The Most Important? The Hardest? Umm, notsomuch.

“And unlike most professions, mom enjoys a very high popularity rating. The world is your public relations team. Nary a television commercial or Oprah segment passes without someone giving props to Mom.It’s like being an astronaut or animal rescuer: You’re automatically beloved. Even if you’re bad at being a mom, the halo effect still sheds its heavenly light on thee.”
~ from Parenting magazine

Blogger Dani mentioned her blog post about how being a mother is NOT the most important job in the world (which I agree with completely), so I thought I’d do a quick google search to see what others had to say about this as well since we are at this hallowed day her in the US where mothers are deified. Not to say GOOD mums and dads shouldn’t be appreciated – reemphasizing, the ones who actually deserve it – but I’m also not going to kiss the feet of every female who has children and act like they are better human beings than the rest of us – of all genders – who don’t have any, or make the role of the mother superior to that of the role of the father.

The superiority complex of so many out there who think they have it so hard in America because they were blessed with a child, whether it be via birth or not, and tell others that they are doing the hardest job on earth, or like #45’s stepford daughter Ivanka says “it’s the most important thing you can do as a woman”, is shitting all over women who cannot have (or are not interested in having) kids.

I’ve been that person in the workplace watching the parents who get to come in later and leave earlier because of kids, when my own personal needs were blown off because it wasn’t the same as having kids. People who get to rework their schedules to accommodate taking their kids to school (because I guess they’re too good for the bus), while I was expected to always be in by a specific time no matter what I had going on in my life. I was never seen as important enough compared to the people who had kids. And then at the same time I see these companies that brag about being family-friendly, and yet have no interest in providing health insurance that actually covers infertility treatment. My husband’s company is one of them. Along with not paying a living wage, their insurance benefits have zero coverage for infertility treatments while openly bragging about how they cover much rarer situations like sex reassignment surgery (which I think is great, yes, but is not superior to a disease that affects one in eight couples). That kind of hypocrisy is rampant when it comes to Motherhood. LinkedIn currently has people writing posts with the hashtag #MomSkills, attributing the skills they have to some super power that only a mother could have, ultimately dissing non mothers. And the hero worship that comes out when you hear people speaking about moms is also pretty twisted when so much of the time in our culture mothers are deemed primary parents, while fathers are simply financial assistance and buddies to the child. Hell, when a father stays home with the child while the mother goes out, that disgusting term babysitting comes out all too often, as if the dad is the equivalent to some fourteen-year-old you paid 4 bucks an hour to watch. And when a father takes their kid to the park solo, everybody pats them on the back as if they just cured cancer. 

“You must not have kids” is one of the most condescending statements I’ve heard over the years from people who try to make themselves superior to you or simply claim that by the act of having children you couldn’t possibly understand how hard life can be, or how to multitask in your own life, or how to be unselfish. And most recently there’s the women who have posted on these professional boards that until they became a mother, they didn’t know what love was. Well you know what? That’s pretty fucking pathetic if you didn’t know what love was and that nobody could possibly understand love unless they have a child. Yes of course your life changes, and hopefully having a child will add to your happiness, but in no way does it make you a better person than someone who doesn’t have children. In no way.

I could go on, but in these collection of quotes from The Narcissism of Motherhood, Catherine Devaney says it all:

“The deification of mothers not only delegitimizes the relationship fathers, neighbors, friends, grand parents, partners, teachers, carers etc have with children but diminishes the immense worth and value of these relationships. (It also encourages co dependency and discourages independence. ‘You need your mum. Only your mum will do’) It also discourages other adults from being actively involved in children’s lives. Because, you know, it’s not as good as being a mother. Bollocks.”
Buying into and enabling the ‘being a mother is the most important job in the world’ dogma devalues the unpaid labor of rearing children and other unpaid caring and domestic tasks almost as much as is strategically devalues women’s worth in the work place.”

Even if it were a job there is no way being a professional mother could be the hardest when compared to working 16 hours a day in a clothing factory in Bangladesh.”

“If you believe the manipulative slogan and that mothers are better, smarter and more compassionate people for having children, all of them, you clearly haven’t met many mothers. Or met many extraordinary humans who have not made a human themselves.

People’s opinions and perspective on things change over the years. Mothers may have insight they didn’t have not because they’ve had children but because they’ve been around longer. This doesn’t make their insight more right or valid than anyone else’s – mother or not. Correlation does not equal causation.”

There is also a curious sliding scale to this ‘Being a mother is the most important job in the world.’ ‘Working’ ‘career’ mums are at the lower end and single stay at home mothers are highest echelons. With ascending increments for each child you have. The more hours of drudgery you endure the more of a mother you are and, therefore, the more important your job is. The more you outsource domestic labor and childcare and participate in the workforce the less of a mother you are and the less important your job is.”

I have always said ‘anyone who starts a sentence with ‘as a mother’ is immediately disqualified from being taken seriously. On anything.’

‘As a mother’ is in the same basket as ‘I’m not a racist but’ ‘I can’t be misogynist I have daughters’ and ‘some of my best friends are gay’.”

This empty token slogan encourages mothers to stay socially and financially hobbled, alienates fathers, discourages other significant relationships between children and adults and allows men to continue to enjoy the privilege of heteronormative nuclear family roles (despite men sucked into this having their choices limited as well).”

  One thought on “The Most Important? The Hardest? Umm, notsomuch.

  1. mamajo23
    May 14, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    All very interesting and insightful. The way society ostracizes ‘non mothers’ is absurd. The real truth anyway is having a child does not make anyone a certain person. A selfish and lazy human will most likely be a selfish and lazy person who happens to have a child. The act of having a child does not change someone. It is, like anything in life, how you react to a change that counts. I know a whole spectrum of women and some of the best are both those with kids and those without. Also- to have society or others determine or declare your worth based on if you have a child is offensively daft and simplistic. So a crack addict who bears a fourth straight kid born addicted to drugs and fighting in the NICU is held in higher regard than a hard working and selfless lady who is having trouble conceiving but gives to the world in so many ways??? Please.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lizzie
    May 14, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Truth, lady. I know some great mums, but I also know some people who’ve had children who shouldn’t be allowed near a goldfish who are also mothers. (Shout out to Mamajo23. I heartily agree w/ EVERYTHING you posted.) Is it hard being a mom? Sounds ridiculously difficult. Is it the “Toughest job in the world”? Ah, helll no. (Well, my mum made it look easy, but she’s the only one.)
    If I choose not to have kids, does that make me incapable of showing love, compassion, kindness to my cats (whom I do think of as my kids) or even other people or other people’s kids? Ah, helllllll no. I can be all of those things and more WITHOUT and that means that motherhood is not the toughest job in the world. Anyone can be a kind, compassionate, and loving person. Anyone. So, fuck those fucking #momskills bitches. I can clean too, honey. I can read to my friend’s kid too. I can cook like nobody’s business. I can be supportive and kind and all those positive things that GOOD moms are, to anyone.
    Even still, we know you’re hurting, dearest. Please remember that YOU haven’t failed @ anything. YOU are still (I hate to say it, from one atheist to an agnostic) blessed beyond measure because you have something not every mother has: you have a gorgeous, beautiful, delicious, succulent marriage, and I know you don’t take that for granted.
    Kiss the Ruby for me and the girls. ❤

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  3. May 14, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    My son is 5 months old. Is motherhood tough? Can be. Is it inportant? Yes. Is it the toughest or most important ‘job’ ever? No way! For me, losing my Dad at 13 years old was more emotionally devastating and difficult than becoming a mother, my full time law degree whilst working nights to make ends meet was more physically challenging (and I had a c-section!) And that is just my experience. I think what makes motherhood tough for me (yes, aware it is a FWP and a problem many would love to have and yes I realise I am incredibly lucky) is the 24/7 nature, the being ‘on’ all the time which for my naturally anxious personality is a challenge I am working through.
    The deification of motherhood hurts society in many ways. Mums end up feeling like we have to be everything and do it perfectly which can lead good mothers to pnd and anxiety. Fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours, teachers, cousins and grandparents are just as important in a child’s life. But I will say, there are times that my son wants only me, despite his father (my husband) being incredibly involved and an equal parent in every aspect.
    Compassion, kindness and love are not built in to motherhood, just hang out in a few online mums groups, you will see petty, vindictive and judgemental behaviour. I know incredibly compassionate loving people who are childfree by choice or circumstance.
    There is a tv show here in Australia called “The Checkout”. They are a consumer affairs style show but convey their message through comedy. They have a segment called “As a guilty mum..” which demonstrates the way advertising targets the guilt mothers feel and it will give you a few laughs and I cannot hear “As a mum” from someone without picturing one of their segments 😂
    Women who do not have children are not failures and are just as important in the community as women who are mothers.
    Also, a mother is not the ONLY thing I am. I am also a sister, daughter, aunt, wife, friend, employee, mentor, niece, granddaughter and community member and those other roles I occupy are just as important to me.
    This is probably long and rambly and could be summed up as ‘right on, this is so true’

    Liked by 1 person

  4. May 15, 2017 at 6:57 am

    this is so brilliant. I could go on for hours about this, but I won’t. You did it more eloquently. I am childless by choice, and yet I see in myself so many of those skills that qualify as #momskills. I learned them from my mother, yes; but that doesn’t make them #momskills. It makes them #humanskills.
    You are not less than in my book. You are someone I respect and admire for the grace and dignity that you have maintained, the courage I know it takes to open your innermost self up to the world at large like you do, and the human skills I see you blog about on here (like building duck houses and canning foods and gardening and all that stuff so-called-supermoms think is exclusive to their pinterest-perfect worlds.
    To borrow a word from the British, those wankers need to get over themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. survivingmiscarriagetogether
    May 15, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Reblogged this on Surviving Miscarriage Together.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. May 15, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Very true!!! …I’ve been reflecting on all this since you reminded me of it and I have to write a post about it because I don’t want to ramble in your comments!! ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  7. longtermivf
    May 15, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    It’s totally fetishistic. Drives me insane. And apparently no suffering is greater than these poor mothers’…who end up with kids. Cry me a river.
    I’ve found now that I’m saying I can’t carry a baby some people say ‘well you won’t have to have all the scars and stretch marks’. Wrong. I have all the stretch marks, all the physical scars (plus some pretty monumental emotional scars) and no baby to show for it.
    I’m just going to go back to banging my head against a wall now. X

    Like

  8. May 16, 2017 at 8:49 am

    I’ve been mulling this over for days now. As a child, I asked my mother why there wasn’t a Kid’s Day. Her response was every day is Kid’s Day, so she got one day. On that day, my dad and us kids would cook. I don’t ever remember making or buying her anything. It was simply a day we would thank our mom for supporting Kid’s Day the 364 days of the year. I think the problem with Mother’s Day is that certain moms are demanding to be recognized as superheroes. It is their one main accomplishment, and they are going to outshine all the others out there. Digital interconnectedness and social media have brought out the competition to constantly one-up each other. Look what my stellar kids bought for me! Also, commercialism and materialism. Everyone realized there was money to made, so they hyped it up. I simply remember it being a quiet holiday spent with my mom where we did the heavy lifting for one day while she took a day off. I would compare Mother’s Day to what has happened to Valentine’s Day, Easter, and now even 4th of July. My fireworks are bigger than yours! Look at all my red, white, and blue picnic crap I have! We have lost the true meaning of these holidays to our competitive nature and commercialistic greed.

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  9. Betty
    May 16, 2017 at 9:31 am

    You have this way of saying all the things I am too afraid to say and I love it. I want to like this post a thousand times. The #momskills thing always bugs me when I see it in arguments between SAHMs and work outside of the home moms. I’ve actually seen the argument that all of a SAHM skills can be put on a resume like job skills, i.e. conflict resolution and budgeting, but these are skills moms who work outside of the home can also have, and people who are not moms can have, and also I feel like it diminished my actual career skills to say that buying groceries on a budget is the same as negotiating and executing a major purchasing contract (I work in procurement). And I don’t want to disparage SAHMs either, and I find the entire argument to be so patronizing to them.
    I also really resent the idea that we women trying to have children past the age of 30 prioritized our careers over starting families, like that’s such a bad thing, and like some of us didn’t actually prioritize finding a life-mate and becoming financially stable (me.)
    Maybe when I finally do have a baby I will feel different but that difference will be “having a baby” and not like I just shroom tripped my way to some kind of enlightenment only a woman who has birthed a child will feel.

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    • May 16, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Oh honey I almost wrote a whole POST (as I’m a recruiter in real life) about how people put their SAHM (and SAHD) time as a “job” on their resumes. “Household Manager” is my (not) favorite one. As if none of the rest of us pay our bills, manage competing priorities, cook and clean! And having hired procurement folks a lot in the past, amen to calling out that crazy comparison as well! 🙂

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      • May 16, 2017 at 12:19 pm

        Wait, we can actually put being an adult on our resumes? Private chef! A janitress! Bookkeeper! Wardrobe and hair stylist! Groundskeeper! Man, my resume just exploded! Bawahahahaha!

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  10. May 17, 2017 at 4:30 pm

    I mostly hate the concept that all of a sudden you are in this secret club where *finally* you know what it means to love. FINALLY you know what it means to sacrifice. FINALLY you know what it means to be tired. I fucking hate how quick people are to respond to a casual comment about your life with “Well just WAIT till you have kids!” I feel like the entire thing just innately devalues childfree/childless people’s lives, but in particular women’s. Because we all know there is 1 main job for women. I can’t possible know what it’s like to love. I can’t possibly know what it’s like to work hard, sacrifice, be exhausted. Because there is only one way to know that and it’s through having children. It’s so dismissive and ridiculous. I hate that everyone assumes you’ll be part of the club one day because 1) EVERYONE wants to 2) everyone can. I had been getting people telling me not to wait to get pregnant before I was even engaged. It’s one of the most bizarre aspects of life, where people feel completely free to “offer advice” (aka force fake information down your throat and dismiss your reality or your choices).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. May 18, 2017 at 4:26 am

    #MomSkills on LinkedIn? Hollow LOL. I presume that’s some kind of back-to-work thing for mums who’ve been out of work for a while? No offence to most of them, I’m sure some of them are great, but I’m currently training in someone who’s been a stay-at-home mom for 22 years and she can barely switch on a computer. If you’re privileged enough to have stayed at home for years after your kids started school, without working part-time or keeping your work skills alive, I’m not really interested in rehabilitating you back into an office environment. So you can corral children, resolve a fight between toddlers, organise a princess party and make lunchboxes? I’d much rather give an opportunity to the young ones out there who aren’t finding work. This is not sour grapes, or ageism (I would absolutely love to help out 50+somethings who’ve lost their job or want a career change): it’s torture every time I have to show this woman how to go ‘back’ a page on the PC or explain what a shared drive is for for the umpteenth time. The worst thing is she doesn’t really need the job, it’s to ‘keep her mind active’. Yes to helping moms back in after the early years with kids, no to rehabilitating them if they’re going back to work when the kids turn 18. Sorry for the rant, I’ve had a gutfull of it this week! On the topic of parents being superior, I do get that in my face a lot too. I have daily contact with some pretty judgemental people, one of whom delights in gloating that the individuals she doesn’t like “have nothing, they have no lives” – this is shorthand, I know, for “they have no children”. Grim, and I keep my distance from people who talk like this but there are a good few in my workplace. Talking of CVs, I know two women here who proudly list “Mother to three daughters who attended XYZ College and are now XYZ” under their skills. It’s fairly common to have your kids on your CV here. I wish you would write that whole post about how people put their SAHM time as a “job” on their resumes!

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