"Willing to Do Anything for My Kids": Inventive Mothering, Diapers, and the Inequalities of Carework. By: Randles, Jennifer. American Sociological Review. Feb2021, Vol. 86 Issue 1, p35-59. 25p.

Prior research highlights how mothers across social classes express similar beliefs that good parenting adheres to the tenets of intensive mothering by being child-centered, time-consuming, and self-sacrificing. Yet intensive mothering ideologies emphasize parenting tactics that assume children’s basic needs are met, while ignoring how mothers in poverty devise distinctive childrearing strategies and logics to perform carework demanded by deprivation, discrimination, and a meager social safety net. I theorize inventive mothering that instead highlights the complexity and agency of poor mothers’ innovative efforts to ensure children’s access to resources, protect children from the harms of poverty and racism, and present themselves as fit parents in the context of intersecting gender, class, and race stigma. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 70 mothers who experienced diaper need, I conceptualize diaper work as a case of inventive mothering that involves extensive physical, cognitive, and emotional labor. These findings show how focusing on childrearing practices experienced as “intense” from the point of view of more affluent, white mothers perpetuates inequalities by obscuring the complex labor poor mothers, especially poor mothers of color, perform when there is limited public support for fundamental aspects of childcare.