The closest to Normal (Illinois) that I've ever been.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

More ranting

Yes, this is a continuation of my ongoing rant about the cultural divide over child care.

There are a variety of factors that prevent women from achieving their career goals and access to affordable high-quality child care is one of the largest. In CA, although good child care was very hard to find, a decent percentage of families use child care, and I rarely encountered people who made me feel crappy about having my kids in day care.
Not so in the midwest. There is a baseline assumption that every family has someone who is able to watch kids, whether it be for a random day off during the school year, or for the ENTIRE SUMMER. Clearly, there is no way that this person could hold down any kind of a conventional job--even a part-time job does not generally offer three months off for summer vacation.

So far, summer has been very difficult for us. In June we had the kids at home, but both Danny and I needed to put in our full work week. Thankfully, we managed to limp through the month. Now, Joseph has started at the ISU day care. ISU day care is so full that ISU staff (me) can't use it during the school year, but there is space for us during the summer. Joseph is having a fantastic time! Best of all, I find it comforting to see all the other harried working moms dropping off and picking up kids. The school crowd of stay-at-home moms with their extracurricular sports and enrichment activities depresses me. It is just a reminder that my kids will be un-enriched due to my selfish decision to join the work force.

Sam is at Parks and Rec day camp. This is the ONLY camp in town that actually attempts to cover most of the summer. All of the other camps are offered as "enrichment" for a week here and there, presuming that OF COURSE all kids have someone at home to watch them all of the other weeks of the summer. He is having a good time. However, yesterday he came home with the WORST SUNBURN OF HIS ENTIRE LIFE. Sam puts on his own sunscreen every morning, and he knows to reapply sunscreen after swimming, but for some reason he didn't. Danny and I have been diligently greasing this child, and shielding him from the sun since birth, so it is very hard to look at him. Sam declined to allow me to take a picture of the damage.
We tried to get Sam onto a local swim team this week, only to find that this would be yet another activity for which a kid from a two-career family cannot participate. In addition to early morning and night practices, required practices are scheduled for 9-11 some weekdays, 12-1 other days, with the presumption that the kid is sitting at home with a constantly available parent.

I am mystified by the whole stay-at-home mom thing. Talking to other moms, it appears that their kids are the primary focus of their lives and that these very intelligent and interesting women devote their efforts to enriching and improving their kids. I presume that this is meant to make the kids more likely to succeed as adults, etc. Also, many moms feel strongly that child care is wrong, and that they would like their little girls to also grow up to be stay-at-home moms. So, basically, they are spending 24-7 enriching their little girls so that their little girls can grow up to be the best possible stay-at-home moms enriching their own little girls. There is some weird kind of concatenation of effort and talent which seems wasteful to me. I realize that enriching kids includes living in an exemplary way that that improves the world by example. However, the world needs people to directly contribute to improving knowledge/understanding, activism to change the status quo, etc., and I don't think that all of these people should be men. Just a thought.


Jessica and Adam said...

Call me, Call me! Call me please. Cell works best:)

Jessica and Adam said...

It was great to talk. I forgot to tell you how great the button up bibs are. I tell Adam how great they are everyday:) Danny was right about them working as a traveling buffet!

Beth said...

Funny that Jessica is the other person who commented here. I think you two are the model of perfection when it comes to motherhood. Matthew and I regularly comment on how awesome we think you and danny are as parents and how we want to raise our kids like you do yours.

Susan said...

Thanks you guys! It really cheers me up!