As we round the corner into late July, I am resentful.
In the rhythm of life, I view deep summer as the season of adrenal reset for Mothers. The children are feral, they eat fresh food off the vines with their bare hands half naked outside and run wild until they pass out. To touch water is to be cleansed, both their bodies and their cranky little 102F afternoon, flush faced sweat headed attitudes. All those early swim team practices and camp lunches we got done in June pay off as the ship – looking a little aimless and wrecked, to be sure, but able still counting all passengers as on board – coasts back into the harbor for Back to School.
So personally I am put out that – at this time, of all times, in these times – we would have our government fully turn on us and find ourselves fighting for our lives.
It’s like getting your hopes up that you’re on track for a pleasant Thursday evening with a manageable bedtime to close out a long week only to find The Project Due Tomorrow Assigned Two Weeks Ago No One Told Mom About in the backpack. (Trust me.) The other shoes just keep dropping and there’s no days off.
This stuff makes me want to scream. And I threw my fair share of that around this week in the names of both expression and catharsis. I let my rage echo through the Black Forest and Instagram. It’s part of the process.
And then I could think about what makes me actually start to feel better. Not dissociated, where it’s out of sight, out of mind. More like, better – through the shock and upset into accepting and letting it empower me into action.
It puts me in a memory from June 2019. I had been feeling overwhelmingly powerless over something(s), and decided to try a 12 step approach. It’s always a good launching pad for me in those situations, although I’ll never live to be a proper advertisement for its results.
I really love the pamphlets and the bookmarks. I read one that suggested, “Just for today, I will do a good turn for somebody, and not get found out.”
Absolutely perfect because I am so good at doing good turns, I thought. I re-read the part with “and not get found out.” I mean it’s not like I would want someone to find out but if they did they could properly credit me, right? I kept reading.
“If anybody knows of it, it will not count.”
It quickly sobered me to think about the times my good turns had been revered with a tax letter, my family’s name etched into the side of a building, with hearts on a social media post of me being in service (to my ego) or even with a “you shouldn’t have.” Yes, I should have. I should be basically a decent person. We build both self-esteem and society with contribution.
As I read Anne Lammot’s Stitches this week I felt like her and I may have had the same onboarding when she wrote this of her 12 step experience,
“They taught me that being of service, an ally to the lonely and suffering, a big-girl helper to underdogs, was my best shot at happiness. They taught me that most of my good ideas were not helpful, and that all of my ideas after ten p.m. were especially unhelpful. They taught me to pay attention, but not so much attention to my tiny princess mind.”
I think it is so important to be angry right now. Anyone who cannot understand that fails to comprehend that this is life or death for any and all of us. I think we must continue to feel anger strongly.
And I think, more than anything, we got to guard the goods. The number one thing they want to take from us is our peace. They want to come for us -when we are fucking finally standing in the strength and resilience of our ability to handle the last two years without a lick of their help – and try to make us swallow their disguisting terror poison.
When everything feels out of control, I think of what I can control. I like good music playing. I like to make the bed. I like to do little things with an intention to make it nice for the next person that deals with it, like giving all my recycling a good rinse or picking up a piece of litter.
I love nothing more, when I’m feeling feminist terror and angst, to do a radical favor for a girlfriend.
As someone who will truly get her life together when “everything slows down just a little bit.” I believe most women could set the world on fire with just a few more hours to herself. We need every fire in the fight right now.
I’ll give you an example.
The women in my neighborhood in Dallas and I had always been friendly. We had a Facebook group, book club and bunco group as well as the pool down the street. It was last summer, though, that the favors started.
JoDee moved in across the street that last fall and, as we got to know each other at the neighbor level of intimacy that was already stretching me, she insisted I let my daughter stay with her two girls while I ran some errands. I’m not known for warming up to people quickly, so I considered all the evil ulterior motives that could be in play for someone to be willing to offer me help. But honestly, I was overworked and overwhelmed so I said yes. The girls had the best time.
And soon I was lucky to get a text on my way home from work just a few weeks later from JoDee. She was in a bind. Could the girls come play for an hour or two? I”m very used to needing nothing from no one so this was all so exciting to me. Why not?
One Friday night the girls played outside and we saw Mary from down the street drive down the block with her boy, Will, in the backseat. She was taking him along for work errands. Couldn’t we just keep him with us? What joy and relief to everyone!
The girls (and our Will) are like family now from all the time together going back and forth across the street to the two houses. The Moms too. It’s different families but easier when we’re all together – there’s one Mom to slice sandwiches, one to pour the drinks and one to yell at the kids to take turns on the diving board.
The favors became a weapon against the isolating feelings of overwhelm and despair. Me seeing the kids playing together and them seeing strong women standing up for themselves and helping each other is my antidote to terror.
In our late 1950’s Texas ranch houses, we were not tiny princesses but women raising children on the Blackland Prairies in community, with less than we deserve but in our peace and power, like it’s been done for generations before. Everything is different and everything is the same.
I would go to war for these women and I am.
What does that look like? It looks like flooding the streets with our bodies and voices so people know we will not back down. I subscribe wholeheartedly to the power of protest. I call senators and I vote.
When I think of our strength, though, it’s our radical feminism. It’s our ability as an army to nurture ourselves and each other as this war wages on.
When I think of Jodee, I think of her pep talks. You want to know the truth about anything? Go sit on the back of JoDee’s golf cart. She reminds me of Hannah Arnett, an American mother who saved Elizabethtown from proclaiming loyalty to Great Britain in the American Revolution through an impromptu, rousing speech in which she may have called the men in town cowards and traitors and threatened to leave her husband if he deserted the Revolutionary cause. Rousing the troops right now just comes down to getting women like JoDee in the right place at the right time (and you can follow her on TikTok).
Mary loves us all through food. When I land in town to visit these days, there are treats from her Dallas charcuterie company waiting for me at my Mom’s. She brings me gluten-free crackers to the pool. She reminds me of Mary Draper, an American Revolution boy Mom who lined her property line with sandwiches and snacks for the hungry Patriot army walking into battle, including her oldest son. No one can fight when hungry, same as it ever was. Our Mary saves us all the time.
Then there is Bev, she’s just so sweet it will trick you. Bev lives for Mom hugs, feeling our feelings and living our truth. You draw a line in the sand and Bev stands on the right side, even in spaces where she’s had to stand alone. She’s got a personality like Meliscent Barrett, a descendant of American Revolutionary Patriot Colonel James Barrett. Meliscent, or Milly, was so innocent looking she tricked an English soldier into teaching her how to make cartridges before she then taught all the women and girls in Concord how to make them too. It turned the town into a military supply depot. Bev’s my daily dose of sunshine right now and I know what she’d do for me in a minute if we needed her.
This country wants women divided and home alone afraid. They throw our divine words around, like “sanctity,” “Godly” or even “good,” in an effort to get us arguing like anyone but us gets to decide what those mean. Every single woman can die from what’s in front of us. We’re not going to let debate of who is good or bad into the chat. And for the women lost in idealistic and untrue ideologies over the grave realities right now? They’re going to listen to us better when we do them a favor.
Little did you know, bad guys, that this is the season where women come together and thrive. We have insulated bags, golf carts, cups with and without lids, a stockpile of Plan B and each other. We have short term plans and long term plans and lots of ideas and babysitters who will watch the kids all together, at least once before quitting.
We’ve been doing this for more than 245 years and we’re just getting started.
I’m adding more favors to the fight the angrier I get. Who needs one? Who is in?