Archive for Sunday, May 9, 2010

A mother’s work is never done — and rarely valued at its true worth

May 9, 2010


Ask Kelli Bates about the work of a mother never being done, and she couldn’t agree more.

“It’s just constant,” says Bates, a stay-at-home mother of two, soon to be three. “It never really stops. You’re always helping someone with something. From the start of the day you’re getting clothes, or washing faces, or brushing teeth, or doing laundry.

“If you’re going to work” — at what others call a real job — “that work stops and starts. This doesn’t ever really stop. It just goes on and on.”

Not that she’s complaining. Bates prefers staying at home with her children — Max, 6, and Levi, 4 — than driving into Kansas City, Kan., to teach elementary school, like she had done up until her water broke during class on April 1, 2004.

Kelli Bates, of Lawrence, is a busy stay-at-home mom with her two boys, Max, 6 and Levi, 4. She’s expecting her third child this week.

Kelli Bates, of Lawrence, is a busy stay-at-home mom with her two boys, Max, 6 and Levi, 4. She’s expecting her third child this week.

No foolin’.

“I’ll postpone my career for another five years,” she says. “I can teach or I can work until I’m well into my 60s or 70s, so that I can continue to be home and provide for my kids. I thoroughly enjoy getting to stay at home with my kids.”

Some numbers to consider this Mothers Day:


Salary a typical stay-at-home mother would earn, if compensated for her 10 most popular “mom job functions,” as determined by laundry machine operator, janitor, van driver, computer operator, housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, CEO, psychologist and facilities manager.


Hours worked each week by stay-at-home moms, a total that includes 59 hours of “mom overtime” as mothers “continue to work longer hours because they outsource less and handle increasingly more of the workload themselves,” according to

Mom overtime is up four hours from a year ago, as mothers spend more time preparing meals, keeping the home in good repair and shuttling the family to activities.


Percentage decrease in the salary a stay-at-home mother would earn compared with last year, despite the increase in mom overtime.


Additional salary a working mother would earn, over her usual paycheck, if a mother’s at-home duties also were compensated, according to


Number of days until Bates goes in for her scheduled C-section for child No. 3. She and her husband, Justin, still don’t know if they’ll finally have a little girl in the house. “It’s a surprise,” the expectant mother says. “We’re dying to find out.”


Other jobs Bates could see being added to the “mom job functions” previously outlined by medical assistant, which clears $12.75 an hour; and animal caretaker (nonfarm), which earns $9.17 an hour, according to the Kansas Department of Labor. That would cover the walking, washing and cleaning up after Josie, the family’s Basset Hound, along with the inevitable “putting Band-Aids on owies” and comforting the kids when they approach with a “Mommy, my head hurts” appeal.

“I don’t want to sound too flowery about it, because I do have some rotten days,” Bates says, “but I love it.”

— Transportation reporter Mark Fagan can be reached at 832-7188. Follow WheelGenius at


kmcd028 8 years, 1 month ago

I would love to see an article that includes what a working Mom should actually earn...

fan4kufootball 8 years, 1 month ago

Ya - most of those chores still exist for Moms that go to work every day as well!

Deja Coffin 8 years, 1 month ago

I'm in a very similar situation to Mrs. Bates. I'm a stay-at-home mother of two girls and pregnant with a boy... who I will also be having by C-section.... only in 3 weeks not 3 days unfortunately. I agree that it is exhausting to be a stay-at-home mom and sometimes seems never ending but the rewards outweigh any complaints I could have. I know I am given such a great opportunity to be able to watch my babies grow and get to see all the special milestones/memories that I wouldn't give it up for the world. I won't always be a stay-at-home mother but am enjoying it while I can. Also my biggest heroes would be all of the single working moms out there. My mother raised my sister and I on her own and I am amazed by all she did.

sustainabilitysister 8 years, 1 month ago

Way to go Kelli! Kudos to the fathers out there that realize the family comes first when you have little ones. I've known a lot of fathers that have left when their children were young because the mothers were focussing on the children and the fathers were focussing on themselves. KUDOS to those that place the children first!

Isaias Shannon 8 years, 1 month ago

I know Kelli and she is a great mom with a couple of great kids to prove it! Nice pick for a mom to profile, LJW. Happy Mother's Day to all the Lawrence Mama's out there!!

mr_right_wing 8 years, 1 month ago

The most uplifting story I've seen on this website in a long time.

I truly feel our society would be a much different place (better) if stories like this were more common; with the way our wold is, these are becoming more rare.

Kids need you, full-time mom, so much more than they 'need' a nice house and nice 'things'.

Lauren Reinhold 8 years, 1 month ago

This is a very nice article. Good job done by the writer! I've been a full-time working mom, a part-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom. All these options are tough in some ways, but the stay-at-home option has taken the most blood, sweat and tears (including tears of joy). Kelli said it perfectly...

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