By Double Duty Mama
A supervisor at one of my past jobs is rumored to have announced “no more uteruses” in the workplace upon learning that another of his employees was pregnant. To him, and probably to a lot of employers, an expecting mother causes all kinds of alarms to go off:
WARNING: She’s going to miss work for doctors’ appointments!
WARNING: She’s going to take off time to have and bond with the baby!
WARNING: She’s going to want to leave work at a reasonable hour to spend time with her family!
The guilt and pressure working mothers (and many fathers) feel when it comes to balancing a job and a home life can be overwhelming. But, when you add to that the financial pain of the high costs of quality child care, many women are finding that they have to make some tough choices between their career and finding an affordable, safe, nurturing and educational environment to place their child every day.
Women’s issues have taken center stage in this election year, fueled by remarks from women on all sides of the spectrum. This summer, in a controversial Atlantic article, a female high-ranking State Department official wrote why she thinks women still can’t have it all. When Yahoo! hired a CEO who was six months pregnant, the blogosphere exploded in debate about what women can and can’t have. And tempers are raging over remarks made by wife of presidential hopeful Mitt Romney about the role of women in the home.
Like most working moms out there, I am not a high-ranking federal official, a powerful business leader or a high-profile political wife. I am just a working shlub earning a modest salary trying to get to my kids’ doctors’ appointments and school performances, and be home in time for dinner most nights. I don’t have a choice between being a stay-at-home mom and working outside the house — at least, not if we want to make ends meet.
I do consider myself among the lucky, though, in that we’ve been able to afford pretty decent child care and preschools. My younger son attended a public preschool through our local school district, which was affordable, by comparison to private centers. I know many of his friends received government subsidies to off-set even that low-end tuition.
But, according to a recent report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, many families are forced to choose between quality and affordability, as reported in today’s Monday Morning Report. The average cost of infant care in California last year was $11,800, according to the report by Child Care Aware of America.
With budget cuts and slashes to public subsidies, Child Care Aware of America is calling on lawmakers for reforms. Find out more about financial help for child care from the state Department of Social Services’ CalWORKs Child Care Program, the federal Community Services Block Grant or the Child Care Resource Center of Los Angeles.