Don’t tell me it’s the most important job in the world, and don’t tell me it’s the most rewarding one either. Don’t say it to a new mother, or one days away from becoming a mother, thinking about becoming a mother, your friend’s mother, or even your own mother.
Or, say it if you wish and if you believe it to be true. That’s your call, and you most likely will be rewarded with a smile in return, a nod, an outward agreement. So long as you know, that as much as you felt obligated to to say that to her (because aside from that really what else is there to say about mothers, except how awesome we are) she in turn feels obligated to give you the response she just did, and probably gives the same to everyone who rambles such bullshit in her face.
What she doesn’t tell you is that she’s never really understood why people like you are calling what she does the most important job in the world. She doesn’t really understand why everyone calls it that, when they began to call it that, or when she herself caved and began to, and why the responsibility of that “job” rests solely on her shoulders, what makes it such a singular task and one only she’s been appointed to undertake.
She doesn’t tell you that she often doesn’t see or get those beautiful and invaluable rewards you mentioned, that everyone mentions, or why she’s supposed to believe they exist, is forced to believe that her toddler’s sticky arms wrapping briefly around her tired and aching body is the reward that will ease all her pain, when a lot of the time it fills her with comfort and love sure, but sometimes also guilt, fear, desperation, and many times, shame for even feeling the way she feels.
She doesn’t tell you that there aren’t as many of those “rewards” as you seem to think there are while you wander down the fabled and scenic route called “Motherhood,” while she’s the one down in the trenches just trying to survive. And, that when those rewards of cotton candy sky and maternal bonded bliss you see finally make it to her, she doesn’t always feel she’s deserving of them, or that they’re all as fucking awesome as you perceive them from way up there in the clouds. Or, that they don’t do all that much to soothe the constant brunt she takes from that most important job she’s been assigned to do.
The job if she so much as suggests is anything but what everyone claims it is, she’s nothing but an ungrateful bitch, or shirking on the God given duty she signed up for and therefore she must willingly do, always. Alone.
She doesn’t tell you that she really just wishes you’d stop labelling it as the most important thing ever , and stop spreading that word everywhere like some kind of service statement or slogan neatly slotted under the brand of “Motherhood.”
She wants to tell you that she knows it’s important, she gets it, and probably better than you do, and just like many of her “kind” do. She wants to tell you she understands what she means to her children and what they mean to her, but that she can’t always explain it, can’t always fit it into this mold you keep handing her, can’t always live up to her childrens’ expectations or even her own, leave alone yours or the world’s. And, because of all that, you certainly can’t define it for her as the most important/difficult but rewarding thing.
She wants to tell you, you’re being unfair, or maybe just not thinking it through everytime you give it the most importance, or refer to it as some kind of heavenly and sacred grace bestowed on her, a blessing, a gift she must always treasure, and especially when you’re watching her.
It is all that, sometimes.
It isn’t all that, sometimes.
Most of the time though it’s just getting through the week, the day, an hour, other times it’s a blur without thought, days and days of it when all she does is wake up in the morning and just functions for the next eighteen hours or more. Or, when the thoughts come, they come all at once, and they’re not always wonderful, some are terrifying, and some which make her wonder why the hell she can’t get it right, why she keeps pushing herself, why she doesn’t push herself enough? When it’s all going to fall into place, when it’s all going to make sense, or if it ever will?
She wants to tell you that there are days she doesn’t feel it’s worth it, that she doesn’t think it will ever be, that she’s lost and floundering, or just fucking pissed off with all of it, all of them, all of you. She wants to point out the irony that with this most important job also comes the world’s expectation for her to get it right straight off the bat, their refusal to allow her to ever struggle through it and without any training besides some bullshit phrase of “it’s the most natural thing in the world” The refusal to ever let her fail, to ever feel less than thrilled about her “gift,” and that if she does, she will suffer outrage, she will be vilified, condemned.
Sometimes she just wants to throw in the towel and rage at the injustice of all that, call the whole world a bunch of motherfucking idiots, she wants to tell everyone she’s done, that it’s too much effort for too little, that her husband can be a bigger asshole than the next woman’s husband, that her children can be disgustingly brattier than any other kids she knows. Sometimes, she wants to snatch her hand off that damned cradle and give the world the finger, and tell them to take the job and shove it.
She wants to demand to know why it’s not made so difficult for anyone else, why she is the only one given this job, held responsible, taken to task, stripped of everything she was, is, and ever could be simply because she has to be Mom and nothing else ever again. Always strong, always there, always good, always available, always trying, always… every damn thing. As if she isn’t a woman, as if she isn’t even human, a person who breaks, falters, hurts.
She wants to let you know that she is thankful, she does feel honoured most times, she does marvel at the miracles in her life, that she does keep going down the path of motherhood with more joy than grief, more determination than self-pity, more gain than loss, but that she cannot always show you that she does, and there are days she doesn’t even want to.
She wants to tell you that she’s not looking for “a day,” or to be thanked, hugged, understood, acknowledged or even patted on the back with a quick “Being a mother is the the hardest thing in the world, and you’re an awesome Mom.”
She’s looking for some fucking quiet time, a chilled drink to beat the summer heat, and free spa vouchers… No wait, that’s me. Sorry, carry on.
She’s not asking for your sympathy either, or help, your approval or disapproval, drivel, and bullshit. Sometimes, all she needs is a chance to breathe, and for everyone to just let her be.
So, let her be.
To all the lovely women out there who are not only, but also Mothers, and celebrating the day…
Keep it real, darlings, and have a great one!
Lots of love,