Listening to Mom

Listening to Mom

by | May 15, 2024 | From the Campaign Trail | 0 comments

Illuminating words for challenging times

I spent Mother’s Day thinking about my mom. In that respect, it was just like any other day for me. In the five years since she’s been gone, her words have lived inside my head.

Mom would sprinkle her advice with lines of poetry, or with phrases she’d attribute to “Shakespeare or the Bible.” She could never remember which it was.

As she got up in years, she began sharing those literary quotes more liberally, without context or attribution. Charlotte’s Web became a favorite source of inspiration, and I wound up having to reassure various strangers that it was a compliment when Mom called them “some pig.”  

Mom’s own sayings weren’t poetic, but they were prophetic. As a mother myself, I can confirm that “a toddler’s job is to kill himself, and your job is to stop him.” Her warning that “you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat someone who can’t do them any good” turned out to be true every time.

People Mom once knew became cautionary tales for me. As a child I was fascinated by her story of the old lady in the Victorian house who smoked until her nose rotted off and she blew twin plumes directly out of the holes in her face. And I was very sad about Mr. Fox, whose arm got cut off when he stuck it out his car window on a two-lane highway. I’ve always loved animals.

As an adult I could appreciate the more nuanced stories, like the one about my great-great aunt Auntie. (I also had an Aunt Sis. That’s how you know you’re in the South.) Auntie would declare that once she made up her mind, she never changed it. She had no use for dissenting opinions or revelatory facts.

Auntie’s closed mind was her badge of honor, proof that she was strong and resolute. Mom considered a closed mind a sign of weakness, a moral failing. What are you doing with your life if you refuse to learn from your mistakes and try to do things better?

Mom’s words have helped me think more clearly about why I’m running for office and the sort of mindset I’m running against.

It’s clear to me that here in Tennessee, most of our state legislators don’t want to do much for us because we can’t do much for them. It’s clear to me that they can’t quit their addictions—to conspiracy theories and culture wars, to ideological extremes, to power and privilege, to lobbyists and wealthy donors—even though they’re causing us harm.

It’s clear that they won’t learn from their mistakes, or try to do better, or hear dissenting opinions, or change their minds once they’re made up.

We have a supermajority of Aunties.

As Mom would say, “Lawsy mercy.”

If you want more state legislators with compassion and common sense, please join my team! Click to donate, volunteer, or get a yard sign.


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