There’s this video making the social media rounds — if you know any mothers, you have likely seen it.
The gist is that a company put out a listing for a difficult job. People (who I’m pretty sure are actually actors) applied and were interviewed and became incredulous as they learned that this demanding job had no breaks, and no pay. And then they found out that the job was motherhood.
I watched it, and thought something along the lines of ehhhh, that’s sorta overblown, but I get what they’re getting at. But I was really surprised by the vitriol this video has generated all over the internet.
First of all — this is an ad, and a Mother’s Day ad at that. So it exaggerates (pretty sure that all moms get at least SOME sleep). And I don’t think anyone is claiming that motherhood is literally the toughest job in the world. So if the complaint about the video is that motherhood is indeed NOT the toughest job in the world, I’m in agreement. I will say that it irks to me to see people who aren’t mothers lambasting mothers for thinking they have a challenging job, though. Don’t knock it ’till ya try it.
I haven’t been a menial labourer, nor an indentured slave, so maybe I’ve had it too good to know otherwise. But motherhood is a hard job and it’s the hardest one I’ve ever had. At any other job, I have never been this invested in the outcome of my work. And I was never welcomed into any other position by having major abdominal surgery, for that matter.
It’s not a job, you say? But it is. Seventh-grade speech style, here we go.
Merriam-Webster defines a ‘job’ as:
1. The work that a person does regularly in order to earn money
2. A duty, task, or function that someone or something has
3. Something that requires very great effort
So I don’t get paid to be a mom. But it is definitely a duty, and a task, and a function, and is it something that requires very great effort.
Scratch the ‘motherhood is a job’ thing, actually — PARENTHOOD is a job. My husband maintains a regular workweek, but when he’s at home, he is a fully involved parent, and when he’s at work, he’s providing for us, financially (and occasionally putting out fires at home, from work). Fatherhood is difficult, too.
We made the choice to be parents — and let’s not forget that not everyone who is a parent was necessarily able to make a well thought-out, planned, easy choice — but that does not mean that the role of parent is magically easy. I prepared for motherhood as best I could and it turned out to be a hundred times harder than I thought it’d be, but also a hundred times more rewarding.
Just because a duty, task or function is a choice, doesn’t mean one cannot ever feel challenged by it, or seek support. I am allowed to say that motherhood is hard — it is. That doesn’t make me less of a person, less of a woman, less of a mother.
An example, if you will. My husband chose to be a graphic designer. He gets up every day and goes to work. Sometimes that work is unpredictable and challenging. Sometimes it’s rewarding and wonderful. When he comes home and says he had a hard day, I believe him, and I support him. I may not know or understand exactly what made it hard, and it was his choice to go into a field that offers up challenges, but the appropriate response to ‘I had a hard day’ is not ‘Well, you chose it, so too bad, and by the way, other people have it way worse than you.’
Lord knows I am not looking for high-fives and huzzahs just because I had a baby. The simple act of being a mom is not enough for people to celebrate me, and I get that (although, really, Mother’s Day exists for exactly that reason, so I really feel like attacking a Mother’s Day ad for celebrating mothers is incredibly strange). But my choice to be a mother doesn’t mean that I am not worthy of praise, or support, or understanding, just because it was a choice.
The idea of a world where people must love every single aspect of their lives and work, all of the time, and never be able to say, hey, this is hard, is unrealistic. Parenthood is hard. Working outside of the home is hard. Working inside the home is hard. Being a graphic designer is hard. Being a construction worker is hard. Being a chef is hard. I would hazard that being an independently wealthy person with a team full of butlers is even hard, in some fashion. Being a stay-at-home mom is hard, in a way that I never would have understood until I became one.
I love my mom job. And I miss my paid job, at times. My husband and I joke that it’d be great if we could trade places every once in awhile, so he could stay at home and have baby bonding time and I could get out of the house and have regular pee breaks and talk to people who are capable of forming actual words.
The saddest part of this whole pseudo-controversy, to me, is seeing women attacking other women. No single person’s choices negate or diminish anyone else’s choices. We all have good and bad days and at the risk of sounding all ‘I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy,’ I think a little bit of understanding would go a long way.