The discussion of having it all and balancing everything that is related to Work/Life Management has become quite a conversation piece as of late. There are hundreds of articles being shared daily on the topic of working moms, our struggle, our worth (both figuratively and literally), and our identity. I find it refreshing that people want to vacillate on the role that working moms play in the office and in the home, and I have utilized my platform here to share stories of the working mom while writing about the good, the bad, and the ugly. But in this engaging conversation, I think we have lost sight of an important part of the working mom puzzle—the working dad.
Which is really a play on words in itself because there aren’t many mentions of working dads in the blogosphere or anywhere else. The term working dad is really a misnomer–because for as long as I can remember, dads are automatically “supposed” to work, therefore, that title isn’t applicable. But in reality, working dads juggle many of the same things working moms do, but we don’t hear that discussed as often as the plight of the working mom.
Case in point, a few weeks ago, I shared a infographic that was created by Salary.com that illustrated exactly how much a working mom is worth. The infographic, entitled What Is A Working Mom Worth, went on to give a dollar amount to assessed to duties that working moms perform during the week. Items included in the graphic included Laundry Operator ($9.95/hr), Janitor ($9.95/hr), and Housekeeper ($10.10/hr). Based on the average salary $40,000+ per year working at a job, and $27,000+ in “overtime” work done at home as a mother totaled an average of $67,436—the dollar amount that working moms are worth.
— Jason Wagner (@threefourteen) February 22, 2014
There were two things that troubled me about the graphic. The assertion that you could create a dollar amount to what a working mom contributes yearly is laughable at best. The roles we play in our families is something that a price tag cannot demonstrate nor reflect. And while working moms do a lot on a daily basis, many have assistance from a spouse or partner, who also share in these duties. The graphic doesn’t properly reflect the things that working dads also do in the home as well, which got me to thinking about the media and how messages are delivered to us.
Why, if we were in the Mad Men era, perhaps the infographic would be closer to the truth. Dads during this time were not nearly as active with their parenting as the fathers of today. They worked, came home, drank an alcoholic beverage, fired up a cigar, and read the paper while mom cooked and cleaned and did the laundry, so on and so forth. But in 2014, many dads are working towards a healthier Work/Life management goal that help them be better fathers, husbands, etc. And they roll up their sleeves and get busy, too.
To state that working moms do all of the work in the home may be correct in some cases—but to attribute it across the board isn’t very responsible. Or correct.
I know working dads that cook dinner, grocery shop, take the kids to soccer practice, etc. In this day and age, fathers are more hands-on than ever. So why are we discussing the worth of a working mom when working dads do a lot as well?
In a Work/Life Balance article in Glamour magazine last October, men were polled about how they balance their work and personal lives. The study showed that men want to play a bigger role in their kids’ lives—they long to have more free time from work to spend with them, and even perhaps, be a stay at home dad. I am sure if men were polled 20 years ago, the answers would be completely different. But the media will have you believe that men are still hands-off when it comes to running the home and parenting the children.
I know in my life, my daughter spends a lot of time with her dad. And we co-parent—effectively. We share duties and responsibilities, and as a working dad, he is always there. Sometimes, he is more active than I am when it comes to parenting and how our home runs.
I think we need to examine why we continue to perpetuate the Don Draper School of Fatherhood myth—that moms do it all while dads sit back in the recliner with a scotch and soda. Yes, I am a champion for working moms—I’ve been one for almost 20 years now. But I also understand that, for the better part of that time, I didn’t do it all by myself.
So, let’s get back to the question at hand. In our quest to validate working moms, are we alienating working dads? Shouldn’t their contributions be figured into the working mom puzzle? What’s say you?