Lots of interesting commentary around the recent Parents survey that reveals 92% of all mothers agree with the statement “There’s no tougher job than being a mom”.
There are a number of different factors at play when we talk about “mothering” and what constitutes a “job” and what makes a job “tough” – let’s tackle them one by one.
Predictably, Jezebel begins with the old Simone de Beauvior “being a stay at home mother and wife should be banned” bullshit.
No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”
– “Sex, Society, and the Female Dilemma,” Saturday Review, June 14, 1975.
Feminism: giving women choices. Except the one they would most prefer.
Jezebel has a long history of slagging on women who do their work outside the formal economic structure of the marketplace, and it’s not the JOB they hate, so much as the women who do the job for their OWN families rather than for strangers.
Is working in daycare center a job?
Is running a housekeeping service a job?
Is owning a catering business a job?
Of course it is, but only if you are selling your services in the formal marketplace. Provide those services for the family you love, and you are a pitiable dupe of the patriarchy. Because someone has to the earn the living, right? And if Mommy is at home, it must be Daddy doing the productive economic labor.
Oh, dear. Too much power for Daddy. Out there every day slogging in some job he may or may not enjoy so he can have the pleasure of lording it over the woman who gets to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants, all day long.
I find it interesting that when a family has TWO Daddies, they are more likely to embrace the traditional division of family labor, and have one Daddy at home full time.
In his seminal book A Treatise on the Family, published in 1981, the Nobel Prize–winning economist Gary Becker argued that “specialization,” whereby one parent stays home and the other does the earning, is the most efficient way of running a household, because the at-home spouse enables the at-work spouse to earn more.
Guess who is most likely to specialize? Gay dads.
When you take the ideology of gender and feminism out of the equation and ask a couple raising children to make the most sensible economic choice, the traditional family wins out. If the debate were really about what makes the most financial sense, then having a parent at home would be a no-brainer.
But that is not what the debate is about. It’s about giving women the power to game a system that ensures that no matter how hard a man works, his wife will always be able to control the family assets and access to the children.
And that conversation starts with denying that the at-home parent is even doing an economically productive job at all.
But the thing is, being a mom is not a job—if it were, you’d get time off, maybe some health insurance, and most importantly, paid for all your hard work.
Naturally, what Jezebel refuses to consider is Becker’s evidence that having one parent at home allows the other parent to be more productive, earning a premium, and that premium is the income the at-home parent contributes. Even if you are going to hold fast to the idea that cooking dinner every night only counts if you sell the dinner to your neighbor, not feed your own family, you can STILL measure a wage increase attributable to the at home parent.
Hey, the Nobel Prize committee thought it was pretty compelling evidence for specialization, but what do they know, right?
If millions of women decided “fuck this cubicle shit, I’m going home”, and millions more young women decided “screw $50 000 worth of student debt so I can work minimum wage, I’m getting married”, it would have a dramatic impact on both the marketplace and marriage.
Not very men want the pleasure of supporting a fat, nagging hag with a permanent bitch face. Creating a union in which one person is dependent upon another requires some slightly different attributes than a union in which two people compete for resources rather than cooperate.
Remember the Princeton mom who encouraged women to look for husbands at university? She was roundly spanked in the media, but she has a book deal! I can’t wait for that book. Publishers know there is a market for a book like that.
Personally, I think the market is growing, too. Young women especially are seeing that the whole housewife gig is a far cry from oppressive and dreary. It’s actually the best damn job any woman could have!
That brings us to our second point: being a mother is the toughest job in the world.
Excuse while I laugh hysterically for a moment.
What do all these jobs have in common? They are physically and/or intellectually demanding, some are highly dangerous and the vast majority of the workforce in these occupations are men.
Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but so far, mothering has not included any dynamite, out of control flames, chemical spills or crude oil. Hell, I don’t even deal with clogged toilets or drains.
I text my husband for that shit.
I will add the caveat that having a newborn in the house is physically EXHAUSTING labor, but it’s not physically demanding in the way that construction or roofing is. Not even close.
So why is it that so many mothers agree that being a mom is not just a tough job, it’s THE toughest job?
Because most of them are shit mothers. That’s my theory. I’d like to see how many stay at home moms agree with that statement. Those of us who spend our days making cake pops for the kids dance troupe fundraiser (I have to make TWO THOUSAND by September 1st!), ignoring the housework and blogging in our spare time might have a thing or two to relate about how “tough” our lives are.
Women who leave the house every day, dragging sleepy, sobbing children off to the day orphanage, trying to get one modicum of “work” done in their cubicles then racing to the grocery store to pick up some shitty processed food to microwave for dinner might find mothering a “tough” job because it’s hard to cram in around all the other “priorities”.
Some of those women have so many other “priorities” that they completely forget they are supposed to drop off the baby for some other woman to raise, and they leave the baby to cook to death in the back seat of a hot car.
20 children have already died in hot cars in 2013. You know what kills me? What just kills me? The advice to avoid doing this to your own baby is to put your mobile phone in the baby’s seat or your purse on the floor near the baby. You know, something important. Something you would never forget. Something that has top priority in your life.
YOUR FUCKING PHONE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR BABY?
And it makes me rage when I hear sanctimonious commenters say “it could happen to anyone”. Like fuck it can. I do not mentally check out of my baby’s life for eight hours a day, expecting someone else to be responsible. The odds that I would “forget” my baby in the car are ZERO!
IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.
Failing to make mothering your primary job means that babies die. And the ones that don’t die are still miserable and unpleasant and angry and unsettled and really, really hard to take care of. They’re not being cared for in the way every neuron in their brain tells them is necessary. They need an attachment to a primary caregiver, and when they don’t get it, bad things happen.
‘No one can deny that daycare increases aggressiveness of toddlers. A toddler raised at home with a single carer is six times less likely to be aggressive than one enduring more than 45 hours a week daycare and the more daycare a child has, the greater the aggression. This aggression is sustained and predicts greater problems in primary schools.’
That Parenting survey was missing a word: Being a SHITTY mother is the toughest job in the world.
Now I have to go and get started on those cake pops. I need to make around 80 a day (weekends off) to hit 2000 by September 1st. This is the first year I am in charge of fundraising. I figure we’ll clear $4000 our first event. That’s quadruple the amount the squad made last year for the WHOLE year.
Oh, but don’t worry. I won’t consider it work. And I sure won’t delude myself into thinking making cake pops is “tough”. It’s actually a lot of fun! Look at the things you can do with a cake pop!
Beats being a garbage collector any day. I wonder if the garbage crew would enjoy a cake pop the next time they swing down our street?
I think I’ll find out.
Lots of love,