© 2024 WYPR
WYPR 88.1 FM Baltimore WYPF 88.1 FM Frederick WYPO 106.9 FM Ocean City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

New Podcast 'The Double Shift' Explores What It Means To Be A Working Mom


You don't have to be a parent to appreciate how difficult it can be to juggle work and child care. It's an issue that comes up often in conversations about fairness and equality in the workplace and has recently become a hot topic in politics as well, with affordable child care being an important part of some 2020 Democratic candidates' campaign platforms.

But in all the back and forth over cost, access and regulation, the people experiencing day-to-day difficulties of parenting and being a mom can get lost. The new podcast "The Double Shift" from journalist Katherine Goldstein seeks to bring focus back on the ones on the frontlines of this issue - working moms. Katherine Goldstein joins me from WUNC in Durham, N.C., to talk about her podcast.

Thanks, Katherine, for joining us.

KATHERINE GOLDSTEIN: Thanks so much for having me.

COLEMAN: Katherine, I just have to ask for all the guardians, grandparents, fathers out there. We know that mothers are not the only ones caring for children. What was important to you? Why do you need to focus the podcast that you do on moms in particular?

GOLDSTEIN: So for the last few years, I've been researching and reporting on the experience of working motherhood in America. And I really feel like that experience and how it intersects with public policy and earning power and political power and sort of how we think about ourselves hasn't really been well covered. And the problems that mothers face in America are not personal.

A lot of mothers feel like failures, but really, it's America that's failing us. And there's huge systemic problems with how little mothers are supported. And I think telling people to get up earlier or just try harder isn't the solution. We need much, much bigger thinking. And that's why I'm hoping this show with reporting and storytelling is going to inject some brand-new ideas into the conversation.

COLEMAN: I want to talk a little bit about some of the people you've profiled so far. You've profiled a punk musician, Rabbi mother. You've talked to women working in a legal brothel, a mom running for a seat in her state's legislature. These women have very different lines of work and very different backgrounds and different support systems as well. The majority of working moms are not sex workers or touring rock 'n' rollers. How does a podcast episode about mothers who work in brothels change that conversation?

GOLDSTEIN: I really believe that mothers who have different life experiences can all learn from each other, even if someone doesn't have our exact life experience. Actually, some of the women who work in brothels - the challenges they face are very similar in some ways to many other mothers.

But I think, like, they face a lot of stigma for their work, and I think those questions of figuring out how to have a career that supports your family and allows you to be the kind of parent you want to be are universal questions. And it's not about sort of sensationalizing their experience. And also, the brothels actually think a lot about how to support working moms, which was really surprising to me. And I think that's a great challenge for all other kinds of workplaces to think about that, too.

COLEMAN: So in talking about universal questions, you also do an episode that brings one of these issues front and center, and that is the episode about Peace Garden in Las Vegas. And that's the 24-hour child care center near the Vegas strip. I'd like to play a little clip from your interview with one of the women who works there.


DIANA MORENO: Not being able to find late night care isn't a new problem.

GOLDSTEIN: Diana Moreno (ph) works at Peace Garden and says her own parents went through these same dilemmas when she was growing up.

MORENO: When my parents moved here from California, my parents ended up becoming restroom attendants. And after school, my mom didn't have anywhere to leave me, she really didn't. So I was either under the sink, and that's where I would be until her shift was over because I understood, you know, what my mom had to go through. And, you know, until she was done with her shift about 2, 3 in the morning, then, you know, go home and then boom, back to school - but it happens.

COLEMAN: You mentioned in your podcast that sometimes child care is conceived around the idea of families having banker's hours, and that's not true anymore of this workforce.

GOLDSTEIN: Unfortunately, most child care centers are still really set up around the idea that there are two parents in a family and they work 9-to-5. And that just isn't the reality of American families, and it isn't the reality of American workplaces. And so I am very excited that child care is becoming part of the political debate in 2020. But I think we also a lot of times really center very middle-class experiences with the difficulties of child care.

And so that's why I wanted to do this story about a 24-hour daycare that really caters to a group that I think has very little voice in the child care discussion - women, a lot of single mothers who work go to school all day and work overnight in a 24-hour city of Las Vegas. And they're casino workers. They're nurses. They're dancers. And I think, as we think about child care, those are voices we really need to be hearing.

COLEMAN: So far, your podcast has focused on stories of other moms, but you have an upcoming episode that's more self-reflective. It's an audio diary of your experience starting up the podcast and then realizing you were pregnant again. You have that moment on tape. Let's hear that.


GOLDSTEIN: Oh, God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. And, like, oh, God. It would be ridiculous for a podcast about being a working mother to somehow be jeopardized by having another baby. But, like, I've seen so much bad behavior in the world that God only knows.

COLEMAN: And, Katherine, what happened to you?

GOLDSTEIN: So as I was making this audio diary, these sort of unexpected life events took place. And I think that the episode really touches on a lot of feelings about pregnancy ambivalence and success and ambition and loss that I feel like a lot of women feel and experience but don't talk about a lot. And I went on to actually miscarry that pregnancy at 11 weeks. And the audio diary also reflects some very personal moments in my journey with that.

COLEMAN: Why was this meaningful for you to include?

GOLDSTEIN: I really feel like the reason I'm doing this show is because I believe mothers' experiences aren't taken seriously and that we need a much richer, more three-dimensional portrait of motherhood. And I just happened to sort of have that in my own hands about my own experience. And I feel like so many mothers are trusting me to tell their stories that I wanted to tell mine, too.

COLEMAN: That's Katherine Goldstein. Her podcast "The Double Shift" is in the middle of its first season right now. Katherine, thank you for talking with me.

GOLDSTEIN: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.