Saturday, April 16, 2016

What Scary Mommy Taught Me

Earlier this week I was published on Scary Mommy for the first time. And yes, given that my piece was about the Obamas I was more than a little scared (see what I did there?) to see what the response would be. But who knew that such a simple experience could be a reminder about humanity in all its forms. These are the things that I learned as a result:

1.        Haters gonna hate
I chose to write about one of the most polarizing families in my lifetime. So, yes, I knew there would be some negativity. And of course there was. There were people who made obnoxious comments who clearly hadn’t even read the article. There was one particularly noxious woman that said I must be “Obama’s lover” to have written such “garbage.” There were people who made accusatory and false statements about the President of the USA that border on treason. But, I was also pleasantly surprised.

 2.       The vast majority of people are reasonable and kind
      There were many people who commented on my post and readily acknowledged that while they don’t agree with the Obamas from a political standpoint, they could still respect them as people. This was the intent of my post, and it was heartening to see that people “got that” and were willing to openly state their belief in someone’s value as a person despite their disagreement with their political views. Also, I was so surprised and flattered that so many people didn’t just comment on the post, but also took the time to compliment my writing. They had nothing to gain from that and I was touched beyond measure. Lastly, I realized…

3.       Some people are exceptional human beings 
 This morning, when I checked the e-mail account associated with my blog, I found an e-mail from a woman who, in her words, “I read your letter to the Obamas on FB, which led me to your blog, which led me to some of your writing and photos. (You know how the crazy labyrinth of FB works!)” She went on to tell me how she, too, is the mother of three boys. But the difference between her and me is that her sons are grown. She shared how she felt when she learned her third child was a boy (a bit disappointed), how angry she would get every time someone would ask “will you try for a girl” (I hear ya, sister!) and offered advice on raising kind, caring men who value their relationship with their mother (I’ll take all the advice I can!). She even included pictures of her three boys. As I read this heartfelt message from a stranger, as the tears rolled down my cheeks I was overwhelmed by her kindness. She went out of her way for someone she’d never met.

When friends and family started to realize that my article had been published on Scary Mommy I was warned “Don’t read the comments!” And as I read the comments I saw people who posted their expectation that the comments would all be negative and full of vitriol. But, they were not. They were far from it. So, thank you Scary Mommy readers. You have renewed my faith in humanity. I am grateful and I am honored to be among the ranks of readers and writers alike who are—for the most part—kind, caring, and compassionate people. Truly, thank you.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Dear President & Mrs. Obama

Dear President & Mrs. Obama,

Today I saw the pictures of the two of you reading "Where the Wild Things Are" at the White House Easter Egg Roll. Besides being completely jealous of those who got to be there (that's right, I've entered the ticket lottery every year for the past 6 years since I had children of my own and not once did we get tickets...alas) I also found myself in awe, as I often do, of the two of you.

Photo credit: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images                                                                                                                                                   
Ah! Too scary!
Photo credit: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters                                                                                                                                                           
You see, in looking at these pictures, I didn't just see two confident people reading in a goofy way to a bunch of kids. Nope. I also saw two examples of humanity, kindness, and confidence.

Its no secret that I am a huge supporter of your politics, Mr. Obama. Any visitor to my Facebook page or blog would see very quickly and easily that I have been and continue to be a huge fan of yours. But one of the things that makes me so proud to have both of you as the representatives of our Nation is that there is more to you than politics. You clearly have a sense, everywhere you go that you are not only representing your own political views. You know you're more than just representatives of the United States of America. It is clear that you both realize you are humanitarians. You are examples of good will. You are an example to the world of what it means to be human. You are an example to children and adults alike, of how to be confident in who you are. Today, when my 6 y/o son, Ryan, gets home from school I will show him this video of the two of you reading. 

 You see, just yesterday Ryan delivered his first ever "presentation" in front of his class. His homework for a few days leading up to this presentation was to practice in front of his family. Having grown up competing in speech and debate I was eager to help Ryan with this project. As he practiced his "When I grow up" speech (OK, so it was just 6 sentences, but I think for a Kindergartner we can call that speech, right?) I coached him on how to look at his audience, how to effectively use hand motions to get his point across, and how to speak loudly, and not into the paper he was holding. A few times he said to me, "This is embarrassing." He's getting to the age where he understands the concept of embarrassment. Recently, when we went to see Zootopia in the theaters, just me and him, I started rocking out to Shakira's "Try Everything." I mean, how can you not dance to that song? And so, dance I did. And what did he do? He crouched in his seat and asked me to stop. Just a year ago he would have happily joined in the dance. But now, he knew people could see me (don't worry, we were in the back row, and this was the closing credits, we weren't bothering anyone). He was embarrassed. And to be honest, if he was your kid, watching you read at the Easter Egg roll, he may have been embarrassed too. Maybe Sasha and Malia were? 

But he's not your kid. He looks up to you. He knows you're our "Big Leader Guy" and even if he didn't state that he'd like to follow in your footsteps as President of the United States in his first big speech (sorry, the allure of a train engineer is just too great at his young age. Plus, he's wise. He knows being President comes with a lot of stress, especially with the likes of Mitch McConnell as leader of the Senate...but I digress) he does respect you and think you're pretty cool. So, yes, I will show him the video of the two of you reading Where the Wild Things Are and we will talk about how it can be fun to be silly and goofy in front of a crowd. We will talk about how the two of you weren't concerned about what other people would think when you made those awesome faces. You were just having fun and being yourselves. We will talk about confidence and I will hope that just a little bit of the message sticks. If we're being honest, I will hope that a lot of your messages stick. 

Just this morning, I was talking with my husband, and I said, "I think this is as good as it gets. I don't think our children will ever see another President and First Lady who are better examples of how to be a good person" than they have seen in the two of you. And sadly, two of my three children will likely never remember your presidency. Zachary and Connor are only 3 years and 18 months. I'm not sure either of them knows who the two of you are. 

Michelle Obama has her arm around me. Squee! 
But, I promise, they will know. I will share stories of your honesty, your integrity, and your leadership skills with them. I will explain that when I had the great privilege of meeting you, Michelle, in 2009, when I worked at Children's National Medical Center I saw first hand that your kindness and compassion is not just a show; It is genuine and natural. At the time I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with Ryan. You asked me about my pregnancy. You put your hand on my belly, you wished me the best of luck. You didn't just go around and talk with patients and families. No, you sat with them, you engaged, you cared. 

Star struck! 
I know plenty of people disagree with the two of you on many issues. I know many people do not think as highly of you as I do. And honestly, I have a hard time understanding that. Politics aside, you are true role models for children and adults alike.

As you end your time in the White House, and begin to think about your legacy and the work you will do in the remainder of your careers, I challenge you to think of ways you can continue to have an impact on the youth of our world. I don't want any of my children to forget you. Please, remain in the public eye. Please continue to show the world what it means to be happy, confident, smart, fun, and kind. Show the world what it means to have integrity; to have strong beliefs and to stand up for what you believe. Don't hesitate to continue to be an example of a successful marriage raising successful children. Our Country and our world needs more of the two of you! 

Photo Credit: Craig Lassig/EPA                                                               
President and Mrs. Obama, our world may not fully recognize it yet, but we have much to thank the two of you for. I think in the years to come it will be more and more obvious. I, for one, am most grateful to the two of you for putting a face on what it means to be compassionate and human, and for never making yourselves seem "above" the people you have served and represented during your time in office. I believe you think of yourselves just like the rest of us do: people doing the best we can, to do the best we can, in all we do. You have succeeded. Thank you. 

With greatest admiration and appreciation, 

Kristen Caminiti

The Cam Fam has been Published on:

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