By Martha Ruttle, Family Forward Activist
Striking isn’t an option for most women I know, and it sure isn’t an option for this single working mom! I thought about marking the day with an hour-by-hour accounting of my time to illustrate what it might look like if I stopped doing any of it. But I don’t think my day would look much different from any other working mom’s.
I did think about something my grandfather said after his wife died, which my dad relayed to me. My grandfather said that until my grandmother was gone, he had not known how much his wife did, how much work she had always done that was invisible to him, until she was gone and the work was left un-done.
That is the sad truth in our hetero relationships and in our world generally, isn’t it? So much of what we do is invisible, and we don’t even have the option to stop doing it for a single day to make a symbolic point. Here’s what it would look like if any of the women I know really took a whole day off. Basically, the world would grind to a halt.
- My children would never get out of bed, eat, put on clothes, brush their teeth, go to school, see a health care provider … in short, they would be feral.
- My children’s schools would be almost entirely unstaffed, which would mean I could not work. Neither could any other parents.
- The child-care providers who ensure I can work after school is over would vanish, again, leaving me unable to work.
- I would have very few teachers to work with professionally.
- The unpaid voluntary assistance my neighbors provide to help me with my kids would dry up. Without it, we truly would never get by.
- Without the voluntary, unpaid work of incredible mothers at my older child’s school, my child would not have art class, choir, or Girl Scouts … or a talent show or Pi Day celebration. And without my unpaid, voluntary work, my son’s kindergarten class would not have enough adults on Mondays to do reasonable math rotations, and I would not have the joy of spending time doing math with them.
- The PTAs would basically disappear.
- The babies would have to deliver themselves if women like my mother and some of my dearest friends, who are nurse midwives, opted out of providing healthcare for women.
- Families would have to nurse their own sick and elderly.
Thank you to all the women doing essential and often invisible work. I see you and I am so grateful for you!