A mother’s worth: Stay at home mom vs. Working mom

Disclaimer **I know how controversial the topic of “stay at home mom” is, hence the disclaimer. Please read with an open mind for either side of this debate. Also, I know that there are stay at home dads too, but for continuity I am going to use moms. No offense dads, you’re still badasses**

Many of you know, but some may not, one of the harder struggles a woman must go through as a mother. Go back to work, and you’re a selfish snob who cares more about her career than her family. Stay home, and you’re a lazy, retro, out-of-touch woman who’s face-value is based on your ability to bear children. You’re labeled as either self-absorbed or repressed. Isn’t being a woman the best?

It’s not just outsiders like men and childless women who make these assertions. Believe it or not, mothers actually do this to each other. There are people out there who have nothing better to do than to make these….

Is this person who made this card the asshole?
Or is it this one?

Answer: Both are total fucking assholes. Jesus Christ on a cracker, stop making passive-aggressive images so you can share it on Facebook with the caption “I won’t name any names, but you know who you are!”. You look like a fool…I mean tool.

Okay, now that I got my first rant out of the way, let’s get to the meat of this sucker shall we?

A few years ago there was a spontaneous uproar regarding the hypothetical salary a stay at home mom would earn if she was actually being paid. Just google “stay at home mom salary” and you will find a plethora of opinion articles and fancy infographics explaining the many hats a stay at home mom wears. Take this one from for example. They take survey results from both stay at home and working mothers using something called a “Mom Wizard”. The result produced a $143,102 a year salary for a stay at home mom and a $90,223 salary for working moms.

mom jeans
That can buy you an awful lot of mom jeans

This 6 figure “salary” is for 2016, and it looks like stay at home moms got a raise! A few years ago, the results yielded a little over $112,000 a year. This increase is due to, apparently, shiny new “jobs” that stay at home mothers have added to their workload. This made-up income is not only ridiculous, it’s wildly insulting. Let’s look at the infographics below, and break this shit down:

stay at home mom salaryworking mom salary


Mary T. Barra has been employed by General Motors for 36 years. Starting as a co-op student and ending as CEO of one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in history. She also has an MBA from Stanford. Or Phebe Novakovic, who’s resume includes working for the CIA, the Defense Department, and the office of Management and Budget before heading up General Dynamics in 2013. Heard of Ursula Burns? She’s the CEO of Xerox. She started as an intern with the company, and moved her way up in the company over her tenure until she made it to the top.

These ladies are just 3 of the most powerful and influential women in corporate America. There are many more but I think you might be getting my point here. Not only did these women go through years of college and “pay their dues” by working in several low-ranking positions before making it to the top; they oversee billions and in some cases, HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of dollars. Each of them steer the ship of an entire company full of employees, most who have families. Not to mention shareholders they have appease so those employees can keep their jobs. The stress these women endure daily goes far beyond doing laundry, cooking dinner, or mopping the floor. The very livelihood of their employees is in their hands.

This isn’t even apples and oranges, honey… this is apples and monster trucks.

Staff Nurse – RN:

Oh boy. Okay, if you are a registered nurse then disregard this rant. Kids are fearless little humans who are thrill-seekers to the nth degree. Both of my kids have had stitches due to “I wanna jump off this thing” related injuries. Being a mother who is also a nurse is a fucking blessing. I am not one, so I panic any time one of them runs a fever. I have several mom friends who are nurses, and based off the stories they tell, it is a huge advantage for their family. Nurses are treasured saints that cannot be thanked enough for the work they do. So, unless you have RN behind your name, please do not draw a comparison to your neighborhood nurse just because you were able to apply a band-aid to your kid’s knee.


I think they started to run out of things to add to this list, so they decided to just pull various professions out of a hat. How else would you explain the argument on how a stay at home mom executes judicial duties in her household? To make that comparison is to shit all over Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy, and nobody messes with the Notorious RBG. If you have been handing down life sentences to drug dealers, pimps, and gang members in your role as stay at home mom, then may I kindly ask wtf you are doing with your life? These government law scholars have targets on their backs from literally anyone they rule against, whether it’s a man ordered to pay child support or a woman arrested for selling meth; there is always at least one person who feels they’ve been wronged. This is why every courtroom has an armed Bailiff. So unless you need a weapon to protect yourself from your kids (seriously what is happening over there?), no.

judge judy

Chef, Janitor, Laundry Manager, Tax Accountant, Maintenance Supervisor

Yes, there are people out there who specialize in these fields, and they get paid accordingly like in any other job. But when a chef comes home, they need to eat and so they cook. When a Laundry Manager comes home, she finds a pile her teenage son’s mysteriously crusty gym socks, and she washes them (or hopefully makes him do it himself). Tax Accountant? Everyone, not just you, must pay taxes. It’s this crazy little thing we all should do in order to avoid prison. Sucks, right? And then we come to Maintenance Supervisor. There are so many questions I have for this one, but I will only ask one. Why is the assumption that a stay at home mom must supervise the maintenance in her home? Believe it or not, some women know how to use tools and shit.

File the following in the “Special Skills” portion of your resume

As for the rest? Well, many of those “jobs” are optional. Social Media Marketing Manager is not a prerequisite to being a parent. Neither is interior designer, buyer, athletic trainer, tailor, or coach. If you choose to add those duties to your never-ending list of daily chores, that’s on you. Also, why wouldn’t the other parent either be included in any of those positions or even take it on themselves? Some dads who have jobs also coach their kid’s soccer teams. Some even enjoy helping their significant other design their home. I mean, hello? Chip Gains, y’all.

Don’t hate me just yet

Before you hit enter on your comment telling me that I have no idea what I’m talking about, or that I’m an ungrateful <fill in expletive here>, you should probably know something. I was a stay at home mother for 5 years. I have been a working married mother, a stay at home mother, and now I’m a single working mother. I’m painfully familiar with the struggles of all three life scenarios, and I know being a stay at home parent is no cake walk. We lived halfway across the pacific, thousands of miles from family and friends. My ex worked 12 hour shifts, so for most of the week I was truly on my own, but I had it easy. My neighbors, who were also stay at home parents, had spouses who were on rotating deployments to Iraq.

I understand the awful circumstances you sometimes find yourself in when you stay home with your kids. I’ve scrubbed poop out of carpet at 8 am. I’ve thrown up in the sink from a stomach bug while I was breastfeeding (it’s not like you can call in sick). I had days where I cried because I missed my sanity and adult conversations and the desire to watch anything that didn’t involve a Russian Urkel in an orange jumpsuit singing about how you shouldn’t bite your friends.

yo gabba gabba
DJ Lance Rock still haunts my dreams

I get it

I’ve been there and I know it isn’t easy. But before you shove this infographic in the faces of your family and friends who assume you’re just some lazy, Dorito-eating, couch potato, please do this: Find a CEO, a nurse, or any of the THREE teachers listed, look them in the eye and tell them that you do their job, and many others, every day. Can you really say that applying Vicks Vapo Rub to your child’s chest is the same as changing the IV of a toddler with Leukemia whose parents stand by helplessly praying for a miracle? And have you ever seen the face of a teacher at the end of the school year? We all know they don’t choose this career for the money, they do it because they are self-less angels who want to make sure our children don’t end up as a future cast member on The Jersey Shore. To make matters worse, they have to deal with holier-than-thou parents who berate them for not doing their job they way they see fit. Wine is an excellent teacher appreciation gift, by the way.

I know I’m coming across as a real bitch…

but I’m trying to shine a light on a bigger picture of parenthood. While staying home with your children comes with its fair share of struggles, consider the working mother salary I mentioned in the beginning. That figure, if you forgot, is a little over $90K a year. You’re probably saying, “yes, but that is in addition to her working salary.” Good point, but what if this working mother only makes $24,000 a year? This would make her total worth around $114,000. If you suck at math like I do, that is around $29,000 less than the stay at home mom. You now might be saying, “yes, but she splits those household duties with her spouse.” First, the infographic doesn’t say that the working mother is married, it just says that she has a job outside the home.

But let’s say she is married. What if her significant other travels for work most of the year or stationed overseas for 6-12 months at a time? What if their spouse is disabled? Now what if that working mother is single? What is her value for working a full-time job and then coming home to execute the tasks in this list? She probably wouldn’t have time for things like coaching her kid’s softball team, or planning elaborate events. Is she worth less because her schedule only allows for her top 10 priorities?

Here is what I want you to take away from this:

You don’t need a phony infographic to tell you what you do every day and what it’s worth. You are raising a human (or humans) and that, my friend, is invaluable. Your role in the world doesn’t need to be slapped with some arbitrary dollar amount, it’s priceless. Nobody knows your children like you do. Nobody can care for them and understand what is best for them like you. You are raising people who will one day go out into our big cruel world and make their mark. Every action, every word, every extraordinary feat will be laced with traces of your hard work. You can’t put a price on that.

Besides, there’s nothing wrong with eating copious amounts of Doritos.

Wayne's World





  1. gracefulpages

    July 27, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    I’ve come across the mom-salary infographic before and thought the job comparisons were not accurate – especially careers that are highly skilled and where salary is based on level of education/experience (teacher, judge, psychologist, accountant). I’m not a mom yet, but know that it takes a lot to raise a family. The way that works best for your family is the best way to do it! Loved your post.

    1. rparker123

      July 27, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      Thank you! Being a parent is a huge challenge, but worth every minute. Thanks again for your comment!

  2. Gouchis Girl

    July 27, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Great post! I don’t think that a monetary amount can be placed on any mother in any of the 3 scenarios. I’ve also been in those three circumstances and I can tell you that none of them are easy. Each category has things that we give and take. Some parts are easier, some parts are harder. I think the stresses are different in each one, and also the triumphs. The way you laid it out there shouldn’t be any haters… you just told the truth. 😉

    1. rparker123

      July 27, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      So glad to meet someone who has experienced all three. I’d say being a working single mother has been my most challenging. I felt guilty at first when I was working too much, but found a balance and my kids are very proud. While it’s standard practice for parents to be proud of their kids, when it’s the other way around that means you’ve been able to teach your children what it’s like to be mindful of someone else’s accomplishments and celebrate those. It’s awesome. Thank you so much for your comment!

  3. Mommiedom (Becky)

    July 27, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    I have been both and am slowly getting back in the work force with our startup that my Hubby started last year. I have a masters but honestly it wasn’t at all useful when I worked. I get more kudos staying home with the kids for it (other moms are amazed that I got it but it was pre kids). Let’s be honest, being a mom in any way sucks but it is also rewarding. If you work a job and bust your butt, you rock. If you stay home and bust your butt, you rock. What I can’t stand is the lazy mom, work or no work. I actually dislike the stay at home moms who do nothing at all (we all know one of those). Being home is my job and I treat it as such just like when I worked full time. Thanks for the insight!

    1. rparker123

      July 27, 2017 at 5:30 pm

      Well your devotion to your education should never go unnoticed so I hope your kids can see that and aspire to be that dedicated one day. I was a working married mom, a stay at home mom, then a single working mom. The hardest part of those three? The mom part. Raising humans isn’t easy, regardless of what else we have going on. I wish we could get back into the “village” mentality instead of tearing each other apart because we disagree on lifestyle choices. I’m hoping to shed some light on that with this. Thanks so much for commenting, it means a lot.

  4. Niki @ Toot's Mom is Tired

    July 27, 2017 at 10:58 pm

    Just *praise hands emojis* and *clappy hands*

  5. Brita

    July 28, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    As a former nanny, I always thought the mom salary was ridiculous. Why didn’t they just take the average hourly salary of childcare workers? You know, the people who are actually paid to be part-time “parents”? That gives a more accurate picture of the monetary value of parenting.

    Then again, I’m highly critical of society’s devaluation of unpaid labor, and I don’t think putting unpaid labor in monetary terms is the best way response.

Leave a Reply