Radical Motherhood

April 12, 2016

I can’t remember my first rebellious act, but if you ask my parents or my oldest friends they will attest that I have been resisting authority and rebelling against the establishment for as long as I’ve been able to assert my opinion.

So pretty much since the moment I was born.

I’ve always had strong opinions and strong convictions. I rarely like doing things the way they are conventionally accepted or expected. I like to chart my own course and create my own path. I don’t like being told what to do or how to think.

I have been known to resist liking anything that is popular or overwhelmingly adored in pop culture. Think Seinfeld, Pink Floyd, bacon…

There’s been a lot of talk lately about who qualifies as a revolutionary, whether in politics or life. The “revolutionaries” who are celebrated as radical or anti-establishment are those who yell the loudest about their big ideas. Oddly, these “revolutionaries” usually look a lot like the establishment. White, male, privileged, and in substantial positions of power.

I am not anti-male. I like men. I even love a few.

However, in my experience, actions speak louder than words and gender has nothing to do with how revolutionary someone might be.

It is my preference to not only lead by example and “be the change I want to see in the world” to paraphrase Gandhi, but to show up in my life in a way that demonstrates my values.

It has been my experience that “the revolution” often seems to be relegated to the young or to single people or to people without children or people who live in cities. Anyone who has chosen to live in the suburbs with kids has obviously chosen to support the establishment instead of rage against the machine.

Maybe I’m projecting.


As a married mom of (almost) 2 kids living just outside of the city, sometimes I think people assume that I have lost my rebellious edge and revolutionary spirit.

I think I’ve gotten even more radical as I get older.

I also think that I have even more power to create change now than I did when I lived in the city, wore all black, stomped around in combat boots, and went to protests all of the time. Although I think marching together with a group can make a powerful statement, it’s a limited form of expression.

In fact, I think suburban moms have a lot more power of revolutionary expression than most people realize.

So here are my top tips for fighting the establishment and creating a revolution through your actions and choices as a householder.

*How you spend your money, matters.

Shop local. Avoid purchasing anything on Amazon, if possible. Give less of your money to big corporations and more to small businesses. This might mean waiting a little longer for something you want. It might mean planning further in advance when it comes to purchases. It might mean finding new places to purchase what you need. Some things might even be slightly more expensive. Likely, you are paying for better quality and products made by hand in this country. Make a statement with your wallet. This is consumerism in action.

*Avoid putting everything on credit.

The system of credit in this country is totally screwed up. I didn’t actually get a credit card until I was almost 30, which made it challenging to try and buy a house. For some reason, the banks and credit card companies have decided that we are more fiscally responsible if and when we are in debt. I disagree.

Although I do have a credit card now, I rarely use it and pay it off as soon as possible.

Spend what you have. Save money and spend it wisely on things that matter to you. Take out loans as needed, of course. Don’t let yourself get sucked into the idea that the more debt you are in, the more viable you are as a consumer.

*Eat seasonally, locally, and organically grown food.

This one is tough for most of us, especially coming out of winter and into spring. In the mid-Atlantic, not much grows throughout the winter. March and April can be particularly tough.
In the late-spring, summer, fall and even early winter, it’s fairly easy to get most of what we need to eat from the local farmers markets.

Easiest way to do this? Join a CSA!

We do supplement with a few things that cannot be grown in this area. I’m a sucker for avocados, which do not thrive on the eastern seaboard. Many of the grains we buy aren’t grown locally. The more we can get from local sources, the more we support local economy, ecology, and prove that small family farms and farmers matter. If you really want to stick it to the big factory farms, don’t rely on them for your food.

*Better yet, eat ethically.

This means avoiding GMO’s. Refusing to purchase foods that use Monsanto seeds. This means eating significantly less meat and far fewer animal products.

Yes, these foods sometimes seem less expensive. That lower cost also indicates that what you are putting in your body is of lower quality. Value what you choose to put in your body. Treat your body like a palace or a place of worship. Food is medicine. Food is life. The quality of what you put into your body will determine the quality of your life.

*Better yet, grown your own.

Herbs are a good place to start. Especially if you don’t have a sunny backyard or live with a backyard deer sanctuary like we do.

Or make your own. There are so many things that are just as easy to make yourself that you don’t need to buy. Nut milk, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, vinegar, vanilla extract, tomato sauce, jam, ketchup, granola, bread, beans from scratch, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese… yes, of course this requires more time and planning. I have no idea how to make jam and have tried (and failed) to make decent tomato sauce. I want to keep trying, though. The less I buy and the more I make from fresh, seasonal, local ingredients, the more I rebel against “convenience culture.”

*Heal naturally. Avoid big Pharma like the plague.

I’m not suggesting you avoid doctors completely. I am suggesting that before running to the drugstore, you consider natural ways of healing through medicinal herbs and nature-based remedies.
This season, we staved off multiple colds with simple foods and herbs that already lived in our pantry.

Nature is full of healing plants. Many of them have formed the basis of medicine, but the medicine has become highly concentrated and so removed from the original source that it no longer contains the full benefit of using everything the actual plant might have to offer.

Discover some basic remedies. Get to know your local herbalist. Stop assuming that big pharma has your best interests and health in mind when they create a new pill that will solve all of your health problems.

*Avoid plastic and packaging.

Don’t buy anything in plastic. I don’t use plastic bags at the grocery store anymore. Instead, I just pile fruits and veggies into my cart and carefully transfer them to my reusable bags. I buy as much in bulk as possible and reuse those plastic bags until they have holes and need to be recycled.

I get my olive oil, canola oil, tahini, tamari, and other liquids from tubs at my local coop. I reuse the jars they come in. I throw away less and consume less packaging.

Plastic is a huge part of the petroleum industry. Let’s keep telling them we don’t need their services or their products.

*Choose Alternative Sources of Energy.

Go solar. Choose wind power. Turn off lights when you’re not in the room. Unplug all electrical devices and appliances when you’re not using them.

Use your car less. Bike more. Use public transportation. Carpool.

This one is tough for suburbanites. Milly’s school is several miles away. I can’t bike her there. I have to drive. We do walk to the farmer’s market on most Sundays and when I wasn’t super pregnant, we’d walk to the local coop, which is only ½ a mile away.

Maybe someday when electric or solar cars are less restrictively expensive, we’ll have greater options there.

For now, keep it simple and think of one thing you can do that would limit your energy consumption.

*Do yoga.

This one feels obvious to me. To expand on it, though, increasing your consciousness and raising your awareness is what begins to create the opportunity for revolutionary actions in your everyday life. Although yoga is gaining popularity, it’s still fairly counter culture.

Meditation is a good one, too.

Mindfulness also falls into this category.

Any practice that encourages you to broaden your perception and to recognize that you are a part of something bigger and that your actions matter, will initiate the impulse within you to create radical actions in your community.

*Raise your kids to question rather than accept.

This is a big one. I want my kids to think for themselves. Yes, I still plan on teaching them the values that are important to me. I do plan on instilling a love for this planet and humanity in them by sharing the magnificence of nature. I plan on teaching them love, compassion, and to have a sense of humor.

I also don’t want them to take anything I say at face value. I want them to question. I want them to be curious. I want them to make up their own minds. I want them to learn through experience. I want them to explore and create and live.

I want them to be accepting, but I don’t want them to believe everything they read on the internet or hear from people in power. I want them to investigate and make up their own minds.

This is just a partial list. How do you fight the status quo without leaving your house to march on Capitol Hill? How to you buck the system and create a revolution through your everyday actions? Let me know in the comments below.

original art by jessica mills

original art by jessica mills

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