There's a certain brand of herbal tea I use to counteract the effects of too much multi-tasking, caffeine, and sugar on my nervous system. Aside from the product's purported health benefits, the paper tag on each tea bag is stamped with a brief snippet of spiritual advice to promote mental balance and enlightenment -- or at least get a stressed-out tea-drinker through the day. The quotations veer from touchy-feely ("Life is a flow of love; your participation is requested") to common-sense instructions for general well-being and collective harmony ("Live with reverence for yourself and others"). But the one that always gets to me -- possibly because it speaks volumes to the uneven nature of my personal quest for self-actualization -- is the simple directive to "Keep up."
One might speculate that the tea-guru's intended meaning is more along the lines of "don't worry, be happy," but I prefer to take the imperative literally. As it turns out, keeping up is no small feat, particularly when obligation and opportunity pull a girl in different directions. Perhaps that is the quintessential lesson to be learned from the work-family disconnect for professional-class mothers in the 21st century -- something's got to give, and if we're fortunate enough to have the right kind of resources and support, we get to weigh our options about which opportunities are left behind. Since the available options are rarely good enough or fair enough, we're usually forced to settle for the least poor compromise -- which, it must be noted, still leaves married, college-educated mothers in a better position to achieve long-term economic security than their lower-income and unmarried counterparts. The degree of risk and hardship may vary, but the situation is intolerable all the way around. I launched the Mothers Movement Online 5-1/2 years ago to raise awareness about the economic and social consequences of maternity in the United States, and to reframe motherhood and caregiving as inherently political issues.
Since the beginning of this year, I've struggled to satisfy a multitude of conflicting obligations without letting go of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the direction of my country by working to elect a transformative leader. I had hoped and planned to continue updating the Mothers Movement Online during the final months of the election, but by late August it was obvious that I could not, in fact, keep up. Without hesitation, I decided to make working for Barack Obama's Campaign for Change my top priority, joining the ranks of tens of thousands of other volunteer leaders and activists across the U.S. who made the same call. To readers and contributing writers who've been waiting to see fresh content published on the site: my sincerest apologies. It goes without saying that the decision to temporarily suspend publication of the Mothers Movement Online was motivated by my desire to do the right thing for women and families in America, and throughout the world.
I'm mighty proud to have been part of the effort to elect the first President of the United States to endorse a comprehensive policy platform to address the needs of working women and families. As a local grassroots leader and volunteer for the campaign, I also gained powerful new knowledge about the methods and challenges of organizing for change, and new skills to apply to what a growing number of political leaders and organizers refer to simply as "the work."
For devoted readers, the recent interruption of the editorial schedule raises larger issues about the sustainability of the MMO in its present form -- for it is now quite clear that the trajectory of my personal activism is bending toward doing the hands-on work of making change, as opposed to writing and talking about why we need it. For now, the site will resume publication at the end of November with new articles and interviews by MMO favorites Sarah Werthan Buttenweiser, Heather Hewett, Kyndra Wilson, and other returning and first-time writers.
My decision to put the MMO on an unscheduled, six-month hiatus was probably not good enough or fair enough for readers who turn to the site for perspectives on motherhood and mothering that can't be found anywhere else. I'm grateful for your patience and continuing support.
Judith Stadtman Tucker
Editor, The Mothers Movement Online
9 November 2008