Today I could not march. My body is sick and tired, and marching outside for miles is not a thing that I can do. Marching up one flight of stairs to my bedroom is barely a thing that I can do. Marching the route of the grocery store is a task. Cooking dinner for my family is an event. Waking up every day and working is my protest.
My body has always been sick and tired, and until a few years ago, with the passing of the Affordable Care Act, taking care of my body was not a possibility. I am still in the process of finding out why my body has always been sick and tired, and it is looking like it will be something with a long name that I've never heard of before. And now I have to hope that the answers will be revealed before dangerous men take my healthcare away. This is my protest.
Because of the Affordable Care Act, I entertained the thought of becoming pregnant and having a child. My pregnancy was hell on earth- it magnified my daily pain in ways I cannot describe. It caused my body to fail, and I wear a scar across my hips, a signature of miraculous science that allowed me and my child to live. Many mothers before me have given their lives in the same sacred act of bringing forth a new generation. I birthed a son into this world. I created life from my body. This is my protest.
I birthed a son into this world and I feed him with my body. I feed him from my breasts that the world has determined are dirty, inappropriate, sexual, and explicit. To him they are comfort, compassion, love, peace, and rest. I still breastfeed him at the age of two, not because he fails to eat every cheese stick and goldfish and chicken nugget in sight, but because he is such a small creature in a large, scary world that he doesn't understand, and at the end of the day he finds peace when our bodies are snuggled together like they've been every day of his life. And I find peace as well when my fingers rhythmically rub his back in circles. We play silly games while he stares up at me. We sing songs about love and the sunshine and stars and belonging to one another. As long as he needs it, I will keep feeding him. As long as it brings comfort and joy and peace to his confusing emotions, I will be by his side. This is my protest.
I birthed a son into this world and he will be my son unless he ever decides to use different words for himself. He will never feel ashamed in this home. He will never have to hide from us. He will never be told that his sex defines his choices, his interests, or his heart. I praise every act of compassion I see. Every loving choice he makes, every time he shares. I hold him through his feelings, and I try to feel them too. Our tears have mixed on many long nights. His father shows gentility in all things. His voice is never overpowering. He never intimidates, never shows aggression. Our son will never have to choose between being himself and having our love. He will never be taught to meet expectations of masculinity, to hide his emotions, or to put others down. This is my protest.
Today we had friends over to celebrate his birthday. We are all tired, sad, and outraged. I could not go out and march with them, but I was able to bring them into my home and laugh with them and drink with them and share much-needed joy. Our kids ran around together and filled the house with giggles and screams and sugar and crumbs, and we are raising these children to be kind, loving citizens of the earth. We are scared for their futures in this country. But I believe in them. I believe in my tiny four-year-old friend carrying her handmade sign through our city today: I am strong. I help everyone. I could not march with her today, but I work as hard as I can to help her feel strong. Today that came in the form of balloons and cake and that was all the energy I could muster. This is my protest.