'Naptime' activist gets moms' message out

McClatchy NewspapersJanuary 28, 2008 

— Amy Tiemann was a neuroscientist, then a high school teacher, next a mother.

The constraints of that third job inspired the Chapel Hill woman to carve out time to reconnect with her own passions and put them into action. Now she is one of the leaders of a group of "naptime activists" who hope to make a difference in the presidential election and universal issues facing families.

Tiemann is on the executive board of MomsRising.org, an online organization of about 140,000 people trying to fit social activism in at times when they're not earning a paycheck, caring for a child or tending to a household.

"We are reaching out to women who have an impulse to make a difference, but are so busy and overwhelmed that we have to reach them where they are," says Tiemann, author of the book "Mojo Mom: Nurturing Yourself While Raising a Family."

"The Internet is key because it allows us to work together across geography and across time," she said in a Charlotte Observer interview. "New moms in particular are so busy, and if you have one hour even if it's at 1 a.m., you can find an action item to do right then."

Participants can sign a petition calling for an end to toxic toys, send an e-mail encouraging lawmakers to support health insurance for children, or decorate a onesie (those one-piece baby garments) with a legislative slogan that will later be strung across the front of a state capital building.

A current MomsRising effort is to lobby senators on fair wage legislation. The bill, the subject of a congressional hearing later this month, seeks to reverse the results of a Supreme Court ruling that fair pay discrimination claims must be made within 180 days of the salaries being set.

"We will have MomsRising members around the country showing up at their senators' offices," said co-founder Joan Blades of Berkeley, Calif.

The group and other partners have asked presidential candidates to pledge their support for policies that address those agenda items.

"Women are great networkers," Tiemann said. "It's great to have something meaningful you can do together."

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