Margaret Robbins, of Pacifica, with her daughter, Amanda, 13, at the Jefferson Memorial in D.C. (Miranda Leitsinger/KQED)
For many Bay Area moms, joining the Women’s March on Washington will not only be their first protest ever, it will also be the first one with their kids.
So planning to participate wasn’t simply about the logistics of how they would get there and where they’d stay, but also how they'd have their tots, tweens and teens in tow.
“I'm preparing us for a long day, a lot of standing to start, a lot of walking. I've got to be prepared to leave if she's really done, and is just over it,” said Hao Le of San Jose, who is bringing her daughter, Quynh-Mai Duarte, 7. “That's got to be factored in.”
Moms like Le are factoring in bathroom breaks, how much food and water to bring with the bag size limitations, games, stickers and toys to keep kids entertained during the times they’re standing during the rally, and making sure everyone stays safe.
In case they get separated, some parents have GPS tiles for their kids, while others are writing names and numbers on their child’s arms, and yet others have brightly colored flags for them to wave or hold up.
“I am having a backup plan, and a plan for the backup,” said Le.
Many of these topics are covered on a Facebook page for parents attending the march. But those are, in a way, just logistics. Many moms said they decided to make the cross-country trip with their kids to teach them invaluable life lessons, too.
“Is there any better education? You’re not going to get this from a classroom. This is what you’re going to read about in a textbook,” said Mars Stone, a mom from Berkeley who is bringing her daughter, Ruby, 10.
“I've never really felt compelled to really stand up and do a whole lot before like I do now,” said Le. “I thought that she could benefit from participating in that, and seeing a sea of strong and independent women and girls.”
For mom Elizabeth Beatty, of San Francisco, who home-schools her daughter, Alessandra, 12, the march is partly to teach their kids about democracy and being active in their communities and politics to enact change.
It’s "about being a role model to your children and saying you can’t take things for granted, you have to stand up for what’s right,” she said. “I think that’s what all the children need. They’re seeing their parents out their standing up for something they believe in, fighting for something they believe in, and that’s a great message.”
For many families, though, the decision was complicated. Beatty didn’t want to push her political views on her daughter. Margaret Robbins, a retired lawyer living in Pacifica, weighed whether this was the right time in her daughter Amanda’s life to be exposed to such a gathering — where there could be other groups protesting the march, such as supporters of President Donald Trump, fresh off of his inauguration.
“I was concerned about sort of taking innocence away, in a sense, from her. That eventually is going to happen, but is 13 the right age?” she said. “I thought a lot about that, but I weighed that against having her feel empowered during this whole mess, because I know, myself, as a person who is a very strong woman, I felt a blow when this happened.”
Lots of her friends don’t agree, Robbins said. “It’s a personal choice.”
Amanda chimed in: “I am going to remember this experience for as long as I live. I think I'd be truly upset that you would be going and I would be left behind to only get pictures back.”
Many moms said there was yet another reason to go to D.C.: To get out of the Bay Area “bubble.”
“This is life. We can march here [in the Bay Area] with people who are like-minded and we are never going to be faced with any opposition here. It's going to be a big kumbaya and it's great,” said Stone. “That's not the world, that's not the country we live in.”
They’ve all prepared for potential encounters with people who oppose the march. Some will ignore them; Stone said they’ll respond to opponents with “dignity and compassion.” But they’re not there to engage opponents. Instead, it’s about sharing a historic moment with their children and to get inspired for the next chapter.
“I wanted to make sure that she felt empowered,” Robbins said of her daughter, “and that she had a voice, and that she understood that even though this person is going to be our president, that we still have power, and we still matter.”