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I find Barack Obama to be masterful at delivering one-line responses to republican jabs. He is appropriately measured to each word-missile sent his way, yet also unpretentious and seemingly frank. And he keeps his answers current to pop-culture thinking.

Usually, anyway.

Except in the recent exchange when Barack responded to a comment made about Mitt’s wife. “There is no tougher job than being a mom” is not a phrase that our man in the oval office coined. However, Obama’s repeating of it kinda made me dry heave.

As a mother I can say from the experience of sometimes working in the home and sometimes working outside of it– motherhood is not even close to the toughest job.

First of all, there is no education or training required for you to become a mother. Which is a damn shame in oh so many instances. Nor is there the wonderfully vetting probation period from which completely unsuitable candidates could be dismissed from the mommy gig. And in fact, it’s nearly impossible to be fired from your job as mother at any stage of your homemaker career, even if there is legally documented failure at it.

Secondly, are we discounting the people on this planet who walk across minefields to remove forgotten mines? Especially considering that minefields are usually found in recently war-torn countries so these souls who search for discarded bombs that can kill them – are also not generally paid very well to do so.

I know mommy-ing is not supposed to be a paid gig, but I know a great deal of women who don’t live with their children full time and are paid very well by their breeding partner to maintain their kid’s lifestyle. I also know a lot of mommies who are given monthly allowances to run their homes that are equivalent to the annual salary of U.S. Marines, family bereavement counselors, and roofers who work in freezing conditions.

Of course, most people don’t get into parenting for the money or the breakfast in bed most mother’s get in early May in America. They do it for the fulfillment of raising another person, who they yearn to care for and pass their wisdom onto.

Just like oncologists in stage four cancer wards do. As do Ivy League graduates doing Teach America in the most dilapidated schools in our country. And like newly minted lawyers doing Peace Corps for two years in other more needy countries. These people, like mommies, also took important and emotionally exhausting jobs where they must give of themselves to try and fight pre-destined misfortune, death and desperation… in those not even related to them.

In fact, thinking of the many different kinds of fulfilling, honorable jobs – like parenting but also firemen who run into the burning building when the rest of us are running out of them – I’m thinking what the president and the cliché meant to say is that parenting is the least thankful job in the world.

Because there will always be souls like me, who grow up and say asinine things like “my private school had problems my mother failed to notice.” Which is pretty thankless.

Maybe not as thankless as the treatment of a custodian in a junior high school, or a fruit-picker in Arizona, or the animal rescue people working off the coast of New Orleans, or the traffic cop who hand’s out tickets outside the funeral home.

I think the job of motherhood, like childhood, has a lot to do with circumstance. What you do with your given circumstance, and what you then teach the next generation about them. This probably defines the toughness or thankfulness of the motheringjob.

This mother’s day I plan to take my children to a food pantry and hand out breakfast to other mother’s, who have parted ways with their children for a multitude of reasons I hope to never know. Mothers who have also parted ways with a roof over their heads at night and a regular breakfast. Because that seems hard to me, as both a mother and a human. Perhaps if I teach my children to appreciate the care they get from all people in their particular circumstances, then perhaps they will be thankful for everything, including, maybe even me.

  1. Nicole on Tuesday 29, 2012

    This is an amazing essay. My mom was a teacher for 36 1/2 years and she decided to retire in December 2009. Plus, she’s an amazing mom to us (me and my younger sister).

  2. Dan Mackey on Tuesday 29, 2012

    Wonderful article Diane, one of our best yet!


  3. Dan Mackey on Tuesday 29, 2012

    Finally, a chance to expound on my earlier brief comment. My current state as as you know is being Mr. Mom staying home helping manage my 5 great step-kids while their mom holds down the main earning job and I freelance where I can. With all of the occasional challenges, it poses that is nowhere near as difficult a job as are the jobs those who put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe and secure or served in some other vital way. No job I have ever had in my life high profile or not has never been so difficult or hazardous and I am thankful for that and appreciative of all of those with the really difficult jobs. Once again, another really good. Right now I have to go to the drug store to get band-aids to help my youngest start his new at school business as a supplier…(wait a minute, I’m mixing up articles again) Oh well, gotta go. Thanks and take care.


  4. Giovanni on Tuesday 29, 2012

    I liked this article a lot, Diane. And i speak being a son of parted parents since i was 8.
    they made many mistakes in that troubled situation, the kind of mistakes that people make when things in their life crumble down. i suffered at first, i’ve been thankless and I blamed them. but when I grew up I understood that there’s no Junior Woodchuck Guidebook for the job of motherhood (and fatherhood, because what you wrote counts for both the roles..).
    mistakes are behind the corner, whether if you make them by instinct, or if you were thinking for months for the (supposed) best solution, and you fail the choice.

    But when you receive a lot of good values and teachings, well… mistakes remains (at least the big and seriuos ones), but you won’t miss to feel ..thankful.
    (…of course, even thankfullness, as any other Feeling, is a subjective thing :) ..)

    “Because there will always be souls like me, who grow up and say asinine things like “my private school had problems my mother failed to notice.” Which is pretty thankless.”

    naaa…perhaps you said that when you were kid. or a very young girl. but I think it was an…accident :)
    I always thought I met a very special person, Diane. Mature and wise already at 20 or 17 years old.
    very different from common … human misery… :)

    ciao and forgive my english,


  5. Diane Farr on Tuesday 29, 2012

    HI Giovanni! il tuo Englese e piu melio di mio Italiano. SEMPRE! xx DF

  6. Diane Farr on Tuesday 29, 2012

    I love all your comments Dan, thanks for all these kind and interesting thoughts df

  7. Diane Farr on Tuesday 29, 2012

    wow Nicole your family is very very interesting!

  8. Nicole on Tuesday 29, 2012

    Thanks! :)

  9. Giovanni on Tuesday 29, 2012

    I know ;) but that doesn’t mean my english is good! :)


  10. nalgenie on Tuesday 29, 2012

    you are truly a wonderful spirit….