I usually write about work that earns a paycheck, but let’s pause on this Mother’s Day to recognize the hard work that doesn’t earn an hourly wage, a retirement plan, or health care coverage.
Simply put, being a good mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world.
The story that caught my attention is that of Eva Briseno, who spends her days and nights caring for her 27-year-old son, Joseph Briseno, Jr. Joseph was catastrophically wounded in 2003 during a tour of duty in Iraq. From AP medical writer Marilynn Marchione (link here):
And then there is Eva Briseno.
Joseph Briseno Jr., Eva’s 27-year-old son, is one of the most severely wounded soldiers ever to survive. A bullet to the back of his head in a Baghdad marketplace in 2003 left him paralyzed, brain-damaged and blind, but awake and aware of his condition.
Eva takes care of “Jay” in her suburban Virginia home where the family room has been transformed into an intensive care unit, with the breathing machine and tubes he needs to stay alive.
Try to imagine this life.
Each day starts with two hours of bowel care, an ordeal as awful as it sounds. She labors over his body, brushing his teeth, suctioning fluid from his lungs, exercising his limp arms and legs, and turning him every other hour to prevent bedsores.
She sleeps a few hours at a time, when the schedule says it is her turn, often slumped in exhaustion by his side.
She has been out to dinner with her husband, Joseph Sr., once in seven years.
Overtime pay? Forget it. Benefit plan? Right. Work-life balance? No balance.
Fortunately not all mothers face such challenges. But even for those moms whose responsibilities are more typical, it may be impossible to put a price on a job that requires self-sacrifice, continuous juggling, exquisite time management, and emotional intelligence beyond what any CEO must exercise.
P.S. Mom, if you’re up there somewhere reading this, thanks for everything.