Moms from the Upper East Side who are married to hedge fund managers and the ilk are claiming to get something called a ‘Mommy Bonus.’ Either this is just a bizarre socioeconomic anomaly or else the rest of us are just doing this mom thing all wrong.
What has the internet in a tizzy today? An op-ed in The NYT that ran yesterday titled “Poor Little Rich Women,” from a writer and social researcher in NYC named Wednesday Martin. In her article, Martin discusses amazingly wealthy women in NYC who live west of Lexington Avenue, north of 63rd Street and south of 94th Street and who do not work outside the home. Most of these women are reported to have three or four children under the age of 10, and spend their days engaged in intensive mothering, overzealous-self care, women’s only luncheons, trunk shows and shopping for a cause. Which I think in the world you and I inhabit means something vastly different than throwing in an extra two bucks when we buy a cupcake at our kid’s school’s bake sale. The truly interesting (and to be honest, hard-to-believe) aspect of this story is that a lot of the women that Martin observed also claimed to be the recipients of a year-end Mommy Bonus, where their husbands bestow upon them a monetary fund they can use from anything to a new wardrobe to buying a table at a charity event, the cost of which runs upwards of $10,000. In her article, Martin says:
“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.”
Either those of us who are not the recipients of a bonus are doing it wrong, or the women studied in this article were making a joke the author chose to run with.
I find it hard to believe this is how modern partnerships work. In my world, you decide to have kids with someone (married or not) and you do your best to share the parenting duties. Sure, the bulk of the parenting will always fall on the partner who stays at home (If this is the case and one of the parents doesn’t work) but I think we have progressed a bit beyond the whole “Being a parent is women’s work” vibe I get from The NYT piece. Not to mention the idea that women with advanced degrees from prestigious universities could measure their roles as mom with a yearly cash bonus and a pat on the head of, “Good job mom-ing it up, dear.”
I don’t think this is real life, even in the wealthiest of households. And in average households, extra money works like this:
Yay! We can stick a few extra dollars in the bank for college or Yay we can now add to our emergency fund or Yay I can buy this new sweater I’ve been wanting or Yay this came at a perfect time because one of our kids needs braces.
No matter which parent is earning the extra money. Do I believe that there are moms in NYC married to extremely wealthy men who give them a bonus for taking care of the kids? Maybe. But more than that I believe that extra finances in a household are shared, saved or invested. Or in a lot of our cases, shoved in a shoebox marked emergency fund in case the car brakes need to get looked at.