I’ve spent the last three weeks deleting emails from Flowers.com, Shutterfly and Shari’s Berries that indirectly proclaim that I am a terrible daughter if I don’t drop forty bucks on something meaningful or consumable or dipped in chocolate… Something that will arrive on my mom’s doorstop this Sunday. Something that will show my mom just how much I love her. Because nothing says “thanks for squeezing me through your birth canal” like a vase of wilted flowers.
But then this American Greetings video was blowing up my Facebook feed; a beautifully crafted piece of propaganda that proclaims that being a mother is the hardest (and probably most thankless) employment on the planet.
So I’m just going to come out and say what has been eating at me since I watched it. Dude, being a mom is NOT THAT HARD.
Specifically, being a stay-at-home mom (SAHM to those of us who live in this category) is not that hard.
As with anything else, there are obviously caveats to this (slightly obnoxious) blanket statement. Moms of special needs kids, moms of multiples, new moms and Michelle Duggar; they have it rough. But us regular, run-of-the-mill SAHMs with our regular, run-of-the-mill kids have a pretty sweet gig going. Not that most of us want to admit it.
Let the public flogging begin. Bah-ring it on.
I try to compare what I do now with my “career” days before my little people came along, and I could not be more baffled at all the ladies who stay at home and proclaim that being a SAHM is nothing short of slave labor. Maybe those girls never had “real” jobs. Maybe they just like to have something to bitch about. Maybe they are feeling under appreciated. Maybe it is all of the above.
You’ve heard the old adage about doing what you love will make you happy. Try as I might, I can’t think of a single thing that I love more than my children (taking a nap is a close second), and I count myself lucky that I am afforded the privilege of being able to stay at home with my kids. So that is my job; being a mom. I don’t need to tack on the “housekeeper, chef, personal assistant, blah, blah” blurb on to make myself feel validated. I don’t need to calculate what wage I would earn if being a mom was a “real job.” I don’t need some fucking American Greetings video to make my “job” seem important. It is important. Every mother’s job is. It just isn’t particularly HARD.
You know what is hard? Trying to make sense of three years of unreconciled expense reports while Janice from Accounting keeps yammering on about her divorce. Trying to motivate a class of fifteen-year-old assholes into reading the classics. Trying to wrap your brain around the death of an employee and getting their family the right information about their life insurance payout. That shit is hard.
You know what isn’t hard? Mopping the kitchen floor. Making breakfast for little people even though you desperately need your morning coffee. Picking lollipops out of the carpet. Those things AREN’T FUN. Getting a kid to sit still while trying in vain to get him to work on his handwriting; that is a little hard. But if you neglect to do any of those things in a timely manner, you aren’t going to get fired. It would take a criminal act to get fired from being a mom.
Being a SAHM isn’t always fun, I’ll give you that. But it does have its own benefits package. There isn’t available health insurance coverage, but I do get to wear sweatpants all day. I don’t get the adult conversations that I did when I worked outside the home, but when the shit hits the fan I have executive power to abandon puzzle time in favor of Happy Meals and a trip to the playground. I guess I do miss my coworkers allowing my privacy when I needed to pee, but I’ll gladly trade eating a Lean Cuisine alone at my desk for a half-eaten peanut butter sandwich with Finn and Alice any day. Simply and literally, I LOVE the people I work for. Actual, literal LOVE. Not many other occupations can boast that. The people I work for are fucking infuriating; even more so than Janice from Accounting. But I would actually jump in front of a bus for them. I want to spend my vacations doing my job. When my husband bitches about his coworkers, he gets to leave them behind when he leaves work. Call me crazy, but I miss my kids when I’m given a break from them.
On my hardest day; I desperately can’t get my minions to bend to my will. I think in the business world, they call that “management.”
After I sat down and tried to work out the cost-benefit analysis of being a mom, I’m willing to bet it is one of the easier jobs out there. Long hours, sure. But no matter the work I put in, I am raising the future. Yeah, that sounds over-dramatic and pretentious, but it is every bit as true as it is obnoxious. A little hard work being a mom makes one hell of a difference in the end.
You know what job I think is hard? Really hard? Being a working mom. Though my days of straddling that fence were brief (only about six months), it was tough. For me, I could be a great mom or a great employee. Everything I missed about working; the wardrobe, the friends, the social interaction; it took away energy from being a good mom. The moms that hold the torch in both arenas; that is HARD. And I tip my hat to them, for they are better and more patient women than I.
But somewhere along the line, this notion of staying home with your kids is toughest job EVER came into our collective social consciousness… I want to dispel that idea. And you can think me a pretentious prick; so be it. It is hard, simply because being a human being is hard. But it is fun. And there isn’t a dress code. My kids are far from perfectly behaved angels. They are terrors just like any other kids. And yet; as an adult, I find it a stretch to describe what I do all day as difficult.
So now that I’ve pissed off 29% of the moms out there, I’ll leave you with this… Although it might not be the most difficult job ever, it is one of the most important. I dread the day when I have to put my two weeks in for staying at home with Finn and Alice. Although that American Greetings video got my kickers in a twist a few weeks ago, they did get one thing right. Appreciate your mom. She did a lot for you. It might not be rocket science teaching a kid how to poop in the potty, but it is important. Let’s get our semantics right, shall we?
And even if you do spend an exorbitant amount of money on chocolate-dipped fruit for your mom this year (spoiler; I didn’t), pick up the phone and tell her how important she is to you.
I love you, Mom.