Help Working Mothers: Motherhood on a Wire

hummingbirdHelp Working Mothers

On Mother’s Day I noticed that a tiny hummingbird had built a miniscule nest on a wire in my backyard. She was snuggled into the tiny sack warming four little eggs, all the while being buffeted by the breezes. When people attempted to watch the sunset at the table near her nest, she had the nerve to buzz by our heads to get us gone. What brave dedication. Despite the odds.

This diminutive bird got me thinking of American mothers. The issues related to mothering, childbirth and childcare have always been used by conservative forces to stake out their political positions and build a political base upon. And this year it seems to be even worse. Access to birth control, abortion, gay parenting and marriage, and funding for child-care services are again being aggressively attacked — as if the politicians had any right to influence the way mothers choose to have and raise kids.

the frying panAs a result of the intense conservative politicking around motherhood and its related issues, our country is far behind others in actually supporting moms. A recent New York Times review of Madeline Kunin’s latest book,The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work and Family notes that the U.S. is virtually the only nation in the world that doesn’t provide guaranteed paid leave for families with newborns. And among the 21 richest nations in the world, we’re the only one that doesn’t require that employers provide paid sick leave. (See Frying Pan News’ “Just the Facts.”) Anyone who has raised or been around young children knows that they get sick. How do we expect they will get cared for?

Other countries are also way ahead of us in promoting flexible work schedules, networks of quality day care programs and universal health coverage for mothers and children. As Kunin says, these shortfalls represent a “dangerous economic policy that will impact the well-being of every American.”

vivian rothstein

At the same time the economic crisis is decimating many of the programs that working and poor women rely on, from health services to subsidized childcare, in-home health care and more.

American mothers are like the hummingbird mama on her nest, being pushed around by the political winds but determined to be the mother that her offspring need. Forget celebrating Mother’s Day next year. Let’s fight for the real supports that American mother’s need to do their jobs well.

Vivian Rothstein
The Frying Pan

Posted: Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Published by the LA Progressive on May 16, 2012
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About Vivian Rothstein

Vivian Rothstein has been employed at LAANE since January 2003 after many years of working with LAANE as an ally. She has a long history as a community organizer, beginning with her work in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1965. Her experience includes organizing in low-income communities around welfare and housing rights, involving citizens in issues related to U.S. foreign policy, and reproductive rights campaigns. Vivian founded one of the first independent women’s liberation organizations in the 1970s. For ten years she served as executive director of the Ocean Park Community Center, one of the largest Southern California nonprofits serving homeless adults and families and battered women and their children. She directed the union/community-led Respect at LAX project (in which LAANE was a lead partner), aimed at raising wages for service workers at the airport. Vivian later directed Santa Monicans for Responsible Tourism, the LAANE project that worked to lift wages in the booming Santa Monica tourism industry. In addition to her role as deputy director she oversees LAANE’s development team and Century Blvd and Long Beach Hospitality Projects and works closely with LAANE’s interfaith partner, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Development (CLUE). Vivian attended UC Berkeley and holds a master’s degree in administration from Antioch University.