More than anyone on this earth, mothers are invested in the future; we give birth to and raise the future. So, why then, do we constantly hear commentary along the lines of, "Keep politics out of mom spaces. Talk about motherhood instead."
Because, in case you haven't noticed, motherhood is political. It is perhaps the most political occupation one can have.
We have no choice but to care; leaving politics out of it is impossible and unacceptable.
Not needing to care about politics as a mother is a privilege. It means that your health, safety, financial stability and very existence do not depend on decisions made by others; that your life won't change drastically depending on who is in charge. There are so many people—millions of American mothers—for whom politics is a matter of life and death.
The truth is that every single aspect of motherhood is affected by politics.
Motherhood is healthcare. Mothers are dying in childbirth. Mothers are struggling from the lack of access to mental health services. Mothers are fighting to get their children's basic health needs met. Politicians make the decisions that impact healthcare; so while there are women who die giving birth to the next generation of citizens, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is the impact of racism. Systemic racism is so embedded into our daily lives our country has accepted it as normal—and the results are disastrous. Politicians sit at the helm of that system; so while there are mothers who fear for the lives of their children because of the color of their skin, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is the economy. There are mothers who work multiple jobs, mothers who live paycheck to paycheck, praying that they will be able to afford a roof and food. Politicians vote on changes to workplace laws; so while there are mothers for whom one missed paycheck means homelessness for their children, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is the lack of paid parental leave. The United States is the only industrialized nation without a national paid parental leave program—politicians decided that; so while there are women who must return to work within two weeks of giving birth, while they are still bleeding from their births, motherhood will remain political. The 2021 State of Motherhood Survey found that 85% of mothers say they would support or vote for a political candidate who supported childcare legislation that did more to actively support mothers, regardless of that candidate's party affiliation.
Motherhood is a pandemic. Mothers have lost jobs during the pandemic disproportionately more than fathers. The mothers that do have jobs are holding up the front lines as essential workers—teaching, nursing, food service and caregiving are all fields that employ more women than men. In the meantime, mothers are expected to figure out the pandemic childcare crisis completely on their own—politicians have not helped; so while there are mothers who are risking their lives during a pandemic for a society that won't lift a finger to help them, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is our bodies. Our bodies have been legislated for hundreds of years; they are the center of the debate in the Supreme Court. Your feelings on abortion, whatever they may be, are political because politicians are making the decisions; so while they sit behind closed doors and decide what women can do with their bodies, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is immigration. There are 40 million immigrants in the United States—many of them are mothers—many of them are our mothers. Politicians gather to decide the fate of people who were born on the other side of a geographic line (that was decided by other politicians); so while people debate what constitutes human rights for mothers and their children, motherhood will remain political.
Motherhood is LGBTQ+ rights. Whether you have an LGBTQ+ child, family member or friend (you probably do) or are a member of the Queer community yourself, the lack of LGBTQ+ rights and equity impacts you in some way. Just five years ago, it became legal for LGBTQ+ families to adopt in every state in the U.S. (there are still many inequities in rights, though). Guess who made that decision? The Supreme Court, comprised of judges nominated by politicians; so while there are people who want to raise a child but have to fight for basic rights based on who they love, motherhood will remain political.
Consider this list and all the ways these very political concepts impact motherhood every day.
I can't tell you what to care about, but I will beg you to care.
Our children's futures depend on you caring. To create any kind of change, we have to put the people in leadership who reflect our values and will ensure our children's future—whatever that means for you.
Women have been told to stay quiet since the dawn of time. Our opinions have been dismissed, our thoughts discarded, our voices silenced by any means necessary. But we are the generation that has said enough. That has uncomfortable conversations and votes in record numbers and cares deeply about our future. We are fumbling in the dark and making mistakes and trying again.
We are brave, we are loud—we are mothers. There is nothing more powerful than us.
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