I love the new year. There’s something deeply appealing to me about the promise of a fresh start and a chance to try again. Each year, I post my resolutions inside the kitchen cabinet so I seem them every day.
This past year I resolved to:
- Be more patient.
- Make a point of spending quality time alone with each child every day.
- Find time for date nights.
- Remember to make my own needs a priority, too.
- Be kinder to myself when I fall short.
I don’t claim that I’ve fulfilled them all the time, but they are a constant reminder of the person I’m aspiring to be, the person that I know I can be.
As I think about the year behind us and the year ahead, it seems that our state could certainly use a few resolutions for 2012. This year was a tough one for North Carolina children and families. We saw backsliding on decades-long public commitments to education and budget cuts that threaten to undo the very investments that make our state a great place to grow up and which are necessary to build a strong economy for tomorrow.
In 2012, I propose that we as a state and its people resolve to:
- Value our children and families not just in our words, but in our actions.
- Prioritize a healthy start for all our state’s children and support programs like Medicaid, NC Health Choice, and infant mortality programs that invest in both prevention and life-saving medical care. We’ve made great gains in bringing down infant mortality that we need to protect. And, as so many families struggle to recover from the recession, health care programs for the children of low-income working families provide a vital safety net. Now is not the time to step back from these investments.
- Recognize the importance of early childhood and the value of programs like Smart Start, NC Pre-K, and child care subsidies that make quality childcare affordable for families during the critical early years of brain development. Thanks to these programs our state’s kids go to school ready to learn and our parents can go to work confident that their children are well-cared for and safe.
- Support our teachers and school personnel who have the responsibility for teaching our state’s children and ensuring that we as a state have the skills we need to be able to compete in the future. Thanks to budget cuts, we’ve lost 17,278 school staff since 2008 and 6,382 in the last year alone. We now rank near the bottom in education spending, a sad fall for a state which has always taken pride in our investments in education.
- Work together to remove toxic chemicals from our families’ everyday lives by supporting chemical reform and demanding products that don’t expose our families to unnecessary risks for cancer, birth defects, asthma, learning disabilities, early onset puberty, and other health problems. Parents shouldn’t have to be chemists to be able to purchase a car seat, a sippy cup, or canned foods.
- Not make our parents choose between being good parents and good employees. By supporting work/ family balance policies like paid sick days, a paid family leave insurance program, and equal pay for equal work, we can ensure that parents can be productive members of our economy while also caring for their families. A North Carolina parent should never be forced to choose between caring for a sick child and putting food on the table.
- Make our voices heard on the issues that matter in our lives. There’s a tremendous amount at stake for women in the upcoming elections but far too many of us still choose not to participate as voters. We saw an almost 35 percent decline in voter participation between 2008 and 2010. In order to be heard, we must vote. And we can’t stop there. We have to hold our leaders accountable once they are elected and let them know what matters to us if we want to see a truly family-friendly state and nation.
It’s been said that you can judge a society by how it treats its weakest-its children, its elderly, its poor. The difference is in the choices we and our leaders make.
This year I hope you’ll join me in resolving to be part of a better state that holds true to its promises for our children and invests in a better future for all of us.
Happy New Year!
Beth Messersmith is a Durham mom of two and member of NC MomsRising. She writes monthly for Go Ask Mom.