I cringed when I saw on Facebook that Hilary Clinton was introducing her agenda on childcare. And true to point, it was just as bad as this Transcendental mother expected. But before I tell you why let’s debunk some myths about working mothers.
First of all, there have always been and always will be working mothers. Long before there were schools or daycare. In fact, ALL mothers work. And damned fucking hard too (#CherieBlair kiss my lily white ass). It is not a NEW thing or the exclusive right of Western ‘civilization.’
From our cave women ancestor and the indigenous peoples of today (handful though they may be) who still gather and till small gardens near their huts to keep food in the stomachs of their families. They weave and sew clothes from whatever is available. And they build and maintain shelters alongside their partners under the watchful eye of community.
To farmers’ wives of the previous century who took their eggs to market, sewed and baked for a bit of extra income to help out in lean times.
Onto my Nanny who raised two children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren while working the night shift in the mill so that she could be there when they got home from school, have dinner on the table, help them with homework and baths before bed…and then go to work to be that second income.
ALL without a single daycare center or big government intrusion into their lives and families.
The difference in the 21st century is PRIORITIES. For these women, those were jobs/incomes. They were first and foremost mothers, wives and my favorite old-fashioned word…homemakers. Their families came first…and they worked just to make ends meet. It was about need…necessity.
When I grew up, of course, I always came home from school to Nanny and later my mother. But since they did not drive and there was no school bus when I was in elementary, there was the school run carpool. One of the Moms, who drove a big station wagon, crammed a dozen kids in it.
Yes, we drove a whole mile to school and then back in the afternoon…without a seat belt. And no one died! We laugh and fought and my brother’s best friend stole my first kiss in the back of that station wagon. I got a ride to and from school without bullying (something that would forever traumatize me later on the school bus). And that Mom was able to supplement her family’s income with a tiny bit of grocery money.
When Mister Stability (my oldest) was a toddler, I did something similar. I was the before and after school child care for close to a dozen children in the apartment complex where we lived. If parents had a long commute then they would drop the kids at mine around 7 or 8 and I would feed them cereal and let them watch TV before we walked them to the bus stop.
Then each afternoon after his little nap Winky (that honestly was his nickname back then but don’t you dare tell him I told you that) and I would meet them all at the bus stop. Collect them all at that same bus stop. Some of them even ran off the bus smiling and showing me pictures they had drawn at school as if I were their mother too.
We would walk to our apartment at the far end of the complex where I would feed them a snack…sandwiches, fruit and/or homemade cookies. They would sit around my kitchen table doing their homework…me and the older ones helping the younger ones. Then parents would arrive and pick them up one by one.
I did not charge a lot but it was enough to pay for my midwife so I could have a homebirth and not another c-section with Mere-Mere. BUT this would no longer fly…the genuine love and care I provided as a surrogate mother would be regulated out of existence by Big Brother. It certainly would not meet Hillary’s standards.
In fact her whole platform sounds suspiciously like the UK that I live-in now. Let me tell you about those early home visits that she espouses. Health visitors in the UK are notorious. My first visit when I arrived in this country was my last for many years.
PanKwake was six months old. The first thing this judgemental and condescending woman told me was…’You need to wean that baby now.’ Being the educate, opinionated, experienced and out-spoken Mom that I am I quoted the World Health Organizations stance that breast-feeding until at least two should be encouraged. She proceeds to tell me that only applies in Third World countries where the water was not clean enough for formula. I walked out…angry.
These same health visitors would later miss the early signs of PanKwake’s autism that any qualified pediatrician back home would have almost certainly at least noticed and monitored her for.
As for subsidized quality daycare, let me tell you about ‘Children’s Centres.’ They were a huge initiative under that other feminist Cherie Blair’s husband. That was there purpose…quality and affordable childcare for working families. The truth…only upper middle class ones.
We on the other hand LUCKED onto the precursor of these ‘children’s centres’. It was called a Community Nursery…and boy was it. It was also one of the few remaining ones. It was also a goddess send and life saver. They knew us…and ALL their families. They were brilliant with a student to teacher ratio of 4 to 1 and every child having a keyworker…one that was responsible for and really learned that child.
They recognized her early signs of autism and did their very, very best to get us the help that we needed. They also spent months working on her aversion to socks and shoes and her tendency to sling her food across the table because she could not tolerate it. All of that to prepare her for school.
But it went beyond that…they knew their families…the whole family. I do not know how I would have survived my miscarriage, the depression and anxiety without Marcia…the nursery manager. It would take EVERYTHING inside of me to get up in the morning and get PanKwake ready. We would walk across the back of the estate to nursery. She would run off to be with her friends.
And I would collapse, crying and so fucking drained, numb and hurt into a chair in Marcia’s office. She would listen to me, do her best to explain/support my failing marriage. I would sometimes do a bit of fundraising work for them…it helped me to feel useful. Eventually, I would drag myself home to write or off to the mental health day center. I owe Marcia and that COMMUNITY nursery so much.
That is the thing…Big Brother can never replace COMMUNITY, FAMILY or especially PARENTS. That is the danger…that they even try. That parents become so disempowered that they actually begin to believe that the state knows better how to raise their children than they do. It is the reality that this crazy, loud and obnoxious American has battled for close to a decade now here…and one that I fear may be the future of my homeland. It does not work. It never again.
Individual responsibility and choice as parents and extended families…that works. Communities coming together to support one another and lift up their weaker members…that works. But Big Government and rules…never can for the simple reason that one size does not fit all. It fits NONE.