Dear moms of my village,
It’s impossible to be a mom in 2018 and not rely on a village of other women—mostly moms—to keep the trains of life running at all, let alone on time. Whether it’s rides for the kids to practice or home from school, someone to listen while I vent on a bad day about how much I hate everything, or friends to laugh at my jokes or just say ‘good job’, all of it sustains me. And with email, Chat, Twitter, and Facebook now making it so easy to feel connected to my mom pals—who are also often work pals—from far and wide, I always know that I have a cheerleader and honest critic nearby.
And we all need that cheerleader—and critic—but those of us whose work—and opinions— are public, sometimes depend more on our village to help us beat back or just ignore the haters that attack our work and impugn our character. An army of smart, strong, and informed moms driven by the mission of educating ALL KIDS well and empowering families to make it happen? Yeah, nobody wants to mess with that force or nature.
When my local school committee, Town Council or even the state General Assembly does something—or fails to do something—and I am seething mad, I have my peeps who will listen to my rants that are best described as a reliable smorgasbord of profanity, data, and juvenile insults. I am not at all proud of this tendency but I am so very grateful to have a village of local moms who are committed to all kids—yes, other people’s kids from every zip code—and who help me to feel less crazy when that is precisely what I need. A special shout out to Jessica, Amy, Jody, Beth, Lori, Victoria, Mary and Christie here in Little Rhody and to Keri just across the border in Massachusetts—y’all know that side of me when my head explodes and yet you somehow manage to stay instead of run for cover. I love you all for that.
But it’s not just the local madness for which I rely on my edu-posse of moms. Nope, it’s a national kind of awesome that defines my village. Whether it’s Vesia in Tennessee or Gwen and Athena in Connecticut, or Inga, Colleen, and Kendall in Texas, or Beth in Minnesota, or Laura in New Jersey, or Maureen and Sharonda in Chicago, or Alina in New York or Shawnta and Cheryl in Indiana or Lety, Marisol, Cindy, and Alma in California or the countless others who I don’t know as well or talk to as often but who are out there everyday on the front lines for children. The dyslexia advocates and the journalists like Emily Hanford who are starting real conversations that are vital to kids’ futures and so long overdue. The LaShawn Robinsons of Hartford taking the state to federal court because of her commitment to children. The Sarah Carpenters in Memphis, literally lifting up the parents and children of Memphis. All moms (and some grandmas!) putting themselves out there because they care deeply about other mothers and believe that they deserve access to a high quality school that is the right fit for their children.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart; I would not be able to continue in this work without you. You “get me” and THAT is so huge because it means that I feel at home the moment I see you or even just hear your voice or see your name in my inbox or DMs.
And then there’s the part of my village that helps me, in real time, to get my kids where they need to be and make this whole mom thing work. The village that knows the date of that upcoming meeting, or the size sweatshirt I should order for my middle son, or the amount we owe for the coach’s gift, or where I can get another copy of the permission slip (because my dog actually did eat the first one.) You are the friends who make me laugh with quips about how messy my car is or how I’m the only person you know who goes to bed when the dishes in the sink are taller than she is. You understand me when I’ve hit that rare but inevitable melt down status and am SO DONE with the practices and practice jerseys, and white baseball pants, and schedule changes, and end of year events for my boys and I just want to scream and then watch Netflix with my dogs. Alone. You soooooo get it when my non-stop mind (think pinball machine plus laptop with 100 tabs open) sends me into that place where I’m so all over the place that I’m overwhelmed and don’t know where to start….and you help me start. And when I’m away for work, you are on it to help Jim get everyone where they need to be. And when I never have cash—but actually need it—you always have money for me to borrow. (I probably owe a lot of you money come to think of it so feel free to send me my tab!) And even when I may run out of gas and need a gas can STAT—with gas in it–you know how to make that happen too. (Even though Jenn thought I was kidding when I called, she ultimately sent her husband to save me…it probably helped that I had her kids with me at the time. Hilarious. But let this be a reminder to all of you not to charge your phone in your car when your gas light is already on. Bad idea.)
But all joking aside, it is Thanksgiving time and I am so very thankful for all of you. I can’t name everyone because there are too many, it ebbs and flows based on the sports season we are in, and I’ll inadvertently leave someone off the list and then feel terrible when each and everyone one of you already knows who you are. Maybe your main role is to make me laugh. Thank you. Maybe you help to keep me organized—well, maybe less disorganized is a better way to say it but still, thank you. Maybe you literally drive my children to or from practices or games because neither Jim nor I can get there? (or I’m watching a movie and don’t want to go pick up and miss the ending…right Kristen?) Maybe you fight battles with me at the statehouse. Thank you. Maybe you make me chicken soup and meatballs or bring me flowers or mail me cookies after surgery. Thank you. Maybe you are always there as a sounding board and an honest critic and a provider of different perspectives. Thank you. Maybe you notice when I just seem ‘off’ and say just the right thing. Thank you. Maybe you distract me from my hyper focus on work with a call to talk about some funny thing that just happened or what I’m going to wear to an upcoming event. Thank you. Maybe you come to me for advice because you value my opinion. Thank you. Maybe you tell me to shut the hell up when what I’m saying is ridiculous. Thank you for that too.
I’m grateful for all of you because you make my life–and me—better. So, Happy Thanksgiving and please know that there is a middle aged lady in Rhode Island, still in pajamas and no bra, but filled with gratitude for you. If she didn’t need to clean the house, shop, and cook for 25 people tomorrow, she would spend even more time telling you all the reasons she loves and admires you. But for now, this little blog post will just have to do.
P.S. This video is not me at all because I’m not all about a clean house (though the yelling is definitely me!) but it is so funny (and yes, does remind me of some folks I know) that I wanted to share. “Get rid of the couches, we can’t let people know we SIT!” Enjoy a laugh while I procrastinate about cleaning my house. And cooking. And finding the silverware I need. Happy Turkey Day everyone. I promise to be wearing a bra by tomorrow.