Women’s Work Revisited

A friend of mine wrote:

“It’s so incredible what women do.  I find it metaphorically resonant that a pregnant woman looks like she’s just sitting on the couch, but she’s actually exhausting herself constructing a human being.  The laborious process of growing a human is analogous to how women’s work is seen”  (Ani Difranco from May/June Mothering mag).

Add to this idea:  A woman who looks like she is just taking the kids for a walk, just nursing the baby, just giving her child a snack – is exhausting herself creating and nurturing human beings.  How important!

And also, I don’t think of myself as a poor-me feminist, but I do agree that women’s work (in all spheres/settings: factories, fields, offices, homes) is a giant engine that is quietly turning the world, just like a pregnant mama is quietly churning a babe. Isn’t this interesting?  Why are women so humble about their achievements?

So often I find myself talking down my mother-work, speaking about my being with my children – feeding, instructing, playing with, etc. – either by

a) Not even mentioning these things in conversation, because it would seem akin to brushing my teeth – as in, “What did you do today?” “Oh, I brushed my teeth.”

b) Prefacing with “I was only” as if these things aren’t enough – though nursing a baby, for instance, is exhausting and time-consuming and requires attention – I may multitask – but that’s me being crazy – if I didn’t walk the dog/clean/type/read/read aloud while nursing, I wouldn’t be lazy

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