Marketing & Sales

Value: A Love Story

"Why is there only one day a year that is International Women's Day? Does that mean that the other 364 days of the year are Men's Days?"

Marketing & Sales

Value: A Love Story

"Why is there only one day a year that is International Women's Day? Does that mean that the other 364 days of the year are Men's Days?"

March 10th, 2023
Value: A Love Story
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The house my family moved into in the Summer of 1962 – I was seven at the time -- had stood for more than 160 years before we stormed in.

For all it had been through, that home had no idea what it was in for. It could never have imagined the beating it would take over the next 48 years, as my five brothers, sister, and parents grew up, grew in, and grew older.

This week I had a note from a friend in the business who wondered:

Why is there only one day a year that is International Women's Day? Does that mean that the other 364 days of the year are Men's Days?"

My friend's question made me think of my mother, who'd passed away 11 years ago around Easter, and of that home we moved into in 1962 – and managed not to burn down despite what at times seemed like efforts to do so – and of value itself.

There are three big dots to connect here, not including tying them to the ironic query above, and I want to try to make those connections clearly.

All of the dots here connect to one of humanity's most astonishing constructs: value. We learn that what we value – life, family, safety, sustenance – withstands change, and burns as a flame common to all of us for all time.

One of the few changes my parents ever made to the house that had stood there for so long was to the kitchen. New appliances, more counter space, and one other big alteration. This big change to the kitchen's layout meant redoing some plumbing so that the main kitchen sink moved to an exterior facing wall, and that wall itself would be opened up to an outdoor vista through a new counter-level-to-ceiling picture window.

With a seven-month old youngest, a 10-year-old eldest, and five of us just over a year apart in between, my mother knew she was going to spend a lot of time at that kitchen sink. A view of the fields and gardens that spread down to the brook and the forest's edge – her million-dollar view – was her non-negotiable.

Through the years, mostly on her hands and knees and with the benefit of an old Amish-style wooden wheelbarrow with an inflatable tire and a few standard garden tools, my mother created an English garden, Zen-style rock garden, and a meadow garden to create the view through that picture window she had in mind. She dug out stumps, yanked vines and roots from the brook to free up the flow of the water over the rocks where the watercress grew, and she cleared out briars and debris for easier access to the mint growing along the stream.

Long story less long, the work – with her own hands and ideas and love – she did on that property over the years grew the value of the place. She made it a storybook place, and in the 48 years my parents owned it, its value increased 18-fold.

Meanwhile, running that house and with a daughter – the oldest – and six sons, my mother got a monthly allowance. With that monthly allowance, she'd pay for food, the heat and electric bills, clothing for all the kids, repairs, and any miscellaneous items – school supplies, gifts, etc – that came up.

I remember learning when I was in high school that the allowance amount had adjusted upward only two or three times in the prior 10 years and maxed out at less than $600 a month. When there was an unforeseen large repair expense or a special new item that arose, her heart would be in her throat about asking my father for more funds.

In the late-1970s, my mother – always a well-read, socially active and engaged community member with a circle of very close friends – began to talk about not having her own money, her own financial identity, her worth in the eyes of a society that increasingly valued money makers and financial wealth.

She wondered, "why don't wives and mothers get paid?"

She wasn't alone in thinking that.

Seven children went on to livelihoods that created a modicum of economic and financial wealth, and had their own children, and, in general, flourished. The home she engineered to survive six rambunctious sons and reimagined from an overgrown tangle of bygone splendor into a storybook place in the country whose eyeline in every direction was a gift of her creation prospered.

The value my mother created was worth, literally, millions. This woman – who got a monthly allowance to manage the family budget, and poured herself into sparking, and nurturing, and coaxing, and patiently tending value that is timeless -- actually had doubts about her own worth.

She would have been gratified that the ones who've worked to establish an International Women's Day in 1909 have succeed in doing so, and given it the meaning it has more than a century later. But, she too would have wondered, "what about the other 364 days?"

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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