Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Very occasionally, I understand the lure of patriarchy.
Today I took my son to a new day care.  We are just trying it out for a few weeks, and he was only there for a few hours in the morning.  I came back after lunch, during their rest time, to find my little boy standing up in the playpen, sobbing his heart out.  His eyes were red, his nose running, his shirt soaked with tears and snot.  I scooped him out and he wimpered, "Mommy, no go bye-bye."
Unfortunately, his nap time doesn't coincide with the day care's naptime.  He might have played quietly with toys and a book if they had been offered, but it isn't their policy to do so.  The other seven babies have been there since they were six weeks old, and are there five days a week, so their schedules are the same.  My son's isn't.

It also, apparently, is not their policy to pick up a child who sobs for half an hour and comfort him.

I came very, very close to quitting my job today.  Fortunately, my reasonable husband said, "Well, you can. We can afford it, if that's what you want. But you like your job.  And you only work two days a week; we can work around your schedule."
And we can.  But my point is that sometimes I understand the security that patriarchy can seem to offer.  Dad works, preferably at home, where he is easily accessible.  Mom takes care of the kids and the house, not having to worry about day cares and work schedules and what in the world she's going to make for dinner after getting off a twelve hour shift.  Life is prescribed; Dad does this, Mom does that, kids do what Mom and Dad say, and Mom does what Dad says.  There's no guessing; no struggling in the dark hours of the night about choosing good child care or whether or not a parent should keep working.

(By the way, I'm not saying that day care is wrong. My son was in a wonderful day care for several months, but it's no longer available so we are looking at other options.) 

There is some measure of comfort in having your choices taken away.  When you lose choice, you can stop wondering whether or not you are doing the right things.
But you lose so much more.
You lose who you are. What makes you you.  You lose the understanding that what works well for you may not work well for another family.  When choice is taken away, and roles are set in stone, who are you?  Are you just a robot, following your programming? 

That is why I will never veer down the path of patriarchy(well, that and my husband has too much sense).   Even when I struggle with my choices, I am glad I have the ability to make them.  Even when I look at my sleeping son tonight, snuggled in his crib, and flash back to his tear streaked face earlier today, wondering if I should even keep working, I am so thankful I have that choice.  Many, many women are not financially able to make a choice about working, and many women have been denied the education that would give them career options.   I don't know yet exactly what I'm going to decide, but I am so, so thankful that ultimately, it is my decision, not one that my church, pastor, parents or husband have made for me.