On Friday, Big Little Wolf posted a passionate and provocative piece about the value – both monetary and metaphysical – of parenting. Both the post and a comment by my buddy Jane – about an article she had read attaching a dollar value to the job a mother does – buzzed around my brain for the rest of the day and into the weekend.
I thought of the presumption with which I live my life – operating under the assumption that, because things have worked out up to this point, they will continue to.
I thought of the folly of presumption.
I thought of the words I’ve often heard my mother say: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
I thought of some other words of hers: “When you assume, you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me.’”
I thought of an hourly wage formula I once saw in an article about “hiring help.” A formula a woman could use to figure out how much her time is worth in order to decide when it is in her best economic interest to pay someone else to do a household chore or project.
The equation? Take your annual salary, remove the last three digits, and divide by two. So, if you make $50,000 per year, you drop the last three 0′s, divide by 2, and arrive at a $25 hourly wage.
According to the article, at that salary, if you can find someone to do a job that you don’t want to do or don’t have time to do for less than $25 per hour, then it makes sense to do so from a strict cost-benefit perspective.
So let’s see…The salary for the profession of parenting is $0. If we remove the last three digits, we’re still at $0. When we divide by 2…still $0.
Hmm…I’m guessing that a parent wouldn’t be able to find anyone to clean her windows or babysit his kids for less than $0 an hour.
I thought about an article I read last year – perhaps the very one Jane read – in which a human resources group attempted to calculate the value of a mother’s work. The number they came up with for a stay-at-home mom? $138,095, when you factor in the “ten jobs that moms do on an average day: housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, CEO, and psychologist.”
Who exactly is willing to pay that salary, the article did not specify.
But I’m on the look-out, BLW, for you, and for all of us.
I’ve written before about the value of teaching.
I’m thinking now about the value of parenting. About the ways in which we tacitly assign meaning to different types of work by the money we are willing to pay people to do it.
What professions should be compensated most highly? Did financial factors steer you toward or away from a certain career?
Would you like to come over and babysit my boys for <$0/hour?
Image: 337/365: The Big Money by DavidDMuir via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.