I saw you at the march last week. No, I wasn’t next to you. I was at home on my couch. I saw you on the news. You were in your Pride shirts and Pussy hats and I was in my pajamas or perhaps, if I was lucky, a clean pair of yoga pants. You had your bottle of water to hydrate you against the 90 degree heat. I had my cold cup of coffee I had already reheated twice that morning. There you were with your signs and your chants, and there I was at home. I saw you. I appreciate that you put your life on hold and your body on the line. Because I can’t. You see, while you were there marching and chanting and protesting I was at home wiping butts, tending boo boos, and making snacks so many snacks. I had tiny people who depended on me, not just for their immediate needs, but to be there every day all day.
It’s easy to criticize people like me for staying home. Hell, Tina Fey literally just did a skit on this. I’ve been called lazy and uncommitted to the cause. I have been sneered at for exercising white privilege and sitting out because “this crap doesn’t affect [me]”. People have criticized me for allowing others to sacrifice and put in the physical and emotional labor while I sit out. I have been told I don’t have skin in the game. But I DO have skin in the game. Every morning I have to look two little girls in the face and renew my vow to make this world a better place FOR THEM. I cannot think of having more skin in the game than the responsibility of raising two girls who have to make their way in the world we are creating. It is not my skin that concerns me- it is theirs- their rights, their bodies, their choices.
So to my protesting brothers and sisters- the truth is I need you to do that heavy labor at marches because while you are marching I am raising. Along with my fellow stay at home activists, I am raising the next generation of marchers, activists, civil rights leaders and possibly a president. My work is also important because every day that I get up and “stay home” I am preparing these girls for a world that I am hoping will change before they leave my nest. But that is my job right now. I will turn on the news coverage of the protest and point you out. I will tell my daughters about the importance of standing up for others, to protest when they see injustice done. I will make sure that they see you out there.
To the other parent activists- I see you too. I see you explain to your children about justice and love. I see you carefully choosing the bedtime stories that will impart the messages of tolerance and celebrate the stories of those that fought before us. I see you challenging family members who speak of intolerance and bigotry in front of your children even though it would be ‘easier to keep the peace’. I see you making the phone calls and sharing the news stories on social media during nap time despite the mound of laundry and a million other things that need to be done. I see you always being mindful of your words and actions because they see you too. Your children see you too.
They say the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, but perhaps the hand that rocks the cradle can change the world.