“All other jobs exist for one purpose one, and that is to support the [homemaker].” -C.S. Lewis
What would you say to a person who was working 98 hours per week?
You’re crazy! You need to relax. Take time off. Spend it with family.
What would you say to a person who was putting effort into something they deeply loved and wanted for 98 hours a week–that is 2.5 full time jobs?
I’m guessing your answers are quite different.
Frames are how information is presented to us, negatively or positively. For instance, 20% chance of rain and 80% chance of sunshine mean the same thing, but they resonate with us differently. We use framing any time we deliver information. I can say 1 in 4 homeless people are women, or 3 in 4 homeless people are men. While they mean the same, they clearly put the emphasis on different parties.
We often accept the frames that we are sold. We might accept that we have to do well in school in order to be successful people. We might accept that love asks nothing. Or we might accept that because motherhood takes effort, it is the same thing as work.
Motherhood is a gift.
Does that mean that it isn’t tiring? That there isn’t a lot to do? Of course not. All things in life take effort. The question is whether or not that effort is worth it. Framing things solely in terms of hours spent doesn’t give us much information.
Man spends 40 hours a week lifting!
Boy spends 120 hours sleeping a week!
Child spends 2 hour in front of screen per day!
Woman spends 168 hours a week breathing!
How old is the boy? For a one-month-old boy that would be a reasonable amount of time. Does the man “lift” 40 hours a week because it is part of his job? Without any way to put these times into context, they’re meaningless.
Reportlinker did a survey about time spent cooking meals at home. It found that 23% of people said they spend more than an hour cooking each night. This may seem a huge amount of time. But a great deal of the people report doing it because cooking is a passion. These people aren’t doing a chore; they’re participating in their own gratification.
The average person does not have a very fulfilling job. Gary Keller says, “Success is getting what you want. Fulfillment is giving what you’ve got.”
Hal Elrod, an author and speaker says, “The more value that you give to people, the more value that you get out of life.”
All signs point to motherhood being very meaningful and fulfilling. It is out of line to compare someone working at McDonald’s or even the CEO of a Fortune 500 company with a mother.
We have been sold the frame that mothering is a curse on our brows, that being a mother is a million jobs tucked into one.
It is not. It is not 2.5 jobs.
You don’t always have to be happy. Things are allowed to be difficult. Life is hard.
But we don’t need to compare our effort as mothers and wives to careers. And we certainly don’t need to be martyrs that are bearing a cross. Unmartyr yourself.
When you believe that motherhood is a burden, it will feel that way. Most of the time, people portray parenting as torture—funny torture, that is eventually worth it, but torture nonetheless.
In fact, parenting can be pleasant. A great deal of the time. If you come at it from the right perspective and with the right energy.
More than ever, the mothering community is putting an emphasis on self-care. As well it should. We cannot afford to not take care of ourselves. And not just for ourselves, but for our children. We have to have the mental energy to re-frame a culturally constructed narrative that tells us that this is unpaid labor, when it is really our unpaid purpose.