Since the second grade, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer (see For the Love of What I Do for the story). My training as an advocate began more than a decade before law school while in line at a Little League registration table in Portsmouth, RI.
It was 1987(ish). I was 11 years old. We recently moved from CT to RI because my stepdad was in the Navy and had been stationed in Newport. My sister and I were not thrilled about the move. In CT, I played tee ball and then softball and loved it. After the move, I decided that with all the newness (town, school, house, etc.), I wanted to try something a little different in the spring: baseball.
I don’t recall the details surrounding my decision, how I told my mom or any conversation we had on the subject. But I remember registration day.
The Little League registration event consisted of two tables in the middle school library. One for boys’ baseball and one for girls’ softball. My mom and I got in the baseball line. I was filled with excitement and anticipation.
When it was our turn, my mom said “I’d like to register my daughter for baseball.” The woman at the table assumed that we were lost and cheerfully pointed to the neighboring table for girls’ softball. She explained that baseball was for boys and softball was for girls. My mom smiled, thanked her and, in a voice that made crystal clear that we were exactly where we intended to be, she said that she would be registering her daughter to play baseball.
I don’t really remember anyone’s exact words, but I know that the exchange was civil, and I ultimately was registered to play baseball. And although I don’t remember all the details, I remember feeling my mom’s support and protection.
After registering me, my mom then signed up to be a coach. This was unexpected and puzzling to me at the time. My mom did not know much about baseball. But she looked the part wearing team colors, a visor and clutching the scorebook that she had no idea how to use. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure that her presence was a big part of the reason that I have such fond memories of my year playing baseball (my stepdad coached too, which also helped).
It wasn’t until years later that I appreciated the significance of the events at the registration table in 1987. It was my first and most profound lesson in advocacy. By example, she coached me on how to advocate effectively and respectfully. And while Coach Mom did not teach me much about baseball, her advocacy cleared a path for me to spend a year playing baseball, which made me a much better ball player, and also cultivated my desire to be a professional advocate.
On this Mother’s Day, I want to take a few moments to thank my mom for this and the many other things she has done for me over the years. And I also want to recognize moms everywhere for all the small, but impactful things they do every day for their kids (young and old). Happy Mother’s Day!