I had to share A Response to a Bizarre View of Motherhood written by a longtime friend. Harper’s Bazaar recently published an opinion piece regarding the media response to Amala Clooney’s appeal to the United Nations on the genocide committed by Isis. Jennifer Wright authored the article entitled “Motherhood is Not a Woman’s Most Important Job”. Her article includes jaw-dropping gems like “The most important jobs are the one that comes with the most respect and power.”
I am not reposting my friend’s words to tear down Jennifer Wright, but rather to lift up the women who power through each day with love and dedication. Anyone who has left a professional job will find that job to continue on quite nicely without you. Supervisors who praised and adored your work will find your replacement.
Mothers are not replaceable. Their absence is missed at so many moments in life. Big moments, little moments. I have won the most prestigious award in my professional industry and yet I am not missed in my previous profession nor am I surprised. I suspect I would be missed if I was no longer around for my children.
Mallory Even is a long-time friend who sent Jennifer her response below. I loved her overall point that if a mother, then motherhood is the most important job one can have.
A Response to a Bizarre View of Motherhood
This letter is in response to the article you authored which was posted on March 17, 2017, entitled, “Motherhood is Not a Woman’s Most Important Job” (http://www.harpersbazaar.com/…/amal-clooney-motherhood-wom…/).
If the title was meant to be jarring in order to grab the attention of more potential readers, it worked. A dear friend of mine sent me the link to the article, and I honestly had a hard time reading it at first glance. I was so offended so deeply, so early into reading that it took me a few passes to get through it.
My understanding is that feminism’s overarching theme is to support a woman’s right to choose – to choose who they are, how they spend their time, what they wear, how they live, where they work, if they choose to work, who they marry, if they want to be a mother – not to only support women who choose to think and live their lives the same way that you do.
I do agree with you on one matter here – who cares what Amal Clooney was wearing while addressing the UN? We have much more important matters going on in our country and globally at the moment – some of which Amal was touching on in her speech. She can wear whatever she likes, and the media should not have been focusing on her choice of shoes. A waste of ink or air time, in my opinion. However, the irony of Harper’s Bazaar Magazine, a women’s fashion magazine, reporting that media outlets had no business commenting on what Amal Clooney was wearing while addressing the UN, is not lost on me.
This is an opinion piece, and your opinion was stated very clearly in your writing. I see the world through another lens, and I have to say that I wholeheartedly disagree with you. Simply put, if a mother, then motherhood is the most important job one can have.
As a strong woman who was raised by a strong woman, and who is raising a strong daughter and son, and as a college graduate who has been a business owner for 10 years, I take offense to the fact that you call what I consider my most important job – motherhood – simply a volunteer position that is not nearly as important as my career. Please note that I am not saying that all women should only be, or can only be, mothers. But the minute that you begin to say that women should value one title over the other because one title is more important than the other, is the same moment you begin to insult the very foundation of feminism, is it not? Do you really want women to have the power of choice or just the ability to choose what you prefer?
Belittling motherhood belittles the child itself; whether that child is still in utero or is walking here on earth with us. You see, if you belittle motherhood to the point of calling it an unimportant volunteer position, you can easily make the leap to then consider the unborn child to be somewhat of a hobby; one without life just yet; one that is insignificant; one that is expendable. You may find this point irrelevant to your article; I find it very closely related.
In my career, I have worked with countless children who have been traumatized, abused, neglected, and hurt. When a child is told – whether verbally and directly, or non-verbally and indirectly, that they are not important, they begin to believe that lie and live it. I assume you would claim that every life is deserving of respect, has worth, and should be treated equitably – women, children, refugees, those with different religious beliefs – another matter on which we would agree. However, your message here is that shaping the minds and hearts of children while raising them should be seen as the equivalent of an unpaid, unimportant volunteer position which should always be trumped by a career, which directly translates to the idea that children have less worth. Children can’t be equally as important as everyone else if you name the task of raising them merely a secondary hobby.
What volunteer position do you know of that is present in your every thought, every moment of the day while awake? What volunteer position wakes you up three times in the night for a drink of water, or to be consoled after having another bad dream? What volunteer position takes the very essence of who you thought you were, and tips that idea on an axis that you didn’t even know existed? What volunteer position changes you and pushes you to the point of seeing the world in an entirely new way? What volunteer position affords you the extreme privilege and equally terrifying responsibility to influence minds, hearts, and decisions from the very beginning of their life until yours or theirs comes to an end? What volunteer position requires cooking, cleaning, wiping bottoms, wiping noses, and wiping tears all within the same hour? What volunteer position requires your time, dedication, energy, thought, and love 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the rest of your time here on earth? What volunteer position promises you the hardest days of your life? What volunteer position promises you the best, most fulfilling days of your life? What volunteer position requires sincere and brutal honesty with self and others? What volunteer position calls you on your b.s. and takes you down at the knees every single day? What volunteer position allows your legacy to live on long after you are gone? What volunteer position holds your hand and tells you it loves you, over and over again? What volunteer position allows you to realize that any love it shows you is a direct reflection of the love you have invested in it?
When asking some of these questions in isolation, you may find some volunteer positions that do fulfill those roles. But there is not one career, volunteer position, or secondary hobby which fulfills them all.
I also need to add that, my husband’s most important job is fatherhood. He is a brilliant engineer who works hard to support our family, and ensures the well-being of the American people by regulating the safety of nuclear power plants. But even more important than that is his job of giving our children a positive, loving, male role model. His most important job is coming home every night to kiss them fifteen times on the forehead, give them one more drink of water, and to read one more story before they go to sleep. His most important job is to tell our son and daughter that they can be anything they want to be if they work hard for it. His most important job is to tell our children how important they are. That they are worth his time. That they are worth being his most important job.
There is no trial period for parenthood – no dipping your toe into the pool to test the water. The second you become a parent you are fully immersed in the stress, anxiety, worry, fear, joy, comfort, and overwhelming love that accompanies the title. In parenthood there is no turning back, no career change, no retirement. There is no other job on earth that promises you more hardship while expecting and demanding more from you. There are no breaks, no time outs, no do-overs, and no opportunities to turn back time. Parenthood is not for everyone, and if not a parent, then a career could easily be considered a person’s most important job, should they choose for it to be. However, when one chooses to be a parent, there is an importance that is automatically and immediately inherited that is unlike any other.
Motherhood is the most mind-numbingly difficult, and yet the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. And without a shadow of a doubt, it has been and will continue to be my most important job. One day I will close the chapter of my professional life and retire from my career, and then what will remain? What has always remained – my family.
Mother; Business Owner & Entrepreneur
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