Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive

Main summary

I was using birth control but it didn’t work.

When Stephanie Land finds out she’s pregnant shortly after her 28th birthday, she finds herself in an all-too-familiar place. One where she has to make decisions that will drastically decide the direction of her life. Hers and, if she so wishes, that of her son.

Some of the decisions she makes are the following: having the child, telling the father, becoming a mother.

Putting her plans to attend a writing program in Missoula, Montana, a place she calls home, on hold, she attempts to start a family in a trailer with her increasingly abusive boyfriend. When his abuse becomes clear, when he punches a hole in the plexiglass window of the door, which means she can call the police with a kind of proof, something to point to and say, “See that? He did it to us.” that,” she does. She leaves him and begins her time as a single mother.

I admit I’m impressed that she knows it’s right to walk away. I haven’t always been so aware. Others, however, may not have been impressed by the time it takes to get out. Others, still, would judge her for leaving in the face of such “little” abuse. The point is relevant to this book where a recurring element is the ease with which we judge each other and ourselves.

Stephanie doesn’t have much support from her family. Her mother is unapproachable, lives in Europe and is not interested in making changes, and her father, who lives with his second wife and his children, is not willing to be bothered for too long by his eldest daughter and her granddaughter.

So Stephanie works. She works to find work-landscaper and as a housekeeper-she works to get assistance for childcare, food, housing and utility payments. She works to negotiate a path to a better life for her daughter, offering to clean bathrooms and houses for sparkly dresses, healthier homes, and safer daycares. She works to quell the shame she feels for being a single mother, for being poor, for not being better to do better. She works to try to keep her daughter safe from black mold and an abusive father.

Article continues below image.

Cover image of the MAID book.


Everything she does is motivated by motherhood.

The difficulties of getting help from the system, while working hard for very little money as a landscaper or maid (tidying up for others) are well described in this memoir. So clear and balanced. She’s not too bitter, she’s not too grateful, actually she’s not too much. She simply invites us to join her in a life of hard work, poverty, navigation between grants and services, parental fears and primal needs, impossible choices and urgent decisions. Bringing ourselves along with it we tend to feel bitterness, helplessness, and sometimes appreciation, but only because they are appropriate.

Being a single parent and having to share every other weekend with someone abusive is an impossible kind of exhaustion. Watching your little darling deal with tantrums related to a hard-to-understand life, feelings bigger than their bodies, homes with hidden health hazards, minimally healthy foods, and constant illnesses because of it all. It depletes your physical, emotional and financial health; They often prevent you from enjoying the gift of dreaming, which in itself can take too much emotional toll.

But Stephanie describes well the moments that reinvigorate and reinvigorate parents; the moments of her with her child(ren) that infect every ounce of her body and vision of her with a love that is special in large part because of urgent responsibilities.

I have met a variety of single parents. I have been one myself. My mother, however, is the only one I know who had a similar lack of support from any family.

And while my mom found different ways to solve the same challenges that Stephanie faced, she faced the same type of discrimination regarding her creative solutions to feeding and housing all eight of us children, as well as simply being a single mother.

An aside: Stephanie Land experienced poverty and single motherhood in the United States, my mom did so in both Canada and the United States.

For many of the reasons Stephanie shares in her book about paperwork, the constant trial of her poverty, waiting all day for meetings that could simply end in more requests to get paperwork together, all while working and trying to get a job. best job. to do better while losing the necessary benefits when you finally do a little better, you were never able to advance even a little bit to be adequately ahead, for many of these reasons my mother avoided the help of systems. This meant trying to find (and invent) other creative means to make enough money. (My mom painted houses, joined a bartering group, did comedy shows that included us kids at fairs and similar events, acted as characters at birthday parties, and a variety of other interesting jobs that might appeal to us or make us us, the older girls, babysat). younger children.) She also did paperwork for some government and non-profit organizations. She received help from a battered women’s shelter, various disability groups, food banks, kind people she met with a desire to do good and some disposable income, and one wonderful Christmas, a truckload of gifts from Canadian Tire.

The point is, I recognized the exhaustion and hard work of trying to raise a child, or children, on my own while constantly bombarded with additional layers of unnoticed obstacles; the dirty looks and mean comments at grocery store counters when using WIC stamps or coupons, the inability to host proper playdates or bring food to school functions, the inability to seek medical care for yourself when you win a little too much to qualify and overcome the pain and illness, the judgments of everyone when your child has an outburst in public, the constant worry that you are doing everything wrong while you work so hard to do it right.

Something every reader can learn from this true story of a woman’s hard work, low wages, and love for her child is the way our judgments hinder and harm us. The ways they most often get it wrong.

I was using birth control but it didn’t work. She had been responsible. She had taken the necessary measures. She did “the right thing” for a girl who doesn’t plan on starting a family. She had been careful and responsible.

And throughout the entire story he shares with us, the readers, he remains impressively so.

Maid It is an excellent read. For moms, for social workers, for people who wonder about abuse, for people who want to better understand poverty, their own or that of others.

Maid takes us into a variety of homes to tidy up while encouraging us to pay attention, wonder, and imagine other lives, without being overly critical of the mess.

Book: Maid: Hard work, low pay, and a mother’s will to survive
Genre: Memoirs
Author: Stephanie Land

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