Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Bloggers Unite for Women's Equality Day
When women of the Caribbean and the Americas are truly equal, stay at home mothering will be a paying job. (Yes, at-home fathers will be paid too, of course, but this blog is not about them.) On that wonderful day coming women like me will be among the highest paid in all the land, together with teachers, nurses and police, and it will be illegal for preachers to make any money at all. I'm just saying. Stay at home mothering and the daily creation of the home and the family is a profession that has asked more of me than all of my jobs as a professional writer put together. My job at the time of this writing is to keep the rest of the folks in this household alive, fed, clothed, sheltered, clean, nurtured, educated, comforted, well-advised, contented, interconnected, inspired, protected and well-loved, all through every day, all through every night, and do it with a peaceful, joyful spirit. I get it right some of the time. When I am not getting it right, and someone or everyone is suffering because of it, including me, it is usually because I am freaking out about all the unpaid labor that I do. No wonder women would rather choose a dreary job with a paycheck over the unpaid labour of the woman at home. If motherhood paid then more of the best womanish minds of my generation would choose motherhood like it was as liberating and empowering as education and travel and free thought, it would be another wonderful life option with promises of enrichment and opportunity and financial security. It would make steaming the chicken so much more fun. It would empower me and free us all. I love my job. I love the blessed, beautiful work of mothering and making home. I wouldn't leave it for any outside employment unless the pay was enormous and I could hire a full time nanny with a degree. And a cook. Yes it is worth sacrifice, having the power to watch over our children as they grow, not having to wonder if the babysitter is hitting them or leaving them unattended, (how do the "working mothers" do it?). Stay at home mothering is certainly worth sacrificing many indulgences for a season, but mothers are people too. We are born with certain human rights, one of them being the right to self governance and personal empowerment, including financial empowerment. These are not indulgences they are requirements for a womanish mother's civilized life. It is crucial for a cultured, progressive society that women and mothers especially are never falling into pits of poverty and desperation because they have children. Let me say here: I do not live in poverty, not really. There are real poor people in this world and I know I am not among them at this moment. That I am cooking supper and blogging about human rights is proof of my continuing privilige even though my pockets are literally empty. But the fact still remains that the labor I perform as a stay at home mother is unpaid labor. I figure my work as mother and the maker of a home is worth at least $100 an hour in these hard economic times. Mr Prime Minister, are you listening? It is Women's Equality Day and I am celebrating by imagining a better world for women, and for mothers and their children especially.