What words do you think of when you describe ‘motherhood’?
Exhilarating and enchanting? Endless and exhausting? Do you tell your child-free friends it is rewarding or tell them it’s mind-numbing?
But nearly all of us say it is hard. It’s a well-worn cliché isn’t it?
Motherhood the hardest job in the world.
We’ve heard it from the mouths of world leaders, read it in advertising slogans, we say it ourselves on a near daily basis.
Even Victoria Beckham weighed in earlier this year saying, “I’m not going to lie about it, I’m tired… I’m basically just like any woman who’s working and has lots of children – it’s tough.”
In fact if you type in “being a mother is …. ” to Google the first offering it gives you is “hard.”
It is a statement ingrained in what we expect from becoming a mum- its going to be hard.
But is it? Really?
I think Google is deceiving us. Or, perhaps we are deliberately deceiving ourselves, buying into a myth to make things a little bit easier.
We wear it like talisman. This burden of motherhood. This badge of honour.
We spend hours complaining about it on Facebook. We regale our fellow comrades in the trenches with tales of how ‘hard’ our week has been. A game of baby-vomit-and-sleepless-nights one-upmanship.
You think your night was bad well I can trump it with a nappy explosion AND a toddler with croup.
Oh really? How about twins with gastro, a husband away and a deadline at work that can’t be missed?
Our Facebook feeds are filled with motherhood tinged in grey. A woe-to-me-nothing-is-tougher-than-this attitude.
Is it that we are afraid that we can’t live up to the expectations that parenting experts, social media and the concept of the perfect mum has painted for us. Do we undermine and over-exaggerate what it’s like in the fear that our reality will be exposed? The fear that we might be found out it actually isn’t that bad.
Are we worried we will be perceived as slacking off?
Comedian Bill Burr’s take on motherhood isn’t hard was deemed offensive by some and funny by many. What’s your take on it? (Post continues after video.)
Of course being a mother isn’t all crayon hearts and butterfly kisses. It’s demanding. There are nights when the baby cries and impetus to lift your head off the pillow is non-existen. The days can pass by in a rush of drop-offs and pick-ups and Tupperware boxes filled with sliced fruit. Blending into a parenting Groundhog Day.
It’s relentless and boring at times. It’s overwhelming and exhausting.
You are constantly told to enjoy every minute, just about the same time as you wished the minutes would speed up so you could get back to bed.
It certainly isn’t a constant dance on a mountain of happiness.
But it isn’t hard.
Do you even need me to tell you what IS hard?
Or can you just look around your own home or office to be reminded. The lives of the workers who made the devices you are reading this on. The lives of the women who crafted the clothing you are wearing. The lives of the mother who works two jobs to feed her children. The life of the refugee desperate to get to a land which represents freedom and safety.
Women fighting to overcome ovarian cancer. Families desperate for an organ or tissue donation for their toddler.
But not your life. Not mine. Not waking up with three bustling bursting with life chaotic children who one-by-one snuck into my bed overnight.
Not shopping in well-supplied supermarkets for abundant food for my family. Not spending each day with the satisfaction of a job that allows me to be near my children when it really counts.
That’s not hard.
The problem with painting motherhood as hard is that we are creating a construct of a life unappealing.
We strive to make parenting equal, to balance the gender roles and yet each and every time we de-value our role as mother we make it less and less likely Dad will want to step up. Who, after all wants to do the “hard job”?
By painting it as hard we are undermining the actual contribution we make to society. An important one. One that shapes our word, our future.
But it’s not a hard one.