After spending the past five years raising my daughter, I recently came on board as the Director of Marketing and Social Media for Promising Pages. I am so happy about this job – on many, many fronts. However, I am having to learn how to balance out my life a little differently now. And, so, this morning, I found myself rushing my daughter around for school, fretting about all the time I’ll be wasting at the DMV later and, of course, complaining about the weather (as if the late-winter rain storm is some kind of personal attack).
I was quickly spiraling into a patented “woe is me” montage. However, as I sat at a light on my way to school drop off, a light that frankly had been red for entirely too long, I looked in the rearview mirror and my daughter was in the back seat wearing the Groucho Marx gag glasses that she had gotten from the treasure box at the dentist earlier in the week. She nonchalantly wore these glasses as she casually thumbed through the book that she had brought along for the ride. I laughed out loud and forced myself to climb out of the warm waters of one of my favorite vacation spots, Me Lake.
As we drove on I started thinking about my life. I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry when I realized that my biggest “problem” this week was when the WiFi at my local YMCA was down. Thus rendering me unable to watch The Walking Dead on my iPad while running on the treadmill.
Think about that for a second.
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An hour-long absence of WiFi was the WORST thing that has happened to me this week. It wasn’t that my daughter didn’t have clean drinking water or that I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from or if my mortgage would be paid on time. Nope, the biggest challenge I’ve faced this week was that my fancy electronic device was unable to connect to WiFi and I had to postpone watching a show about the zombie apocalypse until my daughter went to bed.
How absurd is that?
I spend entirely too much time in my own head. Fortunately, when I do get out of there, I’m usually quick to realize how incredibly beautiful my life is. I am, at least when I’m not being a self-indulgent brat, so extremely grateful for this life of mine.
See, it wasn’t supposed to be this way for me. According to statistics, the likelihood of me writing this from my warm, welcoming, clean, comfortable home, complete with working WiFi, was slim to none. I wasn’t supposed to get this home where my college diploma hangs on the wall; a home filled with love, laughter, happy times and with caring, loyal, supportive, loud, funny, trustworthy people. And, even after living here for over 13 years, there are days, the grateful ones, that I still can’t believe that I get to live in a home with a stocked fridge, with TVs and laptops, with board games and beautiful art and with stacks and stacks of my beloved books.
Books saved me. Books helped me get to this home, to this life where my biggest problem is no WiFi. Books showed this child of two felonious high-school dropout drug addicts that there was a bigger, brighter world beyond the small, loud, dirty, smoke filled HUD-funded apartments of my youth. With books, I escaped into Roald Dahl’s sweet and magical chocolate factory, I ran through forests with Old Dan and Little Ann, I solved wholesome mysteries with the Bobbsey Twins, and, I, like Margaret, wondered if God was there.
As I got older, I knew that Ponyboy would always stay gold and that Holden Caulfield was one of the world’s greatest cursers. I wanted to push The Bell Jar off of Sylvia Plath because I needed her to tell me more and I felt that my house, like 124, was spiteful. And, even today I find myself gazing at the brightness of A Thousand Splendid Suns, wondering about where Bernadette went and reveling in how pretty David Sedaris will talk one day.
Books were and are my teacher, my escape, my vacation, my daydream, my safety, my home. Books believed in me when most people didn’t.
I was fortunate to have grandparents and aunts and uncles who bought me books, read aloud to me and took me to the library. Not every kid is that fortunate. And, this is why I want to help Promising Pages put books into the 60,000+ kids in the Charlotte area with few, if any, books at home.
This is why books matter to me!
And, this is why Promising Pages matters to me!
To learn more about Promoising Pages and their mission of leveling the playing field and offering all kids a fair shot at life by giving them the tools they need to succeed at an early age, visit them at www.promisingpages.com.