Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day Blues

Am I the only mother who doesn't like Mother's Day?


I have two children of my own whom I love beyond anything I could have imagined. I spend almost all of my waking (and many of my sleeping) hours with them.

But Mother's Day leaves me grumpy and cranky and all in a funk.

I don't like being told that my most important roles are chauffeur and cook and maid. Even if it's said in earnest by men and children trying to show their appreciation, it falls flat. I don't like the sentimental tributes that lump all mothers together and assign us certain universal qualities. Like The Amazing Ability To Clean And Cook And Look After The Kids Since I (The Masculine, Slightly Helpless Husband) Am Just Not Born With Those Skills.

I'm just not feeling the love.

If we really valued mothers--speaking both individually and culturally--we wouldn't have one day of lip service, followed by a year of neglect. Give us a year's paid maternity and paternity leave. Give us Mother-Friendly care in all hospitals and birth centers. Give us a culture that really, truly values mothers and children and finds ways to keep them together even when the mother needs to earn a living, like flextime, on-site childcare, or babies-at-work programs. Give us a month of daily home visits from postpartum helpers who can cook, clean, do laundry, and help with the other kids so we can snuggle and nurse our newborns. Give us generous social and emotional support for the tremendous work of mothering.

But please don't give us flowers and a sappy tribute to 1950's gender roles and think that will suffice until the next Mother's Day.



    This definitely brightened my day, which was otherwise a usually crappy day.

    = )

  2. right on! A friend of mine wrote the very same things couple of days ago- only in Turkish.
    The Turkish media has this "Mothers are sacred" rhetoric written all over, and her title was "I don't want to be sacred".

  3. thank you for pegging what bugs me about this 'holiday'. tuning in to a fb homepage full of mother tributes while i too felt grumpy and wierd about being catered to and struggling to not fall in the trap of 'but *i* shouldn't have to do this on *my* day' made me confused and, as you said, blue.

    it's a manufactured, lip service 'holiday' and bah humbug!

  4. I'm sorry that you experience Mother's Day in this way. I agree that many of the things you mentioned would be wonderful, and it's tragic that mothers are not truly valued every day. My take is that I appreciate that there is at least ONE day to celebrate mothers, and hopefully people are inspired to carry that through to some other days (if not all) of the year. It's a beginning....of sorts.

    I try as much as possible to ignore the cmmercial Mother's Day mess, and focus on spending time with the "mothers" (grandmothers, aunts, sister,and mothers) who mean so much to me. I think of it as a day to celebrate them as women, and another chance, among the many I get, to tell all of them how much I love them, how much they all mean to me, and how I appreciate the different roles they play and have played throughout my life.

    None of us is perfect, my mother struggles with alcoholism, grandmother has alzheimers, and I'm generally obnoxious and keep a messy house and too many dogs, but we all love each other for the people we are. It's wonderful to experience this uncondtional love, and know that these women will love me no matter what, and I them.

  5. hear hear, that is a good point - how about a little real honor for the things that do matter and that would help mothers?

  6. I'm also annoyed by Mother's Day; we just aggressively ignore it. (We do the same thing to Valentine's Day, Father's Day, etc.) These 'holidays' reinforce gender roles I find alienating, and they exclude too many people, making loads of folks feel inadequate, sad, and messed up. (With regard to Mother's Day, I'm thinking for instance of my mom, whose mother died when she was 19; stepmothers and other not-quite-mothers; women who want to have children but don't, because of infertility and/or baby loss and/or difficulties adopting and/or not having been able to find a partner so far but wanting a coparent; women who don't want to have children but are badgered about it; anyone who doesn't fit into the standard gender dichotomy our culture offers; etc.) And I agree that actually helping parents and women would look significantly different from a greeting card and breakfast ...

  7. Hmmm, I, too, don't see anything wrong with Mother's Day/Father's Day. I know that my husband and kids love me; they know I love them. We show each other (or try to) every day of the year. And yet, sometimes it's hard to see past the daily bump and grind.

    We don't get into the commercial side of it, either. Instead, we write letters and draw pictures for the grandmas and grandpas. My husband and I try a little harder to make that day extra-special and pleasant, and just pamper each other a bit, and encourage our children to join in.

    I'm not saying that I'm falling into a 1950s role of cook, chaffeaur, and housekeeper. And yet, that's what much of my life is, but I'm not complaining. I wouldn't give this up for anything, but a day of appreciation and pampering is very welcome once in a while.

    Besides, our ward gave out boxes of fudge today, and I liked that INFINITELY better than flowers that I'm going to kill anyway. :)

  8. I was thinking that this morning. With birthdays and Mother's Day, it's easy for me to get into the "What am I going to get" mode. And what would be really nice for a day isn't likely to happen - for kids to have the maturity to actually give us an easy day. This morning my daughter had a tough time sleeping, and I had to be up earlier than normal for church, so I wasn't feeling very good about Mother's Day this morning. It got better, though, once I decided to enjoy it as just another normal day, and not expect anything.

  9. after being funky about mothers day for e.v.e.r (thnakfully as Aussies we are a little more restrained on the soppy tokenisms) i worked out a way for my kids to recognise at least on eof the real plight of mothers- help one out who needs help more that I do. So they purchased a years worth of ante/postnatal care for a woman in africa for mothers day this year! just an idea...

  10. I grew up in a leftist, non-religious family where all commercial holidays were considered something to avoid. That left me sadly without ritual, since we didn't reshape the holidays into something more our own, or create our own holidays. Now as a feminist older mom, I'm glad to reclaim holidays, though sometimes I get the blues that I am not having the perfect, alternative holiday I dreamed of...still today was not too bad. Beautiful walks in the woods, a lovely bouquet of wild flowers, a home cooked meal, an honoring of Julia Ward Howe's original idea of International Mother's Day as a proclamation for peace.. - I'm glad my fb friend posted your blog, too, because its grounding to know that you are not swallowing the crap that masquerades as honoring moms. Thanks!

  11. As a kid I always found it ridiculous that my father, sister, and I only helped my mom with the dishes, laundry, etc on Mother's Day. I always told myself my family would be different. But now, as a mom myself, my husband doesn't even do the dishes or cook on Mother's Day, and it's all just sort of depressing.

  12. Me personally, I LOVE Mother's Day. But then again, I feel as though I'm supported quite well as a Mother by my husband. He appreciates me every single day and it's not just a once a year thing for him. He's an excellent helpmate, who cooks, cleans, and raises children right beside me. The women I work with also can appreciate me as a co-worker and a mother. Unfortunately I may not get paid maternity leave (seriously blows BTW) but my co-workers have no say in that. They do provide much needed social and emotional support.

    I also find Mother's Day is a good excuse to show appreciation for all the great women in our lives, there really are a huge number. And sometimes with the day to day grind we do forget to say, Thank you for helping me become the person I am today.

    I think if this one day was the only day you were told thank you, you are amazing, then that WOULD really suck and defeat the purpose. And if you were really only being thanked for the chauffeur, cook and maid roles (when there is SOOO much more than that to us). But otherwise, it's a great holiday in my opinion.

  13. Awesome post. That was definitely the only thing that resonated with me today ;-) I'm glad we are able to ignore that day as a family, just as we ignore all those other commercialized holidays, like Valentines day, Father's day, etc. My daughter made a beautiful necklace for me at school, I loved that part. But then I didn't expect anything else, and there was just nothing else. Why would there be? I enjoy life everyday, and if I feel I'm doing too much household chores, I make sure to tell my husband to get up his ass and help me, because neither of us loves doing chores, so it only seems fair that we share the burden, right? But every day of course, not just one day. That would upset me...

  14. I have a hard time with Mother's Day too, but for other reasons.

    It reminds me just how quickly my children are growing up. Life is passing too quickly and with the rush of life and 4 kids it's hard to sit back and enjoy every single moment. And even though I stayed home with my children and have a flexible work schedule so we are together during days; and I savoured every diaper change (literally) none of them are toddlers anymore.

    Having a baby on my hip was my favourite time of my life. Looking at pictures of when they are little is very hard.

  15. Thank you so much!
    You are so right about all of this!

    Motherhood is not valued at all in our society, and it should. Why publish all those studies about how good it is to breastfeed your baby, when you cannot have a decent paid maternity leave? Why when you become a mother you are less likely to get promoted at work? And the list goes on and on...

  16. But Rixa, you have one of the best husbands I have ever known. He does not leave you at home to cook and clean all day. He is a wonderful father and is a true companion. I love how Eric treats you and always wants to be home with is family.

    Just ignore these comments. You aren't stuck at home cooking and cleaning without help or appreciation. You have a wonderful husband who DOES NOT treat you this way and does not trivialize your role.

  17. We are Unitarian Universalists and I see this as our one "true" UU holiday.

    Julia Ward Howe originated it as a call for peace, which I love!

    And I really like the UUA's take on it:

    For me, I say! I love holidays and celebrating those who have done so much for me. I don't see a problem with dedicating a day to recognizing it. I simply choose not to take part in the commercial aspect and let my family smother me with love and appreciation!

    My husband works very long hours away from home right now because the economy is so bad! I rarely get any time to rest or be alone or any help with chores... so yesterday (and my birthday) is one of those times I can always count on having him take 100% care of everything, nap, lay around, read, etc... I treasure it!

  18. I love Mother's Day! I think it's a great holiday:) Of course I don't agree with you politically and I am more of an "anti feminist". I LOVE being a lady and being treated like one:)

  19. From my 21yo, who has always been taught that real affection and appreciation for her mother is appreciated far more than a 'day':

    and OMG, I used to think mother's day was overdone....and now I think I want to put pepper in someone's eyes over at hallmark for creating this thing that has clogged my inbox for 3 weeks (at least)
    so thank you for realizing that we like you all year
    6:04 PM and I pity the people who can't realize that

  20. I spent this mother's day catering to a grown man (who was acting more like a 3 year old) with a man-flu.

    I also tried to keep the kids and dogs quiet so as not to disturb the suffering man-flu victim, did a metric tonne of laundry because he was sweating through everything, slept on the floor in another room to avoid the sweat, the moaning, the germs and possibly get a good sleep (didn't happen). I also got told I wasn't sympathetic enough and didn't give a sh*t, and that he takes better care of me when I'm *not* sick.

    Sometime around bedtime, perhaps just after dessert, one of my children said "happy mother's day, mom!"

    Yep. Give me the other 364 days of the year over another one of these, please.

  21. Well, I actually love mother's day, however, I especially love your last paragraph. Because we SHOULD have all of those things. A culture who valued women...imagine that....

  22. i think that mothers day is a great way to show appreciation, but unfortunately people some times have a difficult time properly expressing their feelings.

    many people have the correct desire to express thanks for their mothers, but they are unable to articulate clearly and maturely their thanks. instead of flattering and showing gratitude, it can become demeaning or flat out awkward.

    for example, teenagers attending their first dances (i can vividly remember my first church dance as a 14 year old...) they really want to dance , but the way that desire comes out is very awkward.

    just because some people cannont accurately express their feelings doesn't mean that we should ignore the celebration of mothers alltogether. it's important to try and see their desire.

    but i agree, if people are eager to show thanks, it shouldn't be once a year, but rather something that is inherent in their relationship.

    for all you angry mothers out there, men are not always the best at expressing thanks in ways that you would hope, or expect.

  23. Despite the usual motherhood talks and such, Mother's Day wasn't so bad this year. Our new ward cancelled RS and Sunday School for all the women in the ward and gave us a brunch. Brunch instead of Sunday School? Best thing ever. Poor McKay had to go to Sunday School and hear last week's lesson again!

    The Primary sang us Love is Spoken Here, which compared to the rest of the mother-y songs, isn't that bad. Most of the others are about how pretty and sweet moms are and that one actually mentions her example and what she actually does. It's not fair that all the father-y songs are more upbeat and exciting, though. If you look at the tempos of the mom songs and compare them to the tempos of the dad songs, it seems that moms are apparently just supposed to be pretty and boring. No one "claps their hands and shouts for joy" for moms.

    Anyway, I have a little beef with the song choices. If I were Primary chorister, I'd totally switch up the songs and replace "dad" with "mom" on all the fun songs. :)

  24. Our ward primary sang "I'm so Glad when Mommy Comes Home" a few years ago. And though I usually hate mother's day, yeasterday's talks on honoring a mother that was sometimes hard to honor and on acknowledging mothers come in all forms and excel at different things were pretty awesome. Our Pittsburgh ward is pretty much the best place ever. Too bad we move in a month. (And now that my kids are old enough to make me thier own cards, I do enjoy those too)

  25. Father's Day is just as awful... I was looking at cards and couldn't find anything that fit my kind, warm, ffun husband. Everything assumed he golfed, fixed things, likes sports, and what he needs on Father's Day is time AWAY from his family instead of WITH them. Sad.

  26. I'm a big believer of 'if you have to say then it isn't true.' If we have to have a day dedicated to telling mothers we appreciate them-then we really don't.

    Same of course if we have to have a day to tell fathers the same thing. Society really doesn't care about or support either parent.

  27. I dislike Mother's day for the opposite reason as you--it creates a sense that what we do is something to be thanked for, instead of use being thankful for it. I know plenty of women who have struggled with infertility and/or miscarriages that would spend thousands of dollars (literally) to get to be a mom. We should be thankful for the opportunity to raise these little ones.

    And really, being a parent is a choice. If we choose it, we should be ready to bear the expenses of it--both in time and money. Asking our colleagues to work harder because of a role we chose seems counter to the whole feminist movement.

  28. Hey Rixa!!! Check out what the ladies at Mother's Acting Up are doing and celebrate mother's day in the way it was inteneded - with mama's around the world rising up!!!


  29. I guess I have a slightly different reason for disliking mother's day. All my life, I've been someone's daughter or little sister. Then I fell in love, got married and had a beautiful and wonderful baby. (divorced now but for the better) Well, she's all grown and in college. My point is, my family has never seen me as a "mom". Only as a sister/daughter. Out of all the mother's days I have had, I can only count a few that I felt special on this day. Otherwise, I just feel like a caretaker, a pee-on. I didn't have to have a baby, I wanted to have a baby. I love being a mother. I dont ask for anything, I'M the giving person, I'M the caretaker of the family, including my parents, brothers, sister and daughter. I plan the family get-togethers, holidays, etc. I'm the one who makes sure everyone in the family is ok and asks if they need anything or any help. Maybe I'm being a big baby, but when will I be recognized as a person, a grownup and a mother. Is that asking too much?


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