Lizz Winstead is a comedian and writer based in New York. She was a co-creator of “The Daily Show.” Her newest book, Lizz Free Or Die: Essays comes out on May 10. Pre-order it here.
I don’t know what the “hardest job in the world” is, but I am in the camp that motherhood is near the top, along with coal miner, President of the United States, and porn theater janitor. Some disagree and have other ideas, like this guy who makes the case that simply being a man qualifies as the hardest.
Now with all of these jobs – yes, even the job of angry white guy — to excel at any of them, you have to possess a specific skill set, combined with a tireless resilience that I simply was not born with.
So I chose to opt out of all of the above, because I know, in no uncertain terms, society would not be a better place if I were doing any of them.
Yet with only one of those jobs, motherhood, I am judged about my decision not to pursue it. Instead of saying, “Thank you for realizing you don’t have the selflessness it takes to raise a child,” I am, ironically, often called selfish.
And I resent it.
It seems to me that motherhood is the only job that people seem to confuse having the equipment to do it with having all the skills that go along with being good at it. And it is only a woman’s natural born equipment that seems to be put under such scrutiny. The uterus is the only non-vital organ many think we are inherently born to utilize.
I have never heard anyone declare, “If you are born with a penis, you instinctively want to make children with it.” Why the double standard? I mean, after all, men alone make one of the, shall we say, ingredients required to make another human.
Of what other job, besides motherhood, do we say, “Just because you can physically do it, do it, we will impose it upon you, regardless of how ill-prepared, incompetent or disinterested you are?
The answer: NONE OF THEM.
Yet that is exactly what the extremists in this country are trying to do to women with proposed and enacted anti-choice legislation sweeping statehouses across this country.
They declare motherhood life’s most important job, and then hypocritically try to force it upon all of us, without a shred of consideration as to whether we are ready or willing, because of our age, competence, circumstance, and yes, choice.
So I have to ask, “Where is the logic?”
I have two hands and am relatively competent using sharp objects to say, dice an onion or cut my own bangs. That doesn’t mean I’m a natural at using my hands to say, cut open your skull and remove the tumor from your neocortex.
I was not born with the interest, drive, dedication or financial resources to learn to do it to the best of my ability. No one judges me because I wasn’t compelled to become a neurosurgeon simply because I was born with hands.
But when it comes to motherhood….
Cue the haters. “FALSE ANALOGY!” people will shriek. “To become a doctor you have to have a natural ability and have an intense drive to devote years of your life to learning the skill as it is an incredibly specific job that if you mess up, you can ruin someone’s life.”
Oh. You mean like motherhood?
If I can take it one step further, we even have child labor laws in this country that prohibit kids under 16 years old from even applying for certain jobs. Jobs I would argue are not listed on anyone’s list of “hardest jobs in the world,” like running the register at Yankee Candle or server at Applebee’s. And when they turn 16 and choose one of those jobs, say at Applebees’s, they don’t just let you loose in the dining room wielding a hot Bloomin’ Onion on day one. You get at least a day or two of training.
But when it comes to motherhood, which I will remind you again is “one of the hardest jobs in the world”, we say, “You are on your own kid, just figure it out.”
It is exhausting living in a country that relentlessly keeps trying to enact laws that prohibit women from access to the reproductive freedoms that allow us to control our own destiny. My destiny, it turns out, is to try to make sense of this world using humor. Often doing it in public on a stage in front of people who are fueled with booze.
Your destiny may be motherhood. If it is, I applaud you; it is one of the hardest jobs in the world. I hope you have access to the necessary healthcare needed so you can chose when you are ready to do it.
I know I did — and it gave me the opportunity to put all the drive and joy into the thing I was born to do, instead of being forced into something that not only would I suck at, but would embarrass all those moms out there who are so amazing at it.
Next Sunday is Mother’s Day. I celebrate you. You deserve it. And you deserve every opportunity to choose it on your terms.