Newsflash: Motherhood is not the world’s hardest job

by Evil HR Lady on April 17, 2014

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

4. Roofers

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.

 

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike B. April 17, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Go, Suzanne! I’ve often thought that the way we “celebrate” mothers is patronizing; this is a terrific antidote.

Regarding “(And why don’t we get cheesy videos about the importance of fathers?)” Well, we do. But most of them are in defense of the proposition that only heterosexual married couples are capable of raising healthy, well-adjusted children.

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Elizabeth West April 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm

I like this. I’m hoping to have this job before it’s too late, and it’s nice to know I don’t have to have to be perfect to do it.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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MaryP April 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Amen!

I think it was Oprah who first uttered those words — “hardest job in the world” — and, though I appreciate her good intentions, I have never agreed with them. I have three kids of my own, five stepkids, and years of caring for other people’s kids… And hardest? Nope. It’s just not.

Most important? Absolutely! Hardest? Not at all. This is a great post. Thank you!

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Squishypig April 17, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I agree that it is not the hardest job. Hard? Sure. Unrelenting? Yep. More bodily fluids than you can shake a stick at? Most definitely. But yeah, not the hardest by a long shot.

I think a lot of these over-accolades for the SAHP is really just a reaction to the fact that most SAHP do not receive a lot of recognition from others. With a job maybe you get a congratulatory email sent out to your peers, a gift card, a pat on the back, a service award, a bonus. At the very least least “validation” in the form of a paycheck. Most of that is absent to the SAHP outside of their partner (and sometimes not even then). People see you as lazy, asking what you do all day, wasting your experience/education, and undermining your “work” saying they do it too AND work full time so any frustration you may have is inconsequential to those who do REAL work.

I was a working mom for three years until I managed to parlay that into a WFM gig. I don’t think I work more but I sure as heck think I am working just as hard as when I was commuting into and actual office with adults. In the end, we all work hard.

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Squishypig April 17, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I agree that it is not the hardest job. Hard? Sure. Unrelenting? Yep. More bodily fluids than you can shake a stick at? Most definitely. But yeah, not the hardest by a long shot.

I think a lot of these over-accolades for the SAHP is really just a reaction to the fact that most SAHP do not receive a lot of recognition from others. With a job maybe you get a congratulatory email sent out to your peers, a gift card, a pat on the back, a service award, a bonus. At the very least least “validation” in the form of a paycheck. Most of that is absent to the SAHP outside of their partner (and sometimes not even then). People see you as lazy, asking what you do all day, wasting your experience/education, and undermining your “work” saying they do it too AND work full time so any frustration you may have is inconsequential to those who do REAL work.

I was a working mom for three years until I managed to parlay that into a WFM gig. I don’t think I work more but I sure as heck think I am working just as hard as when I was commuting into an actual office with adults. In the end, we all work hard.

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cavalier April 17, 2014 at 3:44 pm

I want to thank you for using the phrase/abbreviation ‘Stay at Home Parent’ instead of the more common ‘Stay at Home Mother.’ As a male who was the primary care giver of my child, it was frustrating how many times I felt left out or ignored.

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Susan Wood April 17, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Very well written, Suzanne! I couldn’t agree more!

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Stew April 17, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Well said.
I have to admit that when I was about to become a young dad, the task ahead of me was daunting. (Well it looked that way).
When my lovely son came into the world (fyi how do women seem to forget that pain? I watch horrors and nothing scared me more than my wifes face during that moment – and she wants another?), I found him not to be as much work as people told me.
In fact some of it was play.

There was no horrible task master like my boss – just someone who needed my help. In fact there were two people who needed my help. When the screams happened at night – I got up and took care of it.

The reward was instant and gratifying. Surprisingly happier than my “real work” at the time.

So I raise the questions to the hard done by mothers out there……Why do you feel like you deserve more?
More is not any better, in fact I can tell you it’s worse.

Why do we always have to turn things around making them sound worse than they are? There are so many positives to kids and being a Mom (or a helpful Dad).

“How would you feel about a job where you can never get fired, you will always be counted on and never cut out, you will be the highest priority in the associates life, the associate will hold the highest respect for you, the associate will joke and play with you, even after disagreements, the associate will depend on you to treat them like a person, you are able to train the associate to achieve great tasks – tasks even impossible for you.

The associate will never give up on you if you never give up on them, they will tell/show you on a daily basis how much you have impacted their life, the associate as a project will be a pure definition of how hard a worker you are and a monolith of who you are as a person, if you are fortunate – the associate will carry you to the greatest heights the world has ever known”

or you could just clock your 9-5 and may be, if you’re very lucky, climb a corporate ladder to nowheresville.

Parenthood can be 1000 more beneficial than any job all for the risk of less than the worlds crappiest job. It is up to you how you manage it. But it isn’t as hard to be a good parent as many make it out to be, often it is easier than many other jobs you may do.

Some bosses on differ from children to the extend they don’t shit their pants. But the thing is they can make your life hell and then fire you. Your kids can’t do that.

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Squishypig April 17, 2014 at 4:27 pm

“But it isn’t as hard to be a good parent as many make it out to be, often it is easier than many other jobs you may do.”
I don’t feel like I deserve more, I feel like I deserve the same as anyone else who also works. And frankly the blanket statement you made above? It’s demeaning. It is also a prime example of why these stupid over the top SAHP validations happen because those type of statements do nothing but to reemphasize the notion that SAHPs don’t work as hard as they say and took the easy way out of working. It may have been easy for you to be a SAHP but it is not easy for everyone. I found it much easier to be a working mom, in fact, but that is MY experience and I don’t claim that as canon for everyone’s experience. I don’t use my experience to invalidate the frustrations and contributions of working parents. Just like being a teacher may be a better fit for some so it comes easier to them and not others. Or creating a work of art or managing a successful investment portfolio. Just recognize that we all work hard and for some it is harder while it is easier for others. Just like any other job.

And while I can’t be fired, there are days when my three-year old does makes my life hell. I can’t quit on her and I still have to live with her. ;)

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Christa April 22, 2014 at 7:16 pm

This comment is amazing – seriously. I feel like every article (except this one) focuses on how hard and terrible and awful it is to be a parent. Why?

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Aubrey April 17, 2014 at 4:53 pm

THANK YOU. I thought I was the only one viewing the video with this point of view. Unpopular opinion to be sure! Definitely agree motherhood is one of the most important jobs, but definitely not the toughest.

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Jeanne April 17, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Thank you! I’m so sick of hearing that being a mom is the hardest thing in the world and stay at home moms are saints. (And yes dads are totally ignored.) Just like anything else there are good moms and bad moms and good dads and bad dads.

Unlimited patience? I’ve never met anyone with unlimited patience. We have humans raising kids. And yes everyone who parents gets a break. They eat meals. They go to bed. If they’re lucky the kid can go stay at Grandma’s house.

Plus almost everyone with a job gets an interview. We allow anyone to be a parent. They learn as they go instead of being pre-qualified. You don’t have to know how to parent teenagers right away. You go day by day.

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TheDoug April 17, 2014 at 5:38 pm

I love it, I had just tee’d off on a facebook post about this same advertisement yesterday. I can’t believe that there isn’t more backlash from mom’s out there for comparing parenting to a job in the first place. It’s insulting to parents. Job’s are things we do because we need money. Parenting is a choice (mostly) and one we do for the joys it brings us. Comparing it to a job is demeaning.

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jane larsen April 17, 2014 at 7:04 pm

I agree with everything apart from the Lego comment. Lego rocks.

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Jeanne April 17, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Where’s the like button? Agree!

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Charles April 20, 2014 at 1:14 am

Yes, Legos are fun; until you step on one.

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Brenna April 17, 2014 at 9:55 pm

AMEN!! I am a mom, and I work full time, and frankly, my job is a lot more challenging. Not that I don’t adore my kids, but soothing a toddler with a skinned knee (although really rewarding) really isn’t all that hard. I totally agree with pretty much everything you said about how this whole notion is completely demeaning. I’ve always hated that salary comparison, too!

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Romy April 18, 2014 at 12:17 am

While I don’t think motherhood is the world’s hardest job, I don’t like the general tone of this article.
What makes motherhood hard for me is precisely the fact that you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to do it. I have a Master’s degree in public policy and I struggle to stay focussed and give my 10 month old son the full attention he deserves all day long (when he’s awake). Young children need their moms too much for the mom to really engage in anything else – something challenging that makes her feel smart – and not enough to keep her challenged/engaged throughout the day.

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Amy H April 18, 2014 at 6:19 pm

I LOVE this. This motherhood martyr syndrome has been driving me crazy for years. If it’s so hard and thankless, who would ever do it? It’s like that cult-of-business that’s so popular now, too. If you’re so busy (driving your kids around) you can’t call your friends or take a moment for yourself, you win! If parenting is so hard you can’t ever sit down or take breaks, you win! Absurd. By the way, I found your blog through Free Range Kids, and I love it!

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Kerry April 18, 2014 at 7:35 pm

This is my favorite post of yours, ever.

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CSchiffer April 18, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Very well said Suzanne. Great post.

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Jesse April 18, 2014 at 8:10 pm

When I hear that being a mom is so hard, I just think that its BS. The people that fight for this just want those women to come watch their show or buy their stuff. They don’t give a damn about anything else.

Fathers share the same amount of the burden, well any decent father. I have changed just as many diapers, made dinner, done laundry and got up in the middle of the night just as much as my wife. And when people say its a ‘Thankless Job’, to hell with you, because no one that goes to work and gets a pay check and keeps the house paid or keeps the lights on gets a thank you. Tell me the last time you flicked on the light and said to the working person of the house, “Thank you for paying the power bill” (unless your broke and power issues are a regular thing), but “Thank you for dinner, its very good”, I say that all the time. that was 30 minutes well spent, 20 of it while it was in the oven, so 10 minutes of work.

I have no problem given praise where it is due, but to give someone a puffed up since of importance is BS and takes from the other people, 1 gear does nothing, it takes 2 the make things work.

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Jeff M April 18, 2014 at 8:30 pm

I can at least say it’s a lot harder than it used to be. Check out If 70s Moms Had Blogs… at http://widelawns.blogspot.com/2014/03/if-70s-moms-had-blogs.html

I was 4 to 14 in the 70′s and much of this rings hilariously true.

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Evil HR Lady April 25, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I was 0 to 7 in the 70s and some of that rings true, but a lot doesn’t. I think because we are Mormons who don’t drink and smoke! Everything else was pretty accurate.

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Em April 18, 2014 at 10:04 pm

SERIOUSLY you can’t just take a laugh from what is OBVIOUSLY humorous homage to the work mothers DO do?

We all know it’s rewarding, we do sleep, and sit, and that our skills are not interchangeable with the expertise of trained professionals.

I’ve done a number of very demanding jobs – and I do find motherhood the hardest. By far. I parent my kids, maintain my home and run a home-based business. The amount which I use my brain and contribute to my community and the world at large is limited only by my motivation and priorities.

Step off the soap box, have a laugh and let the appreciative feelings the prank ad was intended to conjure up.

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Jeanne April 19, 2014 at 6:54 pm

I don’t think it was a prank. I know too many moms who look for stuff like this so they can put it on Facebook and look for applause for staying home with the kids. There really are moms who think anything they do, like cooking dinner, is more important than any job anyone else is doing. We need to promote a sense of reality.

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Kara April 21, 2014 at 10:44 pm

I agree. I’ve posted the Salary.com article that comes out every year to Facebook with similar negative sentiments about motherhood not really being worth $90k/yr (or whatever the new ‘wage’ is) and have had mommy friends who stay at home completely bash me for it. I’m sorry, but hamburger helper does not make you a ‘chef’ nor does cleaning a scraped knee make you a ‘doctor.’ I get that it’s supposed to be a feel-good article (or video, in this case) but it’s just not accurate.

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TheWitchFromHR April 18, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Thank youm EHRL, you’ve said this very well indeed! As a Mom/Stepmom/FosterMom/Grandma/GreatGrandma who has worked for pay as well as at home since my 17th birthday, I say ‘Right on!!’ Parenting is hard and demanding and so very rewarding, and may in fact earn stars in your heavenly diadem. Parents deserve recognition for the important work they do, no argument from me at all. However parenting is not the most difficult or demanding or fraught work in the world. Don’t belittle it, don’t hype it – appreciate it and enjoy it and come by my place when you need some chocolate, a beverage of choice, a hug or someone with whom to laugh!

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Jeannette April 19, 2014 at 1:38 am

Maybe it would be more appropriate to say being the perfect parent would be the hardest job in the world. Maintaining your patience amongst all the chaos, doing what needs to be done in spite of your own exhaustion…..these are all real issues that confront parents regularly. My former job as a technical development manager in a top printer company wasn’t nearly as difficult……but it wasn’t as rewarding either. However, it did pay better :)

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Rachael April 19, 2014 at 1:57 am

I think you took the youtube video far too literally. It was an obvious over exaggeration because like you said moms do get to have “breaks”, they do get to eat, they don’t need a degree in medicine etc. It was supposed to be humorous ( I thought it was funny) and with Mothers Day coming up, it was just a nice way to acknowledge that motherhood is a tough job (and to some it is in fact the toughest!) but I don’t think it was meant to spark a debate as to what the toughest job actually is.

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J.B. April 19, 2014 at 2:34 am

Why don’t we celebrate fathers? Probably because commercials, etc are too busy painting dad as incompetent.

As far as mom job descriptions, this one was funny :)
http://www.thehonesttoddler.com/2014/04/mommy-wanted-job-offer.html

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Evil HR Lady April 19, 2014 at 7:00 am

I hate the Dad as incompetent nincompoop in tv ads and shows.

Have you seen this Lego commercial, though? It’s super awesome and very pro-dad:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwQqkX3qZak

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Scott Behson April 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm

Parenthood is hard, and, as you say, very important. but by martyrizing SAHMs, we are implicitly denigrating working moms, working dads and SAHDs.

Thank you for calling this out!

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Evil HR Lady April 20, 2014 at 8:12 am

Not only are we denigrating working moms, dads and SAHDs, we’re saying parenting is so hard that moms are incapable of doing anything other than being a mom.

Even the SAHM and SAHD that I know do more than parent. How do you thinks school PTAs run? Church Sunday schools? Neighborhood cooperatives? It’s the SAHPs that run that stuff. That’s work! And no one that is spending 135 hours on child care could possible do that.

It’s so utterly ridiculous.

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Anonymous May 7, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Have you considered the ages of their children? Vast difference between newborns, toddlers and school children’s needs.

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Lisa April 20, 2014 at 7:07 am

I’m gonna go ahead and assume that Suzanne is not a mom because if she is, there is no way in hell that she would write some foolishness like this. To the folks applauding this who are parents….what the hell is wrong with you? Either you forgot how hard being a parent is at times or you have/had a nanny.

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Evil HR Lady April 20, 2014 at 8:09 am

I’m sorry you find your life so difficult. How old are your kids? Mine are 5 and 10.

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Theo April 21, 2014 at 11:50 pm

I don’t think you’re being foolish at all. Glad to see moms saying that being a parent is not a job, and not the toughest one that is (try working in a coalmine!), and we don’t need a viral attempt to sell cards to make us seem more important than everyone else who are not, or cannot be, parents.

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Evil HR Lady April 20, 2014 at 8:49 am

I want to let people know that if you do feel like this video describes motherhood, it doesn’t have to be this way. Your company’s (or your spouse’s or your live in partner’s) Employee Assistance Program (EAP) should be able to help you get your life balanced so that you don’t feel this way.

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Lindy April 20, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Ok Captain Literal. The tone of this article is just negative. I never comment on posts, articles, blogs, but after reading this article I feel I have to. The point of the video is simply to get people to acknowledge that the role of motherhood can be challenging and downright hard sometimes, so acknowledge, appreciate and write your mother a card. Obviously mothers are not doctors, psychologists, etc. Obviously there are breaks and mothers eat food. However, mothers (good mothers, those who are dedicated and hard-working), put their kids first and the way in which they do things – eat, take time to relax, etc, is forever changed because our children take precedence. So, get off of your high horse, throw away your pessimistic attitude and make your mom a damn card for Mother’s Day!

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Theo April 21, 2014 at 11:33 pm

I don’t think she was on her high horse while writing this. The company that created this marketing video posted on a job site, hence to be taken seriously by people, especially those they bothered.

Did you read how the author said she thinks her mom is great? I also think that how people gobble up this commercialization of Mother’s Day is awful.

Before you tell me to get off my high flying unicorn, let me tell you that I give my mother a handmade card every month to tell her how much I love her. But even she will tell you that she hates the exaggeration and attention-seeking some mothers tend to have to make themselves feel important. She sacrificed not seeing us for years just to support us, yet doesn’t parade around saying she has the hardest job in the world.

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Vicky Sylvie April 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Theo, I guess your mom is a Saint. Who doesn’t like to be thanked for what they have done? Nobody is asking anyone to parade around. Just being grateful because not everybody is…

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Evil HR Lady May 5, 2014 at 4:16 pm

I believe you mean Captain Literally:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jh4Mpgbi4A

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AC April 22, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Perhaps not the hardest, as everyone is claiming, but this is based on perception from parents of the 21st century. Women have for many years, particularly in the 50′s and earlier, been the primary caregivers for their family not only on the childrearing front, but also within the household. Women’s labour was not at all appreciated and was considered a woman’s duty to her children, husband and the household as a whole. I think the years of considering this “duty” as “women’s work” is why there’s such an emphasis on the woman’s role in childcare. Sure it’s not the hardest job, or else why would so many people have children? You cannot however discount the fact that at some point it may have been a very difficult job for a woman, especially in the times without technology, convenience products, and the woman’s right to enter the work force. Good work to all parents, I commend you!

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Vicky Sylvie April 22, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I think the point is that Motherhood is for life. It is a thankless and priceless job for the most part. Unlike a job, you can’t quit being a mother when the going gets tough or if you want a better salary. Let’s not minimize the work of mothers by calling it ‘whining’. Don’t forget many women do it alone without help from anyone and not necessarily by choice either. Nobody can deny the role of women around the world, we do an invaluable job and I’m proud to do my share!

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Cherry April 22, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Completely missed the point of the video and its a shame it has reached negative ignorant people like you. Take something meaningful and beautiful and [badword] all over it…Congrats. Thanks for your [bad word] article sure glad we have so many people writing [bad word] like this!

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Vicky Sylvie April 25, 2014 at 4:11 pm

Yep, the whole point was missed for sure!

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Evil HR Lady April 25, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Cherry, your comment got edited because you used bad words. This is a G rated blog. Feel free to disagree with me all you want, but do it without the bad words.

Even mild bad words.

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Julia April 25, 2014 at 5:50 am

Actually, I do lift 75 pounds on a regular basis – the 45 pound 4-year-old, the 25 pound one-year-old, and a diaper bag, all at once. Usually to get the bigger kid into a grocery cart while wearing the littler one in a sling. And because my kids are still small, and I’m breastfeeding, I am on call 24/7 and get woken up many times every night. The sleep deprivation makes things pretty hard. Did your kids sleep well? Because you sound like the mom of kids who slept well.

My nearest family member is a four hour drive from here, and the older kid was abused by her daycare provider as an infant back when I had a paying job, so it’s pretty hard to find childcare. The turnover rate is so high that by the time my kid feels safe with someone, they move on to another job or stage of life. I spend most of my time on my feet because I have busy, active kids, and the house doesn’t clean itself, nor does the laundry wash itself, nor does the food cook itself. The 4-year-old helps, but, really, there’s only so much a 4-year-old can do. It’s not an enabling thing – it’s a capability thing. She can make a salad without help, but she gets distracted too easily to be trusted with the stove. She hangs her own clothes, but can’t reach the curtain rod to hang grownup clothes. She’s in preschool, but that’s only a few hours a week, and during that time I still have the baby to look after. It’s physically very demanding. I’m exhausted by the end of the day, only to be woken up again and again each night.

And you know…it seems strange to compare the difficulty of motherhood to the death rate among fisherman. Death doesn’t mean difficult, it means dangerous, right? Royal food tasters probably had high mortality rates…does that mean eating food is a hard job?

But there is a statistic that sticks out in my mind as related to the difficulty of motherhood. Studies estimate that between 15 and 25% of mothers experience postpartum mood disorders like depression, anxiety, and even postpartum psychosis. So, splitting the difference, say 1 in 5 moms of babies spend the lion’s share of their waking hours feeling miserable.

Sounds pretty hard to me.

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Vicky Sylvie April 25, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Love what you wrote Julia!

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Evil HR Lady April 25, 2014 at 9:09 pm

No doubt motherhood is hard, but it’s not as described in the job posting or the interviews.

And yes, it is harder when your kids don’t sleep. Neither of mine slept through the night until they were weaned at 17 and 18 months.

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Anonymous May 7, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Ones experience of motherhood definitely does depend on the type of kids you have, their ages, and the support network around you. A mother of 1-2 well spaced children, who sleep well, eat well, have easy going temperaments, adjust to childcare setups readily, and have a great support network from their husband and family, is experiencing a very different version of motherhood than a mum who has multiple preschoolers, that don’t sleep well (yes many infants wake HOURLY during the night) don’t eat well, have spirited/high need personalities, that are clingy or shy and don’t take to daycare easily (or live in areas where there is no daycare available), who have no support structure, no extended family nearby, a husband who is away for weeks or months at a time, a mother left to solo parent alone from 6am – 10pm (not all children need the same amount of sleep, and their schedules don’t always match). These mothers are not sharing the same experience of motherhood, yet both these versions exist. Some easier, some a lot lot harder.
To tell a mum that she is a failure because she does not manage to get a single break during the day? How exactly does one manage a break between a 3 year old, a 2 year old & 3mo old twins? Yes occasionally there may be the odd cup of tea for about 10 minutes once the cleaning is finished for the night, before the first baby (or more often multiple babies!) wakes…. But more often than not it’s just another cup tea left to get cold on the bench and cleaned up the next morning, or a jug boiled 3 times yet not enough time to even pour. What other job requires you to keep going nonstop from the time you wake til the time you sleep, only to then be woken constantly through the night for months/years on end? A job where you can’t even go to the toilet alone. Or do you mean the breaks that will come in a few years time once the infant phase has passed, because really, “sitting down” for dinner as a “break” with a handful of under 3′s… It doesn’t happen. It’s not failure, it’s a fact. In reality the most of a break I have as a SAHM is the rare occasion when I drive the car and the littlest ones both fall asleep, and finally there is a brief moment of peace (provided the toddler doesn’t choose to whack them). Interestingly though I note that you listed “driving” as one of the ten “hardest” jobs above…
When I saw the viral video, I thought wow, thanks, somebody else gets it, here’s something that can possibly begin to describe to others the sheer relentlessness and exhaustion I/we experience. Here is something could perhaps help others understand. But reading your blog, and many of the comments that follow I see that no, it hasn’t done that, instead mothers who feel like this have been labelled “failures” for finding motherhood hard. Isn’t it time we acknowledge it’s tough (the PND figures say it all), and set out about finding ways to support parents through the exhausting early years? Yeah it ended up being a cheesy card commercial, but I believe the points it made were valid.

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Lisa August 10, 2014 at 5:21 am

This is the best response of all. This experience is different is from parent to parent… so no one can say just how hard it it or easy. They can only say from their experience. People spend to much time worried about other people and what they think and feel.

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erin April 29, 2014 at 4:01 am

I definitely think some women are more inclined to find motherhood easy and those who don’t, probably view motherhood as a frustrating job that’s really hard. However, I think moms make conscious decisions to either invest in their kids, or invest in showing others that they are the best moms with the best kids. Being a mom is the most wonderful when I’m actively engaging with my daughter rather than proving to her and other people all the sacrifices I have to make to keep her happy.

Also, if you really feel like it’s a thankless job, your expectations of how your kids should treat other people (yourself included) are way too low.

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