My wife is celebrating her sixth Mother’s Day, and my daughters are really excited to celebrate with her. As we hatch plans to make breakfast in bed, bake cakes and cookies, and celebrate their mom, I can’t help but reflect on the marathon our eldest put her through. Nearly 40 hours of labor, birth plans revised and then thrown out the window as heart rates dropped and pushing wasn’t helping, the signing of paperwork for the potential C section, and the helplessness I felt as doctors told me to stand out of the way until finally, we heard the cries of our newborn.
Six years later, celebrating in a socially distanced way will mean we “zoom” the grandmas and great-grandma and aunt and friends. We’ll celebrate their tenacity and creative brilliance. We’ll cart out handmade cards and homemade crafts and do everything we can to make her feel special and loved. And this will be replicated in homes across the nation.
Then, we’ll move on. We’ll go back to work and homeschooling and the daily grind of life. We’ll box up the cards in a keepsake box or throw them away and my wife and the other moms will have to wait another year because us dads did our one day of handling everything that the moms do 364 other days of the year.
Except this year, we’re going to do things a bit differently. This year, my wife and I are going to take part in Mother’s Monday.
My wonderful friend, Gayatri Agnew, conceived the idea with the goal of “encouraging others to stand up and celebrate the work of all Mothers.” Through a series of keynotes, panels, and online discussions, Gayatri and the dozens who stepped up to help will elevate the conversation of Mother’s Day and challenge us to reflect on how our workplaces aren’t designed for mothers.
In our current culture, our workplaces are designed for profit and efficiency, (and most are designed by and for men). Thousands of articles come across my feed asking me how I can be more efficient and the simple steps I can take each day to manage my life to perfection and financial success. Rarely do I see any of them take into account the imbalance in the roles women and men play. Even more rare is the acknowledgement of children, and the wildcards they play in our lives.
In our current culture, our workplaces are designed for profit and efficiency, (and most are designed by and for men)
Children don’t care about efficiency, perfection, or financial success. They care about their moms and dads being present in their lives. They care that we make them dinner, read them books, play outlandishly creative games with no basis in logic or reality, and most importantly, they care that we love them.
I know my wife loves our daughters, but she also loves her career and providing care for women in their postpartum physical and emotional recovery. As a physical therapist, her schedule suddenly became much more flexible compared to mine as stay-at-home orders went into effect. Then, as the short-term crisis evolved into long-term strategies, she began taking on new clients via Telehealth and began hosting more workshops to support mothers through her company, Beyond the Bump Wellness. She didn’t stop handling the care and education for our daughters, though. She kept right on finding hidden reserves of strength.
So, this Monday, we will both be tuning into the exceptional line-up. My wife is going for her own professional development. I’m going to better understand how I can advocate for mothers in the workforce. No woman should have to choose between their kids and their career. And no father should have to do that either.
At Fathering Together, our primary mission is educating dads on how to best be there for their children through storytelling, resources, and community. This Monday, I’m excited to join the conversation as we work toward a more balanced and healthy workplace for mothers.