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mothering in the time of covid-19

Mothering in the Time of COVID-19

With the deep concern currently circling the COVID-19 pandemic, we thought we would talk about it. Being a health care provider and a new mother definitely has me feeling conflicted. On one end of the spectrum, my health care side is telling me to relax, continue to wash your hands (something I constantly preached way before any of this came about!), and to remain cautious yet calm. After all, I have seen a lot of sickness, trauma, and chronic health issues in my career. Then I have the mom side of me, wanting to disinfect everything, stay away from all the people, and look deeper into the issue. Welcome to mothering in the time of COVID-19.

It is easy to start to panic if you’ve been watching any type of media. It’s all the news is talking about. It’s all over social media with highlights about celebrities and major athletes testing positive, cancellations of any major or minor gatherings, and travel restrictions. While it’s great that we’re taking things so seriously, frankly, it’s scaring the crap out of everyone. The grocery stores are empty, pictures of shelves completely bare, even Amazon is out of stock. I saw a 12-roll pack of toilet paper being sold on Amazon for $78! 

I have so many questions swirling around in my head. What is the right way to go about doing things? Stay inside and ride it out until this all passes? Continue living your life in hopes that the people around you are healthy? I think the fear of the unknown is the scariest part. As a health care provider I want to see statistics, facts, and what’s happening in the other cases. As a mom I want to frantically Google everything I can to see how to best avoid this for my family. Keeping my daughter safe is my number one goal, but with a husband also in the healthcare field, keeping him safe is also important. He’s out there every day caring for people, sick or not, and doing his part for the health of others. Selflessly risking his health for others. All the health care workers are, and I hope everyone is thinking about them.

The moral of my story is this is a scary time. I know we will get through this, and hopefully fairly quickly. I tell myself to remain calm, do what you can to keep your immune system up, sanitize, wash your hands, stay away from crowds, etc. As a new mom, part of me totally understands the panic people are feeling. You just want to protect your babies, no matter what that takes. I too am feeling that panic inside of preparing for the “what if ” situations.

Just know that no matter where you are in this, whether you think it’s all ridiculous and are living your life per usual, or you are prepared to sit at home for the next month with your 10 packs of toilet paper, you aren’t alone. We’re all in this together, and we will get through this!

child care

The Child Care Challenge

According to a Pew Research Center report, “Child care is a major concern for parents with children who are not yet school age. A majority of parents with one or more children younger than 6 say it’s hard to find high-quality, affordable child care in their community.” This concern traversed all socio-economic, race and gender delineations. Single parents and low-income parents, who are sometimes one and the same, had even higher levels of concern and frustration regarding affordable, high-quality child care for children under the age of 6.

None of this is news to anyone who has ever tried to find child care for a child under 6. And if you’ve ever tried to find care for a baby or a child that is not potty trained, the level of frustration and cost of care skyrockets. With wages what they are, stagnant for most and shockingly unfair for many (Latinx women earn 53 cents for every dollar a white man makes), child care costs can push women out of the workforce. Especially if a second child comes along.

Why are women the ones often pushed out of the workforce? When women perform the same jobs as men, they tend to be paid less than men. Women are also pointed toward and hired into fields that traditionally pay less than fields that employ men (construction vs cashier). If in a heterosexual couple the man makes 53k a year and the woman makes 28k, guess who’s staying home? And for every month and year she stays out of the paid workforce, the gap in her resume grows and grows, making it harder and harder for her to find a good quality job when the last of the kids finally go to elementary school. And if like many of the schools around here kindergarten is only 4 hours, she has to wait until the last child goes to 1st grade. And even then there is the gap between when a child’s day ends and when the traditional workday ends.

With all the hand wringing around the falling birthrate in America, one would think someone in government might realize that the stress, frustration, and heartache around quality childcare might be a pretty big contributing factor.

And then, if one finds childcare there can be all kinds of problems. I found childcare for my younger son that was affordable, had extended hours and FED THEM BREAKFAST, LUNCH AND SNACK! Anyone who has ever pleaded, nagged and cried their way through a time-constrained breakfast with a toddler and cleaned out a grotty lunch box five days a week for years knows why I was so thrilled.

There was only one pretty big snag. The childcare was through a local church and there were many religious components to the program. My family is without religion. I was concerned that there would be friction between what was taught at school and what he heard at home, but needs must. I had gotten a promotion at work that changed my schedule to weekdays from weekends and we really needed the money. So we enrolled him in the school and luckily he really didn’t understand what was happening. For awhile my younger son thought Jesus lived in New York City and when you died you went there and lived with him. My older son quickly adopted this theology, saying he hoped Jesus would provide him with a snug third floor walk-up with quiet neighbors and a reasonably chill co-op board.

We were very, very lucky. When I explained the theology swirling around my house, the director nearly hurt herself laughing. But what to do when the only quality, affordable child care teach ideals that clash with what’s taught at home? Many of my friends have had this problem. Some child cares include service requirements where parents must volunteer a certain number of hours per week in the class. Some of those parents have been a nightmare to deal with.

Anti-vaxx parents chiding children for the bandaids proclaiming they’d gotten a flu shot. Judgmental comments about the contents of a hastily packed lunchbox. Endless fundraisers, lists of required ‘donation’ items, and the general melee of drop-off.

It’s enough to send any sane woman screaming from the workforce. Hell isn’t always other people, sometimes it’s other parents.

New rule: keep your highly researched opinions to yourself. Nobody has time for it. Unless someone says the words, “What do you think,” keep all comments to the weather and how adorable everyone’s kids are, even if they are sniveling little bridge trolls. I can say this because I was a sniveling little bridge troll when I was a little kid.

No one has an easy, controversy free answer to the child care crunch in this country. For example, the second you start talking about extending local, state and federally funded schooling to every child from birth to college, everyone on either extreme of the political divide loses their minds. You know who you are so don’t even try to deny it.

But that leaves the millions of parents in the middle struggling with no end in sight. Maybe it’s time to stop thinking of only our children and begin to think of all the kids. They deserve better than the patchwork of care on offer in this country. This is just a staggering breakdown of 10 places in the country where childcare bills for center-based infant and four-year-old care will cost you the most.

I don’t want to end on a hopeless note. Here are two different ideas about how we can provide high-quality, affordable child care for all Americans who want it. Each is from a controversial figure from either end of the political spectrum.

President Trump’s 2020 budget has a request for a one time 1 billion investment in childcare programs that mostly push deregulating the business of childcare. The proposal is tied to border wall funding, which is in turn tied to the entire Trump border policy which is inhumane to say the least.

Senator Warren has a more comprehensive plan for childcare. Here is her Medium article explaining it. Basically any family that makes less than 200% of the federal poverty line would qualify for high quality child care at no cost to the family. And our nation reaps the benefits of having more children in high quality early childhood educational programs.

Instead of Resolutions Try Recognition

Instead of Resolutions Try Recognition

Welcome to the new year, that special time when we’re reminded that we’re simply not good enough as we are. We should sleep more, but also get up before the sun to work out. We should have more adventures, but also make sure you save your money. Read more books, but also spend more time with your kids. Focus on your relationship, but also on yourself. More self-care, more discipline, more, more, more. This year we’d like to suggest something different. Instead of resolutions, try recognition. Read more

TEND

TEND

A few weeks ago, Felicia and I were in Las Vegas. We were trying to get from our hotel on the strip to Flock and Fowl, which is Fremont Street adjacent. We spent a good five minutes tussling with the Lyft app before I said, “We are app developers and we can’t figure this out!” Turns out Las Vegas is so convoluted lots of people have a hard time getting the app to correctly tell drivers where to pick you up. Anyway, our app Tend will never leave you frustrated in Vegas. That is what Tinder is for!  Read more

Mom meltdown averted

Mom Meltdown Averted!

Mom meltdowns are as common as kid meltdowns. Mom meltdown averted can be as much of a parenting win as averting a kid meltdown.

I have trouble expressing how I am feeling. When I am embarrassed about those feelings, I have an even harder time. A few months ago, I bought a ring. I love this ring way more than anyone should love a thing that does nothing useful. It just sits on my finger and sometimes gets caught in my hair.

But I do love it and a few weeks ago I couldn’t find it. Read more

Double Shift Listen Up

The Double Shift

You all know how I feel about podcasts. I love them so much, and I’m always searching for new and exciting additions to my feed. But every once in a while, a podcast comes along that is so good, you know you’re going to devour it the second it hits your feed. The Double Shift is one of those podcasts.

The Double Shift treats mothers as whole human beings, whose experiences are shaped by motherhood, not defined by it. That’s a pretty radical concept when you think about it. Once women in our culture become mothers, we become something different; less interesting, less professionally capable, less relevant.

Journalist and podcast creator, Katherine Goldstein, uses her expertise to change that narrative, by bringing richly reported stories of mothers from all walks of life – sex workers, politicians, musicians, daycare providers. Every episode treats the featured mothers with respect and paints a picture of their unique, beautiful lives.

When Goldstein had trouble getting any of the major podcast networks to pick up The Double Shift, she turned to fellow journalist and motherhood advocate, Amy Westerfield. Westerfield wrote one of my favorite books about motherhood, Forget Having it All. She also runs the Critical Frequency Podcast Network, a women-owned company that seeks to elevate underrepresented voices in podcasting.

And there we have the beauty of mothers supporting other mothers. The Double Shift found a home within an inclusive, supportive podcast network and we get to hear stories about women like Village Auntie, Angelica Lindsey-Ali. Listen to that episode. It is so, so good.

You can be a part of the movement of mothers supporting other mothers by joining The Double Shift’s new membership platform. For $5 per month, you help The Double Shift team bring quality journalism about mothers to the airwaves, get amazing bonus content and access to an upcoming private members-only community. Join me, if only so that we can talk about the bonus Lindsey-Ali content!

A Year of F#ck No

A Year of F#ck No

I don’t know what happened. I was living my life, volunteering here and there, signing up for stuff, being where I said I was going to be, doing what I said I was going to do and then last week… Read more

Depression and Other Adventures

Depression and Other Adventures

I should have known my marriage would end in tears when I realized how much he admired Henry Miller. I dislike Henry Miller because he always seemed to me a man who never did his own laundry and what can a person who never looked after himself tell me about life? Miller had this quote, “Everything was for tomorrow, but tomorrow never came.” And that always pissed me off. Tomorrow only ever comes to others after you are dead. There is no tomorrow. There is only today. Read more

Glitter Jars are the New Emotional Support Gerbils

Glitter Jars are the New Emotional Support Gerbil

I am so wound up I made myself a calm down jar. I was in Target, stress shopping because I had spent the morning figuring out how to obtain burial permits for my parents, and I found a little tub of glitter. When I saw the glitter, I remembered the stories I saw a few years ago about parents making glitter jars for their preteen daughters to help them pull themselves back from the emotional ledge they pretty much live on while in middle school. Read more

time is no longer of the essence

Time is No Longer of the Essence

When someone you love dies you realize that time is no longer of the essence. It returns to what it was when you were a kid, elastic and often oppressive. It goes too fast or too slow. No one seems in charge of it and so you are swept along in the wake, starting and stopping on a schedule you don’t understand and no one can explain. Read more