"Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love." - Mildred B. Vermont. This quote makes my shoulders clench and brain scream. Whoever you were Mildred, and sadly because you’re a woman the internet has no record of you other than this quote, I respectfully disagree. Or perhaps you were being ironic when you said it. I can’t imagine that most moms feel well compensated for their work as a mother. They may believe their sacrifice is worth it, but there is no economic compensation for motherhood, no fair salary. This quote appears on the wall calendar in the group therapy room in “The Private Life of an American Mom.”
I believe in this project is because it portrays the real cost of our society’s economic failure to value parenthood and family. Throughout the movie, Mom and Jack spiral in an increasingly unequal relationship. It becomes clear that this fundamental inequality in the family stems from a socioeconomic structure that offers no support for families. The message is widespread in the American economy, from the terrible pay for most childcare workers and teachers to the fact that it is so difficult for women to find a job and return to the workplace after having kids. The message to women is: your work does not have value. “The Private Life of an American Mom” captures the effects of this socioeconomic structure on Mom and the other women in group therapy. This film shows that the cost is born in the health and minds of the women who are undervalued.
Jack is not a bad guy, and would probably call himself a feminist. When he recognizes the toll this structure is taking on his marriage and on Mom herself, he takes a drastic financial measure to support Mom’s equality. It is not a personal decision most would make nor is it a wise one in terms of financial security. Jack made the decision alone because he knew Mom would never support it, and he also knew that her health and dignity were worth the cost. Much like my own husband supporting me in this endeavor.