Saturday, May 09, 2009

What Are You Worth?

So, I just found an article that asks what a mother’s work is really worth. These people are pretty funny. According to them, what I do is worth six figures a year. That’s not the funny part. Any mom out there can tell you that what they do is worth more money than there is to pay. The funny part is that the only time society in general sees fit to find worth in motherhood is on a hallmark greeting card holiday.

Any other day of the year, when mingling at a social gathering with new people, the question invariably comes up – What do you do? I don’t often tell them I’m a writer. I usually tell them I’m a mother. It’s my litmus test. If their smile freezes over and they find a quick reason to talk to someone ‘more interesting’ I know they’re not worth my time. Twice it’s happened that someone else in the room outed me as a writer and they came back, thinking I’d have something more interesting to say. I do – just not to them...

The thing is, I don’t need someone I just met to validate my worth. I don’t need an article with a built in calculator to give me a monetary figure that’s supposed to boost my esteem. But then, I don’t define success and money interchangeably. My bank account doesn’t tell you any of the important things. It can’t give a history of the time I’ve spent teaching my own kids, or other peoples’ kids. It can’t tell you how many times I’ve been late, but still let someone into my lane in traffic, or how many times I’ve put in my own time without pay, to help someone else out or further a cause. I don’t even keep track of those things, and they’re certainly not measured in dollars.

My kids are the best indication of my worth:

They are better, faster, stronger, funnier, more compassionate, and infinitely more important than any work I have or will create. My characters are important to me, and I hope that they will find the world and the reader and speak to them – but my writing, no matter how far I take it, will never be my greatest accomplishment... The best things I’ve ever been a part of, I owe more thanks to than I can take credit for.

And my Mother’s Day gifts:

The flowers are from my daughter. She hand-painted the pot and arranged the flowers herself. The frames are from my boys – oldest painted the blue and green one and littlest guy painted the red one. I’m hunting for pictures so I can put them out for tomorrow.

How are you spending your mother’s day? Did you give your mom a call yet? Did your kids delight you with something special? (And for the dads, did you do something for the Mrs?) And moms out there – how do you define your worth?


Ello said...

Awwwwwwww! Merry, your kids are just too beautiful! Thank you for sharing them with us today!

Happy Mother's Day!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hey Ell,

Happy Mother's day to you, too.

Travis Erwin said...

Happy Mother's Day to you. That is a fine looking crew you got.

jerseygirl89 said...

My gosh, your kids are gorgeous.

I suppose I don't spend a lot of time thinking about my worth - I'm surrounded by full time moms with cleaning ladies and nannies, so I tend to think not having help and writing qualify me for awesomeness. Perhaps I need a reality check.

Happy Mother's Day!

Merry Monteleone said...

Thanks, Travis!

Are you and the boys doing something special for Mrs. Travis today?

Hi Jersey,

Personally, I think being a full-time mom with no help and still making time for writing does qualify you for awesomeness. But then, I think you've probably always been awesome :-)

Happy Mothers day to you.

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow, Merry. I don't think I've seen your kids before. Yikes, they are really gorgeous. I would tell you to beware (ie, as in when they start dating) but I HATE it when people tell me that, like, I'm not going to have raised my kids with enough self-confidence and common sense to refrain from going ga-ga over dates. Puhleeze.

Oh, where was I?

Kids! Beautiful! Yep, right, right - beautiful kids!!

I've spent my day in bed, sick sick sick. Blegh.

Merry Monteleone said...

Oh, Aerin, I'm sorry you've been sick today. I hope you're feeling better.

This is definitely the first time you've seen my kids - it's the first time I've ever posted a pic of them. My daughter actually baked that cake for my birthday in March... and I just had the urge to post it... I figured I could always take it down later and it's just one pic.

I hope you had a good mother's day, even though you've been sick, and I hope you feel better soon.

MaLanie said...

Amen Sista! I would give you a high five if I could!

Erica Orloff said...

Aww . . . thanks for sharing!!!!!!!!!!!!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I got a giant bottle of Bushmills Whiskey and two cases of beer.

You think I'm kidding, but I'm not.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi MaLanie,

How's the writing going? I hope your mother's day was spectacular and I'm sending you a virtual high five - nearly as good with no red palms :-)

Hi Erica,

Thanks for stopping in!

Hi SS@S,

Oh, I believe you... wish mine would've though of hitting the liquor store :-)

spyscribbler said...

Oh! That's fantastic, Merry! Look at them! And happy belated Mother's Day!

To answer your question, I think, when life circumstances and/or health prevent a woman from having kids, it can often create a crisis of self-worth, LOL. I don't know if it's societal or biological, LOL. Self-worth is a difficult question.

Colleen_Katana said...

Your kids are GORGEOUS! Not that you didn't know that =0). I hope you had a fantastic day filled with messy pancakes and omelets with the eggshells in them (much like the breakfasts I used to make my mother).

I spent the day with the boyfriend's! mother and father; they came to visit NY. And this weekend my mom and dad are visiting, so we'll have a belated mother's day celebration filled with broadway shows.

Hope you are well and happy belated mommy's day!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Spy,

You know, I can see how that can get touchy, because it's almost like a circle, society's views feed into our own self-worth issues.

When I was 21, I went on Cursillo, which is a three-day Catholic retreat. Most of the women who make Cursillo were older, many of them were moms and grandmoms. There was one woman with us who was a nun. I thought it was so neat that even after devoting so much of her life to her religion, she felt a retreat would be good for her... anyway, during the introduction period, all these women were standing up and saying their names and how many kids they have. When the nun stood up and introduced herself, one of the ladies joked, "How many kids do you have?"

Without missing a beat, she said, "I've taught 243, and they were all my children" (Okay, I don't remember the exact number, but it was in the hundreds and she did use an exact number)

I really liked that nun - before then, I didn't realize nuns were allowed to be spunky :-)

But I think what it comes down to is that society will always find ways to make us feel off or wrong. It's when we start trusting our own worth and path that those views stop mattering so much.

How many kids have you taught, Spy? Because I've read your thoughts on teaching and I'm pretty sure that they're all YOUR children, too :-)

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Colleen!

Thanks so much, and I hope you had a great time with Sean's parents and a wonderful time this coming weekend with yours! What shows are you going to see?

I actually look forward to that - when my kids are old enough to take me to something fun, like a play.

Mary Witzl said...

What Ello said, twice over. What a great looking bunch of kids!

My worth is beyond rubies. I can reach right into the drain and pull out bits of scum and old food; I can stay up all night with a sick kid and not smack the kid's face in the morning if she disses me. And yet at parties, I jump right in with the writing thing. Why is that, I wonder? I'm guessing innate idiocy.

For Mother's Day, I got a foot massage and my daughter tickled my arms for almost 20 minutes. That's as good as it gets, for me.

jjdebenedictis said...

Okey-doke, you get Digital Plague! Email me your snail address at:

jen_deben "aT" yahoo "d0t" ca

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Mary!!!

Happy belated mother's day to you! How did you train them to massage you - I'm trying to start mine early, but so far they're not biting :-)

Thanks - I was all nervous about posting them online, I've never even mentioned their names before... but I really wanted to share... mostly cuz I think they're cute too. Still amazed I had anything to do with that :-)

Hi JJ,

I'll shoot you an email today.

Colleen_Katana said...

Oh my gosh, it was SUCH a blast this weekend with my folks. We went to see Hair...which is quite possibly the most amazing show I've ever seen. It was fantastic...however, the entire cast getting full frontal naked was a little awkward to watch while sitting next to my father. OH WELL! We also went to see 9 to 5 (Dolly Parton's play) and Shrek: The Musical. I wasn't a huge fan of the latter two, but my parents enjoyed them which is mostly what matters.

How's that new (well, not so new anymore) job going??

Mary Witzl said...

Believe it or not, kids learn that they are supposed to massage their parents in grade school, in Japan. There's a whole week devoted to the importance of rubbing tired parents' backs and necks. They have to take turns giving each other neck rubs and they do compositions about how hard their mothers have to work for them.

God's truth. Isn't that almost too good to be true?

MaLanie said...

Merry, thanks for asking! It's going great. I am learning a lot, I put my bigger work down and finished a short story and novella. Now, I am back to the big Mamma and working on a first person rewrite.

Hey, I am doing interviews on my blog. Stop by, I would love to interview you!

jjdebenedictis said...

Psst; I answered your email. Did you get my reply?

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi colleen,

Oy, you're braver than me... full frontal with the folks sounds rather intimidating :-)

(can't wait to see what google searches bring in for that one)


Now you tell me! If I had known that, I'd have raised my kids in Japan and basked in lovely neck rubs from adoring children.

Hi MaLanie,

Good for you! I did stop in, I'm sure you saw the comment already, but I'll be back over this weekend to check out some of your newer postings :-) Interviews sound great, I can't wait to see who you've got coming.

Thanks, JJ. I'm looking forward to the swapping of booksies :-)