Motherhood is hard, and it is often made much harder than it has to be by our outdated public policies.
Raising our children is a labor of love that also benefits our communities and our country. As mothers we have the power to change attitudes and outcomes by advocating for policies that promote family economic security and the well-being of family caregivers.
Our NAMC Advocacy Coordinator Valerie Young is at the forefront of helping to make this happen.
Mothers Central is excited to announce that Valerie (a.k.a. Your (Wo)man in Washington) will now be joining us once a month to share her advocacy work through stories right here on our NAMC Parenting Blog. Help me give Valerie a big welcome to Mothers Central by leaving a comment and sharing this powerful post with others.
Strangers on a Train
By Valerie Young
On my way home from an Equal Pay Day demonstration downtown, I noticed a woman on the subway pull out Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In from her bag. My mother’s advocate radar started humming, and I impulsively decided to do a little field data collection right there on the train. Throwing my shadow across the page she was reading, I said “How far into it are you?”
She looked up, startled. “Uh, about five and a half months.” She slid her hand protectively over her stomach, and for the first time I noticed she was clearly pregnant. “I meant the book, actually” I stammered, embarrassed.
We had a good laugh, and she told me her story.
She already had a two year old, but working a full-time job she felt like she never saw her daughter. When she got pregnant, she left that post, and was admitted to graduate school, because, she said, it was a “socially acceptable reason” to stop working. (I’m not sure whether she meant wanting to see your two year old awake wasn’t socially acceptable, or not working while pregnant wasn’t socially acceptable, or maybe both, but that was the gist.) Besides, when she did go back to work, she’d be able to make more money with that graduate degree. Her husband was totally on board, so she’d found a way to take it easy for awhile, since grad school was less rigid time-wise than work. She’d be able to really mother her daughter, and deal with the pregnancy too. Win-win.
Never happy to let something peacefully drop when I can forge ahead like a spasmodic water buffalo, I asked what she was studying.
Business, she was getting her MBA. Where? Johns Hopkins University.
Then it was my stop, so I thanked her for letting me invade her privacy, wished her luck with the new baby and the degree. As I stepped out to the platform, I handed her my card. The doors closed and the train moved off into the dark.
And I thought…
She’s got a 2 year old.
And she’s pregnant.
And going to MBA school.
At Hopkins, for pete’s sake!
And this is the LESS arduous path she has chosen. And so as not risk an unproductive moment, on her downtime she reads Lean In, urging her to try harder, do more, push on, manage her guilt, line up a supportive partner, and make good choices.
Oh. My. God.
Lady, whoever you are, I am in awe. If anyone ever gives you a hard time for “opting out”, putting yourself on the “mommy track”, or being “just a mom”, call me, and I’d be happy to screw their head down to their shorts. You do your thing, and I’ll do mine to get you the respect, public policies, and political leverage you will need to get the best for yourself and your children. You deserve it.
You rock, girl, you rock.
‘Til next time,
Your (Wo)Man in Washington
This post was originally shared via the NAMC’s Policy Blog (Wo)man in Washington.
Learn more about Valerie and keep up-to-date on important policies that promote family economic security and the well-being of family caregivers by visiting and subscribing via email to the (Wo)man in Washington blog, liking her on Facebook, and following her on Twitter.
Leave a Comment: When was the last time you took a few moments to realistically look at your own accomplishments? Please help me give a warm welcome to Mothers Central contributor Valerie Young by leaving her a comment and sharing this post with others!