Mothering is such hard work. I’m sure mothers from around the world would concur with that. The unfortunate thing is, such a demanding lifelong task doesn’t pay us mothers. Not in terms of benefits, befitting remuneration or possibly even recognition.
Probably the only reward that comes is when your child marks certain milestones and you were the one who witnessed it first-hand. The reassurance that you’ve been doing the right thing to encourage such development gives motivation to continue in like fashion until the child is fully independent. The payment you receive is your child’s unconditional love. I will, at this point, overlook the rebellious teenage stage where almost every child seems to detest their parents.
There are fathers who think that it is a woman’s rightful duty to care for their child in all aspects of the little one’s life, and that his job is simply to bring home the bacon. Sure, that by itself can bring on a tremendous amount of stress, but try running a race with no breaks 24/7. The mundane cycle of caring for child and giving in to all the whims can take a toll even on the most determined and patient soul.
Of course, it can be argued that becoming a full-time stay-home mom is a ‘career choice’, since most women nowadays have the education and ability to procure employment in society. The benefits of being an employee definitely outweigh that of being a mother. At least when you feel like bailing out of work for a day, there’s the trusty neighborhood doctor who will give you an MC (at a small consultation fee) with no further questions. How does one play truant on mothering life? Who do we submit our MC to? And who, in God’s name, will take over our most sacred tasks of childrearing?
I’m afraid that the harsh reality is that there is no annual leave, medical benefits (although all expenses can be claimed from the partner) and no breaks.
Right now as I am writing this (at 5am in the morning), I am keeping one eye over my son, who has finally settled into a peaceful night’s sleep on the living room couch. Afraid to wake him from his much needed slumber, I can only mull over insignificant things instead of catching up on my beauty sleep. No other job on Earth gives a woman eyebags and dark circles as bad as mine.
A long-time friend dropped a surprise visit on me the other day, and couldn’t help but remark at my conspicuously ill-maintained eyes. She rebuked me for slacking on my eye care regime, and emphasised how I should religiously apply eye cream. In my defense, I could only reveal the disgusting fact that I hadn’t even showered for two days. Who gives a shit about eye cream when I can’t even find the time or energy for a decent rinse? As a mother, the child comes first, followed by my basic needs of food and rest. Shower? Bah!
Many books have been written on the unfair treatment of full-time mothers, and how they should be paid duly for their work. Unfortunately, society turns a blind eye to the greatness of mothers, and chooses only to see it as a ‘natural duty’ that should be fulfilled, thus not requiring any form of respect, let alone rewards.
Mothering is seriously under-valued as a ‘job’. It never ends, not even while you’re asleep. And there is no negotiating deadlines with your tiny ‘boss’. There are even occasions when you wonder who’s the real boss in this business. Is it you, as the older adult, or the miniature human? Lines get blurred all the time and sometimes you forget who should be the one calling the shots, because all you want to do is to halt the perturbation in its tracks and move on.
This job ain’t an easy one. And you’ll know it when you can’t even visit the loo in peace.
Sometimes, I can’t help but blame the current situation on those bra-burning feminists of the sixties. Before all that brouhaha about wanting equality, women were in charge of the household, with no qualms about their lives as to whether “this is it” or if they were being given due acknowledgment for their work. Being a dedicated wife and mother was a natural thing, because every other woman was doing it. In fact, those who ‘broke the rules’ and strived to be working women were scorned upon as deserting their sacred duties.
Fast forward to the future, the ‘lesser gender’ are seeking equal rights in all matters. From who pays the bills, to similar benefits in the working environment and who should attend to the baby’s midnight feeds. But the truth of it all is, there is no equality. Until the day men can be impregnated and go through nine months of nausea, water retention, weight gain and back pain, there will be no equality. Not forgetting the monthly red tide that brings its multitude of inconveniences such as cramps, PMS and the scrubbing of blood-stained underwear.
Since men and women can never be on par, why should women work so hard in society, trying to balance work and motherhood, when we should just stick to dedicating our time to one job like what the men do?
Don’t get me wrong. I take my hats off to those who have and are successfully taking on both identities of employee and mother, but I honestly do not believe that they manage to pull it off effortlessly. The rule of the Universe is that one cannot have everything, and something has got to give. The delicate balance of both does exist (somewhat), but it definitely would not be easy maintaining that scale.
I have obviously chosen my path for this life. To be a mother, and only a mother, instead of trying to prove how capable I am at multi-tasking. Call me unambitious, but I know I can’t do good when I’m spread out too thin over all my duties. Obviously, this choice would render me unable to earn my own keeps, let alone be able to splurge on my husband with my own hard-earned money (which ironically is not as hard as keeping up with motherhood’s challenges), but I am definitely capable of providing him with a good night’s rest that does not require him to constantly wake to tend to the baby. I am sure he is appreciative of my efforts and would do more than just pay me verbal compliments.
At the end of the day, despite my occasional pondering on my self-worth, I still feel that being a stay-home mom, who takes care of her husband’s and children’s well-being, is more important a job than any other in the world.
That said, I am now going to whine to my husband on the lack of sleep all night.