This is not a supermom tale. I am not an unsung hero. This is a true story about how working moms, juggling paid and unpaid work, lower wages and caretaking responsibilities, are shouldering more than ever with fewer resources during the Covid-19 pandemic. And how angry I am about it!
It’s so frustrating to see this huge crisis dumped on the backs of individual families. The government bails out big businesses, no matter how nasty or irresponsible, yet politicians willfully neglect poor and working families. Schools are closed, grocery shopping is a health hazard and my job at the San Francisco Water Department has gotten more difficult and dangerous. But hey, that’s my problem to solve! Uncle Sam’s priority is giving 43,000 millionaires a tax break.
As a parent, I hate watching my twins struggle with Covid issues. My children are nervous about me going to work. It’s hard to see them put on a brave face when I leave. When I get home, I try to make quality time with both of them, but it’s not enough. We’re all doing our best, but we’re isolated, cranky, and often scared about what the future may bring.
And there are plenty of parents who have it worse than I do. My union job has a few benefits that help get my family through. But every working mom I talk to — single, partnered, queer, straight, unemployed or clinging to their job — is fed up! Somehow, moms are supposed to pick up all the slack. Don’t tell me there aren’t the resources to provide safe, socially distanced activities for kids. Countries around the world have figured this out. And how about providing much needed safe, publicly run childcare? The U.S. did that during World War II. It’s time to demand it again!
San Francisco — with all its elected Democrats — pretends that workers are protected but it discourages people from finding out their Covid status. At my job, operations haven’t slowed down one bit since this deadly virus appeared. Yet bosses and politicians spend more time spinning the truth, crossing their fingers and printing signs telling the homeless not to crowd the streets than implementing safer practices.
When I was exposed to a Covid-positive co-worker, I learned that San Francisco doesn’t consider close contact a concern if both people are masked. Luckily, my doctor disagreed and told me to quarantine. Thank goodness someone had my back. But how to quarantine? Do you move out of the house, stay in one room, expose the kids? It’s not a cut-and-dry issue for working people.
Before the pandemic, I, like so many folks, had no illusions that capitalist bosses or the government that supports them would take care of working people. For decades both sides of the aisle have cut education, childcare, health care, housing and the rest of the social safety net. There’s no money, we were continually told, until the economy crashed. Watching trillions of dollars go to big business breaks my heart. And seeing only crumbs go to people who were laid off, or to mom-and-pop stores that our neighborhoods rely on, fuels my anger.
If this crisis doesn’t convince everyone that the 99 percent can do a much better job deciding where money and people’s labor should go, I don’t know what will. Just think of the public housing, childcare centers, schools and hospitals and environment-saving mass transit that could be built. Another world really is possible!
There is a silver lining. Everywhere you turn there are folks taking to the streets and connecting all these issues. I’m one of them, along with my comrades in the Freedom Socialist Party and Radical Women.
Thousands are demonstrating to demand San Francisco Mayor London Breed provide city workers, homeless folks and residents genuine protection — physical and financial — from Covid. Protesters are exposing the systemic brutality of the police that Breed oversees. People are rejecting the community gentrification by tech firms and developers that ousts Black families.
Left, labor, and community activists are acting on the critical lesson that an injury to one really is an injury to all. It’s thrilling to be connected to so many fighters of every race, gender and generation. And I’m thrilled that my kids have joined in Black Lives Matter demonstrations and closely follow our fight for health and safety at work.
I may resent that working moms are expected to be silent heroes, but I am proud to be among the millions of working-class heroes internationally, marching and fighting. Together we have the power to replace capitalism with a socialist system, which prioritizes the common good.
The power of people in motion is the most powerful force there is — and working-class moms are leading the way!