Motherhood: Job, Career, Vocation?

It's already a week since Mother's Day. A day of thanking those who raised us into incredible human beings (thanks Mummy). Of course #MothersDay was trending on social media, and so, as I scrolled through FB on my phone (whilst enjoying my lie in and breakfast in bed) I came across this image.


It made me chuckle. I liked it. I shared it. But then it nagged at me. Tugged at my mind until, in the early hours of Monday morning, as I fed Ollie and got him back to sleep. I pondered a truly meaningful question.

Is motherhood a job, a career or a vocation?

A job is short-term. A means to an end. If we commit to a job, it is usually for a short period of time. When the job is done, we move on, hopefully to bigger and better things. In this sense, motherhood could be seen as a job, or a series of jobs - babies aren't babies for long, the terrible twos (and terrifying threes) will pass and next thing you know they're moving back in after university...
A career is a longer term goal, or series of goals. It can be made of a number of different jobs over a period of time, all striving for the same thing. If you work hard enough at your career, put in the effort and training, then in time you could even call it your 'profession'.
And then there is the holy grail. A vocation. Something which to the outsider may look like a job, or a career but on the inside provides satisfaction, a sense of fulfillment, a happiness that comes from doing something we enjoy. Having a vocation often leads people to accept lower rates of pay, longer hours and difficult working conditions because the job satisfaction is worth it.

So, is being a mother a job, career, vocation, or something else entirely?

Maybe it depends on what stage of motherhood you're at. There are times when it feels like a truly thankless task. Where you strive to get through to end of the day and groan when you wake up the next morning.

Perhaps after a while, you feel like you've nailed it. You've done the training and the results are improving. That first little "I love you Mummy" is your first really big bonus. You're climbing the ladder. You may even be ready to embark on the next stage of your career and go for child number two, or three. Perhaps you've reached the top with one and are just working on perfecting that project.

The good days always feel like a vocation. A calling. You may be winging it but it's working! Motherhood is AMAZING. Check you out as you juggle two children, messy play and get a freshly cooked meal on the table. Sure, you haven't had a break to pee alone. But it is all worth it.

Really, isn't motherhood a mix of all three? Or a standalone definition for someone who loves beyond all understanding, all logic, and so works harder than any employee - no matter what they call their work?

So yeah, very few people would want to accept a position where they don't get any time off or no tangible pay but that isn't the point. You're not an employee. You're a Mum. There is no monthly paycheck, no interview process, no training and no HR. You can't hand in your notice, or re-train. No matter how old your children get, you will never retire.

Being a mum is bloody hard work sometimes but it isn't a job, it isn't a career and it isn't even a vocation. It is a life choice, a responsibility, a relationship.

It's too late to turn back now. But it's worth it. Honest.

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