Guest blogger Andrea Hance is is an activist and educator in New York City. Currently, she works with school and community groups at the New York Tolerance Center attempting to light the flame of cultural understanding. She regularly blogs for Progessive Plaid and Feminists For Choice. These are her words . . .

Try to imagine a job that requires you to get up early in the morning to cook meals, chauffeur and entertain your clients. Once your clients have left the building, you look at the to-do list and find cleaning and administrative paperwork that must be done. Finally, when your clients return for meetings they need you to be their teacher, nurse and sometimes psychologist. Now imagine that you don’t receive any financial compensation for this job.

Mothers, both working and stay-at-home, perform several job functions and go unpaid for their skill and energy. estimates that stay-at-home moms perform tasks that would equal an average income of $122,732 a year and working moms would add $76,184 to their annual earnings.

Moms aren’t being paid, but they are paying. Some mothers choose not to return to the official workforce due to expensive daycare, which might wipe out most of their income anyways. The longer a woman works as a stay-at-home mom the harder it becomes for her to return to paid work at the same level. This results in a significant loss in earnings over their lifetime.

The United States is one of only a few countries that don’t offer any paid maternity leave. If places like Estonia can offer 455 days of paid maternity leave then surely, we can come up with some compensation for parenthood. Instead, our laws only require an employer provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new mothers or caretakers. In addition, policies that promote family friendly businesses, affordable daycare and health care are significantly lacking. Theses are all ways we can make life better for parents and children.

Staunch capitalists cultures, such as the U.S. society, don’t allow for parenthood to be valued. As a community, we need to stop talking about family values and actually value families. Mothers are most of the time the backbone of a family and its time our policies and attitudes reward their important contribution.

Cross-posted at Feminists For Choice.