I feel like what I’m about to say might be controversial, but this is my take on it. I am up for a healthy debate if you are. This might also be considered a rant. A friend of mine recently forwarded me a beautiful video of a man praising a mom and recognizing her for all that she does. He said something to the effect of, “The hardest job in the world is being a mom; moms do everything…” and then he proceeded to list all the professions he believed moms take on every day: psychologist, hairdresser, nurse, teacher, etc. I have mixed feelings about it because on the one hand, it was a lovely video of a genuine man trying to be kind and encouraging to a struggling mother wrangling up her children in public. And he’s right about how moms do everything- they literally do. But so do (some) dads, and sometimes even grandparents, aunts, and uncles- all depending on the circumstances (just to be fair).
I know what you’re thinking: way to dampen the feel-good moment, Carol (that’s not actually my name). I have a tendency to do that with over-analysis, you see; I can’t just let a good thing be but hear me out. I am not dense; I get the concept when people make these comparisons. I see the intent and the need to validate moms for their overflowing plates, but it honestly feels a bit like overreaching to me. The fact is, these aren’t full-time professions that moms are taking on every day; they are simply comparable applied tasks spread out throughout any given day in the overall life of a mom.
There is no doubt moms are overworked, overwhelmed and undervalued. That’s not what I have an issue with. I am very aware of gender equality and how far we still have to go, as a society, to get there. One of the major disparities comes down to plain biology. Simply being a woman and/or mother biologically puts you at a significant disadvantage when it comes to career advancement because, historically, the childrearing and caregiving responsibilities tend to always fall upon the women. And, because women are the ones carrying babies and birthing them after 9 months, they require some leave from work which ultimately hinders their ability to maintain a consistent upward trajectory on the company “corporate ladder” versus their male counterparts. And that’s just if you have one baby; imagine those with multiples! It’s truly an unfortunate domino effect that creates an even wider chasm within the gender pay gap too.
So, trust me, I am not here bashing mothers. I am a mother myself. I’m not saying mothers don’t do it all. Because, oh, we flippin’ do; we do all of it, all day long. Parents (specifically good parents) must bear a lot of weight on their shoulders- the motherload, if you will. That’s a fact. Raising a child is the hardest thing I’ve ever done- mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, theoretically, metaphorically, rhetorically, alphabetically (okay, you get it). But does that make me better than anyone else, though?
I don’t think, when this sentiment is used, that it’s coming from a bad place- absolutely not. I just don’t think it needs to be said, that’s all. If anyone wants an example of everything that moms do on a daily basis, I’m happy to list it all, but let’s not do the reaching of things. I think when we do that, it under-credits these professions and sounds like we’re attempting to validate ourselves in an empty and superficial way. Counselors and psychologists and nurses do more than just listen, guide, or put Band-Aids on knees. A nurse who might nurture a patient during an appointment wouldn’t automatically be thought of as a “mother.” A friend who is there for you, listening to you, and giving you sound advice wouldn’t be considered a psychologist. I don’t feel like we need to fluff it up with these fancy titles just to be substantiated. Many of these professions require a lot of education, sacrifice, skill, practice, hard work, dedication, training, apprenticeship, risk of life/courage (i.e. frontline workers). My point is, let’s lift everyone up and make space for all. Let’s respect nurses, therapists, teachers, chefs, hairdressers, wait staff, mothers. Everyone works hard, deserves kindness, needs recognition, and should have space to be valued.
What do you think? Have you ever thought about this? Do you think it’s problematic?
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