The feminist movement promised women freedom of choice. All it did was take away our choice of being a mom. Today, stay at home moms are criticized and looked down on as lazy. Career women often don’t understand the feelings of co-workers who are tormennted by the need to by home with their children, taking care of their house and being domestic. “Domestic” is the new insult. I know, because I used to feel the same way. These moms are told, “You’ll get used to it,” or “They’ll be fine.” But what if you don’t want to get used to it? What if you are plagued every moment of every single day by the belief that this is wrong? You are not where you should be.
It is very difficult these days to survive on one income. Short of cutting out all phones, movies, internet and moving out to a cheap plot of land in the country, many can’t do it. Those who can are often only one paycheck or emergency away from trouble. Medical bills, unemployment, reduction in hours and natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding take their toil and push many families over the edge.
We are told to deal with it. “No one wants to work. You just do what you have to do. Stop being so selfish. Besides, what if your husband dies or leaves you? You need work experience so you can take care of yourself. You can’t depend on any man to take care of you.”
We used to plan our futures based around family, love and hope. We now plan based on everything falling apart. We used to dream of big families full of laughing children. Now every child is just another daycare bill and mouth to feed, who we only see for a few hours a night between dinner, baths, homework and whatever other chores need to be done. No one is at home to help keep up the house, so everything piles up. Nothing gets doen. Couples fight, because even with both of them working, there still isn’t enough money to keep up, Marriages fall apart, children are raised by daycares and schools. And we wonder why there is so much violence and dispair.
I am not saying every mom should stay home. I am saying there should be a choice. Whether you work because you have no choice or stay at home because you have no choice, the result is bitterness and anger. But what do you do about it? Do you give up or fight for what you know in your soul is right? And how do you reverse a problem that has been 50 years in the making?
Why does it matter?
So, say you don’t have kids, don’t want kids, or you have kids and want to work. Why should you care about women who want to stay at home? Well there is the old saying, “If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” The argument is that happy moms will lead to happier families and children, which will lead to a happier society.
But let’s look at some less emotional arguments:
1. Pregnant workers and breastfeeding mothers are a burden to businesses.
2. Working moms who want to stay at home are unhappy workers.
3. Because of financial burdens, they will push themselves to work, often at the expense of their health or the health of the baby.
4. This leads to increased healthcare costs for everyone.
5. If women who don’t want to work are able to stay home, it frees up those jobs for the many unemployed workers who need and want the jobs.
During pregnancy, many women work until the birth of the child and return promptly after maternity leave, purely for financial reasons. They need their paycheck and employer based health insurance. This puts a tremendous strain on businesses who must make countless accommodations. Pregnant employees have doctor visits and physical restrictions. This can be an annoyance, a hinderance, unfair to co-workers who must pick up the slack and it puts a lot of stress on the health of the mother, which can lead to complications, premature births, increased health costs, and sick babies.
(See my earlier blog post on Inequality in the workplace)
Breastfeeding moms are still a burden on their companies and often stop sooner than they would have if they were at home. This can also contribute to health problems in children and increased healthcare costs.
Unhappy moms working just for the paycheck, wanting to be home, are more likely to be less productive workers. If they are allowed to leave the workforce, they can clear those positions for the many on unemployement who are looking for and want a job. Businesses get workers who want to be there and moms get to be home with their children. Everyone wins.
What do we do?
Step 1: Access to financial planning. There is a lot of bad advice out there. It can be easy to get lost trying to do the right thing. The right financial advice early on can help get a family on track and stop many problems before they begin.
Step 2: Work at home. Sometimes cutting costs and clipping coupons isn’t enough. You need more income. We need a network of businesses who have legitamate work at home or telecommuting options, both part time and full time, to get together and offer these jobs to moms. By hiring these contract workers, companies save on benefits and health insurance they would have to pay to full time, regular workers. They also save on things like utility costs, misc. office supplies, paper, toner, coffee, water, etc. by having work done by people at home. They aren’t using company computers, producing garbage, using the phones. Meanwhile, the moms have the flexibilty they need to take their children to doctor appointments, playdates, for breastfeeding and time spend on bedrest.
This plan would have applications beyond pregnant women and mothers. It could be adapted to allow fathers to take paternity leave or time off when children are sick or in the hospital. While federal guidelines do allow people to take off for things like this, financial burdens often prohibit the use of these policies. It is time we come together as communities to take care of our own and help our friends, neighbors and family to produce happier families and provide more productive workers for our businesses. It can be done, but we have to work together.
I am gathering information to help local moms at www.BeAMom.webs.com.
This is just the start, but together I believe we can begin to change things.