My Aunt’s Double Duty

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KARLA MARTINEZ/Coachella Uninc

 

This summer, I spent several weeks as a “mother’s helper” to my aunt in Thousand Palms. This was a great opportunity to earn money for back-to-school clothes and supplies, but I also ended up with an up-close view of the around-the-clock responsibilities of working mothers. While I know most parents work hard for their families, I quickly saw firsthand that being a working mother is no easy task.

The way I see it, there are two types of mothers. The first is the “stay at-home” mother who doesn’t work outside the home. The stay at-home mother spends her entire day with the kids. The second is the mother who works outside the home and then comes home to her second job — cooking, cleaning and attending to the kids. While both are difficult and time-consuming, it becomes more complicated for the working mom, especially when there are multiple children in the home.

My aunt is a working mom. She works all day as a receptionist at a medical clinic. During her lunch break, she drives home in order to spend 20-30 minutes with her kids before returning to work to finish her day at the clinic. After work, she makes dinner with whatever energy she has left. I once offered to help her with dinner, but she said she prefers to do it on her own. She told me she is “contributing to the house.” When dinner was finished, I would clean the kitchen and tell my aunt to take a nap. I could see it in her eyes that she was tired.

But her day doesn’t end there. In order to spend more time with her kids, she would take them to the neighborhood park. After the kids were done playing, my aunt would give the kids a shower and put them to bed.

Her final job of the day is to fix her husband’s lunch for the next day.

I asked her how she got the energy to wake up every morning and complete her routine. My aunt told me her motivation came from wanting to give her kids a better life and showing them that she always has time for them.

However, I wondered why her husband didn’t contribute as much at home as she did. After all, my aunt works all day, just as my uncle does.

But my uncle says, “It’s the woman’s job to care for the kids.”

A man’s job in the Latin culture is to work during the day, and when they come home after work, to rest, in order to do the same the next day. My aunt told me women care for their children.

Despite the fact that my aunt enjoys having a family of her own, she told me that if she knew it was this hard, she would have waited until she finished her studies, instead of getting married and having a baby at age 17.

I often asked myself if my cousins appreciate everything their mother does for them. But I know, from the standpoint of my aunt, the sacrifices she makes daily for her kids are worthwhile. My aunt told me that all she wants is for her kids to know that they had a hard-working mother who did her best to give them the best life she possibly could.

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