A comrade in the Seattle Solidarity Network recently wrote this list of tips for radicals and organizers who want to support organizers with children. Supporting parents as organizers means supporting multigenerational struggle, means fighting patriarchal divisions of labor, means organizing in ways that are sustainable over the long haul, and means that future generations of organizers don’t have to reinvent the wheel for lack of elders. This piece offers concrete measures that can help guide us in that direction.
by Lily Schapira
Eight days after my daughter was born, I sent this message to the organizing committee members of the Seattle Solidarity Network:
“I wanted to let you all know that I need to take a few week hiatus from coming to SeaSol meetings…. Baby is doing well, we just need to clear the decks while I recover and while we figure out this whole nursing thing. Thanks for understanding, and we’ll see you in a few weeks! (I’d estimate three.)”
Four months later, I had still not returned to SeaSol meetings more than a handful of times. I was an I.W.W. member and had been organizing with SeaSol since our first fight in 2008. I was the only female-identified person to consistently attend SeaSol meetings for our entire first year and for several more years for the IWW branch in Seattle. Both groups planned to pay for childcare, and I was committed to continuing my activism after giving birth, but somehow I was not managing to make it happen. What was the problem?
What follows are some reflections on becoming a mom while trying to continue work as a class warrior. Because my daughter is only six months old now, I can only base my reflections on these first months of parenthood. While I will mostly present ideas about how to make our organizing “baby friendly,” I’m sure there are many more topics to come about becoming “kid friendly” (e.g. I hope to reach “Teenhumiliatedbyactivistmom”). The following suggestions are also influenced by the fact that while my partner is on baby duty from 10am to 4pm, I am on duty from 4pm to 10pm every day. This system of “watches” is how we both manage to keep our sanity and our part-time jobs, but it also means that I am responsible for the bulk of childcare during prime meeting times.
This advice is for other individuals who would like to help support new parents in organizations such as SeaSol and the IWW, as well as newly expecting parents who might appreciate some suggestions to help smooth the transition from activist to parent + activist.
Read the rest at Recomposition.