Motherhood isn't a job. I wish it was.
Written by: Nicky Barker, Founder of Little Ones & Paediatric Sleep Specialist
Sometimes I wish motherhood was a "job", because then I might actually get a break! Maybe if it was a "job" I would get holiday leave and paid overtime. If motherhood was a job, we would get time off. We would have some kind of work manual telling us what to do. We would have FREE COFFEE and lockable toilets.
No, it's not a job. It's more like a state of being. An all-absorbing, totally consuming state of perpetual being.
But if Motherhood WAS a job..... This would be the job description:
Main Role: Mother
Additional Roles: Cleaner, chef, laundress, teacher, crocodile wrangler, chauffeur, gardener, therapist, coach, lion tamer
Hours: LOL. Sorry. You can never leave.
Location: The apocalyptic shell of your formerly clean and tidy house
Essential Prior Skills: Irrelevant. NOTHING can prepare you for this job
Training: This will be provided only AFTER you realise you don't really know what you're doing and will be in the form of judgemental criticism from everyone around you. Including yourself. Head of the Training Division is your Great-Aunt who you never see.
Responsibilities and Expectations:
1. You will be on call 24/7. UNTIL THE END OF TIME.
If the toddler falls over, it's you she will run to. If the 6 year old can't find matching socks - it's you she will shout for at the top of her lungs from the second storey of the house. Repeatedly. The preschooler, FOR NO REASON KNOWN TO MANKIND might be disappointed with the world and, yep, it's "mummy, mummy" he will scream over and over like he's lost at Disneyland and all the while you'll be standing right next to him.
Keep smiling and try not to look too insane.
You will never be off duty. Even if you're away from the home, at the supermarket or (heaven forbid) at a social event, you must still be thinking about them, worrying about them. You have to be eternally switched on. You're the one they will fall back on, you're the one who will be scraping up the pieces on auto-pilot. It will be consuming, so so exhaustingly, completely consuming.
2. You will NEVER sleep again.
3. You must worry about EVERYTHING.
Actually, every. Single. Thing. All day long (and most of the night). No one else in the world will ever come close to the amount of worrying you must do for your children. It is expected you will gain new wrinkles every second day. If there are no new wrinkles, you're not worrying hard enough and you will need to show more focus on whether or not your children might catch the chicken pox that's going around daycare at the moment, at 4am in the morning.
4. You will have an audience on the toilet.
This is very important. You will NEVER get to go to the toilet on your own for at least 13 years. Even the cat will be in there as well as the kids most of the time. No, your toileting is not exciting, it will just be so shamelessly accessible to anyone who wants to yank open the door and watch.
They will always be watching you.
5. And someone will always be touching you.
Literally always. There will always be an arm or a foot or a head resting on you. There will always be a hand down your top or lifting up your skirt. The second you sit down you're a target and you should expect to be instantly covered with kids. You'll be surprised at how they move that fast! Typically they won't move that fast when you ask them to put their shoes on. They will put their honey handprints all over you, they will wipe their snotty noses on your shoulder. They will never just sit next to you, no, they will have to be touching you.
Some days you might feel touched out. You are allowed 2 minutes hiding in the laundry in silence with no one touching you so you can recalibrate. [This 2 minutes isn't guaranteed.]
6. You're expected to constantly make choices then feel guilty about them.
Your life as a mother will revolve around daily choices and the consequences of those choices. If you choose to vacuum-clean the house you're sacrificing time to play with the kids. If you choose to play with the kids the house is a mess. Choice and sacrifice. And so you must choose, then feel guilty about WHATEVER OPTION you chose. Usually you will be choosing on behalf of the dad too; the decision-making about dinner, about bedtime, about weekend activities will get left to you and you will become responsible for the decisions for everyone.
Make sure you never choose what's in your best interests.
7. You will always be last.
Dead bottom of the food chain. It is imperative you put everyone else first, every time, and do not expect anyone to put you first. Make sure you don't eat breakfast until everyone has left for school or work because you'll be too busy getting their breakfasts done, lunches packed, kitchen tidied.
When you do eat, it should be the kids' cold leftover partially-decimated peanut butter toast off the floor.
8. You will sacrifice EVERYTHING.
As mothers, the sacrificial list is long. To even get to the point of having a baby in your arms, you will need to have sacrificed: your body, your boobs, alcohol, cold meats, soft cheeses, your job (preferably your career), your sleep, your personal space, your privacy, coffee, any chance of a social life, your hair (because it will all fall out)... These sacrifices are of course worth it and completely unavoidable in the role, but don't expect much to change for your partner or husband.
Do not, whatever you do, seem disappointed by this.
9. Discard your identity ASAP.
Your work uniform will be saggy leggings with a hole on the right upper thigh, oversized cardigan with 2 buttons missing, ugg boots. Throw away your hairbrush and mascara because no one will care what you look like anymore anyway. It is compulsory to have a box of wet wipes strapped to you at all times and your baby bag should exceed your body size. If you can't fit an electric frying pan in there, it's too small.
You will no longer be referred to by your former name. You will come to forget you ever had a name other than "MUUUUUUUMMMMMM". It is expected your husband will forget your name too.
You are allowed to make appointments with your friends and other family members once a month, between the hours of 11:00 - 11:20am, but be prepared to cancel these at a moment's notice.
Please apply to The Universe via a letter written in your own blood and tears.