Years ago I wrote an article titled The Joys of Limited Motherhood about putting off child-rearing for fear of royally messing up the job. The story started out like this:
“My kid stays in the hallway closet until age thirty,” my ex-husband was fond of proclaiming. “I’ll throw in some sandwiches, a VCR, movies…. So it’ll be a little dark..But at least I won’t have to worry. The closet’s safe.”..He was joking, of course.
And ya know, that was kinda funny. But here in the not-joking-real-world when that kind of thing happens, it’s not funny at all.
Several months ago my mother relayed news of a Cincinnati woman facing life in prison after habitually locking her 5-year-old and 20-month-old in a closet so that she could go to work. Neighbors summoned police when they heard the older child’s screams.
In last week’s Hebrew press, a similar case: a mother locked her 9-year-old in the house to clock in at her hotel job each day. The mother, a new immigrant from Guatemala, claims she didn’t have time to sign her daughter up for school and daycare was prohibitively expensive. Police were called in when the girl – frightened and tired of being a prisoner in her own home – began screaming “Fire!” from a window.
In both cases, the mothers were single and out there working to support the children ultimately taken away from them. Issues at hand obviously include judgment and education. But I question the financial difficulty of juggling job and childcare costs for single mothers within society at large. And not just for blue collar workers.
This Boston Globe article focuses on a single mom earning over $50K per year and struggling to keep up with day care payments while this Telegraph story chalks up benefits for British single moms of staying on government support rather than getting into the workforce.
Either way, the closet is not an option and daycare needs to be affordable. Period.
Happy mother’s day to those celebrating.