Why we need to stop calling motherhood a job

Is being a mom the toughest job in the world? Jennifer Pinarski doesn’t think so.

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Jen and her son, Isaac. Photo: Jennifer Pinarski

Follow along as Jennifer Pinarski shares her experiences about giving up her big city job and lifestyle to live in rural Ontario with her husband, while staying home to raise their two young children.

A few years ago, my friend Laura, a stay-at-home mom to two young boys, came over for dinner, bringing along her sons and husband. As usual, our conversation veered towards how hard our day at home with the kids was. I whined about cleaning my house, packing school lunches and breastfeeding my baby daughter through a growth spurt. Laura complained about laundry and her sons bickering with each other. After we’d run out of things that went wrong during the day, I asked her husband who worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources, how his day went.

“You think you had a bad day? At least you didn’t have to take rectal swabs from rabid skunks.”

He had a point. My day was long, but was it that bad? Is being a mom really the hardest job in the world?

Read more: A day in the life of a stay-at-home mom >

Well, if you were to watch and believe the four minute viral commercial put out last week by American Greetings, than yes, motherhood is the world’s toughest job. After Rehtom Inc. advertised a fake job listing requiring candidates to work 135 hours a week without pay, breaks, meals or sleep, only 24 of the hundreds of thousands of people who read the job posting were brave enough to apply. Fast forward to the online interviews of the candidates who look shocked when they are told they also have to be constantly on their feet, their workload will go up during holidays and that they can expect to give up their old lives in order to give “the associate” constant attention.

Of course, the punch line of the ad is that billions of women around the world do this every day. Cue the tears and music and spend five bucks on a card for mom, because her job is so hard.

Don’t get me wrong: motherhood isn’t a cakewalk, and there’s not a day that goes by that I wonder if rectal swabbing rabid skunks wouldn’t be easier than than trying to get my kids to brush their teeth, but it’s not what I call tough. As Evil HR Lady accurately points out, of the top 10 deadliest jobs in the world, motherhood isn’t one of them.

Read more: Stay-at-home moms on the rise… but why? > 

What bothers me the most about the greeting card commercial is that motherhood is painted as a life-long sufferfest that only the bravest martyrs should commit to. Sure, there are parts that are physically unpleasant and nights when you think you’ll never sleep again, but those times are brief and they pass (trust me, they do). If your Christmas and Easter workloads double, it’s because you’re spending too much time on Pinterest and not enough time playing.

The reason being a mom sometimes seems really hard is because we make it hard for ourselves. We expect our lives to not change after kids, take ourselves too seriously and call what we do a job. In calling motherhood a job we dangerously measure ourselves against other women on ridiculous criteria that seems to revolve around who shaves the least, crafts the best and self-loathes the best. We strip away the giggles, the cuddles and, most importantly, the fun. Because being a mom is fun—and never let anyone tell you otherwise.

I want to hear about the fun you have as being a mom! Tweet me @JenPinarski.

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