Friday, August 26, 2011

Baby, I got your money

A number of people expressed astonishment at the $4,000 in monthly day care costs I mentioned in an earlier post.  Well, now that we're having one baby rather than twins, day care will be more like $2,500/month.  $1,000 for full-time toddler at a mid-priced centre and $1,540 for full-time infant (ie under 18 months) at the only centre we can get into without a 2-year waiting list (because my company is a corporate client). 

We might be able to get it down to $2,000/month if my mom will watch the littlest one twice a week, but there's no getting around the fact day care is a fortune.  I can understand how if you were in a job just to pay the bills, rather than a career you enjoyed and worked hard for, the decision to stay home would seem like a no-brainer.  I also think women in the States who are forced to choose between going back at 6 weeks or quitting are facing a rather barbaric choice.  Six weeks is awfully early to take a mom from her baby for 8 hours a day.  There's no way to talk about this subject without sounding defensive and offending 50% of the audience, but that's the story of my life, so oh well.

We get a year's maternity leave in Canada - NOT fully paid unless you work in the public sector and get a top-up that the rest of us unlucky schmucks fund through our taxes - you're welcome (damn, I said I wouldn't be rude in this post!!).  The government allows you to collect a miniscule amount of unemployment insurance, which resulted in a 3-hour crying fit for me six years ago when I discovered EI wasn't 55% of your actual salary, but was capped at a level so low that I'd be receiving approximately 30% of my normal paycheque. 

This bumped our plans for kids back several years and was one of the few times I've been angry that I make double my husband's salary.  I kept thinking if we had traditional gender roles, none of this would be an issue.  I felt irrationally like the government was punishing me as a woman for being financially successful (really I don't make that much - this sounds like I'm Ivanka Trump or something), and it was a shock for a late 70's baby who takes male/female equality for granted. 

I will not digress into a tirade about our wretched chauvinistic prime minister who wants us all barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, and continues to enact policies to make this happen and undo much of the progress that had been made (goodbye national day care...maybe if no day care is available, all the women will get out of their offices and go back home where they belong).  Oh Barack, Canada needs you too!  Suffice it to say, the accountant in me doesn't understand how the same household income for two ordinary middle-class families can receive such drastically different treatment when kids enter the picture, depending on whether the woman or man makes more money.

So money played a role in my decision to take only six months of the year's leave I could have taken.  However, the main issue was that I'm not mentally capable of caring for a small child for extended periods of time.  By month five I was so miserable I regularly considered asking work if they would let me come back early.  The first eight weeks were a horrifying blur of post-partum depression during which I essentially disassociated from myself in order to cope with daily life.  My medical assistance was increased and that helped, but Beaming Blissful Baby Mama I am not. 

And that's OK.  Parenthood doesn't consist of just the first year, and not enjoying 24/7 infant care doesn't mean you don't love your baby or that you're a bad mother.  Some would disagree, and all I can say to that is: Welcome to Fawk You Friday.

11 comments:

  1. we have been paying $12,000 a year for daycare. And its been almost 5 years. So I feel your pain. If we had another child, it would be like $30,000 a year for both. Its crazy!

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  2. Glad you joined us! And I completely understand not being a baby person. My mom always has been but not me.

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  3. Day care here (in California) is about the same, maybe higher depending on what type of center you choose. Sometimes it's cheaper to go with a home day care and sometimes it just depends on where you live. Unfortunately for us, I spent most of my working life as a bartender or server. When I got my corporate job it was literally about being in the right place at the right time. The company I worked for was bought by HP and we were laid off when Emma turned 1. Hubby and I decided that I would stay home for awhile and now it's to the point where if I were to go back to work my salary would probably just cover day care costs so really it would be useless. Sometimes, I wish I worked outside of the home. Sometimes I'm envious of my sister and her work friends and work parties, etc. But I know that no matter how jealous I am of her, she's a million times more of me, wishing she could be at home with her babies more. So I guess the grass is always greener?

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  4. I've been a stay-at-home mom for over 10 years now (hence my shock at daycare prices - not something I've ever looked into), but believe it or not, I completely agree with everything you say here.

    And I'm not a baby person either. The first year sucks. I suffered from postpartum depression too, especially with my first. Thankfully it gets better. Just knowing that helped get me through much more easily the second and third times.

    It seems to me that you're damned if you do, damned if you don't when it comes to deciding weather to stay home or return to work. Someone will be casting judgement either way. There will be things you regret either way. Frig! I wish society was structured completely differently and that true gender equality could someday be realized.

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  5. LOL! I think you deserve a metal for six months of 24/7 infant care!! I find it difficult at times to deal with half time early childhood care!!

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  6. HOly crap around here you MIGHT pay 400 a month for a really great day care that is wonderful for your kids.. and many around here get the government to help them with that so they MIGHT pay like40 a week. A years leave?? We are lucky to get 8 weeks. I had HORRIBLE PPD after my 3rd child, luckily I went back to work and began to make some me time and that did a ton to help me.. Thank you so much for coming by my blog today..

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  7. Wow! That is some pricey daycare! When we had 2 kids, we were still able to afford it, but once we had 3, there was no choice but to find a way for me to live without my income. But unlike you, I really was just in it for the money, so it didn't make me sad ;)

    As for time off, according to the Family & Medical Leave Act, employers over a certain size must allow you to take up to a year off even in the U.S. The 6 (or 8) weeks is the only part they're required to *pay you for*. So, one could take a year, but she wouldn't get paid for it. So all you mamas out there with employers who are keeping this information from you: don't let them take advantage! Know your rights! :)

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  8. I say this all the time--I want to live in Canada!

    While childcare isn't an issue for me, fortunately-I know so many people who do struggle with this.

    Great post!!

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  9. It is so hard to work and raise a family too. I feel such a stress at the thought of it. I want so badly to have children, but if I do, I want to stay home with them. But if I do that, we won't be able to pay the rent, let alone have enough food to go around. It's infuriating that our governments don't lend women more support. It sucks that we have to choose between working and raising a family.

    I'm so happy for you though, and your growing little one. I wish nothing but good things for your pregnancy, and smooth sailing after he/she is born. xoxo

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  10. I'm just jealous that in Canada you have that option of staying home the first year. In the states we only get 12 weeks and it's completely unpaid. If you want your health insurance to continue (which mine was so shit it was a complete joke) you had to pay the full premium because technically- in order for my job to do the 80/20 pay system, I had to be working. Which... I wasn't. I was on Family & Medical Leave so I had to pay the full premium or go without. And your medical system is much better than ours. It really is. Most of my friends joke we should move to Canada to have babies. LOL.

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  11. Just going through some of your old posts and came upon this one. For Lila's first year, we lived in AZ, and childcare was absurdly expensive. Since I had one of those "jobs to pay the bills", there was no point in going back to work and since I am not married to Lila's father, I lost my health insurance. AWESOME!

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Lend me some sugar!