Life's Invisible Work

Even new moms understand pretty quickly that much of the work that they do for their child/children is often unnoticed. I've come to believe that mothering is often an invisible existence composed of simple, unremarkable actions that usually occur behind closed doors. Some of those acts are intentionally unobtrusive but most, I think, are not I call these acts of uncommon mothering "life's invisible work" or #lifesinvisiblework. 

{wiping...noses, bottoms, grubby hands. emptying the diaper pail. singing a song that will distract. ordering diapers, wipes, putting it all away. filling a bath.}

Sometimes the work of mothering isn't invisible...those times when we are actively engaged with our child: pushing him on the swing, mom/baby yoga, whooshing her around in the pool. But inevitably these kinds of opportunities shrink as our babies grow up. And so the bulk of our mothering work really is unseen. Does that matter?

Your mothering work matters.

Your mothering work matters.

Yes, it does matter. And the invisible work of mothering matters as a feminist issue because a) mothering is done primarily by women and b) because invisible work of any kind is usually ignored, marginalized or minimized...not to mention low paid.

{buying, trying, donating formula. breastfeeding. pumping. preparing bottles. talking to lactation consultants. pumping. buying new bras.}

bell hooks tells us that feminism "is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression." The work of mothering is easy to ignore, explore and oppress because it is so invisible. But if we allow this then we ignore the voices of many women, 4 out of 5 of whom will have children in their lifetime. And their voices are as important as who benefits from their invisible work: children and families. Mothering must not go unnoticed even if the work is often invisible.

{managing multiple schedules. reading labels. interviewing babysitters, nannies, daycares, schools. packing backpacks, diaper bags, snacks. car seat research. laundry.}

So, here's what we do: we make the unseen, seen again. We do that by writing, talking, Tweeting about the mothering work that we are doing. By sharing the everyday, unremarkable moments that make up the hours of our lives. And let's make it even more visible by using the hashtag: #lifesinvisiblework. Start in the way that feels most comfortable to you, perhaps on Outside The Mom Box Facebook page or on your own wall. Then dare to put it out there to others in different circles of your life.  Support those who do. See what happens.

What work do you do as a mother that is invisible? Leave a comment below.