TIME Family

Eva Mendes Says She Hasn’t Earned Her Mother’s Day Stripes Yet

Eva Mendes on Jan 18, 2015.
Ben Watts—Corbis Eva Mendes on Jan 18, 2015.

Though she's a mom to 7-month-old Esmeralda, Mendes says she's honoring her own mother this weekend

This coming Mother’s Day will be Eva Mendes’ first since becoming a mom herself, but the actress doesn’t think she’s worthy of celebration yet.

“I kind of feel like I haven’t quite earned my stripes yet in a way,” Mendes, who welcomed daughter Esmeralda with Ryan Gosling in September, told Access Hollywood Live on Tuesday. “She’s seven months [old].”

But that doesn’t mean she’s ignoring the holiday altogether—she’s just putting the focus on her own mother that day.

“This Mother’s Day is definitely all about my mom,” Mendes said. “She’s had a really hard year. My brother’s sick, so it’s all about my mom, honoring her. We’re all going to go over to her house and bombard her with love.”

[Access Hollywood]

MONEY First-Time Dad

What Dads Can Do to Really Help Moms This Mother’s Day

Luke Tepper
The author's wife and son.

Hint: It doesn't involve flowers.

A recent survey found that more than three-quarters of adults would choose to celebrate Mother’s Day over Father’s Day if both parent appreciation holidays fell on the same day. I agree with the 78%, largely for the same reasons the participants in the survey enumerated. My wife spends countless off-work hours contemplating and anticipating our 14-month-old’s needs—Which foods can he consume? Which music classes should he attend? What is his room’s ideal temperature?—while my role is closer to that of Babe the Blue Ox.

On Mother’s Day people generally show their appreciation in the form of presents and attention. (The word “flowers” is searched more often in middle May than around Valentine’s Day.) Children prepare breakfast and write sweet cards, and the day usually ends with a picnic or a dinner in mom’s honor. For the past few weeks, multinational corporations have been utilizing all the screens that occupy my life to persuade me to buy their products. Last year I bought my wife a massage. This year I’m considering a scarf.

But there’s something a touch cynical, or at least incongruous, about Mother’s Day. Dads praise moms for the multitude of roles (breadwinner, caretaker, chef) they take on to help the family function, even as the guys don’t quite pull their own weight the rest of the year. So in addition to deciding between a rose-gold watch and white-gold earrings, dads should consider adapting their behavior in the following ways.

Pull your weight

Fathers today certainly contribute more to household responsibilities than their fathers did. In 1965, fathers spent 42 hours a week on the job and less than three hours on child care. Today’s dads look after the kids seven hours a week, and average 37 hours of paid work, per Pew Research Center. Moms tend to the kids for 14 hours a week, while averaging 21 hours on paid work.

When it comes to housework, dads put in about 10 hours a week compared with 18 for moms. Working mothers spend more time during the week on parental responsibilities that their husbands, and fathers even do less child care and housework on the weekends than moms. Dads still find the time to engage in more leisure activity. Eschewing a round of golf for babysitting duties should not be a headline-making event.

Support working moms

Only 12% of American workers have access to paid family leave, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By way of comparison, 26% of Americans believe in the existence of witches. Many pixels and column inches have highlighted just how much better other nations treat new families. (You can find a nice graphic here.)

Of course someone has to pay for this country’s insanely expensive child care. The average bill depends on where you live, with married couples in Colorado, for instance, allocating about 15% of their income to day care. Massachusetts parents fork over more than $16,500 a year. That’s around $2,500 less than in-state tuition and fees at UMass Amherst.

As child care costs have skyrocketed, women are leaving the workforce. In 1999, 23% of moms did not work outside the home. By 2012, that percentage had risen to 29%. And the average number of hours worked by mothers declined slightly between 1995 and 2011. The female labor force participation rate has dropped by about 3.5 percentage points over the past 15 years, now well below other advanced nations.

Meanwhile 60% of Americans believe that children are better off with a parent at home, per Pew. Mothers, and fathers for that matter, should stay at home if that’s what they feel is best for their family. But the idea that one choice is better than another strikes me as anachronistic. I for one am proud that Luke will grow up with a working mom.

I don’t mean to suggest that dads should spend mom’s Sunday engaged in a wonky debate about gender equality. But I do think that dads would do well to appreciate the disadvantages endemic to our society, and in the division of household chores. Its benefits may be longer lasting than flowers.

More From the First-Time Dad:

 

TIME Family

14 Mother’s Day Cards That Perfectly Sum Up Your Feelings

Show your love for that extraordinary woman in your life

  • For the Teacher

    fillinblank-card
    vineandthistle—etsy.com

    If you can’t find a card with the right sentiment, personalize this floral watercolor greeting by just filling in the blank. (Think of it as a maternal Mad Lib!) Hand-lettered and printed on white cardstock by Vine & Thistle, it’s a great way to thank your mom for being a teacher—in addition to chief cook, bottle-washer, and…fill in the blank!

    To buy: $4.50, etsy.com.

  • For the Right Choice

    stuck-best-card
    RowHouse14—etsy.com

    No, you don’t get to choose your parents, but this bold, simple statement will let Mom know that she was—and always will be—the right choice. The handmade, hefty white-linen card (from Row House 14, a small company specializing in bespoke cards and stationery) is blank inside and comes with a cheery yellow envelope.

    To buy: $4.50, etsy.com.

  • For the Whole Mom

    become-half-card
    RedLetterPaperCo—etsy.com

    Give mom the ultimate compliment: You want to be just like her—but probably won’t achieve that lofty goal. On the inside, the card reads “that would mean a whole lot.” And you have the option of adding this quote from Philippians 1:3 on the back: “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Made with recycled paper, the card is printed on heavy stock.

    To buy: $4, etsy.com.

  • For the Surrogate Mom

    stepmom-card
    Emily McDowell

    Perfect for a variety of influential women (a stepmom, mentor, aunt, and more) this card will let that special lady in your life know what a, well, maternal influence she’s had—and that we sometimes find honorary parents even outside the biological family. The colorful card is paired with a tan paper envelope.

    To buy: $4.50, emilymcdowell.com.

    For 25 percent off purchases of $10 or more, use coupon code REALSIMPLELOVE (valid through April 17).

  • For a Job Well-Done

    great-awesome-card
    CATCH22CARDS—etsy.com

    Celebrate Mom by complimenting her parenting skills (and give yourself a little pat on the back in the process) with this bold, tongue-in-cheek card. The simple message on the inside reads “Happy Mother’s Day,” and the card is paired with your choice of envelope. (We like the bright blue shown here.)

    To buy: $5, etsy.com.

  • From the Former Adolescent

    awkward-card_0
    DebbieDrawsFunny—etsy.com

    Sure, you remember those painful middle-school years—and probably wish you could have skipped right over them. But poke fun at your past on mom’s behalf with this throwback to the days of braces, big glasses, and frizzy hair. After all, Mom thought you were a swan even in your ugly-duckling days.

    To buy: $4, etsy.com.

  • From the Favorite Child

    favorite-child-card
    PinwheelPrintShop—etsy.com

    When it comes to her children, Mom’s not supposed to play favorites, of course, but you can still pretend you’re Number One (think Marcia, not Jan!) with this whimsically entitled sentiment. Printed on recycled paper, the card is hand-drawn and blank inside, so you can consider using it to apologize to your siblings!

    To buy: $4, etsy.com.

  • For the Mother-in-Law

    stuck-inlaw-card
    StudioFusco—etsy.com

    Mother-in-Laws have been the butt of more punch lines than Rodney Dangerfield or Henny Youngman could count. But let your partner’s mom in on the joke—and show her some love in the process—with this snarky and sweet card. She’ll appreciate you thought of her, too—all kidding aside.

    To buy: $3.50, etsy.com.

  • For the Best Mom Ever

    bestmomever-card
    RowHouse14—etsy.com

    For the daughter who doesn’t mince words, this bright card gives Mom the ultimate compliment—and in no uncertain terms. It’s perfect if you like to get right to the point, but the card’s inside is blank in case the cover’s sentiment is not, in fact, the end of the story. (Additional periods optional!)

    To buy: $4.50, etsy.com.

  • For the Best Friend and Therapist

    venn-card
    CypressDesignCo—etsy.com
  • For the Gilmore Girl

    lorelai-rory-card
    ShopMadz—etsy.com

    Best friends first, mother and daughter second? If the Gilmore Girls’ chatty, companionable mother-and-daughter dynamic reflects your rapid-fire relationship with your own mom, this greeting card is just right. Consider giving it to her at the local diner you both love—and maybe add a few “Gilmoreisms” on the note inside.

    To buy: $3.50, etsy.com.

  • For the Heart’s Home

    home-mom-card
    StrangerDays—etsy.com

    Whether you and your mom have a long-distance relationship or are practically neighbors, this card will show her that, zip codes and geography aside, your heart is always with her. Made by Stranger Days, a company that specializes in “greeting cards for emotional people,” the card comes with a matching envelope and is blank inside. It’s also suitable for framing.

    To buy: $4, etsy.com.

  • For the Chef

    when-dinner-card
    RowHouse14—etsy.com

    This card is both hilarious and, well, accurate. Though it may hit a bit too close to home (literally), it’ll make mom feel like she’s both needed and appreciated. If you really can’t cook, consider treating her to dinner on her special day—even if it’s just her favorite takeout. (As long as you clean up!)

    To buy: $4.50, etsy.com.

  • For the New Mom

    spit-up-card
    JulieAnnArt—etsy.com

    Give your favorite baby-beleaguered new mom a much-needed laugh (and maybe even a confidence boost) with this irreverent (and, uh, graphic) handmade card. She’ll love knowing that—even sleep-deprived, and covered in infant upchuck—she still looks great. This card comes with a tan paper envelope (but no bib, alas).

    To buy: $4.50, etsy.com.

    This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

    More from Real Simple:

TIME royals

Why Princess Charlotte Is 4th in Line for the Throne

Sophia, Electress of Hanover
Hulton Archive/Getty Images Sophia, Electress of Hanover

Three hundred years ago, the new royal princess might not have been in the line of succession

The new royal princess, Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, younger sister to the heir to the British throne, could ascend to the throne one day—but right now, she is fourth in line, after grandfather Prince Charles, father Prince William and her older brother George.

But had it not been for a now-obscure 1701 law, the baby might not have been royal at all, much less fourth in line for the throne. The ancestor that the royal baby has to thank for its place in the line of succession is Sophia, Electress of Hanover.

Here’s what happened: as explained by the official website of the British monarchy, the late 17th century wasn’t exactly a stable time in England. King James II had created some major disgruntlement by converting to Catholicism—the King of England is the head of the (Protestant) Church of England, so that was a problem—and ended up fleeing the country. His daughter, Mary II, and her husband, William of Orange (William III), were Protestant, and ended up being given the throne by Parliament.

Around that time, as that side of James II’s family took the throne—rather than the Catholic children produced by his second marriage—Parliament passed a bill that was an attempt to settle who would inherit the throne, in order to avoid future revolutions and wars, which had tended to happen whenever that question didn’t have a clear answer.

Except the people to whom the law applied didn’t exactly cooperate by producing heirs. By 1700, Mary was dead and William was sick. Mary’s sister Anne, who was next in line as the oldest Protestant child of James II, had no more surviving children.

So Parliament made another law, the Act of Settlement of 1701, that said that the heirs of James I’s granddaughter, Sophia of Hanover, would be the heirs to the throne. When Queen Anne died in 1714, Sophia’s son became King George I. George I’s great-great-great-granddaughter was Queen Victoria, whose great-great-granddaughter is the current Queen Elizabeth.

But were it not for that 1701 act, the Catholic children of James II might have made a claim to the throne—at least, that’s what the people who wrote the act worried—and the new baby would have been just a random, extremely distant cousin of the actual royals.

But the Act of Settlement isn’t the only law that affects the young princess’ place in line. Until recently, she could have been bumped down if she ever had a younger brother. In 2011, the Act of Settlement was tweaked before Prince George’s birth, to ensure succession would not be affected by gender or by marriage to a Catholic. (Previously, daughters came to the throne only when there were no sons available.)

Even so, the monarch is still prohibited from being Catholic him or herself—something that has drawn criticism from those who wanted the reforms to go even further.

TIME Family

Michelle Obama Shares Parenting Tips With David Letterman

First lady Michelle Obama and David Letterman on the set of "“Late Show with David Letterman" in New York City on April 30, 2015.
John Paul Filo—AP First lady Michelle Obama and David Letterman on the set of "“Late Show with David Letterman" in New York City on April 30, 2015.

The joy and terror of teenage hormones

Even the president and his first lady, it seems, are not immune to the terror of teenage hormones.

Michelle Obama stopped by The Late Show on Thursday and commiserated with David Letterman over the “cloud” that sometimes passes over his 11-year-old son, Harry. “All of a sudden, all we do is argue and reason escapes the planet!”

“Yeah, you’re in that phase,” replied Michelle, assuring him that it does go away, but that she’s currently dealing with that situation in the White House – but wouldn’t confirm whether it was Malia, 16, or Sasha, 13.

“We have one who generally stays here,” she said, holding her hand flat out in front of her, “and one we call our ‘Grumpy Cat.’ Our ‘Salty Biscuit.’ You just never know what you’re gonna get from that one!”

The first lady also shared that Malia recently obtained her driver’s license – and that it’s a great way to get her to run errands.

As Letterman pointed out, there’s nothing like raising children in the White House to add to the pressure of parenting. However, “we treat them normally,” said Michelle. “We don’t let our circumstance become an excuse for them.”

“See, I do,” Letterman joked. “My son thinks he’s being raised in the White House.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME Family

See This Dad’s Powerful Response to Principal over His Kids’ Absence from School

His children were going to support him at the Boston Marathon

Pennsylvania dad Mike Rossi had been planning for years to run the Boston Marathon and bring along his family to see him make it to the finish line.

“It was an important moment for our family,” Rossi tells PEOPLE about his decision to run this years’ grueling race. It was about teaching his kids about “accomplishing a goal and the value of hard work and dedication.”

Before the 26-mile race, his wife emailed teachers letting them know that their two third graders would be out of school for three days.

“They knew for months we were going,” says Rossi. “My wife emailed them and told them they would be out and why they wouldn’t be there. We were truthful: ‘Their father is going to run the Boston Marathon.’ ”

However, when they returned, Rossi got a letter, dated April 22, from Rochelle Marbury, the principal of Rydal Elementary School, saying the time off the children took had been officially marked as “unexcused.”

The letter also warned Rossi that, “an accumulation of unexcused absences can result in a referral to our attendance officer and a subsequent notice of a violation of the compulsory school attendance law.”

“It struck me as nasty,” says Rossi. “Getting the letter rubbed us the wrong way and I reacted.”

Rossi posted the letter on his personal Facebook page along with his own critical response. The letter and his response quickly went viral and Rossi has since become the father of the moment, viewed by many as fighting back against the zero-tolerance policy of the school district that is thought to be outdated and nonsensical.

In his response, Rossi argued that in the three days his children missed school they not only learned about “dedication, commitment, love, perseverance, overcoming adversity, civic pride, patriotism, American history, culinary arts and physical education” but “watched their father overcome injury, bad weather, the death of a loved one and many other obstacles to achieve an important personal goal.”

“While I appreciate your concern for our children’s education, I can promise you they learned as much in the five days we were in Boston as they would in an entire year in school,” he wrote.

While in Boston, Rossi wrote that they walked the Freedom Trail, visited the site of the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, and visited the graves of several signers of the Declaration of Independence.

“It was a life-teaching moment they will never forget,” he says. “It was teaching them lessons about life. It was one of those moments. In 25 years, they will remember being with dad at the Boston Marathon.”

In a letter posted on the Abington School District website, school board president Raymond McGarry wrote about his support for principal Marbury and their district policy.

“It’s up to an individual family to decide whether a particular trip is worth taking their children out of school,” he said. “And when that happens, it’s the school district’s obligation to let the parents know what the law and policies are – and what the potential consequences are if the policies are abused.”

Since his post went viral, Rossi says he met up with school officials to discuss the policy Wednesday.

“It was a good meeting,” says Rossi. “It was productive. They are obviously not thrilled how this has taken off and the light it has cast them in. It was not my intention. It is this policy I don’t agree with. It is one of those ‘zero-tolerance policies so no one has to make a decision’ policies.”

Rossi says he has no regrets about posting his response but says he feels badly about the viral attacks directed towards the principal.

“The principal unfortunately has become the bad guy and has taken a lot of heat and personal attacks and I feel really badly about that,” he says. “I didn’t intend that to happen. My letter was not personal. I have got some personal attacks myself. It should not be me against the principal. I had a disagreement with the policy and let’s have some good dialogue about it.”

“I feel strongly as a parent that we have the right to be able to take our kids on a trip like that or any other trip,” he adds. “I was just trying to say how important this trip was.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

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TIME Culture

The Dark Origins of 11 Classic Nursery Rhymes

The origins of 'Jack and Jill' aren’t as clean-cut as you imagined

In the canon of great horror writing, Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, and Mary Shelley tend to dominate the craft. But Mother Goose isn’t too far behind. Yes, that fictional grande dame of kiddie poems has got a bit of a dark streak, as evidenced by the unexpectedly sinister theories surrounding the origins of these 11 well-known nursery rhymes.

  • 1. Baa, Baa, Black Sheep (1731)

    Though most scholars agree that “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” is about the Great Custom, a tax on wool that was introduced in 1275, its use of the color black and the word “master” led some to wonder whether there was a racial message at its center. Its political correctness was called into question yet again in the latter part of the 20th century, with some schools banning it from being repeated in classrooms, and others simply switching out the word “black” for something deemed less offensive. In 2011, news.com.au reported on the proliferation of “Baa, Baa Rainbow Sheep” as an alternative.

  • 2. Goosey Goosey Gander (1784)

    It’s hard to imagine that any rhyme with the phrase “goosey goosey” in its title could be described as anything but feel good. But it’s actually a tale of religious persecution, during the days when Catholic priests would hide themselves in order to say their Latin-based prayers, a major no-no at the time—not even in the privacy of one’s own home. In the original version, the narrator comes upon an old man “who wouldn’t say his prayers. So I took him by his left leg. And threw him down the stairs.” Ouch!

  • 3. Jack and Jill (1765)

    Admit it, you fooled around with the lyrics to “Jack and Jill” a bit yourself when you were younger, turning what you thought was an innocent poem into something a little bit naughty. But its origins aren’t as clean-cut as you probably imagined. One of the most common theories surrounding the story’s origin is that it’s about France’s Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, who were both found guilty of treason and subsequently beheaded. The only problem is that those events occurred nearly 30 years after “Jack and Jill” was first written. The more likely possibility is that it’s an account of King Charles I’s attempt to reform the tax on liquid measures. When Parliament rejected his suggestion, he instead made sure that the volume was reduced on half- and quarter-pints, known as jacks and gills, respectively.

  • 4. London Bridge Is Falling Down (1744)

    In 2006, Fergie got saucy with some of this classic kid tune’s lyrics. But the original song wasn’t much better. Depending on whom you ask, “London Bridge is Falling Down” could be about a 1014 Viking attack, child sacrifice, or the normal deterioration of an old bridge. But the most popular theory seems to be that first one. More specifically: the alleged destruction of London Bridge at the hands of Olaf II of Norway some time in the early 1000s. (“Alleged” because some historians don’t believe that attack ever took place.) The song’s popularity around the world is often cited as further proof that it was the Vikings who created it, believing that they brought the tune to the many places they traveled. Oh, and that whole child sacrifice thing? That’s an idea that is also often debated (there’s no archaeological evidence to support it), but the theory goes that in order to keep London Bridge upright, its builders believed that it must be built on a foundation of human sacrifice, and that those same humans—mostly children—would help to watch over the bridge and maintain its sturdiness. Which we’re pretty sure isn’t a practice they teach you in architecture school.

  • 5. Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary (1744)

    “Contrary” is one way to describe a murderous psychopath. This popular English nursery rhyme, which reads like a solicitation for gardening advice, is actually a recounting of the homicidal nature of Queen Mary I of England, a.k.a. Bloody Mary. A fierce believer in Catholicism, her reign as queen—from 1553 to 1558—was marked by the execution of hundreds of Protestants. (Silver bells and cockle shells are torture devices, not garden accouterments.)

  • 6. Three Blind Mice (1805)

    “Three Blind Mice” is supposedly yet another ode to Bloody Mary’s reign, with the trio in question believed to be a group of Protestant bishops—Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Radley, and The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer—who (unsuccessfully) conspired to overthrow the queen and were burned at the stake for their heresy. Critics suggest that the blindness in the title refers to their religious beliefs.

  • 7. Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo

    No, there’s nothing particularly inflammatory about the lines “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo, Catch a tiger by his toe.” But there is when you consider that the word “tiger” is a relatively new development in this counting rhyme, as a replacement for the n-word. Even with the lyrical switch-out, any reference to the poem still has the ability to offend. In 2004, two passengers sued Southwest Airlines was for intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress, following an incident where a flight attendant used the rhyme in a humorous fashion during takeoff when she told passengers: “Eeny meeny miny mo, Please sit down it’s time to go.” (The court sided with the airline.)

  • 8. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (1840)

    “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” is often sung as part of a children’s game. According to historian R. S. Duncan, a former governor of England’s Wakefield Prison, the song originated with that 420-year-old institution’s female prisoners, who were exercised around a mulberry tree. Which is probably not the connotation your six-year-old self had in mind.

  • 9. Rock-a-Bye Baby (1765)

    One interpretation of this famous lullaby is that it is about the son of King James II of England and Mary of Modena. It is widely believed that the boy was not their son at all, but a child who was brought into the birthing room and passed off as their own in order to ensure a Roman Catholic heir to the throne.

  • 10. Ring Around the Rosie (1881)

    Considering that some of today’s classic nursery rhymes are more than two centuries old, there are often several theories surrounding their origins—and not a lot of sound proof about which argument is correct. But of all the alleged nursery rhyme backstories, “Ring Around the Rosie” is probably the most infamous. Though its lyrics and even its title have gone through some changes over the years, the most popular contention is that the sing-songy verse refers to the 1665 Great Plague of London.“The rosie” is the rash that covered the afflicted, the smell from which they attempted to cover up with “a pocket full of posies.” The plague killed nearly 15 percent of the country’s population, which makes the final verse—“Ashes! Ashes! We all fall down”—rather self-explanatory.

    But Snopes labels this reading false, and quotes folklorist Philip Hiscock with a more likely suggestion: That the nursery rhyme probably has its origins “in the religious ban on dancing among many Protestants in the nineteenth century, in Britain as well as here in North America. Adolescents found a way around the dancing ban with what was called in the United States the ‘play-party.’ Play-parties consisted of ring games which differed from square dances only in their name and their lack of musical accompaniment. They were hugely popular, and younger children got into the act, too.”

  • 11. Old Mother Hubbard (1805)

    To many, “Old Mother Hubbard” is not a mother at all—nor a woman. The poem is speculated to have been written as a mockery of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, whose refusal to grant an annulment to King Henry VIII, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, led to his political downfall.

    This article originally appeared on Mental Floss.

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TIME society

My Family Was Collateral Damage in a War Against Immigrants

us-mexico-border
Getty Images

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

A single illegal border crossing broke apart my famliy for good

On November 20, 2014, President Obama gave a historic speech on immigration. Despite how profoundly personal this issue is to me, I didn’t watch. For the past decade, I have deliberately avoided any mention of immigration reform—hearing or reading about it causes my chest to tighten and my stomach to churn.

The topic inevitably brings me back to a window in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in 2004. The five minutes I spent there damaged my life irrevocably. With the swipe of a pen, a blank-faced clerk denied my husband’s application for a marriage visa and shattered our family.

We had met four years earlier, working as food servers at a Mexican restaurant in a small town in Southern California. We became fast friends, then fell in love, spending hours talking after the restaurant closed and until the sun came up. He told me about how his mother had died when he was young, and his father descended into depression and debilitating alcoholism. He and his nine brothers and sisters had to fend for themselves. He arrived in the U.S. at 17, finished high school, and got three jobs to support his younger siblings in Mexico. And because he had entered the country illegally, he did all this without documents.

We got married in 2002, then moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, so I could earn a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard University. We had a beautiful, irrepressible baby boy. On the weekends, we’d go to the park and I would watch my husband do cartwheels and make faces for our giggling baby. At night, we would pile into the cheap black futon in our one-bedroom apartment. We were happy and grateful.

But we knew we couldn’t build a stable life for our son without regularizing my husband’s immigration status. So we applied for a marriage visa and, about one year later, were relieved to get the letter approving us for a visa and setting an appointment at the American Consulate in Ciudad Juarez on April 17, 2004. We had to leave the country for our appointment because anyone applying for a visa at that time had to have legal standing to receive an appointment inside the U.S. Since my husband did not have legal documents to be here in the United States, he was required to accept an appointment in Mexico. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) knew he had entered illegally, and an official representative informed me that because of his illegal presence, there would likely be a fine and a waiting period of a few months before he would be issued his visa.

So we flew to California, left our son with family, and hopped a bus to Ciudad Juarez. The morning of our appointment we found the waiting room of the American Consulate filled with couples like us. I had a thick packet of paperwork, including letters attesting to my husband’s good character from his high school teacher, city councilman, and the local police department. He had done his physical evaluation. We were as ready as we could be.

The clerk called us to the window. My husband raised his right hand and promised to tell the truth. She never looked at our documents. She only asked one question: Have you ever crossed illegally besides your initial entrance? Yes, he answered. He had returned to visit his ailing grandmother before she passed away. The clerk then shoved a piece of paper at us and informed us that my husband was barred from entering the United States for life. He was not coming home with me and never would. We were in utter shock. Can we appeal? No. In 10 years you can request a waiver, but it isn’t something many people get. It has to be special circumstances, like you have a child who is dying. She called the next couple.

When I returned to Cambridge without my family, my expectant friends were bewildered. This man was my husband, he had no criminal record, and we had an American child! Didn’t that mean he could legalize? The answer was no.

There had been no way I could care for a toddler alone while studying and working two jobs, so I left my son in Mexico, too. I came back to an empty crib and an empty bed. My husband did not come home late after his shift at a restaurant and crawl into bed, pulling me to his warm chest. My son did not cry out for chocolate when we walked past our corner bakery. I felt as though my limbs had been torn from my body. My family was gone.

I was forced to relive my trauma every time I told my story to anyone I thought could help me. I managed to find a top immigration lawyer who agreed to see me pro bono. He delivered the bad news. The permanent bar was because of the second illegal crossing. There was absolutely nothing he could do.

There is a legal principle called proportionality, which says the punishment should fit the crime. My husband had not broken any criminal laws. By visiting his grandmother, he had violated immigration regulations. For that, he was given a life sentence with no parole.

My family became collateral damage in a war against immigrants. My marriage seemed worthless in the eyes of the law—a law that left my innocent son with parents broken apart against their will. It was cruel. Draconian.

Our justice system is weighted heavily toward keeping families together. Children are sent back to abusive homes on a regular basis on the principle of the sanctity of family. But this was not the case with my family. In my son’s adoring eyes, his father is a superhero. Yet for over a decade now,my government has thrown up roadblock after roadblock to keep them apart.

I know that there are thousands of children like my son all over the country who have lost a loving parent as a result of our immigration laws. The damage—trauma, depression, anxiety—is permanent. Such losses poison their childhoods and affect them into adulthood.

Months later, I finally read President Obama’s speech on immigration. His executive order prevents people from being deported if they have American children. It’s designed to protect kids like my son until Congress passes something more permanent. But a federal judge in Texas has put the executive order on hold; an appeals court heard oral arguments on April 17 and will rule soon, but the case may eventually go to the Supreme Court. In the meantime I think of these children, and my son, as I pray for a ruling that will keep other families from suffering as we have.

Rebekah Rodriguez-Lynn studied politics at UCLA and public policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She lives in Southern California with her son and her chihuahua. She wrote this for Thinking L.A., a partnership of UCLA and Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

30 of the Best Parents in Literature

Atticus Finch ranks at the top as one of the great heroes and parents of American literature

It’s hard to find good parents in fiction. A lot of books deal either with the lack of a parent or a parent’s complete unsuitability for the role. But there are a few good ones out there, parents who make you think, “Gee, I wish my parents were like that.” Behold: Parents (or parental types) we wish were ours—or that we wish we could be.

  • 1. Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird

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    HarperLuxe 'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee

    The widowed father of Jem and Scout, Atticus Finch is one of the great heroes of American literature. Steering his young children along the path of moral rectitude is hard in the Jim Crow South, and when Atticus, a lawyer, unsuccessfully defends an innocent black man from charges that he raped a white woman, it becomes even more difficult. But his own belief in rightness, morality, and good, even in the face of an unfair world, is communicated to his kids—and to the world. His impact on the legal profession, especially in the South, was also profound: The Atticus Finch Society, part of the Alabama Law Foundation, was founded to serve the legal needs of the poor and named after a fictional lawyer who “epitomizes the type of professional, and person, lawyers strive to be.”

  • 2. and 3. Alex and Kate Murry from A Wrinkle in Time

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    Time Quintet 'A Wrinkle in Time' by Madeleine L'Engle

    Tesseracts are real, and Meg and Charles Murry’s scientist father has disappeared into one—and it’s up to these two brilliant but socially awkward children to save him. When it was published in 1962, A Wrinkle in Time was a sci-fi gift to all those nerdy kids out there for whom Star Trek hadn’t yet been invented. And the Murry parents—beautiful and smart microbiologist Kate and tesseract physicist Alex—made being scientists seem so cool. Who wouldn’t want parents like that?

  • 4. and 5. The Weasleys from Harry Potter Series

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    Scholastic 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' by J.K. Rowling

    Harry Potter wanted them to adopt him—and we wouldn’t mind either. Though Harry was already remarkably well-adjusted for a child who’d been forced to sleep in a spider-filled cupboard under the stairs, his friendship with the Weasleys showed him what a loving family really looked like. Mom Molly was kind, fiercely protective of her children—her battle with Bellatrix Lestrange in the final book was immensely satisfying—and knitted a mean jumper. Dad Arthur was slightly bumbling, loved Muggle stuff, and was still a kid at heart. Best of all, they loved each other as much as they loved their children.

  • 6. Marmee from Little Women

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    Penguin Books Australia 'Little Women' by Louisa May Alcott

    Marmee is the glue that holds the Little Women together through the Civil War and their father’s long absence. Kind and charitable, she’s their moral compass, their comfort in troubled times. Without her, the four girls—Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth—are lost.

  • 7. and 8. Mr. and Mrs. Little from Stuart Little

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    Harper & Row 'Stuart Little' by E.B. White

    Interspecies procreation is typically cause for concern, but not for Mr. and Mrs. Little. When their son, Stuart, was born a mouse, the kind (though perhaps a bit dense) Littles treated him just like any other member of the family. A member of the family who had a long tail, whiskers, slept in a cigarette box and could climb up lamp cords.

  • 9. and 10. Ma and Pa Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie

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    HarperCollins 'Little House on the Prairie' by Laura Ingalls Wilder

    Though Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories of growing up in the Indian Territory, now Kansas, in the mid- to late-19th century are actually autobiographical, the books tend to be found in the children’s fiction part of the bookstore, so they make the list. Pa was a true pioneer with a serious case of wanderlust: He could build a house by hand and skin a rabbit, but still remained a gentleman, kind, courteous and upstanding. Ma Ingalls, a true pioneer wife, instructed her children to treat others with care.

  • 11. and 12. Mr. and Mrs. Quimby from Ramona Series

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    HarperCollins 'The Complete Ramona Collection' by Beverly Cleary

    Ramona Quimby, age 8, is a bit of a handful. Her imagination—and she’s got lots of it—often gets her into situations, like the time she went to school with her pajamas under her clothes because she was pretending to be a fireman. Or the time she put her doll in the oven. Or the time she squeezed an entire tube of toothpaste into the sink.

    Her parents, Bob and Dorothy, meanwhile, are real parents, who have to deal with real things like quitting smoking, having children young, getting laid off, and 8-year-olds who accidentally dye themselves blue. And they even get in fights, like real parents do. But throughout it all, they manage to remain patient and affectionate with their children; they’re not perfect, but they’re pretty good.

  • 13. – 16. Baloo the Bear, Bagheera the Black Panther, and the Wolves from The Jungle Book

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    Dover Publications 'The Jungle Book' by Rudyard Kipling

    After they save him from becoming tiger Shere Khan’s meal, Father Wolf and Mother Wolf raise the hairless man-cub Mowgli as one of their own. But it’s up to Baloo the sleepy bear and Bagheera the panther to teach the boy the Law of the Jungle—thereby becoming the coolest godparents in the world.

  • 17. and 18. The Gilbreths from Cheaper by the Dozen

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    Crowell Co 'Cheaper By the Dozen' by Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

    So, the Gilbreths were actual people, not fiction, and this charming book, published in 1948, is a biography written by their children. But—and we mean this as a compliment—the parents are so lovely as to almost seem made up. Frank Gilbreth and his wife, Lillian, are world-famous efficiency experts whose studies in time and motion changed the way people worked. If Frank had his way, they would have also changed the way people raised children, especially after their incredible fecundity produced 12 kids. Having an even dozen children meant that the Gilbreths could apply some of their expertise in their Montclair, New Jersey, home. Hilarity ensues, as does an overwhelming sense of warmth and happiness.

    The two children wrote a follow up book, Belles on Their Toes, recounting what happened after Frank’s death in 1924, which left Lillian with a house full of children, the youngest just 2 years old, and a business to run. Mother Lillian managed to keep it all together, with good humor and warmth, and the book manages to stay away from the maudlin.

  • 19. and 20. The Cuthberts from Anne of Green Gables

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    Random House Children's Books 'Anne of Green Gables' by L.M. Montgomery

    In L.M. Montgomery’s series about the red-haired orphan Anne Shirley, the Cuthberts are a brother and sister who, living together alone on their Prince Edward Island farm with no prospective children, decide they need to take in an orphan to help out with the work. They’d wanted a boy; they got Anne—spirited, imaginative, dramatic Anne. The two grow to love and care for her deeply in different ways: Where Matthew quietly encourages Anne’s flights of fancy and frivolity, Marilla offers a steely structure and hidden warmth. Matthew’s death from a heart attack at the end of Anne of Green Gables, the first book in the series, is eye-wateringly tragic, but Anne’s devotion to stern Marilla is a testament to the strength of their relationship.

  • 21. and 22. Caractacus and Mimsie Pott from Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car

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    Candlewick 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' by Ian Fleming

    To be clear: this is not the Disney film Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang featuring Dick Van Dyke (although having most any character Dick Van Dyke has ever played as a father would be pretty great, from Rob Petrie to Bert to Mark Sloan). In Ian Fleming’s 1964 children’s book, Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang: The Magical Car, there are two Potts, mother Mimsie and father Caractacus, a Royal Navy Commander and crack-pot inventor who comes across the magnificent car with a rich inner life of its own. Potts is a fun dad, one who tells his children, “Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes,’ otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.” When their twin 8-year-old boy and girl are kidnapped by gangsters with a dastardly plan to rob a Parisian chocolate shop, the Potts and their loyal car set off to rescue them. International intrigue and gadgetized cars are pure vintage Fleming, but the love between an adventurous father and his children speaks to the Bond author’s softer side—he wrote the book for his own son, Caspar, but died before seeing it in print.

  • 23. Carson Drew from The Nancy Drew Mystery Series

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    Grosset & Dunlap 'The Secret of the Old Clock' by Carolyn Keene

    Nancy Drew, the great girl detective, wouldn’t have been quite so successful if it hadn’t been for both the encouragement and neglect of her father, important River Heights lawyer Carson Drew. The elder Drew’s attitude towards his daughter changed as the book series continued, possibly due in part to changing parental attitudes—leaving your 16-year-old daughter to her own devices while you’re away on business is the kind of thing that seemed like a good idea before Facebook and hashtag parties. But throughout, he remained a supporter of his sleuth daughter, encouraging her exploits, helping her figure out clues, and even relying on her when he needed help himself.

  • 24. and 25. Ben Moore and Cillian Boyd from The Knife of Never Letting Go, Chaos Walking Series

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    Candlewick 'The Knife of Never Letting Go' by Patrick Ness

    Raising a child right is hard enough; raising him right when everything around you is so incredibly wrong is even more difficult. In Patrick Ness’s The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first in the masterful Chaos Walking trilogy, Todd Hewitt, nearly 13, is the last boy in Prentisstown, a damned settlement on a new world where the women and half the men were killed nearly a decade before. The remaining men are afflicted with “the Noise”—the constant cacophony of the thoughts of almost every living thing around. Ben Moore and Cillian Boyd are Todd’s adoptive parents, who took him in when his own were killed. But since then, while they’ve raised him, loved him, literally listened to every thought in his head, and instilled in him a sense of morality, they’ve been secretly plotting his escape … even though it almost surely means their own deaths.

  • 26. Sam Gribley’s Dad from My Side of the Mountain

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    Puffin Books 'My Side of the Mountain' by Jean Craighead George

    Talk about free-range parenting. When Sam Gribley gets tired of living in his large family’s overcrowded New York apartment, he does what any self-sufficient 12-year-old would do: Teaches himself wilderness survival from a book he found in the public library and sells magazine subscriptions until he can afford a bus ticket to the Catskills, where he plans to live off the land at his family’s abandoned farm. And his dad lets him. No, really. But what could have become a tale of terrible parental irresponsibility is, in fact, a story of one boy’s self-reliance and passion for nature and the parent who trusted him enough to let him dive off the grid. In the end, Dad Gribley, inspired by Sam, decides that living in the city is no place for a family and moves the entire brood up to the abandoned farm. Fresh air for all!

  • 27. Mame Dennis from Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade

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    Broadway Books 'Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade' by Patrick Dennis

    The flamboyant, eccentric, wonderful Auntie Mame of the 1955 book of the same title is absolutely the kind of accidental parent we’d love to have. In 1928, 10-year-old Patrick Dennis becomes the ward of his father’s unflappable flapper sister, Mame Dennis, after his parents’ deaths. Hers is a boozy, glamorous world populated by artists, poets, and bohemians that, to conventional types at least, would hardly seem suitable for a little boy. Yet Mame carves out a place for Patrick—involving a truly avant garde nude elementary school, among other things—and their tender relationship endures Mame’s scandalous society and wild whims, her rich husband who fell off the Matterhorn, and even Patrick’s atrocious fiancé.

    The book was a sort of quasi-fictional memoir and “Patrick Dennis” was the pseudonym of the enormously witty Edward Everett Tanner III, who based Mame on his own aunt, the self-described “ultimate Greenwich Village eccentric” Marion Tanner. Tanner’s own life was no less a study in eccentricity: He was an ambulance driver in World War II, wrote numerous best-selling books under pseudonyms, led, as his Random House biography says, “a double life as a bisexual man and a conventional husband and father,” and was a character of some renown in New York’s bohemian scene until financial ruin led him to spend the last years of his life as a butler in Palm Beach.

  • 28. Katie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

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    Harper 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn' by Betty Smith

    In Betty Smith’s 1943 coming of age novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, protagonist Francie’s favorite parent, the parent who seems to get her, isn’t her mother, Katie; it’s her creative, sentimental father, Johnny. But after Johnny’s alcoholism consumes him, making it virtually impossible for him to hold a job, it’s Katie who keeps the family afloat. Katie’s grit and determination that her children should have a better life than she had is the kind of tough love that gives Francie the tools she’ll need to survive.

  • 29. Mrs. Frisby from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh

    mrs-frisby-rats-nimh-cover
    Aladdin 'Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh' by Robert C. O'Brien

    Sometimes being a parent is about doing things that absolutely terrify you for the good of your children. Mrs. Frisby, heroine of Robert O’Brien’s 1971 children’s book about the wonder and horror of scientific experimentation, is kind, sweet, and, when it comes down to it, tough as nails. Though the titular “rats of NIMH” had the benefit of laboratory experimentation that made them super smart and super strong (although possessing a somewhat questionable moral compass), Mrs. Frisby is just a regular field mouse. Still, it’s her bravery – drugging a cat! – and selflessness that saves her family and the rats themselves. Hats off to you, Mrs. F.!

  • 30. The Man from The Road

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    Vintage Books 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy

    Like much of his work, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is grim. Really, really grim. But the post-apocalyptic travelogue is also a testament to the love between a father, the unnamed man, and his son. The Man is the kind of parent we’d like to have in the aftermath of some cataclysmic world event. We just desperately hope we wouldn’t ever need him.

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    This article originally appeared on Mental Floss.

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