Salary.com recently revealed its annual "mom reports," which helpfully break down what stay-at-home moms and working moms are "worth" in the United States. The interesting thing about these reports is the way that emotional value gets implicitly tacked on to help back up the (fake) financial assessments. This is kind of like saying, "Sure, licensed therapists are great and all, but who can help you get over a crushing break-up like your very own mom?" It's no secret that mothers are undervalued., but considering the real issues that exist in this country -- a broken health care system, lack of universal daycare, no paid parental leave in the workplace -- these infographics increasingly come across as jokes. They also come across as saying, "Hey moms, you might only get paid in hugs and kisses, but look at all of this stuff that you excel at! You're a computer operator, a CEO, a facilities manager! You ROCK!"
Rather than focus on, say, the amount of societal changes that could be made if the U.S.'s policies changed, the charts serve as a consolation prize to "confirm mothers' suspicions" that they're really worth more financially than the (no pay) credit they're given. The charts are the infographic version of a pat on the back, and they're dumb. However, for every mom out there who's like, "Haha, these charts assert that I'm a nurse, a therapist, a maid, a police officer, and an I.T. specialist?!?!", there's another mom who fully believes the hype. It seems that some women just want to drink the Kool-Aid -- and, OMG, moms make THE BEST Kool-Aid, they're like Kool-Aid Chefs, seriously -- and it's either because they truly feel that undervalued, which is certainly possible, or because they feel that awesome about their mad mommy skillz.
With the exception of mom forums, no place online showcases the latter attitude more than Facebook. We've seen examples of this in past columns, and this week I thought we'd revisit it again, if only because I'm so sick of seeing this picture pop up in my inbox:
Hopefully by the year 2045, or god forbid, by the year 2015, we can stop equating mothers with "crazy people," and the stay-at-home mom versus working mom debates won't include charts that distort reality with imaginary salary numbers. Maybe if we gave parents more resources, they wouldn't feel so burdened by their responsibilities. Or maybe some moms just like thinking they're worth $113,568 a year for multi-tasking. Here are a few examples of mothers who may have let the 'juggling act' go to their head:
Thea and Brook need a podcast. "Mom Banter" could consist of call-ins, clichés, and -- what else? -- complaining. The 3 C's for a successful radio show about all things mommyhood. "You think you have it bad, nightshift nurses, overnight engineers, and firemen? Try staying up all night with a flu-ish little boy for four nights straight. Then we'll see which job you prefer!" Yes, moms are "pulling 24-hour shifts" and it sucks when they're sick and have stuff to do, but most people, myself included, have gone to work sick simply because that's what had to happen. Being sick sucks no matter who you are. Being a sick mom just means you're that much closer to your bed.
2. Most Stressful Jobs
Hey, A., how about you take that soapbox and throw it out the window of your mini-van? Taking care of kids is hard, yes, but being responsible for teaching a room full of children -- many of whom have parents that rely on teachers to do everything from teaching their kid to tie his shoes to teaching him how to read -- is a lot harder. Ask any teacher who's also a parent what would be harder: staying home full-time and raising kids (most of whom inevitably leave the house for several hours a day to attend school), or teaching dozens of other people's children and then coming home to parent your own. I'm guessing they will just stare at you with blank faces. Not so much ^_^ as o_O.
3. Hardest Job There Is
Brandi, what you need is a break. Everyone deserves a break -- even moms! But the question is, what are you doing to increase the chances of catching one? Commiserating with moms on Facebook is certainly one way of taking a breather, but another way might be to engage in some actual hobbies. Start a book club. Tell your kid's father to do some parenting while you participate in activities that don't involve toddlers. Don't just rail against "guys" who think stay-at-home moms don't do anything. If you don't want to feel like a victim, it helps not to act like one.
4. In Awe Of Oneself
Amber is suuuuuuper impressed with herself, so much so that she's posting about it on Facebook. She's not complaining by any means, just amazed at her fantabulous juggling skills, which include caring for a baby, working for two *completely* different companies, cleaning a floor-to-wall WHITE McMansion, AND preparing dinners that are on par not only with Martha Stewart's cooking skills, but Martha Stewart's personal chef's cooking skills. It's pret-ty freaking amazeballs, but Super Mom aka Amber is up to the task! Thank goodness Facebook exists so she doesn't have to handwrite letters to all of her friends to let them know how awesome she is. With the click of a button, Facebook instantly informs everyone she knows! That's just one of the many ways that Amber multi-tasks to get everything done. :)))
Bianca might be overstepping her boundaries with that first comment, but ultimately I'd give her a Gold Star for saying what so many people are thinking. While Melita's comment is also true -- mothers "sacrifice" their bodies and so much more -- it's useless to post self-congratulatory chain status updates telling the world how proud you are of yourself. Being humble is also a choice. And whether moms are worthy of a $113k a year salary or not, that "thankless" choice remains one that should be discussed with compassion, not derision.