Sometimes, when the conversation turns to “what do you do,” I hear a comment to this effect:
Oh, I don’t work. I’m just a mom.
Just. A. Mom.
This hits that button in me that gets triggered any time I see someone discounting their value.
I sense that it often goes unchecked, an implicit acceptance of a cultural limiting belief about the value of this profession — the true “oldest profession in the world.”
Can you imagine if other professionals spoke this way?
I’m just an investment banker.
I’m just a lawyer.
I’m just a doctor.
Seriously. Can you even imagine?
It would never happen.
You might be thinking,
Being a mom isn’t a profession. Moms don’t get paid.
Value vs Compensation
Let’s set the record straight here: Compensation — either the amount or form — has no bearing on the value of the work.
The fact that most moms aren’t compensated with money doesn’t mean that being a mom isn’t a profession or a full-time job. It says nothing about the value that moms add to their families and to our economy as a whole.
As with many areas of life, what you earn financially has little to do with the value you add.
This quirk speaks to the values of our society and the misinformed ways that we measure our economy.
The People You Hire For the Job
If we want some insight into the market value of a mom, we can look at the people who get hired for the role. There are women who choose to go back to work after giving birth to their children. They hire other women to take care of their kids. Those women are called nannies, and they get paid.
Often, those nannies leave their kids behind to take care of other peoples kids as a way to make money.
You’re not compensated when it’s your kids.
I suppose, in theory, you could hire yourself as a nanny and put yourself on payroll. Then you would earn compensation for your job.
Quick aside: For more on this, check out Women’s Work: A Reckoning With Work and Home, by Megan K. Stack. She explores this dynamic of hiring caretakers for her children through the lens of her own experience. I just stumbled on it the other day, and the little I’ve read has been captivating.
Mom = CEO. Coach. Caregiver.
From where I sit, in a comfy seat in the stands looking at the moms I know, but not being a mom myself, being a mom is very similar to running a business focused on client-services.
Your clients often expect you to do everything for them. They may not respect your boundaries — I have had moms tell me they can’t go to the bathroom without a kid tugging on them.
As a mom, you are a coach for your clients. You help them make smarter decisions, listen to their intuition, determine the best path forward, and solve challenges.
A mom must be a skilled marketer and saleswoman: selling dinners, activities, homework, and other things that her clients need to do, but may not want to do in the moment.
Moms are also influencers. Not the social media kind; the more powerful kind. You have your own stage. The words you say to your clients matter. They shape your clients’ beliefs and mindsets for years, if not forever.
A mom can’t fire her clients or refer them to some other professional or charge higher rates for the more difficult ones.
A mom must be a supreme space holder for whatever her clients bring forward. We expect her to always lead with love and compassion, even when she’s had a bad day.
Moms teach love, trust, compassion, empathy, and a host of other skills that are essential to navigating life.
She teaches them to her clients, the leaders of tomorrow. These clients are future CEOs, congresspeople, Presidents, movement makers, doctors, lawyers, leaders, influencers, and even some future full-time moms.
Rose Kennedy said,
I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that demanded the best that I could bring to it.
You are not just a mom.
You are a mom.
A professional at least as important as any other.
Perhaps it’s time we valued this contribution.
If you’re a mom, perhaps its time YOU valued this contribution.
Thank you to my mom and all the moms out there for the work you do.