One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

blogging for dollars

I never meant to be a full-time stay-at-homer. When Jörg and I were discussing our child-rearing plans, we agreed that I would stay home most of the time until the youngest was 2-years-old. We planned on 2 kids, 2 years apart, so that would be a grand total of 4 years at home. And even then I planned on working part-time. I guess we really didn't know how hard it is to stick to plans once you have kids, and, of course, we never bargained for liver disease when we were laying out our familial blueprints. This past week Newsweek reported that salary.com estimated a mom's salary, if she were to be paid, to be in the 6-figures. Here's a Salary Wizard they put together for mothers to estimate their "salary" based upon number of hours spent doing certain jobs (one would suppose that fathers could use the same tool, inserting their own number of hours spent on household tasks). Of course, this is all a bit giggle-inducing, in a sort of crazy, what-have-you-been-smoking kind of way. Yes, I suppose that we do need to be reminded that parenting is hard, unpaid work and we all should be exceedingly grateful for all the sacrifices our parents made in raising us. (Mom, I will always remember cleaning Saturdays and how you would tune in some music on that beige, plastic radio with the pink fingernail polish mark over the am frequency that announced school closings. My job was cleaning the bathroom, and the smell of Lysol tub-and-tile cleaner still makes me think of family. You even made the chores fun. But I bet there were lots of other ways you would have rather spent your weekends.) But I never expected that I would be paid a significant salary to care for my own kids. A little more financial security for mothers would be helpful, but reports like these don't really go so far in coming up with realistic, implementable ways to offset the financial risks of motherhood. When I was in the hospital with Annika last January, I read this article in the Scientific American on the neurological benefits of becoming a mother. The question, of course, being, why would you have kids when it's such risky business? My favorite study cited in this article (you have to pay to read it in full), was one in which the female rats could press a button and a cute, tiny, pink little baby rat would roll down a chute to the female rat. In this study, the rats would just keep pressing the button until they were knee-deep in mewling, blind little baby rats. Oh, the maternal joy! The study concluded that there must be some innate reward mechanism (the release of a hormone) in females (well, female rats, anyway) associated with surrounding ourselves with those darned irresistible, helpless beings. One would have to surmise, though, that the fact that mama rats do not have to change diapers or listen to the teeth-grittingly repetitive Map Song from Dora the Explorer might make extrapolating those results to humans somewhat difficult. And perhaps the scientists underestimated the female rats' sense of humor as motivatation for those repeated button-pushings: how incredibly funny must it have been to watch those hairless little balls of baby rat rolling down the chute at the press of a button? As rewarding as motherhood has been for me, I confess I still read the local help-wanted section. Teaching, which once seemed perfect since it allowed me to set a complementary schedule with Jörg's classes so the girls didn't need daycare, doesn't really work when you know that you will likely have to take long periods of time off to stay in the hospital with your child. The university system doesn't provide a network of substitute teachers to step in and make sure that your students get to finish the class they've paid for, and may need in order to graduate. So I've been mainly out of work. But then I got this email, telling me that ClubMom was looking to hire bloggers, and actually pay them for writing. After agonizing for several weeks about whether or not this was a good idea, I decided to apply. And I got the job. So now I have this new blog over at ClubMom. I'm still deciding how I'm going to run it. I'm still shocked to go over there and see Annika's face surrounded by a bunch of advertisements. In fact, the first time I loaded up the new page that ClubMom provided for me, the ad at the top featured a kid, holding his stomach and grimacing, with the headline, "Is it really just a stomachache?" The ad, unfortunately, was animated, and there was something like an explosion in this kid's stomach before the relief of the advertised drug soothed all the tummy troubles. I thought to myself, "Oh, God. This is never going to work. How did they know how medically paranoid I am? I haven't even posted anything yet!" But when I reloaded the page, the ad was safely replaced by a Sony ad. And I like Sony. Sony is an enjoyable part of my life. I can live with Sony ads. Thus, I am now a corporate blogger. I am getting paid to write a blog. It seems weird and a little incredible, but certainly worth a try. I gather that my continued employment is contingent upon my readership, so go on over there and read. It's like you're paying my exorbitant motherhood salary just by clicking on over there! So, without further ado, here is the link: The Wait and the Wonder, my new blog at ClubMom. You can also join ClubMom and get in on their new MomNetwork, a MySpace concept aimed at mothers, which seems kind of neat. My contract says that I have to post at least 5 times per week, so I guess this means that I'll have to write a lot more than I do currently. Consider this an official plea to send me links to interesting articles or suggestions for topics. My blog is listed under the category of "children's health," so I'd love it if you'd email me when you come across something in this general area. Here's hoping that getting paid for doing something I already do actually works out, and that my salary doesn't come in the form of imaginary "motherhood dollars." And thanks for your clicks.

15 Comments:

Anonymous claire (yt) said...

Going.Right.Now.

5/14/2006 12:54 AM  
Blogger Annika said...

Congratulations! Can't wait to read it.

5/14/2006 2:14 AM  
Anonymous Anon said...

I usually read your blog via an RSS feed, and I can't seem to find a link on the ClubMom blog. Help? (Also, will I show up as a "reader" if I do that, for their purposes?) Thanks!

5/14/2006 5:33 AM  
Blogger Moreena said...

anon - I can check into it. I know there is a link to "subscribe to this blog's feed" located under the list of the other blogs from ClubMom. However, they have it set so that only a portion of the post shows up on the reader and you have to click through to read the entire thing. I'll email on Monday to see if that's something I can change or if that's the way they want it to be set up. (I suspect the latter). Thanks!

5/14/2006 8:04 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Coulter said...

Hi Moreena! Congrats for you! Do you get "points" for readership? If so, I'll make sure to click through several times a day!

Anyway, here's a blog carnival that may help you get started on the Children's Health topic.

http://theclayexperience.blogspot.com/2006/05/pediatric-grand-rounds-volume-1.html

5/14/2006 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Miche said...

Congratulations on the ClubMom gig! You'll be fabulous!

(Be sure to post at this location, to let us know you've got new material at ClubMom!)

5/14/2006 8:57 AM  
Blogger Eryn said...

Congratulations on the new job!

5/14/2006 9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Already clicked. You will be veeerrrrryyyy good at your new job! Congrats!

5/14/2006 11:05 AM  
Anonymous Beanie Baby said...

Congratulations! You'll be great.

5/14/2006 11:33 AM  
Blogger Bridget said...

clicking through, you'll do wonderfully!

5/15/2006 9:26 AM  
Blogger Sarahlynn said...

I'm the Map, I'm the Map, I'm the Map, I'm the Map, I'm the Map, I'm the Map, I'm the Map, I'm the Map, I'm the Map!

Congrats on the new job!

Regarding the "mom" salary calculator thing, I think that there are two major problems with the way they set it up, and that's not even getting into the question of who pays:
1) They don't differentiate between child-related housework and non-child-related housework (every toilet needs to be scrubbed, whether you have kids or not).
2) They charge rates equivalent to senior corporate management for household management, rates equivalent to clinical psychologists for counseling kids, etc. But in reality, not all moms have the advanced degrees and experience commiserate with those higher paying jobs.

5/15/2006 10:13 AM  
Blogger Moreena said...

Yes, Sarahlynn, you are exactly right.

The fact of the matter is that the whole thing is so rife with holes in reasoning and set-up that I waver between being happy that they felt it helpful to try and place a dollar-figure on the job of motherhood and angry that it almost feels a little jokey (because of the problems you mention, and others). I mean, there are real financial issues at play in becoming a mother and a more serious discussion of them is more helpful than something that feels like a one-off for mother's day.

5/15/2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger Moreena said...

mrs. coulter - no, no points for readership, but if I get insanely high readership numbers (like, more than 100,000 per month) there is a bonus structure in the salary. more readers = higher salary. So, yeah, clicks are good.

And thank you for the pointer to pediatric grand rounds. That is one cornucopia of material!

Miche - Since I have to post at least 5 times per week, I'd be announcing it *all* the time. I would drive you bonkers! I did put a link in the sidebar, though, so it is easy to find the other blog from here.

5/15/2006 2:09 PM  
Blogger Amanda M said...

Congrats on the blog job! re: salary for motherhood - on a semi-related note, my college roomie, Kristin, is working on mom's wage issues & rights, so if you ever run out of blogging ideas (which, with Annika & Frankie I don't think is possible) here's a link to what she's working on these days:
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20060522/blades

5/15/2006 9:53 PM  
Blogger elswhere said...

Oh, that rat study made me laugh!

Going over to ClubMom to read some more of this good good writing...

5/16/2006 12:03 AM  

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