I remember sitting at a black tie gala last year, enjoying a glass of fancy shmancy red wine and having a conversation that kinda changed my life… or at the very least, my perspective on parenting.
I wish I could say I often found myself in floor length gowns and rooms filled with men in penguin suits, but I’m usually just in sweats, watching Happy Feet with a toddler. I’m an activist who feels more slacktivist most days because I want to change the world… but I’ll have to do it in between changing diapers.
However, on this particular evening I was invited to DC for a “ball” (like a legit ball, it even had that word in the title) by one of the most amazing activists I know. Her name is Carol Crossed and she started a group called Feminists for Nonviolent Choices. She’s an anti-war protester, she fights human trafficking, and she’s basically devoted her entire life to ending violence through the promotion of compassion and peace. In short, she’s my hero.
I bumped into her daughter while standing in line for the bar, and we got to chatting about her mom. She went on and on about how amazing her mother was and all of the stuff she’d so passionately worked on over the years. In that moment I remember thinking, I can only hope that one day my children will sing my praises even half this much! Because, if we’re being honest, probably most of us don’t feel like our kids really “get” the importance of what we do for ourselves, whether it’s fulfilling our passions through hobbies, or trying to give back to others. All they know is, “Mom’s off doing her thing,” but they probably have no clue that what we’re really doing is refilling our souls so we can pour into their lives something other than just apple juice.
Mine are finally getting old enough to realize my heart for women and girls who are experiencing unplanned pregnancies. At this point even the younger ones now know the story about how I became pregnant with their big brother while still in high school. And from time to time they even think my work with New Wave Feminists is kinda cool, but sometimes they just wanna go to the park and in those moments, New Wave Feminists is not cool. They want the park, screw feminism.
The bartender handed me my wine and Carol’s daughter and I parted ways. A few minutes later I saw Carol across the room and she invited me to come sit next to her at a table.
It’s always really amazing when you can visit with someone you admire so much and just listen and learn from their life experiences. She had no clue that what she was about to say so flippantly would probably stick with me for the rest of my momming career.
I told her about running into her daughter and all the wonderful things she had to say about growing up with her as a mother. Without missing a beat Carol humbly rejected the praise and said, “No, no, it was never like that. They’re remembering me through rose colored glasses. I remember one time when they were still very little, I was working on a campaign to End Hunger in Africa. I was in the zone, sending letters and writing press releases when suddenly my son comes in complaining that he was hungry. I looked up and it was 8 o’clock and already dark outside. I figured I better go and order them a pizza because here I was trying to end hunger in Africa, but I completely forgot to end it in my own house!”
We laughed and laughed, and I suddenly didn’t feel so alone or selfish for needing more… for finding fulfillment in something outside of our home. My husband and children fill my life with so much joy, but like most of you, I need something that’s just mine. Something that gives me even more of a purpose because ultimately my family will reap the benefit of having a whole mother. And I doubt I’ll hear them complaining about getting a whole pizza too.
When they see us feeding our souls it shows them how to live. I want my sons and daughters to grow up with a passion for others. They’re going to need that, especially growing up on the outskirts of a city as affluent as Dallas. I want to raise world changers not channel changers. When they see something screwed up happening, I want them to get off the couch and do something about it, because the best thing I can ever do as an activist is create other activists.
And who knows, maybe one day my children will even be telling some creepy fan girl in line at the bar how much they admired my passion even if it meant some personal sacrifices on their behalf. However, unlike the uncanny coincidence of Carol solving world hunger abroad AND at home, my selfish hope is that I can stick with helping girls in crisis pregnancies abroad while still just solving world hunger at home. 😉3