Friday, April 18, 2014

That Ad on the "World's Toughest Job"

Have you seen the new, controversial Mother's Day add where the greeting card people set up fake interviews for the "toughest job in the world.]?"  At the end of it you find out that this horribly impossible job that they've been describing is actually being a mom and then everybody gets all mushy and starts thanking their moms for everything they've done.

I'll start by saying that my first thought while watching it was that I really hoped those people were actors and not actual job seekers.  Maybe it's remembering Paul applying for jobs in 2008 when the recession was at it's height, but I just find it cruel to get people's hopes up about a job that doesn't actually exist, if that's what they're actually doing.  But I'll try to put that aside and move on to the part that's causing the most controversy... what they actually say moms do.

I find myself somewhere in the middle when hearing the claims made about how true or false the add is.  On the one hand I really dislike how impossible and miserable the description makes motherhood out to be.  I love my "job."  Good days and not so good days, I wouldn't trade it for any other in the world.

And I don't think it's the hardest job in the world.  Soldiers on the front lines, people working down in mines... I'm sure we could come up with quite a list of impossibly hard jobs.

Still, I've also seen claims of "motherhood really isn't that hard" and "moms don't really do that" and I find myself thinking... I do a lot of those things... and this definitely is the most difficult job I've ever had.  So I thought I'd talk about what I found true and false and what I found completely missed the mark about the greeting card ad.

I do find myself on my feet most of the days.  Even when we're out it's not like I can sit down and watch Mae play at the park.  She's taking off every 15 seconds and I'm taking off after her.  I've managed to sit a little more lately, while in the midst of the first trimester exhaustion, but that was mostly by saying things like "we're having cereal for dinner" and letting the kitchen fall into complete disarray (I finally had the energy to wrangle it back under control yesterday), so it definitely isn't something that's practical to let happen all the time.

There aren't many breaks, at least not while Paul's in law school. But there are some.  After all, I'm typing this right now.  But at this point in parenthood for us... date nights that involve leaving the house happen less than once a year... So that sort of break doesn't come along all that often, mostly because of the age of our kids and where we are at life at the moment.

I do sleep though and my lack of sleep on certain days has more to do with how many orders I need to make and less to do with my kids' sleeping habits since for the most part they're pretty good sleepers.

I can eat just about whenever I want.  In fact, at least when Paul is gone, I think I usually end up eating before they do, simply because I grab a snack while making their meals.  Sometimes I'm too tired to eat, but I think that has more to do with early pregnancy being exhausting and less to do with being a mom.  

And I don't really find the no pay part to be true because by staying home I've found many, many ways to help my family spend less, likely more than I'd make with my not-very-lucrative liberal arts degree in my part of the country, in today's market, if I were to factor in child care and all the other costs that would go along with being outside the home.

Expertise in finance and cooking and medicine would be valuable, but degrees certainly aren't necessary.  The real world experience of being a parent will fill in the gaps pretty quickly (and if you have a special needs child you'll find yourself learning more about certain subjects than you could ever have imagined before).

The most problematic part of the entire thing for me is the tone that motherhood is impossibly difficult, and that it would even be cruel to suggest someone to undertake such a task.  That misses the mark, leaving out the immeasurable beauty and blessings that come along with helping children grow and learn.  

Motherhood is different for different people.  It varies wildly depending on your kids and their temperaments, how much family support you have, and even your own personality (not to mention many other factors).

Sure it can be difficult, but most of what is worth having in life isn't easy to attain or achieve.  And in my limited experience as a mom, having this "job" has offered me far, far more in so many ways which are immeasurable than it has cost me.  If I could go back I'd pick this path again in a heartbeat!


  1. Well said, I had mixed feelings too. And I felt bad if they really were job applicants.

  2. I have four kids (6, 5, 3, and 1). I homeschool and cook all meals from scratch due to food allergies in the family. I still don't think this is the hardest job in the world or even that it is a "job" really at all. It's a calling.

    I'm not on my feet all day. I eat my meals sitting down with my children and don't feel rushed (I never understand these moms who say they have no time to eat). I have time to get a shower every day. I even can take a two hour nap in the afternoons while my kids nap/have silent reading time.

    Sure there are days I'm exhausted and my baby is cutting molars right now so I'm up three times each night to nurse her back to sleep. But it isn't "work" or a "job". It's life, and a wonderful one at that!!

  3. I appreciate your analysis, but to me I thought it was extremely sweet. I teared up at the end, but not because it made me feel like "Finally, I'm appreciated as a mother!" but because the people were really touched when the interviewer said, "Moms." *I could be wrong on the exact quote, sorry!* Having that reminder evoke such joyful, appreciative memories of their own mother was beautiful to see. I do see your point, though. I definitely think the wonders of our vocation out-way the woes, and this should be promoted more for sure. Great perspective!

  4. I could not agree more with this post! Well said, mama!

  5. I think the problem with this ad, as with those articles that come out "showing" how much a stay-at-home mom "should get paid" (its always some astronomical number), is that they try to explain the worth of mothering in the language of the marketplace. Mothering is bigger than a job and can't be quantified financially. A gook mother is priceless.

  6. I totally teared up at the end too Liz! But at this point I'm soooo bad at tearing up at everything (it's these hormones!) that every sweet commercial has me fighting back tears and looking away! It's probably a good thing we don't have cable!


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