My mother and father fell ill in quick succession just as I was becoming a mother, so I was caring for babies/toddlers as I was also caring for my parents.
Which of the following are you trying to fit with your job/career? ________________________________________________________________________
Caring for young children (1-5 years)
How has COVID-19 impacted your job/work responsibilities? How has it impacted your responsibility to care for your family?
I am a millennial member of the sandwich (panini!) generation. My mother and father fell ill in quick succession just as I was becoming a mother, so I was caring for babies/toddlers as I was also caring for my parents. Both of them passed away prior to the pandemic, and my children have since reached elementary-school age. I had stepped out of the paid workforce to care for everyone and was considering a return (and, in fact, had a job offer) right before the world shut down. I like to think that things happen for a reason, and at this point, instead of mourning a job opportunity that did not work out, I was giving thanks that I was home when my children hung up their backpacks that fateful day, for what turned out to be the last time. We tried virtual school for months, but this past year I decided to temporarily homeschool. In addition, I made a return to writing (I have a MA in English literature) and became a freelancer. So, in sum, the pandemic resulted in my trading one set of responsibilities for another.
Was there ever a time when you felt there was an unspoken barrier or preconceived notion that interfered with your job or career? Please share.
In my freelance work, I concentrate on issues involving motherhood, caregiving, and the family, with my main research and interest focusing on the stigmatization many women face when they make the difficult choice to step out of the workforce for caregiving. I think that our society may support this choice in theory, but in practice, a resume gap severely limits a woman's future options. I think that my time spent caregiving is seen as a "break"( and the terminology we use supports this), when in reality, caregiving is anything but a break and can be a time of tremendous skill development.
HOW EASY WAS IT TO PUT (AND MAINTAIN) A CHILDCARE/ELDERCARE ARRANGEMENT TOGETHER AND DID IT WORK FOR YOUR FAMILY?
Caring for my ill parents and my very young children was by far the most difficult work I have ever done. But I would make the same choice all over again. I realize that as someone with a graduate degree, I could have a more professionally impressive career history at this point in my life. I find it sad, even frustrating, that my work over this past decade is often not valued in the way that I feel it should be. And while I wish that these years were not seen as a "break" on my resume, my heart can fill in the empty space on that piece of paper with all the experience I know I gained, as well as the impact I made on my family, during those precious years.
Thinking about fitting your job/career with your professional, educational, or caregiver responsibilities, is there anything that used to be manageable that no longer is? Is there anything that used to be able to count on, that you no longer can?
I had to face the hard truth that I could not maintain a full-time professional career while also being the caregiver for my ill parents and very young children. I was an employee who was organized, professional, and reliable. When my parents were sick and my children were very young, I was thrust into a world that was unpredictable and demanded all of my energy at all hours of the day and night. I had to become a person my children and parents could count on, which meant that I also became a person my employer could not in the way that they did before. I had to come to terms with this transition and make the decisions that followed.
[If pursuing education] What level of education are you pursuing?__________________________________________________________________________________
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