The Hard Work of Mothering

Today I am thrilled to bring you a guest post by Kari Swanson, daughter, sister, wife, mother of two, librarian, and member of Generation X who is also known as BookishMama, a moderator on The Leaky [email protected]@b forums. Kari blogs over at Thoughts from BookishMama and I’ve enjoyed reading some of her recent posts particularly related to breastfeeding.

This photograph was taken in 1936 by Dorothea Lange. Another photo called “Migrant Mother” taken by the same photographer of this same mother is probably one of the most famous photographs in American history, documenting the effects of the Great Depression.

The mother in the photograph was 32 years old when this photograph was taken and she and her husband had 7 children, including this little baby. She was photographed in a camp for migrant pea pickers. According to the photographer’s notes the early pea crop had failed and this family was destitute and had to sell the tires off their car in order to buy food.

Why am I posting this photo? I am posting this photo, because for me it exemplifies a hard working mother and a mother’s hard work at the same time.

Mothering can be hard work. Living at the beck and call of an infant, having no time to take a bathroom break, and getting little to no sleep for months, or even years, on end is hard work. Raising children requires dedication, organization, selflessness, empathy, creativity… the list goes on. All of those traits and skills and more are required of mothers whether they spend 24 hours every day with their children or not.

Kari took this beautiful photo while breastfeeding her daughter.

There is no such thing as a part-time mother. Once you are a mother you are a mother all day, every day for the rest of your life. All mothers, whether they have jobs that take them away from their children for periods of time, operate businesses in their homes, work outside their homes with their children on their backs/hips, or stay home with their children every day, are all full time mothers.

Let’s all be sensitive of what it means to be a hard working mother and to do the hard work of mothering. We are all doing the best we can and what we think is best for our children. Some of us choose to stay home with our children. Some of us choose to work. Some of us do not have choices either way. The grass may seem greener on the other side of the fence, but it’s really pretty much the same grass in different locations.

(PS This photograph is in the public domain. To read more about the photograph go to:



  1. Amen sister! I couldn't agree more…

  2. I love this post! I look forward to being a mother in a few years, hopefully, and I've already seen some bickering between mothers that stay at home or go to work…but the thing is, they're still MOTHERS! Thanks!

  3. The Mommy Mambo says

    Great post! Makes me want to cry and shout "You go sister!" all at the same time.

    saw you on SITS..following now!

  4. Very well said! I agree with every word

    I also think the same could be said of some fathers. My husband has been an awesome parental support for me. I know he would love to stay home and raise our son, but he has the best potential for income. It is a huge sacrifice for him, and I know many fathers make this same sacrifice. I know many others that choose to leave, but I have known some mothers that do that too.

  5. September Love says

    Fantastic post. Thanks, girl!

  6. I agree.
    I am a fan of Dorthea Lange and love that photo. Do you know I have seen that photo dozens of times and this is the first time I have noticed she is breastfeeding? I think it just said " Mother" to me .