Stephanie Land doesn’t eat peanut butter anymore. That’s because she basically lived off the stuff at a time when she worked as a maid for $9 an hour, while also balancing duties as a single parent and taking online college classes.
Fast-forward a decade, and she’s the author of The New York Times bestseller, “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive.” By every definition, she’s a success story. But that’s not what she’s here to talk about.
She’s here to shed light on the struggles of the working class. To tell the story of single mothers everywhere fighting for government assistance just so they can go to work at thankless jobs for minimum wage. Hers is just one example of the 6.67 million families in America who receive some sort of government assistance — and the story isn’t rosy.
“Maid” starts with Land’s 9-month-old daughter, Mia, learning to walk in a homeless shelter. The two had just escaped the abuse brought on by Mia’s father, and without any other family to lean on, they embark on 268-pages worth of what can only be described as a struggle to survive on their own. Several moves, dirty houses cleaned, doctor’s office visits and, yes, countless peanut butter sandwiches later, Land is able to take her daughter to Missoula, Mont., to fulfill her dream of earning an English degree at the University of Montana.
Mia, now 11.5, has a sister, Coraline, who’s 4.5 (yes, the halves matter), and Land is still essentially raising them on her own. We had the chance to speak with Land, rather fittingly, on International Women’s Day about her book, her daughters and the very relatable story of a mother’s will to fight for her family.