Every so often, I see an article like this one, stating the monetary value of a stay-at-home mom. A good average estimate is around $100,000+ per year.
I then see the article floating around facebook, my fellow stay-at-home moms flexing their muscles and using it as ammunition in the great mommy wars.
Can I make a confession? One that I suspect would be true for more than just myself?
If this stay-at-home-mom gig were a paying job? I wouldn’t be making $100,000/year. I’d be fired.
Let’s take a look at a few of the categories here, shall we?
1. Facilities manager. Um, I guess I kinda manage facilities. But I’d say that my husband probably does more of the managing of facilities than I do.
2. Laundry operator? Well, let’s see, all too often the baskets are overflowing. I might occasionally have to rewash a load because I forgot to dry it in time. Clean clothes might even sit in the basket for a day or 2 before I get around to folding them and putting them away. Nobody would be paying top-dollar for my laundry services.
3. Computer operator. Yeah. I’ve got that one going on. Probably too much, since sometimes it affects the way I do the more important things.
4. Housekeeper. Ahem. The house is usually in decent enough order. We try to pick up a few times throughout the day, but sometimes clothes are strewn in the bedrooms, toys are strewn in the living room, dirty dishes are piled in the sink, and I pretty much never dust. Trust me, no one would pay me to keep house like this.
5. Cook. I’m a pretty decent cook, and most of our meals are eaten at home and homemade. However, there are nights when it’s fend-for-yourself (although I do keep quick meals on hand for such nights), some nights when we go out or have take out. There are times when we have a quick, thrown-together meal that may not be that great or healthy. Although cooking is probably one of my strengths in this mom/housewife gig, it still isn’t quality or consistency worth paying for.
6. Daycare teacher. I’m going to get real personal for a minute. Sometimes, my kids hear “just a minute, sweetie,” too often. Sometimes they watch a kid-show while I work on writing or blog stuff. Sometimes they have too much candy and not enough attention. Sometimes, I lose my patience and raise my voice. Obviously, some days are better than others, but there are definitely days when I would not pay a daycare teacher who acted like I do. And that’s just the truth of it.
The list goes on, but I’ll stop there. I want you to understand that I am not knocking stay-at-home-moms. I love stay-at-home-moms. I am a proud, stay-at-home-mom. But I do want to challenge us all–we can do better.
Because here’s the thing. If this were a paying job, I’d probably work harder at it, and I’m guessing some of you would as well. If there were real evaluations, boss’s expectations, and people to impress, my house would be cleaner, the meals would be better, things would happen on a better schedule, I’d be more present and engaged with my kids.
Amy Roberts from raising arrows wrote a post recently about how we’ve become a society of “wimpy” homemakers, and I completely agree with her. She makes the point that society only encourages and recognizes strength in the workplace, while as homemakers we tend to coddle one another.
This mom job is so important. No monetary value could ever be placed on it. There is no paycheck, boss, or evaluation for incentive to perform. We have to be self-driven to do what’s good and right for our families, even when no one will ever see it.
But sometimes, we aren’t. And our families suffer for it.
Here’s another thought. We fight the battle day in and day out because we, as stay-at-home-moms, aren’t taken seriously. But maybe, just maybe, other people would take it more seriously if we did. If we really gave it our all. If we woke up every morning and did our very best job. Maybe we’d be given more respect as homemakers. Because, honestly? It’s hard to respect someone in their pj’s all day, with a messy house, surfing the internet.
Our family might be more easily dismissed than corporate expectations, but they are far more important.
Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the lord not to men.” If we had human bosses, we’d do our best for them-to earn that paycheck, promotion, raise, good evaluation, etc. How much more then, should we do our jobs well when we are working for the Lord?
And we are, moms. We are working for the Lord in training up our children and serving our families. We don’t need a paycheck, or some dollar amount placed on us. But we do need to respect ourselves, our families, and our Lord enough to do a better job, and give it our all.