This morning, my 11 week old woke up at 4:30 am wanting to be fed. Usually, when that happens I start the day’s writing to see how much I can get done before the rest of the house wakes up. But this morning, he was still wide awake after he finished his bottle. Instead, I baked a batch of muffins from scratch for breakfast and started a loaf of bread for dinner while I sang him a few songs to keep him entertained. Once the other kids were awake, it was time to feed them all, get them changed and brushed and out the door, and then once more feed the baby and put him down for a nap. After I put a load of laundry in, I sat down to write an article until he woke back up, ready to play and, yes, eat again.
I’m a work at home mom.
I missed last night’s inaugural charge in the newly revamped “mommy wars,” mostly because with two of my three children still not sleeping through the night, I grab my sleep whenever I can get it. But I was pretty shocked when I woke up to learn that suddenly, the Republican party was the party of moms, while the Democrats actually hate women.
It’s easy to forget that when it comes to mothers, there’s a myriad of types. There’s the “stay at home” who doesn’t earn income outside of the house, the “working mom” who earns income outside of the home, the “work at home” mom who earns income in the home, either with or without her children in the house, and the hybrids who do all of the above. Each version has their own benefits, and their own drawbacks. The “working mom” may wish she could see her kids more, the “stay at home” may miss having a career, and the “work at home” may wish she could just do a conference call without the baby screaming because he just pooped for the first time in two days and is now covered in it (oh, was that too much information?).
The big question isn’t who is working harder, and where that work is happening, but whether these are choices we get to make on our own. For many who work who would rather be at home, that isn’t a possibility because day to day expenses, especially housing and medical, are simply too expensive to be able to afford without her income. For others, who would rather be at work than at home, that simply isn’t a choice because the costs of childcare are too prohibitive.
And that’s where we get to the real crux in the “mommy war.” When a mother stays at home and cares for the children, it has no financial gain, whereas when a mother goes to work and has to pay another to care for her child, it’s then considered a large expense. Our current system says it values the work of the person raising the child above all else, but we believe there should be no monetary value to it when the mother is the one doing it.
Republicans can come out of the woodwork saying that Democrats don’t understand that “raising children is work.” But they can’t truly say they value the work of raising and caring for children when they continue to push policies that undermine any monetary value to that work.
Unless women and their children can have affordable health care that isn’t dependent on employment — either theirs or their spouse’s — they don’t really believe mothers exclusively raising children are working.
Unless women can receive a check each week that is equivalent to the amount that they would have to pay a daycare provider to provide the same services — and at extended hours — they don’t really believe mothers are working.
Unless they are willing to give them social security benefits on their own versus through their spouses — or a pension, or even just funds that they can invest for their own retirement down the road — they don’t really believe mothers are working.
And unless they offer real child tax credits that actually come close to what the feeding, clothing and medical bills of a child are for a year — and that doesn’t max out if it’s more than your taxable income — they don’t really believe mothers are working.
Dear GOP, I’m glad to hear that you are the party that really understands that moms are working when they raise their children. I’m anxious to hear exactly how much you have decided to pay us for that work.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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