What Stalled the Gender Revolution? Child Care That Costs More Than College Tuition

By Tamara Straus

I am probably a familiar type to you. I went to college, got a master’s degree, started a career, married, and had my first child late, at 35. I was working as editor-in-chief of a fiction magazine called Zoetrope: All-Story when I became pregnant. The magazine, founded and published by Francis Ford Coppola, had long struggled to get a financial foothold. Under my editorship it achieved just shy of breakeven and earned a number of literary awards. In my last trimester, however, I found myself fighting for my job. During the last month of my pregnancy, on the day of my baby shower, I was fired.

When I was pregnant, I also was the main breadwinner. My husband had just finished his Ph.D. and was on the academic job market. Not only did I have to hustle to find another job while hiding the fact that I was a breast-feeding humanoid, I had to threaten a lawsuit in order to extend my health insurance. I won. Yet I could see I already had lost. My mother’s generation—the Gloria Steinem generation of equal opportunity feminists—had fought and failed to create a system for working mothers, i.e., affordable day care for infants and toddlers, preschool for kids, and aftercare for school-age children. Instead, we have ended up with three months of maternity leave, 16 days of vacation, and a hodgepodge of “choices” that depend on whether we have a man, money, or family to help us along.

I was raised by a feminist and pretty much always considered myself a feminist. But “feminist” didn’t mean much to me until I was booted out of my office carrying 30 pounds on my belly. Looking back, I now find it spectacularly ridiculous that I was oblivious to a key battleground of American feminism: child care, with its barnacled tentacles around labor, class, and biology.

Americans have lots of opinions about working moms. Yet regardless of how they feel, 71 percent of those mothers are working outside the home, according to Pew Research’s latest numbers. And regardless of whether taxpayers think the government should subsidize child care, the cost of that child care is skyrocketing and creating seeds for downward economic mobility. Vox reported in August that child care costs are growing at nearly twice the rate of prices economywide. A 2013 report from Child Care Aware noted that as of 2012, in 31 states and the District of Columbia, day care is more expensive than one year of public college tuition—and that was among a cohort of faculty, people with the highest levels of education.

Today more than 40 per­cent of first-time moth­ers are un­mar­ried and more than half split from their mate by the time their child is 5.

For people with less education and lower incomes, the news is much worse. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that only one in six federally eligible children received child care assistance in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available. In the Golden State, according to a June 2014 study from the California Budget Project, funding for child care and preschool was cut by roughly 40 percent (after adjusting for inflation) compared to 2007–08. The result? Approximately 110,000 child care and preschool slots disappeared—a decline of nearly one-quarter since the Great Recession. There are just too many studies to cite here showing that when parents can’t find affordable child care, they give up working or looking for work.

Even at Berkeley, mecca of progressive politics, full-time day care for infants is $2,060 a month, $1,846 for toddlers, and $1,528 for Pre-K. Subsidies have never been available to faculty, staff, or students unless their income is below poverty level. And when government money does flow to care for children of poor students or staff, “it doesn’t cover half of what it costs to provide services,” said Mary-Ann Spencer Cogan, director of Human Resources and Organizational Services in UC Berkeley’s Residential & Student Services Program.

The only time the United States got anywhere near a comprehensive, universal system of birth-to-12 child care was when the whole nation was at war. In 1943, The Lanham Act created a system of all-day, government-subsidized child care centers that enabled women to take men’s places in fields, factories, and offices. The centers were affordable and wildly popular, according to a 2013 study by Arizona State University Professor Chris M. Herbst. He found that more than half a million children passed through the centers between 1943 and 1946, costing the U.S. government nearly $100 million (in 1940s dollars). Then the war ended and the centers were shut down. The issue remained largely moribund until 1971, when President Nixon vetoed the Comprehensive Child Development Bill, which would have created a national day-care system, largely for single parents.

In our current polarized and debt-rattled government, such a bill is unlikely to be resuscitated. But it would make a lot of demographic sense. Today more than 40 percent of first-time mothers are unmarried and more than half split from their mate by the time their child is 5. Meanwhile, evidence is mounting for the social and economic benefits of child care. A large body of scholarly research indicates that child care and preschool availability positively affects women’s employment options, professional advancement, and overall family economic security—and is a proven means to ensure school readiness among children. And better-paid women put more tax dollars into government coffers.

Arlie Hochschild, professor emeritus of sociology at UC Berkeley, has been writing around these issues for decades. In the new afterword to her 1989 book, The Second Shift: Working Parents and the Revolution at Home, she argues that the lack of affordable day care is a significant part of “the stalled gender revolution.” Hochschild says the culprit for this stalled revolution is not any one group, but a system.

“American capitalism over time embraced empowerment and sidetracked care,” she writes. “So in the absence of a countermovement, care has often become a hand-me-down job. Men hand it down to women. High-income women to low-income women.… The big challenge in the years ahead,” Hochschild concludes, “is to value and share the duties for caring for loved ones.”

What we have is elite wo­men (and men) blath­er­ing on about choice, and bil­lion­aire ex­ec­ut­ives passing them­selves off as role mod­els for work­ing wo­men, while re­fus­ing to ac­know­ledge, let alone cel­eb­rate the wo­men who help raise their chil­dren and man­age their homes.

Unfortunately, most Americans don’t talk about the tensions among care, economic mobility, and female empowerment the way Hochschild does. The narrative I tend to hear is of middle- and upper-class women who choose between staying at home to care for their kids or remaining on the job and spending spectacular amounts of money on nannies, day cares, preschools, summer and holiday camps, and afterschools. This summer, my husband and I spent more than $2,000 a month on summer camp for our two kids.

Nonetheless, I see myself as lucky. Since Zoetrope, I’ve had a string of excellent supervisors and employers who have given me the flexibility I need to earn money and raise young children. But I remain pissed off about what happens to many other mothers.

When my daughter was 10 months old, I landed a job as an editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. Through Craigslist, I hired a new mother who traded in her job as a social worker to care for her infant son and my daughter. Jen quit working for one simple reason: Her day care costs were wiping out her income. I found her choice unfair, but the results were clear: My earnings and savings went up, and Jen’s went down. When the time came for preschool, I could afford to send my daughter to a good one. Meanwhile, Jen and her husband, also a social worker, had accumulated no savings, could not afford preschool, and went broke. Within a year, they fled San Francisco and moved in with relatives on the East Coast.

What is to be done? If we are stuck with a system that privileges small government (except for military expenses) and low taxes (particularly for the rich), we certainly will never be able to afford subsidized childcare. And if we continue to uphold a corporate culture that pushes workers to sacrifice family time for continued employment and/or higher earnings, care for children will remain in a vise. This vise, as Hochschild points out, devalues human connection and care. It also ignores the vast demographic changes in employment and American families over the last 40 years, and can be used by conservatives and traditionalists to blame women and poor people for society’s failings.

Feminism isn’t a prominent social movement in this country anymore. And one reason for this is blazingly clear: We don’t have an affordable, taxpayer-subsidized system of infant-to-12 child care that levels the playing field for all women, their partners, and their children. What we have is elite women (and men) blathering on about choice, and billionaire executives passing themselves off as role models for working women, while refusing to acknowledge, let alone celebrate the women who help raise their children and manage their homes.

I don’t entirely blame my mother’s generation for eliding or giving up on creating a system of child care. The political tides have been against them. But it scares the heck out of me that consciousness-raising circles have devolved into Lean In circles (as Sheryl Sandberg calls her female empowerment groups)—and that many women and men have come to accept the status quo.

My plea to the remaining feminists out there is this: Let’s find some class solidarity and make government-subsidized child care a campaign issue. Let’s identify and vote for candidates who see affordable child care as a legislative necessity. Such family-friendly demands would make sense to low- and middle-income women. They would bring more people back into the feminist fold, and they might even revitalize a movement.

Tamara Straus is editorial director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley.

More from Gender Assumptions, the Winter 2014 issue of CALIFORNIA magazine:

The Stay-at-Home Dilemma: Modern Dads Can Pay a Steep Price for Bonding with Baby

Men are running into a problem that has bedeviled women in the workplace for decades: the flexibility stigma. Not to mention what some experts call the “femininity stigma.”
By Glen Martin
Read more »

Engendering Sons: Is It Doable—or Even Desirable—to Raise Gender-Neutral Children?

Growing a boy or girl from XY or XX chromosomes requires constant interaction with the environment, which ceaselessly reinforces the gender-divide.
By Alina Tugend
Read more »

The Politics of Consent: At UC Campuses, Why ‘No Means No’ Was No Longer Enough

States and campuses are adopting a new standard of assent in hopes of thwarting what some call a culture of rape.
By Stacy Finz
Read more »

Radicalizing Life Events: If I Was Truly Feminist, What Was I Doing About It?

A young journalist and new bride wonders what feminism means to her—and why so many of her peers have failed to embrace it.
By Sophie Brickman
Read more »

My Scarf, Myself, and You: Hijab Is About More, and Less, than Religious Expression

A Muslim journalist ponders the significance of her scarf, in terms of your perceptions and her choices.
By Yousur Alhlou
Read more »

Trans Identity Meditation: Exploding the Notion that Anyone Is Simply Male or Female

The T in LGBTQ has now taken center stage. Its aim: To explode the notion that any of us is exclusively masculine or feminine—culturally, neurologically, or biologically.
By Frank Browning
Read more »

From the Winter 2014 Gender Assumptions issue of California.
Filed under: Human Behavior
Image source: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis
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Comments

So true. Procreation is only for the wealthy.
The reason childcare is unaffordable is because wages are too low.
Children are the future workforce, consumers and engine of this country. By your logic, only privileged, affluent people should have the right to raise babies and cover their own childcare. It must be nice to have your head stuck in the sand- I envy your ignorance. Truly, life is easier for you! When you decide to come out for a dose of reality, you’ll come to know that if we don’t join together to raise the standard of childcare in our country, eventually this great capitalist experiment will come to an end. Oh but not in your lifetime, so why bother. Lucky you!
I’m surprised no one has mentioned our military spending. There is plenty of money available to improve our education system, provide childcare and preschool to all, and give mothers (or fathers) a 1-2 year family leave with newborns. We just have to prioritize that above spending more than the next 25 nations combined on our defense forces. Perhaps we could cut back to spending equal to the next 20 countries combined???
Oh please, CK, you miss the point. The point of the article is that women who choose to have children, which, might I add, is how YOU got here, must also choose between career and staying home to raise children, citing the financial cost of sound childcare prohibitive for a large majority of the population. Nothing has really changed for working women in this country.
Kudos to my mother, who in 1947 at the age of 38 with a 6 year old, 4 year old and 6 month old began teaching. Her pay was $250.00. College tuition in California at that time was also less than childcare. Our first in home caregiver (FRESHLY RETURNED FROM MANZINAR) charged $125.00 a month and her husband had a job. . My father, having suffered polio as a child struggled in the job department, losing out to returning vets. My first caregiver bought a house within 3 years.My parents did not buy one until 1960. My mother continued paying half her salary to home nannies until we were 11 and 9. My 5 year old sister went to private school until she was 8. My mom never complained and was grateful she had put herself through college from 1928 to 1930 so she could teach. She did not expect anyone to do this for her. She raised three college grads who worked our way though school in the 60’s while some of our friends were staging sit ins in university hallways while their parents paid their tuition. We all became working moms,2 of us with successful husbands. All 3 sisters raised 7 college grads including an attorney and a PhD. in History. None of this came for free and we struggled but it was worth it. The struggle is always worth it. It builds character. If we want to subsidize something, pay off the ridiculous loans that hang over the heads of our recent graduates so they can afford their childcare or put money back into our economy in other ways.
What has stalled the movement is utter confusion about what women are fighting for. They claim they want equality yet their number one focus in relationships is finding men to support them. Its a revolution with a faulty concept. True equality means that when half of the good jobs to men are lost then women need to step up and start accepting bread winner jobs. Trouble is women want to take the jobs and still want the man to pay for everything. Wonen need to reevaluate what they value in men. Women want to work when they want, be a man when they want, be a woman when they want, be a stay at home mom when they want. How is that equality? That’s not equality. Its called picking all the good with none of the bad. Until they can accept responsibility as an equal then they shouldn’t demand the other stuff. Without responsibility there is no equality. Something women seriously need to come to grips with
As another person has already touched on, I agree that the solution is to pay parents to stay home longer. The ideal situation is more parental care, followed by more affordable daycare. I live in Europe where we genuinely believe this, which is why the USA has the lowest amount of paid maternity leave in the developed world (compare this to Norway that has 44 weeks paid maternity leave for all parents).
As a man, I would like to see men included in child-rearing and education. Perhaps women accept single-motherhood and reject including the father too readily now-a-days? Not only would including fathers give children good male role models, but it helps with childcare time and costs. Voila! Problem solved. Include men.
Should I choose to not bear children because I should somehow know that the cost of childcare will quadruple and exceed my salary so I cannot afford to work then become another welfare recipient? Should rich be the only people allowed to reproduce? Preschool education is not a right available only to the wealthy. It is a responsibility of our country to invest in all children. We now know that 0-4 education is crucial for early child development. Why do so many think this is only for people who are in upperclass and the rest should have “planned better”?
If you want children raised to mirror yourself you have to raise them yourself. There are too many worthwhile wants that have been redefined as absolute necessities today creating stress and angst among young couples. Two cars, separate bedrooms for the kids, both parents working full time during the same shifts/hours, new baby furniture, strollers, clothes, vacations, non family sitters/child care all of this was mostly unheard for middle class families a generation ago. When women have children later in life after years of enjoying a fairly upscale lifestyle, it is very hard to go back to the bare bones existence young parents routinely expected in the ‘old days’. Also lots of formally optional expenses have now become ‘rights’. Witness the absurd lawsuit of a child suing for parental support of her college education. Legally you need to feed, clothe and transport a child to public school until they are of legal age, you don’t have to buy them an I phone and support their pottery classes at Bennington. The next level of insanity: parents suing children for their assisted living expenses.
Move to France! It is not an accident that France has the one of the highest birth rate in Europe…
This article is about the college educated, yuppified privileged. I wish all such articles were honest, and said that we are not here talking of the poor, the homeless, the blue collar or the working class, or those who have toiled in the fields, worldwide, from dawn to dusk. That there is no pretense here that in our treatise and our thinking, we are at all even alluding to the true meaning of these much ballyhooed words: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Nothing will be lost, much will be gained by saying that we are speaking about a sliver, a small fraction of those affected by the gender revolution: the exclusive, narcissistic, egoistic cohort, the privileged, the college educated in the worldwide and American society. The thing that bugs me about the writings, speeches, presentations and talks regarding the gender revolution, or anything else, is that a certain class, is taken as representative of the whole. For example, the less educated, those not educated in the formal, structured education sense, the radical, the blue collar, the working class, the LGBT group, those with a darker complexion or hue were all excluded, kept hidden in the struggle. The darker they were, the less likely it was that they would have been allowed to be the spokesperson. They all had to remain in the back office, so that the mainstream society and media would not be given the easy opportunity to attack the revolution on multiple fronts. That was then perhaps expedient so the movement could gather steam. Particularly egregious, even till today, is that many of the women who loved women, and who did yeoman work for the revolution, never got credited for their role in the revolution, the part that they played, for fear that bringing them out to the fore, would only re-emphasize for the mainstream, the easy canard, that the fount for the revolution, the basis, was “hating men”! And this is still applicable today, for this article refers to a certain, particular class. Back then, way back (I do not remember the decade), when the women who were considered the leaders, and the leading light of the revolution here in the US of A, went to meet the women in other countries, who were part of cultures that were different from the west, these western women were surprised and shocked initially that they were not welcomed or greeted by those women of various alternate cultures in the manner that they were expecting. Today, worldwide, still, all the outreach and communication regarding the revolution, between the women of the different countries, is confined to the women of a particular class, who think in a particular way. Of course, there are many exceptions, like Arundhati Roy, Patricia J. Williams, Connie Rice, just naming three, who shine like a star, because they are so different! They are the genuine spokespersons, not the ones in this article
This is from a father who does 90% of the diaper changing and feeding, to the feminist writer of this article. The first half of your article is great, where it points out the many pressing problems of our society, and the challenges of parenthood. But the second part sounds like nothing but a propaganda piece. First and foremost, if “more than 40 percent of first-time mothers are unmarried and more than half split from their mate by the time their child is 5,” that’s the problem that needs fixing. It takes a village to raise a child. People who don’t have kids will most likely not understand that, but any mother should know how true that saying is. So if the mother (or the father) chooses to split, and slice their resources in half (in reality, less than half after the messy divorce, if they are married to begin with), how and why does that become a problem for the rest of the society (actually, not the rest of the society, only the taxpayers)? This is why the second part of your article sounds like a propaganda piece. Really? “[T]axpayer-subsidized system of infant-to-12 child care that levels the playing field for all women, their partners, and their children”? Are we to translate this sentence into “the middle class should pay more taxes to support 40% of the parents who make poor decisions?” And I guarantee you that after paying said taxes, the middle class will be denied any benefits that the taxes create, because “they make too much.” If this is your feminist agenda, sorry, this father who helps around the house and actively participate in taking care of his child cannot in good judgment agree with you.
Amen! If we want to subsidize something, pay off the ridiculous loans that hang over the heads of our recent graduates so they can afford their childcare or put money back into our economy in other ways. My daughter recently received her PhD in Adult Education. The amount she owes in student loans is ridiculous! Thank you for your comment.
Children are definitely a choice. They are NOT a necessity. Plenty of childless couples can back me up on that. With that said, humanity is NOT helpless. It is however, ridiculous for men and women to expect the tax payer to pay for their child. You wanted a child, you raise it, you pay for it. Did the tax payer force you two to have relations? Did the tax payer vote for laws citing that children are a requirement? No. The world doesn’t work that way. The world will not cuddle you like a child and expecting you to have everything. You can’t. If you make a choice, it means you chose something over something else. You can’t have both. If you want children, then the father needs to pay up to support that child and provide a stable environment for the child and raise that child. The mother in turn has to raise that child. (Or Vice versa, one parent needs to stick with the child). That means one parent needs to give up either A) working full time or B) Not working at all. ||This is what I would call a choice, a political choice not to make having children affordable only to the highest class and the poorest who have nothing to loose.|| That’s what I would call a Benefit (having a job, getting money) without responsibility (raising your child, paying for your child). If either parent is successful in doing this: Good luck teaching the kid responsibility of ones actions given the bad example the parents are providing.
This type of thinking is so caustic, and also flawed. Although each individual makes a choice to have children, children are not the property of their parents, they are part of our society and of our countrys future. Getting children is not the same thing as buying a sports car— 85% of all adults will have at least one child, so it is not a minority privilege but a fact of life. Placing the costs squarely on the individual parents ignores these facts and treats children as if they have no value to our country:
This is sort of off topic but I have worked in pre school setting and having a 4:1 ratio for certain aged children is sometimes pushing it. For example, 12-16 mo olds. I’d like to see anyone try to take care of 4 toddlers for eight hours straight. You need 10 eyes and 12 arms and no need to use the restroom or eat or ever sit down… Also, ratios go up as kids age. I believe here 2-3 yr olds have a 7:1 and 4-5 it is 11:1. Most people don’t realize that the states “ratio” is meant as a maximum not as the standard. It means no teacher should ever be left alone with 5 toddlers all alone. Also, just because childcare is open 11 hours a day does not mean the teachers are working that many hours. Those 11 hr shifts are split between 4-5 teachers (depending on childcare enrollment per age group). When I worked for a childcare center I never reached overtime. Not in one day and not in a two week pay period. So I very much doubt any teacher will be making 45k, unless they are being paid closer to 20. Per hour. This pay is generally reserved for the person who runs the place. Anyway, my point I guess is that ratios are not the only problem. Almost every other developed country provides free childcare and some regardless of parent worming of not like Sweden. In Sweden children are expected to go at age 2 because it is when their education begins. I look at it as a necessary investment in out country. Whe more woman/men can afford to go go work them That exorbitant amount of money can be shifted to other areas of our economy which increases our financial stability maybe working parents can afford to step up to eating better quality good which could help reduce our yearly medical costs. Plus more children being exposed to educating early means their brains get the proper develoent needed for lifelong learning. I beleive we can afford it and it might even pay got itself…
This is sort of off topic but I have worked in pre school setting and having a 4:1 ratio for certain aged children is sometimes pushing it. For example, 12-16 mo olds. I’d like to see anyone try to take care of 4 toddlers for eight hours straight. You need 10 eyes and 12 arms and no need to use the restroom or eat or ever sit down… Also, ratios go up as kids age. I believe here 2-3 yr olds have a 7:1 and 4-5 it is 11:1. Most people don’t realize that the states “ratio” is meant as a maximum not as the standard. It means no teacher should ever be left alone with 5 toddlers all alone at once. Also, just because childcare is open “11 hours a day” does not mean the teachers are working that many hours. Those 11 hr shifts are split between 4-5 teachers (depending on childcare enrollment per age group). When I worked for a childcare center I never reached overtime. Not in one day and not in a two week pay period. So I very much doubt any teacher will be making 45k, unless they are being paid closer to 20. Per hour. This pay is generally reserved for the person who runs the place. Anyway, my point is that ratios are not the only problem. Almost every other developed country provides free childcare and some regardless of parent working or not like Sweden. In Sweden children are expected to go at age 2 because it is when their education begins and to socialize them. I look at it as a necessary investment in our country. when more woman/men can afford to go to work then That exorbitant amount of money can be shifted to other areas of our economy which increases our financial stability. maybe working parents can afford to step up to eating better quality food which could help reduce our yearly medical costs. Plus more children being exposed to education early means their brains get the proper development needed for lifelong learning. I beleive we can afford it and it might even pay for itself…
Apologies for the poor grammar above. If moderator can delete first post I’d appreciate it. In hospital right now for cancer treatment so I’m a bit foggy :(
Rita, I love how you put that. Certainly it isn’t anyones responsibility to help me pay for my Mercedes but that is a choice that I made. Besides they (children) are part of our society and the worse we treat our youth the worse our social problems become. our children are important—rich or poor and paying for universal pre-school Is our responsibility. Even if I didn’t have pre-school children (I have almost grown ones) I would absolutely pay taxes for free preschool and free secondary education while we are at it. It is an investment in our future generation.
Cherry Bridge Station operate state of the art early learning and childcare centres in Sydney that are equipped to meet the ever-changing demands of today’s families. Our centres are for children aged six weeks to five years and boast the very best educators and resources. We have long daycare centres located in Cranebrook, Ropes Crossing, West Hoxton , Penrith and Lane Cove. Talk to us today to discuss your enrolment enquires.
Cherry Bridge Station operate state of the art early learning and childcare centres in Sydney that are equipped to meet the ever-changing demands of today’s families. Our centres are for children aged six weeks to five years and boast the very best educators and resources. We have long daycare centres located in Cranebrook, Ropes Crossing, West Hoxton , Penrith and Lane Cove. Talk to us today to discuss your enrolment enquires.
Neverxmiss, we will pay for it one way or another. If children are not supported and well educated (I’ll throw in nutritiously fed as well) then they tend to cause trouble down the road. Would we rather build new quality schools or jails? It is cheaper to pay for the early care than to deal with the outcome of the neglect. Plus, if childcare is paid by all of us, maybe parents can have a bit leftover to put much needed funds back into the economy. It will probably end up paying for its self and provide an equal playing field for parents of every class.
Invest in child care and education or spend the same or more on prisons. If you don’t do one chances are you’ll just end up doing the other. Choose.
And I should clarify that I don’t have kids. I do have to pay for other kids’ health care and schooling and maybe I’d rather keep more of that for myself. But I would much rather support them now than pay for them to get locked up because they didn’t have the infrastructure to be healthy, valuable and productive members of society. It’s not like anyone goes to the moon and becomes “not our problem.” We are all each others’ problems. We’re all paying for other peoples’ existence so why not do it in the most productive way possible?
Wendy, thank you for your most important issue ever on “Gender Assumptions.” As the new Spring issue arrives my greatest hope is that the Winter issue shall not be forgotten.
Thank you, Viktor. It’s so important for people to remember and be reminded that while there are increasing numbers of people who choose to forgo raising children in current society, doing so is imperative to “uphold the system,” as you pointed out. With affordable day care, as well as proper parental leave, more people might opt into child-rearing and be able to do so without the stress that can often make childhood so fragile, like financial strain.
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I completely agree. If you can’t afford children do NOT have them. I never could afford them and never had any, which I feel was the responsible choice.
I was blessed by a woman who loved children. No, she wasn’t on the county registry of “registered” daycare. I took a chance and interviewed with her (and she with me). I had a husband who traveled extensively and needed someone who could watch my children for longer than normal hours. Johnnie was beyond a blessing - she did this only because she loved children and even in the 1980’s only charged $50/week. But she did more to raise my children than I did - at least I feel that, after commuting and working 10-12 hour days. She would never take on more than 3 children at a time. I will never know how my children and I could have survived without her. Johnnie was rare and my close friends brought their children to her also. She was an example for her daughters who were involved in the community, sharing and caring for elders. I and my sons will forever remember her love and care.
Anne, I understand that. But I think of the families 100, 200 years ago that did not even think of the cost. They simply knew they needed to have a family - out of love, the edict of the church, etc. Families with large ranches or farms needed to raise lots of children to help bring in the crops. Some families are still in that situation today. Some people actually have children to bring in money on welfare. It is a complex situation - but each of us go with what is part of our life style.

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