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Why COVID's got me crying in the shower

  • 06 August 2020
As a mother of two young children, I'm used to small people walking in when I'm in the bathroom. Today, after homeschooling Ms Five was mercifully over, my husband walked in as I was about to shower and asked how I was.

Fine, I told him. Just fine. Then he left and I cried. 

It's going to be easier to stop working. With the daycares closing, Mr Toddler will be home. I can't work, and cook, and clean, and keep the kids from insanity with just one hour out of the house a day. My husband needs to work, we both do. But he got there first. 

In terms of division of labour, we are a team. But the Stage Four lockdown announced by Daniel Andrews on Sunday shows how precarious it is for working mothers. When the going gets tough; our jobs outside the home are expendable.

Just how expendable is shown in the division of communication. Despite daily press conferences (and I salute Andrews’ public service), the effect of closing childcares wasn't addressed until yesterday. While the industry may seem smaller than the big players in the Victorian economy, such as hospitality and construction, the professionals that look after our babies make all jobs possible.

Once these centres close, it’s not clear how many will be able to continue to do our paid work. Unlike the first lockdown from March to April, there’s been no commitment from the Federal purse to cover fees. This means parents worry that they might be charged for childcare while doing it themselves, or that the lack of income to centres might mean the end of the childcare that makes many women’s jobs viable. 

'The next six weeks of stage four lockdown will test my imagination but not my love for this little boy, or his five-going-on-thirteen sister. But there is not a stimulus package for women’s careers knocked down by COVID-19, or an acknowledgment that we are being asked to do more with a lot less.'

So, I cry in the shower out of self-pity and exhaustion and frustration. Other women I know are crying in the supermarket, or while cycling furiously around the park, or late at night after the kids are asleep. In the domestic frontline of corona-fighting, you will always find a mother coming up with a new game, unveiling the new chalks bought for pavement painting, and working with her partner to entertain the kids now that there