The Value of a Career in Motherhood.
Adapted from G.K. Chesterton’s essay, What’s Wrong with the World.
Mothers are quickly thrust into a career of immanent importance. Their babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to the world. To put the matter shortly, a mother is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he or she asks all the questions that there are and even some that there aren’t. It would be odd if she retained any of the narrowness of a specialist.
Now if anyone says this duty of enlightenment is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that God has thought it wise to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not only difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up on the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination understand what they mean.
When Motherhood, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work I admit the mother drudges in the home. But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trivial, colorless and of small importance to the soul, then I say, I give up; I do not know what you mean.
To be the Queen within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be in business in a certain area, providing a certain expertise or service; to be Aristotle, teaching within a certain area, morals, manners and philosophy; I can understand how this can exhaust the mind, but how can it not also narrow it? How can it be an important career to tell others about the Rule of Three, and an unimportant career to tell ones own children about everything in the universe? How can it be more meaningful to tell the same thing to everyone, and less meaningful to be everything to someone? No; a mothers career is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.