This summer has been tough.
After a two and a half year battle with stomach and brain cancer, my former husband, Jerry Lorenzo, died on July 23rd.
Jerry left behind three heartbroken little boys, a gigantic mountain of paperwork and a million questions with very few answers.
Now that the calls have stopped coming and the flowers have died, I find myself left to try to tackle some of these impossible questions.
What is going to happen when you get cancer, Mom? Who is going to take care of us?
We are logged out of Fortnite and only Daddy knows the password. What are we supposed to do now?
Am I going to be the only person in my entire class without a Daddy? Why do I have to be the only one without a Dad?
Am I even allowed to exist without a Dad? Where is he right now? Can he see me?
And of course, the question I have in my own head that I’m not really allowed to say out loud:
How the hell am I supposed to figure all of this out by myself and what happens if I screw up? What if I say the wrong thing? Do the wrong thing? Make the wrong choice?
Luckily for me, I have the world’s best boys and so far they’ve turned out to be pretty amazing — even after getting stuck with me as a mom.
The one promise I made to my ex-husband during one of our last conversations was that I wouldn’t let them grow up to be “little assholes” and that they would become good, strong, happy people.
That’s a promise I intend to keep.
You see, as parents, that’s really what we want most for our children. Good, strong, happy people living wonderful lives, maybe helping to make the world a better place and maybe even have it a little easier than we did. That their load might be a little lighter.
Keeping this promise requires me to reflect on the path that Jerry and I faced as kids — me growing up in a highly dysfunctional family dynamic and landing in the custody of the Department of Children and Families, he as the child of two immigrants from Ecuador and Honduras with limited English proficiency and no resources.
When we met in high school, we were both gifted and talented musicians, but he also had a brilliant, highly analytical mind with a brain like a human calculator. I ended up expelled from that high school, he couldn’t manage to get out of his first semester of community college.
Our kids have inherited his incredible smarts — one has already been identified for an advanced math program in the first grade.
And as a mom, now responsible for helping these awesome kids navigate their way through life by myself, it scares the hell out of me sometimes.
Talent is equitably distributed, but opportunity is not.
And I’ve been blessed to hit the talent jackpot with my kids.
So now comes the hard work of advocating to ensure that these boys get access to the opportunity they need to thrive and blossom — because all too often, kids like mine don’t automatically get it.
The fight continues. And while some will continue having the same tired conversations about money, power and control over a broken racist system, we will be redoubling our efforts.
We’ll be covering the truth about the attempts to keep parents from accessing the information they need to make informed decisions about their children’s experience in our public schools and how the largest school district in America’s number one education state in the nation can’t even provide families with accredited high schools.
We’ll keep fighting until every kid has equitable access to the educational opportunity they have been promised and they deserve. Not out of loyalty to a particular governance model or allegiance to a comfortable status quo that benefits the adults running a system — but out of love for our children and the idea that they are the reason we do all of this education stuff in the first place.
And certainly not just so we can say that we got them through school and handed them a piece of paper saying it happened — but instead, knowing them that we have prepared them for an incredible future where they are free from the burden of carrying the stress and anxiety of barely being able to survive.
I’m ready to keep my promise. And we’re going to make sure the folks we’ve put in charge of our education system keep theirs too.