Whenever anyone starts decrying the fact that those numbers about the monetary value of the work that stay-at-home mothers do are just so much hooey,* and that the real problem is that working mothers are never paid enough to “make their labor profitable” (as I heard a commentator on NPR say yesterday), and yet in their entire five-minute diatribe didn’t utter the word “fathers” once, it means they really don’t get it.
As long as we as women — as mothers — allow the discussion to be framed (or have it framed for us) as a matter of how to structure motherhood, instead of how to structure parenthood and family life in general, nothing will really change. Single parenting aside (and I recognize it’s a big aside, but the nastiest battles in the mommy wars are fought between women who are married but who made different choices), raising a family is a joint responsibility between (and among, I suppose, in multi-partner households) the adults responsible for the children.
All the adults. Not just those with two X chromosomes.
* Which they are. The commentator — whose name escapes me — rightly observed that the accurate cost of what a stay-at-home mother’s labor is worth is what you would pay a nanny and housekeeper. Hers made $35K a year, not over $130K. Of course, there is a question of whether or not she underpays her help, but in general her point is well-taken.