This week, an impressive group of women gathered at the Women, Inspiration & Enterprise (WIE) Symposium in New York City to talk about achieving social change. Among them were Heather Armstrong of Dooce, Christy Turlington of Every Mother Counts, Babble co-founder, Alisa Volkman and Babble’s Director of Community, Catherine Connors, all of whom participated in a panel on how women can make the world a better place.
After the event, Catherine Connors wondered, via her Babble Voices blog, whether we are, “… setting up a new standard of the supermom —- the mom who not only devotes herself to the work of motherhood and perhaps to work outside of motherhood AND to the work of mothering the whole world, or, at least, to those parts of the world that need a little mother love.” Are we creating an expectation that we all become superheroes, able to leap the world’s challenges with a single bound? Connors concluded, as did others on the panel, that, “Ordinary moms do this work everyday, all over the world. Ordinary moms are working the extraordinary work all the time.” We don’t have to fix everything all at once. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing.
I agree. The women I know who devote themselves to making change are all regular people. It doesn’t matter whether they change the lives of three people, 30 people or 30,000 people. All of them are worthy.
As a “change agent” myself, I feel fortunate to have gotten to know many women in social media who are doing heroic work. There’s Kristine Brite, who helped ensure that all newborns are screened for congenital heart defects in her state of Indiana, Becky Harks who started Band Back Together so that people have a place to share life’s painful moments with others who understand, and Jen Singer who created the website Parenting With Cancer. There are the great people involved with ONE Moms, like Emily McKhann and Karen Walrond. There are many more that I’ve never met but would like to, including Maya Thompson who created a foundation after losing her son Ronan to Neuroblastoma, or Dr. Hawa Abdi, who created a camp for 90,000 displaced Somalians. (Many of these women have been nominated as Babble Mominees, by the way.) And then there are heroes whose heroic work never leaves the home; they are solely focused on the business of raising wonderful people who will be able to make their own marks on the world. It’s all good.
I started my blog Postpartum Progress for the simple reason that I didn’t want other mothers with postpartum depression to feel as alone as I did. With just a laptop, my brain, and a small fistful of dollars, I’ve now reached more than one million people since I started Postpartum Progress in 2004. All it took was energy and passion for mothers with PPD. It blows my mind, really. What means more to me than numbers, though, is the letter I get from a single mother who says my work helped her out of a very dark place.
Anybody can make change. All it takes is combining whatever talents and time you’ve got and applying them directly toward affecting those things you want to change. You don’t need permission to get started from anyone other than yourself.
Honore De Balzac said, “It is easy to sit up and take notice. What is difficult is getting up and taking action.” Women don’t find it difficult to take action. I know this.