WHITNEY: Viewers learn about requirements of mothering

A 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year job that requires back-breaking labor, sleep deprivation and constantly tending to the needs of another human being, all while earning a net salary of $0 annually.

In this context, it seems obvious that we’re talking about parents, or more specifically, mothers. But relabeled as “manager of operations” in a classified job listing, the position isn’t so recognizable.

I’m going to go ahead and ruin a great video that’s making the rounds online right now in anticipation of Mother’s Day. The video — #worldstoughestjob — is an ad for cardstore.com. It starts off explaining that a fake job opening was advertised and real people responded, expecting to participate in a real interview via webcam. The interviewer explains the basics of the job — there are no breaks, you can only eat when “the associate” is done eating, you must stay up throughout the night with “the associate,” your workload will increase on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas and you will be expected to do it with a chipper attitude. 

The interviewees sound off. 

“That’s almost cruel. That’s almost a sick, twisted joke.”

“365 days a year? No, that’s inhumane.”

“That’s... That’s very insane.”

Eventually the interviewer drops the veil, revealing that the job is actually that held by moms (and that the interview is fake, but thanks for getting dressed up, I guess). And the appreciative smiles spread across the faces of the interviewees. The biggest bro dude of them all throws his head into his hands and shouts, “YES! Moms are the beeeessst!”

Now, I have to say, I don’t normally go out for this type of thing, especially when it’s delivered to me via a Facebook link with a headline like “24 People Interviewed For The World’s Toughest Job. What Happened Next Will Change Your Entire Life.”

I also don’t tend to subscribe to the philosophy of motherhood as martyrdom. For the most part, we can all reproduce and, although it takes a gentle approach to not ruin your tiny human’s life, most of us emerge from under wing with only minor neuroses and emotional damage, and we perpetuate the cycle anew in due time. At it’s most basic level, parenting really is not all that special a process.

The real kicker with this ad though is not in the overwrought description of the job of a mother, but the expressions on the faces of the interviewees who are no doubt thinking of their own mothers in that moment. Watching their reactions, it’s not hard to imagine the mothers who raised them and the relationships they shared as mother and child.

The dude bro whose first reaction is to shout — I can imagine his teenage self shouting in the same raspy voice as he huffs down a hallway. “Ugh, c’mon, Ma!”

The woman whose voice cracks when she says “you’ve been there through thick and thin” tells a story of a relationship built in adversity, but maybe also of mutual support through times that tested both of their strength. Perhaps the mere mention of the thick and thin is code deciphered between mother and daughter, a phrase applied aptly to a specific time of trouble they both understand even without identifying it by more specific descriptors.

While the obvious purpose of the ad is to sell cards, it seems the creators were genuinely trying to highlight how hard mothers work. The actual effect, though, does more to illuminate the importance of a mother’s impact on her children and the reverence they hold throughout their lives for her because of that.

It’s brilliant, if unintentional on the part of the creators, to allow the viewer to witness these young job seekers’s reactions to the idea of their moms without preparation or performance. And I’m sorry now that I’ve kind of ruined the surprise of the video for you, but maybe reading this now will usher in a few unadulterated, appreciative thoughts about the person who raised you.

If it truly is the world’s toughest job, the least you could do is send her a card.