Today is Cinco de Mayo AND our oldest son’s birthday. Mr. Picky Eater and I have been married just shy of seven years and we each brought children with us – although they were already pretty much grown.
I brought my daughter, our oldest and he brought two sons: the one turning 25 today and the other will be 23 coincidentally on the same day as my daughter turns 31. All our kids were born on holidays celebrated in the U.S. – Cinco de Mayo, with the oldest and youngest celebrating on Flag Day next month.
This is a very big week for our 25-year-old as he graduates from the University of Oklahoma Law School next Saturday. He was in the Native American Law Review, came in 2nd individually at Moot Court competition, and will graduate as a member in the Order of the Barristers. He and my daughter are both over-achievers – classic first born/divorced parents, but that’s a different post.
He loves Mexican food! Being born on Cinco de Mayo is convenient! He loves all kinds but each years asks me to make the recipe at the end. It is not all that healthy, but it is easy and I think I made it up a few years ago – I have no idea because I am only learning about cooking at this stage of life.
But first, I want to include the gift I gave him for graduation this year. Like Solomon I have gained wisdom through experience and I try to share that with all my children. I must say, it has paid off well with my daughter. So – first my personal gift to him and then the recipe. Happy Cinco de Mayo!
As a step-parent who met you when you were 17, I had no hand in your upbringing but I have had an influence on your life, as you have had on mine. While you will most certainly receive many material gifts from your family and friends during this time of graduation, I want to offer you something intangible yet represents a foundation on which to build. No matter where you go in life, I hope you will keep the following in mind:
1. Honor your fear: Never strike out in anger when you are really just afraid. It adds nothing constructive to a crisis.
2. Honor your parents: Recognize whatever you believe they did “to” you as coming from a place of love. They gave you their best based on their own early childhood conditioning. Don’t dwell on the wrong: accept it, love them back, and move on.
3. Honor your roots: Where you come from is a good place because it led you to where you are today. Refuse to apologize for, or be ashamed of it.
4. Honor your peripheral influences: Your brother, step-siblings and all your former and current step-parent’s influences, for good or bad, have each brought you one step closer to who you have become and it should be honored because you are a good man.
5. Recognize your insecurity: The greatest gift your parents gave you was to have more confidence than they have. Your duty is to give your children even more than you have.
6. Honor those who challenge your social norms. Expanding your view of the world makes you a well-rounded person instead of a one-trick pony. Always have at least one person in your life who will challenge what you believe is “right”.
7. Think before you speak or act: Hurtful words or deeds last a lifetime.
8. Beauty is in the heart, not in the eyes: You will find sometimes, an attractive package is hiding dark and manipulative contents.
9. Love is a verb so love with great abandon: Your action or lack of action shows everyone how much you love yourself and this in turn, gives them an idea of how much love you are capable of offering them. Withholding love out of fear of rejection is a self-fulfilling prophesy.
10. When you spend a few hours a month or an afternoon per year with a family member – don’t waste your time being angry.
11. Never let someone belittle you by belittling your family to you.
12. Always come home. The hardest thing your parents have done is to let you go because they risk that you won’t return. If you isolate yourself from your family, you will live in regret and show your children how to treat you when they leave home.
13. If someone wants you to choose between them and your family – RUN! Without a doubt, there is a hidden agenda detailing a life-suffocating reason behind the ultimatum.
14. Money, beauty, stellar grades, privileged socio-economic background and powerful intellect are not necessarily good.
15. Addiction to drugs, alcohol, food, shopping, exercise, another person, a bad relationship, or religion is never good.
16. Spirituality, like love, is emotionally based: There is no need to explain why you love your parents, your wife, or your Lord.
17. The way you treat others shows them how to treat you: If you justify bad treatment of others, you can bet somewhere down the road, someone will be justifying bad treatment of you.
18. Remain true to the Party: Each relationship, including your political affiliation, will have good times and bad. Unless it changes its core value system to one you cannot agree with, stick with the Party.
19. Love others for who they are, not who you wish them to be.
20. The first two people to hold you were your parents. Make sure you are the person holding their hand as they leave this earth. One day, you will be the first person to hold another. Treat that child with respect and care because you will want them to hold your hand when it is your time to go.
21. Remain sanguine . Optimism is optimal. Remember this: You do not know what you would do in any given situation until you are actually in it – it’s best not to judge others in their time of need.
22. Forgiveness should be given without fanfare . If you must show and tell your forgiveness, then you are only playing the victim, not letting go of hate and bitterness. Whatever you forgive, do not seek other’s permission or approval because you will never get what you are seeking from it.
23. All you really need is love.
This knowledge was hard-won and sometimes I falter. I’m not arrogant enough to think you will take all my suggestions but I hope you will incorporate some. For those times in life when you feel alone and desperate: Know that I will always love you and always be there for you. Don’t ever be afraid to tell me anything, for I will never make you sorry you did. I promise.
And now for the recipe:
You will need these 2 items or something similar.
Bake, covered with foil at 350 degrees F for 1 hour, taking foil off and sprinkling with shredded cheese for the last 10 minutes.