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Occupy (Working) Motherhood

Susan B. Anthony was born 192 years ago today; we share a birthday. I am 43. The late great suffragist once said: “Our job is not to make young women grateful. It’s to make them ungrateful so they keep going.” Much of my Jewish practice these days is about gratitude. But in light of our shared birthday this week, I’ve decided to dwell on some serious ingratitude.

I grew up in the 1970s listening to “Free to Be You and Me,” and singing joyfully that “Mommies Are People.” Who would have guessed, now that I’m one of those people, that the dilemmas my own working mother struggled with would become mine? In middle school, when I’d call home sick my mom would try to talk me into returning to class, so that she wouldn’t have to leave work or find a sitter. I’m pretty sure that’s what I’d do, too.

These days, the lack of affordable quality childcare options, combined with the continual calculation of income-to-babysitter-hours ratio, continues to make working parenthood — let’s face it, working motherhood primarily — a challenge, even for those of us who’ve got it good.

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Deborah Siegel is the author of Sisterhood Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild.” This was originally posted at The Sisterhood, which crossposts regularly with Jewesses with Attitude.

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1 Comment

Yeah, it is one difficult thing to really deal with because on the one hand you need to work but if most of the money is going to the sitter or daycare it hardly seems worth it at all.

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The balance between working and motherhood before you go nuts is a very difficult thing for a lot of women to manage because of all the costs and time away. </dd> </dl>

Susan B. Anthony circa 1855
Full image
Susan B. Anthony circa 1855, engraving used in the History of Woman Suffrage by Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Volume I, published in 1881.
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How to cite this page

Siegel, Deborah. "Occupy (Working) Motherhood." 15 February 2012. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on July 23, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/occupy-working-motherhood>.

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