The Exploding Mitten, Part 2

Parents and caregivers: I have grown sons, and I’m going to do that annoying thing where an older woman shares an anecdote. I’ve noticed that when young mothers ask for advice they don’t seek me out. I get it. I’m pushy and opinionated. All good. I’ve watched enough episodes of ‘Jane the Virgin’ to understand generational dynamics of motherhood.

Here’s my story: when we bought our first home, and the house we still live in today, my older boy was 3 and the baby 3 months. We had been renting a house in Ballard (a neighborhood in Seattle) and I was in young mom heaven. We gave up a lot for me to be a stay at home mom, and it wasn’t easy. Those financial sacrifices affect us to this day. We’ve never been ‘caught up’ or had any savings (that’s not the only reason, but one of them). Understand, when I had my sons I didn’t have maternity leave for the first one. (But that’s another story for another day. We have never loved children or parents in this country.)

Having a small child in Seattle is a joy–the Woodland Park Zoo was a frequent place for us, and I would take my son to Greenlake for the five-mile walk, and I was in much better shape than I am now. Our landlord was selling the house, and though we made a huge financial blunder by not buying it, we decided we were be better if we bought a house in the suburbs for the same cost. Off we went. I went from mommy playgroups, trips to the zoo, a dear friend up the street with a daughter and son the same ages of my boys, (we’re still friends), and lots of fun things to do to a Wasteland of Mommydom. My parents don’t live nearby, and my in-laws lived about an hour away for a time, but had other things to do. I had no close family or friends. I saw some neighbors walking their kids to the bus stop, and they had children about the same age as my sons. I asked the mom if there were any mommy-baby playgroups available and she said yes. I then asked if I could join. She said no, there wasn’t any room. (I want to name drop at this point because the dad of this family is a famous sportscaster for a local, “regal” news station.)

Think about that for a minute: no room in a mom group.

Okay.

Most families in our nation either are single parent households or two parents who work.

If you want to find the number of working parents just go to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was from 2019, and I am not sure of what the current situation is. The unemployment numbers have exploded, and any financial gains made from Obama’s tenure as President have been destroyed in 3.5 years of our current corrupt “president.”

“The labor force participation rate–the percent of the population working or looking for work–for all women with children under age 18 was 72.3 percent in 2019, up from 71.5 percent in the prior year. Married mothers remained less likely to participate in the labor force, at 69.9 percent, than mothers with other marital statuses, at 77.6 percent. (Other marital status includes persons who are never married; widowed; divorced; separated; and married, spouse absent; as well as persons in same-sex marriages.) The unemployment rate for married mothers was also considerably lower than for mothers with other marital statuses–2.3 percent, compared with 5.9 percent. (See table 5.) “https://www.bls.gov/news.release/famee.nr0.htm

Both parents employed: over 60%

Now, I don’t belong to a church, and since my neighbors were less than helpful when it came to sharing and supporting me, some of the reasons I became a teacher was because 1. we needed one of us to have a stable income 2. I would use the summer breaks to spend time with my sons. There are other reasons, too, but yes, between my husband and I, and then preschool and school we patched together supervision and care for our children. And I will stand here today and say if we were in the situation many families are facing now I would be turning myself inside out. My parents were still working with the boys were little, and my in-laws had other things going on. Unlike Jane the Virgin, I don’t have the option of three generations under one roof caring and juggling for one another.

I told my husband about my ideas for this post: that parents should start banding together, form guilds, form unions, reach out to their own churches and demand support (I mean, the Catholic Church just received 1.4B, and is BILLION, dollars), that parents should go on strike until there are better solutions for child care and schools opening (or not) during COVID19, and he said, “Honey, that’s socialism–” Oh. Oh yeah. That’s why I wanted Bernie, or Warren. Oh yeah.

And yes, we’ll vote for Biden. But inauguration day is a long way off.

BUT: these things aren’t going to change. Parents: you have the economic power to insist that schools cannot be your daycare. I am urging you to use your voice, contact your neighbors, your friends, your families, and form a coalition. You are the workforce of this nation. You deserve to have safe, affordable or free childcare for your children. This “it takes a village” is just words on the wind. Contact your senators and representatives, even if you live in the reddest of red states. Especially then. Because this can’t stand. I can still recall the pain of my episiotomy stitches when I had to go back to work after have a 12.1lb baby after one month. ONE MONTH.

It is easy for me to say these words, easy like it was for Hillary to say the ‘village’ thing. I’ve spent money on other people’s children, not because I’m a savior or out of the goodness of my heart. I do it because I know what it’s like not to have anyone help. In the moment. In the urgent, needful moment. And yes, occasionally, sometimes I write these posts and I cry while writing. This is one of those times. We’re the richest nation of the world because the rich got the way from all the free labor. We know this. Parents: the wealthy are building their wealth out of your children, out of you. When will it stop? They won’t. Hold your employers accountable. Hold your politicians accountable. Hold your churches and places of worship accountable. You’ve built their wealth. Now it’s time for them to do the same.

Postscript: I watched a few moments of the NEA’s webinar on what next year might look like. The speaker mentioned the FFCRA

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements

It’s never enough, and it’s never sustained.

Let’s change that.

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