So, calculating what a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) is worth is obviously a hot topic, and one I've avoided for the most part because it's left me feeling alternately sad, angry, depressed, and in a big chunk of ugly, invalidated.
The tl;dr version of my life is that at 20, I was a recent college dropout working as a bartender & basically just having fun when I met Uncle Kim. We had a little too much fun. Over the next 22 years I've spent most of that at home (with a notable exception of owning a small cafe), either working a home business (eBay, primarily, then onto web design) or not working at all. So I'm apparently a typical "SAHM" in my area, in that I don't know any SAHM's that don't also do something else. Ebay, etsy, Scentsy, whatever weird weight-loss or skincare "thing" is happening on FB at the time.
So yes, I saw that salary.com infographic pop up in my newsfeed. I read it, made a little eyeroll at some of the ridiculousness (janitor and housekeeper? what, does that second one reference a French maid costume or something? CEO and psychologist? Huh?), but for the most part just dismissed it as the warm fuzzy for stay at home moms it was meant to be.
Then I come here and find a detailed takedown and I've got so many things...
You know how it felt when you had to move back to Mom & Dad's after school? During the long weeks/months of unemployment? Remember the shame spiral of relying on everyone else because you were a loser who didn't contribute anything to anyone and no one would ever hire you and you'd be eating your mom's Milano cookies on the sly forever? Seriously, do you remember that one time when you couldn't make your car payment and your girlfriend/boyfriend/parents helped you out? Do you remember how it felt to rely on someone else, as if you were a child all over again?
It sucked. And that's how it is to be a SAHM.
Even when we feel what we're doing is worthwhile, or understandable given our financial situation, or the "right choice" for our family... For most of us, there's that nagging sense of inequality, that sense that we're not enough. That the breadwinner is still more "important." And we tell ourselves that's not true, we'd happily pay a nanny or a daycare facility to do the things we do, so at least we're worth that much, right? But it never feels like it.
So then, yay, GT and Jez says "You're right, AuntK. What you do is worth mocking. It's worth taking the time to note that you aren't worth any of those things. I mean, yeah, you're worth.. I don't know, nice job raising your kids, I guess?" like that's actually not worth anything, really, when so many people do that AND so much else. Gotcha. Thanks.
The thing that kills me is that the message wasn't ever aimed at you, it was aimed at those of us who struggle to define our worth in the absence of a paycheck.
Would you care if a similar infographic came across your feed about hairdressers, or Local 248 pipefitters, or whatever? Unless you're a hairdresser or pipefitter.. probably not. But somehow this became fair game. I became fair game. Something put out there for the sole purpose of reminding women that even doing traditional "women's work" has value became a thing to takedown.
And it stung.