Friday, May 04, 2007

The Stay-At-Home Salary Myth

I hate the women’s liberation movement. Absolutely hate it. Not to mention women that purport themselves to be feminists; they’re little more than selfish men haters. Women’s lib is nothing but a scam perpetrated on impressionable young women to teach them that men are only sperm donors and you’re nothing unless you kick off your heals, lose your pearls and join the workforce to “make something of yourself.” Not only is it filled with double standards that convince women to try and get the best of both worlds (what’s that… you want chivalry and comfortable shoes? Not possible.), but it teaches everyone that they’re on their own. There’s no need for a man when you’re a strong independent woman, and how many relationships has that ruined in the last 30 years? Staunch independence doesn’t cultivate a loving environment where sharing of responsibilities is paramount, and I guess that explains why the divorce rate is so high… way back when, women needed men to bring home the bacon (I assume it was a literal term at some point) and men needed women to raise the kids and keep his shirts free of bacon grease.

Now, thanks to horrific inflation and a stratospheric cost of living imposing a much needed double-income family, nobody really needs anybody in the same sense anymore, save for a paycheck. Thank you Gloria Steinem and all the other me-first libbers that came before you.

I just suffered through an incredulous article about the salary expectations of full-time stay-at-home moms. Here, read it for yourself. It surmised that a stay-at-home mom should earn $138,095 a year for all that she does. What a load of crap. Absolute crap, and I’m qualified to say that, partly because I am frequently full of crap, but mostly because I am a part-time stay-at-home dad… and the job is not in the realm of a six-figure salary. It’s not rocket science, you’re not changing the world and nobody’s going to consider you for a Nobel Peace Prize, so why should you expect a six-figure salary? Sexist crazy talk, that’s why.

The thing I find most offensive by the whole gimme-attitude people possess is that they refer to being a mom as a job. It’s not a job to be a parent, and if you think that it is, you shouldn’t have had children in the first place. Jobs you can quit or change. Moral responsibilities such that is parenting is not a job to be loathed and quantified, much less quit. You signed up for life and if you didn’t know that going into it, you should have kept your pants on or had less to drink that night nine months ago. The article’s premise is like suggesting that the moment you get a dog, you’re somehow a veterinarian and should be compensated accordingly.

The article proposes that there are 10 (grossly exaggerated, in my opinion) responsibilities that a stay-at-home mom undertakes that qualifies her for such an outlandish salary: housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, laundry machine operator, van driver, facilities manager, janitor, computer operator, chief executive officer and psychologist. How are all of these positions even relevant to every mom during every single day? First off, housekeeper—the first title on the list—incorporates the other nine positions and negates the entire article, not to mention that janitor, facilities manager and housekeeper are three different ways of saying the same thing: You clean and organize the house, and if you teach the pigs you live with to pitch in and help by putting their stuff away and not leaving it lying around, the job is so much easier. Then again, do what we are trying at our house: Less crap, less to clean up!

As it is now, I can have this house clean during the commercial breaks…including bathrooms and windows.

Laundry machine operator? How bloody easy is it to do a load of laundry in this day and age? You heave the clothes in and push a button. Giving it an eight-syllable title doesn’t make it any more complicated, time consuming on important, and if you do one or two loads of laundry every day, it keeps the hampers empty… It isn’t like the old west, where you had to find a rock by the river and scrub the blood out of your husband’s shirt with a bar of lye or even in my grandmother’s day where you used one of those roller squeezer things (that’s a technical term obviously all of you laundry machine operators know to heart). You just push a button. Presto, clothes are clean.

Computer operator? How does using a computer help in the day-to-day activities of a stay-at-home mom, unless she’s an incessant blogger or has a fetish to stay in constant communication with all of her friends and family? I don’t get that one, because when I use the computer during the day, it is usually to sneak in a little personal time by reading the news or to dash off an email. I’ve never consulted the computer for answers to a parenting question and I don’t think I would have trusted it if I had one. Not to mention, I’m hounded by the little ones the moment I sit down—Natalie always wants to play games on Noggin or Playhouse Disney and Matthew loves the way the keys sound when he pounds on them.

The one that pushes the whole article over the top of believability is chief executive officer. What the hell is that doing in the list? Since when is making decisions about your kids and the house deserving of a title akin to the president of a company? The house needs to be cleaned…let’s form a fact-finding committee, draft a multi-tiered report, discuss it in a cabinet-wide meeting and consult the CEO so a decision can be fostered. The house is dirty. So clean it. The kids are hungry. Feed them. They want to play soccer…sign them up. I’m sorry, if we’re going to be sexist here—and the article is, that moms are the only ones that face these issues—the CEO is whoever actually makes the money. If he (or she or both) is pulling down the money to make the family operate with a certain degree of status quo, then he (again, or she or both) get to finalize the important decisions that affect the force of the family unit. Can we afford to go to Hawaii this year? Should we buy a new car? I know, it’s so 1955 Ward Cleaver of me, but that was the original family dynamic that made families great, and it is too bad to see it go so far to the other side. Now, everyone is expected to have an opinion…which only leads to arguments and dissidence. Lucy, you don’t get to play in the band (and I’m going to spank you if you try); Harriet, I want dinner on the table when I get home from my Elks meeting; and June, if Wally hangs out with that Haskell kid down the street again, there’s going to be heck to pay. My, times have changed: Spank your wife (no, I don’t mean in that way that she likes) and they’ll arrest you for domestic battery. And forget about trying to control your kids. They have civil liberties that might get tiptoed on. Cripes.

The only psychologist a stay-at-home mom needs is one for her own sanity, I’ll give her that one. I’m assuming the article means that she needs to be a child psychologist to handle the problems and concerns of the children, but really, how deep are kids that they need psychological counseling? Often times, in this highly medicated world we live in, the kids just need to take a couple of laps around the yard and get over it. Who cares if that boy doesn’t like you back. His loss. Who cares if you didn’t make the football team. Their loss. Forget Adderall or Focalin or whatever it is they’re stuffing down their children’s throats these days, just put down the PlayStation, go outside and pull some weeds or dig a hole. There’s your psychology.

What exactly is a day-care-center teacher anyway? An oxymoron, I say. I don’t know that my kids actually learn anything at day care that we haven’t taught them here, and I’ve never heard of a stay-at-home mom sitting the kids down for a school lesson unless they’re home schooled…and don’t get me started on those freaks. The closest thing to a day-care-center teacher would be shoving a coloring book under their nose so you can have a little peace and quiet to watch Oprah and chug down that last glass of wine for the afternoon.

Seriously, what is all the fuss? A hundred and thirty grand to do this? I wish I didn’t have to work all the time so that I could be a full-time stay-at-home dad. That way, I can walk around patting myself on the back in congratulations for doing something billions of people on this Earth all throughout time have done before without quantifying it into terms of compensation. Most important, they’ve done it without complaining because they realize that nurturing a child into adulthood is the real reward no amount of money could supplant.

You know what really makes this article a load of steaming crap? First off, a stay-at-home mom is not all of these things at the same time. She isn’t slaving over a hot stove cooking dinner while trying to sooth little Timmy’s feelings because he couldn’t color within the lines of his coloring book while washing the floor with her foot and making sure that the bills are being paid (which is a grandiose position they neglected to mention…CFO). People who say they are a multitasker are people who can’t prioritize their responsibilities and do each job thoroughly. Each of these things a stay-at-home mom is supposedly responsible for are done one at a time… so sure, she wears a lot of hats throughout the day, but she rarely wears two of them at the same time. I mean, really, who can’t drive a minivan and talk about your kids’ feelings at the same time?

And where is all of this money coming from? It’s a crock. Anyone can go from one or two hours at a minimum-wage job like laundry machine operator to another couple of hours at another minimum-wage job like van driver and it still works out that you’re just clearing the poverty line. You don’t get to add up all of he salaries from all of the jobs and roll it into one giant salary… is this why the economy is so screwed up? Is this why the dollar I make is taxed two times while I own it (once when I make it and once when I spend it)?

I’m just disgusted by the me-me-me attitude people have these days. You’re not as important as you think you are and the second you realize that, your family will be a whole lot better off.

So, to all the bleeding-heart feminists who cheered after reading the news about that stay-at-home mom in Florida who went on strike last year because she didn’t get the support she felt she deserved from her family and to all the dimwits who write their congressman, demanding that they be paid for the parenting jobs they do… just do us all a favor and shut up. You’re lucky you don’t have to have a full-time job. You’re lucky you live in a house where you get to see your kids everyday and you’re lucky that you don’t worry about having to haul them off to daycare and then suffer through the twisted irony that they’re in daycare because you have to work and that you have to work to keep them in daycare. Just shut up about $138,000. Just shut up about your laundry duties and your van driver job and the fact that you feel you are forced to deal with the feeling of your children. Just shut up about all that you do and don’t get credit for it; and please shut up that nobody appreciates you. I’m sorry it is such a chore to do the right thing.

A job well done for a stay-at-home parent doesn’t come at the end of the day or on payday. It doesn’t come with awards or merits or accolades that look good on a resume or on your mantle. You’re not going to get a promotion and nobody but your spouse is going to slap you on the back and tell you that you’re doing a bang-up job. So quit asking for it. The payoff of being a parent doesn’t come until the job is done, and if you just had a baby, don’t expect anyone to thank you for at least 25 years. So stuff your salary in your sock, get off your high horse and hope to God that your kids stay off drugs, out of jail and alive long after you’re dead and gone.

Only then will you get the pay you deserve: the pride of being a successful parent.

In the meantime, I’ve got laundry to do.


Le Anne said...

Great article, Ryan! Now, I have to go find my pearls and put in a load of laundry!

Ryan or Kara said...

When you first told me about your article, I thought it would irritate me. But, really I agree. I'd give my left arm (I'm a rightie) to stay at home with my children. As a working mom, I am at least thankful that I can be a "stay at home mom" for three months out of the year. And those three months are FUN - even when it it's bad. Heck,I'd do it for free!


bnleach said...

Wow, someone woke up on the wrong side of the couch. I agree partially. You can't add all these different careers together and get a total, but as a working father who has a stay at home mother for a wife, I can tell you, she does more work than I do, and deserves more money for it. If she "got over herself" and left, I'd be paying out more than I make for child care, laundry and food alone. With three kids, she's often doing at least two things at once, and many times three. So no, while I don't think she should make $130k, I think more than my $20k should be in order.


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