Just when we thought all was quiet on the front lines of the “Mommy Wars,” salary.com came around for the thirteenth year in a row to remind us “what a stay-at-home mom is worth.” On the surface, I am sure this is meant as a nice little reminder that every mom has merit, regardless of what occupation she lists on her taxes. However, somewhere between equating motherhood to a CEO and capping her worth off at six figures, this went from fun, to “shots fired!”
Don’t believe me? Check out where the picture originated on Facebook. Immediately, a working mom called foul and demanded more imaginary money, since she has to do all of this on top of her job. This opened the floodgates for home-based to tell other women to subtract from their overall value for outsourcing their child care, and that their level of housework which couldn’t possibly measure up to the at-home mother’s. Pro-tip: when you are in a heated discussion with a person you do not know, and are encouraging her to subtract imaginary value from her life, it is time to close the laptop and walk away.
But that’s not what bothered me so much about this graphic. What bothered me is that this graphic really doesn’t hone in on what I consider my major expertise. Even when I went to the website, where I can add jobs such as “nurse” (because my Band-Aid technique is just that damn good, apparently) I still felt like my life was not accurately reflected. So I set off to find my real imaginary worth, based on my obvious skill set.
Private Investigator: Too many hours @ $21.99
Using a can of air to remove crumbs from my laptop does not really qualify me as a computer operator. My technical skills don’t go far beyond “ctrl + alt + delete.” My real computer skills are more like that of a limited PI. Do you need information on a high school acquaintance that you haven’t spoken to since 2001? I’m your girl. Do you want to know the timeline involved in Justine Bieber’s decline? Give me three minutes. Do you want to make your digital footprint invisible to your mother-in-law without it being obvious? Send me an e-mail. I assume my imaginary compensation would need to be adjusted for time spent on celebrity gossip sites and parenting blogs, divided by time I spend actually interacting with my children. So that leaves about seven dollars.
Rodeo Clown meets Birthday Party Clown:
$40 - $100 per gig, minus the cost of everything destroyed in the dog bowl and bathtub
Last time I looked, I only have three kids running around here at any one time, and two of those little people are gone for chunks of the day, so I hesitate to call myself a “daycare teacher.” My time alone with my young son is spent trying to keep him from playing in the dog bowl and from throwing random objects into the bathtub. We try to avoid plugs, small objects and scaling the baby gate. My main conversation is geared around “Hey, look! Over here! Come over here! This toy is better than the water! This wooden cow is SO MUCH FUN!”
Five hours @ $9.09 minus cost of Organic, 100% Apple Juice (So, maybe $2)
Psychologist? No, more like a bartender. Pull up a chair; let me pour you a juice or stick a straw in your Capri Sun and you just tell me about what happened at school today. I will listen and get a faraway look in my eye as I nod at the appropriate time and give gentle advice, paired with tales of my own past.
Seven hours @ $7.25
To call myself a cook would be an insult to cooks everywhere, and “Crock Pot Operator” is not a thing, apparently. So I will embrace my inner cafeteria worker, since I do fill literal tray with a variety of dishes recommended by my pediatrician, health guidelines, or a particularly easy pin on Pinterest.
Church Van Driver:
Seven hours @ $0.00
I had to take my driver’s test three times, and my first failure included the words “danger to self and others.” And while I have improved, no one has ever indicated that my minivan skills deserve compensation. So I picture myself more like a reluctant church van driver, picking up friends and dropping them off, while jamming to classic rock on my radio.
Please note I have not even begun to address the three variations of housekeeper listed in the original graphic, because, no. I clean; I do laundry; I wax poetically about the various clumps of dog hair found in impossible places around the house. I even talk to God while trying to scrape toothpaste off of the wall. But I hardly consider myself a professional.
All parents, regardless of employment status, do tasks they enjoy or tasks that they hate in order to keep their household from absolute chaos. Putting drops in my dog’s ears doesn’t make me a vet, and crying over our budget spreadsheet doesn’t make me an accountant. In the end, what it makes me is a:
All hours of the day @ unlimited fake earning potential
That’s right. We make the rules. We delegate the tasks. We may let you vote, but in the end, most major decisions are up to us as parents. CEO? Hardly. A CEO can be fired, and I am here for life. And that’s a job that can be embraced by stay-at-home, work-from home and working moms, everywhere.