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. Derek Zenith says:

    The toughest job in the world is work as a military special operative. Period.

    • Luke Marr says:

      …sorry, you’re probably right, but I couldn’t resist…

    • Tony says:

      So why do you think that? It doesn’t have the highest yearly death rate. Many of them don’t have subordinates to worry about, or are you only talking about team leaders for military special operatives? And they aren’t commanding people to die, so you’re putting the job of dying for your country as harder than the job of deciding who has to die for their country? Why do you think doing the act is harder than deciding which of your friends must die for their country?

      It’s not the job that requires the most physical fitness, Olympians work out far more. It doesn’t require the most academic undertaking, many many jobs beat you there.

      I would have to say you need more evidence than a period at the end of the sentence, then the word period, then another period.

      • Derek Zenith says:

        I don’t know, but I always figured it would be tougher to get shot to death than to say something which led to someone else being shot to death. Maybe I’m not empathetic enough.

        I don’t really have evidence as much as reasoning: the toughest job would have to be deadly, and of all deadly jobs the most stressful would be ones where something intelligent is actively trying to kill you,and of those, military service is most concerned with human-on-human combat. The toughest military combat job is obviously special forces.

        Now, taking your comments into account, I suppose the toughest job would be a special operations squad leader, because they die and tell people to die.

  2. Jill says:

    You just have to take it for what it is…an ad. Something to make people feel sentimental about their mother so they will make a card using the advertiser’s website. Over-analyzing it makes you sound bitter. I have read some of your posts, agree with some of them, but wish you would exude more love in your writing, even toward people you disagree with.

  3. Kathie says:

    Right on, Matt. But you have to know, you are either preaching to the choir or to the media supported postmodern thinking dregs of society who have absolutely no clue when it comes to logic, let alone virtue.

    • awholenewworld says:

      We create the media… they only give us what we ask for. Let’s try asking for virtue.

      • Tony says:

        Virtue doesn’t sell in today’s world nearly as well as attacking virtues. Not sure how to fix that though.

  4. Chrystal Bulen says:

    Dear Matt,
    I do agree with your sentiments regarding the discrepancy between how moms and dads are viewed in this culture. Fathers play JUST as important of a role in raising children as mothers. I think using a Mothers Day ad to example how parents compete to have the worst job is misplaced. Why can’t a Mothers Day ad just be a heartwarming reminder to appreciate our moms? Or everyone who took care of us when we were incapable of taking care of ourselves? I think you’re looking too far into this. Also, not everyone enjoys a balanced relationship with their partner as far as raising children and managing time to have time alone together, as you’ve described between you and your wife. Believe it or not, some married women with children actually DO take on more of the parenting obligations than their husbands. If this makes them unhappy, that’s for them to address in their relationship, and for some women, what I’ve described is not a problem. Let them have their recognition. Fathers Day is coming.

  5. tempestadore says:

    I first came across your blog when I read a post you wrote about how children sometimes cry in public, and the public should deal with it, but parents also shouldn’t bring their young children to movies or other places not suitable for a young child. I couldn’t have agreed more with you on that post, which is why I started following you in the first place. Since then, I’ve realized we pretty much completely disagree on everything, but I continued to follow you because you’re well written and I enjoy learning the other side to things and having intellectual debates (though not all of the comments end up that way). Now, I see we agree on something again, and it makes me pretty happy, not gonna lie.

    I had an argument last night with my friend about this video. There is no need to exaggerate as much as they did. And I feel the same way as you about fathers not getting any credit — personally I’ve known just as many single and/or stay at home fathers as I do single/stay at home mothers. I think this ad could have easily worked just as well (or yet, better!) if they were honest and said things like “There may be periods of time when you get little to no sleep. You may take breaks, but often they will be interrupted.” Etc. Etc. As parents, we are ON CALL 24/7, not working 24/7. Parenting is the most important job in the world, yes, but, in reality, there are billions of us and we’re really not that special (I don’t mean that in a bad way, of course we’re special, but so many others do it, yet act like they’re either the most important person in the world OR that it’s the worst thing in the world). Society is getting a bad view of parents because everything out there now has this “pity me” feeling to it. The truth is, we took this on. We decided to become parents. We have every right to complain every now and then, just like everyone does, but to take it to the point this ad did is outrageous.

    • tempestadore says:

      Oh, forgot to add that I also believe the ad would have been just as good (better, actually) if they said “Parents” instead of “Moms”. Of course, then you would also get into the grandparents, caregivers, guardians who aren’t actually the child’s parents, but I still think it would be better than just “Moms”. You can have a Mother’s Day commercial saying “Parents do all of this stuff for you; don’t forget to send Mom a Mother’s Day card” and still make an impact.

      • The Mommy says:

        I think maybe it’s jumping the gun. Possibly their Father’s Day commercial will be even better. Dads have it tough, too, it’s just different (for example, they didn’t mention anything about pushing a watermelon through something the size of an esophagus – probably because not every mother becomes a mother in that way – but it’s something VERY unique to motherhood).

  6. TheApostlePaul says:

    Since Matt has decided that fatherhood is just as tough as motherhood, when his wife burns out a few years from now and tells him, “YOU’RE the one who wants the kids homeschooled…why don’t YOU stay home and do it?” I’m sure he’ll be fine with it 😉

    • Tony says:

      Actually, if you reread his blog, Matt has decided he has no idea which is more difficult, and there is no way to accurately determine which is tougher. So the whole argument is a waste of time.

      But otherwise, good point, I’m sure Matt would be more than happy to teach his children.

      • Jacinta says:

        Actually…in most home schooling households, teaching is at least some what shared….in our house, when i didn’t have the patience for math, dad took over. The kids (usually :))really enjoyed the change. As far as the article goes, Matt is right on. As the mother of 10 aged 27 to almost 2, my most pressing worry is the responsibility my husband and I have to do our best to lead our children to heaven. Ideally, it involves complimentary roles for both parents as a team. It also isn’t fool proof. Free will and all that….sometimes your kids just walk away from the road you hope for them….then comes the real work….praying them back onto the straight on narrow. In any case, the prevailing attitude that makes children out to be a miserable plague is pretty awful.

    • MedinaMom says:

      If he is anything like my husband (an upstanding man who cares for his children and the education they receive), then he will be an active participant in the homeschool lifestyle from the beginning.

    • pentamom says:

      What makes you think Mrs. Matt doesn’t want to homescohol her own kids? And what makes you think she won’t be able to handle it and will burn out? Why do you have such a low opinion of her?

  7. cassbrannan says:

    Well said. Thanks for sharing this. It goes back to the Olympic add for Moms…all I thought was, “what about the dads!” But you are spot on….it takes both parents. And our ultimate goal is to show them Jesus.

  8. Pingback: The “BEST” Job in the World!!!!! | girloutofthebox

  9. Yvonne says:

    Standing all day is a reality for parents of babies with colic and or acid reflux. Baby #4 for me is now at 4 months old finally at a point where I can sit for a while. So, yes, the ad’s saying you are required to be on your feet ALL day is a legitimate expectation for some parents.

    • brookechurch says:

      Very true! I had a son who was like a “chimpanzee on speed” until he was 4. There wasn’t much sitting- at least when he was awake. When he was asleep I was trying to gather the scraps of my sanity back up. I have cared for a colicky baby, also. They are exhausting!

  10. K. Q. Duane says:

    You can thank the inception of lesbian-led, radical, second-wave feminism 50 years ago and the adoption of its insidious, hate-filled agenda directed against Christian men and their motivations, by most college women, for the sociatel mess young people are coping with today. Women have replaced their Christian faith with the ideology of radical feminism (they are mutually exclusive) thereby diminishing family life for its adherents. This forced stay-at-home moms to go on the defensive and unfortunately radical feminists, once again, took advantage of this situation to again trash men (Dad’s) as not goo enough, when compared to women (Moms). It is the same old song, just played in another key. And yes, it is all BS!

    • Javin says:

      Love this connection. Hadn’t really thought about how they’re playing both sides of the fence, and as seen in the bulk of the comments to Matt’s post, both sides are eating it up.

    • Lauren says:

      the only thing radial and hate-filled is this post – and all you’re proving here is that having unconditional love is mutually exclusive to your beliefs. the video said nothing negative about men and parenting. it was an exaggeration, similar to your comment here.

      • Javin says:

        Yes, I concur. Your post is “radial and hate-filled.” Though not entirely sure what “radial” means. It’s amazing how you can immediately decide to hate on a post you clearly didn’t even read. You’re a true master at the straw man construction technique, but then you didn’t even bother to beat up on your straw man. Might want to practice that a little bit.

        And here’s the part you missed about the video: It wasn’t a “glush” for moms. It wasn’t an “insult” to dads. It was an advertisement to sell cards. Nothing more. Thank you for playing.

      • K. Q. Duane says:

        I didn’t watch the video.

  11. Reblogged this on myoxisamoron and commented:
    Motherhood and Fatherhood. The ultimate team activity.

  12. Bob says:

    I’m so glad Matt wrote this post. I love my wife and kids dearly. But women have been hearing for the last few decades from everywhere in society that husbands/Fathers need to do more, be more, work harder, be better leaders, better Fathers, better husbands, make more money but spend more time with the kids, better spiritual leaders, etc. It was a popular battle cry in churches especially back in the 80’s and 90’s that men need to step up and take more responsibility. I think men have heard this and the message has been well received. I know lots of men that work their jobs all day AND share the duties at home including many of the duties of raising children. Many women do the same. But the men don’t come home from their job and crash into the lazy boy. They come home and do family responsibilities…..often times while the wife “takes a break”. Yet when the message that men need to “give more” comes from their wives, they are expected to comply without argument. Why? Because those women believe themselves to be overworked and underpaid and shouldn’t have to take on anything else. So naturally in most cases…hubby needs to step up. I know if i asked my wife to give more of herself to our marriage or family, her initial reaction would be to be very offended. Because she is conditioned to believe that she is already giving so much more than me….even though from my view, and hers when she really sits and thinks about it, things are pretty even.

  13. Anna says:

    Being a parent is horrible for some because they think that sacrificing their own comfort at all times and letting the kids rule the roost means they are being good parents. If kids run wild, of course no one enjoys them. Kids will also push with bad behavior to get some caring restraint and limits from parents. If you train children how to respect others and you help them build good habits of responsibility and self-sufficiency, parenting can really be enjoyable. Lack of good habits makes for long, tiresome days. Good habits means freedom. What’s good for them is good for us, the parents.

    • CombatMissionary says:

      I finally introduced my wife to the concept of lazy parenting when she felt like she lived in the kitchen for about a year straight.
      “Teach the kids to do the dishes. Then make the kids do the dishes.”
      “What?”
      “They’re old enough. They need to learn it, and you and I don’t feel like cleaning up after a boatload of kids, so EVERYBODY WINS!”
      It’s become my motto. My kids aren’t even ten yet, and they’re cleaning the kitchen, doing their own laundry, and picking up after themselves. “They need to learn it, and I don’t feel like doing it, so EVERYBODY WINS!”
      Lazy parenting: capitalizing on a parent’s exhaustion in order to teach the kids necessary life skills.

      • Matt(Not Walsh) says:

        I don’t call that lazy parenting. I call it good parenting. Keep teaching them those invaluable life skills so that when they go off on their own someday, they will be able to survive. If you have both boys and girls, make sure both know how to cook also.

      • Brittany says:

        I agree! I was the oldest of 8 kids, my stepdad was deployed a lot from age 6 on, so my mom was pretty much a single parent for a lot of years. At a young age, about 7, my mom really started giving us three oldest (I was 7, my sister 6, and my brother 5) chores to do around the house. We unloaded the dishwasher, cleaned the table, put away food, helped make meals, cleaned our own rooms, vacuumed, whatever needed to be done. It wasnt that my mom was lazy, she worked her butt off running the house and homeschooling us plus taking care of the younger kids. Im grateful I was raised the way I was. My children will be raised the same way and in fact my toddlers enjoy helping us with simple chores.

      • The Mommy says:

        I agree with Matt(NotWalsh) – this isn’t lazy parenting because sometimes it can be VERY hard to teach these skills (I have a couple fast learners and a couple that do most chores half way). That’s really what parenting is: teaching necessary life skills. I also find it important to “help” them with their chores in the same way they are expected to “help” around the house – that shows/teaches empathy. It’s not every time – but it’s when they’re tired or having a rough day. Turns out, they see me having a rough day and are quick to step up. I LOVE that!

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  15. peregrinejohn says:

    My favorite thing about all this is the shrill reaction to a suggestion that maybe complaining isn’t such a holy activity, nor even a marker of virtue or even merit.

    My second favorite thing is the entirely predictable “you’re overreacting” shaming language when someone points out a perfectly valid incongruency or inequality. About as predictable as the entirely different reaction would have been should the genders have been switched.

    Check your privilege, girls.

  16. Nice try at ruining a perfectly lovely bit of TLC and affirmation of mothers and motherhood. Socrates said the unexamined life is not worth living. The overexamined life is worse. Good grief.

  17. C Will says:

    Just a friendly, slightly cynical reminder to everyone who is declaring what the purpose of the video is. The main purpose of the video is to sell greeting cards. They are very good at tugging on your heart-strings to do so.

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  20. Wait- what? That video was about motherhood specifically? Huh.

    I confess I didn’t watch the video – like Mr. Walsh, I’ve been underwhelmed any time I’ve been suckered into “must-watch” videos. I did read the description, though, and I immediately knew the answer was “parenthood.” But apparently I’m wrong and it’s only describing motherhood. Oh well.

  21. I just posted a comment but after reading some of the other comments I wanted to clarify something –

    I think the stay-at-home PARENT generally has the more challenging job. I know that traditionally it’s been the mother at home, but that’s not always the case any more. My husband is the stay-at-home parent in our family, and I definitely think his role is harder on him than my role (as the breadwinner) is on me.

    So I still think that the answer should have been “parenthood” instead of “motherhood.”

  22. Leo says:

    The message of this article is that it’s not, nor should it be a competition of who has it harder. Yet so many of the readers of this article apparently made it one that Matt had to write a follow up article the next day…

  23. LizB says:

    I agree! Especially with the point that society tries to make parenting look like the end of your life. “It’s so horrible. You will never sleep again! Hopefully you enjoy cleaning up poop and throw up!” There was a video going around facebook of a comedian saying how people without kids just don’t understand. As a married woman who has wanted to be pregnant for years I didn’t crack a smile. Yeah, I get it! It’s hard, yet many people still want to do it…there must be something good about it…Making motherhood look menial and backbreaking does not honor it! I gave up my office job to work as a nanny because I wanted to do something that MATTERED. The office work and politics that go along with it can be menial, but shaping a child (even if it involves a few diaper changes) is not. Parenting (whether mothering or fathering) is important AND fun! Why do we feel the need to come across as martyrs to make our positions important? I don’t get it either, Matt.

    • Brittany says:

      I felt the same way watching the video. It almost make us out to be crazy people, like who would want to sign up for that? Yes its tough, it can be very emotionally draining, but it is amazing too! I just had my third baby 5 weeks ago, and she came home a “healthy” newborn, no problems. The day after, she had a severe apnic spell and nearly died in my husbands arms. It was the most gut wrenching experience. So now, even when shes been crying for hours and im exhausted, i just think about her almost dying, and how im SO blessed and thankful that shes here

  24. javaloco says:

    The only mother to whom this ad applies is to the SAHM. The SAHM entirely shares in her husband’s income.

    • Tony says:

      Or her government’s.

    • Rose says:

      Being a homeschooling SAHM with 4 boys; this still doesn’t apply to me. Sure, I’m overworked and underpaid, but that is my choice and I don’t regret it for a minute. I may not have time to sit and watch movies like everyone else in the house but there will be time for that when everyone’s older. Sometimes I do go a year before I get to buy myself a new pair of shoes so I can make sure the children all have shoes that fit them this year, but I that just makes me appreciate my new shoes when I finally get them.

      My partner goes to work every day and works hard among a fair amount of other people who see no benefit to hard work and who are unmotivated. He works hard to ensure that I can stay home and do my best to raise my children right, and so I can do my best to find the right ways to teach them so they’ll retain information and enjoy learning. He works hard outside of the house to benefit everyone inside of it just as I work hard inside of the house to benefit everyone in it.

      I am not on my feet 24 hours a day, though sometimes my rear hasn’t touched the chair before I have to get back up. I do sleep, though it’s often interrupted and broken and I may have to get up at any point and time during my sleep. I do get to sit down and eat with my family. I do get breaks even if they include me working on something else or even when they’re cut short.

  25. Kelly Kroeger says:

    My 30 year old son posted this video to my timeline the other night. My son doesn’t really express his feelings much. So when I saw the video, it meant a lot to me. More so, because my son was wanting me to know that he appreciates me. My husband has always worked hard, sacrificed for our family, and many times worked two jobs to provide for our needs. I have never considered my role as a mother to be better or more difficult than his. Being a mother has been a privilege and the greatest accomplishment in my life. I married young at 18 years old and have been married to the same man for 31 years. We have raised four children, and have 8 grandchildren. I turn 50 years old this year. So for me, the video and the fact that my son shared it with me, was a little nugget of love from him. I understand the points made in Matt’s blog, as well as the marketing strategy etc, but I am not going to allow it to “rain on my parade” just for today!

  26. Rose says:

    I saw this ad all over facebook yesterday and finally took the time to watch it. It was easy to see what they were getting at early on. And yes, for a moment it did make me feel good.

    However, I saw it as highly over-exaggerated.

    The only time any job becomes hard is when a person’s emotional needs aren’t met. If my partner tries explaining why his job is much more wearing than his, of course I’ll get defensive and point out why my job is also hard. But when it comes down to it, if I was meeting his needs he wouldn’t feel so compelled to complain about his job (in this case, there is an outside force that is out of my control. If his boss and co-workers fail to appreciate and support him, his job will become harder) and he’ll start to wonder “Why am I going to work? Why do I have to bring in all the money? I pay all of the bills, I’m away from my family, and no one even appreciates it.” Likewise, if he comes home and spends his time off away from family or parenting, I start to question my worth and how much I’m appreciated as well.

    But when we stand by each other and support each other (or learn to), then it’s not work at all and you can focus on the joys and celebrate the differences. I can’t stress how important this is.

    I can’t believe anybody when they try to tell me that their job is harder than mine. I also refuse to engage in any argument over the topic either. Unless you have one person who is capable of doing every job possible out there for a significant amount of time, than you can’t say which job is harder. Period. You don’t know how much my job entails until you’ve done it under the exact same circumstances I have, and I already know that I probably can’t do your job. There are so many different factors that measuring the difficulties of even one job between two people with the same responsibilities is impossible, let alone comparing two completely different jobs or two different genders.

    Just tell your partner that they’re doing a great job and mean it. Support them. Be there for them however they need you. It doesn’t matter who slept less hours or who lifted the heaviest objects or who’s been peed on the most in a day. None of that matters when you’re doing your job for the right reason.

  27. britty2748 says:

    love your point of view. it’s nice to know there’s someone out there thinking the same things i do. i have 5 kids 8 and under, and it’s hard work. but let me tell you, working full time, and being a full time law student was the hardest i’ve ever worked, there was much less reward in it all, and i was much more exhausted and less nourished for sure!
    !

  28. I posted a blog about this as well and I thought it was funny that the most comments I got on Facebook were, “well I was just trying to show appreciation for my mom.” I can’t help but wonder why your mom would feel appreciative for standards she never met with you? It would be like me going to my mom and thanking her for the flowers she bought me. She says, ” I didn’t buy you flowers,” and I say, “oh, well I just wanted to show you appreciation.” LOL, why don’t we actually thank them for what they actually did instead of over exaggerating it to the impossible!

  29. Ok, I quit reading a while back, but when I saw you post this, I had to read it. I recently wrote a post: Stop Saying Being a Mom is Hard and the whiplash was amazing. It’s not what the title suggests, more so… and for this post I say – you hit a home run. People need to grow up.

  30. FatherVision says:

    Many good points in this article. The point about the dangers inherent in speaking of parenting as a burden full of drudgery is well made. It’s something I’ve pondered as well: http://www.fathervision.com/the-curse-of-hating-children/
    and
    http://www.fathervision.com/nice-try-coke/
    and
    http://www.fathervision.com/what-happens-when-we-complain-about-our-children/

    I couldn’t agree more with the point about husband and wife working in harmony to be parents. It’s not a competition. Parenting is a team sport.

  31. pentamom says:

    I’ve had five kids. I’ve homeschooled them all, most of them for 9 years each. I had killer morning sickness with each one, which was even less fun after the first time when you are lying there helpless watching or listening to your older kids being neglected.

    And I STILL never thought of motherhood as the time you don’t eat, or sleep, or sit down, or do anything else you want to do — at least after each baby hit the three-week mark.

    When will people learn that using ridiculous exaggerations that reach the pitch of outright lies isn’t a good way to make a case for something?

  32. amber says:

    Fantastic read! I loved how you articulated the need to have both a mother and a father and how they should work together to bear the cross of parenting, which like you said is a joy!

  33. amberdyer says:

    Fantastic read! I appreciated how you articulated the need to have both a mother and a father and how they should bear the cross of parenting together, which like brings a deep sense of joy.

  34. Lisa says:

    I actually think I am in the minority where I think my husband does have it tougher than I do. I chose to be a stay at home mom party for the kids and mainly for me. I love spending time with my kids. I don’t see it as work. Of course, there are days I am pulling my hair out by 10am and think, well it is 5 o’clock somewhere, but most days I love it. My husband owns his own company, and owns a store at the shore. He has to balance everyone at work needing him, his employees at the shore needing him, and his family needing daddy time. That is tough. I know he wants to be home and I know he is is being pulled everywhere else. When he is home, he is amazing and helps me. He sees me all frazzled at the end of the day and goes food shopping for me or does the dishes while I get the kids to bed. People say to me all the time “I don’t know how you do it”. I just think I don;t know how he does it. So yes, being a mom is hard. It is very hard. Being a dad is hard. It is very hard. Being a mom OR a dad is the hardest BEST job in the world (says the overtired mom who was up since 5 with my 1 year old). Thanks to all the moms out there. Thanks to all the dads out there. Much love.

  35. outienz says:

    I agree that parenting takes teamwork. The ‘toughest’ part is not falling into sad arguments about who got the most sleep, who cleaned the toilet most recently, who changed the last nappy, who gets more free time… I like the angle you have taken on this and second the big ups to single parents too.

  36. Valerie P. says:

    When I read this I just had to laugh. Matt, I love ya, but you missed the nail completely on this one. While fathers are absolutely as important as mothers, their parenting/home life job is not as difficult. My husband and many of the husbands I know work their job and then come home and watch TV until bedtime, with the occasional house repair or yard work thrown in. My husband’s “real” job is very demanding and stressful, but his parenting job is a piece of cake. He spends some time with our daughter every evening, takes her out to breakfast on weekends, and sometimes takes her out for a little date but that’s the extent of his home responsibilities. I am the one who has always gotten up with her at night, fed her, bathed her, cleaned up all her puke and other bodily projectiles, taught her, held her through the night when she was sick, cleaned up after her every hour of every day, and in addition to that doing all the cleaning, laundry, meal planning and preparation, grocery shopping, bill paying, budget balancing, and every other household duty you can think of. I do these things day in and day out with no thanks an no break. So yes, I’m sorry but that is harder than working for someone where you get promotions, a nice paycheck, and recognition, and then you have all evenings and weekend to do nothing but lounge in front of the TV while your meals are cooked, your house is cleaned, your fridge is stocked, and your laundry is pressed without you having to lift a finger. Is my job hard? Absolutely! I’m trying to write this while my kid pulls incessantly on my shirt while repeating “I wanna watch Strawberry Shortcake!” But my house is my responsibility. And to all of you who want to bow up and say “well your husband is stuck in the 50’s then because he should do equal housework and child care”, you need to read Proverbs 31.

    • nancy says:

      Maybe the husbands you know have it easy, but I know many husbands who play a more active role in the parenting of their children, yes including getting up at night. Not to mention my friend who does all the work because his wife passed away, and doesn’t appreciate all the ads that either forget fathers or make them look like idiots.

      Those aren’t real interviewees, but actors.

  37. Tony says:

    Not that Matt isn’t aware but just to point out the blatantly obvious:

    Matt stated “And then we wonder why birthrates are plummeting?”

    If you actually look at the population of the United States and it’s growth, it has grown by roughly 1.5-2.0% per year all the way until the 70’s. Since then it has grown by 1.0-1.5% per year. Anyone got any ideas on what might have caused the sudden change in the 70s?

    Hmm, something about a court case, oh yeah, Roe Vs Wade.

    • speakeasy25 says:

      Or a little something called oral contraceptives. Or a little something called the Recession. Or a little something called education for women.

      • Tony says:

        Yes, we’ve had 50 million americans die to abortion, but the reason our growth has slowed is because women got better education. Good point.

  38. Barton O says:

    Wow, I never thought I’d live to see the day where you were saying the same things as Mary Elizabeth Williams (Salon) and Lindy West (Jezebel.com).

    I hear that HuffPo is looking for another writer for their women’s issues blog. Maybe you should apply?

  39. Totally agree with this post as well as every single other post you write. As a new mom to a seven month old, I was PETRIFIED when almost EVERY SINGLE MOTHER in my life said things like “you’re never going to sleep” “your life is over” “do what you want while you still have the chance.” They couldn’t have been more wrong. The way my son has added to our family, I couldn’t have fathomed. I am so over the mommy-martyrdom.

    While I always agree with your points, I do wish you would add more love/GRACE to your entries. I know this will fall on deaf ears; you have taken a certain stance in the public eye and we all expect you to debate with strong points and a firm grip. I do sometimes think, though, that you could turn people off to the Gospel. And that’s the only thing in this life that matters: eternity. (I am not a watered-down Christian, and I’m not supposing you change your outlook or even your approach. I just think some things aren’t as black and white as you make them. And your posts generate much debate, which is what Titus 3:9 I believe (I don’t have my Bible in front of me) specifically warns us against. As a matter of fact, I’d love to hear what you think about Titus 3:9.) Keep doing what you’re doing though, i’m a big fan.

  40. Hey – you trying to bring the economy down single handed?
    Seriously love the insights and your view of life ( and kids)

  41. Courtney says:

    Thank you! You must have been listening to the conversation my husband and I had after watching this commercial. As a mom that must work, I have tired of reading the self-congratulating posts of stat at home moms. As you said, we all have difficulties and need encouragement.
    And a public thank you to my husband who works over 50 hours, six days a week, and often comes home too late to even see his baby. Thank you, honey, for teaching our family the biblical value of work.

  42. MedinaMom says:

    True! Instead of sharing this one, I prefer to share the one from several years back where the dad is helping his daughter practice her cheer routine. THAT one makes me think of my husband because he will do anything to work with our kids, even I’d he might look silly.

  43. Julie Harber says:

    The hardest part of my son’s existence was bringing him into the world, but we both survived that! My husband then rolled up his sleeves and did everything required to keep him going! The only thing he could not do was feed our son, because he was totally breastfed… We both pitched in and did whatever was necessary! The question of having a harder job is BS….. just more drama from the immature crowd raising these stupid questions in the first place….

  44. This was good. Your children sound adorable. I can’t wait till I have children of my own (if that ever happens) to love and care for and teach. 🙂

  45. kmorrall says:

    Why do people read an entire blog post just to disagree? I love the comments, really. The opinion-based comments with real opinions, but why do we have to attack the author? Does it help you with anything? Can we not RESPECTFULLY disagree AND give our opinion at the same time?? It doesn’t make sense to me.

    Just be nice. Please.

  46. MmmHmmm says:

    I know dads who work and enjoy their hobbies… And that’s it. They have never changed a diaper or been up in the middle if the night with a baby. They leave ALL of the child raising and housework (including mowing the lawn and painting the exterior of the house) to their wife and mother of his children. These women also work full time jobs! I believe theirs is probably the toughest job (asside from being a soldier). These are real men, not a sitcom. I don’t understand it at all! I mean I get it, back in the day when mom didn’t work and dad worked the farm from sun up to sun down. But now a days, when you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day?! These men are not as rare as we would like to believe, and I think that those moms truly do have it much tougher than the dads! Thank God (and I do every day) that I am not married to one of these men, but I know too many moms that are. Your article is a slap in the face to them.

    • grace jones says:

      I agree. I am a SAHM, and I do the child rearing. Most of my friends do as well. Last night I was up 3 times nursing the baby and then up early with the 5 yr old, 3 yr old and 1 yr old. And I cook all of the meals and feed everyone. I change all of the diapers. I make all of the appointments and give all of the baths. I get up with the kids when they are sick or cry during the night. I do all of the laundry and all of the cleaning. I also have some entrepreneurial activities that bring in an extra income. I pay all of the bills and research and buy most of the stuff we have. My husband helps more than most of my friends and family members husbands, but I still do most of the household/child work.

    • CombatMissionary says:

      I’ve got to wonder about this. I think one thing we’ve unfortunately trained ourselves to do as a society is to look at other people and as soon as we see something different from how we run our lives, we start screaming, “Tyranny! Oppression! Hate! Racism! Sexism!”
      If these women are happy to have their situation as you’ve described, and they think their marriages are working well and their children’s needs are being met, just who are you to tell them they’re wrong?

  47. Mum says:

    Just now read this one. Wow. I have to say, one of my favorites on so many levels. I think you’re right in saying ” …is to help them become virtuous, and to bring them closer to God.” I totally agree. Many things are important but this, by far, outweighs them all. I also loved this snippet “…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.” Both the competitive suffering we American’s engage in (1st world problem kind of suffering, get real) but your point about dads. Dads are so very important to the family, we need to value that role. Mom’s get alot of kudos, and rightly so, but we shouldn’t downplay dad’s role. And finally, your ending, ” 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.” Building each other up, not tearing each other down is not only important to one another but also is a great example to our children. Be in this parenting thing together instead of competing with one another. (No disrespect intended to those with the burden of being single parents.)

  48. Kathy says:

    Matt – I watched that video yesterday and thought it was ridiculous. No sleep – no lunch – no breaks – no vacations?! Really? Please. I know lots of moms (in fact I am one) and none of us ever had to “work” under those circumstances. Those moms who think they do are simply delusional. ❤

  49. Roxy says:

    I look at my job as trying to keep them virtuous and pure and close to God, rather than trying to teach them to become that way. I think all babies are that way already, but experiences and teachings over time cause them to forget and change. I don’t know much and I’m not always right but God does and those babies are

  50. womanintheshoe says:

    Great blog post, Matt! The “job” description in that video was ridiculous. Moms sleep, get breaks, take vacations, etc. That is, if they have a balance in their life and don’t don the mantle of a martyr.

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