The photography in the July 13 NYT Sunday Magazine essay was breathtaking; romantic images of childcare providers and their charges. Almost as romantic as the writer’s notion that the reason babysitters/nannies/childcare providers are so poorly paid is because mothers feel guilty about the transaction; paying someone to love their child — whom they have (presumably) chosen not to — at least during business hours. What’s the excuse, then, for why mothers are not paid at all when they choose to stay home and love their children themselves, 24-7? Honestly, I don’t think there’s a mother, in the home or out of the home full-time or part-time, who could claim to love her children 24-7 – but that’s another matter entirely. The low pay isn’t a function of guilt — it’s a function of childcare being (traditionally) women’s work. And women’s work isn’t valued, even though we are charged with raising the world’s next generation, and by extension, making sure the world survives another hundred years or so (now there’s some guilt).
We all know the story of how typing was a well-paid position, held by men, when typewriters — complex, mechanical instruments — were first introduced. Once it was discovered that women could type and that they could do it better and faster than men (thank you, manual dexterity, for my exceptional typing skills and my unique ability to remove a dried pea from a 2-yr old’s nose) it became a typing “pool” — nameless, faceless, devoid of any individuality or humanity — and populated almost entirely by low-paid single women who were treading water while waiting for their knight in shining armor to appear. The message is clear: if a woman can do it, it isn’t worth jack.
I love my job, but no one pays me to love it – I get paid to do it. Period. The idea that we don’t pay women to take care of our children because we feel guilty buying love is not only delusional, it’s insulting. I chose my career. So did my babysitter. She deserves the same respect and renumeration accorded to all professionals. I don’t pay her to love, I pay her to keep my children clothed, fed and safe; and that she does, far better than I can. There are women who are paid to “love” but the job description is quite different and their clients aren’t children (though they do sometimes wear diapers) and the price that all involved pay is far greater.
Off – that’s what I meant – getting laid off. Though one of the upsides of getting laid off is that you have a lot more time to get laid. Provided you can maintain your self-esteem and hygiene to a level acceptable by other humans. Six days without a shower and in the same stained sweats may leave you at the same pre-laid off frequency of getting laid.
My initial concern was not getting laid, but reducing my own payroll, ASAP. So I laid off the babysitter and the housekeeper and considered laying off the lawn guys until I thought about how I handled myself around a cotton candy machine. I decided that the lawn guys are one service worth their weight in limbs not lost. They’ve got job security in our household.
My daughter has decided that I should start writing young adult fiction, though when it comes to writing fiction, I prefer horror. She insists that I write a horsey story. I think there’s a way to combine the two, though maybe not for the 9-11 set.
My middle son was very worried and wanted to know how many thousands of dollars less we’ll have. Youngest son was thrilled to learn that I would take him to school, pick him up from school and be available at all times to search for lost things. My prediction? Within two weeks I’ll be stationed at my bedroom window with the kids’ bb gun and a thermos of coffee, shooting at the rabbits when they try to eat my vegetable garden. Just to scare ’em.