Sunday, June 15, 2014

The hardest job

We are nearing the finish line on what I now consider to be, the two most confusing holidays in the calendar year. Mother's Day and Father's Day. Since becoming a mother myself I've come to regard it as another Valentine's Day, of sorts. A day perpetuated by the greeting card companies, flower companies, restaurants, etc. All preying on the insecurities of different demographics and greedily eyeing the bottom line.
This will come across selfish at first, so bear with me. I don't get a Mother's Day, not really. I get 1/3rd of a Mother's Day, the rest of the day is divided between my mom and my husband's mom. We show up with a card, hugs, kisses, and try to ooze appreciation for, well, what? Giving birth to us, waking up with us every night, worrying, teaching, nurturing, disciplining, etc. The list goes on and on. There is no way one day a year could EVER repay the debt we owe our mothers, or our fathers for that matter.
I don't mind sharing the day, I would even give it up entirely to the two women who shaped us. But what about the women who helped to raise us, or the women who couldn't have children, or the ones who never got married and were afraid to take on parenthood on their own? There aren't enough cards, enough titles, or enough hours in one day to make every woman in our lives feel our gratitude. There are plenty of women who hate Mother's Day, maybe even to a greater degree than a single woman hates Valentine's Day. No, not maybe.
I start to feel it coming when I see the first sappy meme on Facebook or the first advertisement hailing the unsung heroes of the domestic world. This year was possibly the worst, so many quotes all roughly saying the same thing.

"Being a mom is the hardest job in the world."

I cringe when I hear that. Let's first qualify that statement. Being a single mom? I don't know anything about that, but I can imagine how difficult that really would be. I also, thanks to my husband's hard work and support, don't know what it is to be a working mom. I can imagine how heart wrenching the sacrifices can be that inevitably go along with being a working mom.

Here's why I find it cringe-worthy. First, I have heard of some incredibly abhorrent working conditions. Sweat shops. Hard labor. Wages well below cost of living and no government enforced benefits to bank on. I don't want to downplay the trials of motherhood. But job to job? I'll take my position over any of those.

Second, the statement comes across fairly whiny and complain-y. Imagine if anyone in any other paid W-2 type career claimed to have "the hardest job in the world", it would sound pretty self-serving. Being a mom is a blessing. It's rewarding and challenging. It brings a new kind of appreciation and understanding to the mothers who raised us.

Third, it doesn't even give a WHIFF of the joy of motherhood. I would be slightly less unsettled if the saying were more commonly said as, "Being a mom is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs in the world." I don't need a day. I don't need to be paid. I don't need my husband to prostrate everyday when he walks in the door from his job, which is WAY harder than mine, and kiss the feet of this stay at home mom.

I have been paid in full.

Every morning when my son gets up and reaches for me, every night when it's almost bedtime and he curls up in my arms to wind down. When he is sick and just wants me to hold him. Every time he reaches for me. Every hug. Every kiss. Every "I love you". Every time he bumps his head or scraps his knee and asks me to kiss it, because it's the only remedy he needs. I am rewarded. Every day. Are there hard days? Yes. Do I get frustrated with people who don't understand that giving up a job to raise a kid doesn't make me lazy or unmotivated? No. I could care less. Do I judge women who work? Nope. Being a mom isn't always easy. What in this world is? But it makes me feel richer than any job I've ever had. And it makes me prouder than any degree I've ever earned.

Oh and by the way, being a dad is just as tough. Watching Ricardo roll out of the house every morning, sometimes at 5 am & sometimes earlier, I know there will be big moments that he's going to miss just so I never have to. I know the sacrifice of not being there and not getting as much time with his own son is difficult. He does it for me and his son. That is amazing. THAT is hard. Shouldering the burden of being the sole financial source for our family. That is stress.

I don't mean to shame anyone who enjoys these holidays. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, you may be the optimist and me the pessimist. I love being a mother. I don't need to convince anyone that it's tough. It is and it isn't. But I know it is privilege. I know it's something that some people wish for their whole lives. I don't take it lightly. My time with my son is finite. So for now, everyday is THIS  mother's day.

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