Friday, May 6, 2011

A Real Mother's Day Celebration

This Mother’s Day many of us will find ourselves celebrating with the important women in our lives in lots of fun ways.  Maybe we will be dining at a lovely restaurant or relaxing in a spa. Perhaps we will take a weekend vacation, staying in a hotel. Or maybe we will be visiting our mothers or grandmothers in a long-term care facility, bringing them fresh spring flowers. Certainly there are lots of wonderful ways to celebrate Mother’s Day, yet almost all of these ways are dependent on the work of other mothers. Indeed there are many mothers who will not be able to celebrate that day. These mothers will be at work on Sunday making sure our meals arrive on time for brunch; ensuring our hotel rooms are clean, watching our children so we can have a ‘quiet’ dinner; and bathing our grandmothers at their care facility. 

Whether they are hotel housekeepers, childcare workers, or home health aides, these women share a very precarious employment situation. These women are often not earning wages that provide economic security.  The jobs they perform are often characterized by hourly shift work and nonstandard hours (as defined as hours that deviate from the 8-4pm time schedule). This includes nights, weekends, evenings, and rotating shifts. As a result when these mothers have to take time out of work to deal with an unexpected family emergency, they risk losing their jobs and most likely lose pay.  And as they age, they become our grandmothers who have not been able to earn enough to retire, and instead move into an even deeper poverty. The great irony is that many of the women who work in jobs that care for others often find themselves without the workplace flexibility and benefits to care for themselves and families. They are caught in a cycle of low pay and resources, along with little control over their work lives, putting them in impossible position of having to choose between economically supporting their families and caring for them. No mother should have to make that choice, yet millions are forced to every day.

The care and service work that women perform both in the family and workplace, needs to be valued. And it needs to be valued in real ways---wages that allow for economic security, opportunities for workplace flexibility, paid family leave and sick time, safe workplaces, safe and affordable childcare, health care, and income education, and social supports. So on Mother’s Day let’s make a commitment to make this vision a reality for women who are caring for all of us.  It is time that we as a nation began to care for them.

Mary Gatta, Ph. D.
Senior Scholar
Wider Opportunities for Women


Anonymous said...

Beautifully said!
Where would this world be without Mother's? Something to really think about.
Happy Mother's Day to all the mother's in the world.

Elderly Home Care said...

I think every one should visit their mothers even though they are far away from them.