The renewed discussion has brought out some brilliant voices, for sure. On Mom 101, Liz wrote about the myth of the rich, selfish, working mom, noting the many reasons, beyond financial necessity that mothers choose to work. On Black Girl in Maine, Shay wrote about the way our choices are limited by the cards we are dealt in life, concluding that:
In the end, we all make choices, we have too, its part of this experience we call living life but let’s not kid ourselves that we all have the ability to make the same choices because we don’t. Who and what we are shape the decisions and choices we make.
These are important conversations to have, especially when dealing with people who are still in denial and think this is a simple black and white issue. But they are also conversations that don't deserve and shouldn't need nearly as much vitriol. If women and families were supported in the choices that they make, perhaps this whole mommy war would fizzle out into something not much more controversial than playground discussions about whether to puree your baby's food or not.
Let me give you an example. In Quebec, where I live, there is a subsidized day care program and a child care tax credit for parents who do not get a space in the subsidized program. Parents who get a subsidized day care space pay $7 per day for child care. Parents who don't get a subsidized space get to deduct child care expenses from their income on their federal taxes and they get between 26% and 75% of the money they spent on child care back as a tax credit on their provincial taxes (depending on income level). If you want to see what those policies would mean for your family, based on your income level and the rate you pay for child care, you can make your head explode with this handy little calculator.
I know, I know. People who don't know better are going to scream about how they don't want to pay for someone else's daycare when they chose not to have children or chose to stay at home with their children. What they don't know, however, is that they wouldn't be paying for it. Quebec's child care policies have been proven to pay for themselves and then some. For every $1.00 that Quebec taxpayers put in to subsidized day care, they get back $1.49 from the increased income taxes and consumption taxes resulting from higher maternal workforce participation. That's a pretty good return on investment, in my opinion.
We also have maternity and parental leave programs which are not perfect, but are a good start. Oh, and health care that is universally available instead of being tied to that crappy job that you really wish you could leave, but has amazing benefits so you can't.
I know there are Americans fighting for these things and I hope that they continue to fight that fight. Because I agree with Ann Romney that "all moms are entitled to choose their path". I just don't think the current system gives them the flexibility and support needed to do so and that is a problem for mothers, for families, for children, and for the economy. As with real wars, these mommy wars are not truly about a clash between moms, but about a system that has let people down, poured fuel on the fire, and left each family to fend for themselves.
Can we call a cease fire on the mommy wars and find a way to make things easier for all mothers, regardless of their choices?
Image credit: davi sommerfield on flickr