“Ma’am, I need you to keep the baby quiet.”

“I’m trying, Sir. Really I am.”

Congressman Cline droned from the front of the Town Hall about respecting human life.

“Ma’am, if the baby can’t be quiet…”

“I’m doing everything I can, Sir.” I fumbled against my toddler’s death grip jamming the video on my phone, a seldom allowed treat. I felt enormous pressure to simply leave. Cline had glanced at Delegate Head who signaled the sheriff’s staff to have me removed. I felt shunned and unwelcome. He could have said “Ma’am, shouldn’t you be barefoot in your kitchen?” and his tone would have remained the same.

Yes, gentlemen. It’s true. Women are participating in public life.

And we come with children—living, breathing, hungry, fussing, children. You know, they’re the things fetuses become. The things we bear the brunt of responsibility for raising into good citizens, for ensuring their short-term happiness and their long-term well-being.

As a mother, I’m deeply committed to making sure my children inherit this great republic someday, and that means ensuring respect for the rule of law, that no one is above the law, no matter how wealthy or powerful. These things matter to my entire family. My child is a constituent too, and we had as much right to be in that room as anyone else. She will inherit the republic whose future we hold in our hands.

Sure, my kid was tired and loud. It wasn’t my idea to schedule a public forum at 5 p.m. on Friday, a time obviously chosen to decrease citizen engagement. I’ll bring more snacks next time. The audience had another good suggestion. Use the microphone.

To Congressman Cline, Delegate Head, and your friend from the sheriff’s office, here are some other ways to deal with fussy babies without shaming women:

1) Keys, paper and pen, peekaboo. Distractions are at their best from new friends.

2) Cookies were plentiful in the room. Ask mom “can I?” and hand it to the kid.

3) You could also shrug, smile, grab the microphone and respect life. Living, breathing, hungry, fussing life.

ANNA GOLTZ

ROANOKE

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