As a society, we punish poor children for the “sins” of their mothers. Mom addicted to drugs? Let’s cut off your food stamps! Uncle who shares his house with you have a 20 year old felony on his record? Starving those kids will teach him not to do that! Dad refuses to work so that his wages can’t be garnished for child support? Your mom should have thought of that when she spread her legs!
And of course, we stack the deck so that single mothers are among those least likely to be paid a fair wage in the traditionally recognized workplace, especially mothers of color. Midday school meetings, missed days caring for a sick child, lower wages for the same work, lower wage work industries, and part-time hours conspire to make getting by a struggle, and “saving for college” a phrase that induces bitterness and guilt.
And then there’s the cost of childcare. You’ve almost certainly heard that university tuition rates have skyrocketed over the past few years, and that the average middle class student leaves with $35,000 in student loan debt. What you probably haven’t heard is that in many metropolitan cities, the cost of daycare tuition for one year trumps that of tuition at a four year state university.
Many mothers can’t earn wages high enough to cover the expense, and the costs of childcare keep many moms out of workforce who want to be working. It’s worth pointing out that the childcare workers in these facilities, often mothers themselves, are paid paltry wages for incredibly demanding work. Someone is making a fortune, but it isn’t Miss So-and-So in your toddler’s classroom.
For school-aged children, there are after school activities, many charging a hundred dollars or more per week per child. This is one of the only concessions made to the possibility of women having jobs or careers that limit their ability to pick up the kids by 2:30. And while latchkey kids were common in the 80s and 90s, today’s moms – especially those deemed undeserving – risk arrest for child neglect if they don’t meet their 5th grader at the bus stop each early afternoon.