Waiting tables is a thankless and exhausting job. When a mother returns home after a shift and holds her babies she is happy to be home with her kids but tired and depressed about the outlook for the future at the same time. “Forget that you will have to do this again tomorrow, forget that you will have to be alert enough to dodge the drunks on the drive home tonight—-just burn, burn, burn!
Ideally, at some point you enter into what servers call a “rhythm” and psychologists term a “flow state,” where signals pass directly from the sense organs to the muscles, bypassing the cerebral cortex, and a Zen-like emptiness sets in” (Ehrenreich, 2001). The tired and depressed look on the face of the mother holding her child is obvious when one stops to consider how hard the mother works simply to take care of her baby. The job prospects for many single mothers often include the types of jobs where one must zone out in order to simply get through each shift.
For mothers who are educated and have the potential to secure well paying jobs there are also challenges to face. The government is decreasing funds to job sectors such as education, health and welfare. Women make up the majority of these careers so are heavily impacted by outsourcing and job elimination (Armstrong, 2005). As a result, there is increasing competition for jobs so working mothers are forced to battle against one another in order to take care of their children instead of working together to ensure that all children of working mothers are well cared for (Armstrong, 2005).
At the same time, many women do not experience high levels of job security and are constantly aware that they may be out of a job at any time (Armstrong, 2005). When a mother is holding her child but is thinking about the stresses at work as well as the daily challenges she faces in raising her child, it is no wonder she looks tired and depressed. At the same time that the family, and particularly the mother, is being recognized for qualities of empathy and love (Hochschild, 2003), families are relying on dual incomes in order to ensure that the children are taken care of.
While the job of a mother is getting more recognition for its importance, the duties typically associated with mothers are being monetized and impersonalized as they are being outsourced from the home (Hochschild, 2003). Many mothers who work in careers rather than jobs must rely on outside help to care for the children and run the household. For examples, many working mothers can afford to hire personal nannies, housekeepers and cooks to help ensure that the family is well cared for. However, the price of hiring these people is the impersonalization of “mommy jobs.
” Instead of picking her children up from school, helping them with homework and cooking them a meal, a mother relies on a nanny and cook to do those things for her. As a result, the children are technically being cared for by someone other than the mother that is being paid to do so (Hochschild, 2003). The danger in outsourcing “mommy jobs” is that they may not be considered as valuable as they once were (Hochschild, 2003). The question that arises is whether or not paying someone to do “mommy jobs” can result in the same type of “enchantment” as when a mother does those jobs herself (Hochschild, 2003).
The argument arises that if mothers are paying others to care for their children then the emotions necessary for actually raising children are absent (Hochschild, 2003). A mother loves her children like no one else can and the reality of current society is stripping away a mother’s ability to simply care for her children. This is another reason why the mother in the picture may look so tired and depressed while holding her child. Perhaps she really does wish to raise her own children and it makes her sad that her income is necessary to survival.
She could also be depressed because she misses her child and realizes that outsiders spend more time with the child than she does. Ultimately, it does not matter what type of job is available because a mother will always do what she has to do in order to take care of her children. Sometimes the only option for single mothers and those living in low income neighborhoods is waiting tables or working as a maid (Ehrenreich, 2001). The reality of such jobs comes at a price. When money and jobs are scarce many mothers will sacrifice who they are in order to hold onto the only way they have to care for their children (Ehrenreich, 2001).
Mothers who hold higher education degrees struggle with different issues but also hold onto their jobs as the only way to care for their children. They are forced to outsource many of their duties in order to ensure that their children have everything they need (Hochschild, 2003). No mother is exempt from feelings of depression that are associated with the constant demands to care for her children while also maintaining a job that ensures her ability to do so. Finally, mothers no longer have the time to do it all (Hochschild, 2003).
In the past, no one thought anything of mothers delegating their duties to household staff. For example, slaves in the South even nursed their master’s children (Hochschild, 2003). When mothers work, the time that they used to have no longer exists (Hochschild, 2003). This lack of time causes mothers to become overtired and depressed. Current society tells mothers that they must “enjoy their kids” (Hochschild, 2003). This is not always possible with the working demands that are placed on mothers.
The demand to have to work at all coupled with the types of jobs available and low wages offered further burden mothers and cause them to look tired and depressed. Women are expected to do it all and be it all. They are expected to work long hours while also doing the great many tasks associated with raising children as well. At the end of the day, women hold their children and feel inadequate. They wish they could spend more time with their kids but are socially scorned when they outsource jobs in order to do just that (Hochschild, 2003).
Armstrong, Pat. (2005). Restructuring public and private: Women’s Paid and Unpaid Work. In Barbara Crow & Lise Gottell (eds) Open Boundaries: A Canadian Women’s Studies Reader. (pp. 154 – 163). Canada: Pearson Education. Ehrenreich, Barbara. (2001). Serving in Florida. In Nickel and Dimed. (pp. 11 – 49). New York: Henry Holt & Company, Incorporated. Hochschild, Arlie Russell. (2003). The Commodity Factor. In The Commercialization of Intimate Life. (pp. 30 – 44). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.