Parenting

Motherhood is often tedious, deal with it

Published 7.9.2017
The inspiration for these words is this this article, which was a response to this article. The premise for both articles was that some women don't enjoy motherhood, and their number is larger than most observers expect. I was not surprised that there are women who don't enjoy motherhood, not because I am amongst their number but because I listen and pay attention to others when they speak an act. There are plenty of women who mistakenly bought into the premise that motherhood was some noble, all fulfilling enterprise filled with marvels and milestones, only to hit with the reality of the relentless tedium.

There are entire industries devoted to propagating the image of motherhood as the highest calling of women. Finding an image (at Pixabay) for motherhood that wasn't completely syrupy proved to be difficult, which how a duck and her ducklings came to illustrate this piece. Pregnancy is possible for most healthy human females, it does not a parent make. Placing "false halos" over women who happen to be fertile creates unrealistic expectations.
Stacks Image 36
I am a mother, and I do not regret being one. There are aspects of being mom that are joyous, wonderful, even fulfilling However, I don't sugarcoat the reality. Unless you are wealthy enough to employ a household staff, a large part of motherhood consists of repetitive tasks and chores. Children need food, clothes, and care everyday. There are always dishes to be done, clothes to wash, house cleaning to do, mouths to be fed etc.

Yes, husbands/partners/co-parents can do all of those things, but the most often those tasks get added to mom's to-do list, not dad's. And unlike the duck in the image, human children don't attain independence and fly off on their own within a year. Motherhood is for the long haul— though the better word is parent both because it's more inclusive and because motherhood requires only a live birth, parenting (actually providing love and care for the child) requires much more.

Mothers have always complained about the tedium of being a parent, they just didn’t used to have the internet to broadcast it. Of course, they didn’t used to the internet to create a faux reality either with hyper happy Instagram pages— but motherhood as martyrhood has been a thing since the 1970s when women started entering the workforce in large number and the working mom vs the stay at home mom wars entered a new phase.

Suddenly the word mom became qualified with either the word "working" or "stay at home." Later a third qualifier gained some traction, and the "work from home" mom became a category. The same qualifiers can be applied to dads, well except for "working." I've never seen or heard someone referred to as a "working dad."

I've been all three types of mom, depending on life's circumstances, though I never actually described myself in those terms. However, as I've written before, I don't look to others to validate my choices, so it was never important to me to identify with any particular groups. Quality of parenting isn't determined by employment status.

The saddest story related at the second link above is the women who had a baby “because it was the thing todo” and then watched her entire life change because having kids and a hard charging career is hard to make work. One or the other of you has to take a step back from the treadmill (it doesn’t have to be the mom) unless you’re going to hire a nanny. A nanny doesn’t relieve all of the tedium, but she will take on some of the burden.