After I had my son, I quickly learned that overprotective “Mom Brain” was not just an urban legend. I heard stories from friends of mine about how they would worry about crazy, impossible scenarios, like mapping out an exit strategy if a bear broke into their house. Never mind the fact that they lived in a very suburban area where bears are not known to frequent. I mostly laughed it off and swore up and down I wouldn’t be like that if I ever had a child.
Fast forward to many years later, and suddenly I was that mom with the crazy thoughts. I feared for my baby boy when I spotted a lone, tiny mouse in our house and was convinced if I didn’t get my child out of the house immediately, that little mouse would be in his room just waiting for nap time so he could eat his feet…or something. I was and am aware that those kinds of thoughts are completely ridiculous, yet I somehow cannot seem to shut off my brain coming up with worst-case scenarios. Often, they are of the ridiculous sort. But sometimes, they are real and valid worries.
What if something happens to my husband to take him out of the work force and unable to help care for my son? What if my husband were to die? What if I were to die? What if my husband not only loses his job, but what if both of us can’t find work in that time? What if all of our best efforts and hard work leads to failures and setbacks instead of stability and success? How would we take care of our child? We would be doing everything in our power to better our situation, but that would take us away from him. How would we do both? How could we afford to do both? And then, I remember that my worst-case scenarios are many parents’ realities, and my heart aches for them.
It’s no secret that childcare is expensive. In 32 states, the average cost of infant childcare exceeded the cost of in-state tuition at public colleges in 2014. Also in 2014, childcare subsidies hit their lowest in a decade. This has left many parents in a Catch-22.
“How do I look for a job to care for my children if I can’t afford childcare for my children?”
“How can I possibly afford good childcare when my job pays just enough to pay rent and keep food on the table?”
The questions and scenarios are endless. And they are real struggles experienced by real people who are trying to provide for their children. The work that Scottdale Child Development & Family Resource Center is essential and vital for the well-being of all children. To provide high-quality childcare and education to low and moderate-income families is to help lift a burden and help secure a future. Learning should not be a commodity. It shouldn’t be a privilege. As President Obama stated, “It’s not a nice-to-have it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.”
We must do better by the children in our communities. We must help and educate nonprofits such as Scottdale and encourage the creation of more early childhood education centers such as theirs. Our future depends on these children.