The Value of a Mother

Posted on September 26, 2012 by


Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote in The Atlantic-

Being a mother isn’t really work. Yes, of course, it’s something — actually, it’s something almost every woman at some time does, some brilliantly and some brutishly and most in the boring middle… But let’s face it: It is not a selective position. A job that anyone can have is not a job, it’s a part of life, no matter how important people insist it is (all the insisting is itself overcompensation).

In response,Conor Friedersdor, offers this hypothetical to help illustrate the value of a mother:

Here’s a useful thought experiment that gets at some of the additional value being that parents, stay-at-home or not, add. Imagine that you have a two-year-old child, $100 million in the bank, and are unexpectedly sentenced to an 20-year prison term. For the sake of this hypothetical, you’ve got 6 months in which to interview and hire someone for a 20 year position, and you are somehow assured that whoever you hire will stick with the paid job of raising your child. He or she will be responsible for everything from household chores to care-giving to informal tutoring to emotional support to discipline to shaping morals and values.

What sort of employee would you hire? Would you pay minimum wage or higher? Six figures? Would your caregiver make more or less than the prison guard supervising you in jail? Would you prefer someone with a high school diploma? A college diploma? In what percentile of intelligence, intellectual and emotional, would you want them to be? Would you do a more thorough job vetting the eventual caregiver of your child, or the lawyer who represented you in your criminal case? Who would you regard as having the more important job, the caregiver or your lawyer?

I spent 2 months in a hospital and the lack of control and influence over my children’s day-to-day lives made me crazy.  Previous to that I may have been tempted to believe that ‘anyone can do what I do”, but having all control and influence taken from me made it bluntly clear *how much influence I actually had* and how much it sucks to lose it.

So what does a mother do that just any woman off the street can’t do?  Answer: Orienting their entire life to the needs of the little people in their care.  A parent figures out what kind of people their children are and how to best serve them and then they do it, regardless of the sacrifices required.  Nobody on the pay-roll is going to be that invested.

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