In real time right now during this pandemic, women (and men, but k mostly women) are having to make the stay-at-home versus work decisions a-freaking-gain.
It’s no easier than it was the first nine thousand times we made it when we decided to hatch some kids, when we actually succeeded in acquiring some kids, when we figured out how much much said kids’ care and maintenance would cost, and weighed caring for them ourselves versus paying someone else to do it while we worked.
There’s still the sense that either option is too much sacrifice, not enough service to your family/career/yourself. Like you’re perpetually failing, like whichever choice you make is letting yourself, your kids, all women everywhere, and the whole world down. Like there’s no way to perfectly be two people in one, be in two places at once, but you’re meant to try.
And now? NOW!? Now we’re doing it with the threat that anytime any of you leave the house, you may be picking up a deadly virus or giving it someone else. You’re adding the possibility of needing to somehow, impossibly, both provide care for the kid(s) AND do your entire paid job all in the same exact place, or split up and have faith that you’re both safe from an invisible enemy. The community is counting on you to make the right decision! Excellent. What is that?
‘We are not all in the same boat. We are in the same storm. Some of us are on superyachts. Some of us have just the one oar’. -Damian Barr
Not everyone has the same choices this fall. One-parent families, two-parent families, local family support, no family support, high income, low income, essential workers who can’t work from home, people stuck at home, the number of kids and their specific needs, etc, etc, etc. We’re weighing all of our USUAL stuff and all of these new threats and trying to solve an impossible problem.
So, what’s best for the most number of people now? We stay home and raise/educate our kids? We send them to school and we keep going to work? We do some combination of both? We lose our careers and can’t pay off our loans, mortgages? We chose so deliberately before…is this going to undo everything we’ve done? What if, in the past, in the real world, we were determined NOT to do the thing we now feel like we have to do, what if we were kind of shitty about people who chose that path and now it seems like the one laid out in front of us?
How do I choose us/them/me?
The best I can figure at this point is that this year is a fuckall disaster and we’re in survival mode. That means nothing for the past or future, it just means RIGHT NOW this is how we plan to survive. Temporary, flexible, open-minded. It’s all a sacrifice, it’s all in service, it’s all going to suck…but our job is just to survive. Then, when it’s over…and it will be….then we reasses.