A Stay at Home Mom's Reaction to the State of the Union Speech: What if your childcare happens at home?
He spoke about sick leave, which is great. If you read this blog regularly you know I am a fan of actually taking a day off when you are ill. He addressed paying women equal wages as a man for her equal work. Of course. This should be a no brainer. He issued a call action to increase the minimum wage. As one who just quit a part-time job as a barista where I worked my butt off for $7.25 an hour, Yes! Please. But there’s one measure he offered that I am still wrestling with today. He spoke about making childcare more affordable for families with two working parents and families being raised by one parent who has to work. In theory this is a great idea. Of course childcare is ridiculously expensive and working families shouldn’t have to loose the majority of their check just to pay the sitters. But what if you have made the decision not to work while your kids are young? What if you don’t pay someone else for childcare? I know there are some families out there that do this because one member of the family makes so much money that the other spouse can comfortably not work. The families with nannies and country club memberships and beach houses where they summer. But then there are others of us who make the decision to stay at home not because we are rich, but because it is what our heart mandates. Now I don’t want to get into the whole mommy war arena. You work and raise kids. That is great. The beauty about being a woman in America is we get to make choices. I personally chose to stay at home with my kids as much as possible. We were infertile for years. We tried desperately to conceive a child. Then we made the decision to travel half way across the world to China and adopt. We promised China to do a good job raising their daughter. And then I immediately got pregnant, gifting us with two children under 2 years. Then two things happened. One, I started having a nervous breakdown trying to work a full time professional job with two babies. And two, I realized I had moved mountains to be a mom. Once it finally happened for me I decided I wanted to relish every moment I could. So I made the decision to quit work. We are responsible, planning kind of people so we tried to do this strategically. We moved closer to family (free childcare in emergencies) and bought a small, simple house way below the mortgage rate we qualified for. We drove our already paid for cars until they were dying and then bought modest, affordable replacements. We cook simple food at home. When we visit the beach we stay with friends near the coast and drive in each day. Our few actual vacations are weekend short and spent in our surprisingly affordable and lovely State Parks (Go camping!). My point is this. We are a family that manages to have a stay at home parent by scrimping and saving and living very simply. We squeeze blood out of pennies so I can pick up our kids from school each day, hear all the good gossip a 5th and 6th grader can offer, and then tutor my daughter in algebra and quiz my son on his spelling words. Of course I do more than this. I teach a handful of yoga classes a week and write while my kids are in school. I try to contribute to our family’s finances while caring for our family itself. But flexible, part time jobs are usually not big money makers. We are still squeezed middle class. Our choices make things tight some times, but they are choices we feel are worth it.