I adore Erika Graham Sanzi. She is a wonderful mother, has an incredible brain, and is literally one of my favorite human beings. Having her friendship in my life makes me a better mom, a stronger advocate and a happier person — knowing I’m not alone in this crazy world of education advocacy and being a mom to three boys is an absolute blessing in my life. I’m grateful for her every day and am so lucky we’ve found things to work on together. Yesterday she wrote a beautiful tribute to the mothers in her life that everyone needs to read.
Her piece got me thinking about all the mothers I have in my life — not just my own family — but the ones who stand shoulder to shoulder with me every single day trying to make the world a better place for our children.
I can’t tell you how many times a week I will set a meeting with another mom — sometimes a school leader, sometimes an elected official, sometimes an community advocate — and they will sheepishly ask whether I mind them bringing their children with them to the meeting or "do I mind doing the meeting on the phone because someone is sick or the kids are in the background." They often express embarrassment and regret or are just plain sheepish about the whole thing.
Ladies, bring the kids. And don’t worry about it for one minute.
I’ll tell you honestly, these are the women who are often doing the best work out of anyone else I see in this crazy world of politics and advocacy. These are the moms who are often getting more done during the course of the week to make real and tangible change for our children than some of the men in this work who often spend hours at the golf course "relationship building" with other men and still can’t manage to get anything of substance done for our kids.
I know, I’m biased. I bring my kids with me everywhere. Here’s a picture of me and my foster-daughter Cali addressing the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention at the DCU Center in Worcester — and yes, I’m baby-wearing. No shame in my game:
Many people where shocked that I had done something so bold. People actually congratulated me about it. Nothing bold about it. I didn’t have someone to watch the kids that weekend. That means you’re coming with Mom.
Here’s Miles in my office at SEIU helping me run a union organizing campaign in Vermont:
Or that time when Elizabeth Warren wanted to meet because she was "thinking about running for Senate."
I didn’t have enough time to pick Matt up from after school and she didn’t mind, so …
(I also have a lot of pictures up Ed Markey’s nose that Matthew took while Mom was speaking at a rally. I keep them because I think it’s amazing to see this stuff through the eyes of children and what they see.)
You want me at your event? Expect the tribe:
Matthew even sat in between me and Massachusetts Secretary of Education James Peyser during the Senate debate of the RISE Act last year. All six hours of it.
My boys are also huge Marty Walsh fans.
Now, of course, I bring my kids everywhere with me for a couple of reasons. Obviously because I’m a single mother and I simply wouldn’t be able to participate in some things logistically if I can’t bring them along. Secondly, being engaged in politics and advocacy — being civically engaged and using your voice — is something I want them to see directly from me in action. And the impress me every time with what they pick up as they observe. But mostly because they keep me sharp and aware of why we are doing all of this work in the first place. They never let me forget what the end goal is. Making this world a better place for them.
The only time I’ve ever gotten any side eye? Usually from a "whack-tavist" — aka — someone paid to care about an issue. And sorry, usually a dude.
I am constantly in awe of the mothers around me — and how I am surrounded by an incredible group of women who are all striving to make the world a better place — while balancing the challenges of motherhood. I am so inspired by all of you and the way we work together to fight for a brighter future. So to all of you, I want to say this:
Don’t be ashamed or worried about what others might think because you "have to bring the kids along …" and certainly don’t let it stop you from using your voice to make change. We need you. We need your work. We need your passion. We need your perspective. We need your strength. We need your power.
Keep going, Mama — and bring the kids.
What do you think?