Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Just" ~ A Word About Motherhood?

Waiting in line at the school carpool today, I heard someone on the radio describe a certain woman as "just a mom."  The speaker meant no offense, really; he was trying to convey that she had no "job."  Nevertheless, the phrase "just a mom" sears my sensibilities like few others.

 All mothers are working mothers.  ~Author Unknown

I remember when Sarah Palin accepted the vice-presidential nominee position and a discussion erupted about whether a woman with so many young children should be in such a time-consuming position outside of the home.  That is not a debate I care to engage in today, but I do want to point out that some -- maybe many -- people believe that "just being a mom," is not a formidable job in itself.  Indeed, it was a female commentator who said, "Yes, I'm a mom, but I have a lot more to offer the world than just that.  I can't be stuck home baking cookies; I have important things to contribute."

Excuse me just a moment.  "Than just that."  What an insult.  And what a complete misunderstanding of a mother's role.  And what in this world could be more important than raising a competent, decent, happy child?  Whether a woman is a mother with one job -- that of being a full-time homemaker -- or is a mother with more than one job -- homemaker + job outside the home, the job of mother is the most profound, the most challenging, and, dare I say, the most important.    

If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much.  ~Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Allow me to expound on the role of "just a mother," for it is ever more challenging and often less satisfying than any other job could ever be.  It is challenging because it never, ever ends and nothing feels more important than your child's happiness and well-being.  To use the cliche' "24/7" doesn't even capture it.  After hours?  After dinner?  A mother's duties expand exponentially in the "off hours."  Vacation?  Even more.  Special occasions?  More yet.

And there is no retirement.  No pension.  For I know my heart goes with my children until, and beyond, their dying day.

Grown don't mean nothing to a mother.  A child is a child.  They get bigger, older, but grown?  What's that suppose to mean?  In my heart it don't mean a thing.  ~Toni Morrison, Beloved

I say it is often less satisfying than other jobs because there is seldom instant gratification.  The older a child gets, the longer it takes to see the impact of a mother's actions.  An infant may (or may not!) respond instantly to a mother's soothing.  A preschooler, ever the tantrum thrower, takes longer to respond.  A school-age child, even longer; and teenagers, well . . .

There are no raises . . . heck, there is no pay.  There are no merit awards.  No one, outside of yourself, will pat you on the back for a job well done.  A job well done?  Who can recognize a job well done?  The truth is, a mother makes countless decisions every day -- every hour -- and will have to wait days, months, years, if ever, to learn whether the decisions they made were correct.

One good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters.  ~George Herbert

Women are capable of any job, many jobs, and her competence knows no bounds.  However, of all the jobs women do, show me another job that quite literally has lives on the line -- lives of your own children, your own loved ones.  Show me another job with such hours and such little tangible reward.  Show me another job of equal stress and such an uncertain measure of success.  Show me another position that provides such little self-aggrandizement.  

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts.  A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.  ~Sophia Loren

"Just a mom."  No one, except perhaps especially alert and appreciative fathers, understand and appreciate a mother's job.  The level of care, heart, concern, work, effort, and strain is immeasurable.  That is not to say it is not worth it, but rather, that it is completely saturating and always will be.

Every single decision I make . . . what I'm putting out in the world, is because of my children.  ~Meryl Streep 

Yet nothing is so important as protecting, guiding, soothing, strengthening, and supporting a little soul as it evolves.

The formative period for building character for eternity is in the nursery. The mother is queen of that realm and sways a scepter more potent than that of kings or priests. ~Author Unknown

Our children are our hearts.  When they hurt, we throb.  When they fail, we fall.  And when they smile, we exult.  And yet they never know it.

Until they, that is, they, themselves, become mothers or fathers.

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new.  ~Rajneesh



Anonymous said...

Well said. Someone will be quoting you one day.

Di in Indiana said...


Good job!

Sue said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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