Tag Archives: poverty

Paying for Childcare

This article at Kindred Community raises a question I’ve wanted to know the answer to since forever (emphasis mine):

Our society needs to recognise the far-reaching developmental importance of breastfeeding and close, responsive mother-infant relationships in the early years, along with the close involvement of fathers, and aim to create social settings that facilitate and support them. If we are going to pay for quality infant care, why not support mothers to do it? Infancy cannot be re-run later.

Why would the government be willing to pay strangers to watch a baby but not the mother? It has always struck me as a punishment for poor people who dared to reproduce when they “couldn’t afford it.”

The underlying attitude of the family-values-right-wing policy makers has always sounded to me like: “Stupid poor people, having offspring in accordance with their animal urges. They’re just lazy and trying to get out of work! We’ll show them. You get a couple weeks off and that’s it! Back to the factory! Pop out another one and see what happens!”

I’ve always been violently disturbed by the fact that we in our supposedly civilized society allow conditions under which people “cannot afford” children. I believe that children are the only true wealth, insurance policy and retirement plan.

I’m not saying people should have to have children. I believe it should be entirely optional. If a person would rather completely dedicate themselves to a career, hoard money, invest in an IRA account, buy property and make investments, that’s one way to shore up resources for the future.

But when you’re old and you slip on one of your wads of cash and fall and break your hip in the middle of your castle, who’s going to come wipe your wrinkly butt and spoonfeed your shriveled mouth? Oh right, you’re going to hire a stranger to do that. That’s much more pleasant that having someone you love, who actually cares about you, treating you tenderly.

Or NOT.

And shouldn’t a baby have the same courtesy, of having the person they love and need more than anyone else in the world be the person who wipes their cheruby bum and nurses them lovingly at the breast?

But if you can’t afford such an idyllic life, then forget it. Park the kid at the licensed facility and punch that time card, or you’ll be under a bridge faster than you can say, “Subsidized childcare.”

 

Dixie Comes Home

We got our van (named Dixie) back today after a week and a half, two new tires, a new torque converter, a fixed leak in the engine somewhere or other, and about $800 spent.

Dixie When We First Got Her in 2008

Besides the return of mobility for 6 members of the family (my husband absolutely needs his car all the time for his job as a journalist), I think he and I might get something else out of this: a new way to handle stress and the interpersonal conflict that often results.

The van had been making horrible whirring and rubbing noises for awhile and I’d been getting more and more scared about what it might be, to the point where I’d drive down the road and terrifying images of wheels flying off and head-on collisions would pop into my inner vision.  (A word of advice: tire rotation is worth it.)

When I talk to my husband about potentially expensive issues, many times we end up having an argument.  Nothing serious, but nothing pleasant for either of us.  One of the downsides to being poor is not having the luxury to calmly discuss matters which threaten to sink you further into the hole you try every day to climb out of.

But does it have to be this way?

After I’d transferred the car seats to the van this morning and prepared to go home from the mechanic’s, I gave my husband a hug and kiss and thanked him for handling the problem for me (I don’t dare try to deal with mechanics because I’m sure they would overcharge a small, polite woman like me.  Whether this is a valid concern or not, all mechanic-dealings go through my husband.)  I felt truly grateful that he had listened to my feelings and took action to make things better.  And I could tell by the look on his face that he was relieved it was over and also feeling good that his family could now be carted around in a safe vehicle.

As I was driving home, an idea came to me: what if, the next time we need to discuss some expensive issue, we could first take a minute to picture the contentment and satisfaction of that moment hugging in the mechanic’s parking lot, visualize the chill in the air, the thin layer of snow on the world, our connection as a married team who can face anything — together.  Might the conversation go smoother?  Might we avoid feeling panic over the prospect of spending money, when we can remember what the end result can be?

Now all I have to do is remember to try it.

Do you have any creative tricks to remind yourself and others of connection and success, to smooth out a tense conversation or situation, to bolster confidence and encourage a spirit of cooperation?