(written several years ago and salvaged from my computer for your reading pleasure).
This week in the Social Studies section of the Globe & Mail I read a fascinating statistic: the average stay-at-home mom in the U.S. could be earning the same salary as a top advertising executive or a judge, according to salary.com: $134,121. Her real work includes the earning power of ten jobs: housekeeper, daycare teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry worker, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, chief executive and psychologist.
Well, I’ve discussed that kind of salary with my husband, and it just isn’t in the budget. But it certainly made me feel better to know my actual financial worth. Now I know why I don't have time to go back to 'work'. It got me thinking about multi-tasking, and how that word doesn’t describe doing more than one thing at a time anymore, since I’ve turned fifty and can’t split my brain in five directions, but it still applies to the multi-job description of M.O.M.
Yesterday I was walking the dog around the block (they forgot that in the list of job descriptions) when I saw one of those corporate housewives at work in her garden. A nanny rushed out, portable phone in one hand. The woman gardening pulled off one earthy glove, and the chief executive took over, giving instructions and making decisions. I bet there are thousands of housewives in suburbia managing small armies of staff (usually part-time or on contract) to help us manage our little domains. For instance, on Monday, the Sears repairman was here cleaning out and hosing down the Heat Pump, while two more blue-clad technicians were vacuuming the air ducts and furnace; the man from Val Morin Pools was pumping stagnant water from the in-ground pool and a gardening specialist was spraying my bushes with dormant oil. I was rushing from backyard to basement to the front door, signing cheques and keeping the puppy out of their way.
Spring is here and my list of household projects has taken on a new ‘ampleur’. I put on my facilities manager’s hat from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. when I don the chauffeur’s cap to pick up two girls from after school dance class, then switch to the chef’s hat for meal preparation time, and retire after supper to an outside activity, choir rehearsal, and coaching session with singing and choreography, accapella style. Home at 10ish, my army sergeant voice booms out – all lights out now! After a quick toothbrush swiped over my teeth and a brief flossing (I am my own dental assistant), I turn down the covers and remove all the hats to entertain a short dialogue with my hubby (co-producer, co-author, co-manager and major salary provider) before succumbing to deep sleep (oh yes, there was also a brief interlude as child-psychologist after school with fifteen-year-old who is itching to go downtown and check out the club scene and has girls tattooing hearts on his arm at school. We need to hire a road hockey coach or enroll him in basketball for the summer: intense physical activity needed to ward off spring fever.
As I lie there, the birthday party planner kicks in: Kaye’s fourteenth birthday in two weeks and I’ll be away at choir competition. Must help her poor Dad plan for an afternoon pool party for 10 adolescent girls, evening sleepover for four ‘best friends,’ and next day drop them off at Bazoo for a pillow-making party. Tomorrow morning, must not forget the personal trainer will arrive (actually a close personal friend of mine who charges very low rates) to prod me into shape with a big ball and five pound weights attached to my arms…then I’m going shopping for leather furniture and a desk for the new home office I plan to create, to entice hubby to work from home within five years. Then he can really call himself co-manager. Soon he’ll be wearing ten hats, just like me. Then maybe I can retire.
Yep, now that I’ve run through all the jobs on my to-do list, I can sleep. Just wish there was somewhere to punch in and pick up that paycheque…. My hat's off to all you chief executive moms out there
So next Mother's Day, you can insist they give the Chief Executive a day off.