A friend of mine recently posted a very insightful blog on her site, and with her permission, I’m duplicating some of it here….
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that that in 2012 there were 9,134,000 women with children under the age of three. 6,334,000 of those women work and 2,595,000 of those women work 35 or more hours a week. These are my peeps, other full time working moms. What do these numbers tell me? They tell me that only 1/3 women with itty bitty kiddos work and that only 2/5 women with itty bitty kiddos who do work, work full time. What this also means is that I am squarely a minority. Being a minority doesn’t bother me per se and it isn’t necessarily a negative, but what it does mean is that social policy and culture in the US often does not cater to my needs (or desires, dreams or hopes for that matter).
Being a minority in this context feels lonely sometimes. Trying to navigate a world that feels like it is designed for non-working moms (people really) is frustrating. Juggling full time work with itty bitty people is HARD, and unless you do it yourself, you have NO CLUE just how HARD. 2/3 of moms get the luxury of more time with their babies that I do. 2/3 of moms don’t have to squish their life into a box built for non-working moms. I am reminded of this reality every time I try to sign [Brae/Sienna] up for preschool, music, swimming, visit a museum, go to the library, etc. Most preschools are designed around a 9-11:30 time frame, swim class is offered at 10am on Tuesday, music is offered at 1:15 on Wednesdays, mommy matinees are offered during the classic work day, story times at the library are the during the traditional work day, DMV, DEQ and SSA close at 5, doctor and dentist offices operate M-F, banks are only open 9-5 etc. Sure, there are a few evening and weekend options, which I try (and must for lack of other options) to take advantage of, and there are few preschools that have caught onto the fact some moms have to work BEFORE 9am, but the slots are limited, the facilities are limited, the opportunities are limited. I have to get in line with the other 2,595,000 full time working moms struggling with the same limitations. It is frustrating to always be subjected to wait lists, long lines, early enrollment deadlines, asking for favors, all because I work full time. No one really talks about these challenges when you are in graduate school, embarking on a profession. No one prepares women for the sacrifices they will have to make if they choose the daunting task of being a mom and a full time professional. I desperately hope that by the time my children begin to start and grow their families that our country will embrace social policy and cultural change in a family-centric direction. Countries, such as Sweden, that have gone through what I will call “mini revolutions” in this respect find people are happier, production increases, and divorce rates decrease. These seem like things ALL people can support (regardless of marital or child status), not just working moms.