Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.
“We noticed in your mortgage application that you didn’t enter a job position or income under your name. Can you fill this section out and send it back to us again?”
This call came from our mortgage broker who is working with us to refinance our house as we get ready to move our family from cottage country to Kingston, Ontario. It wasn’t the first time I was called out by a lender for not filling out the salary or occupation lines on a credit application because, the last time I checked, kisses aren’t currency and there’s no numerical job code for stay-at-home mom.
Read more: A day in the life of a stay-at-home mom >
“Yes, I know I left that section blank. It’s because I’m a stay-at-home mom. I don’t really have an income,” I told her.
“Oh. Well, there’s a code for homemaker. Does that describe what you do?” asked the rep. “And then we will leave the income line at zero?”
I looked around my house, in its usual state of disarray, and sighed. “I guess so.”
This week, The Pew Charitable Trusts released the results of “Women’s Work: Economic Work of Women Across a Generation” which measured “Americans’ movement on the economic ladder relative to their parents.” Translation: Do moms and dads today make more than their parents did? The straightforward answer is yes. Women today make more money than their mothers did, but not, however, because wages have improved. It’s because we are working more hours than women did a generation ago.
“Daughters worked an average of 34 hours per week and typically earned $19 per hour and $34,400 per year,” writes Andrea Risotto, Communications Officer with Pew Charitable Trusts. This is three times the earnings of their mothers, who worked only 24 hours per week.
Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell asked Pew to dig a little deeper into the research and analyze households with stay-at-home moms. The data revealed that daughters of women who didn’t work had some of the highest family incomes—but because they married men making more money, not because they were earning more themselves.
On the surface, the statistics are depressing. Will there ever be an end to the wage gap? Is my daughter destined to marry for money since I’m a stay-at-home mom? After all, when I worked I earned significantly less than my husband and my household income is much higher than my mom’s household income—because of my husband’s salary. Even his unemployment insurance earnings last year were more than what I made at the part-time jobs I’ve held over the past year.
That said, I think there’s a silver lining and valuable lessons to be learned from the study results. First is that women are earning more, a fact that we cannot overlook. My own family as an example: I’m the first woman ever to earn a college degree (even if said degree is collecting dust right now). The job opportunities and earning potentials for my daughter are endless, and my husband and I will do all we can to both financially and emotionally support her career dreams. Although it may sound like I’m less likely to encourage her to be a stay-at-home mom, I’m not. But if there’s anything I’ve learned about being a stay-at-home mom is that financial stability and independence is tenuous and teaching my daughter how to support herself and her future family are lessons worth their weight in gold.