“It’s really important that we have that bond of sisterhood and a network of women who have lived through this experience and done so successfully."
The new sisterhood of the traveling moms
By Katherine Tully-McManus
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz would have told me even more about the new dinner group she’s hosting for moms in Congress, but her son called.
The idea of “work-life balance,” already dangling somewhere between fantasy and myth, starts to stretch even thinner when you split your time between D.C. and a far-flung district.
That’s why Wasserman Schultz wants to build what she calls a “sisterhood of support” in the House.
On Monday night, sisterhood meant gathering at a local WeWork around containers of takeout food from the pan-Asian restaurant Nooshi. It was the first in what Wasserman Schultz hopes will be a monthly affair.
“It’s really important that we have that bond of sisterhood and a network of women who have lived through this experience and done so successfully,” said Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat and the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
She spotted the need for the network ahead of the curve, launching a Moms in the House caucus in the fall of 2018 when she realized how many mothers of young children were running for Congress. She wanted to make sure there was a support system ready for them once they won.
When she was first elected, only a handful of members were moms with young kids. She came to Congress with a 1-year-old and 5-year-old twins. Fourteen years later, there are more moms in the House than Wasserman Schultz has ever seen. And the newcomers have a ton of questions.
“There are definitely things that they will not have thought of that we want to help them think through. Just a whole set of challenges,” said Wasserman Schultz.
Massachusetts Democrat Ayanna Pressley tweeted Monday morning that she’d be at the dinner.
“I am thrilled that the diversity of this #116 Congress includes a diversity of family models which will ensure the policies we develop & advance our inclusive of the unique needs of every family. Indeed #MomNation is strong & I can’t wait to see what we accomplish together,” Pressley wrote.
Pressley calls herself “Bonus Mom” to her stepdaughter Cora.
Wasserman Schultz acknowledges that each family is different, but believes there is strength in numbers.
“We’ve got 21 unique situations,” she said, referring to the number of House Democratic mothers with school-age kids.
Her effort to bring moms in the House together is bipartisan, but in reality most mothers of young kids this year are on the Democratic side. While known for being a talented and healthy cook, Wasserman Schultz went the sensible takeout route for Monday night’s event. Skipping the meal prep leaves more time for networking.
“There’s the typical good old boys’ network that’s always existed for men, and while I wouldn’t quite describe this as a good old girls’ network, there’s just a real need for and a yearning for a sisterhood among women professionals,” she said.
A few minutes later, our conversation was cut short.
“That’s my son. He’s calling me and he never calls me,” she said. “He’s calling from college, so I have to get that.”