Monday, December 19, 2005

Working mom VS Staying Home Debate

There's been a lot of articles written recently about women who stay at home with their children by "choice" are somehow anti-feminist. The Boston Globe, Salon and the NY Times have been covering this raging debate ad nauseum. The gist is, that it is a major failure of feminism that women want to "opt-out" of the work force. To this I say PIFFLE! The failure of feminism is the lack of family friendly policies in the workplace.

It is so stressful being a working mother. Childcare options in a large city are SO limited. Space is limited and the hours are limited. You have to get your kid on a waiting list while he or she is in utero. I'm not kidding. Plus it's very expensive. It's 1-2 thousand dollars a month for fulltime care for ONE child. That's more than most people's mortgages.

I love my son's daycare, but I HAVE to be there by 5:30 on the dot to pick him up or they can start charging me $2 per minute I'm late. Given the miserable state of the MBTA, it is a challenge.

If he's sick, I have to use my sick and vacation time to take care of him, which makes me loathe to use my sick time when I'm sick. (Unless I'm unconscious and hallucinating like I was a couple weeks ago).

My employer is wonderful about all of this, so I'm very lucky there. But I'm at their mercy as far as that goes. There's no inherent support structure there for a parent with an asthmatic (or otherwise sick) kid. We're reliant on the whim of the day.

Is it any wonder why so many women "Opt-Out" of work these days? Raising kids is meaningful work. It can be mind-numbingly dull but it really has an upside. Hanging out with your kids can be really fun.

Perhaps the failure of feminism is that the work of a stay-at-home-mom is undervalued because it is "women's" work?

I find the whole debate so frustrating all around. Work, stay at home, they're both valid, important paths to take. And we're not all cut out for either/or. If you're lucky enough to have the choice, live it, love it and embrace it.

Love you kids and they will be alright.


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