By Sarah Reeske
I’m a 33-year-old solo parent of a second-grade son and a kindergarten daughter, and an activist/organizer working from home. I’m constantly asked how I do it all. I like to joke with people and say I put in an order for four clones, but they haven’t arrived yet. A clone to focus just on parenting, one for home management, one for activism, and one for sleeping sounds like the perfect solution to me!
I’m a big believer in making political activism bite-size, local, fun, and family friendly. I can’t afford to get child care for every time I need to take action, so I’ve learned how to do it as a family.
Our family’s top value is “we don’t hurt humans.” We care about people’s feelings, everyone being the boss of their own body, and being kind; this is how we always want to act. Unfortunately, there’s plenty happening in our current political environment where the exact opposite is taking place. We believe in those famous and true words by Martin Luther King Jr that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” thus we must get off the sidelines and into the fight.
The best thing I can do as a parent is to raise my children to be anti-racist. They helped me chalk Oneida Square before the #justiceforgeorge protest and march on May 31st because we were part of the prep team. At every event we go to together, I talk to them about why we are there. It’s not ok to treat people differently based on their skin color, and we want to show others they should believe this too. They know that when they point out Black Lives Matter signs in yards, those households are on the same side. That’s a bite-size way for them to understand how important it is to live in a community that shares your values.
My kids also come with me to knock on doors in support of candidates who share our vision. Well, we did before the pandemic anyway. I framed it as practice for trick-or-treating and taught them correct door etiquette such as ringing the doorbell once, stepping back, and not messing with plants. They take turns giving me the campaign card to give to the person at the door we talk with, and I always have the kids remind him/her to vote.
Being a parent activist puts my heart through the ringer every day though. The decisions being made at all levels of government will affect them as they grow into adults. It’s imperative that my children learn about right and wrong, justice and injustice, and that they must do something about it. Those in positions of power must be on our side, and if they aren’t, we must do more than vote them out–we must demand and work hard for a different future, one where all families thrive.
One day they will be able to write postcards to voters, but right now they put on stamps for completed Vote Forward letters to voters in swing states. One day they will be able to lead chants into a blow horn at a protest, but right now they stand by Mom and get excited about the number of honks they hear because of their sign no doubt.
If you’re empowered to get your family more involved with local political activism, please join Citizen Action CNY and/or Indivisible Mohawk Valley. See you there with the kids!
Sarah Reeske is a parent of two in Clinton and co-leader of Indivisible Mohawk Valley who balances empowering people to build long term progressive power, working from home full time as the senior regional organizer for New York for Indivisible Project, and doing hybrid learning for her kids’ education.