If you look at the very traditional family, where the parameters are set as the husband goes off to work everyday, earns a paycheck and is the main provider. The wife stays home and runs the roost. She takes care of the kids, manages the daily household tasks and generally is just the glue of the family.
For this post, I'd like to rule out the working (outside the house) mom vs. working dad. Hands down, no question, working mom has got to be the most difficult job on earth.
My family is very traditional. I do teach at a local University, but it only takes about 10 hours of my week, plus, the pay is kind of pathetic and really just a spit in the ocean compared to what my husband pulls in.
The majority of my job is making sure everyone is where they need to be and has what they need to have and that life runs as smoothly as possible for everyone. My husband's is to work his tail off, travel extensively, fix the strange noises that arise out of nowhere, kill the mouse that ran into the house, and plug in the holes that I very rarely leave open.
My job never ends. I don't even sleep well at night, just thinking about all the things I need to do the next day, and trying to make sure I don't forget anything. I start early (5:30), answering e-mails, writing, checking schedules, hopefully squeezing in a workout. I've made sure all my kids are self sufficient, so they dress themselves, make their own breakfast and lunches. I am a little aggravated that my four year old hasn't achieved protocol, but he can't quite reach the counter top. Once everyone is off to school, the four year old and I tackle a never ending to-do list. I'll spare you the details, it changes daily, but always includes at least three loads of laundry, cleaning and some type of play activity that usually entails me having to squeeze myself into a sliding tube of some sort.
Once the kids get home from school, all hell breaks out. The homework, the forgotten History book, the notes from school, the needed permission slip signed, the colored poster board that they had to have yesterday, the soccer, track, swimming, basketball, lacrosse practice that everyone needs rides to - and then you actually have to go back and pick them up. I call it the loop. Every night we get in the car and drop off one kid at a time and when the last one is finally unloaded, it's time to circle around and pick up the first.
Every day is very similar to the last, however you do get the occasional treat of a kid melt-down, a play date request from a family that only has one kid and a nanny, and the endless plea's: I need a present for so and so, I need to wear a green shirt to school for spirit day, the recess lady said I can't come out anymore unless my coat is warmer and I have a hat and gloves, we don't have any bread to make lunches, can you iron this, I can only find one shoe.....
The night ends with my husband (when he's in town) sound asleep by 10:00, where I'm typically, matching socks, checking poorly written essays, updating schedules, replying to e-mails, looking at school websites (I have four different one's to check) to see what event I've just missed, making lists of appointments I need to make the next day and what presents I need to buy, etc. I don't even try to sleep before midnight for I know the thoughts that go through my head will make it futile.
On the other hand, from my perspective, my husband goes to work every day, and is able to shut the door on all the calamity and skip off to his two-seater sports car where no one has laid their sticky fingers or left perishable food in strange little places. His music is his own, and his trunk isn't filled with every back up plan imaginable (no extra balls, cleats, suits, goggles, sweatshirts, shorts, under armour, gloves, chairs, etc.) He gets to talk to adults all day and while he's chatting on the phone, I can guarantee he's never had to hear someone screaming in the background, "CAN YOU WIPE MY BUTT?"
While I'm struggling to satisfy six different tastes and trying to find the perfect meal that everyone will eat, or at least not spit out, he's dining at Morton's thinking it's the fifth time he's eaten out on his expense account that week.
OK, I'll give him the fact that he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. He needs to pay all the bills (of which they are endless). College for five kids constantly looms over his head. The future plan is an ever-present thought that he can't seem to shake in order to fully live today. Yes, I'll give him that. But at least he gets to do that worrying in his own area that no kid has contaminated with an unknown gel-like substance.
His time is his own. If he wants to make a doctor's appointment, he doesn't need to consider six other schedules when doing so. He doesn't have to make sure everyone is accounted for before he's able to pencil it in. His odds of having to cancel because someone else has some "emergency" are MUCH lower than mine.
We're both at work, a kid is sick. Who gets the call? Me. I only have 20 students staring at me, but they have to hear me say, "Can you just throw up in the nurses bathroom for another half hour, I need to finish my lecture". And so it goes....
I say my job is harder. He of course, has the complete opposite opinion, I'm trying to get him to write a rebuttal, but he's a much wiser person than I am. When I asked why he wouldn't compose a response, he said, "I know I'm going to say something that's going to get me in the doghouse for a long time. Not worth it."
Being a mom is hard, but it really helps because I have an amazingly smart husband...