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Sometimes I think I would be happier if I didn’t read the paper or watch the news, but I can’t seem to help myself. I want to know what’s going on, even if I don’t always like it.
The ongoing problem of the cost of childcare has been back in the news lately. This is not a new problem, but it is major. The thought of women having to pay out 70% of their income for childcare is mind boggling, but apparently, that is often reality.
Almost 60 years ago, I thought about going back to work. I was not a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief (hope you have heard the little button counting rhyme that comes from), but I was qualified to get a pretty good job.
Still, when I added up what it would cost me for childcare for two little boys, transportation, updated wardrobe for work and lunches, I discovered I really wouldn’t make much money.
I was lucky enough to have a husband bringing home a paycheck, so I had a choice. I could take a job and have a little extra money to spend on entertainment, eating out, buying new clothes, etc. or could continue to stay at home and enjoy my children, cook our meals, do a little sewing, get together with other young mothers for play dates and invite friends over for dinner or games.
I chose to stay at home, but many women don’t have that choice. If they have children and are the sole breadwinner in their household, they must settle for the remaining 30% of their often-meager salary to cover food, housing, clothing, transportation, medical and insurance bills and whatever emergencies might arise. That is a daunting task.
What makes this problem even more vexing is that the people who provide the childcare that costs so much are often among our lowest wage earners.
When I follow the news, it poses a lot of questions but doesn’t offer many answers.
Jean McCamy is a Wake Forest artist.