The excerpt below comes from The Feminist Utopia Project, an anthology of essays and art that imagines what a feminist world could look like, featuring contributions by Melissa Harris-Perry and Sheila Heti. Writer Gloria Malone lays out a fictional schedule for a young parent, with a simplicity that makes a radically better world seem truly possible. Schools could, tomorrow, start supporting parenting students by instituting a few simple policy changes. But Gloria’s piece also highlights how far the reality on the ground is from that vision. Like the anthology at large, the piece is heartbreaking and hopeful.
6:00 a.m. Sophia wakes up, eats breakfast, pumps breast milk for the day, takes a shower, and wakes up the baby.
6:30 a.m. She changes the baby’s diaper, feeds the baby, plays with her for a little bit, then Sophia’s father takes the baby so Sophia can double-check her backpack and her daughter’s diaper bag.
6:55 a.m. There’s a quick emergency diaper change before putting the car seat in Sophia’s car, loading the diaper bag and her backpack into the car, and leaving for the childcare center.
7:00 a.m. Before pulling out of the driveway, Sophia looks down at the gas gauge on her car. She sends her mother a thank-you text message for topping off her gas tank without her asking or knowing. She no longer has to stop at the gas station during morning rush hour.
7:15 a.m. Sophia arrives at her friend Naomi’s house to pick Naomi and her son up so they can ride to school together.
7:45 a.m. Sophia, Naomi, and their children arrive at the high school’s on-campus childcare center. They unload the car, walk inside, and are greeted by the friendly staff of the facility.
“Hi!” the front desk clerk says when the girls walk in. Sophia’s daughter and Naomi’s son begin cooing and smiling when they hear the familiar voices of the friendly, knowledgeable, and loving staff that takes care of them while their mothers are at school.
7:50 a.m. The mothers walk into their children’s clean, bright, and safe day-care room where they spend the next ten minutes talking and breast-feeding their children, without being obligated to cover up, while the staff puts the morning’s freshly pumped breast milk into the center’s refrigerator.
8:00 a.m. Sophia and Naomi say goodbye to their children and walk over to their high school’s courtyard where they meet up with their other friends. The girls talk with their friends about life, annoying teachers, their plans for the weekend, and the latest episode of their favorite show.
8:15 a.m. Sophia goes to her first-period class, art history.
8:45 a.m. During class, Sophia feels her cell phone vibrate and checks her text messages. She opens the message from her daughter’s teacher to find a photo of her daughter playing with her friends at the childcare center and a message that reads, “Have a great day mommy I love you.”
9:15 a.m. Sophia meets with her Title IX coordinator who wants to check in to make sure all of her teachers and the staff and faculty of the school are being mindful of Sophia’s federal rights to continue her education as a parenting student. After the formalities, the two talk about Sophia’s daughter’s milestones, the wonderful on-site childcare facility, and whether Sophia will be going to the high school’s homecoming sporting events. Sophia replies that her parents have agreed to watch her daughter so she can go to the games with a few of her friends.
9:40 a.m. Sophia walks in a few minutes late to her second-period class. Her teacher gives her a little nod showing her not to worry that she was late.
11:20 a.m. Sophia’s class is dismissed. She makes her way over to the lactation room on campus that faculty, staff, and students alike use to breast-feed their children or pump their breast milk.
11:25 a.m. In the lactation room, Sophia and the other people inside start sharing tips on the best nipple balms, how to avoid nipple cracking, and how to modify their supply, and talk about the upcoming homecoming festivities.
Because Sophia ate her lunch in the lactation room, she decides to spend half her time in the lunchroom with her friends and the rest of the school’s allocated free hour to visit her daughter and drop off her new supply of breast milk.
12:05 p.m. After the baby falls asleep and Sophia has to stop herself from doing the same, she lays her daughter down in her crib, kisses her goodbye, and rushes across campus to her fourth-period class.
2:50 p.m. School is dismissed. Sophia walks with her friends for a bit. They ask her about the baby, and she responds that things are great.
3:00 p.m. Sophia arrives at the childcare center, where she is greeted by a smiling, happy baby and, to her surprise, her mother. “Thank you for topping off my gas tank,” she tells her mother. “You’re welcome, honey. I wanted to help you out a little bit.” Sophia breast-feeds her daughter before they get ready to leave.
She gets a text message from Naomi: “I have drama club after school today. My son’s dad will be picking him up so we don’t need a ride. Thanks.”
3:15 p.m. Sophia, her daughter, and her friend Jeffrey, a single teenage father who is one of Sophia’s friends, make their way over to the local bookstore for Read to Me story hour with their children.
4:00 p.m. Read to Me story hour starts. Sophia and her daughter and Jeffrey and his daughter sit on the designated bookstore rugs and listen to a very animated storytelling of The Cat in the Hat.
4:45 p.m. They leave the bookstore. Jeffrey and Sophia say goodbye to one another and go their separate ways to their homes.
5:00 p.m. Sophia and her daughter arrive at home. Sophia’s father has cooked dinner and takes care of the baby while Sophia eats.
5:10 p.m. Sophia finishes eating and then begins to read the chapters of one of her homework assignments while breast-feeding her daughter.
5:30 p.m. Sophia and her daughter play on the floor while Sophia sneaks in some more reading.
6:30 p.m. The baby starts getting a bit cranky and Sophia decides to start getting things ready for bath time.
7:00 p.m. The baby is washed, fed, and tucked into her crib.
7:30 p.m. Sophia’s daughter has fallen asleep and Sophia starts on her other homework assignments.
8:00 p.m. Sophia’s sister gets home and they get ready to watch their favorite show together.
9:40 p.m. Sophia finishes the rest of her homework after having to lull the baby back to sleep after she woke up crying.
11:30 p.m. Sophia falls asleep. As she falls asleep, she begins to reflect on her life. Although she is very tired and looks forward to the time when her daughter can sleep all through the night, she is happy, healthy, and grateful that she lives in a society that is helpful and uplifting of her and her family.
2:00 a.m. She wakes up to her daughter crying. She checks her diaper, feeds her, and the two fall back asleep.
6:00 a.m. Sophia wakes and gets ready for the day.
Images courtesy of the Feminist Utopia Project. You can learn more about the project, or purchase the Feminist Utopia Project book, at their website.
Gloria Malone is a writer and reproductive justice advocate. Her works exist at the intersections of race, socioeconomic class, and living a life free of respectability politics. You can find her on Twitter @GloriaMalone.