From the acclaimed author ofLike a Mothercomes a reflection on the state of caregiving in America, and an exploration of mothering as a means of social change.
The Covid-19 pandemic shed fresh light on a long-overlooked truth: mothering is among the only essential work humans do. In response to the increasing weight placed on mothers and caregiversand the lack of a social safety net to support themwriter AngelaGarbes found herself pondering a vitalquestion: How, under our current circumstances thatleaveus lonely, exhausted, and financially strained, might we demand more from American family life?
InEssential Labor,Garbes explores assumptions about care, work, and deservedness, offering a deeply personal and rigorously reported look at what mothering is, and can be. A first-generation Filipino-American, Garbes shares the perspective of her family’s complicated relationship to care work, placingmothering in a global contextthe invisible economic engine that has been historically demanded of women of color.
Garbes contends that while the labor of raising children is devalued in America, the act of mothering offers the radical potential to create a more equitable society.InEssential Labor,Garbes reframes the physically and mentally draining work of meetinga child’s bodily and emotional needsas opportunities to find meaning, to nurture a deepersense of self, pleasure, and belonging.
This is highly skilled labor, work that impacts society at its most foundational level.
Part galvanizing manifesto, part poignant narrative, Essential Labor is a beautifully rendered reflection on care that reminds us of the irrefutable power and beauty of mothering.