As a working mother and a politically-minded Utahn, I spend a weird amount of time thinking about legal and government policies as I go about my day. Now, I don’t get as into the weeds as my brilliant colleagues do–one of the perks of not having the word “policy” in my title–but I do consider them in terms of broad strokes and impact on my community’s daily life.
I also have a disappointingly large number of conversations with people who don’t want to discuss politics or don’t get involved because ‘it doesn’t matter’ and does not impact them. Dear reader, as a follower of Alliance for a Better Utah you are likely not one of those people, but if you’ve got a friend or family member who believes that, this might be the post for them.
Policies impact so much of our lives for better or worse. Follow me on a typical day to see how much room there is for growth here in Utah.
Wake up. Kids (1.5 and 3.5 years) are still asleep. Hallelujah. Husband is showering. I check my phone to prepare for the day. As a communications person it’s a part of my job.
Husband gets out of the shower and is getting ready for the day. The younger boy wakes up crying. Husband fetches him and he comes into our room for a quick snuggle. He’s still looking sick. Daycare didn’t seem happy yesterday that he had gunk in his eye, so I can’t send him back until he’s seen a doctor. I’ve got an important meeting today and husband has used up almost all of his time off to recover from surgery a couple months ago. We’re going to have to find a way to juggle.
Second son wakes up. Husband and I find ways to get ourselves and our kids ready for the day, and keep everyone’s sanity mostly intact. Husband leaves for work, I stay back with the kids and inform daycare we’ll be bringing the older one in late. The younger one will stay with me until the doctor’s office opens so I can schedule an emergency appointment. I’ll have to take the morning off from work.
Man, I’m lucky to have a job where I can take time off in the morning if I need. If I were working for an hourly wage, I’d be in big trouble. Money is tight, I can’t afford to lose any time earning money, especially if I’m going to have to spend money at the doctor’s office.
Older son is dropped off at daycare. The workday has started but I’m not at the office because I’m dealing with a sick kid. In the driveway at daycare I call the doctor’s office. They opened five minutes ago and I’m probably the first call. I tell them the story, ask if they can get him in ASAP. I’m lucky, they have a 9:45am appointment available. I drive over there.
I’m so glad I have a working car and I can afford gas. If I didn’t have a car, this would be nearly impossible. I would be out an entire day of work without a car. There is no public transportation from my daycare to my pediatrician’s office, or, for that matter, from my house to my daycare. We really need more public transit.
As I’m driving I start coughing. The air quality is particularly bad because of the wildfires.
Wildfires are more frequent because of climate change. We’re not moving fast enough on climate change. [Existential dread].
Son is seen by the pediatrician and gets the okay to head to daycare. The copay wasn’t bad, but even “not bad” is impactful for families who have a tight budget.
If I was earning minimum wage I wouldn’t be able to pay this. Going to the doctor is a luxury I wouldn’t have been able to afford ten years ago.
Drop younger son off at daycare. Try to do short spurts of work with my phone.
Phones are not luxuries if you are working certain types of jobs. It’s weird how phones have become an essential tool for so many people who work.
Get to work 45 mins before the important meeting. Try and do as much work as possible in the lobby before the meeting.
Meeting and post-meeting work is over. Run to the office to get supplies for an event after work. Zoom away from work in my car to get the kids from daycare. Show up late, then head to dance class for the older son.
Show up late to dance class. My 3.5 year old is the only boy in a class of 13 kids.
Where are all the boys?
Chase my younger son around in the hallway. Try to keep him from getting too close to other kids so the parents won’t be upset that I brought a snot monster into their vicinity. Son thinks he’s sneaky and tries multiple times to hide in the closet.
Arrive home. Drop kids off. Sit for ten minutes. Leave kids with husband.
I’m really lucky to have a husband who is a supportive co-parent. We need to be better at supporting dads. Paid paternal leave would be a great start. For that matter, we need to be better at supporting mothers with maternal leave. We still have a long way to go on that front.
Leave to table an outdoor community event. Arrive and set up. Meet a lot of really great people and give away tons of candy to little kids. One kid even trades an old piece of candy from another table for one of our “fresher” pieces. Kids are hilarious.
Lots of these kids are refugees or have parents who are refugees. Are we doing enough to support this community? I wonder how different their lives are here? Is our refugee and immigration system working?
Arrive home. Kids are still awake past their bedtime. Putting two little ones to bed is hard when you’re doing it alone.
Having kids is hard! I can’t imagine doing this alone. Single parents don’t get half the support they need. Overtime work like what I did today is an impossibility for a single parent without family or community support. We need better and more affordable childcare options in Utah.
Kids are in bed. I get to eat dinner. Then more work. Then bed.
Some people don’t have a place to sleep at night. I’ve never appreciated a warm bed and a cool pillow more.
Policies impact everyone. As we go about our daily lives, let’s be mindful of this and then remember that we actually can create change if the status quo isn’t working. And that change starts with voting.
Register to vote here if you haven’t already. Elections are November 6th, 2018.