Have you heard about the minimum wage increase in Flagstaff? If you haven’t then come on out from the rock you were under because it’s REAL. Small town political campaigns were staked on this issue. I’ve spoken with local single moms who are over the moon now that they can better care for their family with the extra money they will bring in. I’ve spoken with local small business owners who say they fear for their businesses because they aren’t sure they can cover the proposed increases and still turn a profit. Whatever side of the fence you are on, it is what it is, because it’s happening.
This minimum wage got me thinking about my wages as a stay at home mom. Where is my extra cushion for all my hard work? What workplace perks do I have? Like a lot of moms here in Flagstaff we were brought here as a “trailing spouse”, meaning our significant other secured a position here in Flagstaff, and because we love them, or because it just sounded fun, here we are.
What Flagstaff has in excess is beautiful views, what we lack is workplaces for all those “trailing spouses.”
So what is one to do? I personally have taken many a job that paid me way less than my worth just so that I wouldn’t have a gap in my employment. However, after becoming a mom I can no longer justify taking those low paying jobs, because, childcare. Also despite having had my child on every day-care wait-list around since she was a fetus she still has yet to secure a spot. So now that I am at home, with no way to go back to work full time (either for lack of jobs or lack of childcare). So where is my minimum wage bump? I didn’t choose this lifestyle on purpose, it was given to me.
Although I cherish the time with my baby and feel very lucky to spend her first year (maybe years?) by her side, where is my validation? I shared these feelings of hopelessness with other moms and they agreed. Flagstaff makes it particularly hard to be a working mom, and sometimes, even just a mom. I know I don’t have the answers, but I wanted to let you stay at home moms, who want to be working moms – I feel you. Maybe you want for more than becoming the next tier in someone’s pyramid scheme, or miss the days when you could drop your little off in daycare and sashay off to an adult job. Where once you could wear heels and clothes that need to be dry cleaned. I feel you, you are not alone.
As this tiny town starts to progress it is my hope that the situation will improve and we can all find the balance between Suzie homemaker in our pearls, and the boss lady in the power suit. So until then, make your own minimum wage, provide your own workplace perks. Make a babysitter part of your family budget so you can go take some photography classes. Demand as part of your “contract” that if you cook dinner then your husband does bath time. Take that part time job that doesn’t really make any money but makes you feel like a human. You matter, and you deserve all the things.