I recently went to a “choosing your preschool” information session at my job. (Baby E is only 14 months, but in NYC you have to start the process a year before you want your child to start! It’s like getting into college for some of these places!) What I find incredibly frustrating at these meetings is the lack of choices parents like I have. What I mean by this is the following: I am not poor, I am not working class, I guess I am considered middle-class, (perhaps “professional” or should I say “white-collar”?) I do not make a seven figure paycheck, but I do not qualify for the low-income, Head Start programs or city sponsored daycare centers. So my options are limited because I cannot afford to send me child to a $20,000(or more!) a year nursery school (if some of you find this shocking… again, I live in NYC) and I make “too much” for the few “low income” options.
Growing up, my father was a porter, and my mom was a bookkeeper/stay at home mom. For Pre-K, I attended a city sponsored day care center, where you paid on an income based sliding scale, until my parents put me in parochial school. God only knows how they managed to do it, but they did it so that their kids could have more opportunities. It worked too; today we are both college graduates and professionals… It is at moments like these that I *almost* feel “penalized” for getting ahead and moving up in the world. I get a sense that this is a problem a lot of young professionals (especially from working class/immigrant families) must deal with at some point… being stuck in the middle, and not being able to afford one thing but being too “rich” to be eligible for certain programs.
Isn’t one of the things that make America so great the fact that you can get ahead and dream of a better life than your parents? So why do I feel like my opportunities are limited because I am indeed making a better life for myself and my family?