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Women, Work, and Monetizing Misfortune

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Parenthood is like a tattoo, you don’t quite realize the unyielding permanence of the thing until it’s too late to turn back. This constancy yields endless opportunities for guilt and self-doubt. Decisions about childcare, for instance, are a major source of angst. Gabrielle Birkner’s recent article in this magazine brought some up for me. Thinking about nannies, daycare, and money summons feelings and knee-jerk opinions that I’m often loath to share in public. But here goes.

There are many angles from which to consider the question of childcare. Birkner discusses multiple family structures: single, married, single-income, dual income, etc. I come from the dual parent, 1.5 income category. I generate income, but really just enough to cover my tracks, shopping-wise. So why did I “choose” to limit my career to part-time and free-lance? Above all, I am home with my kids because I want to be. Because I believe that I am the best qualified to tend to their needs, and my husband makes enough to support us (that last bit is key, I know). We also did the math and realized that indeed, we would pay more in childcare than I made in my full time job. So the finances were simple enough. But certainly, for a single parent, the need for income and subsequently childcare compels you in the other direction. So your options become: nanny, secular day-care (or “early-learning center”) or now religious day-care, thanks to the growing number of religious institutions getting in on the act.