Mother’s Day is coming up, which means once again we get to hear about how valiant and wonderful mothers are. Super. I agree. My mom is great. Hopefully yours is too. And, as I tell my children, they are lucky to have me as their mom, even though they don’t have iPads like EVERY OTHER KID AT SCHOOL. (We are in the exaggeration and life is unfair stage of life at the Evil household.) Motherhood can be hard. It can be disgusting. It involves bodily fluids, screaming, conferences with teachers and the constant fear that when you get up in the middle of the night you’ll step on an unknown substance in the dark. If you’re lucky it will just be a spilled cup of apple juice and not a Lego brick, which I believe should be banished under the Geneva Convention. And when you reach the teenage years, you’ll have new things to worry about.
But, what motherhood is not, is the hardest job ever. And it doesn’t require a PhD in psychology or anything else. There are breaks. There is down time. A lot of it is fun. And when people try to proclaim it as the hardest job, ever, what they are doing is saying, “Hey ladies! Taking care of those kids is so difficult we wouldn’t want you to hurt your pretty little brain by doing anything else! And can you get me a sandwich while you’re up?”
Normally, this is done by the annual Salary.com’s “What’s a mom worth survey?” which breaks down all the “tasks” that moms do and assigns a dollar value–as if the mom was a trained medical doctor for every time she slaps on a bandaid or forces some acetaminophen down a kid’s throat. It’s not equivalent and it’s insulting to women (and men) who actually went to medical school to imply otherwise.
This year, the “poor mom!” comes from Mullen, an advertising agency in Boston. They posted this fake job description and then conducted what appeared to be “real” interviews. I contacted Mullen and they informed me that the people thought they were part of a focus group, and were given a small amount of money for their time. This is a good thing because if these people had thought they were interviewing, I would be extra ticked, because that’s mean. The job description includes (but is not limited to):
- Must be able to work 135+ hours a week
- Ability to work overnight, associate needs pending
- Willingness to forgo any breaks
- Work mostly standing up and/or bending down
- Must be able to lift up to 75 lbs. on a regular basis
- Ph.D. in psychology or real-life equivalent
- Unlimited patience
- Understanding of finance
- Understanding of medicine
- Selflessly driven
- Valid driver’s license, CPR certification and Red Cross membership
In the “interviews” (found here on a YouTube Video) the interviewer informs the candidates that you can never sit down, you’ll be working 135 plus hours a week and there are no breaks. The poor candidate asks, “is this even legal?” The interviewer assures her that it is.
Moms, if you never get to sit down, you are a failure as a mother. Yep. I’m coming right out and saying it. You are doing it wrong if you never get to sit down, never get to eat lunch, and never get a break of any kind. You are not teaching your child to become an adult, you are teaching them to remain in perpetual toddler hood. This is bad parenting. I don’t know any mothers — even mothers of special needs kids — that don’t get a break. (And I will concede that some special needs kids require a tremendous amount of care from their parents–dad too!–and that may qualify as the most difficult job. But most moms have just regular kids–with problems here and there, and difficulties in different areas, but nothing requiring 24 hour nursing level care.)
Lifting 75 pounds on a regular basis? My 5 year old, who is the size of a 7 or 8 year old (started out at 10 pounds 7 ounces and hasn’t stopped growing–or eating–since) is a mere 55 pounds. Who are these women who are lifting 75 pound kids all the time? Stop it. Your poor kid is being smothered by you. Let the darn kid walk and climb into his own bed.
Ph.D. in psychology? Hmmm, I have a master’s degree in political science, yet the hospital social workers didn’t snatch my babies away and hand them off to a “qualified” person. Psychology is a demanding and good field, but it’s not required for motherhood.
Understandings of finance and medicine are helpful, but their list implies that this goes beyond what a non-mom would need. It’s a ridiculous proposition that these vastly specialized skills are necessary to raise a normal kid. Remember, for most of history, motherhood started in the teen years, and some pretty great people were raised during these periods.
Motherhood is one of the most important two jobs — fatherhood being the other. (And why don’t we get cheesy videos about the importance of fathers?) But important doesn’t equal difficult. When parents get woken up in the middle of the night, it’s likely for vomit, bad dreams or because baby is hungry. When a trauma surgeon is woken up in the middle of the night, someone’s life is on the line, and regardless of how much sleep she (even a mom can be a trauma surgeon!) has had, she has to rush in and do complicated procedures that require years and years of training to do. Feeding a baby? Not in the same category at all.
The world’s toughest jobs? Well, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the deadliest jobs are as follows:
1. Logging workers
2. Fishers and related fishing workers
3. Aircraft pilot and flight engineers
5. Structural iron and steel workers
6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
7. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
8. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers
9. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
10. Construction laborers
Motherhood doesn’t make the list.
Let’s honor mothers because what they do is important. Raising children has a profound effect on society as a whole. But, trying to say that it’s so difficult teaches our rising generation (and current mothers of young children) that there is no joy to be found in motherhood. Simply work. And that it is grueling and terrible and requires skills that no one actually has. It perpetuates the idea that if you’re not suffering you’re not doing it right. This is false. There are hard times to be found in motherhood, absolutely. But the most difficult job? Nope.