The other week I had a fit of pique at having to tick the ‘home duties’ box in an online survey to describe my occupational status. Is that all I am: the lady that dusts, mops and does the laundry? I suppose I wouldn’t mind if I was a domestic goddess with a spotless house serving hot meals for hubbie every evening. But I’m not. I’m rubbish and I loathe cleaning.
I resented being shoved into that menial and unimportant category, but then started questioning my reaction and asking myself where these feelings stemmed from.
Raising my child is the single most important job I will ever have. And by past standards it’s actually quite a good gig. Who wouldn’t love a job you can do in your pyjamas, with the flexibility to work at home or down the beach, where fun and laughter are essential, and includes limitless coffee breaks with friends. On the down side the hours are pretty intense and there’s absolutely no sick leave, but your amazing co-workers make up for that.
In the past I’ve let my job dictate my worth. When people asked me what I did for a living, I got an annoyingly smug kick from letting them know, ‘I’m a Marketing Manager’ or ‘I work in music PR’, depending where I was in life. I felt important and interesting because I was really saying, ‘I’m valuable, people trust me and I was chosen for this job above all others’.
Whereas almost anyone can become a mum, which doesn’t make me different, special or clever.
But hang on, that’s not true. Being a mum is highly skilled employment that takes dedication and experience to become truly great at it. I’d never worked so hard in my life to learn new skills, absorb information and build new relationships as I did in that first year of motherhood. So why am I still struggling to see my ‘home duties’ as a valuable and worthwhile occupation?
A good friend recently admitted that she too struggled with feelings of worth until she allowed herself to accept her current role as full-time mother and appreciate the value of all she does. Wise woman. I need to take a leaf from her book.