Wednesday, March 11, 2015

nurturing and educating; errand of women

The plight of women in the work force has been on my mind a lot.  Many women want to work.  Many need to work.  But why are so many spending time away from their children to earn low wages at jobs that do not value them?

Women have always worked.  Managing the entire household while their husbands go out and shoot some meat to bring home, that's work.  Raising children, that's work.  Growing all the food for the family to eat + some to sell for cash, is work.  Teaching your children, nurturing your children, it's work.

When Horace Mann was pushing for universal education, he targeted women becoming teachers.  Do it because it's noble, he urged.  And as a wise politician, he knew they would be able to afford universal education on the backs of female teachers that would be paid less than male teachers.

The child care and education system have a class of employees that are minimally trained, acquire years of experience, but still get minimal pay.  It's rare to have parents that see teachers as anything but babysitters.  So while it can be a rewarding endeavor, if you're going to leave your children in the care of others, you may as well do something that will provide better financial security for your family.

I was telling P this in sort of a rant.  P is a teacher.  P loves teaching.  P is a great teacher.  P supports our family.   P is not a mother.

Digging deeper I realized that I come from a family that does not value teachers at all.  The worst villains to our family have been teachers.  In particular, Grandma H who left her small children in the care of her mother, so she could be a teacher.  So that's the dynasty of contempt for teachers I come from.  Having heard stories of contempt for teachers all my life, it is hard to realize that some people actually value teachers.

P's family has a long line of teacher, male professors, and Grandma L taught elementary school.   But it seems they also don't particularly value any teachers outside of higher education.

It's interesting that we would marry each other.  It's good.  We're ducks of a feather.  Except that I didn't really like teaching.  I couldn't handle the haters.

There is no magical career of easy living, with adoring fans.  Very often, the most rewarding careers are not well paying.  Not everyone can afford the lifestyle they want, doing the work they want to.  There is a compromise.  But I'd really like to help my daughters get degrees in fields that if they need to leave their children to work, they will be able to make some money, not just pay for daycare.  Because raising their children is the most important thing they can be doing with their time.  I hope they marry men that understand that and are willing to support them in that if at all possible. 

I think one of the worst things our current society tells parents, is that they are replaceable.  We're told our children will miss out on socialization if they aren't in day care.  We're told that if our spouse isn't satisfying in every conceivable aspect, in every moment, get rid of them. 

Parenting is a sacred work.  Of course the world wants to degrade it.  We're better at noticing how the world degrades the value of individuals and marriage.  But we don't like to tell people that their children deserve better.  Their children deserve them, fully present, engaged and as committed to their eternal progress as any other milestones, and more.

1 comment:

Okishdu said...

I knew some great teachers in elementary school, both for me and for my children, but they were like diamonds in the dross of teachers who I felt were just 'phoning it in' or who were actively antithetical. We are facing a dilemma as a nation as we become a culture where more women than men attend college. In a recent article in the Washington Post this situation is credited with an increase in the ownership of dogs as women fail to meet their goal of finding husbands with equivalent or better educations. I agree that women should be educated, but perhaps their expectations for marriage must be changed to reflect the reality that today's young men are not as well educated but may make more money at craft and entrepreneurial jobs that don't require a college degree.