the other candidates in hopes that one of them picks up traction over these two. Except Bloomberg. Please don’t do that.

The Two Most Important Questions to Ask Your Kids

Every day when I first see my boys after school, I ask my boys 2 simple questions: “How are you?” and “How was your day?” I consider these the most important questions that I will ask my kids every day. There’s a subtle difference between these two questions, even if you think I’m just asking the same question twice. But it’s very deliberate.

The first question I ask them every day is “How are you?” I’m asking them about how they emotionally feel after their day. Do they feel good? Excellent, even? Are they feeling a bit meh? I want to know how they are feeling because that’s the most important thing to me. I want to make sure that I ask because I want them to know that first and foremost, I care about their mental health. If they have a few days in a row where they shrug or answer negatively, I plan a surprise to cheer them up. I give them more individual time to see what’s going on. I make sure that they know how important they are.

The second question immediately follows. “How was your day?” This is me asking them what happened. Did anything fun or exciting happen? Was it a crappy day? This gives them the opening to know that I’m here to listen to them, no matter how great or boring or bad their day was. Surprisingly, they always open up. “This kid was a bully to me, but it’s okay because I just ignored them.” Or my oldest goes on long discussions about how amazing his forensics class is or how he roasted his friend. This can also give some excellent insight into how they are feeling.

These questions are incredibly important for a few reasons. First of all, it tells them that I honestly care about how their day was no matter how mundane it was. I give them my undivided attention as they answer these questions to show them that no matter what, I’m going to be annoyingly there for them. I stop work when they answer and any other time that they want to talk to me. I want them to know that I am there for them and have this open line of communication so if there is something big, they’ll let me know.

Most importantly, I’m emphasizing how important mental health is. In the past, mental health was shrugged off or seen as a weakness. Even today, there’s still so much stigma around it. I want them to know that they are loved and valued. I want them to know that I care about their emotional health more than I care about their grades. As it turns out, this is something that may even help them do better in school. My expectations for them are that they grow up happy, love what they do, give back, and just be productive people in society.

I stand by my belief that these are the most important questions to ask your kids every day. This forms a special and trusting bond that may be helpful to them when they need it the most. Maybe this can make a difference in their lives, no matter how annoying they find me today.

Be Warned: Primaries are Coming

Super Tuesday is coming soon. Very soon in fact. This is where the people get the choice to vote for their ideal candidate, someone that they really support in hopes that they get the nomination. Then, they decide not to vote in the general election if their candidate doesn’t make it. It’s always an interesting treat to see, especially with so many states up for grab on this one day. Maybe the election will be rigged again. Maybe it won’t. But Super Tuesday may be filled with plenty of surprises. I hope one of them is that a better candidate surfaces.

As an independent, I have the additional problem of not only choosing which candidate but also which ballot to pick up. Do I vote in the Democratic Primary? Do I vote in the Republican? Do I go with one of the other options? Decisions decisions. I have narrowed down to the 2 main parties when I go into the election.

Why am I considering voting in the Republican primary even though Trump will easily win it? Because maybe deep down, I hope that if another candidate starts making waves people will realize how awful the current president is. I would vote for Weld on this ticket, because he’s a far better option than Trump. In fact, I wish more people saw it instead of just blindly voting for him because then maybe we can get a reasonable Republican on the ballot. Or any Republican that isn’t Trump. Because I don’t care about whether or not someone is a Republican; I care about what they stand for, who they are, and what they want to achieve. You know, the seemingly silly and unimportant things.

The problem is going with the Democratic ballot. I’m really not sure which way to go here. Originally I was for a more moderate choice like Buttigieg. I like the idea of someone who’s actually served in the military in some capacity to be the Commander in Chief rather than someone who isn’t. In fact, I’ve even argued the point that military service should be a requirement for the president for that reason. They’ve been in war. They know it. They won’t be as willing to throw our military around if they have a better appreciation for the fact that these are real people with real families, not people on a Risk board. But what does he really stand for? I don’t like the idea of voting for someone when I can’t really answer that question.

Warren and Klobuchar are a definite “no” from me. I feel like they are just being pushed down our throats on the basis of the Democratic party is so determined to show that they are the party of diversity. That they are going to be the party of the first woman president. So much so that they don’t care that these two candidates aren’t what we need. Klobuchar lacks any personality to the point that she uses one-liners as if she’s a comic. And what are her beliefs? She spends so much time focused on talking points I’m not even sure she knows what she believes in. And Warren has always been more about grandstanding and talking about whatever she thinks people want to hear. I just can’t in good conscience go this route in the primary.

The last candidate to consider is Bernie. Because I refuse to even consider Biden or Bloomberg or whoever is still left in the race. I like the idea of affordable college. I like the idea of affordable healthcare. I don’t like the idea of giving more handouts to people who just want handouts. (And I’m not saying this to mean that all people on food stamps and welfare only want handouts. This is for the specific rare instances of people who abuse the system.) I don’t like the idea that as usual, these are things that the middle class will be paying for. Not the rich. Not the corporations. The middle class. The ones who carry most of this burden already but don’t get the ability to benefit from the programs that they pay into. I think Bernie is way too far left. There’s always going to be loopholes that the rich are going to find to not pay their fair share, and they don’t care. They’re not the ones who are going to suffer for that. We are. And honestly, I don’t think that he’ll beat Trump. Which is a major factor to consider.

That’s the problem with politics though, isn’t it? You’re never going to get the perfect candidate. You just have to choose the least vile choice. Will this be the first election that I vote Democrat? Probably, unless for some reason the current president is removed from the ballot with a better option. But which one will I vote for? Fortunately, I still have a few days to decide. Since my state is a Super Tuesday state.

I Thought I’d be Dead Before I Saw the End of Civilization; Then I Watched the Debate

Last night was another brutally embarrassing debate. There was no control. There was nothing but screaming and madness and something about communism. It’s hard to watch because I want to have an open mind about voting for one of these candidates. I really do. But all I could walk away with was “We’re screwed.”

See, I’m this apparently rare breed of person right now who is actually an independent. I don’t care what political party you are; if I think you’re the right choice then you’re the choice I make. Voting is something I take very seriously. I appreciate the struggles women went through before me so that I have this right today. I feel as though by just voting for someone because they belong to (insert party here), then I am doing a disservice to this right.

It seems silly to think like that, but I have integrity that makes me do what I think is right. Your vote can determine the future of this country, depending on where you live. This isn’t the time for divisiveness like “That’s my candidate because go (insert party here).” This is the time for taking a serious look at what’s going on now and thinking “Is this the future I want for my kids?” My answer is absolutely not.

I want the tax law reversed. Why? Because it didn’t benefit anyone I know. You know, the hardworking middle-class that is constantly called “the backbone of America”, but never treated as such. Actually, it is. Because our backs break from carrying the country. That law was meant for people who profit off of the middle class. I’d rather that $2,000 extra that I used to see in my refund, what I use to pay back bills or save to pay for a vacation or new appliances or for when life explodes in my face. But no, I lost that because the president wanted to make his rich friends richer. But hey, $10 extra every paycheck makes my life better right? Now I get the fancy toilet paper with that extra money. But mama wants a new washer.

The idea of keeping an at this point obviously corrupt, inept president in office that wants to just profit from his position and not actually help anyone disturbs me. But people will vote for him because he’s the republican and they don’t need to support him, just the party. However, as of that debate last night, the idea of practically any of those people in office also disturbs me. I would’ve been more behind a Yang ticket than half of that debate stage.

We don’t need anymore divisive presidents. We don’t need anyone too far in either direction. We need a moderate, someone who’s not so extreme that they turn off people from voting but someone who can inspire independents like myself to vote for them. As of right now, I just have to hope that the republican primary takes off and I can get a real decision instead of one that’s worse than what South Park could have ever imagined. At this point, what’s worse than a Turd Sandwich?

I hope the debates get better, because I want my kids to learn about the process. I want them to learn, especially the one who’s about to turn 18, the importance of the process and making an informed decision. Yes, informed. As is not just voting for a party, but voting for a person. You want a dignified leader that’s a role model; that’s strong and decisive. But right now it’s a “which one acted less like a child on the debate stage?”

The Challenges of Being a Mom of a Teenager

In our house, these past few weeks have been emotionally challenging. Not because my oldest, who’s 17, is a challenging child. He’s not. He’s actually extremely and unusually easy to deal with. Somehow, he managed to keep his sweet and mature nature even after the dreaded puberty hit. Sure, now he’s more confident in himself and isn’t afraid to show his more sarcastic side, but he’s only stepped out of line once with his mouth and it wasn’t even that bad. It’s because the reality is coming that next year, he will be graduating.

This week, he starts lifeguarding training, something that he’s been wanting to do for a while but then talked himself out of it. After passing his initial online course and learning more about it, I watched him become more confident. He was afraid of the importance of his job. The fear of being responsible for the life of another person was overwhelming to him. I told him I get it. Try being responsible for keeping 3 people alive at the same time. (Husband included in the number. Those boys don’t make it easy.) He wanted a job that didn’t interfere with his school work and would help him pay for this swim team that his coach recommended that he joined in the off-season. His fear turned into excitement this week as he headed off to do the hands-on portion of his certification, but really he’s just happy to be in the pool again.

We also just signed him up for the SATs and next week, he’ll be all signed up for his 2 AP exams. I half joke with my husband that I’m not ready for this. I’m not prepared. I pass it off as a joke, but we both know it isn’t. Now’s the time where I just hope that I did more than just an adequate job of “momming”. That my jokes about being an adequate mom are really just jokes. The first years of his life before high school were his training; now I just hope he can finish the job successfully on his own. Be free, blackbird.

After signing up for the course, it turns out that he may potentially miss out on our mini-weekend away during his school break. I gave him his choices and refused to give him the answer: either he skips it and finds another course or he misses this mini-vacation and stay with family while we’re gone. (The vacation was a free trip that we won and was scheduled long before this.) He asked me what he should do, hoping that I was going to make the choice for him. I wasn’t. Kids never learn if you make their choices for them. I gave him advice. “Well, you get it done now or you hope that you don’t miss the next one.” Ultimately, he decided to take the risk of missing out on the vacation because this was something he needed to do.

It was the mature decision. I agreed, it was the right call. It was the cheaper of the courses and you get more from it than others. I’d say there will be plenty more vacations, but the reality is that he’s going away to college soon. Who knows where he’s going to go. Who knows if he’ll even come back to the area. One of the schools he’s looking at is close enough to the cape where he may decide to take up lifeguarding over the summer at the beach instead of coming home. He may end up renting a place off-campus with friends or his cousin. It’s really hard to tell what will happen after he graduates.

That’s where raising adults versus raising kids makes the difference. At least I know hope that I gave him the tools that he needs to make the right choices for him. I have a good feeling about him, but he’s been mostly sheltered. It’s hard to say what it will be like for him out there in the real world. I can’t read the future. I just hope that I did enough that I become this nagging little voice in the back of his head, steering him towards the right path.

It’s All About Freedom of Religion

In the State of the Union address (yes, I know that was so long ago), President Trump declared that he would fight for religious freedom and allow prayer in school. This goes right along with the Republican talking points of everything is wrong with the world because they took away prayer in school. God is the answer to all of the problems these days, at least that’s what they tell us.

But, which religion is he fighting to protect? Which God will be prayed to at school? Because Freedom of Religion doesn’t just mean “Freedom of Christianity”. In the speech, he distinctly said protections for “pastors and reverends”. What about rabbis? What about imams? What about agnostics or satanists, or those who pray to the Flying Spaghetti monster? Because right now, it only sounds like “Freedom of Christianity” that he’s going to fight for.

I remember, and this was so long ago so I could be wrong, that people came over to America for religious freedom. They didn’t want to practice the same religion that they were forced to where they were, so they came here. The founding fathers made it a point to protect religious freedoms, the freedom to practice religion as you want to. It didn’t say that you had to practice a form of Christianity to have a right to this freedom. It didn’t say that someone else’s religious beliefs can dictate how another lives their life. It said that people had the freedom to celebrate God as they choose to.

Forcing prayer in school is a slippery slope. There are so many different religions or non-religions that it seems impractical to make any laws about prayer in school. I’m of the belief that if you want your child to pray in school, send them to a religious school. Heck, since you want to push for-profit schools then this can be more reasonable. But to force it in public schools? I would tell my child to do what he felt was right for him and if he decided not to pray and got in trouble for it, they can come to me about it. Because he has the right to practice religion as he so chooses, even if he chooses not to.

I’d make some grand statement about how I don’t need God to be a good person because I’m not all that great. I’m morally questionable, at best. But that isn’t because I wasn’t raised in a religion; because I was raised Catholic. I’m just human, who has some great days and some not. But the idea of forcing religion on people will only make them run further away from it. Forcing prayer in school, especially on those who aren’t even Christian or religious, won’t help people find God. People need to find that on their own, on their own terms and in their own time. If they don’t, then they don’t need to. That doesn’t make them bad people. People should be more focused on one’s actions and less on judging them because they “believe in the wrong God”.

That New Teen Drama “SOTU” Was Really Great!

Oh.. that wasn’t a teen drama. Those were grown ass adults acting like children in the roles people elected them in: our government. It played out like an episode of (insert teen drama here). One person did something wrong. Another person did something wrong. Weird things happened that you didn’t get. You get that one heartwarming moment that makes you go “awww”. Then everything goes to hell. That’s how those teen dramas go and that’s apparently how the State of the Union went as well.

It started off as normal with all of the insane pomp and circumstance that we have grown accustomed to. One that is very… regal in nature. Yes. Regal. As in “royal”. As in they are treating every one of our presidents as if they were monarchs, deserving of celebrity status just because they are presidents. How dare you criticize the president! They are presidents because God declared it so. Just like the kings and queens who just happen to have the right bloodline.

Then it was the “non-handshake” heard around the world. Sure, was it awful of the president not to reciprocate the gesture? Absolutely. He should be held to the highest standard of civility and morality and everything else. Did she put out her hand knowing that the president was a petty child who doesn’t know how to behave when mommy and daddy tell him to dress up and be nice? Absolutely. This was a smart move that gave her some moral high ground.

A high ground that she managed to keep as she seemed to scold her party for acting up, like the grumpy grandmother who knew her kids were going to be stubborn brats but brought them along anyways. A high ground that she kept when she stood up and applauded at various parts during the SOTU. A high ground that she lost when she tore up her copy of the speech right behind the president for the cameras to see. To do it again, just to make sure people got the hint. It was spiteful, maybe deserving, but spiteful. She’s the distinguished speaker; she also should be held to a higher standard.

Sure there were some amazing moments there, albeit selfish strategies that were solely there for his campaign and not the morale of the country. The best of those moments is when the soldier came home from his deployment and surprised his family. That was the best moment of the night. It wasn’t the student he gave a scholarship to and discussed how he was going to orchestrate the downfall of public schools by giving money to for-profit schools that just want to make money and don’t care about their students. It wasn’t the moment he gave Rush Limbaugh a Presidential Medal of Freedom in the middle of the SOTU, when he could have done it before or the next day. Glorifying a man who spends most of his time spewing hateful untruths. It was this moment where a family were so happily reunited that will be the best moment of the night.

Did I believe anything he said? Of course not. Some things seemed factually impossible or half truths. Yes, the rich are doing much better since they are getting money back from taxes instead of having to actually pay them. I’m not doing any better since his election. His tax cuts give us a whole $10 extra a paycheck, which means we lose $2400 in refunds at the end of the year. I’d rather the extra money at the end of the year than have that extra $10 that means I can splurge on the fancy toilet paper. Nothing is better unless you’re rich enough to line the coffers of the party in charge.

Pelosi’s rationale was that she ripped up the speech because it was a “Manifest of lies”. It was. She’s not wrong. But the problem is that most people either don’t care because they so blindly follow this man without a care of facts or because they so blindly hate this man without a care of facts. He’s done nothing to make the country more united; but he has done an amazing job of making sure that we stay as divided as possible. People follow his lead, whether they support him or not, lacking any sort of civility or free thought. I was never really good at blindly following anyone. What I am good at is being rightfully cynical of everyone who represents our country right now, except Romney apparently.

It’s a high school drama that we have watched unfold for nearly a decade and it’s only getting more dramatic twists and turns every year. The problem is that we seem to be okay with that because we’re the ones casting this drama, not some overpaid casting director. We’re the ones that are okay with settling with the way things are when we should be rebelling and fighting to make things right.