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Mommy Madness
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This article in Newsweek about motherhood is mostly self-pitying drivel. James Lileks, a stay-at-home dad, does a pretty good job with it, but really not enough abuse can really be heaped upon it, so I'll do my part too.

Most of the article is concerned with how difficult and stressful it is to be a professional and a mother at the same time. Duh.

Careers and childrearing are difficult, stressful, and time-intensive. This is not news.

What really are a woman's choices then?

Most of us in this generation grew up believing that we had fantastic, unlimited, freedom of choice. Yet as mothers many women face "choices" on the order of: You can continue to pursue your professional dreams at the cost of abandoning your children to long hours of inadequate child care. Or: You can stay at home with your baby and live in a state of virtual, crazy-making isolation because you can't afford a nanny, because there is no such thing as part-time day care, and because your husband doesn't come home until 8:30 at night.

Oh dear. You actually have to stay at home all day with your kids. Oh my god. Presumably you have trustworthy friends or possibly family in the area that can watch your kids from time to time, and there are people called babysitters. But yes, if you're stay-at-home, that means you stay at home, and most of the time you'll be with your child. Oh, the horror.

These are choices that don't feel like choices at all. They are the harsh realities of family life in a culture that has no structures in place to allow women—and men—to balance work and child-rearing.

Say what?

What would such a culture look like? Well, we're about to find out.

And so, they don't get fired up about our country's lack of affordable, top-quality child care. (In many parts of the country, decent child care costs more than state college tuition, and the quality of the care that most families can afford is abysmal.) Nor about the fact that middle class life is now so damn expensive that in most families both parents must work gruelingly long hours just to make ends meet. (With fathers averaging 51 hours per week and mothers clocking in at an average of 41, the U.S. workweek is now the longest in the world.) Nor about the fact that in many districts the public schools are so bad that you can't, if you want your child to be reasonably well-educated, sit back and simply let the teachers do their jobs, and must instead supplement the school day with a panoply of expensive and inconvenient "activities" so that your kid will have some exposure to music, art and sports.

Top-quality child care is, by definition, not going to be cheap. It's top quality. Taking care of children isn't easy.

The fact is most middle class families could live reasonably comfortably on one income. You make choices. You sacrifice. Or you don't. Most people want a higher standard of living. They want two cars and bigger houses, and so both parents work.

The fact is 2-income households are a choice, not a necessity.

Most school districts also have extracurricular activities. Even the poorest have sports and music and (gasp!) academic competitions. If you want your local schools to be better, get up off your ass and work at it. Once your child is at an age where they can go to school, take an active fucking part in it. Visit the teachers, visit the classes, and interact for chrissakes. Most parents don't visit the school or the teacher, and when they do it's either once a year or when their kid is facing severe disciplinary action.

Anyway, how does she want to make it all better?

We need incentives like tax subsidies to encourage corporations to adopt family-friendly policies.

Because right now corporations are out to get families. Well, no. They want to make money. This is just a way of filtering down government money to child care.

We need government-mandated child care standards and quality controls that can remove the fear and dread many working mothers feel when they leave their children with others.

So does she want minimal standards (we already have those), or top-quality care? Big difference.

We need flexible, affordable, locally available, high-quality part-time day care so that stay-at-home moms can get a life of their own.

Oh, she wants both. And what's the model? France! Presumably it's a utopian family society where a working mom doesn't have to be burdened with the actual, you know, job of raising their child. and presumably it's paid for by the rest of society. Vive la France!

Really they're all about tax breaks and higher quality child care (either for free or much cheaper), and here's her final blip:

In general, we need to alleviate the economic pressures that currently make so many families' lives so high-pressured, through progressive tax policies that would transfer our nation's wealth back to the middle class. So that mothers and fathers could stop running like lunatics, and start spending real quality—and quantity—time with their children. And so that motherhood could stop being the awful burden it is for so many women today and instead become something more like a joy.

Yes, it's the governments job to restore joy back to motherhood.

As Lileks puts it:

So an increase in the marginal tax rates will let women regard motherhood as something more like a joy. Presumably this means that money extracted from the very people she talks about in her article – high-buck Yups on the Eastern Seaboard feeling the stabby knives of guilt – will be directly dispensed to stressed out women in Omaha, who will use it . . . for what? Quality child care that obviates the need to come up with magical mommy moments on their own?

Look, this lady wants somebody else to do the heavy lifting. Namely child care workers paid for mostly by the government. Which means mostly paid by the rest of us.

Well fuck that. If you have a kid, that child is your responsiblity. You need to do most of the heavy lifting. If you either can't or won't, or it just makes you crazy, then maybe instead of expecting the government to take care of your child, you shouldn't have had one in the first place.

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