Growing up I used to have a poster in my room. It said: I am the most responsible person in this house; whenever anything goes wrong, I’m responsible. I thought it described my daily predicaments accurately then.
Motherhood, staying at home with kids are attributed noble motives in our society today. If a family is economically secure, the parent is expected to be thrilled to “be able” to stay home with her children. I guess I could say most days I am, but then other days I wonder what my economic worth would be in the outside world. The problem is necessity has made me good at everything. Oh, how to choose just one job to donate my valuable skills to!
Let’s just list here my (could-have-been) job titles/descriptions:
Scheduler/Receptionist/Office Manager: Salary ~ $45,000.
I manage the front of the house, so to speak. Quite admirably, I might add. I schedule playdates with or without accompanying (kid)corporate lunches, where many criteria such as age, level of pickiness, available activities while waiting for meal to arrive, the cafe’s distraction quotient, all play an important role in the decision making process. I also have to manage logistics that can make or break any appointment. What, arrive at the grocery store without snacks? Fail. Want to get your eyebrows done (an essential service for people with dark body hair) and arrived without an electronic device to keep toddler busy? Reschedule or leave salon trashed and embarrassed (you).
For the record, I also answer all telephone calls, answer in-house queries (food in my mouth, notwithstanding), provide beverages to the bosses on demand and other sundry tasks that do not fall into other listed categories.
Teaching Aide/Miss Manners/Etiquette Consultant: conservative estimate $50K.
Sure they go to school but there’s still homework, science charts, fingerprint painting, etc. to be done. Plus, life skills such as not chewing like a bull, not using cuss words like a street dweller (which, btw, they must have heard at school), speaking softly when describing a, um, big person in earshot, have to be reiterated in real-life situations many, many times. Teaching in a controlled classroom at school and having to cease and desist and distract in the grocery checkout line are a little bit different, don’t you think? Salary commensurate with experience. You betcha.
Only the very rich can afford a chauffeur in much of the developed world. Not to mention one that will contort into impossible positions to open a juice box or dodge a shoe flung mid-drive. It’s a hazardous job, but someone has to do it or the malady of stay-at-home-parenting, GUILT!, will strike you. It is also a thankless position — when reminded that you just drove 21.1 miles to bring them to a birthday party where you didn’t have any friends to chat with, you may be rewarded with a “So? I can’t drive myself! It’s your job!”
Butler/Sherpa/Personal Assistant: 20K.
This picture on one of my favorite blogs says it all. Only now instead of a stick it may be a sticker or a sock that is absolutely too gross to be held onto for even one more second.
I cook 2 meals at least 5 times a week. Plus pack lunches and snacks x2 every day. That’s a lot of multiplication ergo lots of homemade food. In addition, I provide cookies for myriad occasions ranging from class celebrations to birthday favors. In my role as a chef, I double duty as a food salesman, nutritionist, and allergist, mostly with dubious distinction.
Resident Nurse/Psychologist: ~70K.
Kisses for minor injuries still work but health concerns are more and more leaning toward the emotional rather than the physical. My services include pep talk (“I’m no good at this!” “Not yet, but you will be the more you practice!”), career counseling (“I want to be RICH when I grow up.“ “The harder you work the more chances of that happening.“), trauma resolution (upon hearing a distressing news story on the radio we had a detailed discussion on death that ended with “When I’m as old as you, you’ll probably be dead.” Oh-kay.), and sex advocacy (“I know how babies are made!” “Oh yeah? Cool!”)
I’m qualified enough to hold several degrees but I’m economically unemployed; I perform whole-team tasks single-handedly but earn no cash for it; I’m paid in kind for services rendered — many slobbery kisses, forced or requested, spontaneous hugs, “from the front and the back”, and occasional clinging to the legs in front of strangers.