By Erin McClain, MA, MPH, Research Associate at the UNC Center for Maternal & Infant Health
My favorite parenting advice blogger, Magda Pecsenye, who writes the blog Ask Moxie, recently posted a response to Jessica Valenti’s book Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness and Valenti’s piece for Babble, both of which pointed out that while there is a lot of rhetoric about the importance of mothers, the job itself is not valued.
In her post “Free But Not Cheap”, Moxie reframes the argument, saying that motherhood is not a job, it’s a relationship. As the parent of two young children – one in early elementary school, one in infancy – this statement struck me like lightning! As Moxie writes: “If we think it's a job, then nothing makes sense about it. How is it possible that it's so important but also so undervalued?... But motherhood makes sense when you realize that it's a relationship. Loving and nurturing your child is the relationship you have with your child. That's why when you have a bad day as an adult, you still want your mom (if you have a good relationship with your mom) even though she isn't making your meals, changing your clothes for you, driving you to work, or doing any of the stuff moms of kids do.”
From a public policy standpoint, Moxie goes on to say, “But we do need to make sure that the jobs associated with raising children are valued, financially and socially. We need protections for SAH [stay-at-home] parents. Protections and better wages for paid caregivers. And respect for everyone who does the jobs of raising children.” I hope you will read Moxie’s post (especially the comments!) – I would love to know if her approach resonates with you.