Why isn’t this taught in school?

My neice and her hubby are young newleyweds. Like most, they bought into the “dream” of owning a home with a yard, etc. So they bought a cute little fixer-upper and completely maxed themselves out. In other words, the only way they can afford this mortgage is because they are both working full time. So what happens when they have a child and she decides she wants to be a SAHM? Why aren’t they thinking about this now? When I asked her, she said “well, I get a whole year maternity leave”. Oh honey, I felt like saying to her, that seems like a long time right now, but one day it won’t…

We’re having a discussion on my boards about a recent Universal Daycare Proposal by our last federal government. The new government is proposing an alternative where money goes right to the parents. The idea is that it will give parents the choice of whether to use daycare or have one SAHP. Nice idea in theory. But the $100/month per child they’re offering is a bit of a joke. And, it’s considered taxable income. So while I support them in theory that women should be rewarded for choosing to SAH, this paltry sum ain’t it.

So, we’re discussing this proposal on my parenting board and the UDP before it that promised a space for every child at an affordable rate. I’m not sure I like the idea of this. I think that right now, alot of parents choose to have one SAHP because when you subtract daycare costs it just isn’t worth it. If daycare becomes cheap, I fear there will be added pressure on women to return to work. I see UDP as basically a state endorsement to go back to work and leave the child rearing to paid professionals. As if this were the best thing for our kids.

Now this isn’t meant to be a bash to all you working mamas out there, or to suggest that kids in daycare are somehow screwed. But I truly believe that we as a society need to change our attitude towards child-rearing and embrace motherhood and value the SAHM, not consider her a sellout to the feminist movement. Obviously single mothers don’t have the same choices as two-parent families, and even 2 parent families have their own situations, but overall I think the idea that the majority of kids should be in daycares is not healthy for society.

When I hear the stories on my parenting board about why mothers return to work, it seems to boil down to debt. Either they can’t pay their mortgage and live on one salary, or they racked up too many student loans in college, etc. Ultimately, none of them expected to be in this situation, and that’s where the title of my post comes in.

ltimately I think all of that would be null if we all just planned a bit better. When I went through University I assumed my future children would either be in daycare or have nannies. First, I was a “modern woman” and loved my career, thinking only people who weren’t interested in mental stimlation would choose to SAH full time (god I was so naive). Second, society seems to embrace this as completely acceptable, that we all just use nannies and daycares and preschools and regular schools as babysitters while we work (when teachers go on strike, parents everywhere are really screwed, because school is their daycare). And third, I expected to live a certain lifestyle. I wanted a mortgage (I thought only young people and old losers rent) and a nice car and to dine out at nice restaurants, etc. to make up for all my years of being a poor student. NOBODY ever suggested to me that I might just want to be with my children for the early years. Nobody ever told me a 1 year maternity leave would seem a cruel joke when I finally had kids of my own, instead of the free ride I thought it was when I was a naive younger woman.

If only they taught this stuff in school. If only someone could warn young people to plan ahead for kids. Don’t rack up credit card debt. Remember those student loans have to be paid back. Don’t buy a house that absolutely requires both of you to work full time. Put aside some good old fashioned cash in a savings account, start young, and let it build. You can EASILY save five years’ salary if you start young with a meager amount of money each month, in time for when most of us gals start having kids these days (early thirties). Set yourself up for choice. That way, if you want to stay at home for a while, you don’t have to move into a trailer park to afford it.

Or you could just do what DH and I did, and give up your lifestyle for a while, ride on a wing and a prayer and hope it all works out in the end. Well, we made it to the end of our rainbow and there are no regrets here.

Of course you might decide you still want to work, and that’s great! But at least it wasn’t forced on you by lack of planning, or a spouse who insists you “do your share” (as if cleaning all day, doing laundry, changing diapers, and being solely responsible for the emotional health of future citizens isn’t enough), or family members who are pressuring you to “get into the market” or live in the “right kind of neighbourhood”. It will be for your own reasons, which are the right reasons, not because you felt you had NO choice.

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