Everyday we all make these choices; what we will do, what we will not do. Simples economics, tradeoffs. For instance, I have begun shopping at Aldi's, I go to a bookstore to sit down for free whenever I generally want some alone time, we take full advantage of all the library's programs for entertainment because it's FREE, I cloth diapered my kids (the cheap way, not the yuppie way), I try to combine my shopping trips and family visits so that we aren't driving 20-40 miles more than once per week, and reuse plastic ziplocks at least once or twice unless there was meat in it. Small choices. Small, controllable choices that begin by identifying what is a luxury and what is a necessity.
I wish I could have a stay-home-mom W-2. I don't care about a "what I should be paid wage" W-2 but more like a sum of all the choices to buy second hand kid clothing, not having to maintain a professional wardrobe, not having to wear makeup everyday, not putting extra miles on the van, gas money for the commute, eating at home 99% of the time, canning food, not eating many snacks as a family, having the time to do things myself rather than paying for them... that kind of stuff.
I get tempted to pull out my calculator to calculate some of it up. I want to know, by staying home am I adding about $100? $500? $10k to our yearly budget? $20k? Wouldn't that be nice. I don't know. I know we are going to spend a lot on curriculum, but if I find it all second hand, that will save more and honestly how much does it end up costing to buy school-cold-lunch-friendly options, send money for field trips, gas money to and from school, spiffier clothes so she can keep up with her peers... and so on.
I just want to see a black and white number that says, "keep going, ma'am. Yes, you will have memories to savor and all those lovely things... but look what you contributed to the family finances.
Give me a W-2. Let me give myself a high-five like I do for my husband when I shout out his total Gross income and how much of that made it home to us.
Sometimes I just want to see it all in black and white.
It's not for validation... it's for focus.