Thursday, May 04, 2006

What a Mom Wants

Every year, just before Mothers Day, someone tries to come up with a dollar amount for the many jobs that a mother does, whether she's a stay-at-home mom or goes to work part- or full-time. This year, Salary.com pegs that amount at $134, 121 for stay-at-home mothers and $85, 876 (on top of regular salary) for working mothers. These numbers include average pay for the jobs "that best matched a mom's definition of her work based on number of hours spent per week) [including]: housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, computer operator, laundry machine operator, janitor, facilities manager, van driver, CEO, and psychologist." They have a nifty (yes, I said "nifty") little program that lets each mom determine her "salary" based on number of children, geographic location, hours spent on each type of task, etc.

My friend over at HeadButler says that marketers are expecting Americans to spend more than $10 billion on Mothers Day this year. This includes meals and gift such as books, CDs, jewelery, flowers, cards, spas, clothing, etc. I didn't see included "check for $134k," although Salary.com does allow you to print out a sort of keepsake version of the check that says "This is what we would pay you if we could."

I thought there was something else missing from the list so I decided to conduct my own, completely unscientific poll to see what moms really want for Mothers Day. The answers ranged from "brunch, flowers and spending the day with my family" to "having the entire day to myself." Of course, once I mentioned the response of the second group to members of the first, there was sort of a "You can do that?" gasp. Many of the women had the idea that, if they even thought of asking to be alone, it would be, as one put it "perverse." One formerly full-time working mom said that when she was working, she wanted to go to brunch and show off her kids. Now that she's a stay-at-home mom, she wants breakfast in bed and then the day to herself. But, as I said, completely unscientific, based on a very small sample.

There was overlap in the answers because so many of us are torn. We want to do the brunch/family thing because we truly love them. And because we don't want to have to clean up after a breakfast at home. But we really, really want to have time to ourselves. To use the bathroom alone. To take an uninterrupted shower. To eat our breakfast before it gets cold or soggy because we're busy making sure everyone else is taken care of first. To not spend the day sorting, washing and folding the laundry or doing any of the myriad other items we don't get to during the week. So I have a suggestion that retailers everywhere can back enthusiastically. Starting this year, let's make it Mothers Weekend rather than just Mothers Day. (In lieu of the check, that is!) Husbands, partners, here's your plan:

Saturday:
Wake up early. Get the kids up, fed, changed and out of the house. Preferably before we get up. Bonus points if you wash the dishes before leaving. Take them to the park or a baseball game; you can come home after we leave for the day. Where will we go? Well, you will have thoughtfully provided a gift certificate to a spa, salon, masseuse and/or a shop that doesn't sell children's clothing. Then we'll have a nice quiet lunch and a glass of wine--alone. Maybe see a movie, browse the bookstore or meet a friend for coffee. Don't worry, we'll pick up dinner on the way home. And after a nice relaxing day, dessert . . . well, we'll leave that to your imagination.

Sunday:
The usual, of course! Brunch, flowers, spending the day with the family. Any other little gifts you'd like to throw in are always appreciated, but not expected. I, for example, am partial to books, but jewelery is generally a safe idea if you're at a loss.


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I'd like to thank my friend, Barry, for sending me the original Reuters article. I'm sure his wife will be getting something really shiny for Mother's Weekend! And no, pots and pans don't count. Save that for her birthday.

3 comments:

MaMa-Feminista said...

This is my first mother's day and I also tackle the working/stay at home mom issue on my blog www.mama-feminista.blogspot.com. It seems to be the topic these days. Perhaps the voices will lead to alternative public polices.

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