I have 2 kids. My oldest just started school, and the younger just turned 18 months. They keep me very busy, and I do love being a mom- although I am not prehaps as aware of that at 2am when they are not sleeping well, or when they start screaming grow-up words in the grocery store, or when they start calling out loudly and incessantly for a cookie when we are within 5km of the grocery store. However, they remind me how much I love being a mom when, for example, my son starts dancing in Michael's craft store at the front entrance so that he can watch himself dance on the tv monitor (this earned him the adoration of many in the store, and a tstuffed bear for most awesome craft store dancer). Or when my daughter starts reciting the names of her most favorite characters from In the Night Garden in her most charming, and loudest voice.
After she was born, I decided that I would not return to my job. I had been full time before my first child, and went part-time after my maternity leave with him. And after my daughter, I left it entirely. I wanted to stay home and raise my kids- something that, a few years ago, I had not seriously considered. I worked hard in school, got a BA and 2 master's degrees, and I had a career path in mind. Certainly I wanted what was best for my kids, but did that mean I had to let go of the education that I had spent years working for- and paying for? No. Thousands of women out there balance work and home just fine, and their kids turn out just fine, thank you.
I still believe that, and by no means is this a rant about why women should stay at home. I am a feminist (which is not a 4-letter word, by the way), and I believe that women have earned the right to make those choices. I made the choice to stay at home because it was right for me, and right for my family.
So what if I decided to return to work once my daughter is in school? That would be 5 years out of the work force... and apparently, as a result, I could expect to receive a whopping 15% less in salary than I had before children. !!! 15% !!!
I heard on the radio yesterday about a recent study that shows women lose around 3 or 3.5% for each year they are out of the work force while at home with kids. Like all of the skills I worked so hard for depreciate like an old car as soon as I am off the lot. Depressing.
I am not entirely surprised, really- depending on what field you are in, a lot can change in one year. And, I agree with some of the comments I have read that a person shouldn't expect a raise during a year of absence- that just makes sense. But I can't see how a year off with kids would make me rusty in a job for which I had trained long and hard. For example- if I were a teacher of Renaissance literature, and specialize in Shakespeare. How am I worth 3% less for taking one year off? Does the research about Shakespeare change THAT much that I am unable to do my job as well as someone else that has not taken a year? Or if I were an accountant and had been working for a company for a few years before taking time off to raise a child. Certainly, if I were out of it for a while I would need to take some time to gain my bearings- just as anyone who enters a new job. But it does not mean that all of my experience in that field has been snatched away, revoked like a delinquent driver's licence, and my abilities reduced to counting to 5 on my toes, to the tune of Old Macdonald's Farm.
What this really comes down to, in my opinion, is the lack of respect our society has for child rearing, on the one hand, and the excuse for cutting back a few bucks, on the other. Here we think we have come such a long way- women go to school and get an education. We run companies and countries and households, we litigate and we calculate and we build. Our world has opened up to us in so many ways, and we celebrate how marvellous it is- yet we are still reduced to these mindless ninnies capable of nothing more than a peanut butter sandwhich as soon as we give birth. Our mental capacities shrink to the level of Elmo, like a disease from which we can never recover.
I joke often that I have few brains left because 45% went to my son and another 45% to my daughter. The 10% left me is what gives me the ability to make a mean PB&J sandwhich, pick up the lego scattered about my house, and sing alphabet songs all day long. Beyond that? Nada.
I am kidding though. If the powers that be were listening and thought I was serious, and thought that motherhood makes you stupid- I WAS KIDDING!!!
I can still count to at least 10, and most of the time I don't even use all of my fingers. or my toes.
So. Anyone else wish to rant to the gods of modernity about the hypocricy towards at-home parents? Perhaps if we all chant loudly enough they will hear.
Or they might just get better earplugs.