Wednesday, October 29, 2003


After reading the resentful article in yesterday's Chronicle, and writing up my views on the topic, I took a look at the Times discussion section on the Belkin article. I was shocked at the hate that readers had for the stay at home mothers.

"They're just lucky they can stay at home. Not everybody is that lucky," said many of the commenters.

I've heard that reproach a lot, since I've had kids. After someone says that to me, I am supposed to bow my head and say, "ah, yes, I"m so lucky and I am so greatful that I'm able to do this."

What is meant by "you're lucky and you should recognize it everyday?"

Maybe they mean #1. Not everybody is able to afford to stay home with their kids. Poor women have to work and put their kids in substandard daycare.

Yes, it's true that the poor have it bad in life. The poor are deprived of a lot, and in a more perfect world there wouldn't be these inequities. The poor not only have to work and put their kids in substandard daycare, but they don't have cars, health insurane, adequate schools, vacations, houses, etc... How come every time a guy gets into his Toyota Turcell, he isn't reminded how lucky he has to have a car? I've never heard anyone in the doctor's waiting room, taking the time to remember the less fortunate.

Or #2. Not everybody is able to afford to stay home with their kids. Most women, including middle class women, have to work and put their kids in adequate daycare.

First of all, my husband is doing okay, but not great. We don't have a house or a SUV. We don't take fancy vacations. We live in a four floor walk up in New York City. We periodically don't have heat or hot water. We drive a 1990 Toyota that my brother sold us for $700. We wash our dishes by hand, and have a crappy washer/dryer that barely works (blog 7/23). We ain't living the high life around here.

Now, if I worked our situation would not improve. In fact, it would get worse. Let's do the math.

What am I qualified to do with my newly minted PhD? Teach at a community college, do administration, teach at a public school. All those jobs pay in the mid $30,000s. Okay now let's figure out how much daycare would cost. Jonah would not be able to go to nursey school, because that's part time. So, two kids in daycare full time would cost at least $20,000. Now we're down to $15,000 take out taxes, transportation, take out food, and clothing and we're left with nothing. Maybe less than nothing.

Who are all these middle class women who can afford to work and put their kids in day care? How do they do it? Are they making a lot more money then I would? Does this still make them middle class? Do they have access to cheaper childcare? I don't know.

Or maybe they mean #3. Staying home with the kids is fun.

If they think that watching kids is all giggles and laughs, they're idiots. I love my kids. I really do, but it's hard, lonely, mind numbing work.

I do think that our family is lucky that I'm home. Personally, I think the kids benefit. And it means that there is a lot less stress around here. Getting the kids off to daycare every morning before you go to work is tough. Then picking them up after a hard day and having the energy to cook and get them dressed for bed is exhausting. The weekends are filled with all the undone chores from the week. I have a taste of that life just by working part time.

I would be far luckier if there were more opportunities for me to work part time. Adjuncting just pays for the babysitter. It would be great if I could work a bit more and have something to show for it.

Mothers (and stay at home dads) are just screwed. These people who call us "lucky" are mean spirited and clueless. This is why so many women with kids are seriously depressed.

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