I will preface the following by saying that I have great kids who are lovely young people. That said, they were terrible babies. From the colic to the crying and the sleepless nights, both were a nightmare.
Perhaps some of that can be attributed to poor infant parenting, but until they were 6 months old, it was tough going. After my husband and I had cleaned up poop that our son had shot across the room and onto a wall, we reminded each other, “It’s got to get better. People keep doing it.”
We did keep doing it. We had another child because memories are short when it comes to the hard times. No longer parental newbies, we thought, “Surely this one will be better.”
Alas, no. Instead of pooping on us, our daughter was an infant vomiter. She could have been in “The Exorcist IV.”
We were shocked that she gained weight at every checkup because at most meals, a good chunk of it came back up. We stopped going out to eat for almost a year because we realized it wasn’t fair for waitstaff to clean up someone else’s puke.
We didn’t have another one after that, but like most parents — no matter how tough the road, no matter how much poop and vomit you clean up, no matter the hours you could have spent sleeping in — we wouldn’t give it up for a second.
Even the teenage years are worth it. Having the opportunity to love and nurture tiny blobs who mature into functioning adults is a privilege.
Advocacy is not unlike parenting. It’s a long row to sow, and you don’t do it for the door prizes. In fact, when I compare the two, the similarities are evident.
Every day in our community, I meet and work next to people who are amazing human beings who deal with everything in the chart. They are raising terrible babies who aren’t little people, but issues that need to be addressed, wrongs that need to be righted and fights that need to be won. They give voice to those who don’t know how to speak. They do this not for personal recognition, awards or accolades, but because it’s in their heart and feeds their soul.
It can be truly tiring. For every issue you’re advocating, there’s someone on the other side who’s advocating for the opposite. Oftentimes, opponents have valid reasons filled with solid data.
Like parenting, there’s little instant gratification in advocacy. You have to be committed and always keep your eyes on long-term goals because once you’re done fighting for a particular cause, you may have to wait months, sometimes years, to see if your effort had its intended consequences.
It’s kind of like in my early 20s, when I finally realized and told my mother how much I appreciate her. Just like being a mom, the rewards in advocacy can be immense.
A few weeks ago, a Dallas ISD director told me that one of the reasons the district can offer career and technical education programs next year is because of an advocacy effort in which I was involved. I wanted to cry and probably came pretty close. I remembered dragging fellow warriors into the battle and our hard slog and sleepless nights. It was a team effort of committed people who reached out to their networks to try to change the course of public education in Dallas.
We were anxious when it was time for the school board to vote. The board was solidly 5-4 at the time, and passage of the policy required a super-majority of six votes. After much back-and-forth discussion among trustees, the board did indeed vote 6-3 in favor of the policy.
We whooped and rejoiced — first in the auditorium and then soon after at a Tex-Mex restaurant to celebrate with margaritas.
The first part of the policy would have immediate benefits, but we had no idea what the scale of positive impact would be down the road.
That was four years ago this month. Our “baby” has grown up, and we are proud. Beyond that, we were thanked. Just like parenting, it’s all worth it.
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