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Silent Marchers: Emily

Silent Marchers is a series of stories from real women (and men) who wanted to march in the Women’s March on Washington and various sister marches across the nation, but could not be there for a variety of reasons. These are their stories of why they weren’t there, why they wish they could have been, and why they support this cause and all that it stands for. Their hope is that you might find yourself in one of their stories, and know you’re not alone. Together, we will resist.

***

My name is “Emily.” But not really.

I did not march in the Women’s March. But I wanted to.

I have a special needs child whom, among other things, is autistic. My husband had to work that day and I had no one to watch my son. I would have loved to take him with me but due to his needs it wasn’t feasible. He does not do well around large crowds and I also have to limit his exposure to others during flu season due to a compromised immune system.

momboyTo me the March signifies unity, action, awareness and solidarity in not just one cause but many. At some point in our lives we are either going to be the victim of discrimination or know someone who is. Either because of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, financial standing or any other perceived slight.

In this day in time it is unnecessary and archaic.

To claim this March wasn’t for you is naïve. At its very heart, it’s for everyone. No one wants their child to grow up to be in an abusive relationship. No one wants to be told they can’t freely practice the religion of their choice. No one wants to feel of less value because they are not on the same socioeconomic rung of the ladder. No one wants to be told what they can and can not do with their body. We don’t have to personally believe in decisions others make but it’s not our place to tell them they are wrong. Guns kill more innocent lives than abortions do, yet people will fight to the death to keep them and allow anyone to have them.

We need to focus on quality of life.

I see no one running to adopt children in the foster care system, or helping the little babies born with congenital defects which will leave them with unforeseen health problems. However we can scream to cut the funding and Medicaid/insurance which will provide care that’s so desperately needed. Then there are those who falsely claim that they don’t want tax dollars funding abortions. It would serve people well to research laws before spewing nonsense. Taxpayer dollars have not and will not pay for abortions except in the case of rape, incest and health of mother or child. The Hyde Amendment. Most have never heard of it and don’t care to.

So yes, the March means so many things to so many people and, directly or indirectly, affects us all.

To me, it’s hope and love and empathy and equality and giving a voice to those who are unable to speak up.

I grew up in a home that was very chauvinistic. My mom was never allowed to get her drivers license. My dad was an alcoholic. My mom was the only one who worked a full time steady job with dad taking her and picking her up everyday. My dad worked odd jobs here and there. I was the oldest. I had one younger brother. From early on, I learned that my brother’s interests and activities took priority. Everything revolved around him. My mom and I was left to do all the home stuff – cook, clean, not question.

I always knew there was more somehow. A world that was different.

I wanted to be a lawyer but was told I couldn’t do that because it was a job for men. But I knew I could.

As I got older, I started to rebel. I didn’t want dad or any other male telling me what I could or could not do. I was tired of being forced to go to church by my grandfather. I was tired of being told I couldn’t cut my hair. I was tired of being told I couldn’t do things because I was a girl. That created more problems and I was beaten into submission both literally and figuratively.

I became pregnant at the age of 19.

The father ran and I was left to take care of a baby born with special needs alone. I swore off men. I worked at low paying jobs to get by because I was a single mom with only a high school education. I tried to attend community college but it never failed – my son would have a medical crisis and would be in the hospital for several weeks at a time.

The next relationship I was in was when I was 23. It became like the movie Groundhog Day. I became pregnant and he left (after trying unsuccessfully to persuade me to have an abortion). The rest is rinse and repeat.

I resigned myself to being a single mom forever and destined to work in menial jobs.

Then I met my current husband

We married when I was 30. Thankfully he is a man of great integrity, love and compassion. He helped me find my voice again. The fire that had always been smoldering was allowed to burn. That meant that being a woman, even one who had been beat down, could still make a difference. While I never achieved my dream of being a lawyer or any other cookie cutter profession I have become an advocate. An advocate for the disabled, for women, for those less fortunate. That’s just as much, if not more, rewarding than anything I could have ever dreamed of.

If as a woman you did not March out of fear, I’m telling this story for you. Whatever reason was holding you back, we will fight to remove those barriers. You are strong, you are worthy, you are loved, you are valued. Please know that. If you didn’t March because of other reasons – distance, financial, whatever – I beg of you to still use your voice. To help others understand that intolerance, discrimination, bigotry, racism has no place in lives and society.

Movements work.

All you have to do is look at history to see how far we have come. We must not go back to such dark times. Please don’t stand silently.

Be loud, proud and full of dignity.

And another little side note to my story?

My brother has grown into a staunch Trump-supporting all-right fanatic. He pounds his chest all day long about gun rights, building the wall, hating the “lazy liberals” who do nothing but mooch off the system. He preaches it loud and proud to anyone who will listen. Yet through it all he, can’t hold down a job.  His whole family, with numerous kids, have Medicaid and receive food stamps. I’m sitting here thinking, “so when your demigod takes away Medicaid and cuts welfare you do know that means you’re going to lose yours too, right?”

But then I’m just a whiney snowflake who needs to get over it.

He needs to learn not to bite the hand that feeds him.

My name is “Emily.” But not really. And this was my Silent Marchers story.

***

“If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”
– Margaret Thatcher

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