Why the ‘necessary labor’ of raising children is lonely and expensive: shot

Fourth grader Lucy Kramer (forerunner) attends school at her home as she helps her mother, Desley, her younger sister, Meg, who is in kindergarten in 2020 in San Anselmo, California.

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Fourth grader Lucy Kramer (forerunner) attends school at her home as she helps her mother, Desley, her younger sister, Meg, who is in kindergarten in 2020 in San Anselmo, California.

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images

During the epidemic, when school and day care facilities suddenly shut down, millions of parents – especially mothers – dropped out of the workforce to promote relaxation. Author Angela Garbes was one of them.

Garbes was working on a book in 2020, but was forced to abandon the project when her child’s day care stopped. And although she loves being a mother, the isolation and fatigue of being a full-time caregiver took a toll.

“I really feel like I’m seeing joy and color in my life,” she says. “I felt like ‘just a caring person.’ And when I knew it was worth the work, I had to deal with the fact that it wasn’t enough for me.”

In his new book, Essential Labor: Motherhood, as Social Change Garbes points out that childcare in the United States has always been undervalued and underpaid.

“We live [a culture] It doesn’t value care and it doesn’t value mothers and it doesn’t value women, “she says.” America has no social security net; America has a mother. “

Unlike other countries that offer paid parental leave and state-subsidized day care, Garbes says the United States often leaves parents of young children to themselves. She counters that raising children is a social responsibility – and should be treated as such.

“[Children] Need other people. They need families. They need friends. They need adults who are not related to them, who have a certain patience and bring something different into their lives, “he said.” We did not want to raise children in isolation.

Interview highlight

Essential Labor: Motherhood as Social Change, by Angela Garbes

Feeling we have ‘Run out of gas’ emotionally due to lockdown and leaving work

If you go back to those early days of the epidemic when we didn’t know what was going on … it was really clear to me that the most important thing I couldn’t write. It wasn’t creating a podcast. It’s about taking care of my family, taking care of my kids and keeping them safe and taking care of my community. And that meant being pulled away, living in isolation. …

As far as my husband works, he is a person who gets paid regularly as a writer. I have deadlines on the horizon. It was all very unpleasant, when my work was over and, you know, there was no regular pay check, no health insurance on our way from my job. We were getting these from him. So it was easy for me to say, “Let’s prioritize your work.”

But he always insisted that there is this part of our marriage where we say: My work is not more important than your work. It’s the same. So he would say, “Take your time. Go write. Lock yourself in the guestroom, put on sound-canceling headphones, and do whatever you can.” And my kids didn’t respect that boundary. There were basically no boundaries between our homes. But also, I felt that my ability to hold these boundaries was shifting a bit.

Women workers are being forced to leave

The statistic that has always been with me is that in September 2020, 865,000 women were laid off in a single month because of the closure of schools. People basically said, “I can’t be a mother, I can’t be an online school proctor, and I can’t be a professional at the same time. That’s too much.” So I think anger, this care crisis, is preceded by an epidemic. And many of us were more familiar with the financial hardship of having children in day care. People have been discussing these decisions and logic for years, but suddenly it’s a problem that affects everyone. And that’s when we really saw a lot of that anger.

How slow the system has changed

I felt that attention was being paid. There were some articles with me that basically said, “Women are not right, mothers are not right.” And then we saw things like advance child tax credit, which was like the government admitting, yes, it’s hard work, having a family and raising children, and so we pay you something every month. And for the CTC, that fund was allocated for one year, and in December, Congress gave that loophole – even though the funds were set aside. When trying to figure out the build back better, I guess it was a parallel loss or something we were willing to give up.

I have a certain amount of resentment towards lawmakers and some resentment towards Democrats and the administration I voted for because that administration also bargained for paid leave, which was going on with the Biden administration. I think we are losing that momentum and we are losing some of the energy behind that very fair rage that many women and parents are feeling.

How she decides to take care of her own child

When my first daughter was born, we both had full-time jobs, and it was still very difficult to make ends meet. And so we relied on a mix of things. My mother helped us, and that was unpaid labor. We shared a nanny with two other families. This woman was a woman from Mexico She will take care of two to three children at a time in these other two homes. And we made sure we had a meeting where we gave him at least 15 15 an hour and we gave him one month off every year. And she was welcomed to bring her son, who was about 3, to the house where she was caring for the children. So I decided that what I really needed to do was learn how to do it right. I think of it as a real labor discussion. And I should say, my husband is a union organizer. So these things happened at the top of our minds.

On Rowe vs. Wade Probably being quashed by the Supreme Court

We know it’s coming. And indeed, for many people in the United States, especially the poorest people in the South, access to abortion is already extremely limited. I think rich people will always be able to have an abortion and those who suffer the most are people who are already suffering. That is my favorite abortion statistics [the majority] Parents of those who have had abortions are already. They are already mothers. And to me, it clearly says, we know the cost of childbirth: financial, emotional, emotional, but mostly financial. And I think that’s when we condemn people. When we force people into motherhood, we force them into poverty. I think in that sense, what is happening now is that our system is working exactly the way it was designed to keep people in power and to keep poor people and people of color and marginalized lives that are harder than they need to be.

This interview was created and edited for broadcast by Sam Brigger and Seth Kelly. Bridget Bentz, Molly CV-Nesper and Laurel Dalrymple adapted it for the web.

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