The Oldest Profession

Not that one, silly.

This one.

And if you don’t think motherhood is a profession, then you’ve obviously never tried to comfort a colicky baby, potty trained a toddler, read Good Night Moon umpteen bazillion times, monitored homework assignments and science fair projects, coached a soccer team or led a scouting troop on a camping trip, sat on your white knuckled hands while your teenager took the wheel of your car, or furnished the dorm room for college.

There is no retirement from motherhood, either. Just ask the many parents of adult children who still have plenty of sleepless nights worrying about “grown up” offspring and their emotional, marital, or professional troubles.

Ever since Eve -  and I can only imagine how difficult life was for her being homeless with those two fractious boys! - mother’s have borne the brunt of the world’s scrutiny when things go wrong for their children. It’s always the mothers fault, a dictum straight from the annals of Freudian psychoanalysis, but one many people have bought into even if it’s only subconsciously.

As mothers we’re usually harder on ourselves than the most critical society member. Whenever our children face any hardship, confront any difficulty, fail to perform to their optimum potential, we always look in the mirror first. What could I have done differently? Where did I go wrong? How did I fail?

And what can I do to make it better.

Because just as often as mothers take the blame upon themselves, they also try to right every wrong. The ultimate example of a knight in shining armor, every mother wants to rush in to the rescue, whether the hurt comes from  a skinned knee on the playground, the sting of rejection in love, or the lack of success in the workplace.

Who dares to hurt my child? the mother cries, guns blazing. Let me at them!

But for all its history of heartache and worry and disappointment, very few mothers would trade this job for any other. Most of us find the deepest of all satisfactions in the tiniest of all rewards.

A sticky kiss goodnight.

A handful of dandelions offered up in a grubby fist.

A poem signed with a dozen scribbled x’s and o’s.

A grumbly “Love you too” at the end of a phone conversation.

A surreptitious wave from the stage at graduation.

Then, if you’re very, very lucky, the cycle starts all over again, and the fruit of all that labor rewards you one hundred fold with something that will keep you in business until the end of your days.

Happy Mother’s Day to my fellow professionals everywhere.