I’ve been trying to find my words about being a mother in this climate of political aggression and hatred. I watch decision after horrifying decision be made in our government since the election. I realize, embarrassingly, I must have no idea how government works, because you never could have convinced me prior to November 11th, 2016, that any of these events would ever happen. Clearly, I have some shit to learn.
I have donated money, made phone calls, signed petitions, read as much as I can tolerate to try to learn about what is going on and what to do, but I feel like I’m trying to put out a forest fire with a tiny little dropper thing-y.
There is a reason I was a psychology major, not a political science major, after all. Try as I do, I just don’t fucking get it. Especially now. I’m decent at understanding people, pretty miserable at politics, and there’s nothing like our current situation to remind me of that.
But I also know that since people create politics, I stand a chance in understanding this. Politics are about people, after all. But I’m not gonna lie, I have found myself fantasizing about raising my kids off the grid in the mountains somewhere so I can preserve their wide eyed psyches from this shit for as long as possible. I’ve wondered if somehow leaving this increasingly unstable, hostile, and unfair system would be a better choice.
Yet, I know I won’t leave. I won’t leave the world I chose to bring my children into, that I believed in enough to birth them into being. I won’t leave the people and places I have come to treasure as part of my existence. I won’t abandon this monumental task of preparing and sending my children out into the beauties, and the trials, that await them.
So if I’m not going to leave, then I must help. I must contribute. And there is no better place for me to take action than within my own family.
If you are a mother, wondering how the hell you are going to find the time to become an involved social activist right now, I am here to tell you one of the most impactful ways to influence society starts in your home. Yes, we need on the ground, in the streets and hallways, activism in a huge way. We also need—just as urgently—intentionality and agency in our families, homes, and intimate relationships.
Think about it. As mothers, we are in the position to create in our home a system of sensitivity and justice, of empowerment and authenticity. How we live IS what we teach to our children. Our presence, choices, and beliefs as mothers has a tremendous impact on the hearts and minds of the ones we are raising.
Of course, fathers and partners play just as important a role, too. How we collaborate with and relate to our spouse or partner is the foundation of the home. From my perspective, the relational eco system between the parents make up the building blocks of our entire society. Equality, empowerment, fairness, sensitivity, are hopefully all being modeled in the intimate partnerships that our children are being raised within.
Mothering and partnership are powerful influences on how our larger social system functions. What we don’t embody and advocate for in our own home can’t be pursued in our larger world. People who understand how to create secure, fair, and loving relationships, and those who grow up in contexts where relationships are valued, are needed in the world BIG TIME. Especially in a world that is erupting with entitled, bigoted, and corporate agendas that offend many basic human rights.
Caring for and nurturing others is a valid form of active contribution to society (though the GNP doesn’t count it as such). When people are adequately nurtured—spouses, children, loved ones—they understand the value of caring for others and for themselves. They learn through their own experience that caring for self AND other are NOT mutually exclusive. We can do both, even at the same time.
While the world is important to me, it is also extremely important that I not lose sight of what I can touch and hold with my bare hands. Like my two young children who believe wholeheartedly in a world that is fair, loving, and sensitive—because that is how my marriage and our home function. I want that experience downloaded forever inside of them. I want them to have the felt sense of how to create that for themselves and others, where ever they go.
Mother’s have many pathways of influence that don’t look like traditional activism, but are potent and powerful in their ability to shape our world. Motherhood has remained marginal to feminist inquiry, but if you are a mother, you know that mothering is central in your experience. Mothering can be a practice where our activism can live, breathe, and take root. Every day, we are on the forefront of creating the consciousness and environment that will sustain life for all. Thank you for everything you do, mama, every day, to help that world come to fruition.