Written by: Juniper Fitzgerald
Illustrated by: Elise Peterson
For Ages: 4-8 years
Topics Covered: Family, Acceptance, Love, Activism.
For #sweetsandsocialjustice this week I wanted to reshare a book that I think deserves the spotlight all the time-How Mamas Love Their Babies. For the treat that goes with it, I made something that reminds me of my own mother-funnel cakes! Sometimes I would get up for school as a kid and she would surprise me with one for breakfast, because she is the coolest.
This book is a tribute to motherhood and the myriad of ways mothers care for their children. The story is a fantastic and broad look at the things a mother might do-carry their baby inside of them, protest to get better childcare centers, stay home, or go to work. All of the different things mothers do to help their children grow up happy, healthy and strong. Some mothers wear uniforms to work and clean other mothers houses, while some mothers use their brains, and some mamas farm. Some work at restaurants and some fly planes around the world, but the work they do helps their children “dream big”. The book also talks about uniforms that might be worn-big and baggy or small and tight like a scuba diver’s. At this point in the book is where the revolutionary material happens-the book addresses sex work and dancing as a type of job. “Some mamas dance all night long in special shoes. It’s hard work”!; this normalizes all types of jobs that women do to provide for their family, and shows a woman holding a protest sign advocating for living wages for strippers. This book’s art style is collaged, with a huge array of mothers and their children doing a variety of activities like hugging, doing hair, skateboarding, reading, and playing. The photos are diverse and show the tender ways that mothers care for their children, asking at the end how the reader’s mama cares for them. How Mamas Love Their Babies accepts and celebrates the difficult but rewarding job of motherhood, and all of the ways that moms care for their children.
The simple words and creativity of this publication is what makes this book a quiet revolution. Normalization of every person’s and family’s structure and wage earning is crucial to create an inclusive society that uplifts all citizens.
Recipe: Funnel Cakes
1.5t baking powder
pinch of salt
oil for frying
powdered sugar for garnish
Whisk together wets and dries in septette bowls. Slowly combine dries into wets while whisking and mix until smooth. When oil is heated to 375 in deep pan/cast iron skillet, pour a thin stream of batter in circles until desired size, and flip after frying 2 minutes. You can use a funnel or liquid measuring cup to pour, or snip the corner off of a plastic bag. When finished, put onto paper towels to drain and top with powdered sugar. Makes about 4.
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Juniper Fitzgerald is a mother, former sex worker, and PhD based in Omaha, Nebraska. Her academic work focuses on sex work, sex workers’ rights, and alternative methodologies informed by feminist theories and the queering of intellectual spaces. For more than a decade, Juniper worked as a sex worker in various contexts and she continues to work as sex workers’ rights advocate. She has contributed to several sex workers’ rights cultural productions, including: The Red Umbrella Diaries, a spoken word event for sex workers created by Audacia Ray; The Red Umbrella Babies, a collection of writings by parents in the sex industry; SWOP, the Sex Worker Outreach Project; and CHANGE, the Center for Health and Gender Equity, a non-profit that supported Fitzgerald in her petition for congress to eradicate the Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath.
Elise R. Peterson is a writer, visual artist and educator living and working in New York. Writing clips have appeared in Adult, PAPER MAGAZINE, ELLE, LENNY LETTER, and NERVE among others. She previously served as the founding Music Editor of Saint Heron. Her written work doubles as storytelling and investigating the nuance of identity and sexuality as it relates to marginalized communities. Her multidisciplinary visual work is informed by the past, reimagined in the framework of the evolving notions of technology, intimacy and cross-generational narratives. Socially, it is her aim to continue to use art as a platform for social justice while making art accessible for all through exhibitions of public work and beyond. Elise is the host of MANE, a online video series highlighting the intersection of culture and hair as told through the narratives of women via Now This News.