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I recently visited my mom for her birthday last week. She always possessed a practical, no-nonsense attitude. Mom is the personification of a hip 80 year-old, but she reminds me often that growing up during the Depression gives her the edge of realism. Her mind is as sharp as a tack, so even at her advanced age, she’s truly light years ahead of her pack. She’s still a voice of reason.

Since Mom’s body is not as sprite as her intellect, she walks and walks to keep fit. As she prepared for a trip to visit relatives in Spain, Mom tells me, “I’m walking longer everyday to get ready for the trip. When I want something bad enough, I become an advocate for it. I’m fighting to keep my mobility. As long as I can still breathe, there’s always something worth fighting for.”

What comes to mind when you hear the word advocacy?

I asked Mom to define it: “Advocacy is the efforts and struggles of one person, or a group, take action.”

I shared my mom’s vision of advocacy when I was a teacher. When a parent came to me with the conviction their child was wronged by the system, I would say, “I will help you, but you are your child’s best advocate. No one else can fight their battles like you can.”

Now I’m one of the leaders of Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF), a national parents advocacy group. And I’ve learned that whether we advocate for ourselves, like my mom is doing to stay fit, or we take on the school system like I suggested to parents whose children were not being well served, or we band together collectively for the health and welfare for our children’s future, like MomsRising and MCAF, the focused goal is to ensure that something important gets done.

When mom came home from Spain, she was immensely proud that she had kept up with the rest of the family. She chided, “You just need to advocate for what you want and then go out and get it.”

Thank you, Mom for teaching me it's our job as mothers to be activists for what we believe is right and just.  


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