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MomsRising: When snow days mean lost meals, wages, work

Posted February 25, 2014 7:52 p.m. EST

Snow — lots of it — found me spending many quality time minutes with my family this month, enjoying the snow and snuggles from the safety of our heated home. That first day I spent the hours before the first flake fell cooking meals in preparation of power outages hoping to encourage nutrition from a source other than ice cream and a Costco-sized bag of Pirate’s Booty.

I reminded myself how grateful I was for my husband’s flexible workplace policies, even as I blocked the bursts of conference call speak echoing in the heating vents. All of us bundled up in improvised snow gear and enjoyed the day.

Then I found myself thinking about the children who, without the benefit of two guaranteed school meals, wouldn’t get enough to eat that day.

In the days that followed, I met my children’s cheered responses to “no school…again” with a sympathetic wince for the teachers and other school employees getting to decide between using scarce vacation time and taking an unpaid day. I thought about the daycare and preschool workers — always underpaid, largely staffed by women — and their loss of income, and how that loss was going to ripple across North Carolina’s families.

As I found new ways to keep two cooped up little boys just a little quieter during my husband’s calls, I considered the thousands of my neighbors whose loss of minimum wage work hours could very well mean the difference between having — or not having — adequate shelter, food, clothing. Their lives will continue to suffer long after 70 degree temperatures makes the snow into nothing more significant for me than accounting for the added make-up school days.

As I voluntarily dialed down the thermostat to a chilly 65 degrees, I considered the impact of increased heating and electric bills to the families that struggle to stay warm enough on non-snow-days.

I wondered about all of the parents who still had to go to work; whose jobs are such that they cannot be accomplished with remote office connections and teleconference lines. I remembered how it felt to work at a place that rewarded missed days with job termination — icy roads being of no consequence. Who cared for those children as their parents inched cars over frozen roads? How many children — by necessity, not neglect — care for themselves and/or siblings on non-school days due to a lack of affordable child care?

I wanted to describe to other moms how volunteering with MomsRising creates a feeling of deep personal satisfaction — and it does. But under that satisfaction, I couldn’t ignore the realities lurking in the shadows of my own family’s good fortune — funding education, food scarcity, fair wages, and affordable child care — all issues that have solutions if we write compassionate, common-sense legislation.

That’s why NC Momsrising marched at the Historic Thousands on Jones March with tens of thousands of others and why we continue to focus our efforts on those issues that affect ALL women, children, and families the most.

Stephanie Lormand is a Raleigh mom of two and a member. MomsRising members share posts monthly on Go Ask Mom.