This post was written by Tina Beattie:
I have always loved talking about, reading about and arguing about politics. Always. I am infatuated with our political system —how present, palpable it is for us. Despite the access that big dollar groups have–the insider circles and other perceived barriers–we really can, as citizens, impact our political system. In this country we can organize, protest, influence, visit and even hug our elected officials. How cool is that?
You can tell I am a bit of a nerd about this…my friends have long known this about me and have tolerated me. They’ve even indulged my once a year election e-mail outlining my opinions and arguments on things like ballot initiatives that I know no one else has the time or inclination to read.
But now that I am a mom, things have gotten weird. My friends don’t want to hear about politics—at all. When I was pregnant, a long time mentor told me she had seen it before: once a woman has children she loses her interest in politics. I was certain I would be the exception–and I am. Now that I see things through the mom lens—what kind of world are we creating for our children’s futures? I’m even more interested in politics, in my rights as a citizen.
I have been chastised and blackballed by some of my mommy friends for what I guess is cultural taboo. Some think that broaching politics at a playgroup is bad form. But if discussing what we can do for our children is uncomfortable, isn’t that a sure sign it is important? It isn’t my political perspective, as a Republican who champions environmental stewardship; I like to think, what’s not to like? Its the general topic. As though we, as moms, are either above or below the political discourse. Politics are too harsh, too complicated, too hopeless for us to spend our time talking about them. Or even worse, we think we lack some credibility because we are “just” moms. I would argue that being moms only enhances our citizenship because now we engage not only for our rights but for the rights of our children.
I have a theory why the politics of what is happening in our environment is particularly taboo, regardless of your political leanings. Because the environment isn’t this abstract thing – it IS all around us. It is what goes in our noses and fills our lungs everyday. It is close enough to be so relevant that beginning the conversation means we can’t end it. Once you know and acknowledge the issue, how do you stop thinking about the thing that surrounds you and your children?
I am here to argue that the sandbox—and the swing set, and the jungle gym, and the ball field and the PTA and the bake sales—are exactly the places parents should be talking about important things like clean air. If we moms can share great information on schools, products and books why not talk about what bills and actions are happening in Washington and our states that will impact our children’s health? We don’t need to agree on every political point, but we could and should put lawmakers and their laws on our parenting radars. They are big deals, and just as important as our children’s education, is the impact clean air can have on their ability to learn.
Does being a mom mean giving up? If we can manage toddlers we can break through the noise in Washington. Before I became a mom I used to joke that if moms started hosting parties to save the planet, nothing could stop them. I just RSVP’d to a jewelry party tomorrow night and you better believe I will be talking about the new EPA mercury standards, wanna join me?
Photo: Strictly Fab