Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dream on...

If Sarah Palin has managed to “have it all,” then bully for her. But this mom doesn't think mothers should have to work that hard. (Palin in People magazine: "What I've had to do, though, is in the middle of the night, put down the BlackBerries and pick up the breast pump. Do a couple of things different and still get it all done.") When it was 2:00 a.m. and I wasn't nursing my daughter, I just wanted to sleep! I thought Super Moms went out with the 80s!

Mommy Wars and the Super Mom debate just distract from the real issue: Parental care of young children is a full-time job like any other, and it's time that society recognizes that. A single or married parent who chooses “in-home employment" should receive a livable wage with full benefits (health insurance, pension, etc.) until the last child reaches age ten or so.

Real choice begins with financial independence. When a person has children, they should also have a realistic option of full-time in-home, part-time in-home, or full-time out-of-home employment, depending on their interests and skills, without risk of financial dependence on a spouse or partner. Parental care of young children is a job like any other and should be treated as such with parent-friendly policies that make real choice possible.

In an age when more than 5-8 years in the same job is considered a long time, job market reentry after care of young children is not necessarily the employment handicap it once was. Consider it a mid-life career change and help parents plan accordingly as most of us voluntarily or involuntarily do already, with mixed success. Parenting is hard work. Why not make it a little easier with job pay for stay-at-home parents? It can be done if we as a society have the will to do it.

I know…not in my lifetime. But perhaps in my daughter’s.

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