Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Motherhood Is a Job

Motherhood is a job. In the spirit of journalist Pamela Kripke, let me repeat that. Motherhood is a job.  Pamela was recently published at the Huffington Post with an article about motherhood, titled Work, Yes; Job, No.  I beg to differ. Let me set the context for you so that you can understand why I strongly disagree with her on this. 

Her reasons for not calling motherhood a job are too narrowly focused.  She said, "When I became a mother, I don't remember filling out an application, or submitting a resume, or answering silly questions about my strengths and weaknesses."   Is she indicating that if someone does fill out an application, their motherhood can qualify as a job?  If so, then only adopting mothers are doing a job when rearing their adopted kids because they surely do have to fill out an application. They do have to answer "silly" questions about strengths and weaknesses.  They really do.

She said, "If your mothering "job" is not going well, you cannot quit and find a different line of work." Is that what makes a job a job?  The ability to quit that job?  Many, many people are unable to quit their jobs due to a number of  reasons. Does that mean those jobs aren't real jobs?  

She said, "If you solve a particularly challenging mothering problem, you do not get a pay increase." I beg to differ.  Our pay as mothers does not come in a weekly paycheck. It comes in the success of our children and their ability to go into the world and solve problems because we've shown them the patience and fortitude it takes to solve those problems. 

She said, "You do not get a bonus once you've read 1,000 books out loud, or kept your kids away from marijuana."  I beg to differ on this point, too.  You do get a bonus when you've read 1,000 books aloud. The bonus is far greater than a few extra dollars in a paycheck. The bonus is the compassion and care your child learns from you in those moments, then takes into the world when they grow up and make it a better place.  And I might add, a better place without marijuana.

She said, " You do not get the Productivity Award when you have another baby."  I'm sorry that Pamela did not get a Productivity Award when she had her babies.  I did get Productivity Awards!  My husband brought me flowers and take-out and bragged to all our family and friends and rewarded my productivity right fine.  My Productivity Awards are in the form of eight birth certificates.

She said, "And you do not get the closest parking spot in the lot if your colleagues like you. Kids are not colleagues, and they don't have to like you."  How much closer of a parking spot can you get than your own driveway? 

Throughout her entire article, the premise for work to be a "job" is for it to pay monetarily. There are many, many people who start businesses in and outside of the home who don't earn money from it for a very long time. Aren't they working a job?  They are.  Her article didn't consider those people.  It should have because if one is going to write about such a broad base as motherhood, their writing has to include all motherhood.

I am a stay-at-home mom and have been for 30 years.  I have eight children. I have home schooled for 25 years and have four years to go in our home school.  But, we are not rich by any stretch of the imagination; far, far from it.  We made choices to go without certain things so that I could stay home and rear my own kids.  My husband has often worked two or more jobs outside the home, while I have raised money on the internet from home from time to time.

When people ask me what I do, I tell them I am a mother and homemaker.  I tell them I am a writer on the side, but that my first job is more important.  The fact that Pamela, and people like her, only define a job as one that earns a monetary paycheck speaks to the sad state of our nation and how materially-focused we are.

Hilary Rosen may not have intended to insult motherhood in her comments about Ann Romney, but she did just that.  One would think that a highly educated woman in today's world would know better than to say something so insensitive and questionable, good intentions or not. 

I have always taken my job as a mother as seriously as any "job" I see out there.  I took it on as a job because I had goals and did my mothering intentionally, not just because I had given birth.   Calling motherhood my job in no way diminishes my role in my children's lives. It makes it better. Calling motherhood my job is not reducing my role into a list of tasks.  Motherhood is not about tasks, housework is about tasks and motherhood and housework are not synonymous. I could call myself a homemaker and that translates into making a home for my family.  But, even that is not reduced to a list of tasks for me because I'll abandon any and all housework when one of my kids calls out for me to come see the latest bird he's spotted in the grove of trees.  The list of tasks can wait when one of my kids wants to go for a bike ride with me.  The list of tasks does not define me; it's not part of the job of motherhood.  Motherhood trumps all tasks.

Motherhood is a job and those of us who do our mothering intentionally with specific goals for ourselves while we invest in the lives of our children do the "job" well and the "pay" and "bonuses" are truly out of this world.

As a Christian mom, the main thing I learned early on is that, from my home, the only things I can take into eternity with me are my children.  I was first an evangelist in their lives and that job has been successful as all eight of my children know Jesus Christ and live for Him.   Because of the vast job description and what it entails, motherhood is the absolute best title for my job and I, for one, DO tell people that's my job when they ask. 

I am a mom.  It's my job.  I am privileged to have had the luxury of being able to stay at home with my kids all day, every day.  The real praise goes to my husband of 32 years, who has worked tirelessly to provide for us so that I could stay home.  He's worked up to three income-earning jobs at once, yet was not an absentee dad.  He sacrificed watching sports, developing his hobby (trains), going out with the guys (he just never, ever did) and watching television so that he would either be providing for or spending time with our kids.  I am one very privileged mom.  If one looked at our bank account, they would not even consider that I live a privileged life.  But, I am, indeed, very privileged.


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