Stefanella's Drive Thru

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The Closet Method May 13, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefanella @ 5:57 am


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.

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4 Responses to “The Closet Method”

  1. Liza Says:

    Those are frightening statistics. I find it absolutely absurd that daycare costs in the US are comparable to the (high) costs of a private university education. Sobering stuff.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    If you can’t afford to raise a kid, you shouldn’t be having a kid – even when that means abstinence (I’m not saying it does). I can’t afford a kid so I’m not having one right now

  3. Stefanella Says:

    Anonymous: While in theory you are probably right, life unfortunately isn’t always that simple. Factors like death, divorce, disability, abandonment and on and on happen all of the time without warning often driving a financial plan off track.

  4. mother in israel Says:

    In Israel the government highly subsidizes daycare for the needy–this story is bizarre.

    A few weeks ago I came across two kids in the park, I think they were in first and second grade. Their school was on strike and they had been instructed to stay in the park and wait for their sister, who finished school at 1PM. They went in the bushes to use the bathroom.


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