24 Jan The March
“Where is my HAT!? I can’t go without my pink hat!” I shouted, stringing rainbow yarn through my sign.
“And if I can’t find my PINK hat, I can’t just wear a DIFFERENT-colored hat!”
I tore the mitten bench apart, then the closet, then the mitten bench again, and ran out the door hatless to join my family in the van.
After her swim class, my one-year-old daughter Ellie and I left the boys at the Y for their classes. On my way out, a dad noticed me struggling to buckle the Ergo carrier and offered to help. (Anyone who has Ergo’d their kids knows the solo back buckle is an impossible feat.)
Then we walked over to Crandall Park, where Enid Mastrianni pointed her megaphone at us and announced, “There’s the first baby of the Women’s March!”
This was Ellie’s second one. Last year it wasn’t so cold, and she was only a month old. My pocket was buzzing with texts from my mom urging me to keep the kids at home today. I turned it off.
As we marched, I heard a conversation behind me about pinkwashing and I felt self-conscious with my hot-pink-snowsuited bundle. The walkers came up next to me and said I was their hero for walking with a little one. One of the women offered me a hat, which I gladly accepted. (It was blue. And it kept my ears from turning blue. So, as it turns out, a different-colored hat is fine.)
One woman slipped on the ice, and everyone patiently helped her up. Women helped me on that patch of slippery ice, too — no awkwardness about whether touching a stranger is acceptable. Just care. I noticed a little boy who seemed alone, and I looked around for his mom. She was there, just a few steps back, and thanked me for looking out. It’s what we do.
This is a theme. I read an article just that morning by Beth Berry on the website mother.ly titled, “In the absence of ‘the village,’ mothers struggle most.” The person who sent it to me was a mom I met in a cafe. She was eating alone with her baby, and I offered to hold the little one so she could enjoy her meal. We chatted, and found each other on Facebook later.
That moment was so important to me, because I vividly recall those first ventures out — most poignantly, the time I went out solo as a mother of two for the first time. Liz Wilcox took little Danny out of my arms so my back had a rest and I could eat something, and told me she remembered those days. I loved being able to do that for someone else.
The mother.ly article makes some good points about loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, and the pressure on parents these days, but I think that ‘village’ is there — maybe not as omnipresent as it once was, but it’s there. Just prior to the march, I messaged that mother:
“There is a tribe of mamas and you’ll find them now that you’re one of us. Sympathetic looks during grocery store meltdowns, telltale booger badges on the shoulder, someone understanding when you have to cancel a meeting because of a doctor appointment. People are more understanding and more willing to share their experiences than I ever would have imagined.”
After the march, as I breastfed Ellie in the library, surrounded by women I respect and admire, Lisa Adamson came over to hold Ellie’s chilly feet and warm her up, and offered to bring me hot cocoa.
I’m happy to report that the village is alive and well. Look up from your screaming toddler and you’ll see us smiling warmly at you.
Take a deep breath, mama.
We’ve all been there. And it’s going to be okay.