IN PRAISE OF MOMS WHO MAKE IT HAPPEN
- Last year Calvin wrote and sent out this OCLB Mother's Day homepage
celebrating the work of OCLB's four mothers were doing to save
IDEA. The message of the power of Moms and the chance to praise
them remains equally timely this year, so we thought we would send
it out again. To moms everywhere, you continue to make the
difference: changing the world by changing things for your
children. We celebrate all moms. Happy Mother's Day to you all!
The OCLB Team
Yesterday, my wife, Tricia, and I attended an IEP. As is my
practice, I started writing the attendees' names down the left side
of my page in the order they were sitting. The names began with
Tricia, Michele, Michelle, Kelly, Elizabeth, Joy, etc. At the end
of the list came Brent, Tom and Calvin. It was a typical IEP for
me. The dad; the special education director; and me. All the other
attendees were women most of them mothers.
Tricia and I finished the IEP and dashed to our next activity, an
afternoon school district workshop. I introduced the topic
positive behavior support to an audience of 25 school
psychologists, social workers and therapists. It was a typical
workshop for me. Four of them were men. All the other attendees
were women most of them mothers.
Why does this happen? I don't know, but it does, all the time.
Susan Zimmermann, in her book, Grief Dancers, wrote that:
Nothing is going right. No one is able to help. Those we thought
would be there for us are nowhere to be found. Those we most love
can't reach out to us. "Why me?" repeats in our brains as our anger
and frustration grows at our spouses, our friends, our relatives,
everyone. We cry. We scream. No one hears us. We keep moving and
somewhere far down the path, the "why me?" turns into "yes, me."
Last May, four moms got together to throw up a web site to keep
families in the loop on Congressional efforts to "reauthorize" the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA]. They were not
sure what they were getting into, or that it would have any real
effect on the IDEA debate. After all, as Tricia likes to say, they
were "just moms." But they knew that they had to do something to
try to save IDEA for their kids. They instinctively knew that by
doing something for their kids they were doing something for all
I have been a lawyer for 23 years, and have concentrated on
disability law for the last 14 years. My clients are moms; women
singularly focused on their children, and on what best will help
their children to find safety and success. The moms I see and
represent on a daily basis make the world go around for all children.
Tricia likes to close her workshop sessions by talking about her
relationship with our daughter, Jessica, who tiptoed into the arms
of the angels in 1999. She cites a passage in Psalms that says that
we knew our children in heaven before they were born to us on
earth. Tricia talks about choice; about the fact that while still
in heaven Jessica chose Tricia to be her mother, not because Tricia
was special, but because being Jessica's mom would make Tricia
To me there is a real mystery to being a mom. There is so much I
see but do not understand, and perhaps never can understand. Again,
Susan Zimmermann, in Grief Dancers, speaks of a relationship I only
see from the outside:
Sometimes we are deserted by those we've most trusted. "It's your
problem," they say, perhaps not even realizing they've turned away,
unable to reach out a hand. When we've been abandoned, we go deep
within and, over time, find our strength. We go far outside and,
over time, find teachers in unexpected friends. (p. 59)
I did not really expect to have any difficulty writing today's
homepage. Tricia has been my beacon and my compass for years. She
has shown me time and again that moms don't quit. They go on
because they have to, and because they go on they change the world,
not just for their kids, but for all kids. She has shown me that
our kids do choose us to make us special.
But finding any words to express the profound effect and control
that mothers exert over our educational system, especially in the
context of IDEA, seems to be an impossible task for me right now. I
cannot explain the power of a mom, I only can stand in awe of it,
and in awe of all the moms, especially Tricia, who have touched and
changed my life.
When I was younger I lamented that there was no "Children's Day"
similar to "Mother's Day" or "Father's Day," where children would
have an opportunity to reap presents simply because they were
children. After all, these "Days" were just veiled opportunities
for people to get presents and stuff.
How wrong I was. Tricia and the other three moms of Our Children
Left Behind, Shari, Debi and Sandy, are heroes motivated only by
their desire to make life fair for their children. They are selfish
for their kids, and selfless to themselves. For me they are
the "teachers in unexpected friends" who inspire me in my efforts.
America honors its mothers on Sunday. That is as it should be. But
I suggest that we should honor mothers every day. They drive our
whole society, not because of choices they made, but because of
choices their children made for them. In this Venus/Mars world we
live in I'm not really sure I'll ever fully understand what that
means. I just accept it as the truth.
To Tricia, the OCLB moms and the moms of IDEA I say "thanks." I
know in my heart that if we successfully defend IDEA against the
changes being proposed in Congress, it will be because you moms
would not accept that outcome for your children. You all have
said "Yes, me," and have made the world my world and the world of
our children so much stronger and better for it. You have made it
happen. We cannot thank you enough.
Happy Mother's Day.
Copyright 2004 by Tricia and Calvin Luker. Permission to forward,
copy and post this article is granted so long as it is attributed to
the authors and www.ourchildrenleftbehind.com.