Leading the Way: Mothers Advocating for Their Children
During Women’s History Month, we celebrate our achievements and recognize women whose contributions have made a mark on society. We often focus on celebrating women who are breaking barriers; sometimes, this month is an occasion for us to lament the barriers that still remain impeding women from reaching the pillars of many professions. This year, I want to recognize a group of women whose leadership is often overlooked: Working Mothers. To me, rather than pitting stay-at-home moms against those who also work outside the home, this group includes all mothers whether or not they are paid to perform services outside their family. Motherhood is both hard work and a lesson in leadership.
In recent years, mothers have faced particularly tough challenges protecting their families. This is often a quiet, private leadership that only insiders observe, but sometimes circumstances compel them into the spotlight to advance their child’s interests.
Consider all the mothers who set an example for their children navigating the unprecedented health and safety issues during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. They were making do with scarce supplies, overseeing remote learning, and keeping restless family members of all ages entertained. With their patience and perseverance, mothers were leaders in their households, even more, essential during lockdown while their children had limited access to other role models at school or in the community.
I am also thinking of mothers who have endured unimaginable loss. These are mothers whose children have been killed in senseless gun violence and mass shootings. Many of them are channeling their grief into advocacy for gun control, safer streets and schools. They may not have ever envisioned themselves as leaders in the spotlight, but they have courageously stepped out of their familiar roles to spare other families from their pain and loss.
When I think of mothers as leaders, I think of the mothers whose children are suffering from the hostility and intolerance of identifying as LGBTQ+. These mothers face the challenges of fighting for their children to receive the healthcare, counseling and services they deserve so that they don’t join the growing number of LGBTQ+ youth who are taking their own lives. These mothers have become leaders advocating for their children to be treated with basic human dignity and to receive support rather than humiliation from our communities and schools.
When I think of mothers as leaders, I think of the mothers whose children are bullied at school because they are perceived to be different. These mothers are also on the frontline taking on schools and community leaders who ignore the verbal, physical, and social abuse many children suffer from their peers while the adults charged with protecting them turn a blind eye.
Mothers are expected to protect and guide their families but are not usually thought of as leaders. But a leader is someone who guides and inspires others by example. This Women’s History Month, I salute all mothers, parents, and guardians who inspire their children with their unselfish sacrifice and advocacy on their behalf.