Every year around this time, some company or organization sends out a press release (in print, radio, Web and TV) describing the “market value” of stay-at-home Moms. The release concludes that “after significant research” (which is really simply adding the average national salaries of bus driver, nurse, office manager, chef, teacher and so on) that the Chief Mom Officer position is worth somewhere around $130–150K. It’s also one of the biggest non-stories produced each year, and I have no choice but to roll my eyes and yawn whenever I see it. But, before you start sending me hate mail – understand why.
First of all, the logic is completely flawed. Simply adding the full-time salaries of all of the positions that Mom takes on isn’t right. Why? Because she’s not doing each of those things full-time. In order to properly find “the number,” the “extensive research” should factor the fractions of time Mom is doing each job and add those fractions to find the market value of the position. Plus, there are all kinds of tasks left off the list, some of which are mighty off-color…so, I’ll just leave that to the imagination. (And, there’s probably some other mathematical algorithm to go along with this, but that’s my brother’s department…not mine.) That’s not really my point, though.
The reality is that this really deserves the MasterCard advertising campaign treatment (note: the numbers below don’t reflect anything other than figures pulled from my arse):
Bus Driver: $32,000/year
Office Manager: $45,000/year
It’s impossible to put a number on “Mom.” While the press release and “study” is designed to highlight how much Mom is worth, I think it has the opposite effect. I think it belittles and undervalues the importance of Mom. And, not only the stay-at-home Moms. Every Mom.
How do you measure the importance of love in this equation? How do you put a number on the safety and security that kids feel, when crying for Mom is answered with a hug? How can we possibly measure everything that Mom does for her (our) kids? We can’t. So, let’s just stop doing it.
Like I said, I understand the purpose of the release. Too many people – probably mostly including idiot, Neanderthal husbands – don’t value the work that their wives do. They/we can’t possibly understand how difficult it is to be Mom. And, I’ll tell you a little secret about a conversation that we dads have all the time. It goes something like this:
Dude #1: “I had the kid(s) today. It wasn’t that bad. There weren’t any meltdowns or any kind of tantrums. It was pretty easy.”
Dude #2: “I know. My wife is always telling me how hard it is. It’s not that hard.”
And so on. Why do we have that conversation? To make ourselves feel good. To make ourselves feel great about the fact that we, too, can take care of our kids. But, the truth is – we can’t do it like Mom. Nobody can. We know it, too. Yes, Dad is important, and I’ll worry about that post in a month or so, but Mom? Priceless.
So, let’s stop trying to put some kind of mythical, idiotic value on Mom. Let’s stop trying to “justify” what she does by needing to create a market salary for her work. It’s not possible. (Plus, it doesn’t even account for the working Mom. It’s apples to oranges, but it’s a whole other kind of difficulty.) You want to know how much Mom is worth? Look at your kids when they look at their mom. See that look in their eyes? You gonna put a number on that? I don’t think so.
Happy Mother’s Day.