mothers day

The Politics of Motherhood: Why We Fight

There’s nothing in my life that means more to me than being a mother.

But motherhood is kind of strange. It seems as if one minute there weren’t people here and then BAM!—people. And they are the silliest, smartest, most wonderful people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Cute, too. It fills me with pride when I realize I had a hand in their creation—and it blows my mind every single time I let myself consider it for more than a couple of seconds.

Given recent events, it’s fair to say things are uncertain in our world. From my perspective, we have an ill-equipped leader in the White House making decisions based on . . . well, I actually have no idea what his decisions are based on. I feel like my cat has made better decisions in the last 24 hours than our President has made in the last 100 days. But my cat doesn’t use Twitter, so she already has a leg up on the person who holds the highest office in our country, even if she does lick her own butt.

Before I get way off topic, let me get back to motherhood. Motherhood and politics may seem unrelated, but I think motherhood is a very political endeavor. If you believe the personal is political, then motherhood is the perfect stage for examining politics. It’s an intersection of race, culture, privilege, and socioeconomic status that highlights the glaring inequalities in our society in a way few other situations do. 

The politics of motherhood are exactly why we have to fight. I know if I asked many of you why you’ve become more involved in politics since the election or why you participated in the Women’s March or why you have thought about joining your local chapter of NOW, you would say it’s because of children—your children or other people’s children. I know I decided to get involved and demand change simply because our children deserve better.

Blog Author Sara Butler, pictured with her two children.

My daughters deserve a world that sees them as whole people. They deserve a world that affords them access to affordable health care and education. A world that allows them to make decisions about their own bodies without shame or fear. They deserve a world that hears their cries of “NO” and takes them seriously. That’s not too much to expect for my girls—and all girls. That’s what I’m fighting for as their mom. And as a sister, daughter, and friend.

But we all know that being a mother is about more than politics. It’s also about kissing scraped elbows— and it’s about hiding in the pantry to enjoy a candy bar without interruption. It’s also about being a role model. When my kids look back on their formative years, I want them to remember me as a strong, fierce, and loving mom who was willing to stand up for what I believed in. That’s the legacy I want to leave. Also, that a bra is optional.

I would like to extend a heartfelt “Happy Mother’s Day” to every mother out there—and to every woman who serves as a role model for a child. We’re all in this together. If you’re thinking, “I don’t have kids,” consider that Susan B. Anthony was also childless, and she has certainly inspired women to expect and demand more from the society in which they live. You don’t have children in order to love or influence them—or to demand a more just world for them, either.