MAID, Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will To Survive is the true story about Stephanie Land’s struggle to make ends meet as a single mom. Stephanie works as a maid, cleaning homes to earn a living while she balanced bills, housing, food and higher education.
“Due to my self-employment, I had to report my income every few months. Earning $50 extra could make my co-pay at day care go up by the same amount. Sometimes it meant losing my childcare grant altogether. There was no incentive or opportunity to save money. The system kept me locked down, scraping the bottom of the barrel, without a plan to climb out of it.”
― Stephanie Land, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive
MAID is a book that has been on my mental “To Be Read” list since it was published in 2019. I am fascinated by personal stories of peoples jobs – it could just as easily have been called “Window Washer, Conductor, School Teacher, House Painter, Librarian, or Elephant Trainer“, and I would have been interested. I love reading about the inner workings of what someone does for a living.
MAID piqued my interest not only because of the job itself, but also Stephanie’s story. Prior to reading, I could imagine the struggle of being a single parent trying to work and take care of a young child, all the while trying to find assistance and jumping through the hoops to qualify as well as dealing with the stigma.
MAID had all of this and more. While listening to this book on audio (narrated well by the author), I found myself remembering why autobiographies/memoirs are hard to review.
They are personal.
“Single parenting isn’t just being the only one to take care of your kid. It’s not about being able to “tap out” for a break or tag team bath- and bedtime; those were the least of the difficulties I faced. I had a crushing amount of responsibility. I took out the trash. I brought in the groceries I had gone to the store to select and buy. I cooked. I cleaned. I changed out the toilet paper. I made the bed. I dusted. I checked the oil in the car. I drove Mia to the doctor, to her dad’s house. I drove her to ballet class if I could find one that offered scholarships and then drove her back home again. I watched every twirl, every jump, and every trip down the slide. It was me who pushed her on the swing, put her to sleep at night, kissed her when she fell. When I sat down, I worried. With the stress gnawing at my stomach, worrying. I worried that my paycheck might not cover bills that month. I worried about Christmas, still four months away. I worried that Mia’s cough might become a sinus infection that would keep her out of day care… . I worried that I would have to reschedule work or miss it altogether.”
Whether I agree or disagree with what the author writes, it is their personal story, thoughts, and feelings. I even had a few flash backs to a review I had written in 2009. I wondered while reading MAID what others thought of some of what was in this book regarding:
- Admitting she snooped in peoples drawers and personal spaces while cleaning their homes
- living in a rental that had black mold that made her daughter very sick
- Naming the homes she cleaned, the Clown House, the Sad House, the Porn House (not a typo)
- Receiving a tax refund and buying herself a diamond ring
- Not acknowledging the services she did receive – child support, food stamps, rental assistance, daycare allowances…
I am not here to rip this book apart by any means. Have I always made the best choices? Certainly not. Have I spent money on something that I should have used for a bill or for my home? You bet.
I am glad I listened to MAID and I can only imagine how hard it is for a single person with no family support to try to make ends meet and provide a stable home for their child. I refrained from reading any reviews on the book until I had finished so I could base my thoughts on my own experience. When I did read some of the reviews, I found many of them reflected my thoughts as well. The system is by no means perfect. I feel there was a way to tell this story on single parenthood and the struggles in a way that was…. well… in a different way.
I encourage you to read MAID for yourself and come up with your own thoughts on this book or audio. You can find a whole list of praises on the book here.