The Most Under-Appreciated Heroes
You know what are great? Moms. You really couldn’t ask for a more cliche set of titles and headers for this post, but even though they’re cliché, they’re so true.
Much has been said about the day-to-day generosity of moms, and it’s absolutely worth expressing gratitude for that alone, but I want to explore some other super-powers moms have. Specifically, the power to guide & foster a sense of mission, purpose, ambition, and capability in their children. Moms are leaders who can give us confidence and vision far beyond what we’d be able to manage on our own.
Now, in honor of two exemplary moms, one of whom I recently interviewed and one who is my own!
I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing Erin Schrode, who announced her candidacy for congress before she was even old enough to be eligible. She turned 25 (the minimum age of eligibility) three weeks after announcing her candidacy. Her story is one of ambition and striving to help people on her own terms, but that story often circles back to her original inspiration: her mom.
So while I was researching questions for my interview with Erin I figured it would be worth reaching out to her mom, Judi Shils, to get her take directly on what makes their relationship so special.
I asked: What did you learn from your experience raising Erin – being activists together as she grew up?
Her reply was beautiful, more detailed than I expected, and you most certainly won’t be able to keep from smiling while you read it:
To be able to change the world for and with your child, in this case my incredible daughter, has been the journey of a lifetime.
My life changed when I was pregnant with her 25 years ago after reading a book called Diet for a Poisoned Planet. Within a day of reading this seminal book my life, as Erin puts it, became “organized.” That was the world that she was born into …and I never looked back.
From the time she was a very small child this lifestyle became our norm. For some crazy reason, our mission together and for our future was to fix every injustice that we possibly could, relating to a healthier and safer planet.
Together we started Teens for Safe Cosmetics in 2005. For me it was a chance to ensure that she would make healthy choices. For her it was a chance to stand up for her generation and learn all that she could in the process.
Erin was an incredible spokesperson and stood up for all that she believed in. I am an organizer. It is what I do every day. Now, on our Conscious College Road Tour, we travel to about 16 college campuses informing, inspiring and mobilizing as many students as will hear us. We build them social action platforms, encourage them to “dream and do” and make sure they know that if they set their mind to the task, there is nothing on earth that they can’t accomplish, change, heal, fix.
This is how Erin was brought up: know no boundaries and do whatever it takes. “No” is not an option.
I think if you start from there, particularly as a parent, teacher, or an activist, then you light up your constituency. When people (youth in particular) know there is someone behind them and beside them, even if just to cheer them on, they willingly do the impossible.
Erin and I have done that for each other for more than two decades. We adults on this planet owe it forward. Whatever it takes to mobilize and mentor our youth, to help them become the change they want to see in their world, then those are the moments we need to take advantage of.
I have learned endless amounts from my daughter and continue to every day. She will make the most incredible anything that she ever wants to because she has the confidence, wherewithal, heart and wisdom to know how to get from here to there. It has been a gift to be on this journey together!
I have a big button that is pinned to my purse that says “My Daughter is Running for Congress.” Everyone that sees it asks about it and I watch the faces of the 20 somethings light up when they hear that someone from their generation is stepping up – one of the first in her “class,” a regular young woman who just decided that this is how she wants to change the world.
Now, I didn’t get a chance to interview my own mom for the sake of this post, but I wouldn’t have needed to, having benefitted for the last 23 years from here unreasonable thoughtfulness and care.
I would just like to comment simply that reading and thinking about Erin’s relationship with her mom made me reflect on example after example of extraordinary moments of sacrifice, forethought, care, planning, and thoughtfulness on the part of my mom over the course of my life.
Mom, you’ve been my biggest supporter, and incredible judgement-free listener and encourager, as well as an editor, advisor, and even critic when I needed it most. Your faith in and enthusiasm for me has powered so many of the most important and pivotal moments in my life. Even when I have a hard time believing in myself I know that I can borrow your faith in me to follow through. I can’t thank you enough for being there in a way that is so all-encompassing that I can barely see the forest for the trees. I know you have helped and guided me in more ways than I’l ever be able to understand or fully thank you for, so I just want to acknowledge that here. Having a mom who went so far out of her way to read, improve herself, and thoughtfully raise and support me is no doubt the primary reason that I have been able to accomplish anything worthwhile.
I am so, so excited that we’ve gotten to share in and sharpen each other’s projects particularly in the last two years. It’s been a joy to see you start writing, and feature you in a video here and there. I look forward to continued collaboration, friendship, and family time in coming years. I just can’t thank you enough for everything that you’ve done for me.
Happy Mothers Day.