From the acclaimed author of Like a Mother comes a reflection on
the state of caregiving in America, and an exploration of mothering
as a means of social change.
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 caregivers--and the lack
of a social safety net to support them--writer Angela Garbes found
herself pondering a vital question: How, under our current
circumstances that leave us lonely, exhausted, and financially
strained, might we demand more from American family life?
Essential 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, placing mothering in a global
context--the invisible economic engine that has been historically
demanded of women of color.
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. In Essential Labor, Garbes reframes
the physically and mentally draining work of meeting a child's bodily
and emotional needs as opportunities to find meaning, to nurture a
deeper sense of self, pleasure, and belonging. This is highly skilled
labor, work that impacts society at its most foundational level.
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.