The “trivial” work of motherhood

I must write about trivial matters because my job is trivial. I am, after all, “just a mom.”

Of course, there’s more to trivia than the casual reader might suppose.

When the idea for this post came to me, I thought my point was a common one. That is, that without the mundane yet necessary chores done by the unsung, ordinary worker, the hungry and unclothed genius could never accomplish great things.

I was failing to grasp my own point.

Trivial has come to mean “not important.” Merriam-Webster’s definition for kids states just that: “of little worth or importance.”

A deeper reading of trivial‘s etymology—it comes from the Latin “crossroads”— underscores exactly what I sought to express.

excerpted from Merriam-Webster

Mothers are “trivial” because they are the only tangible link between every human being and all others. I am literally the crossroads between my husband’s family and that of my birth. My body made possible a new line of human succession, like that of every biological mother before me.

And, this is mere biology. Any mammal could do it. It hardly bears mentioning, let alone an acclamation.

Except…

We are the nodes in humanity’s network of biological interrelationships. We tie the web together.

Everyone bears a mother’s mark at the umbilicus, the scar where the physical tether was broken after birth. The rending of this vital connection must be followed by emotional bonding with some dedicated caregiver*, or an infant fails to thrive.

Everybody has a mother.

How trivial she must be!

*Though, at this moment, I am particularly in awe of the notion of birth mothers knitting the entire human race together, let no one read this post as a denigration of foster- and adoptive mothers and other parents-by-choice. Parenting is a monumental task; everyone who undertakes it with dedication earns an equal measure of my respect.

2 thoughts on “The “trivial” work of motherhood

  1. So let’s look at this “[a]ny mammal could do it” thing shall we? From a biological perspective, purely 🙂 Nope. Not any mammal. Only those females fit enough to mate and carry to term with all the assistance their species can derive. Admittedly, western Homo sapiens can derive a lot these days. But regardless, as a mom, you’re already a cut above some.

    One male, given their output of spermatozoa, could be the parent of a great many offspring with very little energetic cost to itself. Whereas one female, especially a mammal, has to invest a great deal of energy in carrying their offspring to term, and giving birth. And then, for the whole animal kingdom, the work only just begins.

    “Just a mom” has to defend her young from harm, then feed and care for them, until they are ready to do so for themselves. Biologically, males don’t tend to bother, in theory, because their energetic input is so minimal. Literally, males matter far less than females. Take a look at social mammals, like lions for example. Males matter very little in comparison to females, the gender ratio is usually 6 or more females to 1, maybe 2 males (George, B. Schaller: The Serengetti Lion). This is echoed by the great apes, wolves, deer, and far less so-called “advanced” species.

    Only in the screwed up society that is run by H. sapiens, have females become so victimized that being a mom could be called “trivial” even in sarcasm or irony. I wonder if that’s because us males have something to fear if the whole world one day realizes that they could get along just fine with a great deal fewer of us?

    My mum (British for “mom” 🙂 ) once said to me, “nobody is ‘just’ anything, don’t believe it if anybody ever says it to you, and don’t let me ever hear you say it about yourself or anyone else.” Great lady my mum, and so is everybody else’s.

    • As always, I appreciate the respect! 🙂

      I think I love the sarcasm of “just a …” a little too much. Is a “falsism” the opposite of a truism?

      : a false statement that is very commonly heard : a common statement that is obviously false
      (adapting good old Merriam-Webster again)

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