In chapter two of Lois Lowry's The Giver, there is an extensive discussion about assignments to jobs as Jonas prepares to receive his soon at the Ceremony of Twelves. His father is a Nurturer, and while discussing this assignment, Jonas's mother says, "I think it's probably the most important job in our community" (16).
One might think, however, that jobs at the top of the community's governing hierarchy would be more important. For example, there's the Chief Elder who must be something like a president. Then there's the Receiver who bears all of the pain and suffering on himself for the community. There are also doctors, construction workers, and Jonas's mother who works in the Department of Justice, which seems very important, too. Nurturers do take care of infants like a mother, so this certainly is important; but for some reason, Birthmothers are not respected, as shown when Lily says she'd like to be one:
"'I think new children are so cute, Lily sighed.' I hope I get assigned to be a Birthmother.'
'Lily!' Mother spoke very sharply. 'Don't say that. There's very little honor in that Assignment'" (21).
Mother goes on to explain that mothers are treated very well for three years as they bear children, but then after that they are Laborers for the rest of their lives. Mothers don't get to raise their own children and they don't get assigned family units, either. It sounds like a very lonely life. Mother suggests that Lily volunteer at the Nurturing Center if she likes babies so much. That way, the elders will see her working there and probably assign her that job rather than a birthmother.