So today I’m introducing a new, regular feature here at PunditMom — one that I’ve been toying with for some time — called Mothers of Intention.
Every Wednesday between now and the November election, I’m inviting another blogger to share her thoughts and opinions about what makes her political, be it the politics of the presidential campaign or a passion for a cause.
Why? Because I have a feeling that the political voices of women are only going to keep getting stronger, especially on blogs and on the web, even after we decide who is going to move into the White House in January 2009. And I want to make a nice, comfy place for us to talk about them now and for the years that follow this election.
First up, the fabulous Stefania from CityMama, who is also one of the founders of MOMocrats. Stefania, thanks so much for helping me kick this off! I promise, I’ll have a cute new bloggy button to share for this soon!
Recently, a reporter asked me why I was so passionate about this election, passionate enough to start a blog called MOMocrats to which the inimitable Pundit Mom also contributes. My short answer was, “Mothering is political.” But when I thought about it further, I realized that there was more to it than that.
Our world has changed so much in the last eight years that it’s like I hardly recognize it anymore. When I was a little girl, I remember thinking how lucky I was to live in the United States. Mainly I thought I was lucky because the United States spawned Lynda Carter, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Jean Naté, Donny and Marie, the Harlem Globetrotters, and Dr. Pepper-flavored Lip Smackers—precious gifts we could share with the world and wasn’t the world lucky!!!
As I grew older (and left the 70′s behind), I became a little more jaded. I learned about the dirty little secrets of our country’s past and was secretly happy that I had an Italian father. I wasn’t entirely American, my father lived in Rome after all. I didn’t have to be a flag-waving patriot because I was also Italian. I felt absolved of ever having to stand up and say, “I love my country.”
I went to college, joined the Green party and watched as candidates I believed in never won any election, both municipal and national. I got married, switched to the Democratic party so I could vote for a winner (twice), and had kids.
One day, when my youngest was about 4 months old, my girls and I took a trip to Hawaii. As I was taking off shoes, and folding strollers, and picking up the contents of a spilled diaper bag, and trying to keep an eye on my active toddler while walking through a metal detector holding my baby, I found myself longing for the days when my husband could have helped us to the gate and put us on the flight. And I realized it was a time long past that my girls would never know.
So, I decided to write my girls a letter:
On September 11, 2001, I was one month away from conceiving you, Bunny. My biggest priority at that time was creating our family because we had tried for almost a year to get pregnant with you. Who knew that during a time of such immense sorrow, when people everywhere retreated to the safe, warm cocoons of their homes, we would create you?
Up until that day, your father and I and everyone else in the world was living in a dream. When I say “dream” I don’t mean that everyone’s life was full of lollipops and rainbows and that there was no sadness and no one struggled. I say a dream because now, five years after that day, the world is a very difference place. I’m sad about this. I might always be, a little bit. It’s because I mourn what happened on that day, but I also mourn times past. The world wasn’t always like this. Our lives, all of our lives, will never be the same again.
Something very bad happened on that day.
I’m not trying to scare you, my loves. I want you both to know that your father and I will try to shelter and protect you from evil, bad things for as long as we can. But soon you will be big, and you will begin to understand the world around you. We hope that you will look at it and always see the potential for good. Bunny and Wallie, it’s up to you and those of your generation to forge ahead and try to mend this shattered world. Or least pick where we left off.
Our broken world wasn’t always like this.
There was once a time when I could sit on a plane without furtively scanning the faces of everyone boarding, feeling nothing but shame for doing so.
In fact, there was a time when we never had to take off our shoes to get on a plane and we could take all manner of liquids and gels on board. Also, pilots used to sometimes come out of the cockpits and walk up and down the aisles to stretch their legs. I used to love seeing them, and I especially loved when one of them was a woman.
There was once a time when I would be able to sit in a crowded theater and not think, “Look at all the people in here…together, in one place… What if…?”
There was once a time when I could walk into my favorite restaurant and didn’t have to watch the owners regarding me with sadness behind their eyes, wondering if I was one of those people that thought they were bad.
There was a time when I didn’t have to be the first person to walk up to the woman wearing a hijab and abaya at Back-to-School night and give her a warm handshake and tickle her baby’s toes (something I would have done anyway) to distract her from the rude stares and whispering.
There was a time when I didn’t have images of big planes flying into big buildings and people holding hands falling from windows and distraught loved-ones clutching photos and pregnant widows etched into my memory forever. Who could even imagine such horror?
There was a time when I didn’t have to think about what the last moments of a talented pastry chef who just moved to New York from San Francisco to work in a restaurant high in the sky must have been like.
There was a time when 2,700+ people from 90 countries were alive and well and their families and friends were whole.
There was time when I didn’t worry so much.
That time ended that horrible day. That time—no matter how hard times were—was like a beautiful dream to me. And, girls, I so wish you could have known it.
So why is this election so important to me? Because I want my children—all of our children—to know that world. While America has been at war, my children have been growing up. Soon they will be old enough to understand why the women on the news are crying and why their confused-looking children clutch serious photos of their fathers in uniform. Fathers who will never come home.
For the past eight years, I have been waiting to feel proud of my country. I am ready to show the world the best of America again, and come January 2009 I hope our president will be able to stand up to the world and say, “We have been absent this community, but now we are ready to restore our reputation and earn your respect.”
For the past eight years, I have felt trapped in a nightmare. I miss the dream, don’t you? And that is why this election is so important to me. For myself, for my children, for my country, I am doing everything I can to foment change.
I am tired of living in fear and I am tired of politicians telling us that we need to. I don’t want us to be raising a generation of “desk duckers” who feel like they are going to be wiped off the planet at any moment. My children will not grow up being scared of the world.
I am tired of being an unwilling party to a Fundamentalist Christian crusade conducted by a delusional president being controlled by corporate svengalis. I am teaching my children value the inherent worth and dignity of every person. My children will not fear people who are “different.”
I am so tired of having a president that doesn’t speak for me. I am teaching my children to listen to and value the opinions of others. To have open minds and loving hearts.
I am ready for a president that I can call “my president.”
This indifferent American now suddenly finds herself feeling incredibly patriotic. Look at the potential before us. I want it so bad I can taste it and so, like so many others, because it’s all we can do once we’ve volunteered and blogged and cast our votes, I cling to hope. For the dream.
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Writer and editor Stefania Pomponi Butler normally contains her rantings to her irreverent and delicious personal blog CityMama or to the opinionated and informative MOMocrats. She thanks Pundit Mom for the opportunity to also share them here. She also thanks Bonne Bell for continuing to make Dr. Pepper-flavored Lip Smackers.