What if there was a metric of motherhood that we could use to gauge our level of “success?” We can probably all agree that we do measure ourselves, relative to one another, relative to the other’ mom’s in the mom group, the mother’s of Instagram, the SAHM’s at church, our mother’s, mother-in-laws, your mother, and those of myth and lore. But, there is not really any streamlined set of principles that we can even agree on as a society that defines what makes a good mother, is there? Motherhood is to each his own. Perhaps therein lies the issue.
Nevertheless, the comparisons begin with our birth plans and have no clear endpoint. Where does your experience of motherhood place you in the rankings? Where do we as individuals and as a society allocate success to one another? Is it having a natural birth compared to a surgical? Is it have one child versus many? Is it staying home compared to working? Or, having an immaculate home, with children living in it, that you also work in? Is it meeting the breastfeeding guidelines set by the Pediatricians of America recommendation of six months? Is it having a body that clearly conveys a subliminal message that we could easily be mistaken for anything but a mother?
A 2017 study by Welch’s of 2,000 mother’s found these women averaged 98 hours of work a week. In short, that is 2.5 more labor than a full-time job. Despite the lingering back ache and eternally unfinished tasks, this painstaking work I was not prepared for is not even the physical labor. I mean, everyone knows motherhood is the hardest job on the planet. But, how exactly do we prepare for the mental, emotional, and invisible responsibility of motherhood? It has become normative for today’s mother’s to work-full time in addition to mothering, running a blog, and keeping a home. In fact, before I met my first child, I was surprised by the nonchalant inquiries in relation to my expanding torso: “so, what are you going to do after the baby comes?”
“What do you mean?” I’d ask.
“For work?” They’d respond.
I quickly learned: motherhood (unpaid) is not good enough. Instead, we’re expected to do something better, more visible, more respectable, or highly rewarded to outline our post-partum plan (assuming that even goes as planned). I should have known better. While I…