The 92-hour work week

Posted on May 8, 2016. Filed under: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Columns |

It’s a tough gig.

The hours are killer, with the latest survey information (tallied from more than 15,000 respondents) revealing an average weekly time requirement of 92 hours. On the wage and benefits scale, the job scrapes the barrel-bottom.

Retirement, pension, 401k? No.

Health, dental or vision insurance? No.

Paid vacation, sick leave or personal time off? No.

Overtime pay for the average 52 hours of extra work? No.

In fact, there’s no pay at all. None.

It truly and literally is a labor of love.

This is the 16th year that Salary.com has conducted a survey among stay-at-home moms, and only once in the last eight years has the average reported work week dipped below 90 hours.

Salary.com asks moms about their most time-consuming jobs and tasks, and how much time they spend on each. By applying salary data from the various industries to those jobs, and factoring the hours devoted to them (including overtime), an annual salary figure is derived for what mothers would make if they actually got a paycheck.

The average compensation for everything a mother does for free this year is $143,102.

The modern resume list of jobs ranges from housekeeper, nutritionist and chef to nurse, event planner and taxi driver, to academic adviser, athletic trainer and social media marketer, to logistics analyst, buyer and psychologist.

The work, as the adage duly notes, is never done.

Salary.com surveys working moms, too, and the results show that—in addition to their regular out-of-home job—they clock another 59 hours each week in those demanding motherhood roles.

Each Mother’s Day is a reminder of the special bond, the spectacular sacrifice, and the selfless love embodied in all the moms-next-door. Too many of us (dads and kids) take mothers for granted–not in a careless or callous way, but rather like how we treat sunrises: Even though their beauty is majestic and inspiring, their steady and sure constancy is so comforting that to remark upon it daily seems to cheapen it.

We need to realize that a routine, ordinary gesture doesn’t have to diminish extraordinary qualities, and learn to better acknowledge our mothers’ toil. We can never pay them what they’re worth; we can and should pay them compliments and tribute.

The more lavish the better. Make it a “Mother’s Day resolution” this Sunday.

Which is it?

Last weekend at the White House Correspondents Association dinner, black comedian Larry Wilmore used the N-word.

Speaking about watching the progress of black men in leadership positions over the course of his life, he credited President Barack Obama as the culminating example.

“Yo, Barry,” Wilmore exclaimed. “You did it, my nigga!”

It wasn’t altogether a shocker that an entertainer whose television show is full of racially charged material would go gutter for laughs.

But which is it? Is the N-word a racist epithet or a term of endearment?

Gilmore’s remark highlights what’s become a ridiculous race to the absurd. The “me generation” is moving into a “me definition” situation.

Maybe the progression from a “it’s all about me” mentality to a “it’s whatever I say it means” vocabulary is predictable and natural. But it’s patently unworkable in a state of self-government based on unalienable rights, the rule of law and a code of citizenship rooted in duty and respect.

Is it a fetus or a baby? Depends on who you ask and what they say and when they say it.

Is an anatomical male a boy or a girl? Depends on who you ask and what they say and when they say it.

Is the N-word good or bad? Apparently it depends on who’s saying it, when and why, and who’s hearing it—and how they feel. The N-word seems to be one that can get you fired in some instances, get you sued for civil-rights violations (maybe jailed) in others, earn you millions of dollars in yet others, and also get you laughs at the White House (assuming you’re racially qualified to use it).

Double standards are never fair, and triple or quadruple or higher multiple standards is even worse.

Part of the problem in education is suddenly becoming clearer. How can we teach to standards that require individual definitions? It’s impossible to build on shifting sands and moving targets in matters of fact and principle.

Randy Ishmael, Esq.

One day a few years back Counselor Ishmael called me out of the blue. I expected a legal matter discussion.

Instead, he began telling me—in the lofty language he often reserved for courtroom oratory—of his recent acquaintance with a young man (who shared my surname and DNA) he had employed to help with work on his horse farm.

He enumerated the teenager’s merits, including character traits Randy considered uncommon in this day and age.

He hoped, he said, that his third-party perspective might increase my fatherly pride. And it did.

What a divine gift it is to take time and spread good will on earth.

I’m among those very many who were blessedly touched by Randy Ishmael’s life, and are saddened by his death this week.

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