Motherhood is denigrated as never before. Yet here, in a tribute to Mums everywhere, the Mail’s Allison Pearson says it’s still the most joyous (and important) job in the world.

Situation vacant: challenging managerial position in busy small organisation. Would suit flexible, energetic female who doesn’t need any sleep. Shifts last 24 hours a day. Boss comes on holiday with you. You will be expected to be a teacher, a cook, a nurse, a chauffeur, a health and safety adviser, a cleaner, a management consultant and an agony aunt.

Must not be squeamish about bottom-wiping, snot clearance etc. Good sense of humour essential. Working knowledge of hamsters and other small rodents an advantage.

An ability to put your own needs last is useful, as is a pair of eyes in the back of your head.

Salary: none. Promotion prospects: what promotion? Time off in lieu: maybe in 25 years, so long as the grandchildren haven’t arrived yet.

Benefits: nice remarks after you’re dead when they finally appreciate you. Immense job satisfaction of creating happy, productive human beings.

Perks: flowers once a year and breakfast in bed on Mothering Sunday if you’re lucky.

I ask you, who would apply for the job of mother? Tomorrow is the one day in the calendar when we may stop for a moment and think about what being a mum actually involves.

Quite frankly, we should be grateful there are any new candidates at all for this most demanding of roles (which, incidentally, more than two-thirds of British women with children under the age of 15 now hold down in addition to doing full or part-time work).

To read the recent headlines, you would swear that motherhood was the end of a life, not the start of an astonishing new one.

On Tuesday, Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour had a Mother’s Day special.

I tuned in hoping to find a touching and hilarious celebration of all things maternal.

One author did speak up for the huge pleasure she took in her role as mummy.

But the overwhelming impression was about as appetising as a bin full of used nappies.

Post-natal depression, ambivalent feelings about babies and problems with “attachment” (or, as we used to call it, love)…

The programme was so miserable it made me want to sell the kids on eBay.

Goodness only knows what terror it struck into the heart of any impressionable young female thinking of starting a family.

“There’s a conspiracy of silence about what motherhood is really like,” the Woman’s Hour listeners were warned.

Nonsense. What silence? We are positively deafened by horror stories about the drawbacks of being a mum.

“Once you have a baby your career will collapse and you will experience a dramatic loss of status and pay,” a report claimed this week.

“Notice that there is no suggestion that – for many women – a baby to cuddle might be some compensation for that “loss of status”.

Then again, you can bet your grandmother’s charm bracelet that another study will be along soon to show that, if you stay home and look after your kids, your brain will shrink to the size of a mini rice cake, you will go mad with frustration and no one will ever employ you again.

According to these doom-mongers, even if you do manage to fight your way through the gluey fog of post-natal depression, you can say goodbye to your sex life.

You will never sleep again. Certainly not with the father of your children, who will be so fed up with being neglected that he’ll have scarpered with Gretchen, the ominously helpful Latvian au pair.

Baby’s routine will bore you rigid, but you will have so little time to yourself you will never read another book. Except one called Why Your Child Is So Stupid And Miserable.

That will turn out to be your fault too, because you accidentally pickled the developing embryo when you drank two mojitos and half a bottle of wine on a girl’s night out in 1998, before you even knew you were pregnant. Cheers!

If motherhood doesn’t make you depressed, then the constant scare stories about motherhood surely will.

Don’t get me wrong. I am all for honesty about the huge adjustment a woman makes when she brings a new life into the world.

With two children of my own, I have experienced those bleached-out early mornings when you have been up all night with a sick baby and the binbag chooses that precise moment to split and spill its contents over the kitchen floor.

The toddler runs into the stink, splashing it on to your only clean work skirt and you honestly think you are going to start screaming and may never stop because you cannot stand another single second of the noise and the mess.

But to suggest chaos, exhaustion and despair are the entire truth about motherhood is like saying an orchestra is only timpani, clashing cymbals and a couple of flatulent tubas.

It would take Mozart himself to write the symphony of joy and fear that is a mother’s love.

This is dangerous territory. If we go on reporting motherhood as a lose-lose situation, then we will put off even more potential mums.

One in five British women currently chooses not to have a child, or their body cruelly makes that choice for them.

Others, of course, are simply leaving it too late.

The “me generation” has postponed the sacrifices necessary to have children because juggling everything just seems too hard.

Yet sacrifice, as generations of Britons who came before us understood, can bring great gains as well as losses.

“Your life is not your own any more when you have kids,” a young beauty therapist said to me the other day.

She’s absolutely right. And I am so glad my life is not my own any more.

Attending to the needs of small people who are entirely dependent on you can be boring, but it also brings a wonderful freedom from that obsession with self which makes our age so superficial and lonely.

The hand that rocks the cradle may not yet rule the world (she probably has better things to do) but mums have a crucial influence on how the people in that world behave towards each other.

If you want proof of the power of maternal love, just look at what the lack of it does.

Take two of the murderers who have dominated the news in the past fortnight.

Ipswich strangler Steve Wright’s mother walked out on him when he was a boy.

The mother of Mark Dixie, serial sadist and brutal killer of Sally Anne Bowman, dumped him on the steps of a Streatham children’s home in South London when he was 12, and has not bothered to make contact since.

Coincidence? I don’t think so. Violent or absentee fathers are a curse on our society, but lost boys who lack a mother to school them in empathy and kindness too often grow into cold, vengeful men.

David Cameron’s Broken Society would mend a lot sooner if there were more good mums around to kiss it better.

Yet there is still pathetically little public recognition for those who do that job so brilliantly.

Look at Prince William and Prince Harry. They were the light of their mother’s brief life and Diana’s love shines on in them.

On duty in Afghanistan, Harry was sent a letter from his older brother saying how proud their mum would be of him.

Ten years on, the thought of their mother still steadies and nourishes her boys.

And that matters to an adult’s sense of self-worth more than we ever acknowledge.

Although I am now in my 40s with a family of my own, my mum will still ring me up and nag: “Did you get the doctor to check that mole on your arm?”

There is not another person who thinks about my needs first, as she still does.

Recently, I was asking a friend about her late mum, whom I sadly never met.

“It will be ten years since she…” my friend began, and started to cry.

What she meant to say was that she’d had ten years without her mum looking out for her.

I don’t know what job Anne’s mum did, or whether she even had a career.

But one thing’s for sure: any human being whose memory can inspire their lovely grown-up child to shed tears of loss like that is not, and never was, “low status”, as motherhood is all too often described.

The problem for many new mums today is the lack of sensible, inspiring examples.

We need role models, not supermodels and movie stars who make motherhood look like something you can have FedExed to you in a box with a big bow on top.

The Smugeratti tell magazines they don’t believe in nannies or other types of childcare.

So who do you suppose is looking after little Ezekiel Elvis while mummy is on the Milan catwalk or doing seven hours of Pilates a day to get back into her size four jeans within six weeks of giving birth?

The battalion of staff paid to keep mum, that’s who.

More than two-thirds of mothers admit they feel celebrity “yummy mummies” like Victoria Beckham put them under pressure to live up to an “unrealistic ideal”.

Women, who are forever doomed to measure themselves against other women, inevitably feel like failures.

It’s hardly surprising. At one extreme we have Angelina Jolie assembling a family of adopted and biological children like some New Seeker’s dream of teaching the world to sing in purr-fect harmony.

At the other, there are the TV nannies – with no children themselves, naturally! – telling us we’re doing it all wrong, making us lose confidence in our instincts.

Enough already. The hopeful thing as we approach this Mother’s Day is that mums are fighting back.

When the Government first came to power it was hell-bent on getting mums back into the workforce as soon as they left the Delivery Suite.

Remember that notorious report which complained about women who wanted to stay at home to look after their children when they should be out helping the economy?

Today, with small children turning up in primary school unable to speak or use a knife and fork, is there anyone who seriously thinks that being a great mum doesn’t help the economy?

Flexible working, which is what most mums say they want, used to be considered a joke and a nuisance but is now the policy of any political party that wants the women’s vote.

Last week, I was one of the judges of American Express’s Britain’s Best Boss competition.

All the companies boasted about how mums are among their most prized employees.

YES, much has been achieved. But there’s still a long way to go.

And for that to happen we need to change the attitude not only of politicians and employers towards motherhood, but of women everywhere.

When I was writing this article, my son came running in to show me the Mother’s Day card he made at school.

As usual, he has drawn me on the front in green crayon. I look like the Incredible Hulk’s mad auntie.

“Shhh…” he said, putting his finger to his lips, “‘it’s a secret.”

So it is. Motherhood is a secret, or the best bits are. Our struggles are public, but our joys are private. That should change.

Tomorrow, let all mums celebrate themselves for attempting that toughest, yet most rewarding, of unpaid jobs.

And let us remember that wise woman who said: “I meant to be the ideal mother, but I was too busy trying to bring up my children.”

Source: Daily Mail, UK