The Priceless Art of Momming

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I stumbled upon an article from Salary.com which includes an estimate of how much moms would get paid if they were salaried employees. The numbers are based on a 2016 survey of both stay-at-home and working moms. [Sidenote: I don’t like the term “working mom.” We’re all working in some way or another. We need a new term!]

Based on the survey results, SAHMs work about 92 hours a week, which includes a whopping 52 hours of overtime, and should earn a $143,102 salary. Meanwhile working moms are putting in 59 hours per week (on top of their employment!), with 19 hours of overtime, and in a perfect world would receive $90,223 for their efforts.

The article also includes a cool breakdown of the traditional mom jobs vs. modern mom jobs. Spoiler: We’re expected to fulfill a lot more roles than our mothers and grandmothers. Even for SAHMs, its not enough to take care of your home and family. You have to keep up with society’s ever-evolving expectations of what it takes to be the perfect mom. It’s not enough anymore to put together a cute baby book or photo album. You’re expected to have an expertly curated Instagram account. Bonus points if your kids have their own accounts (managed by you)! You think you’re hot stuff because you taught your kid to add but not so fast. Kids don’t even do math the same way that many of us were taught (Helloooo, common core!). Everyone from the government to your MIL is telling you how to feed your LOs (and how to set up an aesthetically pleasing bento box). Meanwhile, you’re lucky if you can convince your picky tot to eat anything and mom-guilt is running rampant. It’s a lot to manage!

I have to tell you: Seeing those salary numbers  and the accompanying “workload” brought up some mixed emotions for me. I clearly didn’t become a mom for the money. Who does? However, there have definitely been points when I sacrificed income and potential advancement for the good of my child. For the last 6 months of my pregnancy with my son, I didn’t work. As a person who has struggled with anxiety, it was of major importance to my husband and I that I not be unnecessarily stressed during such a critical time. I returned to paid employment when my son was about 3 or 4 months old. On top of being emotionally challenging, childcare isn’t cheap! In hindsight, it is pretty questionable whether or not the “added” income was really worth the associated costs. Something that’s important to keep in mind is that on those days in the office, I still had to be my son’s mom (and my husband’s wife) 24 hours a day. Meal prep, laundry, sleepless nights: those things still happened. They happen for all working parents. It creates this feeling of never being off duty, so when I see that $90,223 figure it brings one major thought to mind:

Moms are incredibly under appreciated by society, and sometimes even by their families. If it weren’t for moms’ free labor, society would literally cease to exist. There have been so many times when I felt that I almost needed to apologize to the people around me due to my need for breastfeeding accommodations or my insistence that I leave as soon as my scheduled shifts ended.

As I write this I have to wonder what would happen if all workers, regardless of having children or not, set firmer boundaries with their employers regarding work hours, break time, and other perfectly reasonable details, it might not be so odd when moms do it. What if women’s contributions to society were more valued in general. It’s common knowledge that women who are engaged in paid employment are generally compensated less than their male counterparts. Things need to change. Societal level change is a huge undertaking, but don’t despair! We can all do more in our everyday lives, starting with advocating for our needs, as well as other women in our communities. We must advocate for ourselves at home and in business. Unapologetically ask for what you need and speak out when you’re treated poorly. The sisterhood is powerful, but only when we’re active and united.