2/26/07

Response to Mommie Dearest's Post "Bad, Bad Working Moms!


Today, Mommie Dearest wrote a post called “Bad, bad working moms!” about how Idaho legislators killed legislation that would have set higher standards for daycares. She says in her post, “Some of the lawmakers who rejected the bill said us moms should be at home with our kids instead of putting them in daycare.”

She then goes on to share from nightmare experiences about her experiences with daycare.

I looked up what Betsy Russell wrote about the bill on Eye on Boise, and Sylvia Chariton, who testified in favor of the bill on behalf of the American Association of University Women of Idaho said exactly the same thing I was thinking…

“It’s ridiculous—those men live in a time warp, when 60 percent of all mothers of children under 6 years of age take them someplace to be cared for.”

I think we need to get away from the thinking that if we set standards for our current system of daycare, this won’t necessarily mean we will be luring other mothers to use the daycare because of the higher standards. How can this be a harmful thing if we are helping better care for our children?

It reminds me of an essay I once read by Barbara Kingsolver in her book “High Tide in Tuscon: Essays From Now Or Never.” This essay was called “Somebody’s Baby” and tells about the differences she sees in the United States versus other countries regarding our view of children.

Here are a few excerpts:

“If we intend to cleave like stubborn barnacles to our great American ethic of every nuclear family for itself, then each of us had better raise and educate offspring for itself, then each of us had better raise and educate offspring enough to give us each day, in our old age, our daily bread. If we don’t wish to live by bread alone, we’ll need not only a farmer and a cook in the family, but also a home repair specialist, an auto mechanic, an accountant, an import-export broker, a forest ranger, a therapist, an engineer, a musician, a poet, a tailor, a doctor, and at least three shifts of nurses. If that seems impractical, then we can accept other people’s kids into our lives, starting now.

It’s not so difficult. Most of the rest of the world has got this in hand. Just about any country you can name spends a larger percentage of its assets on its kids than we do. Virtually all industrialized nations have better schools and child-care policies. And while the U.S. grabs headlines by saving the occasional baby with heroic medical experiments, world health reports (from UNESCO, USAID, and other sources) show that a great many other parts of the world have lower infant mortality rates than we do—not just the conspicuously prosperous nations like Japan and Germany, but others, like Greece, Cuba, Portugal, Slovenia—simply because they attend better to all their mothers and children. Cuba, running on a budget that would hardly keep New York City’s lights on, has better immunization programs and a higher literacy rate. During the long, grim haul of a thirty-year economic blockade, during which the United States has managed to starve Cuba to a ghost of its hopes, that island’s child-first priorities have never altered.

Here in the land of plenty a child dies from poverty every fifty-three minutes, and TV talk shows exhibit teenagers who pierce their flesh with safety pins and rip off their parents every way they know how. All these punks started out as somebody’s baby. How on earth, we’d like to know, did they learn to be so isolated and selfish?”

To see the whole essay, go here.
When my daughters grow up, I hope they will be fortunate to have the choice, like I did, to work if they want, or stay home if they want, or maybe do a combination, whatever works best for them. And I hope that they don't have to make their way through a maze of daycare providers, like Mommie Dearest, playing the "Day Care Lottery" as it were, in order to find suitable care.
Because, maybe by then, some standards will be in place.

6 comments:

Katrina said...

I agree! How does raising daycare standards hurt anyone? On the contrary, refusing to raise them hurts our most precious resource, our children. Maddening.

I'm fortunate to be able to stay home right now, but if I couldn't, I'd like to know that I could entrust my children to a safe and healthy daycare environment. This attempt to "punish" working mothers is only hurting the very children the lawmakers are claiming to care about.

Phil said...

I'm a stay-at-home dad. I wasn't so adamant about my situation at first, and we did explore some daycare when my son was about a year old. But the whole thing creeped me out so much... There were no standards, and the daycares we visited all seemed to be packed to a point of chaos. The kids looked like zombies. It was at this point that I realized my wife and I would do whatever it takes to have one of us home with the kids.

But, and this is the key, we were able to make this choice because of my wife's chosen vocation. Too many people don't have that choice, and they need to know that their children will be in a safe, regulated environment. Telling a single mom who HAS TO WORK that she should stay home with her kids is ridiculous. Or even a mom and a dad who each work at jobs earning $10 an hour. You can't tell one of them that they should stay home. The family would not survive on those wages.

Do these legislators live in the real world? Or do they just travel from one wine-tasting to another with their rich friends?

I feel incredibly thankful to be in this minority of parents who can stay home with their kids. These legislators need to learn that people like me are NOT the norm. I wish it was, but that's not the real world.

raymond pert said...

I have two very blessed words to say in response to your post:

Mildred Price.

She was genuinely a saint and we are all more fortunate than we could have ever known to have had her in our lives.

Likewise:

Margaret Gallaher

Thank God for these caring and trustworthy women.

InlandEmpireGirl said...

What a great piece on your blog silvervalley girl. I was shocked when I read the examples by Mommie Dearest. I agree with raymond pert... we were blessed. I am glad you have had flexibility and support and backup from family members as you raise your own family.

Mommy Dearest said...

Wonderful post. I still feel awful about some of the people I entrusted my children with. I was too trusting and too naive. I'm learning. I think I trusted, most of all, that if someone was in business doing daycare that they must have been licensed somehow and subject to some sort of regulation. I was shocked to learn there are stricter licensing requirements for cosmetologists in Idaho.

Silver Valley Girl said...

It has been interesting reading the comments on HBO about this issue. It is definately a "hot topic" and am so glad mommy dearest brought it to light last night, then enjoying the exchange of more dialogue throughout the day. Yes, I was fortunate to have options, where first I worked but was able to bring my new baby with me to work, then I was a stay at home mom, then a full time working mom, and then a part time working mom. And always had wonderful family or friends who could watch my children. But I know that isn't always the case, so why not make a move toward higher standards for day care providers? It seems like a no brainer to me.