If you followed the political stage this week, you’re familiar with the phrase, “Nevertheless, she persisted,” that has been trending, hashtagging and meming into infamy. This quickly happened after Senator Elizabeth Warren was silenced by Senator Mitch McConnell during Warren’s speech in which she was criticizing Jeff Sessions, 45’s nomination for the Cabinet position of Attorney General. (Yes, I’m referring to the current president as “45,” as recommended by Bernice King, MLK’s daughter). McConnell cited a rule that senators could not criticize another senator, and then stated, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
And that, dear ones, is how a battle cry is born.
In the short time since the birth of that phrase, it has inspired me and strengthened me when my spirit has been low. And boy, oh boy, I’ve had some LOW moments this week.
One low moment is pretty typical for a single parent of a six-year-old. To sum up my parenting problem, Tommy knows EV-ER-EE-THING and he’s right and everyone else is wrong. Forehead palm slap. Adding salt to this wound, he is having a little trouble reining himself in at school. Once again, very typical. He won’t stop talking at school. He doesn’t always follow directions. He is convinced he’s doing the right thing all of the time. Honestly, compared with the issues that other kids have, Tommy’s are no big deal. But I’m not those kids’ mom. I’m his mother, and I still believe in the sage wisdom of, “If you get into trouble at school, you’re going to get in even bigger trouble at home.”
But when you’re the only one handing out the consequences, it gets tough. Especially when he didn’t learn from his mistake. Especially when three out of five days, there was a negative report. Especially when you know that part of his mistake was that he’s six and it takes more than one misstep to learn. Especially when the consequence is that his tablet is taken away and that is also a form of punishment for you too. Nevertheless, she persisted.
Another moment arrived in the moment of professional crisis. It was Wednesday night, and I had just survived a truly, truly awful day. 8 teachers were out and I only had 2 substitutes to cover. Plus my cook and a lunch monitor were also absent and it was Pizza Day. Not to mention, I had a doctor appointment to make sure the armpit pain I was having was not some kind of lymphatic infection, or cat-scratch fever (thank you Web MD). And that evil hormonal monthly curse transformed me into an emotional, exhausted, migraine-infused mess. So by 8 pm, all I wanted was to admit defeat to Wednesday and crawl into bed.
Silly principal, don’t you remember? You are in charge of Professional Development tomorrow. You have 20 teachers counting on you to make sure that every drop of time is used well. Sure, there’s a powerpoint presentation that another principal shared with you that you can use, but you can’t go in blind. You need to practice it and refine it and ensure that it accomplishes the goals of the district and the needs of the teachers. Plus, you don’t want to look like a dumbass. So no matter how tired, and broken, and utterly bitchy you feel, you cannot give up.
I didn’t give up. By 9:00 Powerpoint slides were rearranged. Activities were inserted. A plan was in place. Nevertheless, she persisted.
Finally, to end my week, the conversation with the estranged husband happened. (Sidenote–I wish there was a word to describe your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. There is a word for soon-to-be-spouse, fiance’. Why can’t there be one for the opposite? To be accurate, I don’t want to say, “ex-husband,” because that’s not true, yet. But soon-to-be-ex isn’t efficient. Estranged is weird to me too. It sounds like he ran away and no one knows where he is. I definitely don’t want to refer to him as “husband” either, even if legally that is still true.)
Anyway, the Estranged Husband Incident was a telephone conversation that started about who was going to take Tommy to see the Batman Lego movie. It quickly morphed into a huge debate about child support, alimony, and the division of assets. Amazingly, throughout the conversation, I felt strong while talking to him. I was calm. I stuck to truth and facts. I diverted attempts to ensnare me with the age old songs of ” Why Can’t We Work This Out,” and “I’ll Always Love You,” and the number one hit, “Just Give Me One More Chance.” Save those tunes for someone else’s jukebox buddy. I’m singing a new song now. Nevertheless, she persisted.
My life moments pale in comparison to Elizabeth Warren’s. They are nothing in comparison to Coretta Scott King, the words in which Warren was quoting and then silenced. There are millions of women who face problems bigger than mine. But trivializing my problems won’t help me get past them. The only thing that will get me through the problems is to look them dead in the face and say, “I might be tired. I might be weak. But I’m stronger than you. I’m smarter than you. Now go away.”
Unfortunately, problems are stubborn and don’t simply go away. They are like illegal squatters; they move in and refuse to get out. The only way to get rid of them is to be more stubborn. Persevere. Persist.
So, to my son, you will lose your tablet if you don’t listen to your teacher. To my profession, you might kick the crap out of me some days, but I’m still going to do what I need for my students and my staff. To my soon-to-be-ex-husband (see–it’s too long), I want to remind you the words I said yesterday, “We can talk. We can compromise. But I will be sticking up for myself. I will not be agreeing to anything just to make your life easier. It’s time for me to put my needs first.” Nevertheless, she persisted.
P.S. The artwork for this week’s post was created by Tina Doepker. She’s an amazing artist, an awesome elementary art teacher, and a fellow Nasty Woman. Thank you for your permission to use your artwork to illustrate this week’s post, Tina.