Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mothering as Work

I have been thinking a lot lately as motherhood being considered "work." Part of what has got me thinking about this is the upcoming section of the Motherlode Conference in Toronto hosted by the Association for Research on Mothering. The section is entitled "Motherhood and Work/Motherwork." It's a fascinating topic and I'm sorry I won't be able to attend this incredible conference. I personally believe mothering is work and it often feels as such. Taking care of my child requires skills and patience, much in the same way my former profession required. Children, especially young children, require constant caretaking and attention, and that makes it feel like work.

I think a lot of feminists and mothers in general are hesitant to describe their caretaking responsibilies as "work" because parenting is an unpaid labor of love. I don't hesitate to use the word work to describe my job as a stay at home parent, because that's what it is. If I wasn't taking care of my child, I would be in the paid workforce. Therefore, my job as a mother has replaced my former job, making it work. I'm not afraid to use this term...caretaking is hard, messy and very challenging. I consider mothering to be both my profession and my job. In my opinion, the more seriously one takes parenting, the better.

1 comment:

GrrrlfriendJess said...

Perhaps the distinction between the mother-work we do and the other-work we do is important, just like the differentiation between the jobs we do because we need a job (hello, grad schools days of waiting tables/telemarketing/file clerking)and jobs we do because we have the fire, the passion, the heart, the gifts to do (thank you, writing/painting/teaching). I'm not saying each and every minute of parenting is bliss (two words: snot aspirator), but I do know I am a lot more OK filling out endless forms and sitting through horrifically boring conference calls for a job I love. It is killer that you brought up the ARM conference in Toronto. I am a presenter and could not be more thrilled to be in such great company. If you can't make it, their journals are worth the price of shipping for sure.