Work, work, work… it seems like all I ever do is work. Well, and play roller derby, which- though I love it so- can seem like more work sometimes. (Try getting up after having your 40 year-old ass handed to you by twenty-somethings with names like McKilla Guerilla and Knotty Dotty. If that ain’t work, I don’t know what is.)
Full-time job; household chores; “working” on myself; “working” on my relationships; working out– UGH- all this work is exhausting! But, by far, out of all my jobs, the hardest one is my Mom job. I should have known what to expect from the very beginning of this parenting gig, I mean, it starts with labor for Christ’s sake- labor, which is just a longer and more daunting sounding word for work.
For those readers who haven’t birthed babies, I’d like to give you the 411 on labor. But that would require me to talk about things like my experience with contractions, emergency C-sections and low one-minute APGAR scores and, well- 8 years after the fact- I just can’t bring myself to do it. Even trying to talk about labor on a more general level would mean writing terms like mucus plug and episiotomy. Better to leave those details to really comprehensivepregnancy books like What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Suffice it to say that, in my experience, motherhood is a job that starts with some difficulty and gets harder as it goes.
And, it’s an unpaid position. If you want to have some fun, head over to Salary.com and find out just how much money moms would be earning for jobs related to rearing their children ifthere were a God it parents were compensated, monetarily speaking. (Ironically, working moms would earn less money, but the same amount of guilt, than stay-at-home moms.)
Yep- had I known with the first child just how much work was involved in the days, months, and years following labor, I’d have begged for one more night in the hospital. (They bring you snacks late at night. And, sometimes, morphine.)
But, once a new parent is born, they are expected to hit the ground running: breastfeeding or sterilizing bottles; laundering hundreds of thousands of tiny onesies per week; and cleaning solid waste off of another human being, like, every five minutes. It’s a good thing babies are cute; if new moms aren’t getting paid and have to get by with no sleep and no sense of self, those babies better pony up with toothless grins and big, starry eyes. And slightly cone-headed, bald heads. And tiny little fingers and toes that are so perfectly formed…
Uh oh… see? That’s how they work- these babies. You’re working, working, working and all the while they’re working- working their magic on you- and you forget, temporarily, that they are nothing, but work! But, I digress.
Maybe it’s easier, you think, when they have some degree of autonomy. When you don’t have to lug them around in a sling or take a stroller every place you go. When bottles and breast pumps give way to jars of baby food and little spoons. Ha! Don’t be fooled, parents! Toddlers don’t really walk fast enough to make things any more convenient for you. Plus, they can toddle their way to wall outlets and bowls of dog food. And, those peas? In that jar? They mostly don’t end up in the baby’s mouth, as much as on his face, clothes, hands, and surroundings.
Preschoolers and elementary school children? Work. More work. More class parties, more playdates, more soccer. More dependence on foreign oil. And, while I can’t comment on being the parent of a teenager, I can vividly recall being a teenager. Based on that and some of my Facebook friends’ frustrated status updates, I’m going to go ahead and bet that it’s a ton of work, while also being a relatively thankless job.
So, on this Labor Day weekend, I propose that we mothers carve out three days of blissful relaxation for ourselves. I think this might be easier to do in groups; if children see a Mom being idle by herself, they tend to assume she’s waiting for an assignment, maybe there’s a batch or Rice Krispy treats she could be making, or a pair of expensive tennis shoes she could be buying. We need to unite! Let’s try, like our Socialist friends before us (who, incidentally, fought for the 8-hour workday and not for Wall Street deregulation), to establish a worker-friendly solution to the 24-7 world of parenthood. This weekend, let’s turn our backs on laundry, chauffeuring, cooking, and building character in our children. Let them read usstories at bedtime and if they say they’re too busy, let’s pound our fists and cry until we get what we want! Let’s work together to bring about much-needed change, mothers (and dads)!
Power to the Parents!
(This post was originally published in the Charleston Daily Mail’s Mommyhood blog.)