Every mother has been led to believe that motherhood is “the hardest job in the world.” But motherhood isn’t a job, it’s a lifelong relationship. If you view motherhood as a job, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. You never get to clock out, you aren’t allotted breaks and you probably won’t get much vacation time.
Most tired, frazzled, stressed-out moms are comforted by this platitude: Being a mom is the toughest job in the world. I understand this saying, but I don’t agree with it. Yes, on my very worst days — where my kids whine nonstop and torture me from nap time till bedtime — this cliché makes me feel better. If motherhood really is the world’s toughest job, that must be why I had such a terrible day. It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it.
But still, the more I think about this saying, the more I don’t like it. Even though ads have been made to celebrate the “world’s toughest job,” and detailed infographics have been produced with an actual motherhood salary breakdown, mothers shouldn’t be so quick to jump on board.
Being a mother is really, ridiculously hard on some days, and so is being a father. It’s called being a parent. But when Salary.com breaks down a stay-at-home mom’s worth based on 96.5 hours of work per week, including job descriptions like day care teacher, van driver, laundry operator, computer operator and CEO, it comes off as patronizing to those professions. Though a salary chart like this is supposed to be cute and encouraging, a mother is not a psychologist or CEO. She is a mother.
Motherhood is a relationship. I understand that it is encouraging to tell moms that they are doing the hardest job in the world, but I also think it is misleading. When you begin to see motherhood as a job, you stop viewing it as a relationship. I know that personally this attitude makes me frustrated because I wonder why I don’t get promotions, raises, breaks, sick days, better benefits, etc. If motherhood was a job, we would have all quit by now.
I knew exactly what I was getting into when I became a mother, and 90 percent of the time I love it. Everyone has her bad days, of course. But when my kids are shrieking and clinging to my legs with snot on their faces, the only thing that gets me through is the fact that I have a long-lasting commitment to them. I don’t take care of them because it’s my job.