What an amazing way to celebrate my tenth Mother’s Day! Watching my own story on the big screen! Whew, I’m glad I already have the evening gown I’ll need for the premiere. I bought it for the day my husband and I renewed our vows to celebrate our new commitments to each other as parents. My only complaint about the movie trailer is that there’s too much focus on me. Really it’s an ensemble cast, as it was in real life.
Real change, big change, is built upon relationships and the belief that together we can do things none of us could do alone. I’ve found that this applies in spades to mothers—and fathers.
So spoiler alert! Here’s my own synopsis of the story.
Just over ten years ago, our daughter was born.
And I fell apart.
Nothing about motherhood was how I thought it would be and no one could explain why.
In total desperation, and in an act of utter selfishness, I started up a local chapter of Mothers & More. I needed mothers who wanted and needed to talk about how motherhood had changed their lives and who didn’t want to talk about diapers! Here’s the picture from the newspaper article announcing our very first meeting ten years ago.
Twenty-three mothers come out to our first meeting and the stories rolled freely, and the feeling of aloneness became a feeling of togetherness. Connecting with those mothers and that conversation gave me so much. I served nearly four years as the National Board President for Mothers & More. I learned enough to write a book about the journey my husband and I took together and to explain what I learned about why motherhood—and fatherhood—in the twentieth-first century isn’t yet how we thought it would be and what to do about it. As you’ll see in the film, that first meeting connected me to so many parents who are making a difference in their communities every single day.
I founded our local chapter and it saved my life, and then a series of amazing women kept it going. Women like my friend Kimberly who is now leading the Temple City Schools Foundation to the next level and writes a blog that makes important economic issues understandable for busy people – like parents. Women like my friend Felita, whose stints as auctioneer at our preschool’s benefit are legendary and who serves on our school district’s strategic planning committee and first African-American Parent Council.
Many of the mothers I connected with in those meetings became the families with whom my husband and I co-founded the Pasadena Education Network, a nonprofit of parents that promotes parent participation in public education.
That’s right, the fathers are right there with us. My own husband, who did two years as our PTA Treasurer and serves on the board of a neighborhood housing nonprofit. Chris, our resident frontyard-garden, Jamie Oliver Food Revolution, climate crisis zealot. Tod, intrepid leader of his preschool’s annual orange and grapefruit sale fundraiser and mastermind behind the spinoff of our Mothers & More crew, Dads n’ Stuff.
Then there are the women I met across the country when I was President of Mothers & More. I can barely stay on top of what my friend Debra is up to in Dallas, leader of the Parents Dyslexia Education group, working on domestic violence and childhood obesity with National Council of Jewish Women in Dallas, and a panelist for a “Women in Film” discussion of Iron Jawed Angels. Margaret, who worked for me in California pre-kids, founded a Mothers & More chapter in the Twin Cities, took mothers to visit Senator’s offices to talk about fair pay, and tweets constantly about issues ranging from the demise of bees to healthy food to worklife issues to Minnesota politics. And these are just the mothers and fathers who made it into the film; so many others were left on the cutting room floor.
Even when we aren’t working on the same projects together, our collective energy and conversations keep each other going. Especially now that Facebook keeps us connected when our busy lives keep us apart and organizations like MomsRising give us the ability to act quickly and easily on issues important to families.
Quality public education, fair pay, healthy food for everyone, clean environment, workplaces that fit today’s workforce? No problem.
The sky’s the limit, because together, parents are powerful.
P.S. The film director took some real liberties on one issue. We do NOT get our kid to school on time very often. If we tried to claim otherwise, our friends and our teachers would laugh their heads off!