Mom's new email signature has parents everywhere applauding her honesty about expectations
"I'm still good at my job. I'm still a professional. I'm also a mom of four kids and this is reality in America."
Childcare in America has been an issue since well before most of us were born, and it continues to be a struggle for parents. Daycare costs are rough—at one point in time, I paid $276 a week for one child to attend a daycare center, and that's not even the highest price I was quoted. But not everyone can afford the cost of childcare, and when you have multiple children who all need adult supervision, the cost can become astronomical.
The cost of childcare can cause some parents to make the decision to stay home while the other works if the family can survive on one income. In other instances, parents may be working from home while also juggling full-time parenting responsibilities. For parents in the latter category, one mom's new email signature is serving as a reminder that childcare is expensive and school is out for the summer.
Some folks who saw my email signature commented on it, so I wanted to share. The US is the only developed nation w/o subsidized childcare. Adding it would increase our GDP over 1 trillion dollars. Not a handout — it’s a smart decision when facing a recession and labor shortages. pic.twitter.com/iZGLMg1PJW— Meg St-Esprit (@MegStEsprit) May 31, 2023
Meg St-Esprit was in the process of looking up babysitters and summer camps and realizing how unaffordable it was to try to accommodate four children when a "snippy" email came through, according to Today.com.
"In the moment, I was like: 'This is how it's going to be — people are going to need to know that this is how it's going to be for the next couple months,'" St-Esprit, told Today.com. "I'm still good at my job. I'm still a professional. I'm also a mom of four kids and this is reality in America."
St-Esprit is a freelance journalist based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, so while her job may allow her to have some flexibility, people still expect prompt replies to correspondence. This mom decided that instead of adding additional stress to her plate, she would be brutally honest in her email signature. Honestly, the signature is pretty darn accurate. There are plenty of families in similar situations that probably wish they could change their email signature to something similar.
The signature reads, "Please note I may be slower to respond to email in the months of June, July and August due to the United States' inability to provide affordable childcare for working mothers."
St-Esprit shared a photo of her email signature to Twitter where she received a lot of support from other parents. She wrote about the benefits of universal subsidized childcare for the United States, saying, "The US is the only developed nation w/o subsidized childcare. Adding it would increase our GDP over 1 trillion dollars. Not a handout — it’s a smart decision when facing a recession and labor shortages."
While states do offer childcare assistance for lower-income families, the threshold can unintentionally cause parents to make difficult decisions to keep their childcare subsidy. I recall a phone call made by a parent who attended my child's daycare. The mom was explaining to her partner that she was given a promotion, but after speaking to the daycare director, if she took the raise, she would lose her subsidy and they would suddenly be responsible for paying nearly $900 a week. My eyes bulged at the thought, and as she collected her twins from my son's classroom, she pondered accepting the position but asking to keep the same pay because the new cost of daycare would essentially be a pay cut.
Today I went to my 4yo’s PreK Counts classroom for yoga with a special grownup. This is the only subsidized childcare my children have been able to access as middle earners and it’s been a GIFT. It also reduces educational costs long term because of the early education benefits. pic.twitter.com/hYUt5h129h— Meg St-Esprit (@MegStEsprit) May 31, 2023
I have no idea what the outcome was in that situation because I was just a bystander, but the conversation stuck with me. It partly stuck out because I could've benefitted from a subsidy and partly because many middle-class families struggle with affording childcare but don't qualify for any sort of program to assist.
In a different tweet, St-Esprit also mentions this in-between experience.
"Today I went to my 4yo’s PreK Counts classroom for yoga with a special grownup. This is the only subsidized childcare my children have been able to access as middle earners and it’s been a GIFT. It also reduces educational costs long term because of the early education benefits," the freelance journalist wrote.
Surprisingly, through St-Esprit's frustrated signature, she found solidarity in the email responses she's received.
"I work with a lot of clients, so I thought maybe I should delete it," St-Esprit told Today.com. "Then people started to reply to it, writing: 'Side note: I love this.' 'Side note: Oh my gosh, this.'"
Obviously, there's something a little wonky with America's way of handling childcare. It's especially noticeable in comparison with other industrialized countries that have found a way to not only offer extended paid parental leave but also provide subsidized childcare for working parents.