Edgy Mama: Parenting salaries

Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever had. And the pay sucks.

Unless you’re a nanny (or manny), you’re not paid to parent. But to make parents feel better (or possibly worse), the folks at Salary.com came up with a “Mom Salary Wizard.”

Want to figure out your monetary worth as a mom? You can do it. You can even print out the cute, fake paycheck written out to “Mom” that, in my case, totals $89,815. Woohoo! That amount is in addition to my part-time pay as a freelance writer and photographer. (I’m not going to tell you that number. Let’s just say freelance writing is my other labor of love.)

In 2007, the national annual compensation for the a mom’s “work” averaged $85,900, according to Salary.com (notice that I’m above average). The national low was $46,600, and the high was $125,900. This is all hypothetical, of course. I’m not sure if salary.com will adjust up in 2008 for cost of living, or down because of worsening economic conditions.

You can personalize the national number by typing in your zip code. For the Asheville area, the average low mom salary is $64,200, the median $78,800, and the high is $96,100. So Asheville’s a bit more socialist than the country as a whole. and we’re generally paid less. But we already knew that.

You can further personalize your salary by inputting the number of kids you have between the ages of 0-5 and 6-18 and by clicking on whether you’re a stay-at-home or a working mom.

Your personal mom salary is calculated with this information plus the number of hours you spend doing certain “jobs.” These jobs include the following: housekeeper, day-care teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry-machine operator, facilities manager, janitor, van driver, psychologist, and chief executive officer. Housekeepers average $9.06 per hour, while CEOs average $156.69. The second highest hourly rate goes to facilities managers at $35.

You can accept the Web site’s average number of hours per position or input your own. I lowered the number on laundry-machine operator because that’s primarily Enviro-spouse’s job. I upped the facilities-manager hours because E-spouse doesn’t care about the facilities except when he’s monitoring energy use. I also upped the cook’s hours, because that task tends to belong to me.

There are a few jobs that Salary.com forgot to list for moms — including project manager, academic tutor, personal shopper and secretary.

I question putting CEO on the list. While I don’t want to demean the challenges of parenting, I don’t think we often take on the same roles as a CEO. If by CEO they mean master scheduler and people manager, I think they should change the description to CEO’s assistant. In my experience, behind every successful CEO sits a master scheduler/manager. In other words, behind every great CEO is a great mom.

The Web site also offers a “Dad Salary Wizard.” For some reason, Salary.com’s national salary ranges for working dads are a good bit lower than those for working moms. Whoever wrote the program must assume that working dads do a lot less around the house and with the kids than working moms do. The median salary range for an Asheville working dad is about $66,000, while a working mom here would earn $78,800. Hmmm.

Turns out that the list of corresponding “dad” jobs is different from the “mom” list. Instead of housekeeper and janitor, dad jobs include groundskeeper and maintenance worker. This seems a bit sexist; I know lots of moms who spend more time working in their yards than their spouses do. And though it’s not true in my home, some dads are the more meticulous housekeepers than their counterparts. I even know some women who are better at fixing stuff than many men.

While it’s heartening to imagine that, if I were paid for being a mom, I’d be significantly better off financially, this construct seems artificial. In truth, I have no idea how many hours I spend per week on various household tasks. Also, while I’m often with my kids at home, sometimes I’m working and not interacting directly with them. I think full-time working moms probably spend more intense one-on-one time with their kids at the end of the day than I do. I tend to spend five or 10 minutes of focused time here and there between phone calls and e-mail management.

I wonder why, too, we value most the time we’re paid for. Why do we feel the need to put dollar signs on the time we devote to caring for our kids? It’s nearly impossible to understand how much time and energy raising kids takes until you’re in the middle of doing it. But it’s a choice — a choice made for love, not for money.

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14 thoughts on “Edgy Mama: Parenting salaries

  1. Rio

    I only wish my “real” job paid what that website said I was worth as a mom!

  2. Yaya

    Forgive the cliche….You do get paid abundantly ………with Grandchildren !!

  3. summer

    You know, the funny thing is I remember little intense Mom-time as a child. I do remember Dad-time, because dad wasn’t around all the time.

    there are a few shopping trips, etc… but Me and Mom time memories are very limited. I remember mom cleaning, cooking, gardening, shopping, yelling at me to clean my room…

    Sometimes I look at working moms and wonder if some of them create “more” memories with their kids then my mother did… just because the make sure to create that intense, personal time.

  4. Jim Bob Thornton

    Edgy Momma, if parenting is the hardest job you’ve had, you’ve lived a pretty sheltered life. Why would you even call it a “job”? It’s more like a labor of love now isn’t it? If you want to imagine a “hard job”, try being a Mexican immigrant picking oranges in Florida while paying 80% of your earnings back to the corporate farmer for the rent. We need social justice for everyone! Vote Obama and make America a fair country.

  5. Elijiah Goldberg

    My sainted mother did the kosher thing and raised me out of love. If you asked her if she wanted to be paid for it, she would have given you a quizzicle look.

  6. erin

    If only everyone was actually paid what they were worth…

    I don’t think our parents’ generation was as obsessed with “making memories” as is our generation. I know how lucky I am to be a stay-at-home mom. I try to balance doing fun things with my kids with getting stuff done around the house. But sometimes you just have to send the kids outside to play, and get the laundry done!

    I think that when my kids are out on their own, their fondest memories will be of a time when they always had clean socks and a hot meal. I’m okay with that!

  7. Kristin

    Two things:
    1. Jim Bob Thornton – You give Obama a bad name. Parenting is of course a labor of love, but that doesn’t mean that it is not hard work. I am all for economic justice and fair treatment for migrant workers, and I strongly believe in the work of people like Cesar Chavez and MLK, but they had mothers who cared for and nurtured them, and I guarantee they weren’t all peaches and roses all the time. Just because you love your children and love raising them doesn’t mean that you do each load of diapers with a smile on your face or that you sing each night while you are washing the dishes.
    2. I have long advocated government and/or employers paying mothers or fathers to stay home with their children for several years. I GUARANTEE it would save money that we currently spend on juvenile justice and health care costs.

    Always happy to share my two cents.

  8. erin

    Jim Bob Thornton, are you now, or have you ever been a Mexican immigrant picking oranges in Florida? I never have, but I have been a parent, and I know it’s hard work!

    Sure, being a mom is sometimes less difficult than waiting tables, or some of the other crappy jobs I’ve had.

    I agree with Kristin. Many parents in our country cannot afford to be around for their own children because they must work full time, sometimes working two jobs or more. Talk about social injustice! We need social justice for everyone, including parents.

  9. Jim Bob Thornton

    Whoa, ladies, relax. I never said parenting wasn’t hard work. I said it is a labor of love. I can’t imagine my mom even having a thought about being paid for it. But I’m with Kristin. I would like the government, and by extension us tax payers of course, to pay either the stay at home mom or the Mr mom to stay home and raise the kids. I think us taxpayers should pay all the bills for families, actually. Diapers, formula, baby food,toddler clothes, cribs, the whole works. Then when the kids hit college age,pay for that too. Heck it might even get yuppies to make babies instead of abort them. I say vote for change, vote for Obama! He will make our lives perfect!

  10. Jim Bob Thornton

    YES! Chalkbox. Obama will make our lives perfect and that is what is so exciting about him. But here we are chatting about moms and dads and raising children. I bring up Obama because his presidency will be crucial to making our lives as parents *perfect*. Government CAN make our lives perfect by removing the suffering in life. By practicing social justice, the Obama administration will take from the rich and give to us regular folks. Help make child rearing easier by dropping by the new Obama headquarters and picking up some campaign signs. Plant them all over Asheville. Power to the people oh yeah!

  11. [b]Jim Bob and others:[/b] This is Obama conversation veering far off-topic. If you want to talk about politics, find a relevant blog post or start a conversation in the forums (http://www.mountainx.com/forums/). Either way, don’t post it here. Any further off-topic discussion will be taken down.

  12. Jeanette Mac

    Thank you Edgy Girl for this post. It certainly resonates with me. I raised 2 girls and it was a lot of hard work. But like you, it was a pleasure to bring my girls up with love. I have a good husband who works hard and was there for the girls whenever he was home. With the ups and downs in life, I’m glad this part of our life went so well. Leslie is at Chapel Hill in her senior year, and doing well. Cheryl is at Georgia in her Junior year and made the dean’s list! I am so proud of them both.

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