This post talks about politics, which I will do my very best to never talk about again. However, there is no way to tell the story I want to tell today without talking politics.
After the events of the last week, I was debating whether or not to talk about it or try to avoid it altogether. However, my Facebook feed has been filled with stories of amazing women and their amazing lives, so I figured I should talk about it too.
I have been very lucky in my life. Not only am I privileged as a white, middle-class, college-educated, woman living in New Hampshire. I have been able to surround myself with wonderful and talented women. I have an aunt that built a small business for herself and one that is a very important person (I’m not sure what she does, but she’s very important) for a big company that gets to travel around the world and speaks a bunch of different languages. I have women in my family that jump out of airplanes, others fight chronic illnesses. I have been able to befriend some crazy talented actors, and improvisers Many of my closest friends are amazing, loving, mothers, raising a generation of young men and women that will be just a fierce and fantastic as their mothers. I have some excellent role models and peers, and I know it.
But in my long list of amazing women, there is one that will always and forever be the biggest inspiration to me. The beginning of this story starts in a weird place, but there has to be an origin story to everything, so for this one, I start on– what I’m going to assume was a cold– January day in my second-grade classroom in the mid-nineties.
I was a new kid in second grade, I moved into the new school at the end of October. As I’m sure some of you know, there is a stigma to being a new kid, let alone the super awkward, new kid even at 7-years-old; and even though my 8th birthday was 4 days after I moved to the new school, the cupcakes a brought in did not make me any friends. Fortunately, that January we got another new girl, with a weirder name than mine. This girl would become my best friend, and we’ve been friends now for over 2 decades, but this story isn’t about her and I. It’s about that girl’s mother.
I don’t remember when I actually met her, but I’m going to assume it was second or third grade. I remember my best friend’s third birthday party with the kind of accuracy that many remember yesterday. It was right after blue was added to M&M’s, which, as you know, was a historical event worth remembering. I know that is was the first time I met my best friend’s little sister, but I can’t remember if her mom was part of the field trip chaperones in second grade or not. I really don’t think the exact moment that I met her is important, only that I met her when I was 8 or 9 years old.
I’m sure my group of friends was not the only one where our mothers became the mothers to everyone in our little group, there were two moms who took charge of our little group. For most of middle school, it was like I had 3 or 4 moms, as the friend of my little brother’s best friend also kind of adopted most us as well. As I mentioned before, I have been incredibly lucky.
Anyway, back to my best friend’s mom, who I will call “Mom B” for the rest of the story. Mom B was the “come here if you’re going to be home alone” mom. I lived up the street from them starting in 5th grade. Their house was a 5-minute walk or 1-minute bike ride from my house. I spent a lot of days over there in the woods across the street from their house. Mom B was always there making sure we didn’t get into too much mischief. Mom B hosted us during what I can only describe as a super weird Thanksgiving tradition where 4th graders got to go home for the middle of the day and were supposed to Thanksgiving like things and then we went back to school and had a feast. She did our hair and makeup for the 8th-grade graduation dance. She took care of my little brother when he whipped out on his bike. She let me into her house at 2 am when I locked myself out of my house letting my dog out while my parents were on a camping trip.
It was during my freshman year of high school that this story really begins. You see, Mom B was in an accident at the beginning of that school year. I won’t go into the specifics as I remember them, mainly because I will probably get them wrong, but Mom B had a severe concussion and post-concussion syndrome, which basically is something that professional football and hockey players get a lot because they get hit in the head all the time. Here is a Wikipedia article about it if you are interested. That explains it way better than I could. In the most basics of terms, her brain bounced around a lot in her head and caused some permanent damage.
Mom B wasn’t quite the same after, she was still an amazing person, just differently. I remember the early days that she wore sunglasses all time because any kind of light bothered her. Do to the concussion, what she could do changed, she had to relearn how to drive and many other things, driving is just the one that sticks out to me because I was learning to drive at the same time. I’m not 100% sure what Mom B did for a job before the accident, because what 14-year-old knows what your friends’ parents do for work, but I know she could no longer do it. Instead, Mom B turned to becoming extremely active in change and fighting for the cause.
I’m sure that before the accident she was also as passionate and strong-willed about being the change you want to see in the world, but when it started to affect my life was in 2004, when I turned 18 and had the opportunity to vote for the first time.
For those who don’t remember, the 2004 election was between President George W. Bush and Massachuttes Senator John Kerry. President Bush was kind of unpopular and would occasionally say things like “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning.” and would misuse the word “resolve” a lot. But as far as Republican presidents go, there was a far less chance that we would get mad and nuke Michigan, and more of a chance his saying something that made no sense and vastly mishandling natural disasters (i.e., Hurricane Katrina). I was in 8th grade to my junior year of college during his presidency and for the most part uninterested in world events– much less so than I am now. So I couldn’t tell you much about President Bush’s policies, I mostly remember thinking that fighting a family feud war about oil was a bad idea and Mom B explained quite a bit about standing up to fight against these kinds of things.
I got to see John Kerry speak in the indoor skate park nearby. We (my best friend, her sister, Mom B, myself and probably other people but I don’t remember) were volunteers for the event. We set up the area and got to stand relatively close to the action when secret service and the Senator showed up. I got to skip school and stand outside the polls in my small town with my best friend, her sister and Mom B holding signs for Senator Kerry. It was a great experience. I got to watch democracy first hand, and although my candidate didn’t win, I saw that the best thing to do when life doesn’t go your way to fight. Stand up against the injustices and find your voice.
Mom B continued her fight, and she instilled in us that the election isn’t the end of the fight. There were midterm elections to ready for and Congress people to write to make sure that we are not forgotten. I wish I had been more involved in the elections since, but I was in college in a different state, and this election cycle was so exhausting to watch, I can’t even imagine what being actively involved in it. However, the outcome and the last few days is changing how I feel about how active I will be in the coming years; because as I’ve been taught if I don’t use my voice, no one else is going to do it for me.
Last year was tiring, my candidate lost twice. I was hardcore backing Senator Bernie Sanders in the primaries, and as much as I didn’t like Secretary Hillary Clinton, she did have her good qualities. I learned this election season that I had to look past my personal feelings that have been instilled in my for a long time, especially about Secretary Clinton and other high-powered policial women, to see the kind of person that they would be at the job. “Imagine people complexly” as on of my favorite authors has said many times.
Over the weekend there was a very large Women’s March. I did not march because I had work to do over the weekend– it’s not a good reason, but it’s all I got. Many of my friends did, my fierce warrior women friends marched in their respective states to voice their constitutional right to assemble and protest in this country that got its start because of civil disobedience. (One of the things that really bothered me this weekend was seeing people complain and say that the founding fathers would never stand for something like this when they, literally, dressed up as Native Americans and threw a bunch of tea in a harbor in the middle of December night and started a Revolution. John Handcock would be proud of what was done over the weekend.)
The point of my story is resilience; to not give up when the world kicks you so hard that it seems completely impossible to move on. What Mom B has pushed into me in the over 20 years that I have known her is to stand up and engage. When life says “sit down.” Don’t. Fight it. Change your course and find a different way to do your thing. Your voice is worth hearing. It is up to you to stand on the top of the building or march to the capital and scream until they hear you. The collective we are at a point in history where we can’t lay down, we need to stand and scream, and never stop screaming. We need to march and protest and sign petitions and do everything we can to make sure we are heard. If day one brings us “Alternative Facts,” who knows what we will get on day 10 or 100. We need to brace and be ready. Mom B taught me how to scream, and I will always be thankful that she did.
Your opinion may be completely different from mine. I have friends and family members whose political ideologies are the complete opposite of mine, but I have close relationships with them. I think this is why I don’t usually talk about things like I’ve talked about in this post, and I will do my very best to no talk about politics again unless we enter a state where I need to. This blog is my voice, and I like having a voice.
Until next time Internet