Millions of women are expected to strike today to bring attention to...something. I’m not really sure. I will not be joining in the strike. Not because I’m politically closed-minded or don’t care about women’s issues.
I can’t join the strike because too many people depend on me.
I tried to figure out what this strike was all about. I tried to educate myself. According to the official Women's March 2017 website, their goal is to stop working for a day so attention will be given to all “gender-oppressed people.” Their unity principles read like laundry list of demands anchored to progressive talking-points and using women as a vehicle to accomplish political goals.
It’s not really empowering to me, a working mother of eleven and grandmother of twelve, to have my gender used to advance a political agenda.
I have my own agenda to accomplish today. Not set by anyone but myself. It is not based on theoretical ideas of social justice but on the needs of the people I love most.
Here are seven things, in chronological order, that will not happen if I strike today.
1. The animals on my livestock and poultry farm will suffer.
We live on a working farm. I would be willing to bet that many of the same women who are striking today are also animal rights activists. I get up before everyone else and check the animals' welfare. I could refuse to check water in the cows’ and horses' stock tanks or refuse to see if all the poultry houses' mechanical feeding systems are in good working order.
However, that would lead to the suffering of my otherwise well-cared for animals and (in a sensible world) the screaming of striking women about the neglect of animals in my care.
2. Breakfast would not be prepared for the people who depend on me for a good hearty meal to start their day.
My older children who still live at home are engaged in occupations that are physically demanding and the younger ones need a healthy breakfast so they can concentrate better on their school work. Pop-tarts and fruit juice does not accomplish that, so I make sure they have a full-course healthy breakfast. Eggs, toast, bacon, milk, whole grain cereal. Not doing so would lead to poorly nourished children. The strikers clearly would not like that.
3. My grandchildren, who come to my house to home school, would miss their teacher.
I have homeschooled my children and some of my grandchildren. When my students come into my house, they expect this woman to be prepared to teach. Over the last three decades, I have successfully prepared my children for the real world. Some are nurses, some are farmers, some are PhD students, some are soldiers. They all expect me to be waiting for them in the kitchen each morning with breakfast, a hug, a smile and a question “Are you ready to learn?”
Homeschoolers don't call in substitute teachers. Sometimes, in large families like ours, older siblings can step in to help in a pinch, but as with any school situation, when the teacher is absent, then the flow is disrupted. Perhaps today will be the day I have the privilege of seeing one of my children grasp an algebra concept they have been struggling with or memorize a new line of Aristotle.
One of the things women are striking from today is “emotional labor.” Am I really going to withhold from small children the expressions of love and acceptance they are accustomed to receiving at school to prove some point on social justice? Not here, my dear. Educating my children and grandchildren is too important.
4. The housework I put off today will be waiting for me tomorrow.
I love the home and I love my husband. I enjoy finding ways each day to make it more comfortable for the people who live here and more welcoming for our guests. It is not drudgery, as some proclaim, to serve my family by caring for our home and making it welcome when my husband comes home from work.
5. Dinner will not be prepared.
Our four daughters are married now. When they were living at home, if I was not present they would be responsible for preparing a nutritious dinner for a ravenous, hardworking family. The young men that currently live at home can pop a frozen pizza in the oven or make a sandwich. They won't starve but they don’t know how to cook a family dinner where the candles are lit, the table is set properly and real nutrition has gone into the food at dinner.
Dinner is important. It’s a time to reconnect for our family. I take pride in cooking it every day.
6. My husband will not receive the emotional support he needs and physical comfort he depends on me to provide.
There are many roles in society where the people that fill them may be interchangeable. If a store clerk does not come in for a shift another can be called in. But no one can provide for my husband the way that I can. He expects me to be there for him in a way that only I can, after being married to him for 37 years. For me to intentionally withhold the support he needs today will accomplish nothing in the grand scheme of ensuring social justice. It will only hurt the man I love most in the world.
7. The children who look to me for affirmation, affection and comfort will be denied.
I have heard it said that it does not matter who raises a child and any loving adult will do. Those who believe such things have never worked or lived with children who have experienced the loss or neglect of a mother.
As a foster mother, I have held inconsolable infants and toddlers who cried for days for their own mothers. I am a loving adult, but I cannot replace their own mothers. I have worked through the heart crushing disappointment of a child whose mom did not show up for scheduled visit, holding them while they sobbed. I am a loving adult but I can't take her place. I have been physically and verbally assaulted by teens who were crazed with the pain of rejection. When they felt themselves beginning to bond with me the fear of disappointment caused them to lash out. I am a loving adult but they still needed their moms.
I refuse to intentionally deny my own children, even for a day, the love and support I have seen lacking in the dozens of children who have come through our home.
It is the most important thing I can do.
A friend of mine who lives in D.C. and works in politics asked on her Facebook page if anyone was striking and why or why not. No one answered that they were. Their answers included things like, “I am the boss of a company and bosses don't have that luxury,” and that they have “meetings on the Hill” with important people.
I have no powerful political people to meet with today nor will a multi-million dollar deal fall through if I strike. But the people who depend on me every day to add joy, stability, encouragement and love will be affected by me indulging myself in a few hours of self-congratulation.
The women striking today are living in the momentary illusion that they are affecting the world, but when you have real people who depend on you, you are sending them the message that a stranger's “rights” and perceived injustices are more important than they are.
No woman should ever be proud of that.