Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What is the hardest job?

Did you think I was going to say motherhood? Because that's what I thought of when I saw a similar headline on a blog that I frequent. I'm sure most of you have seen the viral video where American Greetings posted a job opening for a job. The #Worldstoughestjob included: no pay, no vacation time, 24 hour on call schedule, requires a high level of stamina, and no breaks just to name a few requirements of the job. I've noticed a trend in the mommy-blogging community where moms are discussing how hard the job on mom is- mom has to be the housekeeper, cook, chauffeur, nursemaid, referee etc and honestly, I'm starting to roll my eyes at it a bit.

Now don't get me wrong, your life does a complete 180* when you have a kid. I used to take naps after work before my daughter was born. That doesn't happen anymore. My husband and I would lounge around in bed on weekends and laugh and talk and that can't happen anymore, because the slightest noise will wake the kidlet up. I could quickly stop at the store on my way to work to grab a cappuccino or pick up something for lunch. I got to sleep an hour later than I do now, because I went straight to work and didn't have to wrestle a sleeping toddler into a winter coat, carry her 33 pound, lifeless, little body to the car and drive her to my mom's house. If I was tired at night, I went to bed. I didn't have to wait for someone to give up the "I'm never going to go to sleep and you can't make me" fight. Oh, and don't get me started on what happens to your sex life when you have to choose between sex and sleep when the wee one finally gives up the aforementioned good fight. (Hint: sleep usually wins. This is why I recommend waiting a few years to have kids! Take the time to bang each other silly ;-) )

But when people talk about it being the hardest or toughest job, I don't know if I buy it. Sure, I have less "me" time and I get less sleep. I'm constantly tripping over toys and stepping on blocks. Oh, and don't forget that a large chunk of the digital entertainment in my house is cartoons... I could think of a lot of jobs that I'd rather not do... like the guy who came and pumped our septic tank. On the scales of tough or hard, I'd give it to that guy. I mean, I have to deal with poop regularly, but it all belongs to my kid and not a bunch of strangers (and it's usually contained inside her diaper). I worked for the Department of Transportation one summer and I worked in sweltering heat, in jeans and vinyl leg warmer type things. I was constantly stung by bees. I would have to hold my pee for an extraordinarily long time... I'd have to say that was a tougher job than my experience with being a mom.

Maybe I don't have the best sample pool. My daughter has slept through the night since she was 3 weeks old. Sure, she had colic and that was hard. I was a new mom and an inconsolable baby is crazy scary, but once she went to sleep, she stayed asleep. She's good at entertaining herself. She'll happily stack blocks, ride her tricycle between the living room and kitchen for an hour, draw on her chalkboard, throws her garbage away, puts her shoes by the door... heck, she even likes to push the swiffer mop across the kitchen and will ask for it when the dogs have tracked muddy footprints across the floor. And there are some days where I need to call my husband and find out how long until he's done at work, because if he's going to be too long, he may come home to find her duct taped in the closet (luckily for her, we don't have closets). But those days are few and far in between and usually happen when she can't control the urge to splash in (or drink from) the dogs water bowl. The biggest "negative" is the bedtime fight, which leaves me dragging and without a lot of evening free time. But I can't really blame her for that. I could work harder to establish a bedtime routine, which would probably ease some of the bedtime drama. I could also start earlier and have her in bed before 9pm, leaving myself some free time. Of course, things will come up. She'll get sick and I'll sit up all night rocking her (and worrying, don't forget the worrying). She'll have nightmares and crawl into bed with us. And Heaven help us, she'll grow into a teenager one day. But stuff happens in a "normal" job. After all, I work into mental health, so I've seen people smash windows with their head, talk to people who i can't see, have full on out screaming fits and threaten us with bodily harm, so again, I may not have the best pool.

I do have to end this with saying that I don't think parenthood is for everyone. It changes your life. It changes your hopes for the future. It changes your goals. Your life is no longer yours and yours alone. It changes how you spend your money and your time. It changes how you travel and the types of vacations you take. I think it's wrong to assume that all women are cut out to be mothers and that all women should be mothers or want to be mothers or that childless women will regret it later in life if they don't have children or that, as mothers, we should pity the childless woman. I don't think that having kids makes you happy, I think that following your dreams makes you happy. My dreams just happened to lead me to a sweet, quiet, brown-eyed girl who has an eerie resemblance to me and her little sister who already seems feistier than her big sis and will probably make me change my whole outlook on how "tough" being a mom is!

DISCLAIMER: Before you send me hate mail and tell me how hard it is for you and yadda yah. I'm not dissing moms in anyway. I especially admire the moms who have special needs kiddos and have given up most of their self to help their kid(s) live a fulfilling life. If you need an example, just read about January Schofield, a now-teenager who has been struggling with schizophrenia since she was a toddler. Her parents got different apartments in the same complex- one for each of their children and mom and dad switched back and forth between them. I realize that some parents face more challenges than others and I give you props for the struggles that you experience. Sometimes, parenting sucks and can suck bad, but we do it every day for the same reason- we love our kids more than anything else in the world. Shalom.