It's time for equal time -- time for readers of this column to have the last word. A recent column about the rights of child-care providers brought in a ton of mail this month, most of it from child-care providers disgruntled about the treatment they receive.
"I want to thank you so-o-o-o much for your article in today's Omaha World-Herald," wrote a Nebraska reader. "I have taken care of the children of working parents for years. I love what I do. I go far beyond what I have to do, too, because I want 'my' children to 'have it all.'
"What bugs me is that hardly any of these parents take the time to notice my extra efforts, let alone thank me for them. Most of them don't even take the time or energy to speak to me in a civil manner, if the truth be known," she added.
"Thanks for presenting our side, and for reminding all the working women who read your column that we are working women, too!"
And a reader of the Portland Oregonian wrote: "Hurrah! There's hope! Somebody out there realizes that we child-care providers aren't just overgrown baby sitters, but highly trained, dedicated, competent professionals who give 110 percent
to the most important job in the world -- caring for this nation's children.
"Thanks for pointing out that we deserve a minimum amount of fairness and politeness and -- dare I say it? -- a living wage, as well."
Many of you were upset about a recent column calling for a truce between mothers who work outside their homes and mothers who don't.
"You should be ashamed of yourself for encouraging mothers to leave their children and go to work for the sake of their own selfishness and greed," wrote a Yonkers, N.Y., woman.
A Huntsville (Ala.) Times reader added at the end of a long and angry letter: "You should be particularly ashamed of yourself for saying that all mothers should have the choice to work or stay home with their children!
"If a mother must work in order to support her children and keep the family together, I respect her highly for doing so. But if she's working to get away from her children, or to give them all the toys and TVs and stereos they don't need, she's guilty of abusing them, in every sense of the word."
And a Durham (N.C.) Sun reader echoed many of you when she wrote: "If a mother is able to stay home, she should be doing so, and with great pleasure and pride. You have no right to say 'It's a mother's choice, and we should respect her choice,' because this is not her child's choice -- he has no say in this matter."
Questions should be addressed Working Woman, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.