A Personal Note

It's my daughter's birthday. So today, I'm writing about Leslie and how she inspires my service to the community.

As you know by now, every week in this space I write about RCA, the services we provide for the community, and the ways we're trying to make Reston a better community.  I hope you'll indulge me this week as I deviate from my typical topics.  Because this is a special day, and I want to talk about someone who inspires me to work on Reston's future.

Eleven years ago today, on a chilly evening in Charlottesville, I held my daughter Leslie for the first time.  She was my first and, so far, only child.  I was new to the parenting game, but I already knew that my life would never be the same.  And indeed it has not been the same, and I couldn't be happier about that.

To say that Leslie makes me proud would be an understatement.  She's bright, charming, kind-hearted, and has a great sense of humor.  She is a joy to be around.  She is in the Advanced Academics program, and she's becoming a talented flute player.  I am as proud of her as a parent can be. 

Raising Leslie has changed my perspective in a lot of ways, and my approach toward the community is definitely one of them.  Becoming a parent alters your perspective on time in a big way.  You become much more of a long-term thinker.  I am happy that Reston is a good place to live now, of course.   But I'm also interested in making sure that it remains a good place to live years from now. 

If Leslie chooses to stay here and (hopefully) raise a family of her own, I want to be sure that this is still the sort of community she'll want to live in.  And the only way to make sure of that is to get involved in shaping that future myself.  That desire, combined with the sense that I owe something to the place I grew up in (as mentioned in ), helped inspire me to get involved in community leadership.

In my various community responsibilities, I try to think of Leslie's future in the decisions I make.  For instance, the is charged with shaping a vision of what Reston will be decades from now.  A lot of us on the Task Force may not be around to see the vision come to fruition, but Leslie will be living that future.  It's crucial that we get it right, because if we don't, Leslie and her generation will have to live with our mistakes.

Similarly, I support the work of because they're planning for a future of scarce resources.  If we can build a sustainable community now, Leslie's generation will reap the benefits.

Unfortunately, being involved in community service has definitely involved some sacrifices for Leslie and me.  There are nights when I'm at meetings instead of at home.  And there are meetings that, for lack of a child-care option, Leslie must attend with me.  (She is always very polite and well-behaved at the meetings, even when they're really boring.)  But she understands and appreciates the work I'm doing, and she even offers ideas and suggestions for RCA.  (She was also extremely valuable as my senior campaign advisor when I ran for RCA president this summer.)

Tonight, happily, my only meeting involves lighting candles and handing over presents.  In addition to the toys and books she'll be getting from me, I hope that I can ultimately give her an even bigger present: a Reston that will be the ideal place for her to live, work, and play, just like it is for her dad.

Happy 11th Birthday, Leslie.  I love you.  You make me so proud every day.  And I hope that when you're grown up, you'll be as proud of Reston as I am.

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Tammi Petrine December 16, 2011 at 06:36 AM
Leslie, Happiest of Birthdays yet! You and Daddio are the dynamic duo. Keep up the good work. Colin, congrats on a being a great parent; the hardest job on the planet. Tam
Colin Mills December 17, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Leslie says, "Thank you. And yes, he is!"
Colin Mills December 17, 2011 at 06:31 PM
And Leslie and I are lucky to have you around, for babysitting and to spend time with. Leslie says, "I love you too, Grandma!"
Colin Mills December 17, 2011 at 06:32 PM
Thanks, Ken. Leslie and I are lucky to have our family so close.
Colin Mills December 17, 2011 at 06:36 PM
Leslie says, "Thank you! My daddy works very hard." I thank you as well. Parenting is a tough job, but also my most important one. I never forget that.


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