Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What it's Worth

There’s been a bit of hype recently surrounding Salary.com’s study that says Stay-at-Home-Mom’s would earn $134,000 if they were paid for what they’re doing. Well, I don’t know about that. Let’s face it ladies (and gentlemen—there are plenty of Stay-at-Home-Dads too), we’d all be doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. whether we had kids or not. Back in Chicago, when I was waiting for Ivy to arrive, my housework took all of an hour. Most of the time, I was bored. Now, I didn’t have a two story house or even a decent kitchen, so I would imagine that my chores took less time than many other non-working people. That isn’t to say that when our bundle of joy arrived, I didn’t have more to do—I certainly did. Ivy is messy, if nothing else, but I’m not sure that my work as a mom should get me that kind of a salary.

Being a mom is tough. There are days when I’d gladly trade my legs in for extra arms just so I could eat my dinner before it gets cold. I’m not sure a non-parent (whether biological or otherwise) can truly appreciate what it takes to be a parent. To help those of you who may not have kids, consider this:

Imagine your boss. Now imagine that he suddenly can not speak. All he can do is yell. AHHHHH! You have to guess what it is that he wants. Your boss also can not walk, so when he yells, it’s from another room.


You rush in. “What? What is it?”


Do you need that report I was working on?


Is there a meeting this afternoon?


“Conference call?”


You guess and guess, and eventually, he stops yelling. You return to your regular job duties—answering email (laundry), taking phone calls (doing the dishes), preparing your PowerPoint presentation (fixing dinner).

Now imagine that your boss has also lost all control over his bowels and it’s up to you to clean up the mess that he makes. Sometimes his yelling is about that.

Your boss now decides that you are the only one who can meet his needs (you’ve discovered this through his yelling when you’d asked a co-worker to please see what he needs so you can take your lunch break). Since you’re the only one who can do these things for him, your job now lasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Your boss calls you every two hours (even at night) and yells over the phone. You have to get out of bed and guess what he’s yelling about, fix the problem, and then, maybe, go back to bed.

Sometimes he yells just to yell.

This is not all you do. In addition to your yelling boss, you have your family, vacations, errands, and of course, the rest of your job duties to fulfill. But the yelling never stops. No matter the time of day or your previous commitments, you must always deal with the yelling boss first.

Now, this is not parenthood in its entirety. Babies are fun, cute, entertaining and of course, we love them to pieces. I wouldn’t trade Ivy for anything. There is no amount of money that can measure the value of what parents do, and I wouldn’t trade one of Ivy’s smiles for all of the millions of dollars in the world. You can’t pay parents enough for what they do, but we will all still continue to do it for nothing.