Motherhood as Civic EngagementWileen Jamison Springfield
My mother’s friend, Carole, had a daughter named Tootie who was five like me. One day, Carole began getting loud and obnoxious. Then she yelled at Tootie and hit her. It wasn’t because of anything big: Tootie didn’t pick something up or refuse to go when it was time to leave. That night my Mom kept Tootie overnight in our apartment in Springfield. because she was being mistreated by her mother mentally and physically. My mother may not have been perfect, but she taught me one of the most important things in life: to be a protector of innocent children. That’s why I think of my mother as my model of civic engagement.
I had my first child when I was nineteen and my last child when I was forty, and I believe if you bring your children up right, they go out and make this a better world. Before we would go into the park, I’d read them the playground rules. “One person on the slide at a time!” I’d explain, and then they’d go into the playground and help the other kids understand the rules. And I taught them languages: Spanish, sign-language, and French. The next one I wanted to learn with them was Chinese. *I did it because I believe there is too much bias in the world, and I wanted my children to be able to connect with others and really get to know everyone. And I found that language is a barrier for many people: when you can’t understand someone, how do you know what they want?
I believe that the job of human beings is to nurture nature, do no harm to the earth, and bring about the creation of a beloved community. Taking the Clemente course on civic engagement has allowed me to think about how to build a world in which future generations can thrive.