COVID19 Has Driven Working Moms to the Brink

Mom on tractor at pumpkin patch with kids.

 

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you," Ruth Bader Ginsburg  

Like many, I am gutted by the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg from the land of the living. The loss of her presence. The loss of her courage. The loss of her voice. These are significant, palatable losses. The future is less bright with her death.

Justice Ginsburg worked until her dying day. She worked despite being a cancer survivor and suffering. She worked when she could have retired because she was committed and because she was afraid of what her departure would mean for the composition of the Supreme Court. Those of us who were inspired by her courage owe her. We owe her our gratitude. And, we should demonstrate this gratitude by using our talents, gifts, and our voices to make the world a kinder, gentler and more equitable place.
I am humbled and amazed by her dedication. And quite frankly, I don't know that I am made of the same stock, but I know this. I have been silent about an issue that I care about and hope that this post helps to motivate others to join me.

Working Moms Are Struggling Mightily Because or Lack of Support due to COVID19


The COVID19 chaos created by the world pandemic is stressing everyone, because the uncertainty of the world is a lot to take. However, the stress is acute and intense for working moms because their employers are looking the other way. The gaps in support for working moms have been forever changed. American institutions like public school, daycare and even unlimited grocery store hours have either gone away or been restricted in a way that they don't accommodate schedules. 

The really frustrating part is that working moms are not experiencing stress because the world imploded and it took our support structures with it. We are not under stress because of poor planning. Because of this reality, working moms, especially those with small children are in a state of emergency. And, like other state of emergencies, we need support.

The Red Cross shows up for those who are victims of natural disasters. And people make donations and rally behind those communities without question. But there has been no collective assistance offered to working moms. Instead, we are forced to piece together a fabric of childcare and education for our children as if somehow this entire thing was our fault. This fabric is woven with a very fragile thread and is dependent upon the will of others to help, our ability to find paid help that is both healthy and reliable, and our own ability to manage our children's education because the "helpers" don't view themselves as managers.

The struggle is real and people don't seem to give a damn. 

I had someone close to me say out loud, "Well having those kids was your choice..." in response to my expressions of frustration. 

That sentiment is the entire problem. People act as if those who choose to have children aren't contributing to the future of the country in a meaningful way. Our children are the future taxpayers, electorate, and elected officials. How are children are educated scholastically and morally should be a vital concern to every, single citizen. I desperately wanted to respond, "yeah, I chose to have my children, but if I botch this parenting job, we all pay. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!" Anyway, back to my advocacy... 

One writer went as far as to say, In the Covid-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Can’t Have Both. I wouldn't go that far because quitting is not a possibility for me and my family. However, when she says, "[w]e are being crushed by an economy that has bafflingly declared working parents inessential" resonates with me.  

While that writer discussed what is happening to families, I am focusing on what is happening to working moms because it seems like we're out here on our own. Our families don't get it. Those who educate our children don't get it. And, our employers certainly don't get it.

How the Pandemic Has Thrown Working Moms into a Tailspin


When daycares closed and schools went virtual, employees with young children families were thrown into crisis. Lest you think I'm just weak, know this is true to every single mom you know who is working and has young kids--regardless of how well the may conceal it. We are in crisis because the pandemic eviscerated everything we knew to be true about work/life balance. We are in crisis because because the educational system  converted into a system based on one parent being at home to manage the educational process. We are in crisis because our kids are falling behind in school and everyone seems to think it is our fault. We are in crisis because employers have decided that this childcare deficit is not their issue. 
One company doing it right:            Company provides virtual learning space for children of employees 

In the past week, I have spoken with working moms in all levels of responsibility--senior leaders and support staff--and they all expressed significant frustration over the corporate response. And, here we are, all of us working mothers who have young kids united by our collective frustration and guilt. 

The guilt is all consuming and intense. It exists because of the constant feeling of falling short in all areas of our lives. It is also reinforced by the judgment we receive from the world--including other women. Husband unhappy? Must be our fault? Dishes in the sink? Definitely our fault. Kids falling behind in school? It is all mom's fault. 

Working Moms Need Help Not Judgement


People offer suggestions. "Just be more organized." "Just be more patient." Just be more present." "Don't yell at your kids even if they break the iPad charger provided by the school." "Don't be distracted around the kids even though you are attempting to clean the house, do your job, conduct virtual school, and give your kids a sense of normalcy." In a word, these "helpful" people are asking to ace an exam for which you had no training, there are no tutors and no teachers.   

Remote Schooling Has Given Working Moms Burnout: Two-thirds of Working Parents with

The only people who truly understand this madness are other working moms. However, that is because nobody else really seems to give a damn. So, this piece is designed to implore the rest of you to give a damn. Join working moms in amplifying our struggle. Tell everyone you know that working moms need help. If you wonder what help looks like. Here are some examples: 1) A supportive text, 2) a listening ear, 3) getting leadership at your job to embrace flexible hours, and 4) helping with housework/schoolwork/errands. 

Someone once asked me how she could help a friend who had just had a baby and I told her to go visit and do the dishes. She was taken aback by that, but trust me. Everyone is under stress greatly appreciate help with the day-to-day aspects of their lives. We also appreciate allies who are willing to advocate for us. This COVID19 crisis has brought us to our knees and if this country wants to perpetuate the involvement of women in the workforce something needs to be done. 




Comments

Anonymous said…
Working moms are doing so much right now. Hang in there!!!
Thanks for the encouragement!!!