Thursday 19 January 2012

How Much Am I Worth?

Lately I've been reading a lot about how moms are tired of not getting any recognition for the fact that they do everything and get paid nothing.  Usually this has been in the form of an obnoxious chain status on facebook, (which everyone loves) putting mothers on a scale with doctors and police officers and various inanimate objects such as a jungle gym and a kleenex.  Which is not ridiculous at all.  Instead of getting into how not ridiculous that is I will concede that us moms work pretty hard.

Well finally, someone came along and put a dollar sign on all that hard work we do.  Because in our society $ = respect.  According to this article the average "homemaker" should be earning close to $100,000 a year!  Which is amazing because you don't even have to go to college to be qualified for this almost $100,000 salary.  Kind of makes you wonder why people spend so much money on paying professionals when they could just get some mom to do it for them.

First of all I love the use of the term "homemaker" because in its attempt to be more inclusive by recognizing that it's not always the woman in the relationship who takes care of the home or that some relationships don't have a woman (or a man, depending)  it simultaneously excludes people who are single/childless.  I guess if you're not in a relationship/don't have children you also do not live in or make a "home".  Because if she acknowledged the fact that the single/childless portion of the population do indeed live in and make homes she would also have to acknowledge how ridiculous the idea of getting paid to look after yourself is.

But what the hell, I'm a forward thinking progressive female who by the definition of the article is a "homemaker", so I'll bite.

So the genius who dreamed up that article thinks I'm worth almost $100,000 a year?  Okay.  But she should know that by putting the work I do automatically on par with the paid professionals she is also going to get my work automatically as is.  You can decide if she's getting her money's worth.

Private Chef.  If you were to pay for a private chef you could expect the following services:

     -customized menu planning
     -grocery shopping
     -in home meal preparation
     -storage and cleanup
The services I provide for my family are slightly different.  Here is the customized menu: I don't really give a rat's ass if you like my cooking.  I don't particularly care if you're happy with whatever it is I feel like cooking that day.  I'll be happy to cook you a steak if you're paying the grocery bill but if I see a better deal on a pork roast I'm buying that and you're gonna like it with second helpings of "shut the hell up".  Because when this "homemaker" is your private chef that is how it is.  I prepare meals in home but that's because I live here so it would be pretty inconvenient for me to make it anywhere else.  Kind of seems stupid to even bring up the fact that the meal is prepared in the home.  As far as storage and cleanup go I'll put the food away but you had better damn well be helping out with the dishes after I slaved over that meal.

The private chef makes around $1,000 a day, and because I'm legally obligated to feed my kids I cook I can call myself a private chef and make a claim for exactly the same income.  Right?

House Cleaner.  Professional Maid services will come into your home on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis and they will:

     -clean your floors
     -clean your bathrooms
     -make beds
     -clean your kitchen and wash dishes

Some of them even come with guarantees of using earth friendly cleaners.  What do you get with me?  Well, the dishes and kitchen should be covered under the private chef, where I make everyone else help out.  I'm pretty bad at making my bed everyday and I make the kids make their beds if I happen to think of it at all.  Basically they get made about half the time and when they do I'm not the one really doing it.  I sweep the floors because I hate constantly walking on crumbs but I have to admit that I'm never in a hurry to mop the floors until they are sticky or covered in some bio-hazardous substance.  I do keep the bathroom pretty clean but that is a must when you have two little boys with incredibly bad marksmanship.  And I clean everything with whatever toxic substance is the cheapest.

A professional house-cleaner will set you back about $120/week.  Okay, I don't feel bad about charging that but would you pay it?

Child Care.  Because it makes total sense to feel entitled to money for looking after the children you voluntarily brought into the world.  Why not?  According to the International Nanny Association (the people with whom the article's author compared us "homemakers") a nanny will provide you with:

     -the "highest level of customized child care"
     -specialized child care skills
     -a deep understanding of children
     -a love of caring for children

With me you get a mom who was totally unfit and unqualified to be a paid professional Nanny, a parent who is making things up as she goes along.  I have no deep understanding of any children, least of all my own and I do not particularly love caring for them.  I do not love changing poopy diapers and wiping poopy bums.  I do not love making them eat their vegetables and fighting with them over hygiene.  I do not love playing the referee and trying to search for truth in the quagmire of their lies and I do not love making them do homework.  But I do love my kids so I do all of that stuff for them, and never, not in a million years would I be so crass as to suggest someone ought to put a price tag on that.

Day care is about $600/week.  If you leave your kids with me you should have your head examined.  It's a miracle that the state lets me keep mine.

Driver.  Hiring someone to drive your ass around is expensive.  Good thing for you I don't drive.

Laundry Service.  If you go with Susie's Suds Home Laundry Service, Inc. in Texas you will be charged a buck for every pound of laundry and she will have it:

     -hung and steamed (that sounds dirty doesn't it?).

Mommy's laundry service is slightly different.  My husband works in an office.  He wears button down shirts and slacks to work every day and every day he wears them wrinkly.  That's because when I do his laundry I stuff as many clothes as I can into the washer, and then into the dryer.  Then I forget that they're in the dryer so they dry all crumpled up and full of wrinkles.  Because I have to do around ten loads of laundry per week and I'm a private chef, a day care worker and house cleaner I won't can't possibly iron all those shirts and slacks.  Also I've taken to getting Frick to fold and put away his own clothes recently.  My service is far from prompt because if you want clean clothes you either wash them yourself or wait until I get around to it.

Susie's Suds ends up costing around $1,000/year.  How much is a year's worth of wrinkly shirts worth to you?

Lawn Maintenance.  This was described as a "less common but possible duty of a homemaker".  Not this homemaker. My husband cuts the grass and I'm pretty sure that for the purposes of the article they were not thinking about people who already have full time jobs and then come home to cut the grass (or any of the above.)  But that's how it is.  I do not cut the grass.  I take care of the garden but I consider that to be more of a hobby than something I should feel entitled to be paid for.  Soon we will be making Frick cut the grass because what is the point of having and taking care of children for free if you aren't going to get the unpaid labour in return?

Honestly this is really just a pathetic stretch to get the bottom line of this pathetic article closer to $100,000.  She's got us paying $30/week on lawn care when you can get one of the neighbourhood kids to do it for 1/3 that.  This from a woman who promises to use "the lowest value for each calculation".  If you saw the weeds coming out of our lawn you'd pay us money to stay away from yours.

Bottom Line?  This is life, people.  You gotta eat.  You gotta be clean and you gotta take care of your kids and if you can't do any of these things for yourself then you have to pay someone else to do it.  And if you do pay for it at least you get to expect higher standards and better quality.  When you pay someone it is their job to focus on just that one job and do the best they can.  That is why those people are paid professionals and we are just homemakers.  This need to put this puffed up price tag on what homemakers do smacks of insecurity.  Yes we work hard, yes we don't get paid but we aren't worth $100,000 a year and saying that we are renders any attempt at garnering respect ridiculous.

Now quit your whining and do your job.

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