Culture

Did You Receive Your 'Wife Bonus' This Year?

In Lifestyles of the Rich and Non-Famous news, Manhattan bankers’ wives have negotiated bonuses for good “work” performance at home:

A wife bonus, I was told, might be hammered out in a pre-nup or post-nup, and distributed on the basis of not only how well her husband’s fund had done but her own performance — how well she managed the home budget, whether the kids got into a “good” school — the same way their husbands were rewarded at investment banks. In turn these bonuses were a ticket to a modicum of financial independence and participation in a social sphere where you don’t just go to lunch, you buy a $10,000 table at the benefit luncheon a friend is hosting.

These real housewives aren’t the only ones measuring their net worth as moms in terms of career metrics, including potential financial gain. There are a slew of professional development experiences out there for women who have turned mothering into a career:

MamaCon, a mothers’ convention, proffers “…top-notch parenting development and education, self-care tips that really work, relationship support, amazing vendors, wine tasting, great food and outstanding entertainment.”

For Mom Bloggers (yes, it’s a title) there’s the Mom 2.0 Summit, “…the premier professional conference for influential mom bloggers and female entrepreneurs who create online content. Every year, women leaders in media and business converge at the Summit to compare notes, discuss ideas, and forecast what’s next for women online and in the marketplace.”

Minority and alternative parents who identify as “blogger or on-line influencers interested in connecting with brands and monetizing your blog” can attend the Niche Parent Network and Conference, a “diverse and multicultural network connecting digital parents with brands that want to reach them.”

There’s also a slew of BabyCons out there, including the New York Baby Show, “the largest show for new and expectant parents in the country.” Self-described as the “loving lollapalooza of Baby Shows,” it’s a 2-day product and information convention. Combine Buy Buy Baby with your local hospital’s first-time parenting class, load it with steroids, and you have the mother of all information-laden “how to be the perfect parent” events.

Has American culture crafted motherhood into a career choice? Is that necessarily a good thing? Or are we seeking to redefine motherhood in contemporary feminist terms, as a choice that doesn’t threaten or conflict with cultural expectations that a woman seek professional fulfillment beyond raising the next generation? Whether it is clever marketing or cultural conformity, does this put more pressure, not less, on today’s mothers?