This Mother’s Day, I’m working with Clever Girls in support of Macy’s Heart of Haiti to shine a light on the “trade, not aid” program, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans struggling to rebuild their lives and support their families after the 2010 earthquake.
I’ve chosen to write about one of my proudest Mom moments, and I have TONS of them. This one was back in 1998. I was working at a Field Director of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital. The then-Director of Public Relations called me into her office. That, in itself, wasn’t unusual, as I’d recently been promoted from the PR department to Field Director. The conversation went something like this:
Director of PR: Jewel, the White House called. They need a Brownie to appear at the Pageant of Peace next week. She’ll speak on live television and sit with the President and First Lady, so she mustn’t be shy.
Me: (already thinking of which troop leaders I can call for assistance). Oh, ok. I’ll make some calls. When do you need to have the name?
Director: Right now. The White House needs to run family background checks and time is of the essence.
Me: (becoming annoyed because she KNOWS I can’t produce a girl out of thin air). Well…
Director: Jewel, I need Jessica. Jessica can do it. I NEED Jessica.
Me: (becoming excited because I never thought of my own daughter). OOOOOOH, yes. Jessica can certainly do this.
And that’s how it went. A few hours later, the White House called and wanted to know EVERYTHING there was to know about me. Then, that night, I broached the subject with 6 year old Jessica, asking if she’d be interested. She was quite nonchalant (as she still is) and agreed to do it ONLY because I said she would meet the President.
The Pageant of Peace, also known as the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree, takes place on the Ellipse, right in the shadow of the White House. The day was long and cold, but it went swimmingly. When my daughter read her pre-written part, I was beaming through my tears. Then, she took her seat next to President and Mrs Clinton and watched the show. She rejoined the President to light the National Christmas Tree. All of my friends and family watched the live telecast. We were ALL beaming.
And later, as we rode the subway home, we talked about the experience. She expressed disappointment about not meeting the President. I was confused. She did indeed meet the President. She was adamant that she didn’t. I described Mr Clinton. But, although she remembered him and thought he was nice, she refused to acknowledge that he was the President. Imagine my surprise when she explained that she had been looking forward to meeting Abraham Lincoln! HA! Good grief. It still gives the family laughs, all these years later.
I was able to find a video of the Pageant of Peace program on C-Span. Check out Jessica’s speaking part at the 10 minute mark.
We certainly laugh about it now.
Disclosure: Thank you to Macy’s Heart of Haiti for sponsoring my participation in this “Share Your Heart” promotion. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.