Recently, I had a rather cynical day. I awoke to the sound of an early morning news report declaring that the typical stay-at-home mother would earn almost $135,000 a year if she was paid for all the jobs she does and that working moms would generate another $85,000 for their at-home duties.
The story listed a range of jobs typically covered by stay-at-home moms – cook, housekeeper, driver, computer operator, teacher, psychologist. (I’d add FBI negotiator and magician, but that’s just me.)
I first tried to digest this news before coffee, as I began my morning jaunt around the house amid kids, dogs, and husband. I admit, I wasn’t fully awake, so my first thought was “Wow, it’s awfully nice that someone took the time to acknowledge the all the things we do all day.”
But as the day wore on – and after hearing the news story about 30 more times – my thinking began to change.
First of all, they keep mentioning this $135,000. Is anyone really going to pay us this mythical sum? Major news organizations? The federal government? Manufacturers of over-the- counter pain medication? No, not likely.
As I thought about it, I realized that news stories like these aren’t trying to alleviate the situation; they’re not being used as a wake-up call to men. It’s just a statement of fact: “Yes, we admit it. Women do all the work for free. We don’t have to pay them, we can just arbitrarily place a dollar value on her work and all will be well with the world.”
OK, I’m not really buying this.
Now, before I generate all sorts of unwanted hate mail from men across cyberspace, let me state that I am speaking in general terms. I know for a fact that there are living, breathing, human men that do their share of cleaning, cooking, and buying back-to-school shoes. But I will venture to guess that if I asked 20 of my married friends and colleagues, 20 married women who live in my town, and 20 married women standing in line at any public place, I would find that the vast majority does more than half of the work in their house.
The incredibly frustrating part is that we just walked right into this. My whole generation was told “You can have it all – college, career, husband, kids, house -you can do it all! Because you are empowered! You are Superwoman!”
Of course, the men were apparently in a different lecture hall at the time, hearing “Definitely get married – all you have to do is work and possibly cut the grass – she’ll do everything else!”
What can we do about it? Complain? Go on strike? Post this column on your husband’s side of the bathroom mirror?
Perhaps. But the voice of optimism inside me says the best thing we can do is recognize that there’s still time to save the next generation of women from practically sanctioned slave labor. For the sake of our younger counterparts, we have to work on the young, single men.
So, single men in your 20’s, contemplating marriage – if you are reading this right now, here are three sure ways of keeping your marriage on fire and your wife deliriously happy:
1. Change the baby’s diaper without being asked
2. Unload and reload the dishwasher without being asked
3. Pair up all the unmatched socks in the house.
I guarantee that this will leave the woman you love with a smile on her face.