March 8, 2017 was International Women’s Day and many women around the world marked the day by striking from any work, inside or outside the home, to demonstrate the importance of women in the global market and to drive home the fact that things literally would come to a standstill without our labor. Those who couldn’t participate marked the day in other ways, for example, by wearing red. So what did I do to commemorate International Women’s Day?
I woke up before it was light out to breastfeed my baby. Then I got her up, changed her diaper and dressed her, and took her downstairs to play while I guzzled down some coffee. Next, I packed my son’s lunch, woke him up, changed his diaper and dressed him, and brought him downstairs for breakfast – a tediously slow process that requires me to read picture books upside down so he can still see the pictures while simultaneously trying to shovel food into his mouth.
Then, I bundled both kids up and loaded them in the car to go to my son’s daycare where every employee I encountered was a woman, as well as 99% of the parents doing morning drop-off. When I got home, I breastfed the baby again and finished a copyediting project while she napped. Then, I bundled her into the carrier to take the dog for a walk.
Next, I cleaned the kitchen and gave the dog her medicine. Then, we went back to daycare to pick up my son and bring him home for his nap. After I changed his diaper, read him stories, put him down for his nap and unpacked his backpack. I breastfed the baby again and did some work while she slept.
After my son woke up, I changed his diaper, fed him a snack, and took both kids to the playground. Next, we had dinner, which involved watching Daniel Tiger while I tried to shovel food into his mouth, and read stories while we waited for daddy to get home.
The kids played with daddy so I could grab a quick shower, and then I put them into the bath so my husband could grab a quick shower. Then, while my son read stories and got ready for bed, I changed the baby and nursed her to sleep.
It’s no secret that the majority of the work women do is erased because it happens inside the home and because it’s the kind of thing that happens day in and day out. Things like washing dishes, cooking meals and doing laundry, chores that are never really finished and always need to be repeated. It’s also true that women are the primary caretakers for the majority of our youngest and oldest family members.
So, why didn’t I strike for International Women’s Day? Like so many women I didn’t strike because the people who’d be the most impacted, the people who count on me the most, are the people who can’t afford to do without me for the day. If every woman really went on strike the repercussions would be greatest for children and the elderly. Perhaps it’s time to think about why it wasn’t possible for more women to strike, and to consider whether there’s anything we can do to change that.