Ever since the presidential election last fall I’ve been outraged, depressed, terrified, and wanting to get more involved. I regret that I didn’t volunteer to call undecided voters or put up posters in 2016, but would it have made a difference if I had? I don’t know. What I do know is that the world sucks and I constantly feel that I should be doing more to help make it better.
Right now, I’m wearing my Mums Demand Action sweatshirt. Sometimes my husband jokes about it, that it gives us an excuse to make out, but (and you probably already know this), underneath the line Mums Demand Action, it says For Gun Sense In America. I bought the sweatshirt when it was advertised in an email from Everytown For Gun Safety. I’ve also got the Nasty Woman t-shirt benefiting Planned Parenthood, She Persisted stickers from NARAL Pro-Choice America, and a tote bag from Earthjustice, among other merch. My email and Facebook accounts are drowning in updates from congress reps and news organisations and liberal non-profits.
You got a petition? I’ll sign it. And I’ll forward it to my friends.
But sometimes that’s all I can do. Why? Because #MomLife. Maybe it’s a crappy excuse, but while this country is maybe/maybe not going to war with North Korea and some stodgy old men in DC are trying to take away my fundamental womanly rights, I’m fishing a Lego-sized booger out of my son’s nose. I’m checking reading logs and math homework, sewing holes in tights, folding laundry, potty training, cooking, crafting, combing for head lice — the list goes on. It’s hard AF being a mum and a human, and when you add concerned citizen to the mix, it gets even harder.
Every time I get an alert or an invitation to a rally or a march, it coincides with taking my son to the dermatologist or my daughter to the ENT. The vigil I would so passionately like to attend? It starts right at bedtime, and my husband’s working late and I can’t find a sitter. Depending on the issue, maybe I don’t think it would be safe to schlep my kids to a protest, and the one thing I don’t ever want to do is put my kids in danger.
Even if the protest happens to be on a weekend, my kids don’t want to spend their Saturday doing that boring-a*s crap. They want to go to the park or ride bikes. They don’t want to stand completely still, two to three feet shorter than everyone else in a crowd of hundreds of people, listening to local members of congress scream through tinny megaphones about stuff they’re too young to understand. Not that I don’t try, sometimes. We’ll show up at rallies and I’ll have a backpack full of snacks — every crunchy treat I can find in the house, plus emergency chocolate. I make sure my phone is fully charged so they can quietly play games or watch videos while we’re standing there. We’ll cheer, we’ll applaud. After a while, when the wriggling and whining begin to distract the people around us, we’ll decide to pack it in.
I try to make it real for them, explaining what we’re there to support or oppose, but it isn’t easy or even remotely comfortable to define white supremacy or sexual harassment to young kids. It sucks.
And that’s where I’m at, stuck in a cycle of guilt and bursts of involvement followed by distractions and avoidance. I do my best. For me, that means donating money whenever I can, however small the amount. It means wearing my Mom’s Demand Action sweatshirt and signing every petition that comes my way. It means having my senators and congress people’s phone numbers in my phone and calling them when I can. Maybe on speaker phone while I’m folding laundry, or when I’m walking to the school bus stop. It always makes me a little self conscious, folding Paw Patrol undies while thanking Senator Gillibrand for doing everything in her power to reject Trump’s tax reform plan and asking her to keep fighting for the rights of immigrants and women, but she can’t see the undies or the blush on my cheeks, and hopefully the calls occasionally mean something.
Maybe I’ll never be the activist I really want to be (although I know some mums who are doing it all, and to them I say THANK YOU!), but I’ll keep trying. Because even if my kids are holding me back, sometimes they’re the only thing keeping me going.