Being A Working Mom Is Hard. The Pandemic Made It Even Harder.

Jul 27, 2020
Originally published on July 27, 2020 1:35 pm

We know that mothers are often disproportionately responsible for housework and childcare. And that’s even more challenging if you’re working. Now, the pandemic has made parents working from home and children attending online classes the new norm. So how has it affected the lives working moms?


Jessica Calarco, associate professor of sociology at Indiana University. Her research examines inequalities in education and family life. (@JessicaCalarco)

Dani McClain, reporter covering race and reproductive health. Contributing writer at The Nation. Type Media Center fellow. Author of “We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood.” (@drmcclain)

Romina Pacheco, mother of an 11 year old and a 2 and a half year old. She works as a consultant for an educational non-profit agency. (@RomiAPacheco)

From The Reading List

The New York Times: In the Covid-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Can’t Have Both.” — “Last week, I received an email from my children’s principal, sharing some of the first details about plans to reopen New York City schools this fall. The message explained that the city’s Department of Education, following federal guidelines, will require each student to have 65 square feet of classroom space. Not everyone will be allowed in the building at once. The upshot is that my children will be able to physically attend school one out of every three weeks.”

The Nation: I Never Felt Like a ‘Single’ Parent. Then the Coronavirus Hit.” — “In late February, I listened to New York Times science reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr. warn about the threat posed by the coronavirus on the podcast The Daily. Hearing McNeil’s warnings shook me. I started buying more food and supplies than usual at the grocery store. I started stressing out and strategizing on my group chats. I started imagining how canceled preschool would isolate my only child, who’s 3.”

The Washington Post: The pandemic didn’t create working moms’ struggle. But it made it impossible to ignore.” — “An old cartoon from 1976 has been circulating on social media recently, titled ‘My Wife Doesn’t Work.’ In 20 panels, it follows the daily routine of a stay-at-home mom: At 7 a.m., she’s packing lunches; at 11 a.m., she’s running errands; at 2 and 3 and 5 p.m., she’s sweeping, ironing and dishwashing while a toddler tugs on her skirt. The titular panel comes at 1 p.m. when we drop in on her husband chatting with a colleague. ‘My wife doesn’t work,’ he explains. The joke has one of two interpretations: either he has no idea how much work it takes to run a house because he’s not around to see this labor, or he’s aware of it but doesn’t count it as ‘work.’ Maybe both.”

The Conversation: Dads are more involved in parenting, yes, but moms still put in more work” — “On Jan. 21, in a collective demonstration of historic proportions, millions of women marched in Washington, D.C. and other cities around the world in support of key policy issues such as reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work and support for balancing work and family.”

Vox: “The unbearable grief of Black mothers” — “When one of us loses a child, all of us feel that hurt; vicarious trauma is an integral aspect of Black motherhood. My grandmother raised children in the legacy of Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was kidnapped, beaten, mutilated, and dumped in the Tallahatchie River in 1955. My mother grew up in the shadow of Till and the 16th Street Baptist Church bombings, where four Black young girls were killed and many others injured in what was the third bombing in 11 days in 1963. And in a sick twist of fate, I’ve had to carry them all — including the fears of my children becoming the next Trayvon, Tamir, or Aiyana.”

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