Thursday, October 05, 2006

Motherhood: The World's Least Valued Job

working mother pin
I'm often asked "What do you do for work?" and I often reply simply, "I raise my kids."

Next, I often get the perplexed, "Well, what do you do for a job?"

Again I answer, "I raise my kids. I'm a stay-home mom." (The title "homemaker" is horribly out of date and even smacks of shame for me.)

"Well, that's not a job, job," I've even heard.

WHAT? Being a SAHM is practically the hardest job there is. I think it would be much easier to kiss my three babes on their foreheads every morning before dropping them off to be cared for by someone else WHO WOULD GET PAID to take care of them (likely not as thoroughly, carefully and lovingly as I would).

Although not considered an actual job or career, staying home to raise a 5-year-old, 3-year-old and 2-year-old is work, full-time work. Mad crazy hard work.

(I think I gave my "Every Mother is a Working Mother" pin away to my sister. I loved that little pin given to me at an anti-war rally in L.A. a few years back but I thought my sister, Dena, mother of two, deserved it and wanted to share the activist mama movement love. )

Even daycare providers and teenaged babysitters get paid to do what we do when we're not available to do it. (I dole out anywhere between $7 and $10 per hour from our family's single income to go for a run or meditate at the yoga studio just to plain decompress for the rigors of my job. )

My job clocks-in 24/7 with no breaks throughout the work day.

Six-thirty p.m. can't come soon enough each day. Thanks to my helpful husband I get quality relief every day at that desperately anticipated time. His priceless help lasts all the way through our hectic nightly bath, books and bed routine and generously spills over into the weekends, when I sometimes even get to sleep in. Not all women have husbands/partners, though. Especially not ones who are so willing to help out. I can't imagine how difficult the job is for them.

All without benefits. Without sick days. Without health insurance.

That's me -- mom -- your standard unpaid laborer.

I volunteered for this job, though. I had all my children by choice. I also chose to remain home and raise them. Yes, I chose this job and quitting (for an attractive severance package) is never an option.

The price of motherhood
To learn more about the "accounting of the price that mothers pay for performing the most important job in the world," check out Anne Crittenden's groundbreaking book, The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World is Still the Least Valued.

In it, "Crittenden, a former economics reporter for the
New York Times, lays out the going rate for a woman's time: "$150 an hour or more as a professional, $50 an hour or more in some businesses, $15 an hour or so as a teacher, $5 to $8 an hour as a day-care worker and zero as a mother."

In 2006 the world's most important job has no monetary value.


At 4:57 AM, Anonymous heather said...

I couldn't agree with you more. And my uber-helpful husband is usually home by 5:30 and I ALWAYS sleep in on the weekend.

Another blog I read got to ask a question of Gloria Steinem and she asked about SAHM. Follow this link for her response:

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Domestic Slackstress said...

I read that same Gloria Steinem thingy thing. You seem to have great taste, Heather. Actually, you always have. Thanks for continually perusing my blog.

At 10:25 PM, Blogger jen said...

terrific post. mothers, stay at home, working, and single, never get the credit they deserve - and thankfully we don't need it - raising a family is reward enough. glad i found your blog.


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