Raising Our Voices, Raising Our Children

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On Thursday, I had the privilege of speaking at the Mothers At Home Matter 25th Anniversary Conference about Liberating Motherhood. I was touched by the warm reception I received.

It was so wonderful to have my mum and my daughter there too. I don’t think I’ll forget seeing my three year old daughter’s face, watching and listening to her mother speak about the importance of mothering, children and mothers. Just as my son had shown pride in his mother at my book launch, my daughter seemed intrigued to see her mother stand in front of a microphone and speak to an audience in London, away from home. As I say in the book, hearing our mothers’ stories is a feminist act. Telling our own is another.

It was wonderful to connect with other mothers, some at a similar stage of life, others of different generations and life circumstances. Thank you to the Committee for inviting and welcoming me to the Conference. I am so grateful to you for your support.  I so admire your work and dedication.

Since the conference, I have been busy with family commitments, breastfeeding support and the (recently quite intense) daily needs of my young children – the irony – and so it has taken a while to sit down to write. I have also been trying to digest recent media delight in deriding the care of mothers at home. We are failing our children, you know, by failing to promote their development in absolutely crucial things like holding a pencil.

We have an uphill struggle.

No one of us can promote the issue of maternal care alone. Join and support Mothers at Home Matter, join the Purplestockings Movement, join All Mothers Work, engage with campaigning groups and speak out beyond sympathetic ears. We need to be heard. We need to raise our voices.

Since starting my own campaigning and writing – together with my commitments in my local community as a breastfeeding counsellor in person, on the phone and online – I have had to confront the question of how to limit the intrusion of social media and screens into my day-to-day life with my family and how to limit writing and reading during ‘family time’. How to restrict online activity, comfortably miss online debates on news and articles or the opportunity to share pieces of interest, or keep up with messages and notifications. I sometimes feel guilty for being absent from threads, neglecting to respond to tags or for failing to post more regularly about the issue of mothers. However, in truth, we can only do what we can do.

On reflection, writing and promoting the book took a huge amount of time and energy and I put a huge part of myself into it. It was a vulnerable and exhausting process. Now that the book is born, I need to give myself permission to rest, recuperate and recover. A kind of literary post-partum period.

I am hoping that the book will take on a life of its own, too. Those of you who are reading it, please take it out there, spread the word and share passages, photos of pages, whatever you feel speaks to you. A movement needs momentum!

My book satisfied part of my need to be heard. I will still raise my voice when I have the time or irresistible need, online or at events. I am also looking forward to a secondary campaign nearer Mother’s Day – with some wonderful events coming up where I will be speaking about the book and meeting mothers in different parts of the country.

In the meantime, motherhood awaits. It is, and always will be, family first. The Purplestockings Movement starts at home after all.

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Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/12644262@N03/4255363605/in/photolist-7u2Rm2-qeRn1-ciQVUh-ciQv9E-7u6L5m-5LGGpU-e4Jdr8-jnaU7-59K9gb-zke67-5LGGKY-59EVqX-5LCpnZ-duJF4n-4aToKH-59EVot-59EVBD-HTz6r7-5Q4GGG-jSBn9-LRwhXW-59K8VA-BcgDv-5LCqG2-MFCHRv-7DEKQ4-9DPayJ-yVQAqu-MKZByj-neBn11-59K8Yb-59EVRM-oBmjb3-5LCr1e-jTyPB-dwqAfp-59EVQn-cLtApf-59EVNX-dpL6WS-hK7Ao-zFAuu-9jMUSx-g13SM1-59K93J-59K8Fm-59EVTc-59K9aw-aM2W4t-a7Yj8Q