Warning- you might want to skip this one if you are currently having a good day. Because I am not.
I actually thought that my head might explode, I was so incredibly angry. First I have to say that YES I do know how incredibly lucky I am to stay home with my kids and be their primary care provider. I am grateful that my family has wanted and been able to make this possible for our little circle of people.
What really got me about this statement was the part about me not knowing what it is like to "work all day."
I have got to tell you something ladies, I think a screw actually fell loose in my head.
Now I know what you are thinking. A woman who gets this offended over somebody implying that she doesn't "work" because she stays at home with her kids, probably has her own insecurities. And I would admit that you are right.
In fact, I am often very insecure about my worth as a human being when I am simply a housewife. I don't think I am the only one. It seems pretty obvious to me that despite the lip service given to the importance of mothering, it is just that- lip service.
Look around. Who do we value in this country? Celebrities? CEOs? Athletes? In short, the wealthy.
Who do we NOT value?
My list of people that are often marginalized and undervalued includes: the elderly, children, the poor, and yes, non-wage earners such as housewives. I don't think I am being paranoid either. I think this is true.
I don't really like to talk about what I do in a day. In fact, I don't often even tell my husband. I just seems a little...lame. But for the sake of argument I want to run through a few things that I do regularly.
I take out the trash, clean the house, feed everybody three meals a day, most of them from scratch, 2-3 loads of laundry a day, scheduling, church responsibilities, caring for my four children, teaching birth classes, gardening, writing (on this here blog! I am not sure that counts though), entertaining and providing learning experiences for the children, reading to them, making a conscious effort to instill good values into their lives, reaching out to others in my community, educating other birth educators, walking the dog (There is no such thing as a kid who has a dog. You deserve to know this before getting a dog for your child.) and of course, I wash a huge amount of towels.
This week I also split wood, fixed up a dresser, re-hung curtains in my children's room, made numerous business contacts and survived a vacation with four children. (Seriously WHAT IS UP with men always getting that Noble Peace Prize for discovering DNA and junk like that? Shouldn't moms get that every once in a while for not freaking out when they have to scrub feces out of a new carpet? Where is the humanity?!)
Many days I get up around 6 am. I run around trying to just keep my head above water. My life does not often SHOW that I am doing anything. Gratitude and raises, promotions, or recognition of any sort is rare or non-existent. Around 8 pm the kids get in bed and I clean the house and then I do stuff for me.
I am not complaining. I love my life. I am grateful for it.
But if you think that doesn't sound like WORK then you are a freaking IDIOT and I think I hate you.
I was once talking about a woman I knew from church who I considered extremely talented. She had seven children and hadn't worked outside of her home for many years. I mentioned to somebody that she would be fabulous at marketing if she ever decided to enter the workforce again. The guy I was talking to said that it was sad she was wasting herself by staying at home.
I didn't even have a response for that.
But I have one now.
This woman was raising seven kids. And they were GOOD PEOPLE. Honest, kind, and responsible people. She ran a business from her home that her children participated in. It helped them earn money and learn responsibility. She was a pillar in her community and a huge strength to those she served in her church responsibilities. She brought wisdom and faith and grace to a world that needs it so badly.
She was not wasting herself. In fact I believe that MOTHERHOOD was a place and a job that helped her be a more fabulous person. And I think that the calling of motherhood, even the DESIRE to be a mother for those who never get the chance, is purifying for any woman no matter if they work outside their home for pay or not. This opportunity, the opportunity to be a mother is huge. It changes you. It matters. I don't mean that in a patronizing, pat on the head, "great job chicka" kind of way. I really does.
I have a college degree. I am not stupid or uneducated. But I can tell you that I have learned more since I became a mother than I have in any other period of my life. It has pushed me harder and taught me more about myself and the world than the four years I spent at a university ever did.
I have learned a dozen skills and hundreds upon hundreds of things as a mother. Not only can you continue to learn and grow in practical skills as a mother, but you can develop into a better person. Nothing else has taught me my flaws, faults, strengths, weaknesses, and the commonality of the human experience like this has. It pushes me harder than any other experience that life has given me. My oldest is just seven, so I am sure there will be much more to learn and much more to enjoy along the way.
This job, this journey, it never ends. I will be a mother in the eternities. Once you have children they are yours- forever. You never stop worrying or caring about them. Even in my day to day life there is no end to my "shift". I have been up almost every night at least once since I became pregnant with my first child. I get up to nurse, or hold, or comfort somebody. I clean vomit and change wet sheets and wipe tears. This "non-job" of being a mother is never ending. Breaks are few and far between and you are ALWAYS on call.
Did I mention that this talk about how since I was a mom I didn't "work" ticked me off?
Sometime today I realized something though. (Pay attention, this is where Mr T comes into play.) I realized that I shouldn't be angry at somebody who doesn't value motherhood or womanhood (and I know that this person does not value these things. This wasn't just a slip of the tongue.) Anger is my first response but I was wrong. I was wrong to lose my temper.
In fact, I pity the fool who thinks that mothering doesn't matter. I truly pity them.
A man or woman who puts no value on motherhood cannot truly appreciate the things that matter in life. A person who thinks that being a mother doesn't matter will never appreciate their own mother. That alone will leave a black mark on your life. Even if your mother was awful you must know how big an impact an AWFUL mother has. The woman who cares not for her role as a mother proves how important her role could have been with the damage her abuse or neglect or selfishness left on her children.
A person who doesn't respect motherhood will also never respect their partner or themselves (depending on if they are a man or a woman.) I pity the wife of a man who sneers in the face of mothers. She will never be valued in her own home. I pity the woman who doesn't see the value of the work she does as a mother. She will never know the joy that comes from realizing the greatness of her role.
Motherhood does matter. It is work. It is love in action. Within it you will learn all of life's lesson's if you are willing. It is service and dedication, selflessness and joy. Motherhood is everything that you could ever want or need but didn't know you wanted or needed. It is an amazing and complicated journey and we should all honor and respect it. We are blessed to experience it if we work for pay or not.
May we all recognize the magnitude and beauty of what we do each day as mothers.