The other day I was asked to "describe Nicole in 140 characters." I wrote:
Then: Counted coins for food + gas. Now: Taking down corrupt police chiefs w SMS campaigns. Always: committed to social justice & equality.
I'm regularly asked to describe my story, or why I was drawn to work on issues of social justice. This is essentially the short answer. The other part of the answer: my mom.
Mom's sacrifices and challenges have made me the social justicey, activisty, liberal nerd that I am. Realizing her struggle as I got older instilled a strong sense of what it meant to do the right thing.
My mom divorced my dad when I was really young and was self-employed as a real estate agent in a rural community. We were really poor, yet my mom tried her hardest to make sure I never felt like we were doing without.
I always had dinner, she always drove me 20 miles to and from school every day, and I was always taken care of even though I was sick a lot as a kid.
Why did I always have dinner? Because mom made sure I ate. She usually made one big caserole for herself and ate it all week while I had a different dinner every night.
Why did I get to skip the bus and get a ride to school? Because mom and I would count coins from her big coin jar to pay for gas when things were tight.
Why did I get the best care? Because mom made sure to get me to the doctor as soon as I had a sniffle. She never 'got sick' -- not because she was never ill, but because she had to take care of me over taking care of herself.
I found out later that my mom didn't have health insurance for 5 or 6 years while I was a child. All her time, money, and effort went into making sure I was taken care of, that there was nothing left to care for her.
After a few years, mom was able to get COBRA. Her monthly rate was between $400 and $600 making her, yet again, have to cut costs around the house.
But I never knew.
When the health care decision came down, I immediately thought of mom. Everything she sacrificed. All the money she spent just to keep insured after years of being uninsured.
- Soon, she'll have an affordable health care system she can buy into.
- Soon, she'll have health insurance that won't be able to discriminate against her. One that doesn't discriminate against people who are poor. Or work commission-based jobs. Or are women.
- Soon, she'll be able to fully focus on taking care of herself for the first time in her life -- a right and a benefit every mom deserves.
Congrats, mom. You deserve this.