My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Women's eNews, New York, NY, USA
I am a single mother raising my two sons in poverty in Iowa City, Iowa, USA. I must qualify this by saying we live in poverty "American style". We have a roof over our heads and enough food to eat. I was raised in privilege, so especially appreciate the invaluable education that living in poverty provides. I could not have learned the lessons I have and am, nor would my consciousness have been raised, I believe, -without this experience.
My older son is now a college sophomore, financially independent, and while excelling in academia as he pursues a double major, works part time. My younger son will enter junior high this year. He also excels in school, participates in competitive fencing, and plays the saxophone.
I have very little support emotionally or financially, and isolation has been one of my greatest challenges as a single parent. Although I lived abroad for nearly eight years and earned a better-than-average living before my children were born, my resume does not qualify me for more than minimum wage, presently. Lacking private transportation in a community and a state that have very little public transportation, my family has faced unique limitations as a result. Nonetheless, my skills as a mother have allowed my children to thrive and develop their potential remarkably well. I would describe my efforts these past twenty years as an act of maternal feminism.
I breast-fed both my sons for six months exclusively, then each exercised that option until the age of three. As a single mother, I experienced welfare "reform" in the U.S., a mandate that forced mothers back to work within six weeks of giving birth. Fortunately, my older son was already two, when this happened. With my second son, I found work at a daycare that let me take him to work with me and nurse him on demand throughout the day. The welfare reform case manager admonished me, saying, "there's a need for pumping!" -as he urged me to find employment. Caring for our own children isn't considered, "work". But if we take a service industry job that offers far less than a living wage and no health insurance benefits, the STATE will PAY a third-party to care for our children, at rates far above the pittance the mother herself receives during the six weeks she's allowed to be with the child exclusively. The case manager "explained" that putting mothers back into the work force was, "good for the tax base". But the truth is, many of the jobs they fill pay so little that they're exempt from paying income tax. It's not breast feeding that victimizes women, it's a culture that refuses to acknowledge the WORK THAT PARENTING IS, and fails to support mothers in their respective roles as parent and employee.