The Most Important Job To Who?

The Most Important Job To Who? - Adventures of a Subversive Reader

Last week a comedian published a controversial article about motherhood. (This particular comedian always manages to post mother-bashing articles on the days I feel like crap, so I’m not going to give her the respect of mentioning her name. It’s petty, but makes me feel better). Her rather jumbled click bait article argued that ‘Motherhood is not the most important job in the world’ and that ‘it’s not even a job’.

You know, somewhere in the confusion of words, she had some valid points. It is a rather tired slogan which could be widened to include fathers and step parents and others who parent our children. It’s a throw away statement which can hurt when you’re going through fertility issues. But the feel of her article was more about pushing the ideas that feminist women should be working outside the house and that mothering isn’t really that hard at all.

I’ve read a couple of excellent rebuttals to her article (including the tweets of a friend with a 2 week old . . . someone who has worked as an engineer, run an independent press and started a PhD at the same time) but now I’ve had time to get back into a good head space (plus some sleep) my thoughts have turned more to the notion of ‘Important’ jobs.

A traditional view of ‘important’ jobs turns up the usual suspects – surgeons and airline pilots. (It probably comes as little surprise that these are traditional jobs held by men.) But, to be honest, the surgeon isn’t that important to me until I’m lying on the operating table (and a couple of them have seemed more interested in where they’re going to leave my scar than the work under the skin!) Airline pilots are wonderful when I’m flying, but I’ve seen enough Air Crash Investigation to know they really only become important on take off, landings and when something goes wrong.

The truth is, jobs become important to us when we’re invested in them. The special care nurses looking after my son after his birth had the single most important job in the world to me at that time. When a near by bridge was damaged by the 2011 floods, the engineers designing the new one were terribly important to stop the massive traffic jams. And when I had pregnancy cravings, the workers at MacDonalds were of extreme importance to me!

When a parent is the primary carer of a child, it is probably the most important job in the life of the parent and the child. At the moment, I see myself having four jobs – mother and carer of Squirm, looking after the house, blogger, and teacher on leave (I still keep up my professional reading in that job). Out of those four jobs, being a mother is the most important to me. I’m on call, on my own, from 6.15am to 6.30pm from Monday to Friday. Our days are planned, to a certain extent, around what Squirm needs. It may not always be the most important job in my life, but at the moment it is, and I’m okay with that.

This particular article is part of a bigger problem at the moment. There’s an awful lot of internet power in being offensive to sections of the community and being offensive about mothers is a solid gold pass to getting a lot of clicks. You don’t get as much attention from being inclusive, from acknowledging that different people have different priorities, and that slogans will fit for some people and not fit for others. And you can’t promote your latest show or book without lots of clicks, so people like this will continue to do it. But as thoughtful people we can do something. We can acknowledge that different people want different things from life. We can support people in what they want to do. We can campaign for good childcare and offer support to those who do want to stay at home. We can refuse to let someone like this make us feel bad so that she can make more money.

We can decide who’s important in our own worlds.



  1. I read somewhere that raising children should be your most important work because you are grooming a little person on how to live in the big wide world. Mothering is a job because it’s a responsibility. If our kids run amuck who gets blamed?! Great article and I loved the way you talked about other jobs too. πŸ™‚

    1. Society blames the teachers of course πŸ™‚ But all jokes aside, no matter how much we talk about a village, in the end the little person is the responsibility of the parents. And it’s a huge responsibility!

  2. Raising a child is the most important job. I really thank my husband for letting me work part time from home for the past 3 years so I can be a mum first and work second. She is a beautiful independant girl with strong bonds and a joyful soul. That is payment and reward to society 10 fold what I could have done as a full time employee. Great post!

  3. I think the important thing to remember, when people spout off at the mouth about topics like this, is that usually they’re after some attention, some 15 minutes of fame, some “shock and awe” value. Don’t give it to them. It’s why I don’t read mamamia. Always the controversial topics that people get heated about that centuries of discussions WILL NOT SOLVE. I don’t care if people think being a mum is not a job, it’s the most important job to me, which is why any other kind of career I might have had has taken a back seat and I work when I can to work around my son’s needs and my needs as a mother to be there for him. Great post. x Aroha

  4. What a great post !!! I love how you say that other jobs are important but only when you are the one they are specifically targeting – I’m not too fussed about surgeons, until we are talking about the one who is going to operate on me or someone in my family – ditto the pilot etc etc.
    I think there are a lot of people who abdicate the parenting of their children and leave it up to teachers or carers and I think that that is not right – a parent is the most important person in the life of a child.
    I have often wondered if some articles are written purely to be argumentative to get people to discuss and induce more people to read their article.
    Have the best day !

  5. This is a great post and absolutely spot on. Someone could be in a crappy job (to other people) but it’s the most important to them because it means that they are putting a roof over their family’s heads.

  6. I’ve been thinking similar thoughts myself lately, but more along the lines of what makes a worthwhile job? Working in retail, I often feel that I’m just encouraging people to spend money and accumulate waste, and that’s not really helping anyone. But jobs such as teachers and nurses really do make an incredible difference to everyone. So there are definitely some jobs that do have more worth than others, but like you said, that worth is often ascribed on the need at the time. I just wish that we could base that worth not on what is good for us, but good for everyone. And then people who make disparaging comments like the one who won’t be named, would realise that without great, committed parents who do view their job as all important, the world would be a pretty terrible place.

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