My Mother/My Rebel

How I got to be me. I grew up in a union household. My dad was a Teamster and my mom was in the AFL-CIO.

We didn’t talk loud in my house because we were mad all the time. We were just passionate about what we were saying – all the time.

Learning about what to do with that passion I got from my mom.

Her and him.

Her and him.

If my mom got upset about something she was probably going to do something about it.

Vivid memory. It’s close to five o’clock in the afternoon. Well after school finished. Me writing at the blackboard “I will never forget my flutophone”. I was about half way to writing it one-hundred times. (Talk about Old-School school.)   We are in Wisconsin. It is December.  A raging snow storm started an hour before.

This is a flutophone, Kids.

This is a flutophone, Kids.

My mom flies through the door. She takes in the scene. I am at the blackboard.  The teacher at her desk looks up from her papers.  She doesn’t even know what is going to happen but I can tell she is already scared. My mom tells me to go in the hall.  The only thing I hear before I close the door is, “You do realize there is a blizzard…” I don’t think the teacher ever directly addressed me after that for the rest of the year.

A few years later our local paper printed an editorial from a resident who lived on the other side of ‘The Bridge’ at the other end of our street (which was like ‘the other side of the tracks’). He criticized our street for having the distinction of  housing twelve bars in eight blocks. This guy basically said we were Losers.

Our street.

Our street.

My mom challenged him with a rebuttal letter in the paper reminding him those blocks also had families, grocery stores, an art store, a bookstore, a bike shop, a furniture store, the American Legion, an ice cream parlor, a laundromat, a ball field, a movie theater and a park. Except for the downtown more people traversed our street than any other area in town for reasons other than drinking. She signed her letter, “The Rebel of Water Street”.

My mom was an Ed Tech at our grade school. She and the other girls found out the janitors made more than they did. The girls organized. They started their own union. They got more money. We gave her the nickname – Norma Rae.

We really, really like her.

We really, really like her.

When my anxiety gets the better of me advocating for Thorin I remind myself  I am trying to do something.

I am trying to make things better for Thorin.

I am not always going to do it exactly right.

I have been a pain in the ass. I have been self-righteous. I have been unbearable.

People don’t have to like it or understand it or respect it or agree with me.

I am a mother. This is my job.

This entry was posted in Adopting, Advocacy, By Notatypicalmom, Down syndrome, education, Inclusion, Parenting, Rants, Special Needs and tagged , , by Kari Wagner-Peck. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kari Wagner-Peck

Kari Wagner-Peck lives with her husband and son in Maine. She is a blogger, writer & social justice storyteller who unschools with her son. She also has a M.S.W. and was at various times a practicing social worker, documentary videographer and film festival director She is the author of Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey, May, 2017, Central Recovery Press. She has been published at The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, The Sydney Morning Herald, Parents, BLOOM and Love That Max among others. Follow her on Twitter @atypicalson and like her at Not Always Happy Facebook page. Email her: atypicalson@gmail.com

7 thoughts on “My Mother/My Rebel

  1. Well, as you coulda guesses I like, respect and agree with you! What’s most important is that you are doing ….somethings
    The system is designed for parents to just nod and sign on the dotted line. I worry about how I do my somethings. The Advocate books say to always be professional and pretend like you are in a marriage you can’t get out of. I want to say Are you fucking kidding me this new educational resource room special ed lady is actually someone you hired? I am struggling with how to approach this new dilema. I will not be wasting my kids year with this lady so I gracefully want to bow out of using her quote services…unquote. I also want to find out if she even has experience with a child who has down syndrome or even a little kid!!!

    Thank you as always you inspire me..
    Liz Tree

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