South Seattle Mom Literally Wrote the Book on Guilt-Free Parenting

South Seattle Mom Literally Wrote the Book on Guilt-Free Parenting

By Amber Campbell

Many people know her as the social justice activist who took on Eric Pettigrew and Cheryl Chow in a bid for the state Legislature back in 2002, but Angela Toussaint didn’t start or stop there.

As a single mom of two adult children, Toussaint has a long history of helping other parents struggling to get their children through the public school system and working to create policy that would make it easier.

She worked as a parent advocate to improve public school education for more than 20 years, and also teamed up to help community groups such as Parents for Student Success, the Brighton-Dunlap Community Council, where they struggled to improve inner-city supermarkets; the King County Organizing Project, where they pressed candidates to support a living wage; and the Civic Foundation, where they helped make City Council members accountable to poorer, South Seattle neighborhoods.

And although her bid for the state legislature was ultimately unsuccessful, she was endorsed by the Seattle Weekly who said, “Angela Toussaint’s rare combination of guts, charm, and principle will make her an excellent representative for the 37th District.”

In fact, many of the things that would have made her a successful legislator are the same ones that have made her a successful mom.

“Voters can be confident that she will not back down on issues of principle,” wrote the Weekly. “At the same time, legislators need to be able to reach across political divides to work with members whose views are far different from their own. Toussaint knows that finesse also enters into the equation of being an effective politician. Her warmth, sense of humor, and great storytelling will help her bridge the geographical and ideological differences that any representative of the 37th faces in Olympia.”

momarchyTwo years later, Toussaint wrote “The Momarchy; A Single-Mom’s Guide to Guilt-Free Parenting.” She says the book began as a column in a local newspaper to share the wisdom gathered from friends, family, wise women and others whose strategies worked best.

“I have been a single mom for more than 20 years,” she said. “Fortunately, I figured it out. During that time, I completed my degree, opened a consulting practice, organized to reduce infant mortality, eliminate youth violence and improve the quality of grocery stores in our diverse, working class neighborhood.”

“And, through it all my girls were with me. I nursed Arianna while negotiating with school administrators. Sandra climbed on the furniture when I attended public meetings. They both came to campaign headquarters to complete their homework and then stuff envelopes. When I ran for office, they doorbelled and organized student volunteers.”

“I coached their softball teams, organized PTSA fundraisers, watched soccer matches in the rain, attended music performances and school plays. We had a good life despite my single motherhood. I enjoyed the experience of raising my children — especially as they grew older.”

She says it’s her sincerest wish that The Momarchy will help other moms live their lives to the fullest while raising their children without guilt.

“The Momarchy is a set of guiding principles meant to help you take back control of your home and create a happy, healthy environment for you and your children.”

With reminders such as:

  • “The only one holding up a measuring stick on your performance is you,”
  • “Doing chores is part of an individual’s responsibility to the family,” and
  • “There is no such thing as perfect parenting,”

Toussaint’s book is a useful guide for any parent.

This week, she was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions for our People in Your Neighborhood column, — a series of interviews with some of South Seattle’s most interesting and engaging people.

Name:
angelatouissant-meg stackerAngela Toussaint

Age:
53

Neighborhood:
Rainier Beach

How long in South Seattle?
26 years

Where from originally?
Portland, Oregon

Education:
B.A., The Evergreen State College

Day job:
Process Improvement Specialist, King County

What do you like most about your day job?
I enjoy teaching new skills and helping make their work lives easier.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?
Because I can! My kids have always been my reason for getting up in the morning. I never wanted to let them down no matter what was going on.

What are you passionate about?
Public service.

What are your hobbies?
I don’t have any real hobbies but I do enjoy making jewelry, reading, watching movies, shooting pool and a good glass of whiskey.

What’s your favorite thing about South Seattle?
Diversity. The variety of smells coming from my neighbor’s homes at dinner time. Sounds of laughter as well as sounds of distress. Rainier Valley is life. It’s so human.

What’s your least favorite thing about South Seattle?
How it’s changing. The new folks moving in and acting as though they are here to save us. We’re glad you’re here but please be respectful of those who came before you.

Where is your favorite place to go in South Seattle?
Ark Lodge Cinemas and Geraldine’s. I’m a movie buff, and I like supporting local businesses.

If you could live anywhere besides South Seattle, where would it be?
Washington, DC

If there was one thing you could change about South Seattle, what would it be?
Get sidewalks in my neighborhood.

Who inspires you?
My dad. He is the epitome of unconditional love – your faults and everything. An Atheist told me that my father gives Christianity a good name.

What was the last thing you read?
The last good book I read was “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson. I cried at the end.

Tell us something about you that not many people know:
I’m an extroverted introvert, and am actually very shy.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Me and my daughters together, eating take-out on movie night.

What is your greatest fear?
Having died never finding true love.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Procrastination.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Hypocrisy. It indicates a profound lack of awareness.

What is your greatest regret?
I don’t have a lot of regrets. You never really know what the results of your decisions will be. It all works out in the end.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My girls and a person who shall remain nameless. I was incredibly in love once and had to walk away. There’s a cosmic connection but we were toxic together.

What is your current state of mind?
It’s all good. I got nothing to complain about.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Writing my book.

What is your most treasured possession?
A ring that belonged to my mother.

What do you most value in your friends?
That they overlook my failings.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Walter Mosley, Angela Davis, bell hooks and Alice Walker.

What is it that you most dislike?
Oatmeal. The most vile thing ever invented.

What else should we know about you?
That’s it. you don’t want to know anymore.

Featured/Angela Toussaint (center) with her daughters Sandra and Arianna. Lower right/Angela Toussaint. Photography by Meg Stacker.

 

 

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