I wrote this following the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida. I'm only now publishing it, but I thought it was a fitting post on this International Women's Day. To me, this day is more than a hashtag and social advocacy campaign, it is a movement that I truly believe in. When we empower women to lead, we all win.
Last week, two horrific events unfolded. One in the community where I live, and another in a town I had never heard of previously. My heart broke…again. A simple tweet from the local police department issuing an alert for a kidnapped girl, her mother brutally beaten during a home invasion, put me on edge. A few hours later my mom had just heard about the kidnapping in Charleston and called to make sure I was aware and being vigilant. It was what she said next that stopped me in my tracks, “I can’t believe there was another school shooting today.”
“What,” I responded.
“A shooting. In Florida. It’s awful. Turn on the news,” she replied.
While I was taking my toddlers for a walk, other moms were learning that they would never again see their children. As it always does, social media reared its ugly head and people suddenly became experts on the Constitution, gun control, violence and mental health. It made me sick to even think about, so I logged off.
The next morning my sister reached out. As she dropped her two little ones off at school she drove to work in sheer terror and fear of what the future holds for her children. Columbine, the first school shooting we had ever heard of, is no longer a once in a lifetime nightmare; school shootings are now a reality for our children.
Let me pause for a moment and fill in some gaps. I was the career focused woman who worked inside the beltway. I’ve written the talking points. Responded to tragedies. At that time, my reality was so wrapped up in nuances and policy that I couldn’t fathom why someone wouldn’t read the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times from cover to cover every morning.
Now, as a mom, my perspective has changed. No one cares which party scores political points - we care if our children are safe. We would like maternity laws to change so that we don’t have to pump in the bathroom and squeeze into suits before our bodies are ready. We care if our schools are successful or failing. We care what our children consume (no we don’t think pizza sauce is a vegetable.) Most importantly, when we hear of another mom going through the unthinkable anguish of losing a child, our hearts break.
Lately, they’ve been breaking too much. From the horrors of middle school girls being sex trafficked to young girls being kidnapped to our high schoolers being gunned down at school, we are fed up.
I can’t say enough is enough, because that’s been said over and over. Rather, today I’m proposing a solution. The national dialogue on school shootings, education, mental health, nutrition, healthcare and all the things that matter for safe and healthy communities, hasn’t changed. The partisan divide in our country, amplified by social media, has just made the conversation worse. Instead of working with the status quo, we need to change things.
I’m proposing that moms run for Congress.
Once we change the status quo of who is running for office, we can change the national conversation. We can move beyond talking points and start demanding solutions.
Why don’t more women run for office? Because we are managing households, companies and praying over our children before they go to school. But as a reformed beltway addict, and now a mom, I can say without hesitation that moms get shit done.
Moms often take the lead in shaping their families. They take on the responsibility of molding their children and setting them up for success. Imagine a Congress or Town Council or School Board full of moms who have lived through the repercussions of current policy. Change would come.
But, we can’t go in alone. We need each other. We need to rally around one another more fiercely to make change happen. If you know a mom or sister or aunt or grandmother who has the vision to make change possible - encourage them. Babysit for them. Bring them groceries. Empower them to make a difference.
As a child, my mom always used to say to me, “shine on.” Today, her words and encouragement are fitting for all women who feel the urge to look the status quo in the eyes and say, “vote for me.”