Sorry, But Being a Self-Important Parenting Pundit Is Not the Most Important Job in the World, Either
Does Red Bull really giving you wings? Does Pantene really make your hair outshine the sun? Is Guinness really good for you? Is anyone actually “lovin’” McDonalds?
No, and yet we allow those slogans to exist without dismissing their hyperbole. So, why should we dismiss the “Being a mother is the most important job in the world’ slogan, as one woman suggests we do in an article from The Guardian entitled, “Sorry, but being a mother is not the most important job in the world.”
It really is time to drop the slogan. It only encourages mothers to stay socially and financially hobbled, it alienates fathers, discourages other significant relationships between children and adults and allows men to continue to enjoy the privileges associated with heteronormative roles in nuclear families (despite men sucked into this having their choices limited as well).
Really? Does it really do that? I don’t feel alienated by the slogan, and yet I share equally in the domestic duties. Does the slogan hurt anyone? Does a woman who is otherwise predisposed to a career in accounting, or lawyering, or philanthropy, say to herself, “You know, I would do that, but I’m going to choose to cripple my family financially by opting for the most important job in the world’ instead, because that slogan told me so?
No. Because here’s the thing: Being a mother does not become any less of an occupation if a woman decides to also pursue a career. If we really want to shatter those “heteronormative” stereotypes, then we stop ascribing the responsibility for “providing” for the family to the father. In today’s society, “providing” for one’s children is just as much the mother’s responsibility, and that responsibility makes up a large portion of the parenting profession. It therefore follows that “working” also falls under the job duties of a mother, where necessary.
The important thing here is not whether the mother (or father) is working or being a stay-at-home parent, or some combination of the two: The important thing is that the needs of the child or children are being met. Sometimes, where the financial and emotional resources are available, that means staying at home. Sometimes that means making the difficult decision to join the workforce for either financial or emotional reasons, both of which will flow down to your children. A happy parent makes for a happy child, unless the happy parent is happy because he or she is drunk, in which case: Good for them. Save me a drink.
The point I’m making is that the slogan is no more true or less true than a slogan that might suggest that “The cable guy is the most important job in the world,” or “being a teacher is the most important job in the world.” For a parent, the most important job in the world is ensuring the well being of both themselves and their children. The author of this article, however, is not advocating the eradication of the slogan for the benefit of fathers and gay men; she’s advocating it in order to discount the efforts of stay-at-home moms, by unfairly comparing their jobs to that of a Bangladeshi worker who puts in 16 hours at a factory or a surgeon who saves lives.
That’s a sh*tty thing to do, not because it’s untrue, necessarily, but because it needlessly discounts the efforts of stay at home mothers because of some perceived slight she thinks that fathers, or surgeons, or minimum-wage workers in some third-world country may feel if some women take solace in a slogan that suggests what they do is just as important as another job.
It’s a divisive piece, where there’s no need to be divisive. Mothers are mothers, whether they stay home or they go to work, and mothers are parents, just like fathers are parents, and we’re all in this goddamn parenting thing together, and none of us have slept, so why in God’s name do writers and “parenting pundits” keep trying to insist on sh*tting on the roles that others choose to take, instead of focusing on their own goddamn homes or celebrating whatever choice that others want to make?
In other words: Stop feeding into the divisiveness, mind your own business, and enjoy a nice big mug of shut the f**k up.