Sunday, May 07, 2006

why I am unpaid

Who could afford me? The estimated earned value of a stay at home mother (SAHM) is roughly $130,000 US. And that's not including my roles as landscape designer/gardener, nurse, patient advocate and human milch-cow. I am woman, see me nourish.

So what would that add to my pricetag? 50, 60 thousand? I'm taking estimates here, folks...

It's a bit of food for thought, and I offer that phrase deliberately and as someone who knows all too well the way that food can be the coin in which love is measured. And yes, this is all too appropriately timed for Mother's Day, day of the women who feed you (in some gender-hidebound homes like mine, weep, weep o Judith Shapiro! yes, I understand), that artificial moment in which the greeting card people force us to pause and appreciate the various mothers in our life. It's emotionally forced and ruthlessly exploited as a way to use maternal/filial guilt to separate cash from wallet, but hey, would we manage to really celebrate motherhood without it? Irrespective of my value, my (actual) take-home pay says nope, not-so-very-much.

This link is courtesy of magid, whose jobs include chief navigational expert, link-spotter and scourge of the day lily that infests my community garden plot.

What's the SAHM worth?

P.S. and for those of you who are wondering, today my front (sunny) garden is ablaze with color: red, yellow, purple. It looks like Alexander McQueen gone mad and I love it. The hostas are unfurling between the spiky tulips, while around the edges my climbing roses are sending out green and red-edged leaves. Joy is mine...and the back garden, in all of its shady promise, still awaits my tender-ish mercies. It's looking a bit iffy back there, with the old rhododendrons dying while my bleeding hearts, ferns and hostas and especially my beloved violets are slowly spreading their quiet selves. There's much, much yet to do. My grandfather knew this well: gardening is much like raising children. It takes years of care and in the end it never quite looks like what you expect. But amidst the dirt and drudge and sweat there's pleasure to be found.

If I can shake my kids long enough to go find that dirt and drudge, that is.

You can't afford me, but there's a battle on around here as to who can try to buy me and for what purpose. Shall I be an advertisement for the maternity ward where I delivered and the big business of over-medicalized birth in the US, or shall I deliver up my child's body to a big corporation who will feed it - but more importantly, nourish their bottom line? Hmm. The choices abound. How about I buy my own frigging diaper bag?


Auntie A said...

Ooohh...can't wait to see the garden. Although I imagine it will look quite different in a few months!

mama o' the matrices said...

weel, then auntie A, ya'd better haul tushie on down here, no? I hate to say it, but this is the gaudiest part of the season for my garden. After this, the tulips fade and we shift to lots of varied green, the purple puffs of allium and hopefully (hopefully!) the orange and yellow of the roses.

No, I'm not color-blind. I just like the stuff. More or less indiscriminately in the garden - less (much, much less) in the house. Go figure, eh?