Journalist and activist Desiree Cooper discusses her role as primary caregiver for her household during the pandemic and what the U.S. should do to support families right now.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everybody’s lives, but parents and caregivers have had to adapt especially quickly amid virtual school and other rapidly changing circumstances. As primary caregiver to multiple family members, journalist Desiree Cooper says we need more formal systems of care and support in the United States.
“It’s been a pretty dark time for me. But it’s been a bright time for the kids. And I think that is typically what happens when you’re a caregiver. It’s like you see the difference you’re making in another person’s life.” — Desiree Cooper
Listen: Caring for family during the pandemic.
Desiree Cooper is a journalist, activist, and author. In addition to caring for her mother, she recently became the primary caregiver for her three grandchildren.
“It’s been a pretty dark time for me. But it’s been a bright time for the kids,” says Cooper. “And I think that is typically what happens when you’re a caregiver. It’s like you see the difference you’re making in another person’s life.”
Cooper says there’s a disparate expectation for women to bear the burden of caregiving, often pushing them out of the workforce. “I’m here to talk about re-realizing what young motherhood was like and how little it has changed over time and how it has been exacerbated by COVID.” Without universal childcare, she says public school has become the primary support for caregivers. “I used to say for years- and I would get so lambasted for saying this- that yes, schools are babysitters. That is not a pejorative. What I’m saying is that, in our society, schools are our childcare system.”