The Price of Motherhood

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

February 16, 2011

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Categories: Family

This picture was taken a few years after this post was written, but it showcases an example of Levi helping in the kitchen.

I can’t finish reading this book (The Price of Motherhood). It’s concepts hit so close to the heart, it makes it difficult to read. I am being punished by society to have a child. What other way can we look at this? Childcare is considered unskilled work. Until recently, even basic human functions for children weren’t considered (many still aren’t) at the tax level. There is no padding or assistance when you have to take time off to do the most important job in the world.

Our saving grace when Levi was born was that Peter lost his job. Then, the State (and feds too) recognized we needed help. Now, we’re in this nebulous of a middle ground, teetering on just making it without the tax benefits to help cushion the savings account.

We need an extra chunk of change a month to pay for my school loans. No matter what we trim in the budget to even out expenses, we’d still need more to pay for that debt I accrued when I didn’t think there was another way to get what I still believe I need: a college education.

I got the job I love. But, I’m paying for it. 55% goes towards Levi’s school. 25% goes towards gas to get us out there. The rest is eaten up in taxes and what’s owed for school loans. Even though we have much more than the chunk needed to pay for the loans added to our income, it’s a hefty price.

Where’s the balance in that?

I have been quite happy working where I am. I love it. I feel fortunate that I love this paid work when one of the objectives is to stabilize my career from the short length spent at previous jobs.

But, what happens when the economy forces the job to make changes that will significantly eat into that chunk? I would be paying close to  60 or 70% for daycare, the rest would go to gas, and then, nothing left for school loans. A very hefty price for work indeed.

And, Levi loves daycare. He’s thriving. He’s learning. He’s making friends. He simply loves it. This might have to change. Not to a lower cost option, there isn’t one. I looked. It would be a no-cost option, which means no preschool.

This doesn’t feel like balance.

This doesn’t feel like choice.

I opt for prayer, for reasons stated in previous posts, hoping for comfort when life simply isn’t fair.

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Peter and I were barely working between the two of us, he had been laid off and with struggles feeding Levi I was barely pulling 5 hours a week. We were at the DHS office applying for food stamps when Peter got the call that yes indeed TriMet was offering him a job. We had been at the DHS office since 7:20 am and we finally got home close to 10:30 am. We barely set our things down, relieved that there was more money in our future and we could at least buy food for our small family when the phone rang. It was my mother. It was one of those phone calls where you just know something is wrong, and how wrong it was. She asked if I was sitting down, and I think I sat down. She didn’t wait to tell me and simply said, “Cristi is dead.”

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