I was child free this weekend, the world was my oyster. It was my first truly free weekend since I’ve had my son. My parents have taken him when I’ve been on work-trips and they had him while I was at a friends hen-do and wedding, but never just so I could mooch around. I felt a pressure to make the most of it, to do the one thing which would make me feel good. But what on earth was that thing? It needed to be relaxing, yet interesting; active, yet not exhausting. Or then again, maybe I should focus on all the things I needed to do, cleaning, sorting, ordering, managing. All those tasks which are never ending and pile up once you have a kid on the scene.
In the end I went with something that probably isn’t on most people’s top spot for weekend activities, I went campaigning for the upcoming election. I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, now was my perfect chance. I hopped on my bike and cycled off to our nearest marginal seat. From start to finish the whole thing was brilliant. I’m sure it helped that the sun was shining but it was more than that, so much more.
For many, motherhood, especially single motherhood, is incredibly isolating. I’ve felt that so intensely at times that it’s physically hurt. Yet suddenly here I was, doing something which ticked all of my needs. It was interesting, relaxing (mentally), active (the cycling and high speed walking as we went door knocking) but importantly it also made me feel good and gave me a connection with other adults. Here I was connecting with people from all walks of life. People who were putting their time and energy into fighting for what they believed in. It was invigorating like no TV show or shopping spree or whatever else I could have chosen to do with my day ‘off’, could ever have been.
Over the last few years my life has felt like a constant battle. On Saturday I was battling (politely of course) for something positive though. I was battling for something I believed in and, crucially, I was battling for something with other people. For once I felt a part of something bigger. I was no longer some isolated single mum sat at home. It made me feel so alive and left me with a huge buzz inside.
In the run up to this election I’ve heard so many people complain that the candidate(s) have forgotten them. Yet the reality is that democracy isn’t just about the candidate. Democracy is about the people. Me and you. The average constituency has between 50,000 and 70, 000 people. One MP can’t be expected to knock on all those doors, and neither should s/he. But we can. We can all be expected to knock on a few doors each and make sure that everyone around us hears what’s happening in our area, hears what policies are being suggested by the parties and hears what options are available on the ballot paper on Thursday.
It’s not that all MP’s have forgotten us (though sadly, many of them may have done). It’s us who has forgotten how to engage and get involved. We all care about the state of our communities I’m sure. We all care about our schools and hospitals. We may have different viewpoints on how they should be run, but that’s not the point here. The point is about people engaging in those issues.
It may seem a little late in the day to get involved in the campaign, but it’s not. I’m going out again this evening, this time with my son and I hope to go again tomorrow after work. So much of this campaign is being played out in print – be that sensationalist headlines, FB memes or tweets. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been sharing away with the best of them, but there’s something missing from that. As amazing as the written word can be, writing on line can exacerbate differences, it can take away the personal side, it can make things too black and white and push people to extremes. Face to face it’s different. Face to face you often find a common ground and can discuss issues sensibly. Hell I enjoyed it so much perhaps one time soon you’ll be able to actually vote for me as a councillor.
If you are interested in getting more involved in politics in your area this is a good place to start.
While I’ve got you here, if you’d like to vote for me now, I’d love a vote in the family and lifestyle category of the Bibs. As a single mum with one child I’m not your conventional family, but I try to give a raw and real insight into what our family is like. And as for the lifestyle bit, I know it’s usually more geared to what colour curtains to choose, but this lifestyle blog is about how we can live our lives positively and actively for our communities. The Bibs blogging awards form is here.