By Rachel Vincent
Today is Mother’s Day and I am worlds away from my children, three biological and two I am lucky enough now to have in my life by the grace of marriage.
I ate dinner with a group of women here at the conference, most of them mothers and all of them far from their children. The two Burmese women, both young, have very small children who are living or staying with relatives and friends in the illegal refugee camps in Thailand while they dedicate themselves to moving around Thailand, and the region, and sometimes internationally to bring better lives to the people of Burma. One rather wistfully said that she sometimes feels guilty.
Hallelujah sister. Amazing how universal this pull is between contributing to the wider world and being there with your children for the everyday small things. We all are missing some important details by being here, of course. This is hard to deny. And yet we hope that work we do will somehow make a difference. To them. To other people’s children. To a world where people don’t think in terms of us and them.
Rigoberta chose to launch this event on Mother’s Day, an event that is perhaps more important to Guatemalans—to all Latin Americans—than even Christmas or Easter. The traffic tie-ups and pollution today are testimony to that fact. Mothers reign supreme on the sentimental scale here.
Today when being interviewed by a Guatemalan television station, Jody was asked to explain to the viewing audience—women ‘en casa’, so-called simple women—what her message is to them. Very Jody-like, she began by saying action means more than words. And she told them that as mothers, they make all the difference. She said that mothers don’t have to go out into the world to change the world—they just need to educate their children. They can teach their sons and daughters that they are equal, and that they both must contribute to the world in equal measure. After the interview, the male journalist grabbed Jody’s hand and said to her in an admiring and very familiar way, “Que buena onda. Que buena persona.” What a good vibe. What a good person. I already had tears in my eyes so I could only stand on the sidelines and agree.
The days with these Laureates are hard work, and long. But like my family life, they are also full of moments of grace.