A MOTHER'S PAYCHECK
Some of you may have seen the story about the estimation done by salary.com on what mother's would make a year if we got paid for the (hard) work we do. In their estimation a stay-at-home mom would make $134,121 annually and a mom works outside of the home would make $85,876 in addition to her salary from non-mom related work. The creators of these figures used the following titles in figuring out a mother's salary: housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, CEO, and psychologist. Oh, if only it were true.
Of course, I would definitely have to take a pay cut when it comes to the cook and housekeeper categories. My husband is the chef around here, I'm more like a short order (grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets) chef. And although my house isn't filthy it isn't "housekeeper" clean either. (Who has time when we're doing all of the other stuff?)
While it's fun to think about what we mothers might be compensated financially the fact of the matter is that we work for free and America doesn't value the work we do because of it. We live in a capitalist society that values the almighty dollar. Businesses are judged by their bottom line, their profit margin, their stock prices - in other words $$$$$$$$$. A mother's work is unpaid work, it doesn't get figured into the GNP, it doesn't get recorded or deducted on our taxes - it virtually goes unnoticed. And I'm more than a little insulted about that fact!
I mean, if it wasn't for mothers there would be no CEOs, no politicians (maybe not so bad), no store owners, no economists - no United States! There would be no human race! And yet, our work goes not only undervalued, but other working persons tend to bitch because our motherhood is (supposedly) making them do more work. If I have to hear one more time how it's "not fair" that people without kids have to work more hours or have to make up for parents who have to pick up sick kids at school or leave early for a doctor's appointment or baseball game - I'M GOING TO SCREAM! If it weren't for parents then people without kids wouldn't be on this planet! Are the rules different for mothers? Yes. Should they be? Yes. We have kids and that's a fact that can't be denied.
So why work? Because we have to in many cases. And in several others, we want to. So should our right to pursue a career be taken away because we choose to contribute to the continuation of the human race? Of course not. It isn't fair, but people without children do have to adapt to our "extra" responsibilities. Didn't their parents teach them that life isn't always fair?
And we mothers do receive penalties for having children. The pay gap between women (without children) and men is about 90 cents for women to every dollar made by a man. It's about 73 cents for a woman with children to every dollar made by a man. That's right. Mothers make less than women without kids. And it's perfectly legal. In fact single mothers make even less on average because employers don't like having to pay added healthcare costs for the children of single mothers. See, generally if you're married and have children it's the husband's company who will pick up the tab for healthcare, but if there is no husband now the mother's company has an added cost that it didn't figure on. Puh - leeze!
Should we stand for this? Absolutely not! Do we? Of course because we don't have enough time to come together and fight for equal rights because we're too busy raising our children!!! Funny how that works, huh? And works great for everyone but us! Mothers need to demand several things and have every right to do so. Here are just a few examples: Equal wages for equal work; More jobs that involve flextime so that mothers can get their paid work done without sacrificing family time; Subsidies for child care so that mothers don't have to spend a substanial portion of their paychecks on quality child care; Federally mandated paid parental leave policies (like those in Sweden and most European countries). The United States in fact is the only industrialized country without a paid family leave policy. Sickening, isn't it?
It's time for the United States to come out of the 50's and make some changes that reflect the realities and issues that face American workers today. This antiquated system doesn't work for mothers and certainly doesn't optimize production. It's time for a change, people. And the biggest change of all is for the people of the U.S. to start respecting mothers and the hard work they do by compensating them, if not directly with a paycheck, then through family friendly policies, universal healthcare, access for investment in retirment plans for those who choose not to work and equal pay and flexibility for those mothers who choose to work outside of the home in addition to their familial responsibilities.
If you want to read a great article on this very topic, click the link below and read "The Motherhood Manifesto," in this week's Nation magazine.
ALL mom's are working moms .... so Happy Mother's Day to all of you!