With Mother Day's approaching, I have been harping over how I will celebrate and appreciate my own mom on Sunday. For me, everything I have and everything I am is a direct result of my mom's love. As a woman in my mid-20s, I've been exploring my own identity as a single woman. I currently am a teacher with goals to become a principal and eventually open my own school. With such ambitions, I constantly am asking myself if I will choose to be a mother. I am career-focused, and I look around and see how much goes into raising children and think, Could I do that and work? Could I be a principal, mother, partner and an individual?
The answer is yes. But changes in American mindsets, society and workplaces must happen.
We need to know what we want in a partner and communicate that clearly to him or her before making a binding commitment. It is important to me that either I or my partner is the primary caregiver for our future children. I also know that I'm unwilling to step back from my career to do that, so I need a partner who is willingly to step back from his career to take care of the kids and home while I pursue my career. This has made dating very difficult for me, which leads me to my next change in mindset. We need to adjust our mindsets about stay-at-home dads. We can do that by not making them feel like outcasts, by not gawking at the dad who is pushing his kid in stroller with a response like "Aw, how great is he for doing that?" and lastly, by considering him just as "manly" as his friend, the corporate lawyer.
A lot of couples need both people working, which means we need to change child care. We must acquire safe and affordable child care. We live in a society where, if parents don't have family close enough, a child's care really depends who answers a digital want ad. In addition, we need to make summer camps affordable and desirable for parents of adolescents.
Most importantly, we need to ask more from our workplaces. Paternal leave should be offered and encouraged along with maternal leave. Working from home, even once or twice during the week, should be accommodated. Designated areas to pump breast milk should be established and labeled. These are just a few "asks" that are not too much but can make a tremendous difference. They are necessary in order for women to be career people and mothers.
These are the changes that need to happen so I, along with other working women, too, can one day enjoy Mother's Day.