The Littlest Payne is napping and I have some time to reflect on how our very first March – at 38 years (me) and 14 months (she) – went. We attended the March for Our Lives event in Nashville, Tennessee today, March 24, 2018.
I am a parent with anxiety who is strongly an introvert in many social situations. Typically I would say “hell no, thanks” to an event with a crowd in the thousands. The message behind March for Our Lives – simply put, gun control – is important to me so I put my brave face on for Littlest and committed to doing this. There were a couple things that made this commitment easy(ish) and two very specific factors that made attending and participating in an event like a march in a medium sized city achievable.
The first was that my partner supported us by driving us to the March and being available throughout the event to meet us and pick us up should Littlest have a toddler sized meltdown or en emergency situation arise. He would’ve marched alongside us if I had asked him to but I felt most comfortable knowing he’d be somewhere outside the event and ready to help and support should we become entirely overwhelmed or something go incredibly wrong.
The second was that I coordinated with other parent friends and some family members to meet beforehand and participate in the March together. Not only did I have accountability in seeing through a commitment, I also had like minded parents and supportive family by my side who would be understanding and hands-on helpful with the general struggles of parenting a toddler in public.
- Layers. The potential for rain hung around the forecast so we did like our Portland and Seattle friends and wore our raincoats, leaving umbrellas at home. Littlest runs hot (you know the adage to dress your baby in one more layer than yourself? she typically needs to be in one less layer than me to be comfortable) and we removed her raincoat about an hour into the morning. She wore a sleeveless onesie with a long-sleeve baseball tee over the top.
- Travel/carry options. Littlest was in our stroller for about an hour before she got wiggly. After about 30 minutes in various friends + family members’ arms, I wore her in our Tula Free-to-Grow in a back carry. We’ve not back carried much at this point so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go. I waited until the last possible minute to put her in the carrier hoping that the surrounding people, chants and signs of the March might keep her entertained. Turns out, it lulled her right into a nap!
- Wearing our message. We found (matching!) shirts with messages on the front. If I thought I might wear Littlest in a front carry, I was planning on making the t-shirt cape/sign I mentioned in my tips list post. I liked having both of my hands free.
- Little things. Finding dogs in the crowd for her to look at and pet. Dancing around to the upbeat rally music being piped through the speakers before the event started. Hanging out on the periphery of the crowd and letting Littlest play with the cherry blossom petals. Joining in the clapping and cheering during the speeches.
- The only negative stand-out from the entire event is something that happened that really couldn’t have been prevented in a city the size of Nashville. The March wove through downtown where residents and tourists were observing the March progress from sidewalks as well as apartment and hotel room balconies. We narrowly missed witnessing an awful incident happen – instead, coming upon the aftermath and the arrival of the police. One of our friends witnessed what happened and reports that an observer from an apartment tower balcony launched liquid of some sort over the side into the crowd (from a bucket? a water balloon?) – missing everyone but a mother and her infant child. Thankfully they seemed to escape serious physical injury but were understandably scared and shaken up. The March crowd was FULL of young people from infant children to elementary, middle and high school age. The person who sees children in the crowd and deliberately launches a potentially injurious substance from stories up above is, what I believe, some special kind of asshole.
I am so glad I went and so grateful for my growing community of parent friends and their own littles who are hoping for and demanding better of this country. Will I see you at the next March, Nashville?