Because They Would Do The Work Anyway

Leslie Kaufman had an interesting article about caregivers in the New York Times last week. It explored the special care that a caregiver who is related to her charge can provide. According to one such caregiver, Tracy Keil, she* can help her charges who don’t want “just a baby sitter” to live as they would like to live, to “get out and about, go grocery shopping or see a movie.”

Mrs. Keil quit her lucrative accountant job to stay home, and she wants to be “compensated” for what is now her “full-time job” of caregiving. “She sees it not only as a battle about income but also about dignity and respect.” She’s never regretted leaving her paying job, she enjoys her new role, and she’s confident in her competence, but she worries about the financial repercussions of working for nothing.

There’s a growing group of caregivers who are lobbying to not be taken advantage of anymore. Advocates for these caregivers suspect that the government does not pay them (so far) because “they know they would do the work anyway.”

Have you guessed who the charges are?

All of the issues in the article could apply to a stay-at-home mom caring for her kids, but instead it’s about soldiers who come home from war in need of full-time care. In many cases the health aides paid for by the government provide unacceptable care, so many wives of soldiers have quit their jobs to care for their loved ones themselves.

I don’t want to make light of the atrocities of war that render grown men and women in need of full-time caregivers. And, of course, the least we could do as a grateful nation is facilitate our veterans’ return to living to their full capacity.

But.

How come we don’t talk about mother-caregivers in similar terms? I’m not saying I’d like the government to pay me for being a mother, though I do find it appealing when Nora Roberts has characters choosing to accept the “professional mother stipend” in her futuristic Eve Dallas crime books.

I’ve pointed out before that the Child Care Tax Credit is unfairly preferential to working mothers (and fathers) who pay non-relatives to care for children.

Why doesn’t anyone talk about “compensating” (or at least not punishing in the tax code) mother-caregivers? After all, it’s not just a matter of income, but of “dignity and respect.”

Also, why weren’t there protests about this betrayal of feminist ideology — this suggestion that people are happier when cared for by a relative rather than a paid aide or in an institutionalized setting? Shouldn’t someone warn these women of all they are giving up and how they are setting feminism back by settling for a mere caregiver role?

Jane

*I’m not saying a man can’t be a caregiver, but all of the examples in this article were female.

Thoroughly Unworthy Emotions

Last week I was reading one of my favorite group Mormon woman blogs, and halfway through the post I felt disturbed, betrayed, cheated. I’ve had a mild blog crush on Heather O. for a while now, and I just couldn’t believe she was using words like “conferences,” “continuing education,” “license,” “our patients,” and “graduate school.”

When all this time I thought she was JUST A MOMMY, just like me.

Of course it’s great if a woman I know is a lawyer or a professor or a proofreader, as long as I know about it going in. I mean, I might still be jealous, but at least I’m prepared.

The worst was when I found out my cousin-in-law Jana ran a marathon between her second and third kids who are 18 months apart in age. I didn’t even know she was a runner!

So if any of you lovely women have degrees or careers or extreme hobbies that you rarely talk about, please lead up to them slowly. I might need some time to adjust my worldview.

 

Comment of the day from Paula:

Well, I definitely use my BA in Archeology all the time, trying to unearth that missing shoe so someone has a complete pair! LOL…

We who are your mothers and wives salute you!

On Friday Dick had to attend his first (and hopefully last) Boy Scout Jamboral. Since the Boy Scouts have even more regulations and permits than merit badges, Dick and his boys were going to catch a ride with someone authorized to transport scouts, but the plan was for me to drop them off at the church rendezvous point.

That afternoon I picked Dick up from work and drove to the boys’ apartment. I suggested he call to make sure the boys were ready to go, but Dick will sometimes do anything to avoid talking to people on the phone. After we’d waited a few more minutes and I nagged a bit more, he went in search of the boys (because that’s easier than actually making a phone call).

The boys weren’t ready. They weren’t packed, they hadn’t sewn on their patches. And they hadn’t made their tinfoil dinners yet. Dick was pretty ticked. Can you believe those boys hadn’t SEWN ON THEIR PATCHES or MADE THEIR TINFOIL DINNERS? I wondered if their mom was able to help, and Dick said their mom doesn’t know how to sew, and anyway, the boys SHOULD TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEMSELVES.

So I reminded Dick that I had:

A) procured his shirt,

B) shopped for and assembled his tinfoil dinner,

C) bought the boys’ shirts and patches that were not sewn,

D) reminded Dick to get his sleeping bag and tent from my parents’ house,

E) reminded the boys the previous day that they should make tinfoil dinners and sewn on patches,

F) picked Dick up from work, and

G) washed and folded his clothes that he wanted to take.

You’re so right, Dick. Boys should learn to do things for themselves.

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