SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Theresa Alvarez-Jarrin is a pregnant mother of two. She is thrilled to welcome a third child into the world, but she is worried about the cost of childcare.
"You're looking at a monthly child care cost of about $2,600," Alvarez-Jarrin told her husband as they were discussing options. "Realistically, that's not a route we could go."
They spend the next few minutes crunching numbers, balancing budgets and trying to figure out how to make it all work.
They're far from the only family facing childcare challenges.
“I’m so blessed," she told Two Americas reporter Matt Pearl, "because I have a strong husband who is committed to his family, to his faith. In a lot of ways, I feel very privileged. I have cousins and very dear friends that parent on their own, that rely on just their own income. If we are struggling week-to-week, month-to-month, I can only imagine the amount of stress and struggle that’s very real for other people.”
During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, most American parents got a first-hand experience of balancing work and parenthood all in the same place. Parents worked from home and children transitioned to remote learning. While that is no longer the case for many, families like the Alvarez-Jarrins continue to face the child care crisis that hasn't gone away.
Too often, it hits mothers the hardest.
"Women have always had to sacrifice first," she said. "I still do that. When you're a mother and you have children, they eat first. Their basic needs are met first. I like to pretend that I practice self-care, but sometimes self-care is just getting my butt to bed and calling it a day."
The newly released 2022 State of Motherhood Survey, from mom-focused well-being destination Motherly, found that 44% of moms have seen their employment status change in the past year. When asked which best describes their mentality around combining a career and motherhood, 57% said they were frustrated or burned out.
"I did start my career," Alvarez-Jarrin recalled, "and I was off to a great start. I was a B-O-S-S. I was a boss, and I loved it. But with each child, with each pregnancy, I feel like I have had to take a pause on my own career endeavors."
Alvarez-Jarrin has two daughters, ages four and one. When she thinks about this struggle - the same struggle that consumes so many mothers - she ultimately thinks about them.
"I fear that they're gonna stop dreaming," she said, "because of the same challenges that I have had to pause my dreaming."
To see more of Theresa's story, as well as an in-depth look at being a mom today, check out our special report, Motherhood in America, at the video below: