A few days ago a video called, “World’s Toughest Job” was posted online by the greeting card company cardstore.com and quickly went viral. I was sent the video by quite a few people, watched it a couple times and felt… odd. The video shows candidates interviewing for a “Director of Operations” position, which really is motherhood… I’m assuming stay-at-home motherhood, because it mentions the associate (ie the child) needs “constant attention.”
All around me were moms saying the video brought them to tears, and here I was feeling… slightly annoyed? To be fair, I did tear up when the candidates reflected on their own mothers. But by the end of the video I didn’t feel particularly grateful.
Here are my frustrations.
1. Where are the Dads?
Yes, motherhood is a tough job. But fatherhood is no walk in the park either.
The job description seems to insinuate that the mother is handling everything by herself. And that, to me, feels a bit sexist. Fatherhood, when done well, is involved.
My husband recently went from full time to part time so he could be around the house more while he completes his graduate studies. There are 3 full days when he is solely responsible for our son. Learning how to feed Noah on a schedule, keep him engaged and keep up with his many doctor visits (my son has mild hearing loss and needs speech therapy) has been a challenge for him.
I know that most stay-at-home mothers understand they will handle a lion’s share of childcare, but I would think that, they too, expect a level of support from their partners that is not alluded to in this video. In that sense, it would be more appropriate for this video to describe single motherhood as the world’s toughest job.
2. Where are the working moms?
A large percentage of mothers work outside of the home to provide for their children and families. Where are they? Working mothers have a unique challenge, receiving less pay than their male and childless female counterparts, and less domestic support from their partners. It’s a story of motherhood that also deserves to be told.
3. Where is the acknowledgment of mental health?
The video mentions
Being able to work in a chaotic environment.
There are no breaks available.
If you had a life we’d ask you to give that life up.
No vacations, in fact, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and holidays the workload is going to go up, and we demand that with a happy disposition.
Um, okay, so I get that motherhood is a 24/7 job. But I also know that emotional and mental wellness are imperative to functioning well as a mother. We have a whole section on Baby and Blog dedicated to emotional and mental wellness for mothers. The superwoman complex is real, and it’s damaging — especially to black women. We’re often told by culture that moms should be able to ‘go, go, go’ and do it all. But that is literally impossible.
The job he described in the video sounds more like that of a doormat than a mother.
4. Where is the political and cultural support for mothers?
Jennine Jacob of the blog The Coveted said it best;
The viral video, made to sell Mother’s Day cards, missed the mark on what sacrifices women make when they become mothers. For instance, the damage to a career from leaving the workforce, how mothers earn even less money than childless women for the same work, how since 2000, the cost of childcare has increased twice as fast as median incomes, how parents need more support while their babies are young (Canadians get up to 52 weeks maternity leave as opposed to 12 weeks stateside), how single women sometimes have to work multiple jobs to care for their families, and to top it off, how women still do most of the housework.
It’s easy to watch a sappy video and shed a few tears… but then people go back to their regular lives and the structural deficits are never addressed. Gender inequality is real, and it affects mothers in major ways.
After I had my baby, my husband got just *2 weeks* of UNPAID paternity leave. When he went back to work, and I was at home by myself with a crying newborn, those were some of the toughest days of my life. I kept thinking to myself, “Does his job value new motherhood and fatherhood so little that they’d give him just two weeks to bond with his child and be a support to me — and then not even pay him!?” It felt more like punishment than paternity leave.
Our culture pays lip service to motherhood, then fails to provide many of the structural supports — in the form of equal/better pay, quality and affordable early childhood education and health care, extended maternity leave, and flexible work schedules — that we need to do our ‘jobs’ as mothers well.
Not to mention there are too many well-meaning men who are culturally conditioned to enter marriage expecting a wife to be a live-in cook and a maid, and who don’t feel it’s their responsibility to share in housework.
Mommies, I’d love to hear your thoughts! What do you think about the video? Do you totally disagree with my take on things? Let me know!