‘Being a mother – is it the most important job in the world?’
November 18, 2013
More posts from Mumsnet blog conference coming soon – it’s just that I could essentially write an essay on the subject and I just don’t have that time. Without boring you with all the details, life is full and stressful and it’s all I can do to be an employee, wife, mother, daughter, sister and person at the moment, without trying to add erudite blogger to the mix… that said, posts coming soon on Thomas the Tank Engine, incorporating your children’s needs into your decorating choices, more working mums, potty training and maybe even breastfeeding incentives. In the meantime, this caught my eye this morning…
An article in the Guardian on why being a mother is not the most important job in the world. As I read the article, I thought to myself – surely the problem is in how we define ourselves. If we only ever define our worth by what we do (or rather, what *job* we have) we have problems. Then I came across this comment and I thought I’d quote it, as it says it better than I can:
Except that it’s not. Parenting is neither a ‘job’, nor is it the most important thing a human being can do, male or female. Parenting is a social relationship — which doesn’t negate the fact that it’s a difficult thing to do well. But the implication of such sloganeering is that anyone who is not a parent is less important than someone who is, not because they do it well, but simply because they are.
If the slogan was truly about acknowledging the importance of parenthood in creating decent human beings, it should read ‘because children are the most important people in the world.’ And then we as a society should be valuing them accordingly, including providing free quality childcare and adjusting work/life balances to allow everyone , not just parents, the option of pursuing both fulfilling work and active social lives — which includes the time needed to raise children well. And we most certainly don’t, and our children are amongst the unhappiest in Europe as a result. It’s a larger problem than can be fixed by making women feel guilty if they desire to be something more than someone’s mother.
Perhaps this resonates because it is part of the ideas that were being discussed at mumsnet, upon which I am trying to write my essay post – that for me being a mother is not my full stop. It is a facet of my life, an important one and one that is at times difficult and tedious and rewarding, but it is neither a job, nor my greatest achievement. In fact, until I stop being a mother, I don’t think I could describe it as an achievement at all. Isn’t it more like a work in progress? I think life would perhaps be better across the board if we all stopped defining any relationship as an achievement.
Achievement: Something accomplished successfully, especially by means of exertion, skill, practice, or perseverance.
Yes, sometimes that could be argued to describe the journey that a person has taken to become a parent. (but not always). And being a parent doesn’t always mean giving birth to the child, or being biologically related. It certainly doesn’t follow that it makes you better at being a parent, or better than those people who for whatever reason, are not.