A Mother's job is 24/7

Published 5:09 am Monday, May 12, 2003

By By Brian Giles
Nothing in my life has ever brought more clarity to the job of a mother than the birth of my son Brady eight weeks ago. I have a newfound appreciation and respect for my wife and my mother. The work that is involved in raising a child seems almost never ending. Through those eight weeks, my wife has had some very tough nights enduring hours of Brady's tummy aches and agonizing cries. Through it all she just smiles, keeps rocking, and quietly sings a sweet lullaby. Her dedication inspires me.
Mother's Day is a time for everyone to honor their mother by saying, " I love you" and "thank you for the hard work and the time that you devoted to make me who I am today." Everyone please take the time this Mother's Day to call your mother and let her know how much you appreciate her. After all, her job was not an easy one.
Recently a friend shared an essay with me from the best selling book Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul that sheds some light on the subject. In the essay, a woman named Joan Beck outlines what she calls the job description of the "Ideal Mother."
For an infant, a job description for the perfect mom would read something like the outline below. See if it sounds like "work" to you.
Wanted – Easygoing, relaxed, loving type to care for infant. Should enjoy rocking, cuddling, be able to hold baby patiently for 20-minute feedings every three or four hours without fidgeting. Light sleeper, early riser. No degree necessary. Must take all shifts, seven-day week. No vacation unless can arrange to have own mother as temporary substitute. No opportunity to advance.
A year and a half later, the ideal candidate for the job of mothering the same child would match this description:
Wanted – Athlete in top condition to safeguard tireless toddler. Needs quick reflexes, boundless energy, infinite patience. ESP helpful. Knowledge of first aid essential. Must be able to drive, cook, phone, work despite constant distractions. Workday, 15 hours. No coffee or lunch breaks unless child naps. Would consider pediatric nurse with Olympic background.
In another 18 months, the same mother should be able to meet these qualifications:
Position Open – Expert in early childhood education to provide stimulating, loving, creative, individualized learning environment for pre-schooler. Should have experience in art, music, recreation, be able to speak one foreign language. Training in linguistics, psychology and Montessori desirable. Two hours off five days a week when nursery school is in session and child is well.
Job stability improves somewhat when a child is between six and 12, and the mothers who cope most easily meet these qualifications:
Good Opportunity – For expert in recreation, camping, Indian arts, all sports. Should be able to referee. Must be willing to be den mother, room mother, block mother. Public relations skills essential. Should be able to deal effectively with teachers, PTA officers, other parents. Knowledge of sex education, new math required. Must have no objections to mud, insect collections, pets, neighbor's kids.
A mother changes occupations again when her child reaches 13 or 14 and must face up to new requirements:
Job Available – for specialist in adolescent psychology, with experience in large-quantity cooking. Tolerance is chief requirement. Slight hearing loss helpful or must provide own earplugs. Must be unflappable. Should be able to sense when presence is embarrassing to child and disappear.
After 18 years as a working mother, a woman is qualified for only one more job:
Urgently Needed – Financier to provide money, clothes, music, wheels to collegian. No advice necessary. Position may last indefinitely. Ample time left to take income-producing work.
The essay goes on to point out three important factors not included in the job descriptions. A mother who has more than one child must usually hold down two or more of these posts simultaneously; those who handle the jobs best work themselves permanently out of a job; and there are greater rewards than anyone could ever imagine.
Happy Mother's Day.
Brian Giles is publisher of The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123 or by e-mail at brian.giles@atmoreadvance.com

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