Life happens: Is motherhood really the toughest job?
I'll never forget the moment I became a mother.
Unlike many women, it wasn't when I realized I was pregnant; in fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't have one single maternal feeling during my entire pregnancy. I hated being pregnant.
Sure, it had its perks. Eating cheeseburgers in bed, for example. Or eating fried chicken in bed, for another. Or just having my husband bring the entire contents of our fridge into bed, laid out buffet-style.
But even when I felt my baby kick for the first time or saw him on the ultrasound, I still didn't feel like a mom. I didn't know this kid. We may have been sharing the same body, but he was more like the weird roommate I never saw but knew hadn't moved out yet because of the mess he left behind in our "apartment." Our bloated, sweaty, gigantic "apartment" that was permanently carpeted in sweatpants and my husband's old T-shirts.
It also wasn't, like it is for many women, the first time I held him. By that point, I had already been a mom for a good hour. So finally getting to gaze upon his beautiful (and very red and angry) face didn't magically transform me into some sort of earth mother goddess. It just transformed me into a manically laughing, sobbing madwoman for the next 20 minutes.
No, the moment I became a mother was when the doctor left it up to me how to proceed after 33 hours of labor. Putting it plainly and without getting too deep into my lady-part details, the doctor explained that I had to decide either to keep going with labor even though I was still barely dilated (better for me but more dangerous for the baby, since his heart rate was beginning to drop) or to have a C-section (better for him but more dangerous for me since I'd be ripped open from my pelvis to my boobs while they poked at my intestines with sharp sticks - or whatever they do during a C-section - I don't know; I'm not a doctor).
I told them I wanted to discuss it with my husband first, but I already knew my answer. Or course I knew. If you're a mom, you already know, too.
"Let's go with the C-section. I'd rather be the one in any kind of danger."
And that's when the nurse confirmed it.
"Spoken like a true mother."
That's when I became a mom.
Now, let me be clear, I don't write this to try and make myself sound like some kind of selfless hero over here. My decision in the halls of the maternity ward was common if not downright mundane. I was only ever in danger theoretically - like, in worst-case scenario terms. I mean, come on. "Woman chooses to have C-section. Film at 11." It was something the medical staff did not only every day but multiple times every day, safely and efficiently.
(Not to mention, my other choice was to push a giant watermelon out of my hooha, so yeah; no big heroes here, sir).
And it was the same decision millions of other moms have made given similar circumstances.
And that's the point.
Being a mom, at least in my limited experience so far, means that it's no longer about you. It means that every decision you will make from here on out will answer the question "What is best for my child?"
And it means that from here on out you will make those decisions a thousand times a day without even noticing it because it becomes second nature to put their needs first.
So while everyone on the Internet is currently debating whether motherhood is the toughest job there is, I can easily end it by definitively saying no, being a mom is not the toughest job there is.
And that's because the question is wrong.
Being a mom isn't a job. It's who you are. And who you will always be.
It can't be quantified.
So, sure, you can list all the things moms do on a daily basis and how much a mom would get paid if she collected wages for being a chef, a chauffeur, a coach, a teacher, an accountant, a boo-boo kisser, etc.
But being a mom isn't about keeping score.
It's about being willing to have your body ripped open and all your insides exposed to the outside world, both literally and figuratively.
Aprill Brandon is a columnist for the Advocate. Her column runs every two weeks in the Your Life section. Comment on this story at VictoriaAdvocate.com.