By Jessica Easthope
Mornings come fast and seem to last long. For the last year, Brooke DiMeo has been working two jobs: one she doesn’t get paid for, it’s just expected.
“More like Groundhog Day,” Brooke said. “Chaotic but the same, you know, the same chaos: school work, work-work, housework, feeding the kids, entertaining the kids making sure I’m doing enough for the kids, doing enough for my job being as productive as I was prior.”
By 7:30 a.m. Brooke’s getting her kids, six-year-old Grace and four-year-old Tommy fed and ready for the day. But it’s not always smooth – it takes a lot of compromise, like allowing Tommy to watch his current favorite movie and helping Grace to put a little shimmer on her eyes.
Some days Brooke’s slippers get changed to sneakers because Grace and Tommy go to school in-person. But the second Brooke is back home and turns the key in the door -she clocks-in as an account executive at Hanes and only has a few hours to work in peace.
But on the days the kids are home, Brooke is forced to make yet another compromise.
“I’ve cried many times, like sitting at my desk because I have a project,” she said. “I have a deadline but my kids need the school work done. Tommy’s screaming over something and I mean I definitely feel like I’ve been set back a bit in my career.”
According to the Census Bureau, one-in-five working-age adults are unemployed because the pandemic has upended their childcare. Women are three times more likely than men to stay home with the kids. Whereas 9.8 million working American mothers are suffering from burnout, they’re 28 percent more likely to experience it than fathers.
“You’re never able to give 100 percent to one thing because you’re doing, you know, two, three, four things at once,” said Brooke, whose husband Mike works as an elevator mechanic in Manhattan. “So it’s kind of depleting and it’s upsetting. You always feel like you’re failing.”
Along with longer grocery lists, higher bills and shorter days, Brooke says the pandemic has shown just how undervalued mothers are and that their strength is only as strong as the support they’re given.
“When you equate how many hours they’re working as a mother – financial compensation would be nice from the government,” she said. “I don’t think they’ve really supported mothers the right way at all considering how much they’ve taken on during the pandemic.”
But Brooke says she can’t help but count her blessings and that her faith is part of what keeps her powering forward.
“I need that Sunday at church to just like, I don’t know, have a second to reset for the week,” she said, “to be praying and to be a little more spiritual, in that sense, kind of just makes you feel better.”
Both jobs are tough and the pandemic has made them tougher. But for mothers – it’s all in a day’s work.