What?! Mother's Day isn't about breakfast in bed or chocolate roses or even cute cards by small children? No, it's about getting out of bed and taking to the streets to demand that our governments leave a better world for our children and our children's children.
A single mother lived upstairs with her seven-year-old son. I was a guest for the week in my friends’ new second-floor apartment in a sunny three-unit house. They hadn’t seen much of their neighbor, they told me, but they’d heard her. Screams, threats, curses, relentless wrath against her child. They laughed about it. She’d had the baby at seventeen; it was a hard life. A lot of times the son screamed back.
I recently met yet another woman who from afar seemed like your ordinary, well-adjusted, middle class mother of two. Because our kids go to the same elementary school, after dropping them off, we started chatting. She told me she had just finished writing a book about her life. She giggled and confessed, "I was a slut!" I laughed and said, "Me too! We're going to be great friends." The conversation progressed quickly, and within a few minutes, we realized that what was making us laugh hysterically was rooted in the fact that we were both survivors of child sexual abuse. We were simply coping with old scars.
When Mother's Day was first born in 1872, breakfast in bed, Hallmark cards, store-bought bouquets and being taken out for brunch wasn't anywhere near the point. Then called Mother's Peace Day, the holiday was supposed to celebrate the values represented by motherhood -- peace, mercy, charity, and patience -- and the broader social and political implications of those values.
No, I don't want a hand out just 'cause I chose to have kids as a teen, but you know what? Some steady child support, a living wage, affordable healthcare, childcare, rent that did not cost a month's pay, and a gallon of gas or milk that did not cost an hour's pay would be nice. So you wanna applaud gals who choose life? Help them. Don't be a hypocrite like both the political parties who slashed support for us moms while praising our choice to carry a baby to term.
"I don’t know how you do it," my neighbor’s girlfriend commented. My five-year-old daughter Siu Loong was at her father’s house and I had taken advantage of my free night to attend and photograph a march against police brutality, then stayed out till midnight developing the film I had shot. "I dunno. I just do," I mumbled, not knowing what else to say. But that’s not entirely true. To simply say that leaves out the resources and community I’ve gained from years of being engaged in social justice work.
As you may have heard, here in sunny Southern California (too fucking sunny for my tastes, by the way) there is a grocery workers strike underway -- and goddamnit, am I proud of how my fellow San Diegans are turning out -- or rather, NOT turning out -- in favor of these union workers who are courageously and audaciously standing up to the management of the big three chains down here: Von's, Ralph's, and Albertson's.
We've seen what happens when people feel their choices are limited. And we'll keep seeing it if we don't change; if we hang onto those ideas that force our men into battle out of habit, whether "innate or accidental." It's time we asked ourselves why we are more threatened by a two-and-a-half year-old boy toting a Barbie than by a boy carrying a gun. It's time we stopped seeing the spilling of blood as the heroic, manly thing to do.
A report on the March 20 SF protests, International ANSWER contingent In response to the official beginning of "Gulf War 2," a large, exuberant, decentralized group of folks from all over the Bay Area and around Northern California took to the streets in protest. As luck would have it, I happened to be in SF for this amazing event, and am thankful to have been. In many years of protests, I have never seen such an effective and amazing application of decentralized action.
I attend a peace rally in Sylvester Park on Wednesday afternoon and I am joined by a bunch of Catholics with ashes on their foreheads. I decided to join the rally at the last minute. Baby Tate still has boysenberry jam on his face from his afternoon snack. It looks as though it will rain so we have bundled up in fleece, long johns, gloves and snow hats. A woman walks toward us. She is wearing a white t-shirt with a large fluorescent orange peace symbol on the front. The shirt reads, "Don't kill innocent babies".