Announcing Double Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st Century
When I heard that the White House was planning a Summit on Working Families later this Spring, I felt a surge of excitement. Our country is overdue for a dialogue on how to improve the lives of working families. As we have engaged before with Democrat and Republican White Houses, so here the Reform Jewish Movement has a lot to contribute. Our Movement has long been a moral force and advocate for the rights of working families, from affordable child care, to equal pay for women, to the importance of a living wage.
This is also a topic of great personal passion. One of my proudest life accomplishments has been finding a path (though bumpy at times!) that allows me to invest in both my career and my family. At age 44, and with daughters now 16 and 14 and a son who is 12, I, together with my husband, have lived the “working family” life for many years- the good, the bad, and the ugly.
An early memory remains of my first day back at work at a law firm after my first daughter was born, when a large smiling group of colleagues stopped by to take me out to lunch – just as I was about to close my door and take out my breast pump.
Then only a few months ago, there was the day I worked from home because my daughter was running a high fever. I was to kick off an important call that morning with the top leaders of the Movement. Coffee in hand and my daughter sleeping in the other room, I was ready to transition seamlessly from Mom to Deputy Director. I had just dialed into the call when the doorbell rang, the dog barked, a car alarm (mine) blared, and a city worker at my front door explained that his truck had accidentally set off my car alarm. Muting the phone, I sprinted upstairs to locate my keys. When I tuned back to the call, someone was guessing: “She must no longer be on the line.” Un-muting my breathless and frazzled self, I launched into my presentation.
Sometimes being the type of Mom I want to be compromises my professional self. Sometimes the demands of work make me a less ideal parent than I’d like to be. But on the whole, I’m very grateful for a professional life that allows me to be both parts of myself.
Most workplaces choose not to be or cannot be as flexible as the RAC about allowing their employees to work from home. Many parents have to miss work every time their kids are sick. Because we still have no federal paid sick leave in this country, these parents may be forced either to forgo caring for their child or to fall behind on their rent. Some even lose their jobs.
Today, the RAC announces our new working families blog: “Double Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st Century.” My hope for the blog is that by reading each other’s stories, we will learn more about the broad range of challenges that working families face today. Through blog posts and comments, I encourage readers to share their own personal struggles. We also welcome your insights about what works for you and your thoughts about what structural and cultural fixes could help improve the lives of today’s working families.
Comments are an important part of the conversation. Share your thoughts in the comments section! This blog is part of a special RACBlog series, “Double Booked: A Conversation about Working Families in the 21st Century,” dealing with the many issues that affect working families, and featuring everything from personal stories to policy analysis. Visit the Double Booked portal to read more posts, or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #doublebooked.