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"Rewards and Accolades" by Ahimsa Shakti

Updated: Oct 23, 2023

Rewards and Accolades

Ahimsa Shakti, Community College of Allegheny County

Artist Statement: "Rewards & Accolades" is a creative nonfiction piece on the value of mothering, or parenting. It is from a small self-designed and published chapbook, “Transcendence: from Truth to Power to Beauty,” containing two poems and four creative non-fiction pieces on finding truth and power as a woman, with an impact piece on overcoming the legacy of childhood rape. I started to write around the age of 12, when we start to define ourselves as individuals. My writing is my journey to courageously define myself as someone other than the violence I experienced as a child and echoes my journey to empower myself as a woman and mother. In writing, I both find and create myself. My writing is personal, intimate, and vulnerable. It is the place where I excavate my voice, and discover the truth, power, and beauty of transcendence.


My toddler is cranky and wants to reconnect with me after spending the night with his father.

So, we stay home and keep the day simple. We do laundry, sweep and mop floors, cuddle and have “mee-mees” (breastfeeding), read books, take baths and naps, and if we can get it in, we make beans or soup.

Nobody gets any kind of “30 Under 30” or “40 Under 40” awards for this sort of work. Silent. Unnoticed. Behind the scenes. The rewards must be inherently intrinsic. Or so they say. The pay is love. And the hours are atrocious. But what do they know. About the everyday, one by one, seconds, hours, days, that come together to make or break another human being.

I wonder, who gets to, or who got to, determine how the thousands of minutes, hours, and days add up. To nothing. Or what the worth of these thousands of seemingly insignificant, inconsequential moments amount to. They say or imply that love is a pay that can’t be quantified or given a dollar value. Yet, caretaking is a role, just like all the rest of them. Doctor, lawyer, politician. Yes, I assert, the job is in that category. More so. Above. The most essential of essential roles to play in any society.

So, again, who gets to, or who got to, decide that moving digits across the screen to represent an imaginary value, great, but meaningless, was, or is, more valuable than the real, tangible work of mothering, of parenting. I wonder. Which is the greater contribution to society? Think about it. And be honest.

Perhaps, it had, or has, something to do with who was, and who is, in power and who has and is deciding, what is most valuable to our society. Perhaps, it has something to do with who has traditionally done this work. And the value, or lack of, that is placed on that person. That particular gender of a person.

Women. Women’s work. The work behind the work. That gets unseen. The other shift. The work that is done, after the so-called real work is done. Ha! As if, this work didn’t matter.

I wonder, what would happen to the world, should that most essential of essential roles, just stop? Behind the scenes. Unnoticed. Yet vital. Would then the unseen be seen? The missing of it would finally be noticed. The world would not run. Not so smoothly, anyway.

There once was a women’s strike in Iceland. One day, October 24, 1975, to be exact, thousands of women walked off the job. The importance of their work was noticed. Only by the lack of it. Only a day. And all was chaos. Imagine that. The unseen work seen. From that day on, things have been different there. Not perfect by any means, but much closer to the lines of equality.

Imagine that… Every woman in the world. Every mother. Or person that takes on the mothering role. Realized their value. Their worth. Their essential contribution to society. I wonder. What would happen? One day, if all of us. Nearly 4 billion of us. 49.58% of the world population. (Of course, there are less of us than there should be. Is it femicide or genocide? But we’ll leave that topic for another page.)

Again, they yoke us with a term called love. But I call it subjugation. Exploitation, of the most extreme. You have the role “women,” and your work is called mothering, or caretaking. So, your value is $0, and your pay is love. That is what they say. I say, don’t believe that lie. Your work is real, tangible. It has a value, magnitudes greater than $0. Think about that.


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