Working Moms, the Future Is Ours
“MAMA! MAMA! Where’s Mama? I need Mama now!”
No matter where I sit, I hear my children hunting for me.
Since last March, I have floated from room to room, trying out spots where I could feel focused—and alone. I am good at being quiet. My kids are even better at finding me.
My older son, Joey, 6, made his feelings known last week when he torpedoed onto my lap as I edited an article. “Mommy, you need a different job,” he announced, then added, “This one doesn’t let you spend enough time with your kids.” He has a way with gut punches.
“This is not your fault. Just hang on. The future will be easier,” I said to myself for the three thousandth time.
The past year has been brutal for mothers in the workforce. Due to burnout, child-care issues, layoffs, and more, moms have lost work at three times the rate of dads. In fact, as Parents was going to press, we learned that the nation shed 140,000 jobs in December, and all belonged to women. The situation has been especially dire for Black and Latina women.
I count myself very lucky to be employed and to have some child care. Yes, I’m burned out like everyone else, but I can hang on to do a job I adore. What’s more, I’m hopeful.
Call me an eternal optimist, but I believe that when we come out on the other side of this, working motherhood will not only be better than it is now, but it will be better than it was before 2020. Through these turbulent times we have gained insights that cannot be ignored, and that can carry us forward. We have a chance to change the meaning of working motherhood, and the way it’s viewed. Maybe we can even start organizing our work around our lives instead of the other way around.
This month’s frank yet hopeful feature package, “A New Day for Working Moms,” on page 60, is here to inspire every parent, whether working or hoping to work, to prepare for a career that makes their whole family happier. It even includes an interview with Dr. Jill Biden, the first First Lady to keep her day job, filled with comfort and empathy that you won’t soon forget.
Last night, as I talked over this column with my husband, my son Joey looked up from his art project. “I don’t want you to leave your job, Mommy,” he said. “No one should have to stop doing work they love to do.” And for the first time in a long time, I felt a familiar twinge: workingmom pride.