A day doesn’t go by when i don’t read a blog, a Facebook post, a tweet by mums claiming that their job is the hardest, most unrewarding in the world. I know they are trying to be funny. But it’s just getting boring. And offensive. It’s another twist on the “God it’s hard being a woman” industry, the one which spawned the similarly misguided “All men are useless” narrative. Cliche? You bet.
Yes we know about being a mum. You’re on call 24/7, you wipe up dribble, vomit and poo constantly and you don’t get paid for it. It’s so unglamorous.
But you never hear this stuff from people lower down the socio-economic scale. These views tend to emanate from Western Middle-Class mothers, many of whom were in a position to give up careers to have children (a luxury in itself). And now, they seem to feel cheated.
And that is although often the moaning mummies tend to be able to pay for those things they don’t like doing – like cleaning – and afford babysitting or a nanny if they wish. Which makes these posts insulting to a large number of women who cannot afford the leisure and would never have the time to pen a blog about how tough it is.
I find this whole new trend is offensive to those who have lost their kids. Those whose kids are missing. Those who have had to abandon their kids because above the number allowed by their State or religion, or conceived out of wedlock. Those who have tried and failed to have kids naturally. Or have tried and failed to adopt.
It’s offensive to the kids themselves. Would we have wanted to feel that we were a ‘job’ to our mothers? And them reminding us and telling the world about how unrewarding and tiring it was especially it wasn’t even paid for?
And of course these statements are offensive to those who actually do have the hardest jobs in the world. You want to try and tell a miner in China or a sweat factory worker in Bangladesh that you have the hardest job in the world because you have to soothe your child back to sleep at night? Or do you want to ask my cleaner who hasn’t seen her kids for three years whether she’d rather clean the vomit off her own kids. Or mine?
This is offensive because kids are not a job. A job (and I have done a few) is something you do for other people, a place where you navigate the whims of others in order to earn money. With no passion often, certainly no love. Caring for your children, that you chose to have presumably (after all as a modern woman you could have chosen not to) is a privilege, a joy, a time to learn and relearn through their eyes.
This might be a cultural issue. I am Italian after all. A country where ‘I bambini’ are a pleasure to have around, are part of society, they sit with you at dinner table, you take them to restaurants with you (not just to special ones where they are allowed in) and the customer service improves rather than getting worse when the little people arrive. It might be because I am an adoptive mother and I went looking for that job high and low with every bit of me. Yes I did. It might be because I think even your daily ‘job’ needs to feel pleasurable. Or maybe all of the above. But I think being a mum is the highest form of honor I have been offered in life. Being with my children is the most enriching, fun, educational, creative part of my day and night. And it is rewarding, each minute of it is (OK maybe not the cleaning the poo bit). I feel grateful for their presence and the gift of our bond and companionship every single moment I can.
Ultimately the way we live anything from parenting to working to spending time with others or alone is all about attitude. I know I have chosen mine. And instead of spending time concocting a narrative about how hard done by I am, I am forever grateful I even got to choose.