I fantasize every day about what it would be like if I had more flexibility. What if Lydia could be home with me every single day and I could still figure out how to bring in enough money that all our bills could be paid and we could get out of debt?
How does anyone find flexibility? Isn’t that what every working mom wants? Better yet, isn’t that what every MOM wants?
I just finished a book by Katrina Alcorn called “Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink” where she describes how she “had it all” a great career, a loving husband and healthy children and one day decided to walk away from it all because the stress from playing multiple different roles maxed her out and she literally quit on life for a year.
I know that might seem extreme to some of you, but reading her book was like seeing a therapist for only $9.99 (if you buy the kindle version)! She describes how I feel almost every day of my life. How do I fit in grocery shopping when my day is planned out from 6:30am-9pm every day– and that is just accomplishing the basics, working, 2.5 hours spent in the car for daycare, feeding Lydia and making dinner.
There has been some criticism about the book that she is describing a privileged life of 1st world problems, even some women who say that she’s attempting a man’s job and she should make her way back into the kitchen.
Are people really so narrow-minded that they don’t realize the majority of families are surviving (barely) because there are two incomes in a household? What about single moms? Do they have the option to get back in the kitchen?
No, the problem is that we live in a country who prides itself at being the leader of the free world and yet we have almost the worst working family policies out of developed nations. I started my blog for the very reason that Katrina wrote her book, there is a fundamental social problem in the United States where families are being met with hostile policies in the workplace. I wrote an article about this early on called The Problem with Maternity Leave in the US.
Often times moms get so caught up in the mommy wars over our personal choices whether to work or not, bottle feed or breast feed, etc. that no one is really paying attention to the real issue: some women have no other choice but to work and we have no federal protections for these women. The United States offers zero guaranteed pay for mothers or fathers after the birth of a child. If you work for a company of 50 or more your employer must allow you to take 12 weeks off (unpaid) and keep your job for you. Did you know if you work at the same company as your husband those 12 weeks are shared? My husband and I work at the same company and when he took 1 week off and used FMLA to take care of me after my last-minute c-section, the federal government took 1 week away from me, only protecting my job for 11 weeks instead.
This is a problem. If you are lucky enough to be able to be at home with your children that is great! I am happy for you! Not every mom has the option. A stay at home mom can understand how important it is to be with your children, so I urge you to support a national policy to support women who need a paycheck but want more than 12 weeks to bond with their child. This is a social problem, not a personal one.
Katrina’s book gave me hope. I am not alone in my journey through working full-time and trying to be a mom. When I went back to work earlier this year after Lydia was born I felt isolated, anxious and desperate. I thought I was crazy because I couldn’t handle the pressure of “doing it all” and now I know, a lot of other women can’t either.
If you are a working mom and often feel alone in your journey, I urge you to read this book. It gave me tremendous peace to know that others have come before me and felt the same way. I almost felt like I was reading a book about my life just set in a different town. It is very rare that I connect to a book like I did with this one!