U.S. women's national soccer team player Jessica McDonald may have won a world championship — but she told Into the Gloss that she's still trying to find a balance between her career and motherhood.
McDonald has been a parent for most of her career in the NSWL, having only played one season before her son Jeremiah, now 7, was born. One huge struggle: Funding child care.
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"I'm the only mom on the national team," she said, during an interview where she talked about her hair and makeup routines. "And then amongst the National Women's Soccer League [NWSL], there are seven of us. It's so hard, oh my God.
"The best way I can describe it is that it takes a lot of mental toughness," she said. "Trying to figure out a routine is probably the hardest thing, and because I got traded a lot, I had to find new babysitters and child care all the time. Child care in particular was very difficult, because it’s expensive and we don't get paid much. If I put (my son) in a daycare, that's my entire paycheck, you know?"
According to CNBC, child care can be a drain on a family's finances. A 2018 survey from Care.com showed that child care costs had jumped for the fifth year in a row, and found that most families spent about 20 percent of their income on child care — even though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that child care should only account for ten percent or less of a family's budget.
McDonald's comments touch on one of the more controversial elements of the women's team — whether they should be paid as much as the U.S. men's team. According to NPR, the league's minimum player salary is $16,538; the maximum is $46,200. The New York Times reports that each player will receive around $250,000 for playing in and winning the World Cup tournament. Endorsements for players who receive them will raise that number.
Earlier in the year, the team filed a federal lawsuit that accused the U.S. Soccer Federation of engaging in "institutionalized gender discrimination," which was reflected in the pay gap between the two teams. After the women's team took home the championship in a 2-0 victory against the Netherlands on Sunday, July 7, the surrounding crowd began to chant "Equal pay."
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McDonald said that the win had "overwhelmed (her) with joy," for both herself and her son.
"This was my dream, and so for my dream to actually come true... and for my kid to be able to witness that?" she said. "He's seven, so he's at an age where he's going to remember this. And we're going to the ESPYs tomorrow — my 7-year-old is my plus one! What 7-year-old can be like, ‘yeah, I went to the World Cup final, I got to hold the FIFA World Cup trophy, I know Alex Morgan.’"
At the ESPYs, the two posed on the red carpet for an image that McDonald shared on Instagram.
Jeremiah has been by his mom's side for much of the tournament. When he first joined her in France, she tweeted an adorable video of their reunion.
After the team's win against the Netherlands, Jeremiah hefted the team's trophy on the field as confetti fell.
"The most important thing to me right now is that he witnesses it all," said McDonald. "I want that to inspire him. I want him to know what hard work is going to get him."