Some of you may recall that I posted the gone-viral Mother’s Day video entitled “World’s Toughest Job.” I really liked the video. I am not a mother but I listen and hear what moms in my life say. It doesn’t sound at all easy even in the best of situations. Also being in the Domestic Violence (DV) field, I hear about the worst of situations and it sounds terrible.
I hope to be a mother one day and not in the too-far future. It is not a decision or life stage I will enter lightly. I have thought very long and very hard about whether or not I want to be a mom. I can see and understand why someone wouldn’t want to be a mother. And I’m writing about mothers specifically because as I am a cisgender woman that is the parental role I will take on, which does differ from a father’s role, biologically and otherwise, more on that in a moment.
Ultimately though, I decided I do want to be a mom. Someday. And I’m not twenty-three. I’m over 30 and don’t have all the time in the world. Though certainly I have some time. I am not going to get into all the reasons why I decided to be a mom, I can’t articulate all of them anyways. But I do want a family, I want the experience (and incredibly difficult work) of raising a child. I think it will be incredible to watch my baby turn into a toddler turn into a child turn into a teenager and then turn into an adult. It will be amazing to watch them become more and more their own person with their own interests and lives, I am so curious as to how my-just-a-slight-glimmer-in-my-eyes children will be and who they will become. I also want to see the world through my baby’s/toddler’s/child’s/teen’s/adult’s eyes. Of course, there’s a lot more to being a mom than that and I haven’t even touched on any of the aspects of work involved with parenting.
I may have poo-pooed all the hype hadn’t I had some experiences already in which I sacrificed much, sometimes all of my free time, a lot of my sleep and so much money. Like being in grad school or working a job where I was on-call for a significant percentage of my time. I am not doing either of those experiences anymore – thank god! But they were much more exhausting and draining than I ever could have imagined. I think I’m still recouping sleep from my grad school and on-call days. And those days have been over for five years. But. I still imagine that being a parent will be harder than either of those experiences. And I also keep in mind that anything hard I’ve done has been harder than I ever imagined it to be. So that says something on how I envision parenting to be.
So I was surprised to see that some people didn’t like this video I mean, with anything, there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t like it. And that’s cool, we all have different experiences and perspectives. But there were multiple articles on well-known media outlets that criticized the article and said that being a mom isn’t a job. In fact if you type “being a mom is” into Google, the third phrase to pop up is “being a mom is not a job” and you can find many articles there that claim this.
So I guess I’d agree with that in one regard, because a job implies you get paid for the work, so based upon the fact that there’s no pay, I guess it’s not technically a job. But it sounds to me, that most moms dedicate more time to their children than any job they’ve had. Not the least of which is (for women who can become pregnant) carrying around a little fetus/baby for nine months and completely changing your lifestyle and body for the sake of bringing another human into this world.
I read that saying the role of mother is the toughest job dismisses all the work dads do. I would say that’s true if I thought that on a societal level men actually did as much of the actual parenting as moms do in heterosexual relationships… but I’ve never read/heard anything to suggest that is true. I know there are more and more men getting really involved in parenting, to which I want to say both “Thank goodness” and “It’s about goddamn time!” And yet women still do the majority of parenting. Look, we’re in the middle of a major cultural shift in terms of parenting/gender roles and if you look back at the 50s/60s, a lot of things have changed and we can’t expect it all to change overnight. That said, we can’t ignore the fact that women still do more parenting and housework whether they’re working for pay or not. Let’s face it, there’s a proliferation of examples on social media/the internet that let us know just this-
That makes me tired just looking at it. My husband and I have already discussed the fact that we plan to have very equal roles in parenting. Still I have a feeling I will end up doing more. I think I will end up doing more partially because I want to and partially because it’s what is expected of me. Not to mention that if I am able to conceive and carry a baby to term, that is work my husband can’t equally share with me. He just can’t. And I don’t say that to whine about it because, well, nothing can be done about that. And still, I don’t think that the work and toll of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding should be dismissed just because it’s how nature and biology played out.
In one of the posts I linked to above, one of the authors said that being a mother isn’t any different than being a spouse. Uhhhh.. what? I know that some men are a lot of work, they’re also usually called batterers and are basically children themselves. And they (batterers, anyways) suck to be married to/in a relationship with. I certainly hope that the person who wrote that isn’t in a DV situation because no one deserves that or willingly picks it. But it is a curious statement. Because if you’re in an equal partnership, yes, you work on the relationship, but I am not responsible for the caring and supervising and feeding of my husband. The remaking of this someecard demonstrates this-
Seriously, to me, this sums up controlling and abusive relationships. Because batterers basically throw very scary adult-version temper tantrums and pouting sessions to get their ways. So if your relationship is like this, my heart and support goes out to you and I do not judge you. But I want you to know that not all men, in fact many men are not like this. And, if you want, you could find someone else.
Your children are the people in your life who will consume more of your time, energy, attention and care than anyone else. Men are completely capable of doing much of the parenting (short of pregnancy/childbirth/breastfeeding) and there are some men who do a lot/as much work as their female partners (in straight relationships). But women still, over all, do more. And that’s why we need videos like this. They remind us and teach us about how hard it is and call to us to respect and appreciate them rather than judge and criticize them, which women seem to do the most, largely I’d guess because of patriarchy and its creation of the huge expectations we have on women/moms and internalized misogyny. Anyways, furthermore this video also compels men/other adults in a child’s life to help out more. And that’s what we need to make motherhood easier, to decrease our societal notions and expectations of moms and to engage men to an extent we can truly say they do as much work as moms.