I’m going to start out by saying…I am not an activist. I have never been an activist in my entire life. Not that I don’t believe in anything, but because it somehow didn’t rise to the top of my priorities – (and I didn’t like being cold or uncomfortable, ha ha). But today I attended the Women’s March in Trenton, NJ, not to become an activist, but because I was just trying to be a good mom.
Like many of my friends, I struggled after the election with sadness and frustration, and it was also the first time that my kids were of an age during a presidential campaign where they cared, they talked about it with us, and they needed reassurance. Shannon is a caring, emotional, and kind teenager. She cried on election night. She could barely go to school the day after. She wanted to take action, and desperately wanted to engage, so when we heard about the Women’s march in Washington, we talked about going, but I hedged. I travel so much already, I couldn’t commit to it. But I had that feeling- you know that feeling – that I needed to pay attention. I saw the sister marches popping up, and that some friends were going to Philadelphia, New York, and Trenton. But here is what went through my mind:
How will we get there? I have to plan everything out. I hate crowds, there will be crowds. What if it isn’t safe? Could we stay overnight? Where would we stay? I have so much to do….no….there’s no way I can make this happen.
I was in Kentucky all week. I flew home on Thursday night and arrived home at 1AM. I had lamented to my colleagues David and Christy who were with me during the week: I know that Shannon really wants to go to this march. I just don’t know if I have it in me. They were empathetic, knowing how hard it is to travel and squeeze everything else in on the weekends, it just sometimes feels… too much. In my mind, I had already written it off. We’ll do something else. Volunteer, get involved. Something.
On Friday, Shannon asked me: So, are we going to Washington?
Me: Uh…..No….? (Guilt, Guilt, Guilt, I’m a crummy mother, I am lazy, self absorbed. I just want to lay on the couch in my fleece pants.)
Shannon: Oh. (Disappointed.)
Me: Well, maybe we can go to Trenton, let me look into it. (Hedge, hedge, hedge).
By Friday night, I had convinced myself I could do it. (Yes we can!) Who needs a clean house? Who needs groceries? Logistically, although I was a little concerned about parking, Trenton is literally ten minutes from our house, and the size of it felt OK to me, not overwhelming, I could handle it. I will not be a lazy mom!
I can’t say enough about how happy I am that I had this experience, and that SHE had this experience. From the moment we approached the steps of the Patriot’s Theater in Trenton where they were kicking off the event, you could feel the energy, the unity, and the feeling of just “togetherness.” There were women, there were men, there were babies and children, there were grandparents. Some carried signs, some wore pink hats, a few wore purple coats, all were wearing big smiles. (Shannon and I chuckled at the sign one young girl held up: My country voted, and all I got was this lousy President.)
Shannon, armed with her own sign, breathed in: This is so cool.
Even though we had to stand outside for almost two hours, and couldn’t completely feel our toes by the time the actual marching began, we cheered, we chanted, we talked to people around us, and like most things we do together, just enjoyed each other’s company, and felt connected in that we cared about the same things. Equality, diversity, decency, just being a good HUMAN BEING. We passed the police at the intersections, people were calling out to them: Thank you! They smiled, and waved back at the crowd, appreciative.
As a parent, I have always just wanted to raise my kids to be good people who are humble, kind, and empathetic. Sometimes I have to push myself off the couch and get out of my fleece pants to make sure they get the experiences they deserve. This was a good reminder of that. I am encouraged by how engaged my teenagers, (and their friends) are in what is going on in the world. I would never have asked my mom to take me to a women’s march, I barely paid attention to politics, candidates, or issues at the age of 17. Bravo to them – they are the future, and we should make sure they care. A lot.
Thanks to all the people in Trenton today who were so uplifting, inspiring, and good-natured. We felt something very special today. Now let’s keep reflecting upon our own humility, empathy, and act upon what we truly care about. I believe that is being an activist, right? So what do you know, maybe I am one.