Nearly 11 million children under age five in the United States were in some sort of childcare arrangement in 2014, according to the Childcare In America report, which is compiled annually and used by policymakers and program administrators to make decisions about care programs and costs. These discussions about childcare aren’t just involving a few dozen people. They’re involving millions of people, many of whom don’t have the option of staying home or easily cutting back their hours, and some who wouldn’t want to even if they could.
There’s nothing wrong with putting a child in daycare, and if you truly think it’s such an awful place, then do something to change it. Start fighting for more paid leave for parents, better care options, and higher safety standards to protect these kids you’re supposedly so worried about. Don’t write sanctimonious articles about how easy it was for you to walk out on your job and how much free time you have now. Not everyone wants that, not everyone can have that, and frankly, we’re all too busy making our own choices to watch you spend 20 paragraphs patting yourself on the back for yours.
(Cutting a baby’s hair is hard. They’re squirmy.)
Three of them are stay at home moms, that I know of, and one of those is pregnant with her second. So when I mentioned I was gonna be working more, I sort of expected this chorus of judgment. I am conditioned to believe that those women would look down on me for working, let alone basically working full-time even if I do half of my hours from home while Kick cheerfully throws Legos at me.
Instead, they shrugged. We made plans to meet up at a park later in the week, since it was supposed to be warmer by Wednesday and our kids would likely be climbing the walls. Nobody said anything to my face, anyway, and I sincerely doubt they’re bored enough to gossip.
We spend so much time giving each other shit, women, that we are conditioned to think it is some kind of natural state. We spend so much time doing it in the pages of our magazines from Time to Family Circle. We do it on TV all damn day long. And while we are doing it, we are making less money than we should be, and nobody is paying for daycare or giving us maternity leave that makes sense, and everybody is lifing everybody else about how they have children and when they have children and how it all works after they have children.
Meanwhile so many children go to school hungry.
I’m so uninterested in it all. I don’t want you to work or stay home, I want you and your kids to have enough to eat and live how you want to live, and however that has to happen is how it has to happen. Some rich, educated mother not working (that whole “opt out” thing) is less of an affront to the ideal of feminism than lots of mothers not EATING, and I am so done elevating the anxiety of those of us with choices above the lives of those of us with none.
I think of my great-aunts when I read stories in HuffPo about the overwhelmingness of all the choices and how hard it is for female CEOs to feel certain ways and do certain things. I think about the woman who raised two children and took care of a severely disabled husband, about the woman who worked beside her husband in their business all her life, about the woman who went to nursing school and didn’t marry until late, and stayed home with the three children she had.
Those women didn’t bray sanctimonious crap about how they were superior people for having made the choices they made. They just made them and went on about their days. We’re all just doing what we have to do, and if we want other people to be able to live like we do, with choices and options, we need to do more than snipe at each other on the mommyblogs.