HAVE A HEART FOR KIDS.
That's what I did today. And so did my amazing children. I've been advocating for early learning, children and families for two years now. A few months ago, after returning from D.C. and then having to be gone a few nights in a row for school board meetings, PTO, and a Parent Night, my oldest daughter (who tends to be a bit melodramatic) said to me, "It feels like you aren't even our mom anymore, you're never home!" She may have been just speaking from the heart, and it wasn't that I'm never home, it's just how it felt at the time. But, it struck home to me. That sentence rings in my ear a lot when I'm out traveling, or having late night meetings, or gone after school doing very important things of course! But my children don't see what it is I'm doing. They know I meet with people, they know I send messages to the Governor, they've seen my YouTube videos, and they've seen me on tv. But that's not really ALL I've been doing! There is so much more to their mom being gone, then just a news interview. I've been advocating for all issues surrounding my children. Whether it's trying to protect our state funded preschool program, fighting for child care subsidies for low income families, or educating people on why it's not smart to take away funding that provides small class ratio in K-12 education. There are many more issues that I advocate or "fight" for. I fight for programs that are relevant to not just my own children and family, but for families from here to across the nation.So today, was a chance to let my children see what it is I do. I signed them up a few months ago for the "Have a Heart for Kids Day" sponsored by the Children's Alliance. At the time, today was a scheduled day off from school for a mid winter break. Technically, they had school today because of our snowy weather we had, it became a make up day, but since I had already signed them up, and had talked to them about it, they played hooky today. I almost think that I should tell them we are going to the capital every day because I don't remember the last time I didn't have to drag them out of bed. Today, they were up before I was, ready to get dressed and out the door. They were raring to go. So we bundled up and headed to our State Capital.
There were some "boring" parts, according to my oldest daughter, but the two youngest enjoyed the child care provided by Children's Alliance. Playing with play dough, coloring, and building legos. Ashley and I both were interviewed about the School Breakfast program, and Ashley is very excited to see herself when that is broad casted. She was nervous, but definitely a natural at talking. I wonder where she gets that?
It came time for the march to the Capital.
The March was lead by a drumline, that was absolutely fabulous. We had been provided chants, and cheers, and the kids had learned the words. They needed someone to hold the banner in the front, and Ashley, and my friend's daughter Yanava volunteered. Lauryn snuck up and held part of the banner too. We marched across Capital Blvd, and across the campus lawn to the Capital Steps, cheering, chanting and dancing.
On the steps, we listened to my dear friend Bianca inspire us, Representative Ruth Kagi give us hope that early learning and children and families are a priority, and Senator Lisa Brown thank us and give us even more inspiration. It started to hail, then turned in to snow, but that did not stop our rally. We were loud, and I know we were heard, and if nothing else, seen!
After the rally, Ashley watched intently as my friend Immaculate and I were interviewed by a Children's Alliance staff member, and gave her opinion on what it meant to be at the capital.
I was supposed to testify on behalf of WaKids again this afternoon, but Logan had other plans. My favorite part of the day was walking to testify, and one of the other kids asked where we were going. Ashley said "mom's going to testify", the other child said "what's that?" and Ashley responded, "I don't really know, but she's going to talk to legislators and stuff, she's not in trouble, she's just gonna talk to them." A legislator happened to be passing by at that moment, and was rather impressed by her conversation. He said nothing, but his smile said a lot to me.
All of my kids had a great time, I had a fantastic day. Lauryn's favorite part was going in to the capital, Logan's was seeing the "castle" (he thinks the capital is a castle) and Ashley wants to know when we are going back.... My little advocates in the making!