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"This is the Book I'm Meant to Write Right Now"
A(nother) Conversation with Angela Garbes
In January, Angela Garbes posted an Instagram story about the playlist for her new book, Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change, and teased that it included an Encanto song.
“Which one?” I messaged.
Her reply: “sara i think you already know.”
I did. I did know. Because while every child in America was singing “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” their mothers had a different tune running through their heads 24/7, perhaps even, like me, during a solo parenting quarantine period of particularly low morale. “Surface Pressure” is the anthem of the caregiver in possession of a hairline crack threatening to become an unbridgeable chasm and it struck a chord with a demographic that had been trying to hold it all together for almost two years.
This demographic was at the center of a viral February 2021 essay Angela wrote for The Cut. The demands of childcare during the pandemic, she wrote, were “pushing people — women overwhelmingly, most of them Black and brown, millions of them mothers — out of the workforce.” This was also a personal problem because, at the time, Angela was struggling to write her second book. “I continue to call myself a writer,” she lamented, “though I do very little writing...I have essentially dropped out of the workforce and been absorbed into housework and caring for my children, where there are no wages, no protections, no upward path, just a repetitive circle. I am by no means alone.”
I don’t want to spoil the interview but Angela got the book done. And the idea at the heart of that viral essay, that care work is at once indispensable and completely devalued, became the kernel of Essential Labor. The book looks at the history of care work in the U.S., a history that is closely bound up with her own family story, and urges us to see “mother” as a verb that can, and should, be taken up by anyone. “Raising children is not a private hobby, not an individual duty,” she writes, but is instead a “social responsibility, one that requires robust community support.”
It’s grim out there right now and it’s hard to believe that we will be able to hold on to barebones bodily autonomy, let alone transform the way this country conceives of and values everything that comes after that cluster of cells we are told constitutes a life. But Angela points out that women, and primarily women of color, have been out doing the slow work of change making for a long time and under more difficult circumstances. The rest of us need to get with the program and this beautiful, challenging, hopeful book is our call to action.
Happy Mother’s Day, writers. Read on for our long convo on sexy Google calendars, the gift of #1000wordsofsummer, and why we need more people mothering our children.
Photo credit: Elizabeth Rudge
You are the first person that I've interviewed two times which is not only fun but also important because this newsletter is about process, how things happen. And it's always been after the fact except for you because you were brave enough to talk about a project while you were still in the trenches.
I want to say that it was during the school year when my daughter was in kindergarten, which was just before a lot of things changed.
I think you were kind of hazy about the topic at the time but I did look back at our conversation when I was preparing for this interview and definitely saw some of the threads there of what the book ended up becoming.
It's a completely different book, yeah. And I think probably when I was talking to you, I had an inkling because it was after The Cut piece came out. I wasn't completely transparent with you because I think at that point I was in the process of thinking, I think I know what the book is gonna be, but this is what I've been working on and I don't think I had talked to my agent yet. I was deciding whether or not I was going to try.
So did The Cut piece change things for you or had you already started thinking about changing the book before that came out?
I was very deep in a place of, I'm trying to figure out how to write this book. I believe in this book. I mean the pandemic disrupted a lot, to be honest. I had been struggling to write it for a couple of years. And part of it was that I sold the second book three or four months after my first book came out because I had no conception of what my first book was going to do in the world. And I felt I was operating from this place of, in a year, no one will care about you scarcity. It never occurred to me that I could chill for a year and then sell a book. And so I had been working on that and just trying to figure out how I was going to get it done. And then when The Cut piece came out, it had a life of its own. And I was like, oh, this is resonating with people, this is relevant to a lot of people, people want to hear what I have to say about this. And I have a lot more to say about the way we devalue care work. I have a lot more to say about my feelings on care work and how I believe it's the most essential work and we just don't have any way of talking about it in a meaningful way. So when we spoke I was in the process of reconceiving it and I had sort of tested the waters with a friend. She was like, unfortunately I would read 10,000 more words of this.
And you were like, funny that you mention that…
So it was around March that I had a meeting with my agent and I was like, I've got juice finally for the first time in a really long time and this is what I want put it towards. And she was like, let's put it towards the thing that you have energy for. And I was like, I want to write a book that's about caregiving and I also want to write a book exploring mothering as a means of social change. And it was all sort of nebulous, but it was a lot of stuff that I had already been thinking about. And because I'm not great with this, I was like, it's a book of essays, it's about this and that and this and that. And the proposal went to my editor who was like, I think you need a narrative arc and she said what if the first half of the book is more of a history of how we got to where we are now and then the second half is the mothering as social change part. And that gave me the structure that I needed instead of just having it be essays about various topics that mix history and data and that kind of thing. So it was really- that Cut piece changed everything. It's wonderful to have the opportunity to publish a piece as a test balloon to the public and then Elizabeth Warren tweets it and I'm like, okay, so maybe I'm on to something.
And to get that response, that must have felt amazing.
After a year of not writing, too, it was really very validating.
Yeah, even more so after you've gone through this period of doubt, which is so hard. And also to feel empowered, you know, in a writerly sort of way, to know definitively what you want to say and to be able to say it.
I said to my agent, to my editor, this is the book that I'm meant to write right now. But I also felt like, because I had been under contract already for close to two years, I need to show that I'm serious about doing this. And I also was getting to this place where I was like, I need this second book out of my life, I need to move on with my life. And so I signed the contract in April and the manuscript was turned in in November.
Yeah, let’s talk about that.
Well, going back to the concept of the other book, you can see those threads. That was not something that I totally anticipated. I had been thinking about embodiment and sensory pleasure and physical pleasure and corporeality and I realized that's a huge part of mothering and how I've come to understand myself. And so a lot of the research found a place in this book.
I remember we talked about the changes of puberty and it’s sold as this horrific thing when we could be telling a different story. And it was really thrilling for me to see how that found a place in this new narrative. You were telling a different overall story but I could see how the things you had been thinking about still found their way in. That's always really interesting to me.
That’s why I love talking to you because you have real knowledge of what this book was about. Those ideas are there, they were present in that conversation and they're present in this book because they were things that I've been thinking about for years. So while the book kind of came together in like seven months, it's a book I've been wanting to write my whole life in terms of the family story and Filipinx history. But it was also very much, like the last two and a half years of my life weren't a waste. It gave me a lot of faith in the process and in my process, which was very painful and was disrupted. It was never a guarantee that I was going to get this book done. It never felt like that. But I did it and it was a result of a lot of things and a lot of work that I had been putting into a different project that- I don't know what's going to happen to that but I feel like that project served its purpose in terms of this book.
I love that, obviously. People look at finished products and they never think that it wasn’t a foregone conclusion. They think, you have an agent, you have an editor, you have a book contract, it going happen. And that’s not always the case and it's really hard work. And to have spoken to you more than a year ago and to hear how you were working toward the idea of the book and then to see the finished product, it’s so thrilling. If you read the two interviews together, you’ll see the writing in action.
As I've been writing the second book, many times throughout, [I thought] well, I guess I learned nothing writing one book because what I did then doesn't work now. If I learned how to write a book, this should be easier. But one thing that I found in talking to other writers is, the project is the project. It is not the previous project. It is not the next project. And it’s not one size fits all. We change, right? And that's the other thing. My work was disrupted by the work of mothering and care, which was brought on by the pandemic but then it actually was a very clarifying force in terms of writing this book. But none of it is guaranteed.
So seven months, you're saying, from ‘I know what I want to do now,’ you’ve got that fire, to manuscript turned in. What was that process like? Did you just abandon your children completely or…?
(Laughs) It did require that. It was really fucking hard. I will say that. I want to make no bones about it.
We don’t want any bones.
Bone free zone.
And I have to give a huge shout out to to my husband, Will, because he knows what I need to write – he saw me write my first book – is time and space. And he saw that I did not have that during the pandemic in the early days. And so basically the day after I signed my contract, this was April of 2021, he sat down here with me at this desk and pulled up his laptop and he was like, pull up your Google calendar, this is what we're going to do. For the next six months, every three weeks, you're going to go away. You're going to go away for a minimum of like three nights.
That is unbearably sexy.
I got a little sweaty, actually, when this happened. It’s hot.
I mean, pulling up a Google calendar and planning writing time for you?
This is why I love him so much. He is everything good. Because I was like, we do not need to do this right now, you are overreacting, come on. And he looked at me and he was like, no, we're fucking doing this now because I know what you need to do to write and you need to do this. Take this, say yes. And I was like, yes, daddy.
Tell me what to do to write my book.
He's like, every three weeks, you're going to go away. You're going to go away for a minimum three, four days. If we can do it, you’ll go away for a week. And where you go, I don't know, I don't care. And he was like, I'm going to take care of everything. At that point it was a lot of the summer stuff so we could see my parents again, there was more stuff outdoors. We have a pandemic family that we became really close to. He was like, the Chens will 100% want to step up and help out. And so we went that day and just put shit on the calendar. And that’s the most major component of how it got done. I did abandon my family, I ran away. I ate pasta for breakfast and drank coffee at like 7:30 PM. And I was accountable to no one.
And I just wrote. And I did a lot of revision that way.
I have to ask, was there a lot of pressure on those days, though? That makes me nervous just thinking about it, you know, because I’m always like, ‘this is my time, I need to make the most of it.’
Yes, totally. There was a lot of pressure. I talked about this with my therapist who was like, no matter how many days you go away, you have to accept that you can't just turn it on and off. You're going to be thinking about your family. Give yourself whatever it is, the first night, give yourself 24 hours to make that adjustment. And that was really helpful for me to think about it that way. There were times I did that. But by the end I was not even thinking about anyone. By the end, the last couple times I went away, I was just zeroed in but I was also desperately trying get it done. The other thing that I realized is that, you know, part of writing is living and there's just no way I could work 14 hours a day. So if I worked four hours, that was really more than I would be able to do at home. So pretty much every day I was doing more than I could do away from home. Some days I wrote less than that, most days I wrote more. If I couldn't write, then I would revise because there was no shortage of shit to be working on. I wasn't working in a linear fashion, necessarily.
You never had a deadline. You never had that feeling of, ‘oh, I have to be done by 3:30.’
No, exactly, I wasn't sweating it. And there were some days when two hours went by so quickly and then there were some days when I got a lot done in an hour. Time was different because time was unscheduled.
Nobody was claiming your time except for you.
Yeah, except for me. And that moment with my husband was me realizing that I had gotten to a place where I wasn't good at insisting on my own time or I was hesitant to take it, which was not the case at other points in my life.
I think the pandemic rewired a lot of things in us.
Yeah and I just felt like, I’m in service of other people, that's who I am now. And letting go of that was really important but also took some effort. And to go back to this idea that writing is life, I would go to a friend's cabin, I would house sit for somebody, I rented an Airbnb, I went to a hotel, I went to all kinds of different places. But there were days when I'd be at a cabin on water and I would write for two hours and then I'd go for swim. And then I would come back and have a snack and read and then I'd go back and write. But I could do all of those things because I could build in breaks.
Right, you weren't like, well, if I read now, then I lose my writing time. You didn't have to make those choices.
Yeah, so it was really necessary. I think I went away for a week once or twice but what I found was that I could get a lot done in three or four days. I also sometimes felt like- it sounds terrible, my husband already knows this, when I had those days away, while I was excited to see my family again, they never made me feel like I'm ready to go back, they made me want more. They always just made me want more. So I think sometimes there was a point where I was like, I don't need five days, I'm going to do it in three, because otherwise, I won't want to come back. I did another interview today where I was talking about that scene in The Lost Daughter when she's like, ‘how did it feel when you abandoned your kids for three years?’ I just love it so much when she just cries and goes, ‘it felt amazing.’
I know, I think that was the moment when every one of us was just like…yes.
I felt such a release. It was just visceral, you know? I do want to say that one other essential component of getting this book done was that from June to July, I was like, okay, I'm going to do that Jami Attenberg 1000 Words of Summer where you read an inspiring letter and then you write a thousand words. My process usually is that I line edit as I write and it can take me an hour to write a paragraph. And that's not really the best process necessarily, it's just what I've been doing. So I gave myself these two weeks where I was like, I'm just going to write, I need to produce fucking content, I need words. I can't revise an idea, no matter how good it is, in my brain. I can't revise it if I don't write it down. So I just decided, I'm going to sit down and write around an idea that I know I want to be in the book. And I did this during the summer at home and I would get up at 5:30 in the morning, which is roughly an hour before anyone in my house would get up. And I'm not a morning person but I did it because I thought, I didn’t know what my day- what's going to happen and if I do nothing else, I've given myself this time. Basically for June and early July, I got to this place where mostly what I was doing was just vomiting words onto the page. It was a lot of descriptive and narrative writing and I was like, I'll plug in the research later.
That’s definitely a gift that Jami's given the writing world.
Yeah, I had tens of thousands of words to play with, to cringe at, to react, to be like, oh, I think this is what I'm trying to do. And I think that you're right that it’s a gift she's given the world. I know you’ve interviewed Rachel Yoder but when Nightbitch came out, we did this event. There were four of us, it was Jessamine Chan and Chelsea Bieker and me, and I think it was Chelsea and Rachel and me who were all like, well, I did Jami Attenberg’s 1000 Words Summer.
I actually remember that event because I saw it and was like, oh, these are all people that I love, what a lineup.
It was a really fun conversation and it was a lot about like, how do we do this? Because that's the question for pretty much everyone who's a mother and who's trying to write because there's not enough time and there’s no value given to either of them.
Ah yes, the two most unappreciated and unremunerated jobs in the world. But yeah, I do think that just giving yourself permission to write words down is half the battle.
The other thing that I did was that I wasn't able to start it when it was happening so I set up a filter so Google would just put it into a folder and then I started when I wanted to start. When I wanted to keep going, some days I would read a random letter or one that I hadn't read. And then it got to a point where I didn't need the letter.
Yeah, I've actually done that too because it usually comes at a time when my kids are between school and camp or whatever. It just doesn't always line up with when I can commit the time to writing 1000 words a day. The book has a lot of writing about your family, your children and also your parents. I think everyone has different ideas about what's fair game in personal writing and it can be tricky to write nonfiction, especially personal essays, as a parent. Mothers are sometimes unfairly targeted for “oversharing.” How did you decide what to include?
On proposal I didn’t include a lot of stuff about my family origin story which ended up being a huge part of the book. When Julie, my editor, said, let's do a history of caregiving in America – how did we get to this point where we don't value this work that is done mainly by women of color? – I was like, sure, sure, I'm going to do that. And then I was paralyzed because I was like, I don't know how to tell a complex history like this. I would have to talk about slavery. I'm not sure that I'm the best person to tell that story and my writing hinges on personal experience not because it’s a memoir but because I think that personal narrative is an emotional access point. And one of the great surprises of writing is to realize, actually, the more specific you get, the more resonant it seems to be with people. And that's a thing I really had to confront also within my own internalized bias and internalized racism about like, oh, no one cares about Filipino families. Filipino nurses are 4% of nurses in the United States and they are 34% of nursing deaths related to COVID. And there was just something in that statistic that was so devastating to me, that showed me really clearly – and my mom is a nurse – that these lives matter less. And they're doing professional work but it's care work. So there was something in that that just sparked in me, I can tell the story of caregiving and that's the reason why my family is American, why we're Filipino-American. That was the keys to the castle and everything sort of opened up for me. That's how I tell the history. My family were not enslaved people but it's the same social forces that caused us to be in this position and that are the reasons why we devalue care work and why we ask it to be done by women of color.
And so how did you approach it with your parents?
I was really upfront with my parents. I interviewed them, I had a lot of questions about their immigration experience. I fact checked a lot of things through them. And I never wanted to speak for their emotions unless they said to me, we felt this way. I was kind of figuring it out as I went along and asking myself, does this advance the story? Does this do anything? And if it doesn't do anything and it's just there or maybe it’s just tied to a feeling I had when I was 12 about my dad, that can come out too. But when I had the finished manuscript, I thought about it and felt I've done the best I can do with what I think is curiosity, generosity, and love. And I feel really solid in those intentions and so I submitted the manuscript and I didn't show it to them until I had a galley. And I didn't say this, but in my mind the boundary was, I'm not asking for your permission. This is my story, it's a lot of things that I can't say, it's what I could only write. It is really me just desperately trying to connect with you more than anything else.
So many of those parts are so beautiful. This is a very writer thing to say to non-writer parents, but people need this, to see like their own experiences or some version of their own experiences reflected back.
My mom did say, in the end, this is your story and I'm not going to tell you what you can and cannot write. Also, though, she was horrified by the chapter on pleasure and sex and she was like, what is the point of this? Did you ask Will’s permission? What will your daughters think of this? And that's when I felt the most shaky in terms of, I can be clear on my like artistic vision, but when I'm looking in at my mother's face and she's crying, it's really hard to say- and I was like, well, look like we're all here because of sex. And I want them to know how their bodies work and I want them to have a more pleasurable sex life than I have in my life. And probably than you have, sorry.
I would also give her a ton of credit for saying this is your story. Our stories always overlap with other people's and that's where it gets sticky but I think so much of your book is about the power of talking about the things that we feel we can't talk about and we're all the worse for not talking about them.
We don't talk about so many things that are really foundational to our life. And it felt risky to write about sex, to write about pleasure. I definitely thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to do that. I had doubts, you know, even when I turned in the manuscript. But I feel more solid in it based on people's reactions and what I've heard. Most people who are mothers, it's the result of sex but we don't really talk about mothers as sexual people or our identities as sexual people or how they are in flux. When it came down to it, I was like, I think I have to.
And how do you navigate writing about your kids? Did you think about, you know, they’re going to read this and how will this make them feel?
I've thought about that a lot, especially since I've now written two books about motherhood. I thought about it with the first book. I think I was a little more cavalier because I was like, oh, she's just a baby. My oldest was three when that book came out and my little was a couple of months. I'm much more thoughtful about it.
It’s easier to pretend like they belong to you then, you know what I mean?
Yeah, that's the thing. Even though I was writing, “they don't belong to me,” I was like, well, they belong to me.
It’s similar to social media, right? When I post a picture of my baby, I think, she's not even going to look like this in a year. But then my 10-year-old looks over my shoulder after I take a picture and asks, are you gonna post that? And I'm like, oh right, you're a person and I need to ask your permission.
I had a marketing meeting about promoting this book and they were like, so are you willing to make your Instagram public? And I was like, yeah, I was kind of anticipating it. I don't keep it private for any huge reason other than I like this moment of being like, you're a human, I'm a human. I have to look at your account and then we have like some kind of an interaction. But I went through and archived a lot of photos and made some decisions about sharing their faces, especially because my older daughter who is seven now is like, ‘I like attention, but I don't like people looking at me.’ When someone tells you who they are, I have to listen to her. And so I'm much more aware of that. In terms of writing about them, the way I feel about it is this: I'm their parent and I'm going make a lot of mistakes but I know that I have their best interests at heart. I'm balancing my work, my creativity. I'm balancing what I think is something that's of service to other people and I think that I'm equipped to make responsible decisions for them. They are completely entitled to think differently and I imagine they may at certain points in their life.
They’re going to write a book about it.
Yeah, they’re going to have feelings at some point about this and we're going to talk about them. I don't know how it's all going to turn out but I do feel unafraid to talk to them about it and I feel capable of explaining my choices and I feel capable of taking their criticisms and their thoughts on it. And I feel like this is a relationship we're going to be having for years and we'll deal with it as it comes.
I want to talk about the actual guts of the book. I saw this Kate Baer poem the other day. It was called “Burnout” and she writes “I did not, will not, could not know what it is to be a good mother / when mother is already heavy enough.” And it got me thinking because I was prepping for this interview and I guess I personally feel torn between feeling like motherhood is the most significant thing I do and that I'll ever do in my life and also feeling like that’s a trap of some sort. Do you know what I mean?
I think that there is a certain freedom that I feel because this idea of a good mother or a good woman, a good girl, I've just never felt that was an attainable thing for me. There's a freedom in being an outsider. There's a lot of other shit that comes with it but there's a certain freedom that I have always felt in being othered or being a marginalized person. My first book is about: can we remove morality from motherhood? That's been a thing of mine for a few years. The whole concept of a “good mother,” I know there's a lot of dialogue around it and it doesn't feel that relevant to me. I feel the weight of the responsibility. I also feel it is not solely my responsibility. I believe that it is a community and a social responsibility so it is as much my spouse's work to figure this shit out and raise whole and healthy humans. It is in part a preschool teacher's job. It is my parents' job. It is my niece and nephew’s job. I just never feel like it comes down to me entirely, you know? I feel the pressure of it and the weight of it for sure but what I remind my myself is that we're not meant to do this alone. And so this expectation of what a mother is and what a good mother is, which I fully reject already, just doesn't seem to me like a useful tool in any way or any kind of useful image or metric or measure.
So how do you parse the gender of it all? Is mothering a verb?
It's very imperfect, this whole thing, but I think that we need to be engaged in a conversation around this. I got a question the other week where someone was like, ‘why not fathering or parenting?’ And I was like, why not fathering? Like, LOL, we’re not talking about fathering. We're just not evolved- we're not there. To me, mothering is more inclusive of non-parents because mothering is an action that I think people can wrap their minds around. But I don’t know exactly.
I'm really interested in this because the tagline of the book is mothering is social change, mothering is a big part of it. But then at various points throughout and certainly at the end, you talk about the duty of care and you widen the lens to include the community. Care is meant to be a communal thing, everybody is better off when we take that pressure off of the actual mothers.
And we should be doing it with robust governmental support. Other countries have figured out how to do this. That’s not radical.
It should be built into the system for sure. But if we're talking about it as a verb and it's standing in for a certain type of care work then is it essentially different from fatherhood? Is that a distinction that we've been socialized into? And I think we talked about this last time we spoke, how I was always like ‘equal partnership, we’re going to do the same things.’ And then I actually had the baby and realized that my physical, biochemical journey was completely different from my husband's and that was going to have actual repercussions in the whole thing. My husband is a phenomenal father and he gives them things that I do not and cannot and would not want to but in my heart I sometimes believe that mothering is essentially different and I don't know if that's bad or wrong.
What I really like about this is that this territory that we're in feels uncertain to me. And I think these are the conversations that I want to be having because I think there's room for all of it. I like mothering because fathers can mother, you know what I mean? And mothering does not discount motherhood, which is a huge part of people's identity.
What is mothering and what is motherhood?
To me, motherhood is like, I am the mother of this child, however I arrived at it. And then mothering to me is an expansive verb. And I'm not the first person to think about this. Dani McClain talks about this; Alexis Pauline Gumbs and China Martens and Mai’a Williams in Revolutionary Mothering talk about using it as a verb, which can then be expanded to include people who are not mothers. The work of raising humans, which is what a babysitter does, what a nanny does, that's mothering and it's care. And in terms of that biological stuff that you are talking about, that's very real and I feel a lot of that but I don't feel threatened, I don't feel like it takes that away. What I feel when you say that is that I understand and I think that you can have that and that can be a special thing to you that's part of your motherhood. But I want more people in society involved in mothering.
For sure. And I think a lot of the way we're talking about motherhood right now, in terms of that physical biochemical stuff, is very much concentrated in the beginning of life. I have a certain relationship to the babies that my husband does not have and then it becomes a totally different thing where we both care for them in different ways based on our skills and limitations. To use your terms, it becomes more about mothering in our own separate ways.
Yes and it relies on more people. The prominence of the mother in the dyad, it’s overwhelming and it’s unfuckwithable and it’s very real. And so I think that is hugely formative and it's very important and very intense but it's brief,
Very brief, yeah.
My oldest is seven and I have been watching her for the last year, not without some amount of heartache, walk away from me. She is very much her father's daughter. She loves to do the things that he does and I don't feel threatened by it but she said to me the other week, ‘lately I've really been needing daddy love.’ And I was like, ‘I know I've noticed that, you know, but that doesn't mean you don't need mommy love.’ And she goes, ‘no, just these last weeks I've needed daddy love but sometimes I need mommy love.’ And I was like, ‘well, let me tell you something, you don't have to choose.’ She was aware of it, you know what I mean?
But is that mothering? Is the daddy love mothering?
Yes, I think so. And then she likes to go to her best friend's house and play with them and help with the chickens with Becca, who's her best friend's mother. And Becca 100% is mothering my child. And many people have mothered her throughout her life. I think that it's not specific to mothers but I feel like it honors the role of mother and it also honors the role of mothers in society.
It turns it into a privilege that more people can access.
Yeah, and that everyone should have an experience with. How do we encourage people to lean into the auntie role, you know what I mean? How could we incentivize care of young people and not feel like we hide the children away? That's one thing I notice, when I travel into other countries, they're way more set up for having children. Someone will bring out a beautiful hand carved highchair for your child in the tiniest of restaurants. They're more accepted and everyone has a small hand in mothering.
You write that “mothering is skilled labor because it cultivates this bodily knowledge that informs how we show up in the world throughout our lives,” and, I mean, that's just everything. Do you think it's possible for us to get to a place where it's acknowledged as the skilled labor that it is and treated accordingly?
I wouldn't have written this book if I didn't think it was possible. Do I think it will be easy? No. Do I think it might take a long time? Yeah, probably but I think we have to in order to have a humane society. We have people who are continuing to talk about this, like domestic labor organizers. We had the advanced child tax credit. The pandemic has really shown us that care work is unavoidable. So I think we are more primed than ever to continue having this conversation. I don't think it's one solution, we really need a lot of different levels and I'm just working on the level that I am capable of working on. I definitely need some government officials here. So much of it is private and personal and so it’s not something that’s easy to explain to people. I think the other hard thing about it is that bodily, specific knowledge is fleeting. When you are securely attached, when you can form secure attachments, it just means you get to roll through life in a way that feels a little bit less challenging. And when you don’t have secure attachment, it manifests in this way but we don't connect those things to mothering and care. But I do feel hopeful and I've seen in the pandemic- the most human thing that I have seen is people want to take care of each other. And I can't afford to not be hopeful about it because what's the alternative? And there are many people who have been living under harder circumstances than I have for a long time who remain hopeful and who continue doing work. And so as long as they're here, I'm here doing it too.
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