‘What Do You Do?’

I like this essay, I understand this essay, far more than her first, (“Why I Regret Being a Stay-At-Home Mom.)

‘What Do You Do?’: A Stay-at-Home-Mother’s Most Dreaded Question – Lisa Endlich Heffernan – The Atlantic.

This essay speaks to the real issue that fuels Mommy Wars and gaffes by political pundits (Ed Rollins: “bored housewife,” JuanWilliams: “corporate wife).

Parenting has no explicit monetary value.

Note, I didn’t say “no value.” We all feel great about parenting. “It’s the most important job a person can do.” “Children are our future.” We think parenting is invaluable, in fact.

That’s a problem.

I just googled “economic value of parenting.” I was led to this:

The Economic Value of Unpaid Housework and Child Care in Nova Scotia.

It was published in 1998. Fifteen years ago. The authors advance a “Genuine Progress Index” to accompany GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, when trying to see how productive (and sustainable) a nation or economy is. They put a monetary value on parenting, because:

“In sum, failing to measure and value unpaid housework and parenting renders it invisible in the economic accounts from which policy makers take their cues and which guide the behaviour of governments, businesses and individuals. What is not counted and measured is insufficiently valued and given secondary priority in policy planning. By making the economic value of housework and parenting more explicit, the Genuine Progress Index can draw attention to hidden factors that directly impact our quality of life, our wellbeing and our prosperity… As the economic dimensions of our social and environmental assets are quantified and measured, they necessarily will become more visible and valued, and thus incorporated more readily into the framework of policy discussions on the provincial economy.”

“What Do You Do?”

I, like Ms. Endlich Heffernan, am asked that often, countless times over the past 8 years. And as I noted in the comments section on an earlier post, I have decided to answer that question in the following way:

“I work at home, raising my children. And I need a raise.”

I am my own first defense against any who might accidentally or intentionally undervalue what I do.

We each are our own first, and best, defense.

keeping score

I’m a sucker for the Oscars. I like the speeches, especially: all that open appreciation of loved ones.

I watched Sunday night’s telecast through till the very end, so that I could see who won best picture. I haven’t seen Argo, but plan to. I have a soft spot for Ben Affleck. He’s got a manner of talking that is vaguely familiar to me (my husband is from New England?) and his wife, Jennifer Garner, reminds me of my brother’s wife. Silly, I know, but all of this makes me feel like I “know” them, or at least, would enjoy knowing them.

Affleck’s speech, Oscar in hand, was lovely, didn’t you think?

“I want to thank my wife, who I don’t normally associate with Iran, but I want to thank you for working on our marriage for ten Christmases. It’s good, it is work, but it’s the best kind of work, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.”

The way he spoke to his wife, seeing her reaction: she understood what he was saying, even if it perhaps sounded slightly awkward to the some of the rest of the world.

My blogging friend noted an article on his speech on her facebook page. The article expounds on the work that is marriage, and defends Affleck’s use of the word–not as a “negative” or “too personal” take on marriage but a true, necessary take on marriage.

In a nutshell: marriage is a series of choices, made many times a day, to commit to the concept of “Us.” The effort required to make those daily choices: that’s the work. Those choices add up, so that over time there’s this virtual tally sheet with two columns: “Us” and “Me.” In a marriage, you don’t want “Me” to have the lead. A tie maybe, but never the lead.

Here’s to me always losing by a nose.