A few weeks ago I was driving home after dropping off Pixie Pie at preschool and on the Jamaicaway a big, tawny minivan passed me on the left just as I was taking a right. In that instant, I noticed a pink bumper sticker, or just, a sticker, since it was stuck on the bottom of the rear left window instead of actually on the bumper. It read "You don't work full time until you're a mother!" Ha! I thought, no kidding! That is so true... I kind of chuckled because I felt instant camaraderie with the other driver. It was 9am and I had already been up for 3 hours just to get the children and myself ready to leave the house. The previous night, I had been up twice, once to tend to a sick baby and the other time to assist in a midnight potty break. The humor of this particular comment lies in the word "full time" since when one becomes a mother, the phrase takes on a whole new meaning. Time itself is redefined by motherhood. One is always on-call and the demands of the job are constant. I worked at a full time job in my former life as a quality assurance something (person?) and the challenges of that kind of work day had nothing on my current life as an at-home-mother. Even if one has a really demanding job in advertising and works on Madison Avenue like Don Draper it does not compare. Even in season 3 when Conrad Hilton calls him at all hours of the night to talk shop it cannot hold a candle to the needs of a baby or child. After all, there are options, one can just decide to not pick up the phone. Hard to do that with your baby. (Why can't I stop comparing life to Mad Men??)
Although I initially agreed with this comment on the pink not-on-the-bumper sticker on the big tawny minivan, there was something about it that struck me later as sort of, I don't know... bitter? I sensed in it a bit of a defense. Or, as a ploy for some well-deserved respect. Perhaps, as a rebuke to those whose work is remunerated and thus somehow believed to be more difficult. A rebuff to those who assume that the stay at home mother sits around all day eating bon bons (okay, I do that, but only when the children are napping--it's how I refuel...)
So, if motherhood is indeed the most difficult job one has ever known, there must be a better way of getting that message out there to the world (or at least those stuck in traffic). I can think of some bumper stickers that more accurately describe what a mother's life is like without sounding so bitchy. How about something all mothers can relate to such as "You don't know what tired is until you're a parent!" That gets the point across without hopefully offending any really really tired people. Or perhaps something more cryptic, something that only other mothers would understand, like, "2am isn't what it used to be!" For the nursing mother I like this one: "Honk if you're hungry 12 times a day!" You see, it is so important to find the humor in motherhood. It can make one feel an instant connection to those who share life's most confusing experience. Humor can heal us and it is so funny when it's so true but when the joke is at someone else's expense, it's really cheapened. And when you're a mother, there is no shortage of honestly funny material and no room to put others down. It's just not motherly. I don't have any bumper stickers because when I drive, I like to be private. I do however, have a "baby on board" sign in the rear window. For all the good that does, especially on the Jamaicaway. I don't plan to put any bumper stickers, motherly or otherwise, on my vehicle because they are in my opinion tacky, obnoxious, or pointless. Like a tweet or facebook status that never goes away. That is, until Pixie comes home with a student of the month one or something and I have no choice. That's called sacrifice. And you don't know what that is until you're a mother either.