A Working Parent’s Battle Cry
We’re closing in on several years of parents not being OK.
Scratch that. We’re closing in on decades. We all know it.
But what have we done about it?
We’re working 24/7. We are suffering from the demands of organizations that spoke hollow words of support through the pandemic. Nothing changed. In fact, it got worse. Expectations of output unwavered. Children neglected. Reduced to “background noise” on endless teleconferences. Parents stressing the career impact of a child’s mere presence while attempting to keep up. Or worse, struggling to physically make it to work without safe or affordable childcare. Balancing health against survival. Making endless apologies. Or leaving the workforce completely.
When there were no options. When we had no viable choice.
And now, so many organizations are pushing hard towards a return to “normal”. But this was never normal.
This follows years of subtle and not-so-subtle punishment for familial responsibility, particularly for mothers. Mothers who returned to work while still bleeding postpartum. Mothers who were passed over for raises and promotions, who were paid far less than their childless male co-workers who often spent half the day BS-ing around the proverbial water cooler. Mothers who produced more than their male counterparts but were punished for leaving on time to pick up their children, or for taking a sick day to care for a little one.
And then there are the fathers, who arrive late to work because they already dressed and fed and dropped off multiple children for a long day at daycare and school, compounded by a long workday and traffic-filled commute. Fathers who go through the day like zombies after long nights awake with a newborn or a sick child because their organization lacks decent parental leave or sick time. Fathers who are doing their share. We see you, too.
In the American hallmark of personal choices and responsibilities, we’ve missed the larger picture on this one. Big time. Yes, we chose to have children. We chose to raise the next generation. Future medical professionals, scientists, lawyers, business owners, servers, suppliers, caretakers. That deserves respect. And the rest of the childless nation better hope we do a damn good job parenting for the future of our society.
But we need more than hope and respect. We need change. We need action to be taken. Let’s stop talking about it. Let’s make it happen.
What do we want?
Lawmakers must put aside their differences for the benefit of our children and our future and enact laws that provide:
-A minimum of 3 months full paid parental leave for all employees
-Equal pay for women
-Affordable, quality childcare for all
Organizations must recognize that their success rests on the backs of parents and caretakers who are ready to crumble:
-Implement flexible schedules
-Allow remote work options where possible
-Provide adequate sick time
How will we demand action?
-Write and email your state representatives asking that they work together on this non-partisan issue.
-Make your organization aware by mailing a simple anonymous letter to your CEO with your handprints
-On Friday, May 6th, show your solidarity by taking a day off. Parents (if you even have the time left), family members, friends. Let organizations see what would happen if parents and caretakers break down under current conditions.
Who can help?
Everyone. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, caretakers, friends, neighbors: you are the village. Stand up.
If we do nothing now, our children will inherit the same fate.
This is entirely independent of politics. This comes from a humble mother’s independent point of view. Share YOUR view. Speak up in whatever way you can.
Because I am NOT willing to look my children in the face years from now and tell them that I didn’t fight for them and their future.