Yvette Brooks, Mom and Problem-Solver
Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who give back to our community while also raising their children. Research shows that even in families where both spouses are involved, women face more obstacles while attempting to juggle parenting and work. We love to celebrate you, moms!
Before the start of the pandemic, Yvette Lopez Brooks “had it all.” Not only was she married and mom of a kindergartener, but she worked for the County Office of Education, had successfully run for Capitola City Council, and was starting her term as Mayor.
Suddenly adding teacher and full-time caregiver to her list of duties during the lockdown was a shock to the system.
“I don’t know that I’ve recovered because I’m still in the middle of survival mode!” Yvette exclaims two years into the pandemic. She describes her husband, an installer for AT&T, as an “amazing dad” who is deeply involved in family life, but as an essential worker, he was out trying to bring internet access to families while Yvette did the heavy lifting of homeschooling.
Chatting with other moms is what saved Yvette’s family and ultimately led her to change her life. Women in her neighborhood realized that they couldn’t do it alone, so they formed a cohort. Moms would trade childcare duties, opening up time for work. Yvette was still responsible for her daughter’s schooling, but she could focus on her job enough to successfully transition to working at home.
When the COE decided to bring everyone back to the office, however, Yvette had to make a choice.
“You’ve heard of The Great Resignation?” she asks. With the unreliability of school as childcare, she’d come to realize that her life was leading her away from the job that she’d had since graduation from UCSC, and the people she thought of as “family.” She left the COE, but didn’t go far. As the new Executive Director of Your Future Is Our Business, she is still deeply involved in nurturing public education in Santa Cruz County. (See our January article on YFIOB online at GrowingUpSC.com!)
“[The change] offered that sense of breath and ease because I could manage my own time and focus on my kid, my safety, my family,” Yvette explains. “It continues to be a very nerve-wracking time for so many people.”
It’s those other people that Yvette wants to speak to in her role in local government. “We often forget how lucky we are, we have this sense of entitlement. We forget that our Covid numbers were low because we could be outside and not surrounded by thousands of people.”
She says this as a mom who saw firsthand how her daughter’s suffering—a loved, housed child with involved parents—became clear when she went back to school. “She was thriving in a whole different way that made me realize how important it was for children to be around other children. I’ve studied this, but seeing it in real life was a really sad realization of how this pandemic has negatively impacted our kids.”
She hopes that everyone will remember who to blame as the pandemic plays out. “It’s the pandemic’s fault—not the system’s fault, not the decisions the schools made or the teachers or parents or elected officials or government.”
She is heartened by the number of women winning seats in local government, supporting mom-friendly legislation. “Moms carry all of that weight, the laundry list of things to be done every single day.”
Yvette Brooks’s laundry list is long, but somehow, the clothes come out clean in the end.
Click here to listen to Suki’s podcast of this interview.