13 Ways of Looking at a “Wife Bonus”

In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few days, it turns out that some Upper East Side stay-at-home moms, married to hedge fund managers (etc.), apparently get end of year “wife bonuses” for good housekeeping. Yeah. We know.

“The Primates of Park Avenue” by Wednesday Martin is on sale now

What these women receive bonuses for: domestic budgeting, getting the kids into the right pre-school, hosting the perfect dinner party, etc. And, one would have to assume — and Upper East Side mothers who don’t get wife bonuses certainly claim this — blowjobs. This bit of depressing, backassward news comes from Wednesday Martin, author of the new book Primates of Park AvenueShe calls these women glam SAHMs.

The Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” is sometimes assigned to elementary school kids as a kicking off point for their own poems — poems about fall, or snow, or family, or their favorite blue, or whatever. As the mothers of elementary school kids ourselves, we are the proud owners of many of such works of clear GENIUS. Today we would like to use this poem as inspiration for our own what-the-fuck response to this news, with apologies to the truly genius Wallace Stevens:

Among twenty Botoxed faces,
The only moving thing
Was the husband’s hand on his check book.

I was of three minds,
Like a stay at home mom
Who has only false choices.

The glam SAHM whirled in the winds of her Flywheel class.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a wife bonus
Are something else entirely.

I do not know which to prefer,
A woman getting paid for good housekeeping
Or a woman getting paid nothing at all,
The blowjobs being recompensed
Or no blowjobs at all.

A four-year-old gets into the right pre-school
Because his mother hired the right interview coach
And also maybe because her husband
Donated some money.
She will thank him
With Reverse Cowgirl
And a clean house.

O thin women of the Upper East Side,
Why do you cosset yourselves at charity luncheons?
Do you not see how the men
Soar above you
While smoking cigars?

Ladies nights can improve relationships
And they can expand a marriage;
But if the ladies are always cloistered,
Then it is no longer a choice
And where’s the dancing-drunk-to-Beyonce fun in that?

When the wife bonus was less than she had hoped for,
And smaller than other wife bonuses,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

At the sight of glam SAHMs
Sweating their way through a Flywheel class,
Even the women who say they’re not feminists
Would cry out sharply.

She rode across the city
In a luxury town car.
Once, a fear pierced her,
In that she mistook
The shadow of his fancy check-writing pen
For wrinkles.

The hand is moving on the check book.
The wife bonus must be coming soon.

She never wears sweatpants,
She never looks her age.
It is a full-time job.
The glam SAHM sat patiently
and waited for her wife bonus.

The Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin is on sale now



  1. …then again she immediately thereafter acknowledges the subject’s sadness.

  2. I mean, I dunno. A wise woman once said, “… if it MAKES YOU HAAAAA-PYYYYYYYY, it can’t be that BAAAAAAA-AAAA-AAAA-AAAAD…”

  3. This is one of those situations where you can try to educate them on why this is bad but if they are happy then nothing is going to change.

    Change is not easy and no one changes unless they really want to.

  4. Johnny, we’re fairly sure they ARE happy with the arrangement. They’re so happy that they fail to realize how they are being exiled into this “little women” zone that reeks of pre-feminist times and women not having a voice. It feels like a choice to them, even when it’s not.

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