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Judge not, lest ye be judged.  That is how I was raised.  But who lives by that?  I mean seriously….Okay, I’ll be honest, I DO try…SO HARD….but sometimes it’s just too hard not to.

That said, I told you that so I could tell you this…

I’m taking a sewing class.  I finally decided to bite the bullet and pursue things I love, (and I also need to get out of the house because I work at home and live at home and though I love my home, it was time).

In my class there are varying ages of people. I’m not the youngest (duh) and I’m not the oldest (woohoo).  I love my class and my classmates.  I could tell you stories of all the people in there, but they are only stories I have made up in my head based on what I see their personality traits, or first impressions.

First, there’s Guido (real names not used of course, because I don’t know their names), He’s tall, nice looking and sweet kid, who has his own sewing tool belt.  He literally looks like he should be flipping pizza’s in a pizzeria that his family owns.  But instead, he’s wielding scissors with stealth as he pulls them out and puts them back in his sheath… Nice kid, dedicated to his craft.

Next, there is the college graduate who’s exploring other options, I don’t have another name for her, because I know her name, but I won’t share, because I like her and she’s really smart.

Then, there’s cutie K, who looks like she just walked out of a Madewell ad.  I literally asked her today if I could get her number and call her my photography ambassador, because I love her look.  She’s my starving student, and I get a kick out of her.

Also in class, I have Brett, who is as eager to be in the class, but just struggles a bit.  And though I have tried to get him to have pride in his work, because this is a long term goal for him; he’s overcome by frustration.  I smile every week when he shows up because  he’s not throwing in the towel #respect.  I try to help him whenever possible.  I keep pulling for him that he’ll prevail…Sewing is not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure!

And finally… there’s Angelina, the sweet quiet girl who when she first told me her name, she practically swallowed it back.  She had my attention from the beginning. (there are more people in the class, but I’ll have to do a chapter two, because I want to focus on my little Angelina.)

This girl is in her own world.  For the whole semester, she’s quietly done her own thing, looking very efficient along the way.  But over time, I started realizing she’s not always doing what she’s supposed to.  However, since she wasn’t disrupting anyone, I think she kind of flew under the radar of our amazing teacher, who has the patience of Job.  I kind of liken said teacher to Tinkerbell, flying around the class, helping everyone and sprinkling pixie dust with her knowledge.  I’m seriously obsessed with her.  But I digress….

With only a few weeks to go, Angelina was at her desk cutting cat ears… (insert my confused face here).  I asked her, “Did you finish your second project yet?”.  She said, “No” and I stood there waiting for a further answer, to which I never got…so I shrugged my shoulders and kept going.  Not my circus, not my monkeys (I have to tell myself this to keep walking, because I was seriously curious why she wasn’t doing anything even slightly pertaining to class stuff). The following week I see her working on her second project (which was due two weeks earlier), and the week after that (Still not done with her second project – btw, we are doing three and we only have a few weeks left of class -) and she was working on another crazy project that prevented her from doing her classwork.  I bit my tongue…pretty sure there was blood.  I took a breath and finally said, “Why aren’t you finishing your second project?”  She didn’t even look up at me, just kept working away and said quietly, “I don’t know…I kind of lost interest”. I said, “Oh…” and didn’t know what else to say.  (Here’s where it gets interesting)…

Without provocation from me, she somehow starts swirling into a conversation that her mother is disappointed in her because she isn’t becoming a doctor or something better than what she is doing.  She told Angelina that she’s wasting her life by not doing something great.  I said, “What’s wrong with following your heart and becoming a creative?”  She put her stuff down for a second and looked at me and said, “You don’t understand.  I come from a Mexican family where mothers want to brag about their children.  She can’t brag about me unless I do something great.”  I said, “What does your mother do for work?”   She answered, “She cleans houses”……

I’m tearing up as I write this.  I identify this girl. I am Angelina in many ways.  My heart sank so fast, it hit the floor with a thud….

Here’s the beauty of becoming an adult… You can look back at the things that your parents told you and actually SEE what they were trying to say.  But when you are a child, You see nothing.  You just feel the impact, and it drives your actions…sometimes to a slow dead crawl.

I wanted to hug her so bad, but I just kept talking and making small talk.  She had no idea how her words impacted me.  They impacted me as a mother, and they impacted me from a Childs perspective.

EVERY GOOD PARENT WANTS THE BEST FOR THEIR CHILDREN…PERIOD!!!  I know what her mother is TRYING to tell Angelina.  She wants the BEST for her daughter.  But what Angelina is hearing is she will NEVER be good enough.

When I was a kid, right after graduation, I didn’t go to college.  I went to work full time at a bank.  I loved the job, I loved working and I love the people I worked with.  But after a while, because I was a kid and didn’t see the impact of my choices, I decided to quit… When my dad found out, he met me at the door and said, “Did you quit your job?”  I said, “Yes.”  He said, “WHY?”  and I said, “Because I wasn’t happy!” …… He got in my face and said, “WHO GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO BE HAPPY?”

I.WAS.DUMBFOUNDED!!!!

He went on to lecture me that life isn’t about being happy; it’s about being responsible.  I’m fairly certain I took nothing away from that conversation after that mic dropping question.  I was just shocked. (My dad was a patent attorney, he worked hard all his life)

Years later, after being married and having kids and stress wearing on the hubs, I got what my dad was saying.  I see my husband making sacrifice after sacrifice for the sake of his wife and children and I totally get it….  I wish I got it back then when my dad said it to me, but I am so thankful for the wisdom to look back and realize he wasn’t an awful man.  He was AMAZING.  I was BLESSED a thousandfold to have him as my dad.

But as I think of Angelina, the girl who swallows back her name, and doesn’t do her projects, I see her in a different light.  I don’t want to judge her, I want to hug her. I want to sit her down and let her know what her mother is trying to tell her.

She’s a really sweet girl, and today in class, she forgot her pattern, so the teacher (aka Tinkerbell) encouraged her to make a skirt with a simple rectangle pattern and some elastic.  And when Angelina was done, Tinkerbell stood her up in front of class, and made her show everyone her beautiful project.  And as Tink talked about what a great job Angelina did…I’m sure she had no idea what she did for sweet Angie!  Tears are streaming down my face as I write.

Realize that when you are talking to people and maybe judging them…there is a story behind the story.  If you don’t want to take the time to find out what it is, then at the very least…be kind.

You can either build someone up…or break them down… the choice is yours!  But that choice also determines your character. Choose wisely.