Today, and the whole month of May, content is obsessed with Moms. Being a learner, I’ll readily consume almost all of it, except the articles that try to give Moms a salary. Those really get under my skin!
Salary.com comes out with an annual “What’s Mom Worth Survey” where you can even print your Mom a fake paycheck: salary.com. While it’s nice to see that six-figure number, the calculations and the glamorous titles like Household CEO, Private Investigator, and Judge/Magistrate are questionable, even laughable! Then there is insure.com’s Mother's Day Index which puts a Mom’s salary at under $80,000 a year. It includes titles like Baker, Hairdresser, and Cosmetologist and helps to determine how much time spent on each would be worth. The article explains that it’s important to figure this out in order to have enough life insurance for a financial safety net. Ummm, Happy Mother’s Day?
As a Mom who has stayed at home, worked part-time, worked full-time and has also held the title of volunteer, I have some insight into the various roles that Moms play. There is no “right” way to be a Mom, and whether you stay at home or work outside the home, Motherhood is full of challenges. I can absolutely conclude that all Moms work endlessly. It comes with the title of Mom. So, before assigning your Mom (or yourself) compensation, think about the following points:
1.) The role of Mother is both infinite and irreplaceable. Can you really pay your Mom for giving you life? Can you put a number to all of the bedtime stories, teacher conferences, and warm hugs? How much do you pay someone who makes you feel safe, loves you unconditionally, and is your rock? How do we pay Moms for shaping a generation, teaching values and morals and raising responsible, good human beings to adulthood? The reality here is that no job description, employee manual, annual objectives and true measures of “success” for Motherhood. Only your Mom can do exactly what she does.
2. ) The act of doing doesn’t equal being an expert. You may cook dinner, but that doesn’t make you a chef! Some Moms may be as good as professional chefs (or maybe were chefs before becoming a Mom) and they have very lucky families. But, really, most of you aren’t in the same way that planting flowers doesn’t make you a gardener, administering medicines doesn’t make you a nurse, nor does listening to friendship squabbles make you a psychologist. That doesn’t mean that Moms are not exceptionally talented and some actually are professional gardeners, nurses, and psychologists. Most of us though couldn’t get a job as a costume designer even though we make Halloween costumes every year.
3.) Parenthood, while extremely challenging work, isn’t a paid job. While there’s no way to comprehend becoming a parent until you actually are, it is a chosen path. Not to mention, non-parents do laundry, cleaning, and errands, and they don’t get paid either! It’s called being an adult.
4.) The calculations don’t include volunteer work and thus don’t even come close to an accurate market value. When we reduce Motherhood to domestic chores with fancy titles, we completely disregard the highly skilled work that Moms are doing….for free. Think beyond the Laundress. We’ve created a culture where Moms are expected to actually work for no pay.
Most Moms I know do highly skilled volunteer roles that would equal actual jobs in corporate America. We are obsessed with the talent shortage, but can’t make the connection between volunteer work and corporate titles. These Mom’s do real unpaid jobs in their schools, churches, neighborhoods, and charities that couldn’t exist without them. Mom’s run PTA budgets of $1 million; hold preschool board seats, lead committees at churches, coach kids for Science Olympiads, chaperone overnight school field trips, organize auctions and fundraising events, apply for grants, run meetings and speak in front of hundreds of people, design marketing campaigns, make theater sets and costumes, choreograph musicals, and on and on.
So, if we are going to put a value on Moms, let’s add in the professional, possibly even the C-suite salaries they deserve. It’s easy to forget that many of these Moms were climbing the corporate ladder before the title of Mom!
What would it take schools, churches, and other nonprofits to run without their volunteers and instead with corporate consultants, professionals, and even executives (which many of these moms used to be)? What would happen to our schools and our communities? Why does volunteer work, so critical to the fabric of our society, not seem to translate into salaries? Why, in a society that glorifies Motherhood, do we have such difficulty with the idea of Mom’s reentering the workforce?
Today I would like to put a clear message out there to Moms: You are all priceless! Happy Mother's Day!
Note: This article is not meant to discount Dads. It’s just Mother’s Day, and the focus is on Moms!