Motherhood isn’t tougher than fatherhood, but maybe we should all stop competing

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I have to admit upfront that I have developed an immunity to ‘tearjerker’ viral ads. You see, I fell into a vat of Hallmark Cards and maple syrup when I was a child, and emerged from that scarring incident completely impervious to the sugary, contrived sentimentality of clever marketing campaigns.

I’m constantly greeted by people posting videos on Facebook, promising that, if I just watch to the end, I’ll ‘be a wreck’ because it’s the ‘saddest/sweetest thing’ I’ll have ‘EVER seen, EVER.’  Usually I skim right past, but sometimes I’ll click the link like the sucker that I am, and yet again confirm that I am incapable of shedding a tear over a commercial for sponges or minivans.

All of this emoting also damages everyone’s credibility. Honestly, I don’t know how to take someone who posts a status about how they just returned from a funeral and it was the saddest experience of their life, when I saw them write the same thing about a dish detergent advertisement three days ago.

In any event, I am in the minority, so the emotional manipulation will continue. Here’s the latest example: a greeting card company posted a fake job listing online. They then ‘interviewed’ several candidates for what they billed as ‘the toughest job in the world.’ The blogs that reposted the video promised a ‘surprise’ ending, but I guessed the surprise within 3 seconds of hitting play: the ‘toughest job in the world’ is motherhood, and these unemployed applicants, while not in line for any actual paying gig, were offered a great lesson about the importance of moms.

Never mind the cruelty of tricking desperate job seekers (so desperate that they apparently applied for a job that sounds like indentured servitude) into thinking that they were in line for a position, only to pull the rug out, all in the name of ‘sending a message’ —  and without even offering a useful parting gift, like a gas card or a can of beans or something.

Also never mind how the fake interviewer and the fake listing describe this position:

-Must be willing to stand “ALL of the time.”

-Must work 135 hours or more a week.

-No breaks.

-No rest.

-No sleep.

-Can’t eat, except when your ‘associate’ (your child, get it?) says you can.

I have twins. I’m a parent. Parenting is hard, my wife would agree. But we aren’t up and going 20 HOURS A DAY EVERY WEEK, ALL YEAR. Come on, already. We sleep. We both sleep. We have time to ourselves. We watched a movie last Friday. This past weekend, we had a cookout, twice. We had fun. You know what? The kids ADDED to the fun. We actually like having them around, if you can believe it. Parenting isn’t quite the miserable slog that some parents love to paint it.

I used to work two jobs — overnights at a radio station and evenings at a fast food place — I got much less sleep in those days than I do now. Even more recently, I’d get up at 330 AM and get to work at 4 AM. I was more tired then, much more tired.

Standing “all of the time”? NO rest at all? NO sleep at all? Who are we supposed to be parenting here? A chimpanzee on speed? If parenting literally required you to be up and going all the time, every day, with no breaks, little food, and no sleep — you’d be dead. Every parent in the world would be dead. What you’re describing here are the conditions of a North Korean prison camp, not a home in the American suburbs.

Not to mention, if your children dictate your schedule to that extent, you’re doing something wrong. Oh, they can be demanding, for sure. But my mother had six kids and I’m pretty sure she still ate on occasion. She also had time alone with my dad. They were organized. They knew how to put us in our place and prevent us from completely commandeering the household.

OK, now put the ad aside, never mind the ad. It’s only relevant in so far as it reveals a troubling attitude; an attitude that makes these sorts of commercials so effective; an attitude that portrays parenting as the most torturous endeavor anyone could possibly attempt.

I’m all for being real with people, but all we accomplish is making otherwise fine young men and women utterly petrified of starting a family. They constantly hear that you’ll never sleep, your life is over, and you’ll never have fun again, unless you learn to define ‘fun’ as ‘poopy diapers and bankruptcy.’ And then we wonder why birthrates are plummeting?

But worse even than the weird ‘competitive suffering’ pastime that is both uniquely American and very prevalent in (though by no means exclusive to) parenting circles, is the increasingly noticeable habit of diminishing the role of fatherhood in all of this.

It’s no secret that pop culture and advertisers have long taken to portraying men, and especially husbands and fathers, as bumbling nincompoops, incapable of changing a diaper or microwaving a bag of popcorn without burning the house down. The real trouble is that, I think, many people endorse this kind of message unintentionally.

Remember, the greeting card ad declared MOTHERHOOD to be the ‘toughest job,’ even though it described (with great hyperbole) the duties of parents in general. Yes, it’s a Mother’s Day commercial, but we all know that not a single company would ever conceive of making a Father’s Day commercial proclaiming specifically fatherhood to be ‘the toughest job’ in the world, and if they did, many of the folks who loved this ad would hate that one.

It’s not like calling motherhood THE toughest job in the world only vaguely insinuates that it’s tougher than fatherhood — it screams it. So, when I noticed all of these married women reposting the ad, and accompanying it with their own caption, reiterating that their job is THE toughest, I couldn’t help but wonder how their husbands factor into that equation.

I’m not out to say that being a dad is ‘harder’ than being a mom. I’m saying that they are different, and ingrained in those differences are challenges and hardships that the other could only faintly understand. I say faintly because much of what makes a thing hard — especially an enormous, all encompassing thing like parenting — rests on how you, the individual, processes it. Hard, when it comes to mothering and fathering, is less a matter of physical exhaustion, and more a matter of the emotional, mental, and spiritual weight that comes with such a profound and serious responsibility.

If I were to say that my ‘job as a parent’ is ‘harder’ than my wife’s, I would be claiming to carry a heavier burden on my heart and in my head. But how dare I say such a thing? How would I have the right? How could a statement like that have any chance of helping a marriage at all? What is it designed to do, other than hoist guilt and inferiority onto your spouse?

I would never say it, and I would never think it. My wife, I’m certain, wouldn’t either. She has verbalized that she knows it can’t be easy to shoulder the responsibility of providing for a family. And I have told her that I know it isn’t easy to be so constantly immersed in the daily task of caring for two young children.

And we both know that our greatest task as parents — above educating our children, above feeding them, above changing their diapers, above clothing them, even above keeping them safe — is to help them become virtuous, and to bring them closer to God.

This is the ultimate duty of a parent, and it is NOT easy. My kids are babies, but this is the single, solitary aspect of parenthood that weighs on me more than anything. This is my cross. This is my wife’s cross. We carry our own, each of us, but we carry them together as much as we can. All I want for my children is for them to be good. I know they will experience unhappiness, I know they will suffer, I know they will hurt, I know they will die — God willing they will die long after I’m buried in the ground. But I pray that Julia becomes a good woman, a virtuous woman, and Luke grows into a good man, a virtuous man.

This is my task. This is my wife’s task. This is why it’s important for a child to have both a mother and a father, and why those roles are meaningful. It’s got nothing to do with who vacuums the carpet or who makes dinner, it has everything to do with the unique ways in which a woman and a man can demonstrate virtue, and in demonstrating it, instill it. Any parent — mom or dad, but hopefully both — who takes this on, has taken on a tough job. In some ways, yes, perhaps the toughest. Certainly not more physically demanding than working in a coal mine, and definitely not nearly as dangerous as being a Marine Corps sniper in Afghanistan, and not more exhausting than being a surgeon or even a waitress working a double on a Friday night, and not more troubling than being a mortician or a forensics expert.

But, save the religious life, there’s only one job where you are directly responsible for the state of another human being’s soul — parenting. For that reason, and ONLY that reason, parenting has a claim to the ‘toughest’ title. But, really, there is no title. And anyone worried about it probably needs help being virtuous themselves.

Of course, some women are single moms, and all of this really does land at their feet. But some men are single fathers, or fathers in marriages with women who act in ways that would earn men the title of ‘deadbeat dads.’ We can’t say that about women, only men, but that doesn’t mean the behavior that earns the label is somehow gender specific.

One day maybe we’ll realize that parenting is designed, biologically, physically, and spiritually, to be work — not a job at all, really — that is best accomplished through the harmony of husband and wife. When we elevate one above the other, or dismiss the role of one for the sake of the other, we bring chaos into that natural harmony.

But, then again, this is all a message that won’t necessarily help anyone sell greeting cards or hand soap, so what’s the point?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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312 Responses to Motherhood isn’t tougher than fatherhood, but maybe we should all stop competing

  1. fatimah23 says:

    The article is too long.

  2. Britney says:

    I saw the video last night. I’m a homeschool Mom with two boys. My husband is deployed. I’m pregnant with our third.
    I thought to myself, if motherhood is supposed to be that hard I must be failing somewhere. 🙂

  3. Molly says:

    This whole shtick bothered me too… and you have some great points about the victimhood of parents here. But what bothers me most about this ad isn’t the fact that it leaves out the father (you can honor one person in the equation without inherently dishonoring the other, in my opinion) – but the continuing narrative that being a mother is a “job,” and one that you “give up your life for.” While one of the biggest benefits of parenthood has got to be as a de facto course in selflessness, it’s not a job. It’s a vocation — and a PART of life, not the absence of one.

  4. Colleen says:

    The only tearjerker ad that ever got me was the one where the kid runs his parents ragged (it’s a South American ad for Coke, maybe?) and then just as it’s starting to get easier because the kid is older the mom gets pregnant again. You see her looking apprehensive to tell her husband, but then she does and he’s wildly excited to go through it all again. It may exaggerate the slog that parenthood can be, for effect, but it also showed how rewarding it is.

    But you’re right; the ad you’re discussing above is pretty stupid.

  5. google “Bill Burr most challenging job on the planet” – he pretty much sums it up. Not saying raising kids is easy (I want to throw my 4 yo and 1 yo out the window at times), but I can think of a few dozen jobs off the top of my head that are tougher than being a SAH parent.

  6. I actually sick of our society holding up women, mothers in particular, on a pedestal while at the same time berating men left and right. Motherhood is a much easier job than most people realize. And it is not a thankless job either.

    Fatherhood, on the other hand, is the most neglected job. Studies have shown that fathers help children cultivate empathy in children.

    Anyway, great article Matt. As a parent of a one-year-old myself, I know that this part is the easy part. As he grows older, I have to instill in him a sense of discipline and morality, which is no easy task. Right now, it’s more about keeping him alive.

    • Matt Hunter says:

      A good commentary on this iscomedian Bill Burr’s take on the hardest job in the world. It’s spot on.

    • mamarama44 says:

      hmmm… “motherhood is a much easier job than most people realize???” and you can say that because you have been a mother before?? I don’t understand how you can make these claims unless you have actually been a mother.

      I would say being a mother is extremely difficult work for these reasons… #1 (From personal experience) it is physically, emotionally and spiritually demanding, #2 There is no tangible measure of how you are doing with your entire life’s work. Motherhood is constantly changing as your children change and most days you have no idea whether you have succeeded or failed. I believe this is why mothers appreciate (and thrive on) a little pat on the back every once in a while.

      Like Matt, I am not saying motherhood is more difficult than fatherhood- just different. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to balance children, church, your spouse, etc. on top of working at a job with completely different needs and demands 8+ hours a day. However, I will not tolerate anyone calling my job as a mother easy! Wonderful, unique, messy, challenging, enlightening, fun, demanding, joyous, heart-wrenching… yes, all of the above, but certainly NOT easy!!

      • Joseph Lee says:

        mamarama44:

        Mark Fox didn’t call it “easy”; he said it isn’t as hard or thankless as it is made out to be, often at the expense of fatherhood. I think he overstates or oversimplifies things but the one thing he definitely didn’t do was call motherhood “easy”.

        Both comments are still trying to compete, even while claiming not to be.

        • mamarama44 says:

          Joseph Lee: You are correct… Mark Fox did not use the word “easy” …just a conjugated form of it. He is making a whole lot of assumptions with no evidence (or experience) to back it up.
          You are also making an assumption that I was trying to “compete,” while actually completely missing my point. Actually my point was that stay-at-home moms (or dads) do not really have anything other than the appreciation of their spouse and children to rely on as a measure of how they are doing. While my husband can look at the bank account, 401k, home, car, promotions, or reviews/assessments at work to see some measure of progress in his life… stay at home parents can’t! It is not until our children are adults that we get a tiny glimpse of how we have done.
          Please try to understand how much a compliment or a little recognition means to someone who has very few measures of how much they are progressing. Really all we have is guesses… “I ‘think’ that life lesson sunk in,” “I ‘hope’ my children are developing true faith,” “I ‘might’ be approaching this issue the right way,” … we don’t (we can’t) really know! Doesn’t everyone want to see (to some extent) that what they are pouring their heart and soul into, actually means something to someone? I am not saying that motherhood is more difficult, more important, etc. I am saying it is different… perhaps in a way that Mark Fox (or you) had not considered before. Appreciation is a SAH Mommy’s only paycheck in this life.

        • kathy says:

          I would hope that a parent would be able to see how successful he/she is based on the behavior, manners, attitude, etc. that their child displays during any growth phase.

    • Rachel Wilson says:

      Be careful here – one ad is one thing, but if you seriously believe that in this age of continued blatant sexism and income inequality in the workplace, that somehow our society is holding up women, mothers in particular, while at the same time berating men left and right, you must be from a different country and culture than I’m living in. Sure, said commercial may have gone too far, but so has your generalization.

      • Joseph Lee says:

        Rachel Wilson, Matt Walsh addressed the “income inequality” myth not too long ago; even assuming your reference to it is a mistake, it already makes it hard to trust your judgment. Collectively, our society is dragging parenthood into the gutter. Depending upon who you are, what you take in, etc. either parenting roll can have it worse than the other. There may be some gender bias as well…

        …which I recommend you consider if you don’t want to make the same mistake of which you accused Mark Fox.

  7. analyticalperspective says:

    Favorite quote of the day:

    “Who are we supposed to be parenting here? A chimpanzee on speed?”

  8. David says:

    Sitcoms, advertisements, movies…and most media affirm and re-affirm consciously or subconsciously the fact that men are buffoons and couldn’t wipe themselves properly without a woman on hand to make sure they do it right. But as to the fake “advertisement” for the job in this “lesson”, who in the hell in their right mind would agree to those terms? Even migrant workers would be all like “F*** that noise.”

  9. therandomg says:

    As a father of 6 year old twin boys and a 5 month old girl, You have just blessed me with a ridiculously relevant post. Great stuff Matt

  10. analyticalperspective says:

    My ex-husband’s brother worked full-time, cleaned the house, got up in the middle of the night to tend to his son, and was the primary caretaker even as he was married. It’s not about having to be male or female to be proficient at something (e.g. parenting, basket weaving). It’s partly about desire. It’s mostly about personality type. I can’t stress it enough. Your biological hardwiring influenced by your environment dictates what kind of parent you will be.

    • Matt Hunter says:

      I’d have to disagree. People are not hardwired and have their futures dictated by their past environments. There are far too many exceptions to this to believe it is accurate. As a parent, I constantly find myself reflecting on the actions of my own parents and that I disagreed with and am more aware and thoughtful of my own actions because I don’t want to report those mistakes. I’m not saying it is easy, and to your point, if I’m not thoughtful and careful, I default to that with which I was familiar from my upbringing.

      • analyticalperspective says:

        That’s not what I said. If you want to understand what I said you will have to 1. open your mind to human theory 2. research personality types 3. research and understand how our biology as well as our environment affects who we are.

        • OtterMatt says:

          Aside from the arrogance that someone would have to study to understand your OH SO LOFTY OPINIONS, I enjoy the way your view hinged everything on the phrase “Open your mind to human theory”, which is shorthand for “come to the side that refuses to accept that free will and personal responsibility are real things that exist.” We are a product of our environments and biology. Wonderful. This makes it impossible to blame me for failing and ruining the lives of my eventual offspring.

        • analyticalperspective says:

          I find it interesting how humans fall prey to emotions. Admittedly, I fall prey when it comes to injustices, but I usually don’t fall prey to every word a person utters. I find it interesting how most people take most topics of conversation with personal offense. I wonder if it is because you read passages with your own critical tone instead of with the passivity in which the topic is addressed. Try reading my passage again without emotion but with objectivity. Psychology is a science misunderstood usually by extroverted sensory feeling types, because these types are not introspective, intuitive, or thinking. When your rationale is riddled by emotion it is difficult to analyze data. I hope you will consider honing your recessive traits, as we all have them in some capacity. These points I state are not opinions, but empirically proven facts. If you would ever like to discuss this topic I invite you to converse with me. I only ask that you open your mind to the possibility that there is a more efficient way to view life other than your own. 864-473-7288. My name is Heather Blackwell. I am at your service with the sincerity I usually forfeit for the sake of entertainment value.

        • analyticalperspective says:

          BTW, human theory is steeped in free will and personal responsibility.

      • analyticalperspective says:

        It is a rare thing when a person not only 1. Becomes aware of who they are but 2. Is able to discern the maladaptive behavioral issues in their immediate environment 3. Choose to be different than their maladaptive environment. You are ahead of the game judging by your declaration.

      • Matt(Not Walsh) says:

        Yes, people make mistakes, even parents. To say that you are more award of your actions because you don’t want to “report”(think you meant repeat) those mistakes is a good thing. Just don’t make worse mistakes like a lot of modern parents do.

    • That guy says:

      I usually don’t agree with Anylyticalperspective, but what she said in this specific post makes sense. It’s human behavioral psychology. People’s choices are affected by their biology and their environment. Some people, as a result of these factors, are naturally more empathetic towards others. That’s not to say one can’t LEARN to be a good parent, it’s just that it comes easier to some people, men and women, than others.

  11. Christine Wright says:

    Thanks for “keeping it real.” It’s true, children are a blessing and so many times we see them as a burden. I think the conflict comes due to the narcissistic nature of fallen humanity. Children are mirror that reflect who we really are.

  12. Another Homeschooler says:

    Right again!

    Today, I made several family meals, baked four loaves of bread, homeschooled for several hours, did a little sewing, laundry, cleaning, organizing, etc. My husband works 10 hours today, plus puts in a few more hours at Church, then he’ll come home and spend some time parenting, too. Right now, I am surfing the net, but I doubt that my husband is enjoying that luxury.

    Any woman who has the nerve to whine about “never getting a break” and “always being on her feet” WHILE surfing the net to watch this video while her husband is at work – has a lot of nerve.

    My Mom was a Widowed Mother of several children – now THAT was a hard job. But, I don’t remember her ever complaining about it – on the contrary – she always said how much she loved it.

    I see it as a great joy & privilege to be a Mother – especially one who is able to stay home to do it – and I am endlessly grateful to my husband for making it possible.

  13. ruffages says:

    That was disappointing. Instead of just recognizing the video as a “kudos” to moms you had to turn it into something it wasn’t. It WASN’T a slam on dads. YES, parenting is difficult. And I suspect that you are NOT in the majority in how you approach parenting. Parenting isn’t always (and my guess is it is RARELY) an equal division of labor, if one is to look at just what the role of parenting is. Usually one parent (mom OR dad) has a lions share of the actual physical caring for of children. It’s rare that this is split equally among parents. And I suspect that THIS was the thrust of the video. NOT meant to be demeaning towards dads, but somewhat factual. Certainly there are reasons for that, such as my husband carries the weight of income while I am at home raising our 4 children. His job is no less important and in addition he still gets to come home to a second job as parent. But neither is mine, for which there is no monetary value attached to it. And the adage that “you get what you pay for” brings that lack of appreciation home. So, a short video that opens ADULTS eyes to the sacrifices that moms have made on their behalf isn’t really out of line. At least I didn’t think so. Obviously, YMMV.

    • jessica says:

      Yes! This is what I wanted to say also!

    • D says:

      I’m with you! It was just a video! It made me stop, sit back and think about all that my mom has done and still does for me! IT WAS JUST A VIDEO!! Love your blog but geez you got a little sensitive there!

    • TacoDave says:

      I disagree, Ruffages. I think the fact that you are a woman made you react to the video differently. I am a man and I felt the same way Matt did: like the video was saying Moms Do Everything All the Time without mentioning Dads at all.

      My wife works night shifts on the weekends as a nurse. I could never do that job, because I value sleep too much. But since she is working nights and sleeping during the day on Saturday and Sunday, I watch our five kids by myself all weekend. I don’t go out to movies, I don’t spend time with friends – I stay home with the kids.

      In other words, we *both* work full-time jobs and we *both* take care of the kids. It’s not just about Moms.

    • Matt(Not Walsh) says:

      I freely admit that I didn’t actually watch the video in question, but I have to disagree with you. It was a horrible video to make based on the description for a couple reasons. It makes it sound like mothers are running non-stop 24/7, which is a fallacy. As a mother of 4 do you sleep? Do you sit down and watch TV sometimes? Do you go out with your family and have picnics or barbecues or such? Depending on the ages of your kids, do you go watch them compete(and I use that term very loosely in today’s everyone’s a winner, lets not keep score kid’s athletics programs)? Second reason is that it took people who were desperate to find work and made them think that they had a shot at actually being able to support themselves and their families. This is a very cruel thing to do to someone. I doubt very much that you’d disagree with me on that point.

      • Joseph Lee says:

        Gotta back up both Matts here Ruffages (and those in agreement with her), are you considering the unintended consequences are still consequences? How about that marketing is marketing? This was an ad that jerked some people around to sell a product; if the person was sincere it is unlikely they would have allowed what might have been a “beautiful sentiment” to be whored out to sell a product while misleading hopeful job applicants.

        These are ideas that tickle people’s ears (my Mom was amazing and an incredibly hard worker akin to the ad description), but you know what this kind of marketing (or storytelling in sitcoms, etc.) does to men? You can be a “real man” without being immune to criticism. How about what it does to kids? Remember… the message doesn’t have to be presented this way at all so even if its only those of us that are easily fooled (like I was for many years) undervaluing fatherhood, it is damage done through negligence at best.

        • ruffages says:

          Isn’t that great about opinions? Everyone gets to have one. Does yours sway mine? No. I think Matt took something that was just supposed to be a recognition of what moms do and turned into something because he felt slighted (or maybe slighted for dads, which makes it all encompassing). And there was no need for him to feel slighted especially since he makes use of hyperbole in his writing to make a point. Exactly what the video did. Reading into it that dad’s are just as important (which they ARE, and more and more their involvement in their children’s lives are increasing, but that doesn’t mean that the two jobs are physically, emotionally, and spiritually equal) was unnecessary. There shouldn’t have to be participation trophies for everyone. And that is how his blog came off sounding to me. Again, YMMV (and given your experiences, it probably does)

          The upshot of the video, IMO, is that one can give kudos through exaggeration to open eyes of those who don’t really appreciate what they’ve had without slighting others who have also played a role.

          However, Joseph and Matt, you are correct in the job aspect part of the video. Yes, that would suck if you were in such dire straights with regard to employment. It would be interesting to know if the entire video was contrived and they used actors to play the roles of potential employees. Regardless, point taken.

  14. SF says:

    THANK you for this. This is awesome. And yes, parenting is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But physically I was way more tired when i was working two jobs to put myself through school (I was hungrier too).

  15. DJ says:

    Sorry Matt, I almost always agree with pretty much every word of your blogs, but I think you’ve gone a little toward the deep end this time. Was it a slow week? This is a mole hill, not a mountain. I won’t buy any greeting cards because of this ad, but I did share it with both my children, and my mother. Of course it was exaggerated. We do sleep. We do sit down. But it was just a clever reminder that parenthood is a huge, life changing responsibility. And no one ever said father’s don’t work hard, and have the extra stress of often being the bread winner of the family…. it’s for MOTHER’S Day. Maybe they’ll do another ad in June. Calm down! It’s not a bad thing for people, especially sexually active teenagers, to think twice about the responsibility involved in parenthood before they jump in, but I really can’t believe this ad is going to make anyone, who someday planned to become a parent, change their mind. While I understand how hard Fathers work, I would never claim to understand how they feel. Maybe you should back off a little on telling us moms how we should. We like stuff like this, we like a little ‘thank you’ once a year, even though nothing, not this ad or anything else, would ever make us want to change a moment of our lives with our children. Maybe we even like to have our tears jerked a bit. All I know is that the ad made me smile and it made my mom and kids smile. The fact that it actually made you angry is kinda sad. You’re taking this way too seriously. Happy early Father’s Day.

    • loelmu says:

      I agree with DJ and ruffages. You did take this just a bit too seriously. I laughed my ass off throughout most of the ad because the looks on their faces throughout the “interview” were priceless. It’s a Mother’s Day commercial. Relax.

    • cb says:

      I would have to agree. Seems like we’re shooting flies with an elephant gun here.

    • Joseph Lee says:

      I hope your family doesn’t suffer the way mine did from such ads. When you’re a little kid, its easy to buy into this stuff as “the truth” and not a marketing campaign. My Dad was far from perfect, and it was even harder on him when he was doing the right thing but all I cared about was what my Mom was doing for me. Keep in mind, we are talking about two parents married to each other with the children (including me) also living in the household! I still failed to use my brain and think things through… and while I bear the responsibility for my misdeeds, the guilt is also shared by the words that tickled my ear telling me how awesome mother was while ignoring or belittling my father.

      If you need this much brown-nosing for “Mother’s Day”… something else is wrong. Yeah, blunt but I lack the time and desire to spend another three paragraphs trying to sugar coat it. Remember that to disagree with Matt telling you how you should “feel” (and think)… you’re telling him how he should think and feel. Maybe you’re working harder than you should (that basically describes my Mom), maybe your husband isn’t doing what he should, and/or maybe the kids aren’t as grateful as they should be.

      If your life is going so well that (despite the hard work) nothing in that ad is being misunderstood by anyone in your family, its a good time to get on your knees and thank God. Let me know, too; I should thank him for another happy, healthy family as well, even if it isn’t my own. 🙂

  16. A dad who works out of the home is said to be supporting the family. A mom who works outside of the home is often looked down upon, as is a mom who routinely stays home with her kids. I think that alone is enough to say that moms do have it tougher. There’s always going to be that double standard. If we want to be politically correct about a lighthearted ad, then I guess we should do away with Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and just have a Parents Day. I suppose that would make it easier on the same-sex marriage parents, right?

    • I should clarify – when I said a dad who works out of the home I meant one who works AWAY from home. I really need to proofread my stuff better… 😀

    • analyticalperspective says:

      You are talking about an emotional problem, which is overcoming the stigma of being a working mom. With being a mom or dad, there is no practical problem; therefore there is no problem save the one you created in your head by caring about what others think. The question is: Will you choose to overcome yourself? I have your solution right here:

      https://analyticalperspective.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/practical-problem-vs-emotional-problem/

      • I had a boss who often told me that perception is reality. Personally, I don’t care what people think of me when it comes to my parenting. I know that my husband and I are doing the best we can. I know that I have a tough job as I both work and then go home and be a mom, but it doesn’t change my perception of moms who stay at home all the time, either. I have mad respect for them, too, cuz after the two years I stayed home I realize I would go KARAZEE if I continued it. So I don’t really need to overcome myself…

        • analyticalperspective says:

          I became OCDish with the cleaning. And I completed my first sucky novel. I can tell you about the craziness if you want.

    • James says:

      I don’t believe this is really true in our society. The only people who look down on homemakers are the feminists or mainstream media, who wish to change traditional gender roles.

      • I wish you were correct. Unfortunately, in my experience and in many of my friends who stay at home, that’s been the perception. Shoot, even just recently some stupid celebrity said that her job was harder than being a stay at home mom, or being a parent, or something like that. Yeah…um…no.

  17. TacoDave says:

    As a dad of five kids, I concur.

  18. May Sams says:

    Said well, thanks.

  19. MIchelle Shinn says:

    Work, yes. But more than anything, it is about relationship. That is all I could think about when I watched the video today. It makes moms out to be martyrs and diminishes the relationship that I have with my children.

  20. Tony says:

    Your right, If this were an add about father’s having the toughest job in the world, it would be condemned. I personally am very thankful for my wife, for the mother that she has been to our children. Right now, she’s out with her girlfriends getting manicures and pedicures and then enjoying a nice dinner with her friends. I however am about ready to leave for work. Go figure. She deserves it.

  21. Give honor to whom honor is due and for mothers day it’s time to honor mom and fathers day it’s the dad. The bible also talks about not to get cought up in foolish arguments . This is foolish.

    • Matt(Not Walsh) says:

      It may be foolish to you, but I don’t see it as an argument. He was stating his opinion about this one ad which was a horrible thing to do to people looking to get work in this economy.

  22. Colleen says:

    Eh. I understand what your point is, but I think that you picking apart the video isn’t warranted. Anyone that watched it knows that it was a huge exaggeration of the role. However, it paints a picture of extreme dedication. Matt, you have acknowledged many times, in your other writings, the difference between men and women and how it is important that we are different. Our kids need that. Here is where it shows. For WOMEN, this video is going to hit home. Not in a martyr type of way, but in a ‘yeah, my mom really did do so much more than I ever acknowledged.’ and also ‘I pray that someday my children will come to a point where they acknowledge all that I did, happily, sacrificially, for them’ kind of way. I totally admit that I shared it – and that I cried. My mom went to her heavenly home about 1.5 years ago, but if she was still here, I would have called her to let her know how much I appreciate her – again – after having viewed that. Those women that are viewing and sharing this video – many, if not most, of them were probably giving more thought to their own mothers and not necessarily of themselves. It wasn’t until I was a mom myself that I truly started to realize all that my own mom did for us. I am STILL coming to further realizations as I hit different stages with my children. (think “wow, how in the world did my mom not strangle me for my horrible teenage attitude?”) Parenthood is a long-term investment and the ‘thanks’ are few and far between (I’m not counting the joyful moments that we have…I’m talking the actual “thanks mom” or “thanks dad” words or actions from the little people). Viewing a video like this provides some type of acknowledgement of the time, emotion, and energy that we put forth everyday. That is all. Well, that is all I got out of it. Clearly, you saw much more.

    • Another Homeschooler says:

      I’m a woman – and it doesn’t “hit home” for me. On the contrary. I am overjoyed to be a Mother – as was my Mother before me. I’m not waiting for gratitude or approval to be happy with my role in life. Please don’t speak for me, just because we are both of the same gender. I’m not trying to be rude, but I am awfully tired of “we women feel thus and so” being said about me, when my opinion isn’t being shared.

  23. Thank you for stating the role of parents so eloquently. If every parent took their “job” as seriously as you do, this world would be a much better place.

  24. HeatherHH says:

    Thank you! I saw this shared on Facebook today, and it bothered me, as this sort of thing already does. I’m a homeschooling SAHM mom of a lot of kids, but I don’t believe my job is the toughest in the world. It’s certainly not a nightmare requiring 19 hours of work per day and no sleep. And I don’t know that I think it’s any easier than my husband’s, and I certainly think there are a lot of jobs out there that would be a lot harder.

    Many have devalued SAHMs over the years, and so the response is to build them up as superwomen. And I think there are a lot of dangers in doing that. The pride engendered, the devaluing of Dad, the discouraging of moms from staying at home or parents from even having children, etc.

  25. James says:

    Matt, I had these very same thoughts as I watched the video in question. It is insulting to anyone with a shred of independent thought. You seem to constantly verbalize what infuriates me.

  26. I think this is a HUGE stretch of what to take away from that ad. It was simply appreciation of Moms for Mothers Day. Not what you implied here – ” It’s only relevant in so far as it reveals a troubling attitude; an attitude that makes these sorts of commercials so effective; an attitude that portrays parenting as the most torturous endeavor anyone could possibly attempt.” I just don’t think that this video makes parenthood seem tortutous.

    Difficult does not automatically equal horrible and torturous. Difficulty in my life is wonderfully rewardingI. I celebrate it! I don’t sit around and pity myself for the difficult things that I do. I sit around and reap the rewards of it all! It would be easier in my life to buy my food at the grocery store instead of producing it in my own yard, It would be easier to send my kids to public school instead of educating them myself. It would be easier for my husband to work at Mcdonalds that to have a physically demanding job. Why are you taking so much offense to one greeting card ad that is making an exaggerated statement about Motherhood being “difficult”? It’s something that you have even written about before too. Moms are great. So are Dads. Must we (and every ad) celebrate them both in every breath? No, of course not, that’s just silly!
    And even though I think this posts may have been written just for the sake of writing a new posts, I’m still one of your biggest fans!

  27. SRB says:

    I am so sorry I wasted my time reading your blog today. My son sent me the Hardest Job post and yes I thought it was cute and sent it to my mom. Never once did I think it was a dig against fathers. There are some people who have to make someone feel bad in order to feel good about themselves or their position in life. You’re better than this. Happy parenting.

  28. Sounds like they got motherhood confused with being a commercial fisherman.

  29. And just like the hallmark add didn’t offend neither did this. It is Hilarious!! I don’t take either too seriously though 😉 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwPg2oarG_c&feature=share

  30. Polly says:

    LOL! I saw the video and didn’t think as deeply about it as you and others did. I didn’t see it as a slap in the face to any father…I saw it as over-exaggerating mother-hood in a funny way. I love my husband and I know he works as hard as any stay-at-home mom. This video gets your attention and that is what it was intended to do, right? The only thing I hope is that these people “interviewing” were compensated for going through this. Other than that, I think you just read more into it than was intended. I took it at face value and thought it was funny 😉

    • Laird Williams says:

      But that’s the problem, Polly. Add that lack of thought to the portrayals of men in other “mindless entertainment” and then think about the combined effect of all them. And then imagine being a growing young boy seeing and hearing all this stuff, day in and day out. It never effing stops. And God help the young man whose mother is the type who would repost that kind of crap without thinking about it.

      • Joseph Lee says:

        I don’t claim to be (or ever have been) perfect, and I do accept that I am ultimately responsible for my own actions… but I can tell you that this kind of marketing, this kind of story telling in sitcoms, etc. all aided in me undervaluing what my father did and perhaps even today, what he still does. My Dad was also not perfect (like me he was and still is quite far from it), but he’s still the injured party, having been denied credit where credit was due. I can actually see some of the damage this did to him first hand now in his later years.

  31. Scott Laughlin says:

    Matt, once again, here is a nail and you hit it square on!

  32. Celesta says:

    Well, your post made me tear up. Maybe you should try selling greeting cards, too. JK! You’re selling something better. The truth.

  33. analyticalperspective says:

    I know a woman (mother) with a stupendous victim mentality. She has an acute low self-esteem. She’s also an ESFJ. Understand personality types here: https://analyticalperspective.wordpress.com/understanding-yourself-and-your-vips/the-importance-of-personality/

    Daily, she reminds people of how difficult and emotionally draining it is to stay home all day, wash pans, vacuum carpet, cook one meal — dinner — and tend to one baby…and she has the help of two other people with the housecleaning.

    If she had a workforce job on top of her “day job”, then maybe I’d hand her a Kleenex. I’ve been both a homemaker and a working mom for two daughters. Homemakers have it made, period. Working moms make the choice to take on more responsibility so they can have nicer tangibles (e.g. car, cell, clothes, food, shelter). The only thing stay-at-homes have to worry about is finding activities to fill all the hours in their day…and if you are doing it right your children will be prepared for 1st grade when they hit kindergarten; hopefully, you are homeschooling.

    Unless you are mentally ill — and I’m not being facetious — or you don’t have a personality conducive to ‘homemaking’, being ‘Mom’ should be a cakewalk filled with the gold stars of your heart aka your kids. If you don’t have the right personality it’s time for you to learn how to evolve your inferior intuition and feeling preferences.

    If you’re a working mom you still don’t get to say your life is hard. In fact, all people ‘should’ stop complaining in general, because we all experience life’s difficulties. Everyone struggles. You are not special like that.

    Whether or not you pre-planned, you chose to be a parent the moment you decided to have sex, therefore you don’t get to make a valid complaint that your job as a parent is ‘hard.’ Children don’t ask to be born.

    About holidays: I abhor holidays that attempt to push someone else’s perception. Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. Truth. Jesus was born. Truth. You don’t find love once a year. Truth; you’re lucky if you find love once in a lifetime and if you do find love you better love the hell out of it every day. Parenting is difficult. False BS. Interacting with ‘all’ human beings in ‘any’ relationship is difficult. Truth. Parenting is a choice. Truth. You don’t get a gold star or a cookie for being a good parent. Damn straight.

    Mothers and fathers don’t deserve a special day to highlight their gloriousness. Children deserve an appreciation day called ‘every day’.

  34. NaDell says:

    I thought the same things you thought when I was reading it and I have four kids and have several kids I babysit a few times a week (I trade with friends so I can help at the school). I make dinners and all sorts of things, but obviously, I have time to read blogs, watch shows, read books, and plenty of other things (eI even NAP!) If any parent (mom or dad) is actually doing all of the things listed in that ad, they are really doing it wrong.
    I suppose if you have a super special needs child who needs constant supervision you may miss a lot of sleep though, but that’s an exception and not the norm.

  35. Dawn says:

    Matt, you’re wrong in this one. Moms work hard and rarely get acknowledged. We don’t care because we live our kids,but it is a very sacrificial job that gets over looked. I think it’s okay to praise mom. Dads get hailed a lot too. As a stay at home mom, I loved this commercial. It is the hardest job I’ve ever had. I’m okay with people staring that. It doesn’t always have to be about dad and mom. It is her day coming up.

    • Matt Hunter says:

      you seem to have missed the point and are looking for someone to pat you on the back.

    • analyticalperspective says:

      Sacrificial? Let’s examine that. Did you not choose to have sex? Did you choose to have children? Did you choose a man who was married with kids? If you made a conscientious choice to any of these question, then you did not sacrifice. Sacrificing means bearing a burden. If you believe, think, feel that your children/step-children are burdens, then you are not worthy of them. Now you have two more choices:

      1. Choose to change your attitude
      2. Forfeit your children

      Those are your choices. You already put it out there. There is no way to misinterpret your words. You either will:

      1. Care, admit you are wrong, and change your thought patterns for their betterment and yours or
      2. you will continue lying to yourself because it’s easier to ‘not’ face the fact that you have a weakness and usually we won’t face our weaknesses because:

      1. It takes effort
      2. We’re afraid what others will think of us

      That’s what I see.

  36. chrisknits says:

    I have been a stay at home mom for almost all of my kids’ lives. I have seen the issue from the working and non-working mother’s aspect. But I have never experienced life from my husband’s perspective. There is no way that I will claim I have it tougher than he. I have no clue what it is like to be responsible, 100%, for the welfare of my family. What it is like to wonder how to make ends meet if he lost a job. What it is like to juggle all the bills, insurance, and accounts needed to fund college and retirement. All I need do is balance the household budget, feed, and clothe the family. Which can be a challenge sometimes, but is a much smaller task. I think I have the easier job of the two, but that is from my perspective. I do not wish to judge or compare myself to others, I am just trying to do my best for my family and pray that all families have what they need. I think these commercials for Mother’s Day could impart the same message without the competition. I only want to be recognized for the value I add to our family, which my husband is very good to do. I do not need to be elevated to a place of superiority over him or others. But in these days of identity marketing and politics, what else can we expect. It is no longer our individual accomplishments and traits that are respected. It is only the groups we can be put into that matter.

  37. Summer says:

    Whenever I complain about all I have to do as a stay at home mom, my husband asks me, “Would you like to go out and do my job while I stay home with the kids?” I always answer, “No way!” So, that makes me think that his job is harder and less rewarding than mine. I think of being a mom as being a manager of the home. I get to do my work when I want and how I want. It’s a wonderful job because I get to be with my beautiful children all day (2 preschoolers and 1 infant).

  38. Suzanne says:

    We all know the labors of motherhood are exaggerated in this commercial. Duh. But they are exaggerated to make a point. Most of us, once we became parents, engaged in the regular apologetic phone calls to Mom and Dad, because we had know idea what we put them through until we ourselves go through it. And, of course, Mom and Dad just laugh because they know it all just comes with the job, including the thankless and difficult children they do it for.

    Look, motherhood may not be the more important than fatherhood, but really use your cynical analytical powers to see that this commercial is NOT pitting mothers against fathers but motherhood with JOBS, CAREERS, PROFESSIONAL LIFE. And, motherhood is of much higher value than any professional job or career. That’s a rather revolutionary message for a Hallmark commercial. The feminists are all in knots over this one, too. I would think that exalting the work of motherhood in this way would be something you would applaud, but in your race to get the controversial headline and the blog hits, ya missed it.

  39. strawberrygirl says:

    I just laugh at how many mommies out there are saying, “Lol that’s so true” while they obviously have the time to sit down, watch inane viral videos, write about them on Facebook, and forward them to 10,000 other people.

  40. Jen says:

    What the?!?! How did you take this sweet video praising moms (of course there were exaggerations) and turn it into an ad diminishing fatherhood?! Isn’t that the opposite of what your favorite feminists do… Demand that everything be equal? As a mom, I never consider my job to be the “toughest job in the world” (not by a long shot), but I thought the video was cute and it certainly got me teary-eyed thinking about my mother and my role as mother to my children. Then again, the tears could be blamed on the 1hour of sleep I’d had the night before after spending the night in the hospital with my baby after she choked on a cracker. I couldn’t believe the video didnt mention the bodily fluids that one would be required to clean up after… 🙂

  41. Matt Hunter says:

    One of my favorite commentaries on this hs been Bill Burr. It’s worth watching

  42. Charlotte says:

    I’m a stay-at-home mom with three kids, two with severe autism and a newborn, and I still don’t think motherhood is the hardest job in the world. My oldest screams a lot and her meltdowns mean we have to be very careful going out in public, but my life was a lot harder and far less happy before I had kids. Getting up at 5 AM every morning to work all day at a meaningless paper pushing job and coming home to an empty house with no kids and no love, now that’s hard. Autism was an unexpected challenge, but parenting is nowhere near as scary and difficult as everyone always warned me it would be. I do think it’s awful how society and the media push this narrative about parenting being a miserable, exhausting experience. I know too many people who decided never to have kids because they were so terrified that it would ruin their lives like they were told.

  43. TB says:

    I assumed it was all set up, not actual applicants. Funny thing I’m noticing is that those that are complaining about the video are thinking of themselves. Those that are sharing are honoring their mothers. Why tear apart something that is meant as a tribute to mothers? To hook readers? Sure the video is not perfect. I do agree with much of what you’ve said but the feels are bad.I just don’t see a need to call a good thing bad. And do you realize how this has contributed to the “mommy wars”? Those that shared your article are now in competition with those that shared the other.

  44. Elizabeth says:

    Speaking of greeting cards, I read James Dobson’s “Bringing Up Boys” years ago. He talked about a greeting card company that did a silly promotion. They gave inmates at maximum security prisons greeting cards to send their Moms for Mother’s Day. It was a huge hit…thousands of the inmates sent these cards out or delivered them personally to their Ma on their special day. It was such a hit, they decided to do the same for Father’s Day….guess what? Not a single inmate wrote a single card. For all the love and fondness they had for their mothers, they were broken because of the lack of a father (or one that cared for them). If we keep alienating kids from their Dads (divorce, emasculation, welfare, etc), the next generation will be more lost than the last.

    • analyticalperspective says:

      Statistically, most inmates have abusive or neglectful parents, so Im not surprised.

  45. LYNN says:

    don’t know about twins… but talk to me in about 15 years Matt! I wouldn’t trade the last 15 for anything in the world… but just when I think I’ve “got this parenting thing down” something changes. The demands go up. Maybe 2 will be easier… more manageable. I know 4 kids ages 5-14 is killer. Crazy fun chaos and BUSY. Exhausting. In a good way. Best sleep I’ve had in my life. All 5 1/2 hours of them. Oh and I sit plenty… 2+ hours a day chauffeuring in the van!

  46. Ron says:

    Oh my God! Everyone take a break! Screw the media and its hyperbole! It is a team effort! To all those Men and Women out there who do what they do to raise a family, thank you!

    Matt, I’m starting to think you should not have quit your day job! Your blog used to be interesting when you weren’t trying to live off of it! The troll on the “Tax” blog you just issued stole your thunder! People were debating him instead of you! Even your choice over using their vs they’re became a debate! (I did defend you in both instances, but why is this crap like their and they are making it into the dialog? Does it count for ad revenue?)

    There are real issues facing this nation and right now you have the eyes of thousands and thousands of people, and you waste it on this!

  47. amanda says:

    Mother of 7. SAH. Really excellent article Matt! I have to say I have had that frame of mind from time to time. What can I say? We all need at kick in the pants sometimes. So thank you!

  48. Tiffany says:

    hmmm, well, I actually never realized that it was an ad for anything. What I did realize was the one line where he states that after doing all this for “your associate” that you would receive so much more in return. That was when i broke out in tears! Because it is so true of parenthood in general. I really hope more people pick up on that point more than anything else from this video. parenthood is difficult, but so much more rewarding than we expect!

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