Since before I even officially became a mom, the war between working and stay-at-home moms has raged on and on and on. I didn’t understand it then, and I most certainly don’t understand it now. Why do we have the desire to label ourselves, define ourselves, or isolate ourselves based on a simple, non-explanatory description?
As much as a I hate this silent (or not so silent) little war that wages on, I’ve never been able to voice why it’s such a battle. I’ve never found the right way to explain to a non-parent why this incessant need for labeling our type of parenthood feels so necessary. I suspect a large part of it has to do with our need to validate ourselves; to provide ourselves with an identity or a justification for whatever it is we do. To make ourselves feel better. But that doesn’t wrap the debate up in a nice little bow and finish the conversation.
Imagine my surprise when I found a succinct answer in a primetime television show that has very, very little to do with parenting. It wasn’t found in Parenthood, Mom, or Modern Family. It was Scandal that settled the issue in my mind giving the perfect response to what motherhood is and isn’t.
For the non-Scandal watchers out there (first of all, why not?!), during this particular episode, the First Lady is met with backlash when she announces she’s running for a state Senator position because she’d be neglecting her job as the First Lady and a mother. The Chief of Staff defends her to the public by saying they shouldn’t diminish motherhood by calling it a job; it’s not something you get paid for or can choose to quit.
The way the character stated it hit home for me. It’s not about whether you work or don’t work, or whether you call motherhood itself work. No, they dug right to the heart of it, as we all should:
Motherhood isn’t a job. It’s who you are. And that’s the heart of the matter.
It doesn’t matter if you work inside the home, outside the home, some of both, or any combination you can come up with, when you’re a mom, that’s who you are. It’s not a job or work or a burden or an obligation. It’s something that you are, and that something is wrapped up into everything else you do.
Maybe it’s wrapped up in your 9-to-5 job. Maybe it’s wrapped up in a job that you squeeze in between nap-times or preschool hours. Maybe it’s wrapped up in your kids and just getting them through the day unscathed. Maybe it’s all of those things or maybe it’s a different one of those things, but it’s still simply a part of who you are, not what you do.
Parenthood isn’t something you can take a vacation from, quit, or ask for a change in pay or scheduling. It’d be like saying sometimes you’re a wife or a sister, and other times you’re not.
Motherhood doesn’t get turned on and off. Even if you’re not physically parenting in the moment, you’re still parenting every minute of your day. Everything you do and every decision you make is for the good of your family and your child.
What you do with each moment of the day doesn’t actually matter; it’s the same underlying motivation for all parents: to give your kids a good life, to put a smile on their face, to teach them, guide them, to help them have fun, and keep them safe.
We all do motherhood in different ways, and how we do it shouldn’t matter or define us, it should unite us.More On