Political Issues ARE Parenting Issue

by Christine Organ
Originally Published: 
miodrag ignjatovic / iStock

I am an optimistic person by nature. I generally believe that most people are mostly good, and the world is a beautiful place. Some might think I’m just a happy-hand-holding-Kumbaya-singing-naïve-optimistic-idealist. And perhaps I am. But I don’t think so. I simply refuse to buy into the “people suck” mentality.

In order to avoid the “people suck” mentality, earlier this year, I made an intentional decision to adopt an IDGAF attitude and spend less time worrying about the opinions of others, especially the opinions of strangers.

But it has become increasingly difficult to do that.

You don’t need me to tell you that the world seems to have gone a little mad lately. Just one look at the internet, news headlines, and talk show commentary, and you would think our country — heck, our world— is going straight to hell in a handbasket. Between the selfish politicians, the judgy blamers and shamers, and the nasty trolls in the comments sections of the internet, it has become very hard to stay in my Bubble of Bliss.

Every election year, the world goes a little mad, I think, but this year is particularly baffling and maddening. We’ve got a buffoon with a bad comb-over running for president. We’ve got politicians who are more concerned with lining their pocketbooks with funds from the NRA than saving lives. We’ve got groups of people who are more concerned about what bathroom people use than what goes on behind dumpsters on college campuses. #theworldsgonefuckingmad

To top it all off, whenever we moms try to talk about it this madness, we are shushed. We are scolded. We are told to stick to the “mom issues.”

Excuse me, WHAT?! What does that even mean?

I’ve seen comments that tell writers who happen to be mothers to STFU, or say that “a mom’s page [is] not a political site” and shouldn’t “post BS” about legislative developments. I’ve read admonishments for not sticking to “parenting issues” and for daring to touch on “political issues.” I’ve heard people say moms shouldn’t advocate for their “agendas.”

Well, you know what? Fuck.That.Shit.

Yes, I am a mother, but here’s a news flash: I also have opinions — strong ones. And so do all the other mothers I know. We have thoughts and ideas and feelings about things other than playdates, diaper changes, and sleep schedules. We didn’t surrender our brains when we brought our babies home, and it is misogynistic to assume that we would have relinquished our intellect or to imply that we shouldn’t share our opinions.

Mothers are smart and strong and capable. We run families and corporations. We organize PTA meetings and board meetings. We balance household budgets and corporate financial statements. We have college degrees and MBAs and law degrees and PhDs. We have corporate experience and life experience. We know our shit, and our brains are filled with facts and data and information. We have thoughts and feelings and opinions. We should be able to talk about things other than chapped nipples and C-section scars without being called agenda-pushing zealots or propaganda-touting activists. When we talk about something a little deeper and more controversial than how much we love our yoga pants, we should be respected and heard (though we really do love our yoga pants).

I am not suggesting we all need to agree with each other. In fact, a healthy debate is just that — healthy. A difference of opinions is welcome. But unless your different opinion is more substantive than “shut up” or “stick to the mom issues,” the only response you will get from me is of the nonverbal middle finger variety.

If you aren’t interested in reading an article about gun control or abortion? That’s OK! If you don’t agree with my stance on contraceptive rights or paid family leave? Feel free to explain your opinion; I’m all ears. But if your only response is to shush us or tell us to stop talking, shame on you. Because the minute mothers are told to “stick to the mom issues,” you might as well bind us in our apron strings and swipe some flour on our nose because we have erased all of the progress made by previous generations of women — mothers — who fought for our voices to be heard.

Not only is shushing mothers sexist and demeaning (especially when the shushing comes from fellow mothers), but it is also short-sighted and ignorant. Because these aren’t political issues, these are parenting issues. These are life-and-death issues — literally.

It is often said that you shouldn’t talk about politics in polite company. But if you are OK with conversations about things like mucus plugs and whether or not we breastfeed and for how long, we sure as hell should be able to talk about things like contraceptive rights, abortion, and paid family leave. And quite frankly, if things like the safety of our children and whether or not we need to worry about them getting shot in their first-grade classroom isn’t a parenting issue, I don’t know what the hell is.

These aren’t Republican issues or Democratic issues, but family issues, and they matter. We should be talking about these issues at Monday morning playgroup and while we watch our kids swim at the pool. We should be reading about them and thinking about them and voting on them. We live in this country together — hell, in this world together — and this stuff matters. Not to mention the fact that because our children will be the next generation of leaders and educators and parents, we all have a stake in what happens to them.

Yes, we are mothers and with the very big title of Mom comes great privilege and great responsibility. It is a privilege to raise a family and bear witness to someone else’s life. But with that privilege comes the responsibility to use our voices to be an instrument of change so that the world our children grow into is one worthy of them.

And that is a responsibility I, for one, do not take lightly. Because I do not want to one day have to look my children in the eye with sorrow and say, I’m sorry that this is the world you are left with because I was too busy talking about diapers and playgroups and other “mom issues.”

No. I will not say that. Our children are worth more than that, and our lives are worth more than that.

So I will keep talking about things like gun control and paid parental leave and contraceptive rights and education reform. These aren’t political issues — they are parenting issues and life issues — and we mothers need to keep talking about them.

And if you don’t like it? Well, quite frankly, I don’t give a damn.

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