I get the working mom dilemma. I am a mother and I work the hourly equivalent of 3 full time jobs. I get it. It’s hard to do it all. And sometimes the tasks involved in either or both are just not that much fun. Though I have never been a stay at home mom I suppose this is why many call this the hardest “job” of them all. It’s not all coos and snuggles. Parenting can be onerous.
But every time I hear a working mom athem or a stay-at-home mom anthem I feel sad for everyone who is left out, or worse, by implication, accused of not being able to or interested in parenting. As far as I can tell, other than gestating and breastfeeding, men can do every bit of parenting – the good and the bad, the fun and the tasking, the easy and the hard – that women can. And, just ask any adoptive mom or mom through surrogacy or step-mom and she’ll probably tell you that those to bio/physiological processes aren’t requisite either.
To be sure, I too am guilty of getting caught up in the mob mentality of the “moms have the hardest job in world” even though my husband does the vast majority of parenting in our household.
But, it’s 2016.
We do nothing but reinforce old stereotypes about gender roles with tales of the plights of moms. These are plights shared by all parents. Single parents. Gay parents. Heterosexual parents. Widowed parents. Each person’s role in the day to day tasks of parenting will vary. Sure there are deadbeat dads (and moms!) out there and, without congratulating them on their parenting failures, let’s just agree that the definition of an involved parent will vary based on a number of complex, overlapping factors ranging from natural affinity for children to income potential.
I understand that statistically the bulk of childrearing in our society is provided by women. Social norms, cultural discourse, and possibly some biology are at play in determining this statistic. But, as a woman whose children have been well-reared by a devoted lead parent (who happens to be my male heterosexual partner), four healthy-able bodied grandparents, and a neighborhood of friends who I trust to nurture and admonish my children, it just makes me cringe when a mixed audience of dedicated parents is subjected to a “The Hardest Job is Being a Mom” mantra.
Parenting is hard no matter who does the parenting. It’s also filled with incomparable joys. So hats of to to all the lead parents, to the co-parents, to the moms and the dads, and to the various villages who are doing their best amidst the ups and downs to raise a child in our modern world.
Here is my village.