Motherhood is a lifestyle

I hate it when people refer to motherhood as a ‘job,’ especially when they say it’s the ‘hardest job in the world.’ Oh gee, I never realized that raising kids was harder than underwater welding, underground mining, firefighting, being on the bomb squad, or working as an EMT, etc. Honestly, I have no clue why people like to say that motherhood is the ‘hardest job in the world’ — I can only speculate that they’re trying to be patronizing, while simultaneously telling mothers that they have the crappiest lot in life. “Raising kids is harder than telling someone that they have six months before the cancer kills them.”

Um, no. Not by a long shot.

I don’t think of motherhood as a job. There’s no one telling me what I have to do, and I certainly don’t get paid money for doing it. I don’t have to navigate through office politics, or stress over performance evaluations. I definitely don’t have to wait for lunch breaks, or schedule vacation time. Motherhood is not a job, it’s the lifestyle that I have chosen for myself. There are moments of laughter, and moments of tears, and that’s what makes it life. Life should not be thought of in terms of putting in X amount of work and receiving Y amount of compensation, but in terms of what promotes love and happiness, and what doesn’t — the former should be sought after, and the latter avoided!

I see a lot of mothers stress themselves out by fixating on what they think *should* be. The baby *should* be taking long naps on his own. The baby *should* be more independent and less needy. The baby *should* not wet so many diapers. The baby *should* not cry so much. Most of the time, mothers aren’t even aware that they’re having thoughts like that, and are simply getting frustrated at their children for behaving the way they do. I have found that they best thing to do is to let go and accept things the way they are. One day your baby won’t want to cuddle with you, so enjoy every minute you get to hold him while he sleeps. One day you won’t be able to rescue your baby from everything that makes him unhappy, so kiss away every tear while you still can. Don’t waste your time feeling annoyed at your baby for acting like a baby.

And yes, sometimes mothers do feel flustered no matter how accepting and loving they try to be. That’s a sign that you have a need that’s not being met, and it’s perfectly okay to take care of that need. Sometimes you can have someone else take care of the baby, but that’s not always an option. Instead, you can take a bath with your baby, go into the kitchen for a snack, or sit outside together in the backyard. Any sort of change in the scene helps, and when you’re more relaxed, the baby is too.

Motherhood is not the hardest job in the world. It’s eating cookies, playing with toys, sharing smiles and giggles, and chasing the tears away. It’s life, complete with good times and bad, and it’s as satisfying and rewarding as you choose for it to be — that’s how life works.

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4 thoughts on “Motherhood is a lifestyle

  1. This is a fantastic post. I don’t have kids, but I’ve helped raise so many of them and this is the way I see things, and the way I hope to remember to be when I do have kids. You are brilliant.

  2. I think that what mothers do is incredibly undervalued by society, and I think the phrase “the hardest job” is merely an attempt to recognize the amount of effort that goes into raising children. Having a job outside the home, and having three children, I can say that I feel much more pressure about the importance of what I do as a mother than what I do for a paycheck. But you are right, it is a lifestyle. A lifestyle of sleepless nights, stained clothes, endless power struggles and emotional meltdowns, but also one of giggles, story times, and sweet little kisses. And I completely agree- just let your babies be babies. It goes by way too fast.

    Stopping by from Angie’s.

  3. I would like to point out the distinction between the words “most important” and “hardest.” Motherhood is undoubtedly extremely important, because without it the human race would cease to exist, and the way that women raise their children greatly influences the next generation, and consequently, the world. If someone wanted to draw attention to how valuable motherhood is, then they could just as easily say that it is the most important thing in the world.

    When most people say that it is the “hardest job in the world,” they most often follow up with describing numerous household chores, using words like “tedious,” “repetitive,” or my personal favorite, “isolating.” It is true that dishes need to be washed every day, but most people put them in a machine that does the work for them, then walk away and do something else. The same goes for laundry, which is not only washed, but also dried by machines. Food is easily available in various states of preparation at the grocery store, which negates the need to go out and pick vegetables from the garden, or kill animals for meat, and can reduce the amount of preparation time down to however long it takes for the frozen lasagna to heat up. So, while most chores may be repetitive (which is a natural part of life anyway, since most of what we do including sleeping and eating is repetitive), they are definitely not tedious. On top of that, kids can be taken out shopping, to the park, to story time at the local library, out on playdates, etc, so motherhood is not inherently isolating either. There are plenty of opportunities to get out and interact with other adults for those who are willing to take them.

    So yes, motherhood is extremely important and should be valued more by society, but I don’t think that the way to achieve that is by calling it “the hardest job in the world.”

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