Stay at home mother is a gift from 1970s feminists.

The story of the transformation of the”housewife” into the “stay at home mother” providing “mother-care, not DAYCARE” in American society in the wake of the Pill and Roe v. Wade is an interesting one and there’s not much information on the internet about it because the idea that there was a transition (and that this transition destroyed a substantial amount of soft power among married women) is not compatible with either right wing or left wing narratives about the topic.

We didn’t really have the term before motherhood could be conceivably viewed as entirely intentional/optional, even within marriage.  And nobody seems to ask why it bloomed so suddenly and took over, when by its nature it explicitly separates motherhood from marriage, while housewife emphasizes, well, property benefits of marriage for women foremost.  Homemaker, it’s worth noting, has begun to turn up as a transition away from stay at home mother, but it lacks that wilful connecting of property with marriage and in fact shifts the domestic world to something a woman must make/build, rather than something she is inherently part of and maintaining/managing.

Since this is just thinky thoughts, I will close with the little data point that over half of American SAHMs use center-based daycare for children aged 0-4 and that we hit that point about 10 years ago and this is in every region of the country, not concentrated in one place, it’s about half everywhere.  Employed or not, it’s 80% for BA or higher-possessing mothers.

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“I raised a family on 40k and you can too!”

I think a lot of people who have kids, and particularly those who are in the vicinity of conservatives have heard some variation on this theme from older folks.  The exact amount varies, but it’s usually 30-50k.  I took the midpoint for this post.

Anyway, here’s a little chart of what 40k in 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000 would be in current-year dollars.

Decade Annual Household Income in Dollars What It’s Worth In 2018 Dollars
1970 40,000 260,000
1980 40,000 125,000
1990 40,000 75,000
2000 40,000 55,000

I didn’t go back further because most people who say this were raising kids to college ages in the mid-70s to mid-90s.

Feel free to copy-paste this chart in any discussion of costs to raise kids. Calculator used is here and I lowballed a little.

Why we still have globomegacorp, Barnes and Noble edition

They throw crumbs to us and we gratefully accept them.  Barnes and Noble started selling pleasing-looking, original-text editions of classic adult and children’s literature (yes, even including Tarzan and Barsoooooooommmmmmm) for 10 dollars each, 20-25 each for multi-book omnibuses of 3-5 novels.

It’s not something the local bookstore can do.

Anyway there goes the book budget for this month.  But building the youth library just got a little less stressful.

ETA Momnotes: There were a bunch of moms with little kids there.  But the Asian moms had 1 kid and grandma in tow.  They looked suspiciously less harried than the other moms (including me) with 1-2 kids in tow and no other woman there alongside.  One was practically mellow and super chill.  But then grandma was doing all the chasing when her little guy would make a break for a new play area.

The only thing I did different from the other grandma-less moms was tell my kids that I wasn’t going to tail them every step and if they didn’t want to play 10 feet away from me in direct line of sight, then they were going to watch me go through books.  So that’s what they did.  I hope I got 50% less tantrum for standing my free-range ground.  These things are hard to measure.

Why Ivanka Trump is a lovely example of a working mother.

Ivanka Trump has a new book out and I’m never going to read it, because in the news articles and her own little social media bits about it, I learned all I need to know:

  • She has two nannies for three kids.
  • She was happy to not only admit it, but even acknowledged their work by name.

This has gotten her excoriated by the press of course, but the thing is, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo built a multimillion dollar nursery in her office and was feted by that same press.   This is utterly unattainable for the average American mother, who is increasingly professional-class and in the top 10-20% of household incomes nationally.  Ivanka’s nanny setup, however, is attainable for two professional class mothers splitting the cost for 2-4 children, and possibly as many as 4-6 combined.

I think that is worth noticing and paying attention to.  Simply admitting that three closely spaced children just might take a lot of help from other women to manage reasonably is absolutely huge.  Thanks for brightening a housewife’s day, Ivanka!

Debunking Lily Batchelder and her fake news analysis of Trump’s tax plan.

There’s a fake “analysis” by an Obama shill named Lily Batchelder going around that Trump’s tax plan and child care deductions will raise taxes for middle class people, including single mothers. But the analysis is based on two massive lies:

  1. That no working parents use child care in the United States.  
  2. That the cost of child care is cheaper than all the reports from Washington Post, Vox, many others and again, GOVERNMENT DATA.  

This is complete nonsense, based upon data from a variety of government sources, collected at http://www.childstats.gov.  At worst, 1 in 30 parents are bringing a child or children to work with them.  The rest have their children in a variety of child care arrangements, usually relatives or center-based care, but with a substantial share using nannies, babysitters and the like.  97% of working parents use child care in the United States.

As far as the second lie goes, Batchelder grudgingly estimates child care costs at a much lower number than government and other sources do, as shown below.

So either child care is super cheap and the Washington Post, Vox and other fake news media were lying when they said it was so expensive, and crippling family budgets, or Trump’s plan is totally awesome and Batchelder and the fake news media don’t want to admit it, since the plan allows to you deduct the average cost for your state *per child up to 4 kids* and the national averages for child care from ages 0-13 (where a child ages out of being deductible) are clearly far more than the $6000 and $8000 numbers for child care cost Batchelder tosses around in her fake report about Trump’s tax plan and child care deductions.

She claims all her assumptions are “reasonable” or “conservative”, but since they are based on massive lies, this is prima facie yet another complete lie.  Her assumptions are neither reasonable, rational or conservative.  The statement that the deduction is for a specific number of children suggests that it is a deduction per child, with the average cost of care calculated for each single child and added up for the first four children in a household.  There’s also the FACT that Trump’s plan mentions that the $500 top-ups for EITC-eligible parents are per child, so the deductions appear across the board to be per child up to four children.

Let’s view Batchelder’s examples through a more fact-based, real-world lens, with deductions per child, and assuming that nearly all households use child care or have a relative providing care at home as a grandparent or SAHP.

Her two big examples are a single parent making $75,000 per year with two school-aged children who has no child care costs and a married couple with two children making $50,000 per year with $8000 in childcare costs.  Some key points about those fake examples:

  • Batchelder’s single parent makes TRIPLE THE MEDIAN INCOME of single parents in most states, including most high-income states.  So this is a very fake example of a single parent.
  • At triple the median income of a real single parent household, Batchelder’s single parent “reasonably” can be assumed to live somewhere with high earning potential like New York.  (Hey, that 75k is almost exactly triple the median income of single parents in New York!  Wow!)
  • The cost of school-age before/aftercare (AKA “child care for school-age children”) in New York is about $8000 per year, per child.  Not total, which is what Batchelder uses to shoehorn Trump’s plan into a Narrative of “higher taxes for hard working single mommas”.  But a single parent making that kind of money is “reasonably” and “conservatively” likely to be paying a lot more than $8000 per year in child care costs.
  • Meanwhile, Batchelder’s married couple makes far less than the median income of married couples in most states and is EITC eligible (barely).  Funny how that works. Further, even her torturing of math for muh Narrative still doesn’t hide that this near-poor married couple owes nothing EITHER WAY.  Her only rebuttal is that the new tax refund this family gets isn’t big enough, not that they pay more tax!
  • But at $50,000 per year for two married parents (her example does not state if both or just one is working), they are “reasonably” likely to be using grandma for child care or Mom is staying home.  In which case Batchelder’s torturing of the data is in vain, because this household can deduct whatever the average cost is in their state times two.  Since she doesn’t specify those kids are school-aged, that household can deduct the much higher typical cost for two children of preschool or infant age, which ranges from $14,000 annually in the South to $22,000 in the Northeast and $18,000 in the Midwest and West.
  • “Conservatively” and “reasonably” assuming the married couple lives in the Midwest and Mom stays home with the two kids under 5, Batchelder’s $8000 estimate is simply too low, nowhere near the cap allowed.

Trump’s tax plan changes the above-the-line deductions to a flat number of $15,000 for singles and $30,000 for marrieds filing jointly and eliminates both personal exemptions head of household as a tax status, along with condensing tax brackets down to three.  This is the source of a lot of whining around the internets about losing the Head of Household tax status.  But given the high cost of child care, the above-the-line deduction is more than adequate to replace it.

For the $75,000 parent, this changes their pre-child care taxable income from $53, 550 to $60,000.  But that parent can deduct up to $16,000 above the line rather than $8000, so they end up with $44,000 left over, and under the new brackets, they obviously pay less than under current law.  Definite savings.  Instead of the lie that the $75,000 single parent would pay $1640 more in taxes, they would actually pay $4125 instead of the current $5685, a savings of over $1500. Under Trump’s new tax plan, even a high-income single parent making $75,000 per year with two school-aged children can see a tax savings of 30%.

Meanwhile, that $50,000 earning married household whose details are much more blurry would see a much larger refund than they already are eligible for, since they could claim up to $18,000 above the line after their $30,000 deduction and $2,000 in child credits and EITC credit.  So we would be paying married people to have slightly more children at the margins, since having a third child would still benefit this household by adding another $9000 of deduction, which we can’t make assumptions about, because at just two children, they have $0 in taxable income after child credit, standard deduction and imputed child care deduction for the SAHM.

In short, Trump’s tax plan is sketched out and low on nitpicky details.  But a reasonable, realistic set of assumptions shows that it’s a very generous plan with a very pro-natalist, pro-family, pro-woman setup.

About 55% of American women 40 and over have 1 or 2 children.

Given biology, this percentage is much the same for American women 35-39 as well.  About 20% have exactly three and a bit under 8% have exactly 4.  Hispanic women have three at noticeably higher rates than other ethnic groups, which has kept the percentage of women having 3 pretty stable over the last couple of decades.

The numbers were a little lower 15 and 20 years ago, but not by much.

Adding all that up, over 80% of women have 1-4 children in their lifetimes.  Nearly all the rest do not have kids at all. About 3% have five or six.  More than six is, statistically speaking, a rounding error.

Sometimes you hear that “80 or 85% of all women reproduce”.  Well, yeah, but in practice, this is what that means as far as actual children born.

On a related note, Scandinavian birthrates are mostly below replacement and they are only as close to it as they are because of social and government pressure to get women over 35 to have a marginal extra child.  The Scandinavian model of family formation is to have one child in your early 30s, and occasionally a second in your mid or late 30s.  It’s really a disastrous approach long-term for reasons I’ll leave as an exercise.

The American model is much more diverse, but tends towards closely spacing births and having as many as you can handle mostly alone, which appears to max out around 3 or 4.  But because child spacing varies so much among Americans having kids, it’s difficult for people who had three kids five years apart over two marriages to understand the travails of someone having three kids in three years in one marriage.  Or having one kid out of wedlock in one’s early 20s and then two more in marriage ten years later.

It’s interesting that for several decades now women have been starting their families in their 30s in America more and more often and trying to have as many as they can then, but they can’t outrun biology, so the overall TFR doesn’t shift much.

 

Saying farewell to full time childcare while being a SAHM

T.W.O. is always saying I should be more open and raw on muh blawg, so here goes.

The combination of number of kids, the ages they are, their physical and mental vigor and quirks, and the fact that I do stay home with them have all led to our household reaching a point where the effort involved finding the type of full time nanny/babysitter that is ok with it all is more stressful and disruptive than simply giving up things like cooking in favor of going with part-timers, private school and deli food.  We had a good run, had some very kind and caring people over the years, but we’ve reached the limit of how useful it can be to us in a part of the country where being a housewife isn’t really viewed as having its own purpose.

I come from the South, and there being a housewife comes with expectations that make it reasonable to do something like have full time childcare if that’s what it takes to meet the expectations.  Many do not, but people don’t really freak out if you do because it’s assumed you must have that lady there to help you meet the expectations of hospitality and visiting and decoration that come with housewiving there, especially at the higher household income brackets.  Where we are now, the expectation is that the housewife is solely full time childcare.  This is the reason for the 20 dollar a day SAHMs around here.  They literally don’t know what else to do but watch kids, so they just keep chugging and the money is pretty much a token sum charged because people would be weirded out by them pleading to watch kids for free (although sometimes they offer, and now I understand why).

We basically didn’t have to confront this issue until recently because the people we got stayed for decent lengths of time.  But recently we had to put feelers out and the hassle was just so epic compared to previous hiring go-rounds that we’re done this time around.  Granted I will still have part-timers, but part-timers don’t sweat me being home precisely because they are part-time.  It could be a lot worse, we’re not making the change because of inability to pay, and I still have part-time childcare from nice teenagers readily available.  I just had hopes of  starting “pure” homeschooling soon, but that’s just not possible.  There is no homeschool community here, the private school options we’re going with are closer to the “one room school” model that we think is best for our children, and me providing more complex instruction down the road is always an option as the kids age.

We’ve all been pretty sick the last couple weeks, so I have more anxiety about the whole thing than is really warranted.  The kids are very capable at very young ages and we can do this without everything falling apart.  At least, that’s the hope.