Mother's Corner

Teaching compassion as well as self-reliance

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What’s a bootstrap? Something about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps always seems to be said about someone who has come from nothing or from tragedy and has triumphed over that adversity. I have even said that myself, but without knowing the full impact.

So what is a bootstrap, what does it do, why do we say it and why am I thinking about it as it pertains to our children? Well, when checking the dictionary, there are three definitions of bootstrap. The definition that is the topic here means a loop of leather, cloth or synthetic material that is sewn at the side or the top rear of a boot to help in pulling the boot on. Simple enough. Someone with boots that have this loop or strap can slip their boots on without anyone helping them. However, realistically, they cannot stand up without assistance. Try it. If you pull your boots on and you are already standing, OK. If you pull your boots on and you are sitting, you have the chair assist or help from something to get you up — unless, of course, you are super-athletic and then all bets are off, but just go with me here. So what we have been saying, at least in my thought process, is that it depends on the position you are in before you try to pull your boots on and whether you have boots with a strap or not.

In relation to our children, we as parents hope and expect that if we give them a strap on their boots, they can make it and they can overcome. Yes and no. The level of their ability to overcome really is dependent upon the home or family from which they begin. We all want our children to become better than we are in all aspects. We want their lives to be easier, we want them to make more money and to have less stress and worry. And if that happens, that is a great thing, but what if it doesn’t? Then what do you say, how do you react or not react, what is the next step? Sometimes it is what it is and sometimes it is what it ain’t. As our society and community turn themselves inside out to justify the unjustifiable, to tell untruths in the name of one party or another, to forgive some colors and denigrate others, to judge without an empathetic gavel and to wring our hands ’bout one thing or another — speaking in tongues not native — children suffer. Figuring out on their own that life isn’t always fair, love hurts and boots can be hard to pull up.

We must re-think and act in kindness toward those who were not as fortunate and understand that just because you made it doesn’t mean you or I are any better than them that did not. We must teach and mirror to humanity that we are all human. Regardless of your boot — I mean strap.

Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mother. Her column appears monthly in the Tracy Press. Comments can be sent to

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