On Mother’s Day, more people go out to eat than usually do at any other time of the year. It’s a way to give our moms a break from having to make another meal. Being a mom can be the hardest job in the world. Most of the work a mother does is unpaid and if she is bringing home a paycheck, it will be less than men simply because she is a woman. Finding childcare is always a struggle, and on top of all this, there is a daily threat of violence that hangs over all women. Mother’s Day is one of the only days some moms will receive any acknowledgement for all of the extra burden that comes with being a woman and a mother in this society.
The reality is moms do it all. They’re day care workers, housekeepers, cooks, janitors, therapists, a taxi service, and more. Even when both a man and a woman are working, the woman still does the majority of the housework. For women, being a mom is like working an unpaid second job. According to Salary.com, stay-at-home moms put in close to 100 hours of household and childcare work every single week. If they were paid for any of this, their average salary would be $113,586 a year. And for working moms, on top of 40 hour work weeks, they spend an extra 58 hours on household and childcare work, and would earn an additional $67,435 if they were ever paid for all of this work.
And for the work women are paid for, it is still less than men. Through struggles over the years, women have been able to decrease the wage-gap between men and women a little but it’s still a far cry from equal. And working mothers face even more wage discrimination.
There is a larger wage-gap between mothers and women without children than there is between women and men. It’s as if women are punished for being mothers. Women without children can expect to earn ten percent less than men while mothers earn 27 percent less than men. And single mothers earn between 34 percent and 44 percent less than men. As a result, it takes the average woman 16 months to earn what an average man earns in a year.
In addition to all the work mothers do, paid or not, there’s the extra insanity of trying to arrange childcare while scraping a living together. The waitlists for childcare programs never seem to end and further cuts to food and housing assistance have only made a bad situation even worse. It’s not like mothers can afford not to work and still take care of the kids. But many women are forced to do just that. For working moms, it often means leaving a child at home and going to work to put food on the table. And with wages so low, usually women are trying to do all of this while working two jobs. So it’s down to just hoping everyday that things work out at least until tomorrow.
And on top of all this, mothers and all women face the daily threat of violence that comes with being treated with inferior status. More than 1,000 women are killed per year by their male partners or ex-partners. The leading cause of death for pregnant women in the U.S. is being murdered by their male partners. One in five women will be raped in her lifetime. This is a chilling level of violence that no woman is able to ignore. The more women are treated like the property of men, and the more they are expected to be the servants of the household, the easier it is for men to commit violence against them.
All mothers should be acknowledged on Mother’s Day for the impossible work they have had to do. But mothers deserve more than a day of acknowledgement and relief from their extra work. A real celebration of mothers would be a society that doesn’t make being a mom the hardest job in the world.
Happy Mother’s Day!