World's Toughest Job, Indeed

I haven’t been able to get this video out of my head:

It has struck such a chord with me. Being a mom is the most undervalued job there is. But I have to say that I struggle with calling it a job.

A job is something you must be trained to do, even if it simply involves a co-worker spending a couple of days taking you through the computer system and telling you to avoid the turkey sandwich from the vending machine.

When a woman becomes a mom, if she’s lucky she has other moms around her to help out at first, but there’s no employee handbook or infant manual that tells her exactly what protocols to follow and what to do if she runs into problem X.

A job is something you get paid for. Even minimum wage appears to be on the rise. But as a mom, you don’t see a dime. And if you’re a Stay-At-Home-Mom, then you are often reliant on your spouse or partner’s income. That can be a huge blow to the ego if you were formerly a wage earner. It always leads to other complications too – ie fights over needs vs. wants, spending habits, feelings of inferiority as the SAHM/superiority as the breadwinner. In short, it’s a recipe for battle.

Not in the history of momkind has a mom ever earned a wage commensurate with her skills and effort for being a mom. It’s just a fact. And like the job interviewer in the video tells us, the position is 24/7, 365 days a year with minimum to no rest at all. What number could you possibly throw out there as a salary for that kind of commitment to your job?

I met a woman at the grocery store the other day. I had my 2-year-old daughter in the cart and I’m sporting a rather large baby bump these days, so she was well aware of my status as a mother. She told me that she, as a young adult, had made the conscious decision never to become a mother but that she greatly valued the work we moms do.

She told me that she’s always said moms should earn $200,000 a year for their diligent work. Do you agree? I’m not sure how she came to that figure but would you be satisfied with such a wage? Would it be right to get paid for motherhood?

As much as people love their jobs (and I know because I love mine) the salary makes it better. It makes the bad days much more palatable because even if that jerk in accounting called to yell at you, you know you’re still taking home a paycheck on Friday.

As moms, our only form of payment is the pleasure we derive from watching our children grow and thrive. Or in the case of this video, our “associate”.

But is that enough? Wouldn’t being a mom be so much better if you got cash for it? You’d still have the enjoyment of seeing Junior walk and talk and grow but you’d also be able to afford that Prada bag you’ve been eyeing forever or even more importantly, pay that electric bill that’s been the albatross around your neck.

Alas, in this country, we are not paid well for “women’s work.” The pay inequality doesn’t seem to be budging, any Congressional debates aside.

At the end of the day though, when your little one is fast asleep, like the mother in Robert Munsch’s beloved book Love You Forever, you may peer in on your dreaming child and find it all so overwhelmingly worth it. Or not, and that’s okay too.