The Burden of Childcare
In medicine, and elsewhere these days, we read and hear a lot of discussion about the wage gap between men and women. A lot has been written about this, and I have no intention of getting into the economics of it all.
What I do want to discuss is something I hear whenever the wage gap comes up. I hear this line over and over: ‘The burden of child-care.’
Typically, since women spend much more time on child-care than men, this is applied to them. Their professional pursuits are limited by ‘the burden of child-care.’ It could apply to men, of course, and I’m sure some men who are primary care-givers feel the same way. That they are constrained in some manner by the burden of child-care.
But we should be careful here. Our children are not burdens. Our children are blessings, gifts, joys, wonders. They are the futures of our families, our nations, our professions, our science, our faith, our very world.
My wife stayed home with the children and has blessed them, and me, with her efforts, her talents, her love and devotion. I know there are times she misses her career in college administration, where she was a rising star. And yet she doesn’t think the children were a burden. I devoted a lot of time to the children; I arranged my time off around their lives and worked (and made) less for many years so that I would have more time at home. It was never a burden.
Our children will one day care for us. Let’s hope they don’t see us as a burden. But if we keep saying they are, then surely we will be to them.