My daughter, the inspiration for the narrator in the book, a written the following. I am sharing this as insight into why the book, "If you looked at me..." is so important!
Son: Mama, can boys marry boys?
Son: I hate that.
Me: Baby, let’s talk for a minute. We don’t want to say ‘hate’.
Son: Why not?
Me: It’s not very nice. It’s mean and can hurt someone’s feelings. Do you want to marry a boy?
Me: So then marrying a boy is something that you don’t like, because you don’t want to do it.
Me: But what if your best friend wanted to marry a boy? Would that be ok?
Me: Would he still be your best friend?
Me: Would you hate him if he married a boy?
Me: So then we don’t hate it, because we don’t hate people. You just don’t like it, because you don’t want to do it for you.
I was raised to always respect others; to never judge or stereotype. I am polite and honest; I work hard and do what I can for others. That is not to say I am perfect, nor am I always kind and giving; but I understand the value in always trying to be. I have always appreciated and honored my mother for instilling these characteristics in my sister and I. It was not, however, until I became a mother myself that I began to wonder how she did this. And while there is no definite answer; there is no set of steps she can hand down to me, I am beginning to understand how it happened. My mother modeled acceptance, compassion, being open-minded and pure and unending love.
My mother not only modeled these behaviors in her interactions with others, but with us as well. If we were less than kind, she would reprimand, but not in a harmful or demeaning way, but in a way that was supportive and understanding; making sure we knew she believed we could be better. She reminded us that we were and are not always accepted or understood, but that doesn’t mean that we are any less loved or appreciated. This could not have been easy; we definitely pushed the limits of her patience. However, my mom never gave up and never lessened her focus on being kind accepting.
Recently, my mom has been venturing out of her comfort zone. At least, some would believe it is outside her comfort zone. My mother is writing a book about not judging others, “If You Looked At Me”; a children’s book. My mother is not social or outgoing, but she believes in people; she believes that everyone is capable and deserving of love. Since she has become a grandmother, her drive to share this with others has grown and her passion for sharing this message has grown. She loves her family more than anything, and her desire to celebrate us with the world is unmatched. But as always, telling the world who we are is not enough; learning a lesson is what truly matters. And that lesson tells more than who we are, who it reflects my mother. It reflects who she is and what she has instilled in all of us.