Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Motherhood is Not a Job

Elizabeth Wurtzel over at The Atlantic wrote a piece explaining how 1% Wives are Helping Kill Feminism and Make the War on Women Possible.   There's a lot wrong even with that title but the buzz line was "Being a mother isn't a real job --and the men who run the world know it." 

The temptation to leap at the low hanging fruit was strong. The snark in me envisioned perfectly coiffured Jimmy Choo wearing women with GOP bumper stickers on their Sleek bulky SUV's flying over the country like unmanned drones, shooting down every green shoot of a feminist that dared show her face.   But Mommy wars consist mostly of my-self-righteousness-trumps-yours-because-my-opinion-of-my-choices-is-as-self-deferential-in-its-certainty-as Elizabeth Wurtzel's. Further, I do not think her piece was intended to delve into motherhood as much as it was a thinly veiled hit piece on Mitt Romney and his wife.

Instead it got me to thinking of the C.S. Lewis quote, "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." and motherhood. "You are a mom. You have a child."  My brain wouldn't let go of the reality that you do not do motherhood, Mom is someone you become.

We may work at a job or not, but the careers we have are accessories to our total selves.  Wurtzel's limited feminist vision of woman reduces her to her paycheck and her politics, and deems what does not validate either to be of no consequence.  But a true feminist would not view any woman's choices and sacrifices and labor to be anything other than an expression of her deeper self.  Women like men, may work and even hold very high profile professional polished important running the world type jobs, but that isn't who they are, it's what they do.

Wurtzel is even correct (in an ironic way, as she meant to put motherhood into its proper compartmentalized place), because motherhood, while work, is not a profession. Motherhood is work, but it is not a job, it is an extension of self towards others to the degree we allow it, and a path to sanctity if we fulfill it. (But that takes obedience, consistency and perpetual greater and deeper sacrifice born of love), which means, as difficult and time consuming and important as "real world" work is, motherhood is harder.

 Adopted/grafted or gestated, anyone can become a parent these days, but it takes staying power and courage and humility (gobs of humility) to love through all the messy sticky stinky frustrating aggravating why did you color on the walls why didn't you study for the test how could you even think about doing that kind of moments that will saturate the rest of your life. You may quit, retire, resign or start over in many jobs and professions, but you will never stop (even if you stink at it), being a Mom. You will simply be a bad one or a good one based on who you are and how much you love.  

Motherhood is a vocation.

It is an external extension of God's love through service granted to those who willingly accept God's gift of children.  When you are dealing with Divine gifts, there is no box big enough to contain them.  As a result, the role given must by necessity, expand beyond the limits of worldly imagination.

There is a huge difference between choosing to do something (my job), and being chosen (by God to be a mother).

 Mom is a name.

It will come to mean to those one is the mother of, whatever you the mom, pour into it.  Whether that word is spoken by our kids with love or frustration or anger or joy will be the sum total of what we poured out plus grace.  For the children that call us Mom, Mom is not what we do, but who we are and how they perceive what we do.

What we do as Mom will be more closely aligned with our being than any profession we embrace.  The difference is, what we do as Mom is akin to what we eat to sustain ourselves.  What we do as professional working individuals, is akin to the outfit we pick out each day.  There is a level of degree and importance and control in both circumstances, but the former is much more intimate, vital and systemic in nature.  

To be a Mom is to be radically loved and if we do it properly, love in an individualized manner. While we can all share those moments that arch across from one parent to another, there are some moments that are uniquely our own.  My first startled reaction to the really realness of being a mom came with a 1993 ultrasound. We take them for granted now a days, but this was breaking technology and I can still see my son, opening his eyes.  I was seeing his eyes looking out, and that moment blew me away.  It was the beginning.  My children love me as they will love no other person. They will love other people, and they will even hopefully find people they love as deeply as I love their father, but they will only love me as mom, because I am the only one they call mom.
I would write more, but one of my sons just came downstairs and said, "Hi Mom. What are we going to do today?" and when I asked him what he'd like to do, he said "Go to Butler's Orchard and pick berries and play Farkle and read books. What do you want to do today Mom? Can I have breakfast?" 

So it's time for me (heh), to go to work and be Mom.


Karen said...

Of course motherhood is not a job! No salary, no set schedule, no possibility of advancement, no negotiation, no supervision, no accountability, no training, no vacation ... Frankly, it's a miracle that any woman would consent to this!

SherryTex said...

More proof that it is Divinely's miraculous nature. :)

Buttercup said...

As a mom, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words. Being a mom isn't something you do, it IS something you become.


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