Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers' Day!

Posted by: Noël Jones

Aside from well-wishes sent out to all mothers today, this is a friendly reminder for readers that it IS Mother's Day, so if you haven't made that phone call, or sent those flowers, you still have time to scramble to make it happen. It's too late to go to a real florist, but you can go to one of the big grocery stores, and pick and choose different small bouquets and individual flowers to make a nice big, relatively inexpensive arrangement. Chocolate is almost always a welcome addition to flowers as well, and grocery stores have that too. Cards are nice--if the cheesy Hallmark ones make your stomach turn, get a "blank inside" card and write what you  want. 

On CNN yesterday, I saw a ridiculous report that someone got the bright idea to add up all of the various chores and services that a stay-at-home mother provides, and use a chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to sum up the value those services if all of those services were outsourced, coming up with a grand total of

$61,436/year, $15,000 higher than the national median income of $46K. What a bunch of hogwash. They estimated full-time child care at 40 hours a week, as if mothers only take care of their children from 9-5 Mondays through Fridays. When you start adding in the price of a live-in night nurse, and other things they forgot, like counseling, life coaching, tutoring, and administrative functions like the many applications required to get kids into various programs (never mind colleges), we are deep into six figures before even considering the intangibles of love and affection. And that is to say nothing of research, paperwork, and prescribed at-home early intervention activities dedicated to children with special needs of any type, i.e., autism, never mind those with physicals disabilities. 

I love how the article pooh-poohs the category of summer activity planning as "rather a lot for the odd trip to the park." Clearly this writer has never had to go through the research, registration and site visits involved in deciding on summer programs in which to enroll multiple children of various ages--how much do they think they could get away with paying someone else to do it? There is also no mention of the other myriad functions that many mothers perform, such as the price of someone to do personal shopping, an accountant to pay bills and file taxes, or an agent to research the best insurance and file claims, etc. The article dismisses the amount allotted for interior design--because the Good Fairy, of course, makes all that happen. Disagree with me? Fine--do the research, read the Bureau of Labor Statistics chart to get averages wages, and add it all up yourself. Just be sure not to leave anything out, including over time. The amount of money that stay-at-home moms save a family's income is staggering. 

I am not saying all this to be cheesy and PC and make mothers feel all warm and fuzzy today. I am saying this because it pisses me off every year when the social anthropologists, economists and the media disingenuously suggest that they are celebrating the unsung values of stay-at-home moms by reducing them to a monetary sum, and clearly demonstrating that they do not, in fact, appreciate all that mothers do, by not including everything that they do in their formulas. Adding to the disingenuousness is including random sums for categories like "cutting hair" that they know readers will ridicule, while not including things like, say, the time-and-a-half you would have to pay someone for 24-hour childcare, as opposed to 40-hour/week childcare. Have fun doing that math.

Also, it's important to realize that there are a lot of single and divorced working mothers (as well as married working mothers) out there, that, while they have to pay someone else to do the 40 hr/week child care portion, are still doing the other 128 hr/week of child care, plus all the other stuff as well.

I am not a mother, but in my humble opinion, from observing my friends and family members who are mothers, they would have to double that figure, and then be reminded of the old Beatle's tune, "Money Can't Buy Me Love." The best thing anyone can give a mother today (and every day) is actual respect and appreciation for all that they really do do. But for those not good with words, flowers, chocolate and a nice brunch or dinner often do just fine. It is just one day, out of 365 a year in which mothers should be appreciated. That's my opinion, but any mothers reading this are invited to post your thoughts here! Anyone who would like to post a public thank you to his/her mom on this blog are also welcome to do so.

Have a great day, Mothers of Easton. I hope you all get spoiled properly today!


Anonymous said...

happy mother's day ! i think most every woman is a mother in some way ;-)

meanwhile-i think you wrote this post for me. forgot to get my mum something oops. gotta take her for breakfast.

ferebee said...

oops--didn't mean to post anon. this is ferebee !

peterkc said...

I second Noël's sentiments, but this might also be a good time to remember that Mother's Day didn't start out as another 'Hallmark Holiday'—it started with Julia Ward Howe, who also wrote the words to 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic'.

Original Mother's Day Proclamation, by Julia Ward Howe (1870)

Arise then... women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosum of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

noel jones said...

wow--I have never seen this before--thanks, peterkc!

noel jones said...

thanks for posting your moniker, ferebee!

Anonymous said...

Well said! I was preparing to point out that you missed mentioning the value of working and/or single mothers, but you covered that as well before the end of the post.

So that leaves only one more thing to add; speaking of the dark days of adolescence when most mothers will have to endure a time when the children they love and have given their all to, not only do not recognize the efforts made on their behalf, but seem to resent their mere existence.

In addition to giving away services that in our culture can be equated with monetary value, being a mother is an exercise in compassion,forgiveness and selfless love. It is the most humbling of all human experiences.

noel jones said...

imjjill--thanks for posting--i have watched friends go through exactly what you're describing, and it seems like such a gargantuan exercise is patience to be able to step back and not lose it, knowing that it's a natural stage of adolescence to sort of "try on" independence and assert one's self as an unique human being separate from one's parents by challenging authority, rejecting advice and becoming almost compulsively oppositional. it's hard to have faith that the same child, once he or she is in his or her 30s, after a good decade of working and paying bills, and perhaps even having young children, will come around to suddenly appreciate all that parents do and all that was done for him or her. it usually does's just a long wait, an endurance game of the heart (and sanity). hang in there!

noel jones said...

a friend called me with this comment and asked me to post it because she was driving:

Camille says:

"actually to finish the math problem of trying to allot a monetary value to the services that mothers perform, you would have to add up everything you've mentioned, and then DEDUCT 18%, because women only get paid 72 cents on the male dollar in this country."

Dennis R. Lieb said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dennis R. Lieb said...


Thanks for doing the research on the "value of mothers". I saw an article about a year ago that promoted the idea of going back to more single earner households because the value of the stay-at-home mom (or dad) was way more than the trade off for the extra income.

When you include the actual net monetary benefit of the second income (minus transportation costs - now around nine grand a year for the second car, child care, etc.) and factor in all the intangible benefits of raising your kids yourself it starts to look like a real losing proposition for most people.

I'm not saying I agree with the idea or that anyone shouldn't work if they want to, but they do have a point...the bottom line is that the social and economic costs don't pencil out very well.


noel jones said...

FYI--the deleted post was a duplicate and deleted at the commenter's request (DRL)

noel jones said...

good points, DRL. i've been thinking about this it used to be normal and expected in the 50s and 60s that couples could buy a house and start having kids in their early 20s, and that usually included the wife staying at home. nowadays, couples work two or more jobs to survive and still have a hard time affording a home.

for the record, this is not a gender-specific issue to me. any man that wants to be a stay at home dad, handle all the finances, do all the research and registration for the kids programs and schools, take them to doctor appts, administer medicine, cook, clean, and oversee home repairs and installation of services, etc. should be honored as well. especially in this economy, if a husband loses his job and the wife/mom still has her job, it makes 100% financial sense for the dad to stay home and save all the money that they would be spending as a couple for full-time day care--not to mention all the stress of trying to do everything else around two 9-5 schedules. this can also be an incredibly precious time for dads to bond in a profound way with their kids.