There is a last time

By Kristen Parks, Vice President, Programs

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There is always a last time. My oldest child is 8 years old. He is funny, kind, thoughtful and every day moving towards becoming the kind of person others will want to be around. I was watching him help his sister with her homework, when it occurred to me there was a last time I carried him. He now is almost to my chin in height and too big for me to pick up and carry. I don’t remember when the last time was, it just happened. There was a last time he needed to be rewarded for using the bathroom appropriately, a last time he had to be reminded that he isn’t allowed to draw on his sister, a last time I had to childproof everything within his reach and the list continues to grow.  In the day-to-dayness of parenting, I often don’t even realize when a ‘last time’ has passed, but it does and each one of those ‘last times’ (even with the pang in my chest it creates in hindsight), are reflections of his growth as a person in this world.

There are many truths in this life, and one of them is “last times” are an inevitable part of our existence. There will be for the work we do as well. There will be a last time that “1 in 3” and  “1 in 5”, will be common refrains in our field. There will be a last time that sexual assault will be on the forefront of issues we have to tackle because the numbers are so high. There will be a last time that it will feel outside the cultural norm to check in on someone we are concerned about. If I was a betting woman, I would bet that we won’t even notice when that “last time” happens. In the day-to-dayness of our jobs we will continue creating change and small making choices that make our communities safer. Then one day, it will dawn on us, somewhere along the line our jobs got a little bit easier. The rates are down, audiences come in with knowledge already about what they can do, and more and more people talk about when they have actively contributed to a solution. Somewhere along the line, subtly, we will have found ourselves beginning to shift focus to other issues to tackle different problems. “What’s a green dot?” or “What can you do?” will have been replaced with a general assumption that of course we look out for each other with no real direct ties to any “program” that got us there. We won’t remember exactly when it shifted, we will just know that somewhere along the way, there was a last time. We will take pride in knowing that each of us contributed to that last time, that our actions shaped our culture. That last time will be a reflection of our collective growth. There will be a last time.

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