Hold Each Other Close. Hold the Powerful to Account.

We are two journalists writing about family and care work from a feminist perspective. Research, interviews and personal stories connecting systemic issues and family life; also, 40+ mom humor. You can read past issues here. Follow us on Instagram @matriarchyreport.

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All week, it has helped me to remember that care work is an act of resistance. 

After Buffalo, after Uvalde, after the Great Replacement Theory and the crushing threat of forced preganancy, I watched an interview with two of my heroes, Ai-Jen Poo, Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Angela Garbes, the author of Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change.

Through tears, they talked about care work. How caring for ourselves, our families and communities builds resilience, the kind that we need to both weather – and transform – the society we live in.

“We are living in a time of a lot of uncertainty and crisis,” Poo said. “It is so important that we stay in connection and community, because that is our resilience. And care is at the heart of that.”

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Here’s what care work can look like right now:

Give to Everytown for Gun Safety. Donations will be tripled until May 31. Don’t overthink it. Just give whatever you can. Many commentators and politicians and news outlets will try to focus attention on other issues, including concerns like mental health crises and the white nationalist radicalization of young men. But let’s start right now with getting the guns out of their hands.

Recommit to the Movement for Black Lives. The day after the shooting in Uvalde marked the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd. Calls for police reform have begun to fade. And many of us white people have only just begun to realize something that Black families in this country have known for generations: that the police may not protect them or their kids may not be safe in places where one would expect to be safe. Our colleague Sonya wrote for us last week about how the presence of Black birth workers dramatically improves the health outcomes for Black women and their babies. The solutions to our many crises are out there. Listen to Black women.

Here’s what the poet Elizabeth Alexander, and author of The Trayvon Generation, writes about raising her two sons, Black boys in the United States:

My love was both rational and fantastical. Can I protect my sons from being demonized? Can I keep them from moving free? But they must be able to move as free as wind! If I listen to their fears, will I comfort them? If I share my fears, will I frighten them? Will racism and fear disable them? If we ignore it all, will it go away? Will dealing with race fill their minds like stones and block them from thinking of a million other things? 

Let’s be clear about what motherhood is. A being comes onto this earth and you are charged with keeping it alive. It dies if you do not tend it. It is as simple as that. No matter how intellectual and multicolored motherhood becomes as children grow older, the part that says My purpose on earth is to keep you alive has never totally dissipated. Magical thinking on all sides.

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Beware of “psychic numbing.”  Research by Dr. Paul Slovic, a psychologist at the University of Oregon, who lost a child to an accidental gunshot, shows that the more we can focus on the names of victims, rather than the numbers of numbers; the more we can connect with feelings rather “rational” responses, the more likely we are to have the capacity to take concrete action, instead of withdraw in overwhelm.

 “Find ways to deliberately remind yourself of how similar the victims are to you or your own loved ones,” his research found. It will be painful, but that pain is what can drive us to stay alive and engaged.

Remember: Doom scrolling until we’re exhausted, or tuning out the news entirely, helps maintain the status quo.

And, finally, come back to caring community: Surround yourself with people who support the same causes you do, give money to your neighbor’s fundraiser, keep talking with others as a way to reignite your efforts, rather than slip into that dreaded feeling of being ineffective. 

As I write, my 6-year-old is watching Frozen 2, visual comfort food, for what might be the twentieth time.

She is awaiting a result from a COVID test, after being up half the night with a fever. When I finish this, I will snuggle in next to her, hold her close, and take care of us both.