Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Job Description: Motherhood

Remember that video that went viral last month. The one with the job applicants being interviewed for the hardest job in the world. The one where the candidate is bewildered by the insane expectations of the job. And then at the end the applicant is told that someone already does that job.

Motherhood is the hardest job in the world, they say.

I hate that description and I supposedly have that job.

Except that motherhood is not a job. Motherhood is a relationship. Yet we keep hearing that motherhood is the hardest job, the best job, the most important job. The penultimate of all jobs.

Do you want to know what happens when you tell a generation of women who left their professions to stay home with their kids that motherhood is a job? We treat it as a job. We take all of our job skills, our training, our professionalism, our goal setting, our hopes for advancement and approval, our need to be productive and contributing members of society and we put all of that on our children. We turn our role as mother into the title CEO of our homes. We turn our birthday parties into corporate event planning. We take our kids' homework as a group assignment that needs to be done right. We become professional volunteers at our kid's school unless of course we are becoming full time teachers at our home school.

These are not bad things in and of themselves.

But when we treat motherhood as a job, we treat our kids as our product, our client, our boss, our subordinate.

Motherhood is not a job.

It is a relationship.

Where did we get the idea that motherhood is a job?

Child care is a job. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, party planning, teaching, bill paying, gardening, chauffeuring, tutoring... These are all jobs. These are things we can do ourselves or hire out. These are jobs. So is being a coal miner or a fire fighter, an emergency room nurse or a combat troop, except I would argue that those are actually harder jobs because let's be honest, no one is sacrificing to be a stay at home coal miner.

Motherhood is a relationship.

It is why I get up with my little guy in the middle of the night when he's had a nightmare.

It is why I may spend hours looking for the right Pokemon character to put on the top of my son's birthday cake.

It is why I say no sometimes and why I made my kids learn how to make their own breakfast and lunch.

It is why I ask about my kid's day when we are driving to hockey practice or before bed.

It is why I pray with my kids at the end of the day before I tuck them in for the night.

It is why my heart breaks when my kids fail or get hurt.

It is why we care so very, very much about these little people in our lives.

Motherhood is not a job.

Motherhood is a relationship.

We do hard things for people we love. We stay up too late, get up too early, give up vacations for summer camp fees, and new purses for new school backpacks. Love is why we do whatever we can to help our kids become the best they can be, not a job description.

And maybe if we stop seeing it as a job, we can let go of our performance driven parenting. We can stop seeing our children as our performance review and go back to loving our kids for who they are and helping them be awesome.

And then maybe we can also remember that we are not just mothers. We are also friends, sisters, daughters, wives, and we are ourselves.


  1. This. Is. Perfect. I had never thought of this stance on the subject, but I knew something bugged me about that video as well....way to hit the nail on the head Jennifer. You continue to inspire and impress me.

  2. I agree. You nailed exactly why I hated that viral video. It's not a job, it's a life (maybe even a life-style). Very well written piece.