TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - From Plant City to Tallahassee, Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody is one of two women in the Florida Cabinet. It is historic. Beyond the law, she is keeping her family together in the fast-paced world of Tallahassee, dealing with the busy schedule of a working mom like any other.
On one Friday afternoon, Moody is almost home, but she's got one last stop at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. When she arrives, there are a number of law enforcement officers desperate for help themselves.
She's there to highlight the sad fact that first responders are more likely to die by suicide than in the line of duty. Their mental health, she said, is just as important as anyone else's and it's time to start talking about that.
"When you're in professions that expose you to those types of situations, and I'm going to talk about law enforcement, firefighters -- really all first responders, it's tough," she said, "As the wife of a law enforcement officer, we talk about that a lot."
When a troubled man put it into words, she never forgot it.
"It wasn't even a poem,” she recalled. “It was just a passage, but he wrote this, 'Every time I go to a call, I put it in a box in my brain and my heart. And it stays there. And then one time the box just spilled over and I cried for a week and it was all of the things I have put in for so long.' There's just no shame in this."
As a lawyer, prosecutor and judge, Moody has seen plenty herself.
"There are images of children," she said thinking back before starting over. "There are images that will never leave my mind."
As a fighter, Moody said that has given her some grit.
She's a hometown girl from Plant City -- a strawberry queen, but her home is now in Tallahassee, where she is getting used to life. She's the first working mom to sit in the office of Attorney General.
She has been busy leading Florida in litigation that has been making headlines across the nation: Purdue Pharma, the opiod epidemic, Facebook and its anti-trust violation – just to name a few. She helped create the state's first ever Council on Human Trafficking.
And somewhere in between all that, she's got a personal life to live.
Her husband Justin is a federal agent with the DEA. It's a sweet family that's kept it pretty simple, and her tone softens when she talks about it.
"He's just so good as a husband, as a father," she said laughing. "When I told Justin, he didn't flinch. I said I would love to be the attorney general. I told him it's going to mean a lot of time, it's going to be hard on our family. He did not even take a second. He said, ‘Ashley, absolutely. I'm behind you all the way.’”
“We never looked back,” Moody added.
Like any other parent relocating for work, she worried about whether her 7-year-old son Connor would like his new school. The mom guilt is real, she said. If the campaign took a lot of work, the job it earned her took even more.
"Talk about things that stay with you,” Moody said. “I have this memory. It was very early, maybe 6 a.m., and I'm backing out of the driveway. I see the door open and his little face."
She made sure to keep him front and center, Moody said. Maybe that's why she talks about her role as a baseball mom with the same passion she does for the law.
"People think I'm tough because I'm this attorney general, I get the grit from being a prosecutor, but I'm also a baseball travel mom," she said laughing.
A baseball team, which, by the way, won the state championship and the players got to meet the governor. As for Connor and all that mom guilt, she has a simple token of a handmade card she will keep forever.
"He brought home a picture of me that he had drawn, and it was really good,” Moody said. “It had this attorney general button. I usually wear a pin on my jacket.”
But Moody said it was what was on the back that melted her heart. "It said my mom this, and my mom that. And one said my mom makes good...," she trailed off, smiling bigger, "And I think that's where you're supposed to put cookies or pancakes and it said, ‘My mom makes good laws.'"
There it was -- proof he's rooting for her success just as much as everyone else.
"We carry around this weight of everything we're supposed to be doing or should be doing," she said, "and then you see how excited and invested and part of it they are and that's when I can say, ‘you're doing okay, you're doing okay.’"