The Hardest Job In The World
IF you were to ask a classroom of children aged eight to ten what they think is the hardest job in the world, you probably get the usual suspects like a policeman or a fireman or maybe a builder. And their reasoning in these answers? Well, a policeman has to chase robbers all day and get shot at. A fireman has to run into burning buildings and save people – it’s a dangerous job. A builder has to work in all weather conditions and brave the elements to get a job done and on time.
Some more advanced children might be sympathetic towards their teacher. They have the mammoth task to care for and academically influence up to thirty children at the one time. They have to deal with unruly children and encourage 30 children to do the same thing at the one time, five to six hours a day. An Alaskan fisherman has to brave sub-zero temperatures and dangerous conditions to fish for a few months of the year. They have to overcome the stomach-churning motion of rough seas to earn a living.
A shopkeeper – they have to deal with people from all walks of life from the cheeky young to the half-deaf elderly. Pleasant to downright rude customers, who think it’s okay to unload their bad day onto the unsuspecting shopkeeper. Those lovely thanks you as grunts, the throwing of the money on the counter. The impatient customer giving dagger looks because they are not been served quick enough, they are more important than the person in front.
A sales rep has the awkward task of cold calling to companies to try sell their superior products to an office worker who could not be bothered with entertaining another sales rep calling uninvited. The constant “no thank you”. The odd once off sympathy order. The endless dead end leads. The cold caller to residential properties to change your gas, electricity or bin supplier. The charity worker looking for you to support yet another dog’s home. The awkward hour of dinner time and people just in from a day’s hard work and certainly in no mood to talk with strangers with happy smiley faces. Could you imagine the endless doors slammed in their faces?
Or how about stepping into the wellingtons of a vet on call at 4am on a freezing cold winter morning or night, birthing a calf, lamb or foal. Wearing those lovely extra long latex gloves that go up to your shoulder and beyond. The bravery it takes to push your arm into oblivion, the unknown.
But if you where to ask a mother the same question “What is the hardest job in the world?” It is the one that gets little recognition. Yes it’s the ‘stay-at-home mother’. It is the job a lot of us take on with false pretences, most of us willingly. We fill this position with the notion that no one can rear our children like us. No crèche can give them the security, mental stability, the love, the homely memories that a stay-at-home mother can. There is only one problem with this. You quickly realise that the older your children get, they would be happy to go to a crèche, they won’t shout at you there and there’s loads more toys to play with on the floor.
With all of the above careers you receive a salary, Oh, how I miss that monthly gift! You receive benefits. You get to speak to adults about anything you want without been interrupted. Your clothes are clean. Your colleagues don’t sit and watch you pee and ask you for something mid-stream. Or when that cold caller comes knocking when you finally get to sit on the toilet and the kids open the door so all can be seen to the outside world. When you get up the courage to go the door your dignity just slips pass you and out the door.
So yes, there are some days I would swap a few hours of my life to chase down a few robbers in a high speed chase through Dublin city. To have that adrenaline rush and to handcuff the assailants and throw them in the paddy wagon and pat myself on the back job well done. There are some days I would brave the elements of an Irish winter and carry blocks up flights of stairs to the top floor of a building because at least I wouldn’t forget what I went upstairs for in the first place. I would have great calf muscles and no bingo wings after that.
There are some days I would swap the constant whinging that nothing can satisfy and run into a burning building to save someone, just for a few minutes peace. I hate boats but some days I would take a holiday on an Alaskan fishing boat. Although I would probably resemble the Michelin Man with forty layers of clothing on me. I hate the cold too.
Some days I would swap a few hours to stand at a till and deal with all types of people. Why? Because they would be different people to talk to. And the unruly kids wouldn’t be mine so I could just smile and have empathy with the parents. I would gladly swap half a day to drive around. Alone. No children in the back of the car kicking lumps out of each other and screaming and telling tales. I would not be threatening to stop the car and throw them out, or worse, threatening for me to leave the car and walk home alone. I could take the ‘No’s’ from the companies, it would make a change from me constantly saying no all the time.
I would swap an evening making three different dinners for the job of the charity or gas company employee. An evening spent calling to stranger’s homes and the doors slammed in my face wouldn’t faze me. It would be like taking an early evening walk, not having to wait till it’s nearly dark to get out for a quick walk, alone.
And finally yes, I would swap my flip flops for wellingtons and my marigolds for extra long latex gloves. I would have no problem inserting my arm into the unknown. It would be no different to fishing out objects and fully soaked toilet rolls from the toilet at home. A nice few hours in the countryside.
But saying after all that, nothing beats that time of night when the house is quiet. The bedtime routine has been exhausted and they are all tucked up in bed safe and sound. The toys are out of sight and mind. You open that bottle of wine that has been teasing you all day. It made you question, “Do I have a drink problem?” just because you where tempted to open it since 11am.
You forget all the giving out and shouting you may have done that day and reiterate the funny things the kids said and did to your husband. You slide down into the couch. Take a large gulp of wine and realise there is nothing more satisfying than being a stay-at-home mother. Being there for your children 24/7. The thanks will come later down the line when the children are gone and they realise how much you gave up giving them everything, especially your sanity.
So if I’m honest, I wouldn’t swap these precious years as a stay-at-home mum for any pay cheque. It is definitely the hardest job in the world but without a doubt, the most satisfying.
Photos c/o misspartymom.blogspot.com, inspiremeinc.wordpress.com, scientopia.org