This Mother’s Day, let’s talk about invisible labor

Apoorva Addepalli
4 min readMay 11, 2020

From a daughter’s perspective..

In honor of Mother’s Day and my amazing mom, I wanted to write this. As I grow older, the longer I am away from the family, the more I realize how much my mom’s actions were taken for granted. Moms are silent rockstars! Whether you are a working woman or a homemaker, you are incredible! All that you endure for us, sacrifice for us and even fight for us. Mothers, you are the glue that sticks the family together. And there’s no debating it.

Why this sudden gratification you ask? Because, post 5 years of being on my own trying to prioritize my goals, being optimistic while dealing with the curveballs life throws at me, in addition to cleaning, washing and finally (the worst), thinking about ways to make my meals more appetizing, I truly understand how much emotional labor is involved. It’s draining. And while I can’t understand what it’s like to be a mom, doing this EVERY SINGLE DAY, for not one, but the ENTIRE family, I can most definitely empathize!

Reflecting back now I’ve noticed something that often goes unnoticed- The aspect of “emotional labor” that particularly moms endure. And it’s prevalent in every household! Whether your parents are homemakers or working professionals, emotional labor is that FREE and invisible labor, in addition to physical and mental labor, that they go through to bring about a certain feeling or emotion in the room. For mothers and fathers, it’s the labor of love that churns in their minds constantly to bring us kids happiness. If recognized, even saying a heartfelt “thanks”, is like recharging their batteries. Your parents forget everything, and are willing to endure much more for you. If not recognized, then they would still go above and beyond for you, but it’s left on their back burners, slowly draining them emotionally.

It just so happens that our moms endure more emotional labor than anybody else. Despite coming from single or dual income families, since women are wired to be a tad bit more sensitive and caring, the obligatory daily chores between the mom and the dad disproportionately falls more on the mom, especially when she’s a homemaker. (TIP: Blame the way our society is structured and the unconscious bias instilled…)

So while our moms are wearing multiple hats and juggling various things like tirelessly planning birthday parties, managing relationships with her in-laws, along with professional goals AND domestic chores, she most times also has to deal with non-gratifying experiences from both her kids and her husband. In a nutshell- moms are like Elastigirl from The Incredibles, stretching herself in several different directions to make us all happy. That’s a lot for one soul to take!

Just when you feel guilty about how much our moms do for us, here’s the biggie- the society we live in! While every mom is doing their best to embrace all the various challenges that come with motherhood, society forever continues to pass unsolicited judgments- “She needs to try harder. Why is she focusing on other priorities, aside from being a mother!”. Constantly instilling guilt in moms! BUT WAIT, there’s more…. when our dads however are trying to do even a quarter of what our moms usually do for us, our society goes, “Let’s excuse him, he’s trying his best” or “What a guy, he does so much for his family!”.

So I get why my mom gets upset with everyone from time to time. All she’s asking for is a pat on the back too! I’m not blaming our fathers here, I am just blaming how normalized society has made these behaviors. And we’re all raised without even realizing we’re bred to do it.

I write this in honor of every mom who’s harboring the weight of emotional labor and yet still finds joy in seeing our faces happy! And there’s always a silver lining. As I look back mom, I will always describe you as the strongest, most determined person I know. Adapting to every twist and turn in this weird roller coaster ride called “life”.

So this mother’s day, I want to say this mom- We truly recognize that while your labor of love has no monetary incentive, it truly is invaluable. All that you endure for us, that constantly is gone unnoticed, we recognize it now. While we all pacify ourselves that we come from “egalitarian” households, our moms are invisibly putting so much more work than anyone else in our respective families. I fully hope that we as a society make it an even playing field and equalize the emotional labor between the moms and dads.

Give her a hug (virtually for now), TELL HER that she is NOT taken for granted and her actions have not gone unnoticed. For a mom’s love and all that she endures for us, is truly like no other. It is eternal.

Love you amma.