Washington DC, Mamapalooza, Grad School and Me

By Joy Rose

It was one week ago today that I barreled down Route 17 on my way back from Geneva, NY after picking my son up from college.  Geneva sits about ten miles away from Seneca Falls, New York. It’s a beautiful spot nestled in the finger lakes of upstate New York and, if you don’t already know, its home to the American Suffrage Movement.

My next stop was approximately three hundred and forty two miles away in the District of Columbia. The National Women’s Hall of Fame was hosting a reception at the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, which is home to the National Women’s Party.

Dr. Bernice Resnick Sandler, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Jeanne Giovannini, Beverly Ryder

Dr. Bernice Resnick Sandler, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Jeanne Giovannini, Beverly Ryder

The Hall of Fame, 2013 inductees, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Dr. Bernice Resnick Sandler, were being honored and I really wanted to be in Washington and feel the incredible power of my sister’s accomplishments.

I also wanted to meet and congratulate the Board of Directors who makes The National Women’s Hall of Fame possible. The Hall of Fame has been honoring extraordinary women for over forty years and bringing national attention to the Seneca Falls: Beth Quillen ThomasBeverly Ryder, Marilyn P. Bero, Ellen Riddleberger, Jeanne Giovannini and others.

After fabulously inspiring speeches by a gorgeous list of luminaries, I floated back to my hotel to rest.

Next day, up and atom; lunch with famed author Ann Crittenden, who’s so lovely, smart and wise, and Valerie Young, Advocacy Coordinator for National Association of Mother’s Centers. As you can imagine the conversation surged back and forth between women and equality, politics and policy and of course, The Price of Motherhood.

I made a quick stop at AAM to meet Lauren Silberman, who was our grant coordinator for the 2013 MAP Grant for M.O.M. then toured the National Museum of Women in the Arts briefly. I got a beautiful buzz from being in the space and envisioning the Museum of Motherhood expanding to a legacy-inspiring structure and left with just enough energy to crawl home.

Sunday, May 19th found me in Manhattan in the rain, organizing the 10th annual Mamapalooza Festival at Riverside Park South. This extraordinary event, which features women-owned businesses and services for families, historically has about ten thousand people in attendance. It rained hard. All day. But, the Mom Rockers prevailed singing songs that kept us enlivened and entertained.

Monday, I started a five-week graduate level course in ‘Mothering Studies’ out of Minnesota State University taught by Jocelyn Stitt. I’m in the company of six other women who are as intrigued as I am about maternal theory and the social construct of Motherhood.

Last night, dinner and drinks at Phyllis Chesler’s house to meet candidate Jessica Lappin who’s running for Manhattan Borough President. She’s running on a platform of LGBT rights, women’s health, and family’s access to education and senior rights.

Phyllis Chesler

Phyllis Cheslerhealth, and family’s access to education and senior rights.

I’m running on empty, but so, so happy and filled to the brim with gratitude that life has allowed me to find my course. The course I’m running follows the history of great women who have had the courage insist on change when it serves to elevate equality. I’ve spent years searching for my feminist sisters, trying to put words to that voice that sometimes felt like a frustrated wail in the face of social stereotypes that keep women marginalized. Women, and more specifically mothers, need so much more support and respect for all they do.

While there are still miles to go, in some ways, I have thankfully, arrived!

 Joy Rose is the Founding Director of the Museum of Motherhood in NYC. Write her at MOMmuseum@gmail.com

Induction weekend at the National Women’s Hall of Fame is October 12th in Seneca Falls, NY. You can purchase tickets online and view information about inductees and activities here.

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