As mentioned in my previous blog on the topic, at the recent Iona Institute conference, I was shocked by some of Jonas Himmelstrand's descriptions of family policy in Sweden. As I understood, it aimed, among other things, to "liberate mothers from motherhood instincts," so they could continue their careers.
My own career would indeed be a lot better off without my motherhood instincts - but all the same, I would as soon be liberated from those instincts as I would be liberated from my right arm.
To think that such ideas form the backbone of public policies, to the point where people who don’t accept the dogma of comprehensive daycare consider themselves an "underground movement", is little short of frightening.
This morning I walked home with my toddler after taking his brother to school. He stopped to look at a stop sign, the weeds growing out of a wall, a shop window poster, and the "dirty water" in the drains.
He looked for spiders in our neighbour’s shrubs and sat on his "perch" on our gatepost. When we got home, he helped me make bread. At lunchtime I collected my older son from school and we walked home telling the stories he likes.
A very mundane morning, you might say. What about all that medical research I could have been doing instead, with my science degree and PhD? I work professionally one day a week, which I enjoy, and plan to return to full time employment eventually.
The other six days, I try to teach my sons how to look after themselves, others and their surroundings, and generally introduce them to their world, their place in it, and the values we as their parents hold.
I hope they get the message that they are loved and valued through it all. It’s demanding work. I’m losing out on money and career. But my sons’ years of growing up are made up mostly of routine days like today, and I want to be there for them.
I know not everyone’s financial and job situation allows for the “work-life balance” that I count among my blessings, and not everyone wants it.
But I simply want to highlight a view that I hope our country, unlike Sweden, will not reject or forget: that the time we spend, as parents, raising our children, is valuable. If not priceless.