Just love.


My kids and I say a morning prayer every single day on our way to school.

It goes like this:

Dear Jesus, thank you for this beautiful day. Thank you for Gunner and Colt and for their unique special gifts. I pray that they have a very good day at school, that they listen to their teachers, that they pay attention and that they learn a lot of cool stuff. I pray that they are a light in the dark, that they are always kind and loving and that their love for you shines through. There is nothing more important than being kind and loving, and by doing so, Gunner and Colt could change someone's entire day. I pray that my kids are always the ones who look for someone sitting alone, being excluded, or having a sad day, and that they always go up to that person and ask them to play, talk to them and say something nice to help them feel better. It's so important to help those who are hurting. We love you and give you all the glory, amen.

Every day, in the car on the way to school, those words.

I look in the rearview and see them sitting with their eyes closed and hands folded. They know the importance and power of those words. Of everything I want to teach my kids, being kind and loving is at the tip top of it all.

I don't stress good grades. I never have, and I never will. It just isn't that important to me. I do stress not getting all fails and falling short because of laziness, because, well, that's just outright offensive negligence. But the first thing I say to them when they get in the car after picking them up from school is never, "what grade did you get on that test?" It's always, "how was your day? Were there any kind and loving moments you want to tell me about?" I want them to learn and have fun and do good...but nothing is more important — and I can't even stress how much more important it is — than to be loving and kind. To sit with those sitting alone. To always include everyone. To never ever purposefully exclude another kid at school or make someone feel unwelcome.

My kids know that we don't call people ugly. We don't call people fat. We don't make fun and we don't put others down. It happens every now and then, they are human (and brothers, and we all know brothers can be brutal to each other) but I always sit and talk with them and ask them how they would feel if someone hurt their feelings. I never want my kids to have an elevated sense of self where they think they are better than their peers, and I know it will happen, I know there will be that kid who is ostracized and made fun of for some ridiculous reason (looks, weight, disability) and I am always prepping my kids for that moment, so when they come face-to-face with unfair cruelty, they enter it with open arms and a huge, strong, warm loving heart. I always want them to know, what right do they have to treat someone poorly just because they look different on the outside?

And it's a hard, uphill battle. I know the things they learn at school from other kids. I hear things that kids in school these days say. So yes, it's hard, but yes, it's so important. In fact, it's the most important.

The kids and I go through their toys and clothes often, giving things to Goodwill or the mission that we don't need/use anymore (don't get me started on people selling their unwanted childrens things on Craigslist. I've never understood it and I never will. Why re-sell it to gain profit instead of donating it all to the many kids in need? Because there are so, so, so many. Too many.) I always talk to them about why we do it, how there are so many kids out there who don't have nearly what my kids do, and how it's so very important to give to those who have less. The other day, Gunner came into my office and said, "mom come here, I want to show you something," took me upstairs and proudly showed me the two plastic crates he had overfilling with toys/blankets/costumes of his. He did it all on his own, and on the way to the donation center, he talked on and on about how happy he was that other kids would get to have and play with his toys.

And that makes me so happy. I can never do enough when it comes to teaching my kids that lesson - that yes, we are most definitely blessed, and we must always give what we can, and sometimes more,  a lot of the times more, because helping others is what life is about.

We see people standing on the road often, holding signs asking for anything to help, and my kids have always been very inquisitive — why are they standing there? what does their sign say? why do they want money? — and I explain to them that some people are so lonely and sad and hurt that they can't get a job, they can't support themselves, they can't carry on anymore. I explain to them how as a mom, I love them so incredibly much, and how I don't know what I would do if something ever happened to them. And then I tell them that maybe that woman standing there lost a child, and it devastated her so much that she just couldn't get up and out of bed in the mornings. Maybe that man lost everything he had in his life and lost the will to try, and yes, maybe it was due to his own diligence but does it really matter? Maybe he really isn't a former Vietnam vet and he's trying to play on the emotions of others, but really, does it matter?? While the truth is that yes, sometimes those people standing there are being deceitful and fraudulent, in situations like this, does it really matter?? Because something had to have happened to defeat a man to standing there on a street corner holding a sign. Something had to have gone incredibly wrong at some turn in his life, and he has resolved his self worth to begging on a street corner. I can't imagine what it would take to beat a human down so low. What I can imagine is how showing love and tenderness can never, ever hurt. 

And besides, isn't it better to err on the side of kindness than judgement?

There many things I want, and don't want, for my kids.

I don't want my kids preoccupied with being the best one on the team. You will never hear me say to my kids, "you are the best player on the team!" And if they ever say it about themselves, I will let them in on one very important life lesson...the best ones never have to say they are the best. More importantly, "the best" only know they are "the best" because they have the backing and support of their team, otherwise "the best" wouldn't be so great at all.

I don't want my kids to worry about being friends with the "popular crowd" (major air quote around that term). Those kids have enough friends anyway. I want them to befriend the misfits, and I use that term endearingly because I f*cking love the misfits. Besides, they are the ones that are going to be world changers one day. 

I want my kids to walk with the broken. To sit next to the outcast. To include the prodigal. To lift up the down-and-out.

To love the unloveable. 

I know their hearts will break again and again, but that is a price you pay for feeling empathy for others. I also know their hearts will love and hopefully receive love to the highest levels of heaven, because that's a price you gain for feeling empathy for others.

Besides, a wise man once said...

"and the greatest of these is love."

So just love.


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  2. Yes Raven! YES YES YES! Thank you for teaching your children this...it's so, so important and I wish more parents would teach their children to be giving and loving and accepting. My 14 year old had to fill out a job application and create a resume. We went over what a resume looked like and I didn't even think to tell him about adding volunteer work. He was so proud to show me his resume (which was actually very well written!) and included was a space for volunteer work, where he wrote about feeding and clothing the homeless. I never thought of it as volunteer work - it's just something we do. We have, so we give...You're amazing and you're doing wonderful things within those boys of yours.

  3. AnonymousJune 06, 2017

    Very nice. However, you should pray to God, not Jesus. God is going to be pissed that you are praying to His son instead of Him.

  4. You're kidding with this right? You voted for Trump, so you must be writing this ironically.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. This has nothing to do with Hillary. At some point you have to stop blaming everything on her. She lost. Trump is the President and he is a despicable, hateful human being. So, don't preach about teaching love when you support such a hateful person.

  7. All of this. Love it. I'm just starting on my journey of raising two precious daughters (only 17 months apart), and I couldn't have said this better myself. Thanks so much for this reminder about the truly important things in life. Love your blog, Raven. Keep it up! :)

  8. Beautiful. Poignant. Kind. Loving.
    Just what I needed to read today. I have two boys that I repeat something very similar to every night, wonder if I should start doing something in the mornings also.
    Thanks for sharing!

  9. some of us sell our kids' used items on CL, cuz...well, we have the very need about which you lament in this post!

  10. This may be one of my favorites. It's speaks from a mom , looks through the eyes of a child , and pardons humanity for being human. But I think what I loved most is that you pray with your children, in a way that communicates hope and good will
    For all

    Kudos to you

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