Hi, I am Nataly and I am the co-founder of Work It, Mom!
I write the daily Work It, Mom! Blog where I talk about issues affecting working moms, goings on in our Work It, Mom! community, new site features, updates,and contests. I also share my own juggle between work and family and love to see members jump in with comments. Come and visit often!
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As you know, some Tuesdays are Guest Blogger Days here at the Work It, Mom! Blog. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please email your post to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with a one-sentence byline you’d like included. Please make your posts under 400 words and while the topic is up to you, it should be relevant and interesting to working moms.
Today’s guest blog post is from Kimberly.
I recently heard motherhood described as “the hardest job on the planet.” Not surprisingly, the person making this pronouncement is not, in fact a mother. I don’t think many mothers would agree with that statement. Motherhood is many things–it is hard, it can be a chore, and certainly involves a fair amount of work–but it is not a job.
It’s a product of the feminist movement, I think, this description of something as profound and bone deep as motherhood as a mere “job”. In an attempt to assign a real world value to the “soft” skills of women, we’ve gotten into the habit of using the language of business when we talk about parenting, and I think it’s given a false tenor to the conversation. Calling motherhood–or any form of parenthood, really–a job is to belittle the role, and the relationships that it implies.
I can see how the trend started–heck, I remember how the trend started, way back in the 70s when housewives suddenly became “domestic engineers.” Women were standing up and demanding respect for all that they do, demanding that all those things that had previously been ignored or unappreciated by society be acknowledged as the valuable contributions they are. And to do it, they appropriated the language of the dominant power structure, thus creating the utterly PC cliche of referring to motherhood as some sort of business model.
The problem with this particular trope is that it doesn’t empower the role of parent, it undermines it, reducing it from a life altering identity to a role that people with children play.
Jobs are not identity. They do not form the core of our being, nor do they inform every aspect of our lives and choices. A job is something you show up at. And then you leave. You put in the required amount of time, and then you get on with your real life. Motherhood, however, is your real life. It is a 24/7 proposition, an aspect of your life that never leaves you, no matter where you are or what you are doing. You don’t go on vacation from motherhood, or retire from it. When you’re a mother, there are no promotions, lateral transfers, and you don’t get quit. And that is because being a mother isn’t defined by what you do, being a mother defines who you are.
We need to find a new language to talk about the trials and triumphs of parenthood, one that acknowledges the complexities of this role in the lives of those who choose to take it on because so long as we continue to talk about motherhood as form of employment, we will continue to devalue those choices. We need to talk about motherhood and mothering not as a career, but as a core part of who we are. A complex, challenging part of our identities, made all the more so by the fact that we are not always in control of how we are shaped and what course our days will take as we navigate the push and pull between who we thought we’d be and who we really are, what society expects of us versus what we expect of it.
It’s a big job, but if we all work together I don’t think it’ll be that hard.
Kimberly is a writer, teacher, and solo mom to the 8 year old Diva Girl and 3 year old Zen Baby. You can find her at www.parentingwithoutalicense .com
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