BY: Joy Pullman | Heartland Institute
My husband and I decided, back when we had a large amount of student loans, one decent job between us, and a surprise first baby on the way, that we would do whatever it took to give our child the majority of his care with our own hands. I’m not going to argue that every family should follow this rule. You are your kids’ parents. Short of real and obvious harm to them, how you bring them up is your business.
We just felt a compelling, irresistible responsibility for that little boy, that we must be the ones to respond to his (many) night-time cries, and personally introduce him to colors, touch, sound, movement, and love—just as I had done for him while he was in my womb. When he had his first heartbeat, I was there. When he had his first breath, both mom and dad were there. And we refused to leave. Yes, it hurt. Then and now, I sometimes want to quit and go back to work (snide comments from the president and everyone else certainly don’t help). But, yes, it was and is completely worth it.
That decision required my husband to keep a crappy, low-wage job far beneath his abilities because it let him work nights and weekends, meaning he could care for our child while I was at work. (My super-generous Catholic boss allowed me to work from home several afternoons a week post-baby, which made the schedules just work for us.) It required me to scrimp every bit of sick and personal leave my employer (graciously!) offered so I could stay with our son full-time after his birth for just six weeks. It required us each to rush home after work instead of enjoying networking and relaxing with colleagues over a drink or meal. It required us to stay home on weekends, and forget date nights, movies in the theater, eating out, all those little American luxuries. But we did it, and it was the right thing. We felt this was one way we chose to love our child. And it made our high-touch, heavy-nursing momma’s boy very fat and happy. He, and our subsequent two, essentially feel this way about their mother (and her cold heart needs it):
My Children and I Are Not Grist for the Global Economy
Our arrangement didn’t generate so many tax revenues for President Obama’s high-tax, big-government planned economy. Maybe that’s why he declared non-parent child-care a “must-have” in Tuesdays’ State of the Union speech: “It’s not a nice-to-have—it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.”
Mr. President, I don’t give a damn about national economic priorities for other people. I am concerned with my family’s priorities for our children. Huge chunks of time spent with people who are not their parents makes my three little people depressed, anxious, and disruptive. Watch that turn into depressed, anxious, non-productive young adults. Watch it turn into medicated, emotionally troubled citizens. Oh, that costs society a lot of money, too? Well, I still don’t give a damn. Because I don’t care about society. I care about my children. And parents’ concern for their children first is what keeps society healthy, entirely naturally and with no costly social reconstruction programs needed. So maybe encourage instead of punch it.
Here Comes the Patriarchy to Narrow Female Choices
I choose to give up a nearly three-figure income in my mid-twenties, at great personal and professional inconvenience, to give my devilish, glorious children the gift of their own mommy’s hand on their owies and her own voice reading them real books, in person. The little monkeys like both very much. It satisfies their tiny souls. You can’t box me in, sir, because despite all that I’m still the family breadwinner—at home, during naps, and when my husband is home from graduate school. I fit in your government favorites category, but I don’t. How annoying to us both. It’s especially annoying to me to know that bureaucrats don’t like the way my husband and I prefer to arrange our life for our children’s comfort.
Not only that, they’re going to make me pay for it. First, economically: As the loser in a system of government preferences, I have to pay for goodies for other people that aren’t goodies for me. Second, socially: I have to hold my head high as a woman who sticks to her innate criteria for love and justice while the president of the free world takes to international television to bash me for having criteria that don’t match those of an egotistical, money-focused alpha male. How phallo-centric. And patriarchal.
All those people who want to hire me can find another capable employee. But nobody can replace my babies’ momma. And don’t you ever dare try. To pretend that it’s right to force this mom away from her children by increasing my taxes and compressing the job market to pay for other families who make different decisions is a total jerk move.
Joy Pullmann is managing editor of The Federalist and an education research fellow at The Heartland Institute.