If you hadn’t seen this fabulously illuminating map on Wonkblog about daycare costs, take a look.

And then think about it: Daycare costs more than college in 31 states. More than college, folks. You have, as the piece by Christopher Ingraham states, a long time to save for college. Not so much for daycare. Once you get back to work, you just budget for and assume that a portion of your paycheck will go to your childcare costs. It’s, in a word, frightening. So it naturally follows that this may be a big reason there are more stay-at-home mothers than there were a decade ago, according to a fascinating Pew report released this week.

We’re almost finished with much of our child care costs in our lives as our youngest will be heading to school in the fall. It hasn’t sunk in yet that we will, essentially, be gaining a new salary by giving up those payments. Rather, it feels like we’ll finally start making up for the money we (wisely) spent the last few years on quality care for our kids.

In many ways, maybe daycare should cost more than college. Think about it: Those we pay to care for our small children are keeping the helpless safe, teaching them life skills, engaging growing, wandering minds and partaking in a lot of nasty business on top of it all. I would pay countless dollars for that if I could.

Meanwhile, recent high school grads are older and can, supposedly, take care of themselves, keep themselves relatively safe, and feed themselves.

Then again, maybe not. But I guess that’s a conversation for another post.