The Women’s March on Washington is this Saturday and there are more than 600 sister marches happening around the world, an energizing and inspiring effect of an election result that, for many of us, has been scary.
Our health care, our democratic ideals, the ethics of our institutions, the progress we’ve made to confront our country’s violent history of racism, sexism, and homophobia all may be at great risk. Marching in peaceful unity gives us the opportunity to be heard en masse, to link arms with each other, literally and figuratively, and to see how it feels to stand in solidarity with so many. I can’t imagine how powerful Saturday will be for the social activist movements going forward in 2017.
What do you do, though, if you want to be part of the resistance but you have small children, the sort that can’t be brought along to a march? What if, logistically, financially, medically, marching is simply not in the cards for you this weekend? Should you spend your Saturday forlornly pushing your kid on the playground swings, feeling guilty and disconnected? No way!
Look, I’m neither an expert in activism or in motherhood, but I care deeply about both and I believe that parenting this weekend (and anytime) need not be seen as an alternative to resisting: in fact, isn’t one an integral part of the other?
In that light, here are five ways for parents who can’t march on Saturday to remain involved in a resistance movement that is only just beginning. There are really two inaugurations this weekend: on Friday, that of a new president, and on Saturday, that of a new movement, rooted in and supported by some of the great civil rights activists of the last century. As the dust settles after the weekend, let’s show our country, ourselves, and our kids what matters to us.
If you’re raising children right now, you are inextricably connected to the future of our country and planet. As Dr. Seuss said in "The Lorax," “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot nothing is going to get better. It's not.” Raising kind kids who care is an ESSENTIAL part of resisting hate.
I called my congressional rep a few weeks ago while my son was singing and clomping around in the living room and not only did it force me to speak at a deafening volume, I was easily able to convey actual panic (over one of the president-elect’s nominees AND my son’s precarious position on the arm of the couch) and keep things succinct and to the point. I also inadvertently made a congressional staffer laugh. My personal humiliation can effect the change I want to see!
Reading to your kids doesn’t just make them smarter and more literate; it also engenders empathy. And it is that empathy, that understanding of what someone else is feeling, that will compel our children to create and reshape our country so that it benefits all of its citizens, not a select few.
Find a fascinating article about something that concerns you or that you didn’t know about, like our still segregated public schools or more evidence of climate change, and read it before bed or on your commute or while you’re sitting on a bean bag chair next to your sick toddler who won’t go to sleep unless you’re right there holding his hand.
I’m realizing lately how easy it can be for me to scroll madly through news stories, absorbing nothing but gut-wrenching terror, or to bury my head under a blanket and pretend everything is going to stay the same. A meaty piece of journalism won’t necessarily be soothing, but it does ring the alarm bells in a gentler, more thorough way, while still keeping the fight in me alive.
Often as mothers and women we define ourselves in contrast to other mothers, other women, and how we aren’t like them, and that that is a good thing. The website for The Women’s March features these words from Audre Lorde: “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
So this weekend and beyond, let’s be compassionate to all the other mothers, let’s show them the depth of our hearts and see the depth of theirs so that we may join together in our fight for our rights as people.
One more quote to leave you with, this time, from Alice Walker: “Yes, Mother. I can see you are flawed. You have not hidden it. That is your greatest gift to me.”