I doubt I have to convince any mothers out there of this, but as we work toward finding fulfillment in motherhood, we have to learn to treat ourselves with the respect we deserve, teaching others to regard us with the same respect.
My sweet, wonderful, well-meaning husband supports our family and goes to work ten hours a day, four days a week. He comes home and often the house is a wreck, the kids and I may or may not be dressed, dinner isn’t even planned—and I know that although he respects what I do for our family, he can’t fathom what I do all day long (or, apparently, why I’m usually running low in the patience department).
The world perpetuates an image of mothers, especially stay-at-home mothers, as either lazy layabouts who use daytime television to occupy their hours or drones who have given up all hope of future earning potential, “real” careers and intelligent conversation in favor of wiping noses and bottoms in a life that is a litany of thankless chores and children.
The world would have us think that we’re not “contributing to society” if we’re not working, though apparently it doesn’t really matter whether we’re “contributing” as tattoo artists or professors of medieval literature, as long as we aren’t at home caring for our own children. And if we’re not out in the workforce, we don’t have a “real job.”
I’ll be blunt like I never have before on this blog. That thinking is a load of crap.
Do the wonderful people who earn their living caring for our children while we mothers are doing more “productive” things have “real jobs”? Do the wonderful people who donate their time, talents and efforts to volunteer causes—striving to make a difference, to improve the world—have “real jobs”?
Mothering is the most important “volunteer” opportunity I could be involved in right now. I am consecrating my time, talent and efforts to raising my children—and most days, it is grueling.
Mother’s day may seem like an odd time to point this out, since we often take this day as a day to rest from our motherly labors and let our families take care of the meals, the cleaning, and the diapers (oh! the diapers!). But really, this is the perfect time to point out all that we do, because they’ll never understand and appreciate it more, as Elder M. Russell Ballard did:
After sitting on the stand [at church] for 10 years, I was now sitting with my family on the back row.
The ward’s singing mothers’ chorus was providing the music, and I found myself sitting alone with our six children. I have never been so busy in my whole life. I had the hand puppets going on both hands, and that wasn’t working too well. The Cheerios got away from me, and that was embarrassing. The coloring books didn’t seem to entertain as well as they should.
As I struggled with the children through the meeting, I looked up at Barbara, and she was watching me and smiling. I learned for myself to more fully appreciate what all of you dear mothers do so well and so faithfully!
Mothering is not just a “real” job—it’s the most real job there is. No other profession has the influence, the reach and the eternal importance of contributing to society by raising up the next generation to be good, hard-working, righteous, moral individuals.
And you know what else? I have no idea what my husband does all day at work.