'Marshall Plan for Moms' devalues motherhood, mother of 6 says

Noelle Mering, the co-author of Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking and co-creator of the Theology of Home ministry.
Noelle Mering, the co-author of Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking and co-creator of the Theology of Home ministry. | Noelle Mering

A mother of six is speaking out against an effort to create a "Marshall Plan for Moms" by giving mothers $2,400 stimulus checks, arguing that it devalues motherhood and sends the wrong message.

Noelle Mering, co-author of the book, Theology of Home II: The Spiritual Art of Homemaking and co-creator of the Theology of Home ministry, explained her opposition to the Marshall Plan for Moms in an interview with The Christian Post.

The push to enact a Marshall Plan for Moms comes nearly a year into the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused millions of Americans to experience economic hardships. 

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In an op-ed published by The Hill in December, Reshma Saujani, the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, called on the Biden administration to implement a "monthly, means-tested $2,400 monthly payment to the women who are the bedrock of our economy and our society." The monthly stimulus payments were just one part of Saujani's proposal, which she referred to as the Marshall Plan for Moms.

The term Marshall Plan refers to the post-World War II initiative spearheaded by the United States to rebuild war-ravaged Western Europe.

"Each day, about 45 million women in this country show up to a job where they regularly work overtime, are paid nothing, and get no time off. Their job title is mother. It's time to pay them for their labor," Saujani asserted. 

The movement to create a Marshall Plan for Moms continued to gain popularity as 50 women penned a letter to President Joe Biden, which was published as an ad in The New York Times in January. Notable signatories included actresses Connie Britton, Eva Longoria, Alyssa Milano, Julianne Moore, Amy Schumer, Amber Tamblyn, Charlize Theron and Gabrielle Union. 

"Moms are the bedrock of society. And we're tired of working for free," they wrote. Illustrating the need for a Marshall Plan for Moms, the women argued that "COVID has decimated so many of our careers. Two million of us have left the workforce, at a rate four times that of men in September alone. Millions more have been forced to cut back our hours or work around the clock to keep our jobs and be full-time caregivers."

The women asked Biden to address the "national crisis" and "establish a task force to create a Marshall Plan for Moms, implement a short-term monthly payment to moms depending on needs and resources, (and) pass long overdue policies like paid family leave, affordable childcare and pay equity." They concluded the letter by declaring: "It's time to put a dollar figure on our labor. Motherhood isn't a favor and it's not a luxury. It's a job."

Mering pushed back on the contention shared by Saujani and the other advocates for the Marshall Plan for Moms.

"While I think she is considering this to be some sort of elevation of the vocation of motherhood, it actually is devaluing it because if anything, to reduce it to something that is measurable and quantifiable, is to say that it's something that we would only do if we get something out of it. To the contrary, motherhood is ... an outpouring of love for people who are completely dependent upon you."

Mering also took issue with another idea expressed in The New York Times ad, which was that "we don't value what we get for free." According to Mering, "In reality, the things we value the most are the things that we do for free, the things that are gifts, the things that are done with ... generosity, without counting costs." 

"There's some sort of irony in the fact that these movie stars, celebrities, Alyssa Milano, etc., are pushing this as a way to uplift motherhood. If they really wanted to uplift it, they could ... have spent their careers not being in movies that totally portrayed it as a sad, oppressive state in life. They could have done things in the culture if they really wanted to value motherhood. Certainly, Hollywood has done the exact opposite," she continued.

Mering described the Marshall Plan for Moms as the latest example of a "really radical feminist ideology" that "evaluates the good and wholeness of being a woman as being based on fighting oppression that home life enforces upon her" and a "presupposition that to stay at home is reflective of your state of being oppressed." She told CP that "I think it's reflective of the idea that we are valuable so far as we get a paycheck."

The mother of six acknowledged that while leaving the workforce "might be a negative in certain circumstances when that paycheck is really needed," in some cases, women have decided to voluntarily leave the workforce during the coronavirus pandemic. As they were "re-evaluating their lives."

She noted that many families also decided in favor of "leaving the city" and "trying to find something more simple," adding: "I don't think we can discount the idea that there are some people who have chosen this, to leave the workforce, out of a good that they're pursuing."

Advocates for the Marshall Plan for Moms have created a website where they elaborate on their "bold-360 plan to get women back to work." Their vision includes "direct payments to moms, who have had their paid labor in the workforce replaced by unseen, unpaid labor at home" as well as "retraining programs to ensure women can fill the jobs that will exist" and "plans to safely reopen schools 5 days a week." 

Following the letter's publication in The New York Times, an additional letter appeared in The Washington Post signed by 50 men who support the Marshall Plan for Moms. Notable signatories included actors Don Cheadle and Colin Farrell, former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and universal basic income advocate Andrew Yang, "Top Chef" personality Tom Colicchio, athlete Steph Curry and former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The Washington Post letter stressed the need to "create a new structure that works for women, that respects and values their labor."

Agreeing with Biden and Vice President Harris' characterization of the "crisis affecting moms" as a "national emergency," signatories noted that "women have been fighting for equality for centuries," adding "now is the time to finish that fight and rebuild our economy to finally value women's work."

Following the publication of the letters in two of the nation's largest newspapers, Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., introduced the Marshall Plan for Moms in the House of Representatives.

Cosponsored by 26 additional House Democrats, the bill stresses the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdowns and calls for "a robust paid leave plan" that will enable parents to take leaves of absence when their children's school is closed for in-person learning, if they or a relative has coronavirus or if they want to take the vaccine.

The legislation also pushes for the implementation of other progressive policy proposals, such as raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. "United States employers and policymakers must prioritize addressing the economic cliff facing mothers and make permanent the aforementioned policies so that mothers are protected against any future economic calamities," the bill concluded.

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