Liberated: To set free, as from oppression, confinement, or foreign control.
A few years ago, I learned about an alarming phenomenon from colleagues in the ‘biz’ of training daycare workers. They had a term: Monday Morning Diaper Rash. This was due to the parent (most likely a single mother) using one diaper the whole weekend because she couldn’t afford diapers.
Think about this. Really think about this. In America, and as I type this, there are children in government-subsidized daycare who will have diaper rash Monday morning because their WORKING mother cannot afford enough diapers.
I’ve thought a lot lately about how the mom/parenting communities I’m part of are mainly comprised of middle-class working parents whose concerns include how to spend more time with their spouse or get their kids to eat vegetables. While those are valid concerns, we forget that so many mothers in America don’t have a spouse or support system in place and just worry about their kids having enough food. There is a group of people largely hidden from society (and the blogosphere?): poor, working mothers with children.
Disproportionately single mothers. Disproportionately African American or Hispanic. Disproportionately [based on my observations] not part of the blogging working mother community.
Check out these stats from a 2009 Bureau of Labor Report:
- 12% of working families with children lived in poverty compared to 3% of families without children.
- 26.6 % of families maintained by a woman with children under the age of 18 were in poverty.
- 18.2 % families maintained by a man with children under the age of 18 were in poverty.
- 7% of married-couple families with children under the age of 18 were in poverty.
- Black and Hispanic workers continued to be about twice as likely as White or Asian workers to be poor.
- The likelihood of being classified as working poor greatly diminishes as workers attain higher levels of education.
Here’s more food for thought. In Virginia where I live the minimum wage rate as of February 2013 is $7.25. Working full-time at that rate for 1 year, a person’s income would be $15,080. If that was your salary, could you see where a mother would have to choose between diapers and food for the weekend?
This post was initially inspired by a graph that was shared with me. It was from an article from the Huffington Post on Class Privilege and Parental Leave.
This graph is telling. This graph is important. The less education you have, the less likely you are to have paid maternity leave. But what this graph is really telling us that the lower your education, the more doors are shut for you. You make less money. You have fewer benefits. The graphs for education status and preterm birth, breastfeeding duration, and health insurance coverage – I guarantee you – look very similar to this graph. (Check out data from the Pregnancy Assessment and Monitoring Survey from the Centers from Disease Control if you want to geek out on this stuff.)
This is why, when you’re acting to improve education and employment for mothers, you’re improving the health and well-being of children.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the disparities that exist in this country based on education, income and class. Socioeconomic status impacts a person/family’s ability to function. To get health care. To pay rent. To buy a house. To pay for daycare. To work. To be fully engaged with and contribute to the growth of
society their children. And who is impacted more severely? Mothers and children. And in many cases, these mothers are working hard for their money.
I hear you thinking now – Oh my gosh, you have just laid out a whole lotta heavy in this article and I just voted and isn’t President Obama all into Early Childhood now and what am I supposed to do with this information?
Well, here’s what I do with it (and admittedly, not very well – I’m a work in progress).
I try to be mindful that I’m really very fortunate to have a well-paying meaningful job and I feel grateful.
I challenge myself to do more within my sphere of influence to help a fellow mom who’s struggling.
I try to recognize that the cashier or hairstylist may be a working mother too.
I tip well when I can.
I wonder how we can use our bloggy power to truly help liberate ALL working moms.
I challenge the notions that “the poor will always be with us” and “people have to pull themselves up by their boot strap.” How can we expect working moms to move out of poverty without help when taking time off for education or maternity leave may mean their children will go hungry?
I advocate for issues and vote for public officials that promote equal access to high quality education and healthcare.
I think of Monday Morning Diaper Rash.