I can’t get the John Stossel article that Susan linked to out of my head. In it, Stossel wonders why employers and others should “bear the cost for the choices women make” by offering maternity leave, daycare, flextime policies, etc.
What bothers me is Stossel’s seeming assumption that working is a choice for all moms. (Since I didn’t see any modifiers in his piece, I’m going to assume his views extend to every working mom, not just wealthy ones like Elizabeth Vargas, for whom going back to work was no doubt a choice).
“Women need what all of us need,” says Stossel. “The freedom to make decisions for themselves in a competitive marketplace.”
Except some women don’t have much of a decision at all.
We talk in this blog about the working mom guilt we sometimes feel juggling work and motherhood.
But it strikes me that feeling guilty is a bit of a luxury.
I won’t speak for my fellow WMAGs, but I, for one, could probably still feed my child if I didn’t work (though that might be all I could afford to do). I have a husband with a decent job. Neither of us has been afflicted with a serious illnesses (knock on wood). And we have generous family who would make sure we still had a roof over our heads should disaster strike. Things would be very tight if I decided not to work, but we would manage.
Not all women are so lucky. For them, the choice is either to work, or watch their kids go hungry.
Sometimes, these women work and their kids *still* go hungry because Mom also has to provide shelter, clothing, and heat in the winter. Do these women feel guilty? Does it really matter? I might have a pile of regrets were I in their situation, but I don’t imagine I’d have much time or energy to dwell on them if I were trying to keep my children warm and fed.
What bugs me about a lot of people who question whether mothers should get some simple benefits in the workplace is that they often are the first to say “welfare moms” need to “get a job.” OK, so you DO want mothers to work!
What are they supposed to do with the children they’re trying to support when daycare costs as much as a monthly mortgage payment?
I know, I know. It’s all about choices. She chose to have those kids. But where do you stand on a woman’s right to choose *not* to have children? It’s not my intention to start an abortion discussion here, but I often find that folks who claim to want to protect children the most don’t care all that much about helping them after they’ve been delivered. Because think about it. Who are you really helping when you help a working mom who really needs it? That’s right! Her kids.
Look, in a perfect world, we would all make stellar choices. All women would choose to commit to stable, faithful men before becoming pregnant. All men would choose high-paying jobs with no risk of layoff. Those who can’t manage to stay with their mates would choose not to be deadbeats.
But people make less than ideal choices all the time. And sometimes, crap just happens. I’m sure there are women who abuse the system – I’m willing to bet they’re the minority. I also am willing to bet that some people will look at this blog and think we’re all just a bunch of whiners with a huge sense of entitlement.
That’s fine. It *is* my choice to work. I’m grateful I have the choice, and I’m infinitely grateful to have an employer that allows me a flexible schedule. I also am aware that not everybody is so fortunate. Not everyone has a choice.