Mother's Bill of Rights: Voice
The Mother's Bill of Rights is a reclaiming of the rights that the current culture of sacrificial motherhood would strip from us. It is a commitment to ourselves and to our families that we will not diminish ourselves or them by placing these parts of us on the altar of motherhood. We will be whole human beings. This is the gift we give to ourselves, our children, and our world.
ARTICLE FIVE: VOICE
How intimately do you know your voice? When was the last time you were honest about your experience of motherhood? How many people in your life do you feel comfortable speaking your truth to?
If a mother speaks in a house full of family, have they made a sound?
Our culture of motherhood conspires to keep us silent. We are not supposed to tell the truth about our wants, our needs, our hopes, our fears, our struggles, our lives. No, we are supposed to smile, to give, and if the pain gets to be too much we should buy something to make ourselves feel better.
Don't have a conversation with your partner about how your sexual preferences have changed since childbirth, just go buy this book, this lingerie, this bath bomb.
Don't talk about universal childcare, buy this planner and you'll be able to get more done.
Don't talk about your traumatic birth experience, remember that you have a healthy baby and that is all that matters.
Don't talk about how much you miss your child when you're at work or how desperate you are to get away from them when you're at home.
Don't talk about the mental load, the emotional load, the soul load of motherhood - get a gym membership and get your body back.
The baby is sleeping.
The only way this works is if the mothers keep silent. The only way that this deadly mix of white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy can survive is if the mothers keep silent.
If you are silent about your pain, they'll kill you and say you enjoyed it. - Zora Neale Hurston
They need us to stay silent. If every one of the 85 million mothers in the United States spoke the truth about what mothering is like for us there would be a deep, radical shift in this country. I honestly believe that everything - literally everything - about the way our society is run would be affected.
Mothers keep so many secrets, from ourselves and from each other. We pretend that we know what we're doing, that we have it figured out. We don't speak on the complexity, we don't share our vulnerability, we don't let anyone see the cracks in the facade.
We have forgotten how powerful our voices are.
Think of all the times on your journey through motherhood that you have thought: "Why didn't anyone tell me it would be like this?" Think about how much would be different if we each spoke our truth. If every mother told the truth about their experience of motherhood it would change the world. It would because motherhood intersects with every facet of community life: government, medicine, the economy, the environment, public safety, the prison system, the military - there is no facet of modern life that motherhood does not interact with.
RECLAIMING YOUR VOICE
What does your voice sound like when you are speakingtruth? Does it shake? Is it musical?
What can you say that is true about yourself right now? Are you in a space where you are safe to speak your truth aloud?
We're taught to be quiet, to be soft, to make our voices as pleasing to others as possible. And yet when our children are babies they don't care about pitch or tone or clarity. They simply want to hear us. They crave the sound of our voice because it means connection.
Your voice can connect you to your past - as you speak the truth of your life and tell the stories of your soul. You can find healing in the songs of your youth and in the cadence of your home place.
Your voice can ground you in your present - as you share the reality of the motherhood road you're walking with others.
Your voice can create your future - as you speak your tomorrow into existence.
It is how we assert our personhood, it is how we set boundaries, it is how we take up space, it is how we ask for care. It is how we show love for ourselves and others, it is how we teach our children.
There is so much inside you and I want to hear it all. You are not too much. You are not too loud. You deserve to be heard. You deserve to be understood.
It is your right to speak.
Let us hear you.