Growing up, I was often asked to set the table for dinner. In our busy household, dinner was just about the only time we could have both parents and all four siblings together. By setting the table, I was able to help my mother create a welcoming space for us to gather as a family. It was the only time of the day we could actually hear how each person was doing, before we dispersed to our next battles at work and school. And now, many, many years later, I am seeing again the power of gathering together around a table, intentionally making space for sharing stories of struggle and victory on a national level.
Last week I saw the table set by the Michigan organization, Mothering Justice. These mamas marched into Washington, D.C. and hosted a mighty convening of lawmakers and advocates at a roundtable to influence national policy. And landing just a few days before Mother’s Day, what better way to honor the moms in our lives than by demanding changes that will make way for healthier, safer communities?
The agenda of the gathering essentially boiled down to a question families of all kinds are asking: How can we have housing, transportation, food, and healthcare so we can thrive?
Now, as a thirty-something woman – moving forward in my career, debating the pros and cons of becoming a mother vis-a-vis my economic situation – this mission is something I am working towards daily.
The roundtable participants gathered to celebrate the new voices in the 116th Congress. They shared stories, uplifted and supported each other. This was the first time I’d heard many of these women speak in such an intimate setting. And I was touched by how candidly the panelists, like Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Deb Haaland, shared about their lives. Stories ranged from connecting with Spanish speakers in the wake of the Flint Water Crisis, to what it was like to communicate with their 200-some millionaire colleagues. And repeated over and over was the importance of affordable childcare and earned paid sick leave.
So, the table has been set, and the seats are being filled by powerful Congresswomen and determined organizers. And as we huddle, hearing each other’s stories, I see we have growing force through our grassroots and inside the Capitol, working together for the better future we envision for each other.