‘Parenting Is the Hardest Job in the World’

The lament of a privileged White mother.

Jeremy Helligar

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Photo: Gustav Borgen

Parenting is hard work. There’s no doubt in my mind about this. Is it the hardest job in the world? I don’t know. The scope of my on-the-job experience doesn’t encompass a lot of things, like waiting tables, flying airplanes, going to war, or, yes, parenting. But I don’t have to spend all night praying over a sick child to know that parenting is hardly menial labor with little-to-no payoff for everyone who punches that clock every day of their life for the rest of their life.

It certainly isn’t for married parents who earn a combined income that’s well into the six digits and can pay for two homes, two cars, full-time daycare, yoga and pilates classes, veganism and organic food, expensive date nights, and long-weekend trips to London.

I mean, I imagine parenting must still be hard for them, but it’s not exactly a life of drudgery, despair, and hopelessness. I will never ever see them as victims of circumstance or a system that’s rigged for them to fail.

But to hear certain (typically White) mothers who choose their second “profession” complain about it, you’d think they were toiling on a plantation with a baby on their back. Or you would think that parenthood is a completely selfless act that has nothing to do with one’s own personal fulfillment and is solely about making the world a better place for everyone.

Look, I appreciate my mother more than I do anyone on earth. She made sacrifices for me that no-one else has ever made and that I can’t imagine anyone else ever making. She remains, in many ways, a North Star and guiding light in my life.

And, although their mothering has absolutely nothing to do with me, I appreciate the Black and Brown mothers who have to be single parents while earning minimum wage and dealing with systemic racism that stacks the odds against them. They can’t afford nannies, babysitters, and full-time childcare, and they’ll probably never be able to see Europe unless one of their kids grows up and earns enough money to take them there.

In my experience, these aren’t the mothers who weaponize motherhood by beginning sentences with “Well, as a mom…,” and they don’t try to play the “mother” card with people…

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Jeremy Helligar

Brother Son Husband Friend Loner Minimalist World Traveler. Author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” and “Storms in Africa” https://rb.gy/3mthoj