I used to love to run for office. In elementary school I wanted to be president. I wrote a speech, made posters, and gave out free pens, but I lost to a fellow classmate who was taller, more eloquent, and probably more interested in the actual office. I think I just loved to compete. If there was a game that involved speed, smarts, or softballs I was there. I still get fired up when there’s a debate on television because debating was my all-time favorite thing to do.
My first introduction to real politics was when Lyndon B. Johnson ran for president, and everyone in my elementary school “voted” on Election Day. I loved everything about campaigning, especially all the slogans, and the voting booths.
Years later, after I was married and had children, I took my daughter to the election booth with me. I wanted to pass the electricity I felt about voting on to her while she was still young, feisty, and full of opinions. I would have taken her to the local debates in our town’s courthouse if I had thought of it. But they were at night and she was busy with school work, sports, and competing at both.
Of course I did other things with my daughters and sons that didn’t involve politics. I took them to weddings, funerals, and church. We went to the opera and the ocean and I would have given them the world, its cultures and languages, and opened all the doors I could because it was a part of who I was. I was on fire with desire, I wanted to go and see and be and try and fail and try again. The joy was in the hunt, the search, the adventure.
The world was so big, yet we were tucked away from so much of it that I often prayed each of my children would not be too comfortable, but would instead go out and play their part in it.
I knew the huge responsibility I had taken on as a mother. After my fourth child was born, my sister Diane came out to help, and as we were feeding one and cleaning up another, I lamented how little I was able to do to make a change in the world. I was so busy making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cleaning the rice out of the carpet from last night’s dinner, taking the groceries from car to fridge, and just barely keeping up. How could I possibly change my world?
Diane looked me straight in the eye and said, “You’re doing the very best thing in the whole world you can do.”
That truth was like a shot in the arm. I never even thought what I was doing was anything special. After that I kept my dreams under my pillow for a future when those little ones would not need me, and I could revisit the passions of my youth. But for that time those wise sisterly words were life. A gift. Nourishment. Bread (with peanut butter and jelly!)
Doreen began the journey of writing back in the day when her dad let her use his typewriter. She loved the idea of putting her words down, and kept doing it even after she left the typewriter behind and switched to a notepad kept on the kitchen table as she fed her four children, and sent them off into the world.