I had to take a road trip for work today. I don’t do it often anymore and I was looking forward to the alone time in the car. I love talk radio and was happy to have the time to really listen. Leslie Roberts had Dr. Fraser Mustard on to talk about his new report Early Years Study 2: Putting Science Into Action. The Toronto Star credited Dr. Mustard with asserting that “Just one-third of parents are doing a great job. The rest are okay or even ‘godawful’.”
The discussion was interesting and Dr. Mustard was basically saying that the quality of the input in the formative years (0-6 years) will determine the quality of the output later in life, especially when it comes to literacy, numerology, behaviour, etc. Dr. Mustard’s criticism was aimed primarily at the government for not providing adequate funding and support for parents, but also at parents for not spending enough time with their children and not providing the quality of input required to develop young minds.
As I drove along, I was interested to hear the opinions of callers. Then, I felt like punching every self-righteous asshole that called in. Caller after caller talked about how parents need to make the choice to have one parent stay home (in every case this morning, it was the mother) to ensure that the child received that quality input. You have to decide whether material “things” are more important than the welfare of your child. Is it really that big a sacrifice? they asked.
My name is LoriD, and I’m a working mom.
I have nothing against SAHM’s. Nothing at all. It’s a choice and it’s the right choice for many, many families. It is not, however, the right choice for my family. I assure you that in making our choice, material “things” does not factor into the equation and I resent like hell the implication that it does. I also resent the implication that as a working mom I don’t make sacrifices for my children because, believe me, I sacrifice. I sacrifice time to myself so I can devote time and attention to my kids every morning, evening and weekend. I sacrifice sleep so I can do things like housecleaning, laundry and meal prep after the monsters are asleep. I sacrifice money, because I pay a premium to have a full-time nanny who is ECE trained.
I don’t work so that we can live large. I work because I love my job. I like that I make a meaningful contribution to something important to a great number of people. I don’t have the type of job that will be there waiting for me if I take 10 years off to stay home. Everything I have done to earn my position - the degrees, the jobs, the extra effort I put into projects – all of that will be lost if I take time off. My talents and skills aren’t suited to a work from home job, so my only options are to not work at all, or to work outside of the house. Perhaps that sounds selfish, but I know too many women my mom’s age whose identity is tied up with being only a wife and mother and they have nothing that is their own. That’s not for me.
The callers to the radio show were all bragging about their kids and how the teacher could tell they were from families with SAHM’s because they were so advanced. Well, allow me to brag a little. My daughter is the youngest in her class. She is also the best reader. She is well advanced in her ability to work independently and she is exceeding the provincial requirements for all subjects, except Art. She’s at the provincial standard for Art, which isn’t surprising since I always kind of sucked at Art.
If you’ve made it this far, I applaud you! The point of my rant is that I don’t draw the conclusion that SAHM’s are incapable of working, that they are home watching soaps or obsessing about the cleanliness of their homes. I ask that you don’t assume that just because I work that I love my kids less, that I don’t care about their health and well-being or that I have left the raising of my children to someone else. I’m sure there are just as many SAHM’s as working moms in Dr. Mustard's “godawful” category. They just don't listen to talk radio.