Waffle House employee Tiffany Clark has been suspended for a week because a video of her went viral on TikTok. The video shows her holding a baby while working behind the counter at Waffle House. Many online criticized Clark for bringing an infant to work. But the real story is far more complicated.

Clark said that she had no choice but to bring the baby to work. And she claims that the video puts her in a bad light. She told TMZ that she never cooked food while holding the baby and she was only behind the counter with her for a brief second while prepping plates for the other waitresses.

Clark said that the child is her niece, 4-month old Octavia, and while working a night shift at the South Carolina Waffle House, Clark got a call from Octavia’s grandmother saying she needed to take the baby.

The baby’s mother was being hospitalized for mental illness and there was no one to take care of the infant. Octavia’s father (who was also Clark’s brother) recently died, and Octavia would have ended up with child protective services. Clark couldn’t let that happen. So, with an hour left on her shift, she grabbed her niece and made do.

The TikTok that captured her with the baby has since gotten over 3.5 million views. Some users are making fun of Clark for what she had to do, but others in the comment section are coming to her defense.

One user said, “So you telling me, she had to hold her baby at 25-30 pounds AND do her job and y’all have the audacity to shame her… she doing what she has to,” wrote @haleyhull129.

Others in the comment section talked about how any mother would do the same thing and how not everyone has the luxury of childcare.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic started, the world has seen a surge of childcare problems, which have prevented many mothers from returning to the workforce because they can’t afford a babysitter, nanny or daycare. The pandemic has caused what some are calling a “female recession.”

A lack of childcare has caused many working mothers to leave their jobs because many women make less money than their husbands do. Oxfam calculated that in 2020, women across the globe lost at least $800 billion in income.

The U.S. Census from January 2021 saw nearly 10 million mothers staying home with their school-age children instead of going back into the workforce. This is sadly a nearly 1.4 million increase from the previous year.

“Women are being disproportionately affected. They are more likely to decline job opportunities and promotions than men. They’re more likely to leave the workforce altogether than men,” Stephanie Keinath said. “And most of them who do (leave) report that child care is the primary reason. This is a situation that is untenable.”

Many women, like Tiffany Clark have had to juggle jobs and child care during the pandemic. The U.S. is seeing a lack of women in the workforce because they are leaving their jobs to be with their children. (Credit: Shutterstock.com)
Many women like Waffle House employee Tiffany Clark have had to juggle jobs and childcare during the pandemic. The United States is seeing a lack of women in the workforce because they are leaving their jobs to be with their children. (Credit: Shutterstock.com)

Many jobs are seeing a staff shortage because of this problem and in the United States, healthcare is one of the sectors that has been hit the hardest. With their unusual hours, many healthcare workers have stopped coming to work because of how difficult it is to find child care.

“We’re all consumers of health care. At some point in our lives, we’re going to be patients of healthcare. Imagine showing up to the emergency room at three o’clock in the morning and being told they can’t take you because they don’t have enough staff. This is actually happening. If we don’t fix this problem, it’s going to be a crisis for all of us,” said Danielle Folliet Munk, COO of Global Healthcare Services.

A lack of childcare also hurts the children. Daycare centers and other forms of childcare provide important early education opportunities for kids and help them prepare for kindergarten. Without childcare, many children fall behind their peers and be ill-equipped when they finally get to school.

Tiffany Clark is looking to get full custody of her niece so that she can better care for her.