The Problem(s) With Mother’s Day

motherhood ideal
How Motherhood is Supposed To Look
How motherhood ACTUALLY looks today. Photo by Sangudo, via Flickr

The problems with Mothers Day are legion.

1. It’s not fair to the dads. Mother’s day is way, way, way bigger a deal than Father’s Day, and that’s just not okay.

2. Everybody wants to give mom gifts for one day, make these adorable crafts that you’re expected to keep for all time, and it often seems to me that we’d rather substitute sentiment for actual, you know, LOVE. Like, recognizing that what Mom really needs is help ALL THE TIME, not some craft that just adds to the mess and only honors you one day a year anyway!

3. While we’re on that subject, let’s talk about lightsabers, books, individual LEGO pieces, Captain America Shields, bookbags, knot rosaries, school crafts, school papers, Wii remotes, DVDs no one has watched, scrapbooks, candy wrappers, pencils, erasers, crayons, play doh, soccer balls, bouncy balls, basketballs, crappy party-favor pinball mazes (do you get the idea?) left lying wherever you lost interest in them, cluttering up the world. And yet if i throw anything away, woe to me!

3a. While we’re on that subject, let’s talk about “Put away your clothes,” and how that translates to “I’m going to read a book/build a marble run/stuff them in a wad under the closet rod/ignore you completely” the first FIVE TIMES I SAY IT.

4. Nor does it matter how many times we teach, discuss, or give consequences. Nor does it matter how many attempts at organizational systems we put together.

5. And then there’s the outcry and protest whenever I assign jobs: “I did that last week!” and “no fair, he never has to!…”

6. And then there’s the inevitable annual inner conflict between “I am a mother” and “I HAVE a mother.” How do you balance being the recipient of all this attention with giving it appropriately to the one who gave you life? And then of course, your husband has a mother, too. It’s like you have to choose who gets your attention, and then even if the other one (or more, depending on if you have broken families) doesn’t feel hurt, you inevitably are aware that you’re prioritizing one over another. When I start griping about the way a holiday is celebrated, one of my sisters always gives me grief about it (“is there any holiday you DO like?” she’s asked me), but this is why: I don’t see how we can possibly honor our mothers as we’re supposed to on this day and at the same time accept that honor ourselves. It’s like the system is stacked against us.

7. Yes, I know. This is what parenthood is: assuming heroic, even foolhardy, responsibility for other human beings. To burn away their innate selfishness and teach them to be Good People is not just a job. It’s not even just a vocation. It’s something that is way, way bigger than any of us. And when I think about how much time I spend worrying about whether someone’s going to call DFS because I let my kid climb a tree or because he fell down and skinned his knee and is screaming as if he’s had his leg torn off by a shark…well, I get kind of pissy. And when the kids fall to demanding, whining, and being lazy/disobedient despite the fact that they really aren’t being asked to do all that much, and they’re given way more privileges than I ever got growing up? Then I have a Mommy Meltdown. And we start making new lists to hang on the pantry door.


Yeah, Happy Mothers Day to you, too.

Love, Kate

Linking to 7 Quick Takes, because I’m sure they’re all talking about motherhood today, too. Although probably with less angst.