comments 8

To Whom It May Concern

Hi,

You don’t know me, we have not met.

I have my undergrad in Communication Arts and my MFA in Creative Writing.

I have been published in literary magazines and nationwide, but I don’t find nearly enough time for it these days.

I have been happily married to my best friend and confidant for going on eleven years. We have four amazing children.

Our oldest is a model student, top of the state in test scores, teacher’s helper, all around amazing young boy.

Our second is a beautiful free spirit, equally as bright and helpful – (top of the behavior chart a whopping twelve times in the past two months.) She is a great help around the house with her two younger siblings – who are equally hysterical and delightful in their own ways.

But, then, I know you have heard of her. She drew the most beautiful Valentine for your daughter and they share a seat everyday on the bus.

Sisters

My husband is in management. He works hard.

I own my own photography business. I work hard.

We do well. (Which, yes, did not come easily and it did take time and faith and many, many nights of praying for direction and blessing that I wasn’t even sure was coming our way. Until it did. God is good.)

Speaking of, we serve in various roles at our church. We spend most of our free time with our church friends and family.

You and your family are always welcome, to join us, at our church, in our home.

Which is, by the way, a wood-framed ranch house, built on the rails of a trailer.

Yes, in a trailer park.

If you met me in the store or at the library, or if I was hired to shoot your family portraits or an event that you are attending – you would never know it. I am normal. Our family is normal. We don’t wear pajamas to Walmart and my husband does not have a mullet.

Our neighborhood is quiet and friendly, with children chugging by on Power Wheels and kicking their legs to the sky on swing sets and dads mowing lawns.

I would venture to guess, pretty similar to your own, no?

Not a bad place to be.

Now, to the heart of it, why I am up at this hour, why I am writing a letter you will never even see.

You see, though I have not met you, I have heard your words, spoken through your kindergarten-aged daughter, to my kindergarten-aged daughter, to me.

I can’t come to your house, my mom doesn’t like the trailer park. (But you can come to MY house.)

And so, I felt compelled to write, to introduce myself, because clearly you haven’t a clue about us. My family is not our address and we are not defined by the name of our street or the size of our home.

(P.S. neither are you. Nor is anyone. Kind of wonderful and freeing now, isn’t it?)

And, of course, I would love to have my daughter over to your home for a play date, but I must tell her the truth, and I’m sure you understand. I don’t allow her to go to play at homes of people I do not know, with parents I have not met.

It’s nothing personal, and I would never disparage your family or suggest that there is anything amiss in your household. I simply prefer to meet the adults that my children will be spending time with, behind closed front doors.

And in the future, may I suggest saying such a thing to your own daughter – a simple I have to meet her parents first, rather than potentially planting seeds of prejudice in a young child’s mind, or risking hurting her free-spirited, bus-mate and kindergarten best friend (simply because of the “trailer park” neighborhood our love-filled, crayola scribbled, bunk bed sleeping and Disney movie watching, safe and cozy home has been built in.)

I would appreciate that, ever so much.

Sincerely,

The Mom who said none of this to her daughter, but wrote it all here instead.

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8 Comments

  1. kathy bailey

    Oh, good grief. What century is that mom living in? I think she watches too much Honey Boo Boo. Anyway, it’s “manufactured housing” now. My sister-in-law lives in a manufactured house though it is on her own land, and one of my best friends, a very refined Christian lady, lived in one until two years ago when she had to go into a nursing home, and it was exquisite. As I’m sure your home is, although I kind of always pictured you guys in a Cape. Sheesh. I hate to think of anyone hurting Lila that way. I would let my kids come to your house if I had any left.

    • Our house isn’t even manufactured, it’s a solid, wood-framed house that was built on-top of where a trailer used to be!

      It’s just that all of our neighbors are in the stereotypical trailers.

      The neighborhood itself is actually perfect for kids, not too many cars, safe, lots of kids running around.Who knows, maybe someday, this little girl will even be one of the girls playing in our yard. I sent her mother a very kind note this morning, inviting her to meet. 🙂

    • Kathy, i appreciate your spirit of “all things being equal” for those that live in trailer parks (like our lovely Melanie), but something troubles me. i think i sense (forgive me) the smallest bit of hypocrisy in your words. you’re rightly saying that people aren’t automatically better people because they don’t live in trailer parks – but on the same token, people aren’t automatically WORSE people because they’re not Christians. you say your sister-in-law is a “very refined Christian lady,” and i’m certain she is. but i would wager she’d still be a “very refined lady” were she not a Christian.

      i’m not saying Christians aren’t good people. they are. but non-Christians are good people, too. something to think about anyway… 🙂

  2. Jackie Halnon

    Hey Melanie,

    I just saw this and it made me feel so sad to think that someone could not only pass this kind of judgement but also say something so harsh to their own, very young child. The other night Eric and I sat looking at the pictures that you took last weekend, so happy with what I feel are some of the most priceless “things” that we could ever have. And as we were talking about your talent as a photographer, I told my husband that the best thing about your work is the woman behind it. Since I started following your blog, I have learned so much about you through your words. You are not only intelligent but you are humble, compassionate and a wonderful mother. From meeting your husband at the wedding you shot in 2011, we could see how well you compliment each other and like us, enjoy doing things together as a team. You have spirituality and pass this onto your children. All four of them, who will grow up with the comfort of having each other in a way that material possessions cold never compensate for. The person you are and the way you raise your family remind me very much of the way my parents and grandparents raised their families in the “olden days”-with values and without focus on the superficial. I may just be a creepy blog stalker, but for what it’s worth you can know that I admire you so much for the person you are. And I feel sorry that there is someone else out there who will probably never understand or experience the kind of love that you have within your home.

    Jackie

    • Oh, Jackie. You just made me cry. 🙂

      It’s definitely safe to say that it’s families like yours that make me LOVE my job. I came home from our session last weekend and was gushing to my husband about how much I just adore you and your family. You are all so sincere and goodhearted in a way that is very rare to find these days.

      Thank you so much for coming out of “stalker” mode (though, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with just reading along either!), because you really made my day with your kind words. 🙂

  3. This took much of the wind out of my sails. I want to be angry at that mom but, then, I thought.. maybe her mom told her that when she was a child and she simply has not found the strength to break that cycle…yet…peace to you and your sparkling family!

  4. I read this and at first was indignant towards this mom, but I realized very quickly that I’m not much different. As much as I have matured as an adult, I think my first inclination would have been similar. This post, like others has humbled me. Thank you for the reminder that stereotypes and social cliches are not the lens in which we should view people.

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