Growing up, my biggest fear was that my parents would embarrass me.
This fear wasn’t completely unfounded:
My mom was known to waltz down the produce aisle at Trader Joe’s like the leading lady in a 1950’s musical, sometimes singing in Tagolog, which she learned while serving in the Peace Corps.
And my dad was worse: When he would “bring it,” (his words, not mine, people) on the basketball court at Mar Vista Park, he would insist on playing “skins.” Even when no one else was going shirtless. Bellowing on the court, he would wave his arms in the air, a force of nature that could easily wipe out a 13-year-old’s reputation.
But if you Google my parents, you’ll see all the great stuff they’ve done: My mom was a children’s book author, and was involved in supporting various organizations fighting for social change. My dad was a Freedom Rider during the Civil Rights movement and served time in jail for registering African American voters in the early ’60s. He fought corruption in Los Angeles during his tenure in city government. He won professor of the year in his department.
My parents’ legacy is public domain. And that’s pretty awesome.
Now, just for funsies, what happens when you Google me?
Let me tell you. The following keywords come up:
And I know this to be true: One of these days, my kids are going to Google me.
And just as I walked in one night to a wall covered in Little Homie’s, um, leavings… my son and daughter, too, will see my shit smeared all over. The Internet. And a little Clorox and elbow grease ain’t gonna clean that up, no how.
(And now let’s add “shit” to the list of keywords that will come up when you Google me.)
(Ok, and that one, too.)
So what does all of this mean, Grasshopper?
It means that my children are going to know that I’ve wrestled with decisions great and small. They’re going to know that there are times when I feel vulnerable and scared. They’re going to know that I feel blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. They’re going to know that I can own my own shit publicly without taking anyone else down with me. They’re going to know that I miss my family back in The States so much that there are times I can barely breathe. They’re going to know how I grieve for my mother. They’re going to know that I have taken my life into my own hands–in a good way. They’re going to know that I’ve fallen and gotten up and fallen again. And gotten up.
And they’re going to know how much I love them.
And I also know this to be true: Even if I am not with my children 24/7, when I am with my children, I am myself. And when my children Google me, they won’t learn anything they don’t already know. (Well, for the most part.)
And above all, they are going to know that I am human–poignantly imperfect. Just like them.