Op-Ed: More working moms would reset Senate priorities

Two years ago, I became a mother. It’s been one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve ever had, but it’s also one of the hardest.

Moms are unsung heroes. We care for our children, our significant others and sometimes our own, aging parents. We keep the trains of our households running while ensuring our families are safe, healthy and supported emotionally.

Then came COVID, and our to-do lists grew unexpectedly, as we’ve become nurses, teachers and the IT “help desk” in our “spare” time.

And that’s under the best of circumstances.

It’s no secret to us that our country isn’t set up to support moms. U.S. policies have failed to keep up as families have evolved, from maternal health care to paid family leave. Women still are the default caregivers for our little ones and for our aging parents.

Fifty-four percent of Wisconsinites live in a child care desert, full-time daycare can cost as much as college tuition, and our country is the only industrialized nation without paid family leave. To make things worse, Congress let the expanded child tax credit — a game changer for thousands of Wisconsin families — expire last December. Families across Wisconsin have had to grapple with tough decisions: give up a job and a source of income to stay at home with our kids, or get another job to offset astronomically high child care costs.

Washington simply has not done enough to help moms and working families. Why? Maybe because 76% of U.S. senators are men. That’s why we need more moms’ unique perspectives and voices at the U.S. Senate table. Making child care and elder care more affordable has gotten pushed aside to give tax cuts to corporations and the ultra-wealthy. In fact, we have a senator who effectively told Wisconsin parents that they’re on their own and can expect no help from him with their child care struggles. But a tax cut for himself and his biggest donors is no problem.

We can’t afford to let Washington keep ignoring the very real problems that working families are grappling with. We need more moms in Congress who will prioritize these issues with the urgency and empathy they deserve.

As the only mom in this Senate race, this fight is personal to me. This Mother’s Day, the best way I know to honor all the women taking care of their children and aging family members is to fight for policies you have long been calling for — from investing in maternal health, to affordable, quality child care and elder care, to finally establishing paid family leave. I will make sure we have a voice in the Senate.

Sarah Godlewski is Wisconsin’s treasurer and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

Read the full guest column here.