walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

delusional

I'm reading _The Unfinished Revolution_, and a review will follow. It's worth reading, if somewhat repetitive. The author's use of extensive quotations from interviews is particularly valuable. After (laboriously) drawing a picture of a world in which the cohort that (roughly) followed me is made up of men and women of all races/ethnicities/classes mostly want to have all adults making money, keeping (some of) that money under each person's own control, and sharing domestic/childrearing work, she then goes on to describe in detail how men's ideas of a fallback strategy if the ideal doesn't work out differs from women's. This is great, it matches my sense of reality, etc. But it also annoys me, because a lot of women's rhetoric about childrearing makes _no sense whatsoever_. Here's an example:

"Reliance on her own stay-at-home mom allowed Letitia to plan to work full-time, even as a single mother: 'I have it all planned out -- my mom's living next to me because she's going to take care of my kids while I'm working. So to have an unhealthy relationship with a man -- I'd never do that -- but as long as I've got my mom, I can be the provider, the mother and father.'"

I have _zero_ problem with what Letitia has in mind (assuming her mum has agreed to this, and assuming mum's health is supported adequately); I know other people who have made similar arrangements. What I _do_ object to is the idea that this Letitia under these circumstances is "the mother and father". She isn't. She's sharing (and that may be generous, depending on the job she's got in mind -- grandma may be doing the vast majority of it) the caretaking/nurturing work with grandma. In this rhetorical assignment of roles, Letitia is "father" and grandma is "mother". And suggesting otherwise is just Letitia doing to mum what everyone else has done to mum: taken her hard work for granted and/or treated it as their own doing.

I'm halfway through the book, and I just want to wave my hands in front of a lot of these young'uns and say, wake up! The whole milk-and-cookies thing when coming home from school is _not_ the part of child care that is tricky to outsource or even to do oneself. _That_ part you can successfully delegate to the kids themselves (at least after primary school), if you don't want to use the aftercare programs supplied by many school districts. It's the years before the kid is _in_ school that are tricky. I think the problem lies in the relatively small families most of these kids came from (already down to 3 or fewer per family on average for that cohort). One does not remember one's pre-K years with any reliability, and with a tiny number of siblings, the odds are good you won't remember your siblings pre-K years with much accuracy either. Career compatible child care looks damn easy if you have only your own raising for reference. These are also cohorts that (what with the small family size and all) didn't necessarily do a ton of babysitting, either, which aggravates the problem.

I do recognize there are tremendous risks/problems with letting school-age kids fend for themselves between when school lets out and when the adults arrive home from work. I do. But if you try that with pre-K kids, the state will take them away from you.
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