Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Motherhood: Work, Hobby, or Political Spin?

It's 11pm and my job is not done. Little feet run in and out of bedrooms where they should be sleeping. My five-year-old repeatedly comes to tell me that she's scared and can't fall asleep, and my seven-year-old is crying because I'm upset that she's not in bed. I've been taking care of children since 7am, and apparently I have miles to go before I sleep. Anyone who tells me that what I'm doing does not qualify as work is gonna get a verbal smackdown because I'm completely exhausted.

Before you rush down to the Comments link to tell me how I can get my children to sleep and how I could do things better, I'll preemptively defend myself by mentioning that Kent has been out of town for almost 3 weeks now, and even though I have help from our Finnish friend who's staying with us, my children are SO ready to have their daddy home. And, so am I. No matter how you slice it, this mothering business is hard work. That's!

In the last week a new round of the Mommy Wars has erupted over comments made by Hilary Rosen that Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, "never worked a day in her life" because she chose to be a stay-at-home mother to five children. So, if taking care of children is not work what are daycare providers doing? What are nannies doing? How about teachers? Maybe this attitude towards caring for children is the underlying reason that teachers are paid so little. Or is it a career choice only when one is caring for other people's children? If you choose to care for your own children, it's a copout.

I've worked in a variety of jobs since I was 14 years old. I've been a waitress, a cashier, a customer service rep, a corporate trainer, a high school teacher, a research assistant, a computer programmer, and a doctoral student. Then I had my first baby and after a year of trying to juggle a PhD program and being a new mother, I chose to stay home full-time which I have done for six years now. Without a doubt, I have never had such a demanding and overwhelming job in all my life. It is ten times harder than being a full-time high school teacher. It's harder than getting a PhD. It's harder than waiting tables. It's harder than any other job I've had because it is unrelenting. I don't get sick days or personal days. I'm at work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

I know it's a choice to stay home, and I also know that many women would like to stay home but can't. I also openly acknowledge that I don't know what it's like to work full-time and raise children. Especially for single mothers, it must completely overwhelming at times. I know many amazing women who work and raise kids, and I have nothing but respect for them. But, that's just the point. I won't tell a working mother that they've never worked a day in their life because they haven't stayed home with kids. So, don't tell me that what I'm doing every day isn't work, especially at the end of a sixteen-hour-day with four children 7 years-old and younger...and I'm about to start the nightshift.


Maijasmummi said...

Wow, Kim, that's great! You should get it published! Keep "not working." Some day your family will call you "blessed." I love you.

Jen Johnson said...

Loved what you said. I am going to email you a Motherhood Essay that you would love! Hang in there.. I have to tell myself that everyday! :)My mom says the real gratification comes when your adult children can live mostly independently in this world!


Fairy Grandmother said...

Wowwie! Somebody stepped their foot into some do-do when they accused moms of not working! Must be someone who never WAS a mom, or not a dedicated mom. And poor Anne Romney -- what does she have, 7 kids? Next they'll be adding that she is overpopulating the world.

Ah, the slings and arrows which must be endured by the "righteous."

Tammy said...

Kim: I worry about you! There is nothing in this world that is harder than being a part-time single mom. If it was always the same - we'd be in that routine. But the change brings caious to our lives.

Greg has always traveled and while it gets easier as they get older - the problems change.

I feel like we go through this adjustment period as soon as he leaves and then just when things get smooth - he comes home and bam! we're switching the routine again.

It's tough mama! Hang in there and don't be afraid to get a babysitter just to take some time for yourself. It's worth every penny :)