Over dinner one night, I heard my mom voice her opinion on a big matter: she felt it was somewhat sad when she walked past J.Crew, a company known for its casual and fresh-looking casual clothing. She was disappointed in how they treated their senior employees and their former workers. She found the women salesmen to be too young and the salespeople overqualified, and she felt that the company let certain people go too soon. I was sitting at my mom’s kitchen table when we began to argue.
The next day, we talked about it for a couple of hours, and after finally getting it all out, we were a lot better. In a way, that summer conversation had taught us to honor all the good things in our lives, to ask questions, to try to ask the hard questions, and to learn to talk about stuff.
My mom’s own dad taught us the same. As a kid, we would stay up late to see the late-night talk shows, which would air after he worked his midnight shift. Sometimes he’d stay until 4:30 a.m. to work his second shift, but when the commute was over, he’d start work again on Friday. We would watch him do it over and over again, together. He taught us to both watch our loved ones work, but also to look at those hard-working men, women, and children and see the potential they had. He knew that those hard working people were people we were lucky to have in our lives, and he wanted us to have a great understanding of that.
My mom and dad teach us to listen to everyone. They aren’t the givers of advice. They don’t tell us how to live. They keep watching us develop and experience our lives. My mom has always taught me to be honest with people, be kind to people, and to always know that if I judge them, I will set myself up for disappointment. My dad watches us grow up and puts his job aside to help us with whatever our needs might be. Together, they taught us to respect ourselves and respect others, and I guess it’s not so much that they told us so, as that they did it for us. Together, they set us up for our own success.