If Motherhood Is a Job, Where on Earth Is my Payslip?

I hate to quibble with the Queen, but any moron can become a mother.

The Queen doesn’t look like the sort of woman who enjoys small talk – which is unfortunate, since her position requires her to produce industrial quantities of it. I offer that humbly as an excuse for the conversation she had with Kate Winslet this week.

The actress has revealed that, while bestowing a CBE upon her, Her Majesty asked whether Winslet enjoyed her job. “I told her that I loved it but I love being a mum even more. The Queen said, 'Yes, that’s the only job which matters.’ ”

I hate to quarrel with the monarch, but: no, I cannot stomach this ubiquitous modern platitude any longer. Motherhood is not a job at all, so how can it possibly be the only one that matters?

A job is a position for which you must compete. You need qualifications, experience or, at the very least, decent personal hygiene.

Critically, a job is something for which you get paid. If you’re good at it, you might get promoted up the ranks and become an expert in your field.

By contrast, any moron or sociopath can become a mother. There’s no line manager to assess your performance, and no hierarchy to ascend. You might think of yourself as an expert, but other mothers won’t thank you for telling them what to do.

Parenting may be hard work – i.e. physically laborious, mentally taxing and sometimes boring – but it is not Work. It is something altogether more mysterious, haphazard and profound. If the day ever comes when chief executives get paid in snotty kisses and think that makes it all worthwhile – then, perhaps, you could call it a job.


If you want to hang on to your real job, you have to draw the line somewhere. Not long after the birth of our third baby, I suggested to my husband that perhaps he should get the snip.

“Really?” said he querulously, snatching the sheets up to his chin as if afraid that I might make a lunge for his tubes. “But what if I want to leave you for a younger model?”

He was joking (he claims); but he also spoke the truth. NHS statistics published this month show that the vasectomy rate has more than halved in a decade. The British Pregnancy Advisory Clinic says that one reason may be that men increasingly want to keep open the option of having a second family.

It’s only sensible, really. Everyone knows that marriage is no longer for life – or at least, that life is so long you might need a couple of marriages to cover it. Spouses die, have affairs, or become too bad-tempered to live with. Remarriages now account for 40 per cent of weddings.

For women, that makes a vasectomy even more appealing. A man who does have the snip is not just solving a practical problem. He is making a grand romantic gesture. He is voluntarily relinquishing the fantasy, however remote, of a different future. In an age when neither marriage nor parenthood is any guarantee of commitment, a vasectomy says: “I’m here to stay.”


Three cheers for Saya Smith, winner of the Artangel organisation’s Ideas for London project. Ms Smith, an architecture graduate from Tokyo, wants to set up a chain of workshops to teach people how to mend everyday objects. If she can secure funding, her London College of Fixing will turn empty high street shops into drop-in centres run by retired skilled workers and housewives. They will teach those of us raised in a disposable age how to rewire a toaster or glue the sole on to a shoe.

Like Dryden’s God, modern manufacturers do not make their work for man to mend. You’re supposed to buy a new Spider-Man toy every time his arm falls off. Learning how to fix him instead is not just thrifty: it’s a miniature act of rebellion.


By  Jemima Lewis

Source: Telegraph.co.uk - http://goo.gl/y1sbs


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