Our household wasn't only service oriented; it was also very political. My mother and her friends could always be found discussing and debating local and national issues. What was the new mayor going to do to make people's lives better? Was this new policy good or bad for our neighborhood, our people, our city? Where was our country headed, and what should we all be doing about it? Now when my husband, Chris, and I talk politics at the dinner table, I feel that same connection to my past, and I hope my daughters are learning the same lesson: Family is important, yes, but family doesn't begin and end at the dinner table. We're all part of a larger family, and if any one of us is hurting, then all of us are. If I get there before you do, I am obligated to bore a hole and pull you through— that's what my mother lived, that's what she taught me, and that's what I try to teach my girls.
Now, don't get me wrong. I did not always want to go everyplace my mother wanted to take me. I did not really want to join her at her meditation center no matter how much she tried to convince me that it would help to make me a better person. I can remember my mom had a friend she meditated with and did a lot of service work with who also had a teenage daughter, one of my classmates. Mai and I were very similar. When our mothers went overboard (as we saw it), we were able to hang together and commiserate.