Sunday, May 11, 2008

dreams of this mother

This Mother's Day many of us will celebrate who we are, what we've done, how we've mothered. This holiday, while also and sadly commercially manufactured into another avenue for production and consumption is also a good time for reflection in the past and also for how we want to embrace our mothering in the future.

I am the mother who advocates for affordable housing. Of all the gifts I can give my daughter, besides love and affection and safety and fun and adventure the greatest gift I can give her is awareness. Awareness that not everyone has the same life as she does and that there are things we can do to fix it.

My child has the opportunity to spend a lot of time at shelters and housing programs. She's played with children who sleep in the streets or in abandoned buildings or on the floor. She's shared meals with children who haven't eaten regularly in days or weeks or sometimes months. And every time without fail, she will ask me why. Why doesn't she have a place to live? How long can she live with you? How does she sleep in such a big room? How does he get new toys? And from that place, she begins to think of solutions. Maybe I can give him my blankets. Maybe we should give our food to them. Maybe they can find a home today. Her awareness is soaring but it's a sad sort of flight, one that means she'll witness the suffering without knowing how to truly reconcile it.

When thirteen million children (1 in 6 kids) live in poverty in America and child poverty on the rise since 2000, this is reality she will have to face. When 1 million of these children are without a home in a given year and homeless families are the fastest growing segment of homelessness in the US today and it is mainly attributed to the lack of affordable housing and the fact that rents continue to skyrocket while wages do not all leads me to believe this crisis is not going to be resolved anytime soon.

But it doesn't have to be this way. It is unacceptable that we have not prioritized raising minimum wages and creating affordable housing. John Edwards had a plan to end poverty nationally within 30 years but since he's left the race we've lost our advocate and without committed leadership at the highest levels of office we will never be able to end one of the most horrible social ills in our generation. Without addressing these basic needs our communities will not be able to thrive and that ultimately affects all of us.

So on Mother's Day and on every day I promise to keep dreaming about a country where every child has a safe place to sleep and food in their bellies. Because this is the future I wish for my child, the one where all of her friends can know the same basic rights as she does.

Crossposted at MOMocrats where we are dreaming about many, many important things today.

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Madge said...

This is the day to keep the dream alive.

kristen said...

and i love you, my friend.

Kyla said...

I'm so glad you keep dreaming.

carrie said...

I won't give up either.

This past week has been a testament to the power that even one child can have over his peers . . . you know what I mean.

We can, and we will, help there to be a better tomorrow.

Our children are proof that there is hope.

Happy Mother's Day!

flutter said...

thank you brave mama

KC said...

A good dream to have. A necessary one too. xo

urban-urchin said...

Thank you Jen.

ms chica said...

Happy Mother's day, Jen. Through your post, and those who fight the good fight with you, the issue will remain alive. Though it may not receive as much attention from society as it deserves.

painted maypole said...

Oh Jen. This mother's day I think of the many, many mothers that you have helped give a home to their children. Thank you.

Jocelyn said...

The high point of my Mother's Day today was when my 8-year-old daughter asked, "Why don't we have a weekend cabin, like everyone else we know?"

And I got to explain to her the idea of, "No one should have two houses until everybody has one."

She REALLY got it.

canwekickthebarhere said...

Happy Mother's Day, jen.

Thanks for giving the 1 in 6 a voice.

Janet said...

Those statistics are nauseating. I hear your voice loud and clear and true; I hope it carries far and wide.

Arwen said...

My mother worked with 'youth at risk' my whole life. Whether they were kids in a halfway house or teenage parents she did what she could to make sure every kid she worked with had a decent education and a plan to break whatever pattern they seemed to be entrenched in when she knew them. What you share with daughter will build an empathy many people could never even fathom.
You rock.