MotherhoodWorking Mom Woes

Elizabeth Warren Discusses Her Struggles with Childcare and I Can So Relate

Elizabeth Warren’s candid discussion about how her struggles with child care almost made her quit her job really hit home.

When Senator Warren talks about breaking down while talking to her aunt about being a working mom and how everything in her life was going, I’m not going to lie– I got a lump in my throat. Because I know that story, it is practically every working mother I know’s story. And when she shared how her Aunt B had saved her by moving in and helping her, I shed a tear. Because I have an “Aunt B” who has made so many of my accomplishments possible. Except my Aunt B isn’t my Aunt, she is my mother.

Without the help of my mother, I wouldn’t have afforded childcare when  I was making $35,000 a year. Even when there are two people in a household each making less than $50,000 a year,  let’s just say, it ain’t easy. How does one live in NYC on such a salary? How does one pay for rent, food, cell phones, student loans AND a nanny or a day care? Simply put, when my son was born 6 years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to. Do you know how much a nanny makes in NYC? Even in the outer boroughs?

In any case, thank goodness for my mother, who took care of my son every day Mon-Fri for about six months, until she suffered a small fainting spell. (That was the end of her babysitting full-time for us). After that, we relied on a combination of babysitters, grandmothers, cousins for childcare.

Elizabeth Warren's struggles in childcare

I’m thrilled Senator Warren is speaking out and sharing her story. The truth is, we need lawmakers who know the realities working families face. Unfortunately, most lawmakers don’t, for a variety of reasons but let’s highlight the most obvious ones:

  • because a great majority of them come from a privileged background.
  • Because the majority of them are men. They probably never questioned having access to affordable child care because their wives stayed home to take care of the children. They never had to question how a two-working parent household works, what challenges that brings. They have never seen it in action. They have never had to worry about who was going to pick up the sick kid, or take time off to be with the sick kid. They probably even had the luxury of full-time help.

Only 20 percent of lawmakers are women, despite the fact that 51% of the population of the United States is female. How can we put these issues front and center and make policies that help working families if the people in Congress aren’t even aware these are real issues?

Struggles with childcare = The lack of affordable childcare is hurting women professionally.

The lack of affordable care makes many women quit their jobs. Many women wonder what’s the point of working simply to pay for daycare? So, they quit.

The lack of affordable child care derails many careers. It stymies women’s progress in their fields. That’s what almost happened to Elizabeth Warren, had it not been for Aunt B!

Part of the problem is that the 9-5 schedule that is still in place still assumes that it’s only single women and men who work. It doesn’t take into consideration that 70% of mothers work.

We need better work-life balance, more opportunities to work from home, more flexible schedules. We need better options for working families… and I mean middle income working families. That’s another thing that needs to change: if you are really poor, you may be able to find a program that will help you and is affordable (or free), if you are rich, then you end up not caring what it costs because you CAN afford it, but what about the people in the middle? Those that make “too much” to qualify for any type of program that is remotely affordable?  There are hardly any options for us.

Elizabeth Warren’s aunt helped her at a time when she needed it the most, and look what that kind of help did for her career! For her life! What immense talent and potential we would have lost if Aunt B hadn’t taken that plane from Oregon to help her niece.

Right now, all of us need an Aunt B, or a mom, or a cousin, someone that will help us swim when we feel we are sinking with all the responsibilities, with the costs, with all those balls in the air. We need someone to come alleviate our physical and mental load.

struggles with childcare

This is what working parents really need

But what we really need to be working towards is creating a system where working families are helped, not hurt but cutting the programs we need most! We need:

  • children’s programs,
  • early education programs,
  • childcare help,
  • afterschool programs.
  • better hours for workers,
  • paid sick time,
  • paid family leave
  • living wages.

For the record, I’ve been a babysitter. Caring for kids is a hard job. So, I’m not advocating for nannies to make less money. I value their work, their time and their dedication! What I am saying is that there needs to be changes that make it easier for women to live up to their potential… there is so much talent out there that women aren’t putting to work, because they have to stay home!

There is so much work to be done! But, we must continue to fight the good fight and help working families.

I hope that when my daughter decides to become a mom, she won’t have to worry about the things that I had to worry about: childcare, paid time off to bond with her babies, quality schools and after school programs, quality healthcare and early education programs.

I hope that when my daughter is an adult we will be funding more of this and less guns and war.

I hope that when my daughter is an adult, more than 50% of those making the laws are WOMEN, so that these issues are front and center.

Thank you Senator Warren for sharing your story… mamas, make sure to share YOUR story with your elected officials! Call them and engage in political advocacy!

Let’s make sure Congress is paying attention to these issues by running for office and making sure its composition reflects the 51% of women in the United States and our issues are front and center. 

We can be the change!

Featured photo: Wikimedia Commons
B/W: via Unsplash, by Liv Bruce
Diana Limongi
Diana a mom, activist, nonprofit professional, podcaster and writer from Queens, NY. She writes about motherhood, activism, raising my multilingual kids, culture and travel. She and her multicultural family live in Queens, NY.

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