General

Mom Appreciation

It's not the famous portrait, but I like this one just as much.

It’s not the famous portrait, but I like this one just as much.

It’s the first day of break for me (praise the Lord!), and tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  Parent Days are tricky holidays… that being said, I’m an alum of Mary Baldwin College, which graduated Anna Jarvis, who founded Mother’s Day years and years ago.  (Carnations were her thing.)  So I feel it necessary to make Mother’s Day good out of Fighting Squirrels pride, and because I do appreciate my mother, rocky though our relationship can be at times.

Interestingly, Anna Jarvis came to dislike the way the day to honor mothers was handled by the public.   Her criticism pointed specifically at “meaningless cards” and “a box of candy you’ll eat half of, anyway.”  And she’s right.  A lot of the Mother’s Day whoop-dee-doo is just an excuse to sell things.

Well, the comic Zits puts it nicely… “Mother’s Day is the day we have to smile politely while they ram good intentions under our fingernails.”

I found another article on Facebook about Proverbs 31– my dad, to his credit, has never based  a sermon around it, but apparently a lot of other well-meaning ministers do the good-intentions shoving with their sermons on this Biblical poem.  Apparently (I’m still stuck in Psalms, by the way), it praises the work of a wife (weaving, keeping the books and the house and so on), which many Christians mistakenly use as a prescription for what all women should be.  Jewish people interpret it differently.

The question of interpretation goes back to a mother’s identity, or rather her not having one.  Once a woman has children, in society’s eyes, she can really only be “Mom” ever after.  She can’t be pretty.  She can’t like her job or her social life, too much.  The kids must always come first.  She produced the children and now must consume nearly every product in the economy to make sure the parenting is done right.  And Mother’s Day is, unfortunately, caught in this web of consumerism.

Yes, I still give my mother gifts.  Some of them I buy, some of them I make, but I always try to make sure it’s something she actually needs/wants.  And even when we’re not getting along, I try to say Happy Mother’s Day and mean it.  I can’t have been an easy kid to raise– just saying.

And that’s what Mother’s Day should be about.  Acknowledging what your mother had to work with, be that your own shortcomings, or a lack of good options from other routes (my grandmother sometimes had to leave her sick kids at home because she’d lose her job if she asked for the day off), and what a good job they did anyway.  If you want to give her a gift, do it.  But don’t imply that to be a woman of valor that she needs to take up spinning.   Write a little note in the card.  She is your mother, after all.

PS: Thanks Mom.

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5 thoughts on “Mom Appreciation

  1. It’s odd; I have noticed the opposite trend: a woman has to be a good mom AND pretty all the time AND social AND a career woman AND basically have it all and be superwoman, or she is failing at all those things, or she is not a good feminist. And if a woman admits to any insecurity about her looks or only wants to focus on one thing or wants to be a stay at home mom, she will be criticized as a bad feminist because she can’t do it all. I think this is a misguided pov that came out of the perfectly good feminist push to say women CAN be more than a mom…and now to prove it, it’s like you HAVE to be or you are invalid as a woman and as a feminist. Until relatively recently, there hasn’t been an equivalent “men can be parents and stay at home dads too” push to balance the “women have a life outside of kids” movement, so many women of our mothers’ generation probably had to be breadwinners on the clock and primary caregivers off the clock. That is still the norm for a lot of working women in most of the world. I have a lot of respect for that…the kind of invisible work mothers do that gets taken for granted.

    Mother’s day should really be (and in my family, is) ” wait on mom hand and foot day.” Just to let her know she is appreciated for all she does, and she doesn’t have to do it all today.

    As for commercialization, I work in retail and can assure you that yes, holiday weekend shoppers are awful even if theyre doing it to be nice to their moms. Ugh.

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    • The difference might be a regional thing. Where I grew up, feminists were considered bad mothers because believing in equality somehow means you “hate children.” (Ugh.) I’ve never heard the “bad feminist” thing either (though I have seen a lot of feminist Twitter squabbling). Again might be regional.

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      • It is an opinion I have come across in online feminism, in the classroom, and in a couple of plays. I think it comes from women still being expected to do the majority of work at home and childcare. Some feminism pushes the “women can do it all” to the extreme, which pushes the myth of the Supermom.

        I also, randomly, read a lot of mommy blogs where the feminist supermom ideal is upheld by some and criticized by others, to the point where people have been completely alienated from feminism bc they felt it was just more people telling them How To Be A Woman. I mean, I can see their perspective, but I realize that was not the intent of the movement. I am just glad for the more recent “fathers need to share more of the burden” push.

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  2. Good point. And the household I grew up in was unusual because my dad had to do more childcare and housework because he worked at home and on weekends, while my mother had the 9-5, out of the house job, as well as her serious back injury. It probably colors how I see things.

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    • Yes, the jobs and/or socioeconomic status of the parents definitely impact those kinds of roles, to where “traditional” gender roles are revealed as just being impractical or unrealistic.

      I was reading a study about working mothers in developing countries, which was where I got the fact that women usually work as well as shoulder the “house” work of childcare and household maintenance. The study stated that if you count housework and childcare as hours worked, then women worldwide work more than men do, and they earn even less when you consider they are not paid for the home labor at all.

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