Yesterday millions of Americans gave the women who do just about everything in their lives — feeding them, cleaning up after them, paying the bills, while also earning money to pay those bills — an extra hour of sleep, or flowers, or perhaps even breakfast in bed.
But sentimental gestures aren’t enough, says Kevin Delaney of Reset Work, particularly now. Working moms have been hit hard during the pandemic. As Covid-19 has raged, it’s typically women who have picked up the slack at home.
Over the past year, millions of women left the workforce in the US, many to care for families. Still others, who kept their jobs, are experiencing parental burnout after a year of cooking and cleaning during lockdowns, serving as teacher’s aids to kids in class at home, while also doing day jobs.
Working moms are exhausted and stressed out from feeling they’re failing at both motherhood and work.
What mothers need more than flowers is a radical rethink about how we support, protect and value care work, without which economies couldn’t function.
This isn’t just about moms either, according to Katherine Goldstein, a journalist behind The Double Shift, a podcast about motherhood in America. It’s about helping all workers who juggle jobs and family, whether that means children, elderly parents or sick relatives.
I couldn’t agree more.
Here’s what else moms really want:
- To not feel like the sofa, i.e., the thing people lounge on but totally take for granted. You know, that couch you first brought home and it was so pretty and perfectly formed but then a decade passed and it got stained and lost its shape and now, while it still gets sat on, no one really sees it. (Unless it’s a spouse who pines for the old model and so replaces it with a new one.)
- For bosses (particularly those saying they value diversity) to appreciate that it’s not enough to be accommodating during the disruption of Covid-19. Disruption is a constant state for working moms as we struggle to manage work and home responsibilities. We need more support, and not just during a pandemic.
- To not have to assign jobs at home like a floor manager at Target in order to get spouses and children to replace toilet paper rolls, walk the dog, take out the trash or close the refrigerator door.
- To feel appreciated on days other than Mother’s Day.