An American Mother’s Prayer

for a Future That Makes More Sense

I pray that one day my children will say things like:

“What? You went back to work when I was how old?! But…most babies don’t even sleep through the night by then… I bet you were exhausted. How did you do it?

“What? Wait a second…so…not only did you not get to stay off work until I was sleeping through the night…but you ALSO didn’t get a paycheck for the time you took off to be with me? I bet that was so stressful…Didn’t you have medical bills? I mean…when you have a baby, you have to stay in the hospital for a couple days…right? Wasn’t that expensive? And all of the other bills? How did you and Dad do it?

“What? Before you married Dad, you were a semester away from a BS and you were making $10 an hour? $10 AN HOUR?!? You’d been at that job for years…Why hadn’t you gotten a raise? That doesn’t make any sense, Mom. How did you even pay rent?…and…childcare?…and…groceries? …With no help from the government?! Why wouldn’t they help you?! You were raising me by yourself!…Wasn’t there some sort of program for a single, working mom? No? How did you do it?

“What? You paid $189 every week for me to go to preschool?! That’s almost $10,000 a year! That’s crazy! Wait…While you were making $10 an hour?! That’s half of your salary! What about the parents that couldn’t afford it? How did their kids get ready for kindergarten? Or how did those parents go to work?…Gosh, preschool was so expensive back then… I still don’t understand how you could afford it! How did you do it?

“What? You have $20,000 in debt because you went to SCHOOL?! THAT is ridiculous. WHY did you go? I mean…you were a teacher… It sounds like you could have made a lot more money doing something else…without a degree even. So…Why did you become a teacher? Why would anyone go to school to get a job just to have to pay for years and years and years for the fact that they went to school? It seems like college was a rip off back when you went to school. How did you do it?

“What? Hang on…Even after you had your degree…You brought home what? …Because $800 every month was taken out for health insurance? WHAT?! You had to pay THAT MUCH for us to be able to go to the doctor?! And then you had to pay again at the doctor’s office?! And then AGAIN for the prescription? How did you do it?

…I pray, pray, pray that my children can ask me these questions one day. I pray, pray, pray that the way things are today is not how they continue to be. I pray, pray, pray that my children and your children and our children’s children will look back to 2016 and know with every fiber of their souls that it was absolutely insane to work for the hourly wages or salaries we worked for…to pay what we had to pay for…and had next to nothing but debt

…and strained bodies and minds and spirits…
…and relationships that were stretched so thin…
….to show for our 40+ hour work week.

I’m not naive. And I’m not ungrateful. I am fully aware that we don’t have it “bad.” But it could still be a hell of a lot better…and I will continue to pray that one day it will be.