At NFWL, we Celebrate Mother’s Day everyday. Take a look at a few perspectives below, and add your voice to the conversation.
Reflecting on Motherhood
Representative Kim Dudik
Rosie the Riveter is an icon for female empowerment and the ability of women to get things done featured in the “We Can Do It!” World War II poster produced by J. Howard Miller in 1943.
As an elected official, I have taken this motto to heart and used it to guide a lot of my work reforming our laws so citizens are better served. I have worked across the aisle and reached out to my fellow legislators to find common ground on ways to move our state forward.
The work we have accomplished together in Montana includes such things as reforming our child protection system to better protect children and reforming our child sexual abuse laws to remove the criminal statute of limitations so that a person who assaults a child will not be able to circle a date on a calendar, knowing that after that date they no longer have to worry about being caught. We instituted comprehensive public defense and criminal justice reforms aimed at weeding out the root causes of criminal behavior – such as chemical dependency and mental health disorders.
I worked with and led teams to do this while serving the public in the part-time Montana legislature and also maintaining a private law practice focusing on protecting crime victims.
I have also done this while being the mother of 4 young children, ages 10, 8, 5, and 2. When I started in the legislature, I had 2 children. All they have ever known is that “Mommy makes laws and helps people.” That is their normal. I had my third child between legislative sessions and my fourth actually during the third month of our four-month legislative session. I had him on a Thursday and was back to work on Monday, baby in hand on Tuesday to introduce him. I had a lot of work to get done that couldn’t wait. I was the first sitting legislator to give birth during a session in Montana.
At the back of my mind are always the mantras “We Can Do It!” and “We Can Have It All!” I fully believe both of those are true. However, something frequently missed is that none of this is easy. Although you can have it all, you have to make choices about what you actually have. For example, I was in the legislature serving my second term when my second child took her first steps – thankfully I saw it in a video my husband recorded. My business is limited too – as a small business owner running my own business, I wind down my legal practice for the 4 months I am out of commission because I am working more than full-time in the 90 days of our Legislative session.
Most important, I cannot have done any of this alone and it would have been miserable if I tried. Women (and men) need a support network to make life successful and make great things possible. For all of you working women out there, it is okay if you have to have some one else pick up your kids because you cannot do it. It is okay to not have a spic and span clean house all the time (or really ever if you are like me and have 4 kids, a dog, a hamster, and a fish sharing your home with you). You cannot be everywhere at once or do everything all the time. It is it okay to ask for help – you should do it and not feel guilty. You are doing your best and setting a wonderful example for future generations about what equality truly means. As for why I serve the public, it is for my children and other kids. I do all of this for them– that is what being a good mother means to me and I think my children understand that.
Yes, “We Can Do It” but this journey is not one to be had alone and to make it work, it takes the team you put together to really make a successful, positive impact.
“My advice to those that ask me how to be a good mother and professionally successful, is to believe in your own strength, be resilient and at all times be cognizant to be the mother you want your son to be proud of.”- NJ Freeholder Melissa DeCastro
Pictured: Margaux Sculley
“NFWL supports mothers everyday, from supporting elected women who are mothers themselves or simply represent mothers in their communities, to our own employees. Flexible work hours and supportive colleagues have made a huge difference in the transition to work as a new mother” – Brenna Kehew Sculley, NFWL Policy Director