I’ve been learning to write clickbaity titles for work, can you tell?
I do not want you to hate Mother’s Day and honestly, it’s uncharacteristic of me to throw the scantest of shade on a holiday that so heavily features breakfast foods. But lots of things have long made me uncomfortable about this day and I’m about to drop a load of elucidation in this bitch.
First, how about the skyscraper-high expectations that are placed on it? My own mother has spent her life feeling chronically unappreciated and if my dad and I didn’t show up big on Mother’s Day it was just more confirmation of the same. Anecdotes ain’t evidence but I’ve heard this sentiment echoed dozens of times over from other women. I get this one day, they say. Please don’t fuck it up.
Guess what, invariably someone fucks it up! The toddler ends up crying all morning, the partner forgets which flowers are her favorite. The partner forgets to get flowers at all! The hints she dropped weeks in advance were missed, the plans she ended up making herself were trampled by someone else’s. In my own mother’s case, she was up against a kid who didn’t know to care because kids are self-absorbed little jerks and a spouse who was physically and/or mentally checked out a goodly portion of the time. So my mom spent a lot of Mother’s Days tight-lipped in the kitchen, letting the things she was slamming around speak her displeasure for her.
We could have done a lot better, my dad and I, and my mom could have dialed down her martyr complex a couple clicks, but that’s beside the point. The whole thing is massively set up to fail regardless of individual effort, because it’s just one day. A handful of hours, really, that are dedicated to moms. And it’s difficult for anyone to feel anything but disappointment in a few hours that you only get once a year.
The subtext of Mother’s Day is: be sure to thank your mom for tirelessly, selflessly sacrificing so much of herself for you. No one ever seems to ask why it’s assumed that she’s still carrying the heaviest parts of the household burden. No one ever seems to ask why that actually remains true, even today.
Instead of taking mom to brunch and giving her some shitty jewelry from Kay, we should be fundamentally changing the way we live so that mothers — women — don’t still comprise the majority of the people clocking into the second shift. We should be supporting massively better paid leave, wider support networks, and shorter work weeks for everyone so that both partners in a relationship, regardless of whether or not they have children, have better choices about how they spend their time. I know that for us, the beau would love to be home more and I’d love to be working more, but right now corporate circumstances have dictated the reverse.
I do not feel like a mother, which is a post for another time, but since becoming one I have become keenly aware of the value of my own time, and how little of it I have. I could not give fewer shits about one fucking day in a year that’s supposed to be my time. I want my time every day, and I don’t want that tied to whether or not I’m in charge of a tiny human.
No one should have to give me that time. It should be mine, no questions asked and no tests passed.
My mom felt chronically unappreciated and that’s deeply unfortunate, but the system tipped the scales against her from the start. If she wasn’t coming home every night to a full load of house work after a full day on the job, maybe she’d have had more time for herself. Maybe those few dumb hours dedicated to her annually wouldn’t have disappointed her so much.
Each year holds 365 days. Let’s start using all of them for ourselves.