An Open Letter to Ivanka Trump

Dear Ivanka,

In your new White House role (I'm not quite sure what your role is called, but I think it might have to do with working moms), I thought I'd reach out to share a slice of life for my working family.  First, let me start by saying that this is not a hardship letter.  My husband and I are over-educated and have lived lives of middle class privilege.  We grew up with ample education, abundant food on the table, and love in our families.  Now, we are providing those things for our daughter.  

My husband works as a contractor at a biotech company managing their contracts.  On the side, he is working on his probate startup.  I quit my full time job about 8 months ago so that I could spend time with my dying father and relieve my mother a bit.  I went back to work recently, and I now work part-time/temporary as a Law Librarian in a large law firm.  On the side, I am an Adjunct Professor at a law school, a spin instructor, a volunteer at my daughter's school and a crisis counselor.

Neither my husband nor I receive benefits from our workplaces right now.  We buy the cheapest health plan we can and pay a lot out of pocket for every medical thing that needs to be checked or done.  

A typical day for us starts at about 6am.  We get our daughter ready for school and I walk her to the bus stop a block from our house - we arrive at the bus stop around 7:40am.  She is in school and then goes to 2 different after school programs on different days of the week.  I pick her up around 5:30pm, or she comes home with a carpool that I have meticulously set up.  Between 7:40am and 5:30pm(ish), my husband and I commute by unreliable and unhealthy public transportation to our various jobs.  We make it a priority to eat dinner as a family at 6pm.  After dinner, shower, bedtime routine, my husband and I are often back on our laptops plowing through work projects.

I hope I've given you a sense that our daily life is busy.  Now, let me give you a sense of an extra busy week.

Like I alluded to, my dad died about 5 months ago.  And, my husband's dad died 2 weeks ago.  So, We've been grieving and hosting shiva gatherings at our house (which I'm sure you understand being Jewish).  Today, my daughter is sick, so I stayed home with her this morning, and now I'm jury duty this afternoon.  Luckily, my mom was free this afternoon so she came over so I could go to jury duty.  Groceries are not being shopped for; dinner is not being made; there are clean laundry piles on our bed; and balloons are not being bought for her birthday which is in two days. 

A day has since passed since I started this letter to you.  I've been chosen for the jury.  I'm happy to serve.  I'm a proud American.  But, the little money a day that I am making as a juror is not my usual pay rate.  And, the mounting list of chores undone is somewhat staggering.  My husband had to drive carpool home today and I am not expecting a happy husband to come home tonight.  Tomorrow is our daughter's birthday.  I had to ask the judge in open court if court could start at 9:30am instead of 9am so I could attend her party at school.  

Again, this is not a hardship letter, but just a slice of our life.

Sincerely, a working mom in Berkeley, California


jennifer pesetsky