The ‘World’s Toughest Job’ ad is utter nonsense

*To avoid any spoilers, watch the ad first: The World’s Toughest Job

It’s easy to have your emotions plucked like Paganini’s violin when browsing the internet, a pizzicato violence that is at once both uplifting and soul-destroying. With ease we click through from video to video, sometimes LOLing, sometimes weeping with all of the skill of an Oprah Winfrey audience member. An ad which has gone viral this week has this plucking inverted: when we watch it, we are the ones being played.

The World’s Toughest Job would have us believe that a parent’s role can be broken down in the manner of a job description. It’s cleverly done, and has been shared everywhere by parents and non-parents alike. The copy platform seems to be that moms are the unsung heroes of our generation, so… make them greetings cards.

No, no no.

Now the coup de grace of the ad is that an impossible job is one being done unseen every day . The candidates being interviewed seem to crumble as they realise that their moms do all of these gruelling tasks, as if parenting is like doing an iron man competition on an obstacle course.
It’s much, much worse. Sometimes moms make dreadful mistakes, too.

Moms are on duty 24 hours a day: oh, that is true, but it can’t describe the absolute terror of nursing a sick child, watching the thermometer spike as you wipe the vomit off your shoulders and change the bedding for yet another time. The struggle not to cry as you bundle your kid into the car for a middle-of-the-night ER visit, your limp treasure with the rattling chest. You may even be murmuring “please don’t die, please don’t die, please don’t die” as if each tear is a rosary bead.

You make those meals, wipe dirty bums and blaze through laundry. But what of the times you end up feeling broken, a mess piled up around you, the kids screaming and you do nothing other than sit hunched in a chair like a combat veteran reliving the trauma of battle. The thousand-yard stare.

The times your kid falls; the bloodied noses of crawling babies bumping down the outside steps, the jagged grazes of playground mishaps and the sheer agony of those first teen breakups. Moms are tortured witnesses to all of these pains and more, paralysed spectators.

How devastating it is for moms to hold dreams up for their children, swelling like bubbles, with vanishing rainbows unable to contain the evanescent nature of these empty hopes. Pleading they won’t pop in the glare of adulthood’s sun.

Are there words for the times when you watch your baby sleeping, resisting the desire to stroke their softer-than-velvet ears as you marvel at their flickering eyes when they react to a dream?

What about the utter awe as your child speaks to you for the first time, and, yet again, when they form the words “I love you”? And, once more  the feeling of loss when your beanstalk child grows overnight, and you can no longer pick them up?

You encourage your child to make friendships, try new things, take risks. Knowing that there are demons and monsters and... relentless realities living around you threatening to harm this vulnerable innocence.

It’s easy to get carried away about the emotive side of parenting. It’s raw, it stings and it burns with the heat of a thousand suns.

Not a single moment of it can be thanked for. Especially not in clumsy sentences on a card.
The ad’s failure is that it looks at the volume of tasks undertaken by moms and not the motivation for doing so.

Non-parents will no doubt appreciate the efforts made by their own moms, but will surely never understand the daily agonies parents, that is, moms AND dads, go through. (Yes, there is another on-going discussion about the amputation of men from the role of parenting in this ad).

Parenting is a job, but the responsibilities are carved into us, our résumés crinkled with old tears and inward scars; only the ghostly, musical laughter of childhood holding it all together. And it's happening all around you as if it's the easiest thing in the world. Which it is/isn't/is/isn't/is/isn't... is.

Greetings card? It’s clumsy, impermanent and meaningless.

But I’ll take it, thank you.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

How do you express your love and gratitude to your parents?
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