Of all the parenting questions and insecurity I have, childcare has been the biggest. Having never had a kidney stone (which my mother says is a pain worse than the 36-hour, no drug labor she endured, up hill, both ways, in the snow, at a military hospital), the pain of childbirth (or at least the beginning of it) is the worst pain I can imagine physically. Having never lost a child (thank God, knock wood, and all the other things), the pain of leaving my newborn with a stranger is the worst emotional pain I’ve ever felt. I don’t really remember how much labor pains hurt, only how good that epidural felt, and how happy I was when Thor finally made his appearance, but I remember with awful clarity how it felt when I put that five week old baby in the arms of a stranger, making minimum wage to care for my precious, hard won son.
I am not ashamed to tell you that I broke down sobbing, and had to sit in my car for a long time before I could make myself drive away.
We have been extremely fortunate that we have always had a choice in childcare. We haven’t had to make do with the bare minimum because it was all we could afford, and we haven’t had to rely on unpaid care. We have been extremely fortunate.
This morning, I am thinking about mothers who are having to leave their babies in the arms of people they aren’t sure they can trust, hoping against hope that the worker is good to their baby, while they go to work to try to earn enough to keep that child in food and diapers. I am thinking about mothers who don’t have a choice. I am thinking about mothers who are trusting fate.
When I am Overlord, we will find ways to pay well for three things, and we will find ways to attract the best people for these jobs: Childcare, education, and elder care. No mother should have to be afraid to leave her baby.