Motherhood is Not a Difficult Job (It’s Something Else)
Written by Mom Babble's MK
I had a dream…
A well-groomed professional stepped out of her SUV in heels and pearls, carrying an adorable baby into the church. She walked through the door, fashionable purse on her shoulder, baby on her hip, and was embraced by a flock of adoring teachers.
“No, I get to hold him first,” said one teacher.
“No, me!–you held him all day yesterday!” said the other
I laughed– who wouldn’t want to hold him? He’s perfect.
Super MK walked out the door in a whirlwind of business calls and lunch meetings.
She can fry the bacon AND bring it home, baby. She’s SUPER mom!
Six weeks after Ben was born, I peeked down at him, snugged up in his car seat in long footie pajamas. I turned on the radio.
“Good morning, Orlando! It is 85 degrees outside!” said an overly-chipper weather woman.
I’m a crazy person, I thought to myself, reaching backwards from the front seat to pull off the blankets. I reached the church where morning teachers were already feeding two babies. I signed Ben in, dropped his bottles in the fridge and scanned the room.
“Where should I put my son?” I asked the lead teacher.
She nodded toward a faded yellow bouncy chair in the middle of the room, then resumed feeding a fussy child. I put Ben down, trying not to wake him. His eyes flew open.
The teachers exchanged knowing glances at one another.
First time mom, their smiles said. My stomach turned.
I left the classroom in tears, my son’s cries growing louder as I walked away.
SOMEBODY SAVE ME I THINK IM DYING HERE!!!
It felt good to be at work, wearing make-up and talking to adults.
I took a seat and placed a picture of Ben next to my monitor.
I called the daycare 4 times before 11:00. The teachers were sweet, giving detailed updates that eased my anxiety.
“He just pooped and it was a doozy.”
“He is in the bouncy chair staring at a stuffed zebra.”
I choked back the flurry of instructions that rolled through my mind.
Does that zebra have long fur?! He could choke!!
When the clock struck noon I raced to the daycare and got my son. It felt like a glorious jailbreak.
Week 2 Benjamin caught the Daycare Funk. I guess it’s pretty terrifying to inhale your own snot when you can’t roll over or blow your own nose. And that little blue bulb might as well been a Dementor sucking the soul out of his tiny body. The few hours of sleep I had been accumulating dwindled to none.
Week 3 and my body’s gas tank was on fumes. And my husband was scheduled a week of night shifts.
Go-Go Gadget Big Girl Panties!!!
Week 4. I did not wake up at 5:30 a.m. to feed and soothe Ben before putting him in the car seat. My face was makeup free. I tugged on a wrinkled dress, shoved my infant into the car and drove to work SCREAMING the words to This Old Man and hoping Ben would stop crying for one godforsaken second.
Church parking lot, bottles in fridge, baby in faded yellow chair in the middle of the room.
Got to the office ten minutes late only to realize that I put my lunch in the fridge at daycare and had 20 ounces of breast milk on hand for lunch.
That week I made a decision that probably didn’t surprise many people. I made the trade: Pearls for pajamas. Dress up for spit up. My new business card: Mary Katherine, SAHM.
To the point.
Since Ben’s birth (and my transition to SAHM) I’ve received many memes, emails, and Facebook comments commending me for taking on “the most difficult job in the world”. At first it was flattering, but then I started to really consider it.
Motherhood. The most difficult job in the world?
My job is exhausting. I am up at night–sometimes all night–only to find myself in the kitchen at 6:00 a.m. My little monster is a tornado of sweet potatoes, dirty dishes, flying plasticware…Morning is HIS time, not mine.
Days are for play time, cleaning, diaper changes, naps, baths, repeat. Groceries, cooking, laundry, repeat. Scatter in some crafts (if I’m feeling froggy), outdoor strolls, you get the picture.A non-parent will read most of those activities and think, “Wow. Sounds so easy.”
Yes. They are. Such activities do not require great skill or planning, so they aren’t–by definition–difficult.
Firemen, lawyers, business people, nurses, doctors, and the like…their jobs require extensive training and unique skills.
I’m not going to stand proud–diaper bag in hand and breast pump in the other–and pooh-pooh their accomplishments.
Because, here’s the thing: At the end of the day, it is not the JOB of being a mother that is difficult.
It is the sacrifice.
Sacrifice, you say?
When you become a parent, there isn’t a grand moment when you make THE sacrifice. You don’t walk your baby to the end of Pride Rock and loudly declare, “This life is no longer my own!”
But the sacrifice happens, and it happens in quiet moments.
It happens in the middle of an important meeting, when you can’t stop worrying about the dangers of stuffed zebras.
When you are paranoid that the faded yellow chair in the middle of the room will leave your child with abandonment issues.
It’s this crazy, irrational, and all-encompassing love that turns you inside out and changes the axis of your universe.
Being the steward of a soul–that isn’t a job.
It’s something more. Something higher. Something entirely different.
It is a calling.
A calling I will gratefully answer, every day for the rest of my life, without ever being paid a cent.