Monday, 28 March 2011

Where is Universal Childcare?

We were supposed to have universal childcare by now. My mother's generation started the fight but somewhere along the road it got lost amongst the many other battles we had to fight. The only province in Canada that has childcare available on such a huge scale is Quebec and I don't see us moving there any time soon. I shouldn't have to struggle with deciding to go back to work or not based solely on how much I would have to pay for child care.
My kids deserve quality care. I deserve to be able to work without worrying how I am going to afford their care. My husband deserves to have a happy wife and well cared for children.
With the federal election coming I have started to think about becoming active and volunteering for a party. I was also thinking about what I can do to bring universal child care to life between elections. I want my daughters to be able to make these decisions without worrying about how everything will be paid for.
I wonder if we could set up work based daycare. I wonder if there are enough Moms annd Dads at the office to make that work. I wonder how receptive the bosses would be. Hmmm.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Being Pregnant

I loved being pregnant. I loved feeling the little being inside me moving and growing. I didn't love the aches, the pain, the heartburn. I knew going into both pregnancies that there is a physical toll to be paid for undergoing that much physical change in such a short time. That said, there wasn't much that I truly hated about being pregnant. I only really hated one thing. 

I hated being treated like an incubator. I hated that not only did I have to share my body with this potential person, the obvious physical signs of pregnancy meant that I was sharing my body with the world. Intellectually I knew I would be giving up some autonomy to the potential person sharing my body but I was not emotionally prepared to have that autonomy taken by my family or anyone else for that matter. 

When I was pregnant with my first child I was working at the Wal-Mart Portrait Studio for the winter. We had no where to keep food except the Wal-Mart employee break room. Technically I wasn't a Wal-Mart employee so their insurance didn't cover any accidents that might happen to me out back so I didn't use the employee break room. Our only options for lunch were either to have someone bring us lunch or go to the in-store MacDonalds. 

On one occasion I was leaving MacDonalds with a take out bag. Some pot-bellied, balding, middle-aged man had the audacity to come up to me and say "That food is bad for your baby." I was so shocked that a stranger would say something like that that I didn't even think of a retort. The obvious response being that what I ate was none of his damn business. He wasn't my doctor or my husband or even a friend. His unsolicited advice demonstrated to me, for the first time, how little people respected the autonomy of a pregnant body. I had studied it academically in bioethics and women's studies classes but that is a different experience. Knowing something exists and actually experiencing it are vastly different. 

Now that I'm removed from the doubt of my first pregnancy I can look back and see all of the incidents when people were treating my body as a vehicle for my unborn fetus. As much as I love them my in-laws are guilty of this, my co-workers too. Most people are guilty of this at one time or another and it's almost never malicious. They have just internalized the belief that women are simply not able to make their own decisions without help. 
We are taught that middle-aged, rich white men know what is best for every pregnant body. This has never been true. Women should be trusted to know what is best for our bodies, pregnant or not.
I hope to empower my daughters to take control of their own bodies. I will do my best to teach them about their autonomy.