Think about what motherhood means to you. It doesn’t matter if you are a mother. Just think about the meaning of the role. How would you describe it? How would you describe what mothers do? Do any of the following phrases fit?
- a paid position of regular employment
- casual or occasional work
- a duty task or function that someone or something has
- a small miscellaneous piece of work undertaken on order at a stated rate
- the object or material on which work is being done
- something done for private advantage
- a criminal enterprise
- a regular remunerative position
Probably not, right?
These phrases are the various definitions of a job. Our society likes to describe motherhood as a job. Many like to say it’s the world’s toughest job. The folks from American Greetings are among them, releasing the popular and admittedly funny video of various candidates in a phony interview for said job, without knowing what it is.
[embedvideo id=”HB3xM93rXbY” website=”youtube”]
Motherhood. Tough, yes. A job, I’m not so sure. In fact, I think there are some real problems with that label. While the video is certainly sweet and highlights the many things we should appreciate about mothers, it provokes interesting questions about how our society views motherhood and how mothers view themselves. And what about fathers? Haven’t we moved beyond the belief that raising children is solely women’s work?
When I think of what motherhood means, the following comes to mind:
- giving life
- sharing love
- giving care
- taking responsibility
- sharing joy
Money is the farthest thing from my mind when I think about what motherhood means. That’s not to say money doesn’t figure into motherhood. Kids are expensive. And if we do have a job that earns money, we certainly have to pay for their care while we’re doing said job. (Or, in my case, work from the couch writing this while my daughter plays the accordian.) But the point is this: Motherhood’s worth is far beyond money. And no job could ever be as fulfilling. It’s really an unfair comparison when the interviewer in the video suggests that the job opening will involve “meaningful connections.” I’ve never described my relationship with my daughter as a “meaningful connection.”
And no breaks or sleep at all? Do we need to exaggerate motherhood to that extent in order to prove it’s importance and worth? (I’ve raised a child from infancy to age 8. I’ve been a stay at home mom. I’ve suffered from sleep deprivation. But I’ve slept. And sat down. And took breaks. And had a partner in the whole deal known as Daddy.)
I think all of this demonstrates how our society has trouble seeing worth beyond money, hence the reason we need to call motherhood a job in order to convince the world of its value. And I think that’s a bit sad.
Then again, it all depends on your point of view. At least that’s what my daughter thinks. I asked her if she thought motherhood was a job. Here’s what she had to say (I didn’t tell her about the video or why I was asking the question, only that it was for something I was writing):
“If you see a job as something you do for money, then no. But from my point of view, a job can be helping people. So in that way, being a mom is a job.”
Then I asked her what the job entailed.
“Making sure your kids are healthy and get what they need and do the things they need to do to, you know, be successful.”
Then I asked her what a dad’s job is.
“The same thing. The mom and the dad work together to do the same job.”
World’s toughest job? Perhaps it’s raising our kids to see value beyond money. And value in moms and dads working together. (Important Note: My daughter’s dad and I are divorced and share custody.)