I sip my warm cup of coffee slowly this morning so as not to have brown spew spraying out my nose as I read that title. Easiest job. Ever. Right. (So... who's full of it today? Yep. That'd be me.)
When we are gleefully (and maybe not-so-gleefully) expecting our first child, every one on the planet is ecstatic for us. The old lady in the grocery store line, the nosy next door neighbor who speaks a jumbled mess of what you think is Spanish and English, your mother in law (only cause you finally provided an heir to her throne). Everyone.
"Oh, I'm so excited for you!" "How wonderful!" "You'll love it. Motherhood is amazing." And, if we're lucky, someone will lie to us with "You'll be a great mom."
And they all smile sweetly at you, staring at your bulging belly, a dreamy look in their eyes that says they'd trade places with you in a heartbeat to be standing at that beginning, honeymoon-esque breaking dawn of the parenting horizon.
Not a one of them has the heart to tell you the truth. (Maybe because we've grown accustom to giving fake, cordial responses to the good fortune of others?) Motherhood isn't the easiest job in the world.
The truth is that motherhood is the hardest job you'll ever undertake. Ever. No one ever tells you that.
I suppose it would be heartless to walk up to a new mom and start laughing maniacally and tell her "you're soooo screwed". Especially as she's coming off the fumes of those I-just-gave-birth, I-can-conquer-the-wor..-oh, wait-here-comes-the-steep-slope-of-the-emotional-roller-coaster hormones.
Hm. (Pondering the outcome of that scenario...)
Motherhood is all about trying to comfortably situate your after-children, not quite J-Lo and definitely not Angelina, um, derrier on a tight rope 50 feet tall. Motherhood is the thinnest line any woman is ever made to walk, a constant decision-making process of splitting hairs, finding needles in silver hay stacks, and hanging on by less than you ever imagined you could.
No wonder I'm tired all the time. Holy cow.
Those first emotions, the adrenaline-released rushes we generally feel sometime after giving birth (mind you: not everyone does and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that) are Mother Nature's way of telling you to look the other way while she quietly places all sorts of motherhood's naturally-occuring obstacles on your path. If the majority of us didn't experience that high after birth, that rush of relief, that overwhelming sense that all things are right in the world (if, at least, for a moment), what woman would ever have children? Just like if men were made to give birth, surely the human race would have died out eons ago.
Don't get me wrong. Motherhood is not without its benefits! For starters, the pay is certain. Whether you get paid with cranky remarks, whining, or hugs, kisses, and snuggle time, you always get some form of payment. Second, you are promoted from laborer (ha!) to president of the whole dang family business on your first official day on the job. (And you didn't even need a resume or proof of ability for this job!!!) Technically, you can't get fired even though your teenager would love to do so. (Insert maniacal laugh of your choosing.)
This "job" also comes with a nice retirement package of memories, gray hairs, and little keepsakes into the world of human relations, psychology and all the other -ology sciences, including criminology. With receipt of said package, semi-retirement is guaranteed. (I say "semi" because it's impossible to keep a mother from loving, worrying about, caring for, and otherwise meddling in her children's lives.)
Semi-retirement. Hm. Think about it: the whole point of our "job" as moms is to put us out of a job, to have our children ride off into the sunset without so much as a glance backward for strength, security, or reasoning because they can and because we got them there. Semi-retirement only means we did our job. And did it well.
Speaking of which... when my daughter turned one, it wasn't just a celebratory moment for her. It was a congratulatory moment for me. I'd gotten her this far. I'd kept my kid alive for a whole year! And in one piece! And healthy! And happy! Who else could say they'd done that?!
And it is here I respectfully decree: no one else could.
Only a mother could. Only me. "It's easy", I'll say when my daughter asks what it's like to be a mother. Because she has to find out for herself the true nature of motherhood. Just like those new moms, just like the new mom I was, she'd never believe me otherwise.
Motherhood: The hardest job you'll ever love.