My First Peace Rally
I recently read a zine called “Red Diaper Baby” about radical mothering. It included an article on why mothers and children should attend peace rallies. I was inspired to take my son to a march last Sunday afternoon. It was to start at a church about three miles away from my house and end with a rally at the park around the corner. Basically, the march was happening right outside my door. I had no excuse not to go, although I wondered about the logistics.
Walking three miles alone and walking three miles with an 11 month old who weighs twenty five pounds are two entirely different things. I considered my options. The stroller seemed like it would just get in the way, and nine times out of ten, I end up carrying my son and pushing an empty stroller. That wasn’t going to work. There was no way I was going to get him in the Baby Bjorn or the Hip Hammock. It would have to be the backpack. I tried it out the week before and it was pretty comfy, but I worried that the three miles would seem like 300. I decided that I would just suck it up, but had visions of making it a mile and calling my husband on the cell phone to pick me up. Pathetic, I know.
What should my sign say? All the cool mamas have cool signs. Hmm. I considered, “Another Baby for Peace” and “War kills babies,” but decided on “Mama says no war!” My husband and I went to the drugstore to buy a posterboard the night before, but they all looked flimsy. What happened to the nice thick poster boards of my youth? The kind with the shiny side that was easy to color? My husband suggested getting a trifold presentation poster, but I thought that was a bit much. Eventually, he convinced me to use an old cardboard box. I rummaged through my mountain of boxes in the study and found an old cardboard book mailer that unfolded to the perfect size and even included “wings” to tape to the side of the backpack. I busted out the sharpies and made my first ever protest sign.
I had my baby transport plan in place and my sign was artfully rendered and ready to go. But my son wasn’t. He was so excited about marching for peace with mama that he didn’t take his nap until almost 1:30pm. The march started at 2:00pm. At 3:00pm I found myself sitting on the porch next to the baby monitor watching the peaceniks go by. “That should be me! Look at that mama! Damn!” Satchel must have heard the screaming in my head, because it wasn’t long before his cries were streaming from the monitor. I went in to get him and he was sitting up, refreshed, and ready for our adventure. I got his pants and shoes on, threw the backpack in the car, and drove to the park.
We made it just in time for the first speaker. The crowd seemed less impressive than when stretched out on the street, but it was cool. There was definitely a feeling of comradery in the air. It was fun to read people’s signs, see the costumes, and chant catchy slogans like, “The people united, will never be divided! The people united, will never be divided....” I saw some familiar faces: a colleague, a neighbor, a guy from school, the girl from the artists market, and a fair amount of mamas, papas, and kids. We enjoyed just being there and feeling like we were a part of something bigger.
(This essay was originally written for “Mama Sez No War.”)