Sunday, May 9, 2010

measure this

So it is Mother's Day and another one of those articles came out. The subject matter to which I refer is one that attempts to put a $ value on staying home and child rearing. I have been sort of uncomfortable with these reports and figures that surface from time to time, but I have been uncomfortable without knowing why. So since it is Mother's Day, instead of spending time with my family, I am going to sit down and try to figure out once and for all why these articles bother me. It seems like a reasonable way to spend the day.

Since I don't have a lot of coherency or organization around my thoughts at this point I am diving in with a list. I have major chagrin over the college papers I grade that contain lists. It seems lazy to me, but what they hey, it's Mother's Day and I am trying to take it easy.

-It doesn't amount to a hill of beans. I might change my tune really quickly if a money truck (or even a bunny money truck) pulled up outside but as far as I know these speculations aren't paid out in so much as monopoly money.

 -It seems to add fuel to the fire of a particularly toxic debate (work vs. home). And only fuel. Not relevant or interesting points that may further understanding,

-The reports make it seem like SAHM/SAHD (stay at home moms/stay at home dads) are desperate for validation. Like I feel so insecure about what I do that I need it validated with real world, tangible numbers. The fact is, this the least measurable, least tangible way that a mom or a dad can spend a few years of their life. Seems best to get comfortable with that right up front.

-I am not and never have been comfortable with the work analogy. Sure it is work. And sometimes it is really hard work. I find flossing laborious but I don't need anyone to put a dollar amount on it. My point is, for me, this isn't workplace work. This is my family. That feels wholly separate, sacred, and holy to me. I wanted this, more than I had ever wanted anything. I have hard days (crazy hard days sometimes) but I chose it and never feel that raising my children is punching a clock, I always recoil at the metaphor, even when delivered with sympathy.
this image gives me flashbacks to being a high school checker at "Boogarts"-AWFUL!!!

this image gives me a warm fuzzy feeling about tv, um, I mean family.

-It undermines working moms. By necessity, they may "contract out" part of their work but they are always a parent and they are always on duty. Not to mention that these parents have to double time it on evenings and weekends and I don't hear them asking for articles putting a dollar amount on that. It also undermines everyone in the profession of those "jobs" they say moms do without getting paid. Dog walker, chauffeur, dental hygienist, etc, etc. I happily dabble in these things but I have no real training, and I don't hesitate to call an actual professional when necessary. Dental Hygienists undergo rigorous training and schooling. There is quite a bit to learn about teeth, jaws, mouths, nerves etc. If I were a member of the National Dental Hygienists Association I might be kind of po-ed.

-It skirts the real issue. The real issue (for me) is that this world doesn't really value stay at home parents. Farcical dollar amount or no, it isn't intrinsically valued. It isn't something many even consider (I did not give it so much as one thought until some time after my baby arrived). We (we the media, society, personally) are really afraid to stop and say, "hey, raising kids is important work." We feel that by stating this fact we are ipso facto saying that "if you don't raise your kids full time you're wrong." No one, including me, wants to say that. First of all it feels ungrateful to the feminist movement (color me grateful that staying home is a choice and not a mandate), and second of all it flies in the face of the fact that many, many kids of working mothers and fathers are happy and well adjusted.

When I find myself uncomfortable with the certain tack a conversation is taking and wanting  to be taken more seriously then I need to stop being so afraid to offend and say why I have chosen my path. If I can manage to execute this in a way where there is no blaming, implicating, and where I only speak about myself and my family's experience, then there should be no shame in that. TFPA (titillating future post alert)-I am going to lay this path choosing business out very soon.

 hee, hee. this is called "the head chef measuring cup"

It is really interesting to note my personal experience writing this is one of extreme discomfort. I am very afraid that you work and hate what I said. Or stay home but live for those measuring articles and hate what I said. I sure hope not but whatever the case may be, I say measuring is for the gross national product and stay-at-home moms who bake. But for me, no thanks.

Now, how much do you think I earned sitting here figuring this out?

Okay, you! Love the salary articles? Hate the salary articles? Hate the verbose speculations in this here blog? Then stay off the comments. JK-let's hear it!


  1. I too dislike the salary articles. In my opinion, those articles always have such a martyr attitude. "Look at all I do...I deserve so much and get so little recognition." Bleh. Get over yourself, people! We are all raising our kids according to how it best suits our own personal lifestyles and that is the bottom line.

  2. Amen, Amen, AMEN!!! (Yes, this is the same technologically defunct friend across town who shall remain "Anonymous") :)

  3. I can't say that I "like" these sorts of articles. They don't help validate me or feel like what I do is any more important...however, I do think that they have some merit. We do live in a society that has little value for parents that stay home with their children. Placing some measurable "worth" to that position can be helpful for some, I think. Necessary? Probably not.

    However, I think if there is something that I don't like about those articles it's the assumption that I don't want to be staying at home with my kids. That I just "endure" these monotonous days of cooking, cleaning and rearing and I'm counting the minutes until I can go back to the "real world" where I can do something that REALLY MATTERS. And the attitude that staying at home is a sacrifice comes from the attitude that staying at home with your children isn't worthwhile. We have trained professionals that can raise your kids for you...YOU get out and start contributing to society.

  4. I agree with you. Seems like there are judgments all around us - how we take care of our kids, how much time we spend with them, whether we stay at home or work full-time, when they are potty trained. As moms, especially in this society where we can do anything, it seems that we do everything! We are all just trying to figure IT out. We need to spend less time judging and more time understanding that what people do must work for them - and that is good enough. ...unless they are teaching kids how to deal drugs or something. Although I work full-time, I have many friends who stay at home with their kids, and at the end of the day - when we find time to chat, we have the same issues, challenges, questions, and rewards. We need to support each other - we are all just trying to figure IT out.


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