Monday, April 14, 2008

Pay yourself first

"The world will in large measure pay you what it thinks you are worth, and your worth will increase as you gain education and proficiency in your chosen field." - Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley

I'm going to take this quotation totally out of context and write about what he didn't say. If the world pays me what it thinks I'm worth, then if it doesn't pay me, it thinks I'm worthless. How's that for depressing? Mamas who stay at home don't get nuttin' (unless you count child tax credits). Not only do they not get paid, they don't have access to ordinary job benefits like health insurance, Social Security, retirement, vacation time/pay, etc. Most mothers couldn't afford to take care of their kids if they didn't have a husband bringing home the bacon and the benefits. So as long as hubby is employed, employable, and sticks around, mama does OK. These days that's less of a certainty.

So mommies don't get any kind of help. And SAHMs like me knew that going into it, so we weren't shocked when the paychecks with our names on it stopped coming.

What's hard for me is that people equate no income with no job. It's not like I spend a lot of time socializing and answering ,"So what do you do?" questions. It's just that I feel like my job doesn't exist. Like when I'm filling out some questionnaire or survey and they ask me employment status and my choices are full-time, part-time, or unemployed. Or when they ask me what field I work in and my choices are arts, technology, business and health care (how about "all of the above?)"

I recognize that my financial contributions help our family in less obvious ways. For example, we got some pretty sweet offers on our condo after I cleaned it up and patched the walls. We'd be spending thousands more on child care and groceries but for my excellent child-rearing and bargain-hunting skills. That's essentially the same as making money because both saving it and earning it put money in our pockets. But somehow saving money doesn't get the glory.

Unless some politicians make some major changes, mamas are still going to be poor and anonymous for the next little while. And most of the world won't care. So apart from trying to change the world, the other responsibility of mamas is to find our own sense of self-worth. Because if we're counting on the world to tell us we matter (in the only currency it communicates with), we'll be waiting a long time.

1 comment:

Sara & Company said...

Hey you! I've missed you! And sadly enough, I thought I was totally fine with my role in life, but when I went to to a wedding of a family we used to be great friends with, I felt that I had to prove myself to them. It really bothered me because I can think of no better honor than being able to stay at home and raise my kids...especially when it is getting harder and harder to live with a single income nowadays. What you are doing is worth more than anything anyone could pay and I know you know that, but you need to believe it. Keep smiling cute Kaylie!