Editor’s note: Amy Grace is taking the day off. Enjoy a blog from our archives.
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Several years ago, a popular morning program reported that salary.com tallied up all the responsibilities of the modern day mother and decided she was worth over $138,000 per year. I thought to myself at the time that if mothers were actually paid, this seemed like a pretty reasonable living.
Then I became a mother.
I decided to do my own calculations and figured we moms should at least get a cost of living raise since this figure was released, even if corporate America isn’t doling them out.
To begin, a live-in au pair or nanny makes approximately $7.50 per hour or $18,000 annually. As a mother, you perform all the same duties, but you get no sick days, no free room and board, no paid time off, no free ski trips even though you work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. At $7.50 an hour, your annual income for this work would be more like $67,000.
From the time you have children, you begin needing things on almost a daily basis that you didn’t need prior to being a parent. Diapers, formula, breast pads, burp rags, rectal thermometers, infant Tylenol. Your trips to Target and Walmart number in the thousands, and the money you spend there seems to mirror the national debt.
This means you are also spending hours upon hours in the car, and chances are your kids are accompanying you most of the time. That means car seats, kid-friendly music, fruit snacks smashed between the seats, extra children and for all this, you will also need a bigger car and that means a bigger car payment. Oh, and no one will reimburse you for your mileage either! Your time as a taxi driver could earn you $35,000.
If you have more than one child or if you’ve had to referee the one you have on the playground, if you have had to wait up for a teenager that is late for curfew or if you have received a less than satisfactory report card in the mail, you know that you have had to be judge, jury and parole officer. For this, you should be compensated $150,000.
Don’t forget meals. Not only your normal three squares but birthday parties, family dinners, neighbor kids that come for play dates and if you’re lucky, maybe an adult dinner party. So plan on being your family’s personal chef, baker and party planner on a limited budget with picky eaters and multiple meal times. To top it off, plan on eating your cold meal last, if ever. A professional with these responsibilities would make approximately $105,000 in an Omaha zip code.
All families need a therapist, right? You will listen to the same complaints from the same “patients.” They won’t observe your office hours and you will be on call constantly. Unfortunately, you will also encounter the occupational hazard of bias. You will be devastated by the neighbor kid that won’t play with your son, you will want to string up the boy who didn’t ask your daughter to prom and you will pledge undying allegiance to your “patients” even when they are in the wrong. For this, your check should total $77,000.
A maid makes $21,000 to clean your kitchens and baths, vacuum and dust. You will clean out garages, do windows, dishes, laundry and all while the culprits follow behind you and systematically mess up everything you have accomplished.
A nurse makes approximately $61,000 for taking temps, changing sheets, administering meds and listening to health complaints. All the same things you do for your “patients” and you get to clean up throw up.
In a nutshell, your virtual salary should be slightly over $516,000. Half a million is certainly not a bad living for caring for the ones you love. But you don’t make anywhere near that, do you? At least not for being a mother or father, wife or husband, nursemaid, nanny, shrink, chef and so on. Me neither.
It’s the most difficult job out there; one that college can never prepare you for. But in the end, you do it. You do it gladly and know that one can never put a price tag on the rewards.
Amy Grace is married with two children. She is a stay-at-home mom.