I believe in my children. Not yours, mine. Sometimes I think I have to believe in them. Sometimes I cannot see how anyone could not believe in them.
When I was still in college and had yet to explore my youth and independence, I believed in my child. While my peers joined clubs and went to dorm parties, I rocked my child to sleep. He took a Spanish test with me. He listened during a guitar lesson. To release that part of my life, I believe in my child.
When I started student teaching, and had hours of grading to do, I believed in my children. My second child was just months old. When I spent every hour he slept going through student work, I believed in him. When we ran out of money, I believed in him.
While my friends and peers advance in their careers, I believe in my children. They can spend the extra hours at work. They can travel to other states for workshops, for connections. They can take the risk of start-up companies, of living abroad, of unpaid internships, of changing careers. I will believe in my children.
In 1991, just shy of my 15th birthday, Bill took me to my first war protest. The temperature hovered around zero. We took the city bus. We were given candles and for two hours we stood with others, mostly in silence, in the shadows of the state capital. We would not change the world that night, but we believed we could try.
I have not stopped trying to change the world. But given the choice to change the world through protest and action or through the raising of my children, I choose the latter. I do this because I believe in them.
I believe in them when two children are fighting and my child tells them, “You should talk.”
I believe in them when we are playing outside and my child says, “It was sad when they died.” And it takes me awhile to understand he is talking about the astronauts who died months earlier upon reentry into my son’s world.
I believe in them when they comfort each other, defend each other, help each other up onto unreachable places. When they care for each other in ways only siblings can.
But I also believe in them when one sits on the other’s face and does unspeakable things. I believe in them when they hate each other, when screaming and pushing is the only language they speak.
My life does not belong to my children. They will grow up and I will not feel bound to spend every moment I have with them. But I will still believe in them. I will still believe that they can and will change the world. I will still believe that while I admire those that sacrifice what they have for a movement or cause, I must also admire myself. I must. Because I believe in my children. Because I want them to believe in themselves.
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