A Swedish friend recently said to me, “If you’re a mom in America right now, you’re either delusional or dissociating.”
What she means by “delusional'' is that to ignore, explain away, or excuse current events is to conjure a fiction about the reality we’re facing.
For those of us who are clear-eyed and afraid as we consume news like weekly mass shootings and the loss of choice and support, just getting through daily mundane demands requires disconnecting from the emotional gravity of current events.
All of this comes at a time when we ought to be collectively healing from the psychological impact of a global pandemic and the isolating measures we’ve been taking to keep ourselves and our communities safe.
Instead of healing, we’re processing the abandonment of lawmakers who have, in short order:
refused federal paid family and medical leave, during an infant formula shortage denied the PUMP Act that would have required employers to make it easier for nursing moms to pump breastmilk at work, and overturned precedent protecting a woman’s right to make choices about her reproductive healthcare.
Just a week after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, the Supreme Court handed down a law making it easier to carry a concealed handgun.
Following that, the Court then confined the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions from power plants.
To pay attention is to feel abandoned, lost, and deeply concerned — for families, for women, for our very planet. So, as moms, how do we take care of our kids and stay even-keeled enough to be present and connected to the people we love? What can we do?
The point of view that we’ve adopted at the Chamber of Mothers, is that we first have to give ourselves permission to feel whatever comes up as we process the news. We also believe in sharing our feelings with other mothers, and listening and bearing witness to one another without judgment.
In Chamber meetings, we often ask ourselves, “Where can moms on both sides of political lines find common ground? On what can we all agree?”
Finding a path toward unity is the only way we’ll have the power and influence to create a country that mothers and their children deserve.
In unity, we can take bold action. There is a stalwart ecosystem of fired up mothers leading groups like Moms Demand, Moms Rising, March Fourth, and Paid Leave for All.
Last week, members of the Chamber of Mothers were invited to the White House to celebrate the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Many of the advocates on the lawn in front of the Oval Office were mothers, parents, and survivors — and as we urged Senators and Representatives to take the needs of families seriously, we united in a shared belief, in humanity, in hope.
The trick is to stay the course.
It’s in that spirit that I discourage you from delusion and dissociation. Look at the truth of where we are as a country, feel what comes up, connect with others about your feelings, and listen to their points of view… especially when they differ.
So many of us want to take action to create a better country. But the truth is, change starts by courageously facing what we’re feeling and leaning on one another. It’s together we’ll build the country we want to live in and bestow upon future generations.
It’s together we’ll build the country we should have.
Erin Erenberg is a mom of three, attorney, serial business builder, fund advisor, and the founder and CEO of Totum, an advocacy firm for modern mothers at the intersection of ambition and motherhood. She is also a co-founder of the Chamber of Mothers and serves on the Equitable Business Council for Have Her Back. Before launching Totum, Erin practiced as an IP attorney for Moore & VanAllen and SESAC, served as the Executive Director of ACM Lifting Lives, ran business development for social impact-driven tech firms Indiegogo and Omaze, and worked as an agent for William Morris Endeavor.