Episode 142: Working Daughters: Your Career + Parent-care

I just remember taking her to one doctor, and one doctor’s appointment took five hours...So how do you do that and still balance your career or progress in your career?
— Maria Toropova
Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by monkeybusinessimages/iStock / Getty Images

The doctor that day asked me why I worked and didn’t quit to spend more time with my mother. It was a brutal day.
— Liz O'Donnell
I have to believe there was a meaning for my music, for my soul...that me going through that experience was teaching me something about what it means to live.
— Kate Schutt

The issues surrounding work and motherhood are out in the open and being talked about. Less so the issues around working daughters. And a lot of us are turning into working daughters. In the US, the average family caregiver is a middle-aged woman who often has a family of her own and holds down a job. But as this show reveals, it’s not just women in their forties and older who are trying to maintain careers and livelihoods while caring for at least one parent.

Maria Toropova was just 29 when her mother got sick last year, and both their lives changed utterly. Now she’s the sole wage earner and caregiver to her 65-year-old mother. Kate Schutt found her musical career hard to keep up while caring for her mother in the last years of her life. And Liz O’Donnell founded Working Daughter to bring more attention to the work/eldercare clash and provide support to the women doing this work.

You can also read a transcript of the show.

Further reading: Here’s Liz O’Donnell’s piece in the Atlantic on working daughters and how invisible the issues can be.

Liz is also the author of the upcoming book, Working Daughter - a Guide to Caring for Your Aging Parents While Making a Living.

Kate Schutt made this TED talk last year about how to help your friends and family through a loss.