Maybe It's Good to Notice When Mothers Are Gone?
What does it look like to make all of the paid and unpaid labor we do more visible, by visibly NOT doing it in advance?
I am out of town on a trip this week. It’s not a vacation, it’s a trip with family, but in order to be in the moment with what I’m doing, I’m not sending out a full newsletter today. In the era of automatic scheduling and always-on internet culture, I could have worked myself into a frenzy to get it done before leaving, or worked on it during my trip, so you would not know I had taken any time away from this newsletter and “regularly scheduled programming.” I could have maintained the illusion of “doing it all.”
Mothers especially feel a lot of pressure to compensate for our absences. Packing a week’s worth of lunches for kids before a business trip or finishing all the reports for the month before a vacation, all so no one has to be inconvenienced by our needs or conflicting obligations. We’ve been socially conditioned into an unspoken platonic ideal that taking time away means we must do so much prepping that no one even notices we’re gone. That’s our penitence for having multiple priorities, the burden we carry for not being able to literally be in more than one place at a time.
As you approach your own summer plans and potential return to business trips, consider the radical idea that maybe it’s better to make your absence felt rather than minimized. Ensuring the basic safety and welfare of your children is handled, what does it look like to make all of the paid and unpaid labor we do more visible, by visibly NOT doing it in advance? Maybe it’s actually good for there to be moments of chaos and mild hardship and everything NOT going smoothly?
Just marinate on that, and know that you deserve peace and rest.
As a final mediation, I’ll share my Out of Office message I’ve used for the last 2ish years.
In a society that undervalues our labor, mothers taking time and space away from paid work and caregiving is an act of survival and political rebellion. I am away from the computer and will not be checking email until XXXX. I'll get back to you when I return.
I hope this short newsletter allows you to reflect on the labor I usually do for this community. If you’d like to support this scrappy member-funded operation that declines sponsorship in the interest of real social change, consider becoming a member. I make this newsletter available to all, but it's not "free" to produce. Becoming a member supports this work has a lot of great benefits, too.
No members-only thread this week. But members, feel free to check out our last three on thoughts about leaving America, your post-Roe emotions, and intensive parenting: 90s vs. today. Members can login by using the email address where you get this newsletter in order to comment. There are lots of thoughtful, interesting comments from diverse perspectives... what you wish the rest of the internet was like.
Events for when I get back:
Workplace Revolution W/ Erin Grau
To celebrate our relaunch, we are hosting a 'Fireside Chat' with the one and only Erin Grau. She's the co-founder and COO of Charter, a media and services company that aims to transform every workplace. She's also a "founding mother" o the new advocacy organization, Chamber of Mothers.
You may know Erin because she shared her story with us back in 2019 about advocating and getting better paid family leave at The NYTimes. If you missed it, or want to jog your memory, go back and listen to the Double Shift episode "Paid Leave, We Can Do Better," and the followup episode we made about Double Shifters who were galvanized to advocate for better policies by listening to Erin's story. THIS EVENT IS OPEN TO ALL, RSVP here. Members will be automatically invited and will get an audio version of the conversation in their feeds the week after the event.
Plan C Training
I’ve set up a 1 hour training session open to all Double Shift members on AUGUST 10th at 12:30 EST .
The Plan C SMA 101 Workshop is an interactive introduction to self-managed abortion with mailed abortion pills. This workshop is open to anyone and everyone interested in learning about this medically-safe and effective at-home abortion option and is geared toward individuals who want to be more informed for their own SMA experience as well as those who want to be more informed in supporting others with their SMA experience.
This is open to Double Shift members. Any members who want to participate has to register in advance, here.
If you'd like to be a member and it's not in your budget right now, email us at email@example.com and we'll hook you up.