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being a mother is the hardest job in the world ? anti feminist

(23 Posts)
midnight100 Wed 26-Nov-14 16:50:48

Is there anybody else that's has a major problem with this saying. As a feminist I believe women being valued is very important, surely that's the main issue WOMEN being valued. All women not just mothers.

Being a mother is the hardest job in the world is a saying that is used to value women , but is only values one group of women the mother's so thus it devalues childless women, so in the end it just devalues women, it is a anti feminist saying. What about all the women who are childless but take care of their families, if you are a mother and you use the saying to get valued, why should you be valued by a childless women for what you do when you don't value her for what she does.
And being a mother is ....., mother ? Surely then that covers all mothers good or bad. So a mother who neglects and abuse her child to the point of death has the hardest job in the world, I don't think job ? Being a mother is a relationship not a job, a relationship that can be very hard and and take a lot of work like all relationships, but no matter how hard a relationship is is doesn't make it a job. So yes being a mum is work but not a job.
It's sad that women who abuse their kids get more regonition that a childless women doing her best to take care of her family
Are there any mum here that use this saying dont you think that if you want to be valued you should value other people so why use a phase that devalues childless women they could be working just as hard as you. All I'm trying to say is some mother are good mothers some are bad mother, some childless women are irresposible and carefree some aren't and have dependents and responsibilities, so why do we presume. At least when you have kids people presume you have responbilitys, but when you are childless people presume you don't which is always true, I think childless women are the ones that really aren't valued. So is there any body else who hates this saying because a mother is a relationship not a job, surely it shouldn't covers all mothers as some abuse and neglect and above all is women being valued the main Issue.

squizita Wed 26-Nov-14 17:12:07

I have worked with child carers (ie kids caring for a sick parent) and agree. I'm a 30 something woman and motherhood is tough - but factually those kids have it tougher than me.

Also I just posted about the impact on this kind of thing on mums. This idea you're suddenly a martyr or angel ... and the guilt and unrealistic expectations. It must contribute to MH issues for some.

And as someone who almost couldn't have kids ... glib comments re motherhood made me feel useless and shit for years. Even though objectively I did good work for society.
In a fit of rage I once wrote under a FB "motivation" photo saying "nothing is more painful than motherhood" that 3 miscarriages and a cancer scare effing well were.

Nothing is more precious to me than my dd.
But the doctors and nurses who worked endless shifts to protect me and her ... Their job is so valuable, I won't devalue it by saying mine is "better".
And I have savings, a dh, a decent house and so forth ... yes its tough but trust me there are parents and non parents the world over who work harder than me and have less.

My DH is a wonderful dad but no one bombards him with sentimental crap ... is being a dad meant to be easy then? And we wonder why more dad's aren't hands on!

Thurlow Wed 26-Nov-14 17:14:38

I get what you're saying. It's not that I don't appreciate the sentiment behind the phrase but I only ever seem to notice it being said in certain circumstances - mostly referring to SAHM's or women who have DH's who seem to do nothing about the house or the children. In which case it sometimes has a tone that I don't particularly like, but I'll happily admit that might just be me (WOHP) as threads on here that focus on "being a mum is the hardest job in the world" always seem to rapidly devolve to someone using that charming phrase about "outsourcing" the raising of your children...

Other than pregnancy and breastfeeding, I don't personally see anything particularly special in being a "mother" as opposed to a "father".

Being a responsible parent is very hard. For most parents, juggling some form of work, running a house, raising children - the whole thing can be bloody hard at times.

And I'm fairly certain being an emergency neurosurgeon or a a bomb disposal expert is considerably harder...

Shelduck Wed 26-Nov-14 17:38:46

Yeah, i would put it as "being a parent is a hard job" (not quite as zingy!) i see no reason to necessarily restrict it to mothers, and i wouldn't dare to presume that there is nothing harder than being a parent - anything like being a carer for elderly or severely disabled people i imagine is a much harder and more thankless task.

I'm ok with the use of the word "job" because i think it's just a metaphor. What it's saying is that parenthood is hard work in a way that most actual jobs aren't: you don't get any training, you don't get annual leave or sick leave etc.

i think it can be used positively to make parents feel better about the fact that parenting is hard, but i completely take your point that it is often used very sanctimoniously, as if being a mother gives you an insight into suffering that nothing else does!

squizita Wed 26-Nov-14 17:55:31

Yes and there does seem to be this idea that it's unreproachably perfect if you bang on about it being like that ... regardless of how well the child is being cared for.
I have worked with many mums who would be slated as they "outsource" and have the basics (hygiene, food, safety) far better in place than some others who are full of the stereotypical catchphrases ... but perhaps DO need help or else (I'm sorry to say) just don't care.
Being a good mother OR father is very tough.
It's tougher for some than others for various reasons.
Doing it for more hours doesn't automatically make the mother or father "perfect" ... to use a work stereotypical phrase let's be "results driven" ... is the child happy and well looked after? If that is the case, all us good whether mum is typical or not!!
It is profoundly unhealthy for both women and kids to equate mums suffering with quality. An ideal world would have every parent happy and well rested AND every kid happy: and the focus should be primarily on both being ok NOT hours spent or martyrs.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 26-Nov-14 18:03:24

It's not the hardest job in the world, but if you do it well as your main purpose then yes it can be hard at times, just like any job.
It can also be very rewarding and valued and respected immensely by your family.
I have never suffered, been resentful, nor a martyr, and I am doing what I want to do from free choice.
That to me is what feminism is about.

Shelduck Wed 26-Nov-14 18:27:45

"It is profoundly unhealthy for both women and kids to equate mums suffering with quality. An ideal world would have every parent happy and well rested AND every kid happy"

Brilliantly put, squizita

vixsatis Wed 26-Nov-14 18:33:57

I agree. Parenthood is a relationship, not a job. Childcare is something different: it can be a tough job but it's not really up there with, to take some random examples, nursing in a war zone, being Prime Minister, developing a vaccine for Ebola. There's something very patronising about the phrase and it suggests that those who do not do "motherhood" as "job" (ie including childcare) are somehow bad mothers

vixsatis Wed 26-Nov-14 18:34:17

I agree. Parenthood is a relationship, not a job. Childcare is something different: it can be a tough job but it's not really up there with, to take some random examples, nursing in a war zone, being Prime Minister, developing a vaccine for Ebola. There's something very patronising about the phrase and it suggests that those who do not do "motherhood" as "job" (ie including childcare) are somehow bad mothers

MiaowTheCat Wed 26-Nov-14 18:46:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

UngratefulMoo Thu 27-Nov-14 07:13:24

Potatoprints - I really agree. I am a WOHP and feel that feminism is about being able to make choices that work for you and your unique situation, and not feel overwhelming pressure to conform to society's expectations.

whevs Thu 27-Nov-14 09:28:38

I agree also! It's a relationship, not a 'job'... I've been searching for the right way to phrase that for YEARS, so thank you smile

But, f me, there are plenty of harder jobs than being a mother-some listed by Vixsatis above. I wouldn't fancy being a diamond miner, Barack Obama or a front line soldier, for example. Caring for people with complex needs (whether they are your child, relative or a service user) has got to be a harder job than motherhood in the average family. Working with abused children- that's got to be pretty tough practically and emotionally. I could go on.

For me, the 'work' side of being a mother IS hard- I'm thinking of those weeks where everyone is ill, somebody is tantrumming constantly, nobody is sleeping well, and there isn't any clean bloody school uniform. And DP and I have to keep the whole operation grinding along. But hardest job in the actual world? No.

What's hard for me is the persistent state of walking around with my heart hanging out, and the awesome weight of how important it is that I do the 'job' well, because nothing matters more to me than my children being happy and cared for.

But that is tied up with my subjective, emotional response to motherhood, not the objective difficulty of the 'job' itself.

GingerDoodle Thu 27-Nov-14 13:21:03

I may be in the minority, or missing the point, but its not something I would bother getting wound up about.

Taken at point face value its obviously incorrect; obviously there are tougher jobs. That said in my case my caring for my (actually pretty good) 2 year old is defiantly the hardest job i've had!

Its just a generalised statement and I doubt my opinion on the matter would change anyones.

Hakluyt Thu 27-Nov-14 13:28:46

I don't see what's wrong with thinking of parenthood as a job. I found it a really helpful mindset when mine were smaller. It helped me deal with the mind numbingly tedious bits- nobody expects to love their job all the time- and the times I didn't do it particularly well- nobody expects to be on top form at work all the time. It also helped me deal with how the world perceived me- I hadn't given up a significant career for a relationship- I had given it up to do an important and fulfilling job.

But the "hardest job in the world" thing is just bullshit. Nobody could say that if they had actually had a really demanding job.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Thu 27-Nov-14 13:39:00

I think it's a statement designed to maintain the status quo of women in the domestic sphere and men out working and earning money.

Saying 'motherhood' as opposed to 'raising children' or 'parenting' places it firmly at the mother's door. Not the father's. It also positions it as solely the mother's responsibility. In reality, a much healthier goal to work towards would be to involve several people in raising children - their parents, their grandparents and wider family, their childcarers, their teachers and their community - without undermining the main attachment to the primary carers.

I think the reason motherhood can be so hard so hard, is because the 'ideal' (even now) is to put the onus on raising children onto one person.

squizita Thu 27-Nov-14 13:49:33

Exactly Tondelay ... making a virtue out of a sadly endemic lack of community support. The snide comments about outsourcing too ... I've seen them made about families from cultures where grandparents do a lot of care as if the mum is being lazy. Well if there are other caring adults, let them care! Let mum share the load!

minipie Thu 27-Nov-14 13:50:59

I agree with many posts here.

Being a parent is a hard job, not being a mother specifically.

Mummy martyrdom does nobody any favours.

There are harder jobs out there.

Thurlow Thu 27-Nov-14 13:56:27

Ginger - the hardest job i've had

That's a good way of looking at it. I know what you mean, my job is actually pretty easy and so a long, bad day with a toddler is definitely a lot worse and a hell of lot harder.

I don't in any way think DP finds even the most tantrum strewn, food refusing day worse than talking down jumpers from tops of buildings or interfering in domestic abuse fights.

It's all very relatively.

TheFriar Thu 27-Nov-14 14:02:57


let's be results driven. Is the child happy and cared for?

Yes Yes Yes

TheFriar Thu 27-Nov-14 14:04:39

It's also often said in defender to the 'you are at home doing nothing all day' parade about SAHM.

QTPie Thu 27-Nov-14 14:34:15

Being a good parent (whether mum or dad) is/can be one of the hardest things that you can do, and the most rewarding. Especially those early days/weeks/months as a SAHP.

Sure it may not be as stressful or physically hard as some "jobs", but it is 24/7, can involve significant sleep deprivation and lengthy emotional battles. There is also little escape - if you have a normal job, you can usually quit...

I think that being a parent can be a lot tougher than people think when they plan a family or have an accident.

Boomtownsurprise Thu 27-Nov-14 18:22:22

Dunno really but all I'm hearing here is a lot of whinging that sounds more like the same sahm/working arguement dressed up where actually all the women end up sounding foolish.

slightlyinsane Fri 28-Nov-14 20:33:33

I can see where you all coming from but we all have our strengths and weaknesses and what comes easy to some doesn't for others and that applies to everything in life. Don't get me wrong I am beyond grateful for all of my kids but bugger me it's hard work. I didn't get training for the sh** I have to deal with, no one fills in for me so I can have a holiday or comes to relieve me when my shift has finished. I'm sure if a job advert was created that describes all the tasks involved and you have to work 24/7 for forever, very few people would apply.
I'm certain my sis & bil would agree with all this, they have very hard jobs that are both physically and mentally completely draining at times but being a parent for them is way beyond any of that, I take my hat off to them I couldn't do what they have to.

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