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I am a Mother, and I am the Union

By Nicole McCormick

“ I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femininity. And I want to be respected in all my femaleness. Because I deserve to be.” – Chimanda Ngozi Adichie 

I am an organizer.

And I am a woman and a mother.

When my children are grown and they think back to these years, I want them to see that the time I sacrificed with them was worthwhile. Organizing my fellow workers is draining and often frustrating, but always important work. I know that showing up to union meetings, making late night caucus zoom calls, going to trainings and even traveling across the country to connect with other workers is extremely important to my profession and to the future of public education. But most importantly, all of this work is important to my children’s future. 

When doing this work, folks often ask “Where are your kids? Who’s taking care of them?" I’m frustrated and offended by this question, but also this question triggers guilt. I wonder, would they ask my husband the same thing?

I honestly don’t think they would.

Yet, I am even more compelled to continue this work, to keep showing up. I’m a mother to four small children. I’m a teacher. I’m a union president. And I will continue to fight for the future of all children, including my own.

I have three girls: ages eight, six, and three and one boy age three. I want all of them, especially my girls, to see themselves represented in leadership positions. Often in education the people making the most money, in the highest positions of power, are men.

Why is that?

Am I less capable of running a meeting, or speaking with legislators than my male counterparts?

Of course I’m equally capable! Maybe even more so because I know what it is like for 75% of educators to teach and fight while being female. I know what it’s like to have people not raise an eyebrow for a male leader to leave their family multiple evenings in a week, and for me to take one two hour meeting and be chastised by allies and enemies alike.

I am a mother, and I am a leader.

I am a mother, and I am an educator.

I am a mother, and I am an organizer.

Every minute I take to fight for better working and learning conditions benefits everyone including my children. I refuse to feel guilt for being strong and standing up to injustice. I will continue to own my labor and organize my people for the future my children deserve. I proudly belong to the mother of all professions, and I will burn this mother to the ground if I have to. We are a nation ignited for the fight to protect and fund public education. We are a nation united for equal pay for equal work. We will win and we will overcome!

I am a mother and I am the union.

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