Being a mum is not a job

Say what?

I'm currently addicted to TV game shows. I've always had a love of trivia - any quiz night outing I'll be there with bells on. Not a lot of helpful knowledge, but plenty of enthusiasm.

It was during one of these TV game shows that we heard the usual format of introductions. “Hi, my name is Frank and I'm an engineer from Gloucester.” (Sorry, no one does game shows better than the Brits!). They continued. “Hello, my name is Janice and I'm a corporate manager from Lincoln.” “Hi, my name is Megan and I'm a stay at home mum from Bristol.”

“That's not a job.”

That was Mr 11. The one I thought was busy creating a kennel for his virtual dogs in Minecraft and not paying attention to mum's boring TV shows.

“I mean, everyone else is like, I'm an accountant, I'm an engineer. She can't say 'I'm a stay at home mum', that's not a job.”

My head slowly turned toward him, sitting on the other half of the couch and my dumbfounded stare met his quick look up in my direction.

“You what?” Obviously at this point I could have led with something a little more poignant but I was still in the midst of trying to determine where in his 11 years on this planet he got the notion that being a mum was just a hobby. “You don't think that being a mum is a job? It's THE most important job in the world!”

“But you don't get paid for it,” he continued.

“I KNOW!!”

“Son, just don't go there.” My husband is quite old school when it comes to household duties and parenting but he knows when to pull his head in and to instruct his offspring that they are treading on dangerous ground.

“But you have a job, mum.”

“AND I'm a mother as well!”

“Maybe I should stop digging this hole before it gets too big.”

At this point I wasn't a hundred percent sure if he was still playing Minecraft or if his father's words had finally sunk in.


The conversation definitely made me reflect on what impression I give my kids with regards to the duties of being a mother. My parenting style tends to vary quite a bit between authoritarian and laid-back-hippie. I've been referred to as a 'drill sargeant' when it comes to my kids' behaviour. That's probably a bit unfair. The kids know what I expect from them and I appreciate the fact that 99% of the time they are well-behaved. It's more of a mutual understanding rather than a dictatorship. But I also think kids need to be kids – acting silly, laughing, playing, running, shouting. The kids can run through the house, making more noise than a herd of elephants whilst shooting nerf bullets in my direction with appallingly good accuracy and I will hardly bat an eyelid (though I may just arm myself with a stashed blaster!).

Maybe the “job” of being a mother doesn't seem like hard work to them because I'm making this all look too easy? (Cue hysterical laughter). Heaven knows that is so far from the truth and is an illusion that has taken years to perfect. The difference between being a mum with a baby and a toddler and being a mum to a tween and a teen is about four hours of additional sleep each night and the joys of cognitive reasoning. And while there may be an outward mirage of calm and control, quite often I am paddling like crazy through the trials and traumas of the bigger issues that confront tweens and teens – proverbially up the creek, approaching the waterfall and hoping my paddle doesn't break!

But seriously, being a mum or dad is more than just duties, discipline and housework. It's guidance; it's instilling resilience and a sense of worth; it's showing kids that life is to be enjoyed and respected; it's sharing the joy of family and love; it's our future. It's the hardest job in the world and the most rewarding.


This blog was written by Julie Scanlon, Editor for Kidspot NZ.

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