So it’s Mother’s Day in North America and much of the World. Today we celebrate all the unsung accomplishments of moms. For dudes, it’s likely a time to call your mom, buy her some flowers, or take her out for dinner. For many of us dads, we’re on double duty. It may seem obvious, but to me it was a bit of a revelation that Mother’s Day is as important to your baby momma as it is to your own mom. It will be a while before my kids are old enough to perform Mother’s Day duties independently, so until then, its all up to me to shower my wife with appreciation and affection.
The first Mother’s Day after your first child is born will be a big deal. It’s your first opportunity to use overt displays of consumerism and premeditated acts of kindness to show your appreciation for all the sacrifices your partner has made for your child. If it’s your partners first May as a mom, don’t mess this up. Being a mom is hard work, so she definitely deserves it. At the same time, it kind of bothers me that moms would need a dedicated day for positive reinforcement and affirmation of our love. Don’t the know that they’re awesome?
Being a parent is a lifestyle choice I made and I kind of take for granted both the work involved in being a dad and the love my family has for me. But, I don’t know a single mother that doesn’t feel at last somewhat underappreciated. Not a single one. That’s kind of messed up when you think about it, isn’t it? Now, maybe this is different in Europe or Asia or Africa, but as far as I can tell, there is a deep disappointment among mothers with respect to the amount of special treatment and consideration given to them. That has to mean one of two things: Either all fathers and children are horrible assholes, or all mothers have expectations that are unrealisticaly high.
Last week, I cam across a very timely article in the Washington Post that talks about the Maternal Industrial Complex. I’ve never heard the term used before, but it’s as good a description as any for the institutionalized commercial and societal pressures that raise mothers’ expectations in a way that sets them up for disappointment and a system that uses Mother’s Day as a way to materialize concepts like ‘love’ and ‘appreciation.’ It’s a system that both creates guilt and sells the solution to it. It’s genius. Pure, evil genius.
The Post article talks about our “unhealthy obsession with our mothers,” but what about the effects of all this attention on the moms out there? If modern day tabloids have taught me anything it’s that when you obsess about about people and create celebrities out of them it does something to them. It messes up the way they think of themsleves and the expectations they have of others. Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Naomi Campbell - I think we want better for our mothers.
Having said all that, we as dudes and dads probably don’t emote as much as our mothers and partners would like. I don’t know that we should go out and buy cards and gifts to fuel the Maternal Industrial Complex, but I do support flowers in the springtime, hugs, and heartfelt “thank yous.”
My own mom has always said we take her for granted – “I’m just one woman in a house full of boys and you guys don’t appreciate me!” Well, we do. we’re just men and so we don’t show it. My mom didn’t have junk food in the house when we were little because she wanted us to grow up healthy; she used to arm wrestle me when I was a kid and let me win so I could feel tough; she gave me black crayons to scribble with when I was mad and needed to let off some steam; she supported our adoption of pets even though she knew she would end up taking care of them; when I was a teenager, she didn’t tell my dad when I stole the car and crashed it; when I was in university, she’d always try and send me away with home cooked food; and now as a grandma, she’s always on hand to babysit and help out with the kids when we need her. Mom, for all that and everything else – thanks!
Similarly, my wife recently told me that I don’t appreciate what she does around the house. It’s true, she’s a rock star – she stays at home with two kids, educates them on important life lessons, cleans, cooks dinner, does laundtry, and generally keeps our domestic affairs in order. Do I appreaciate all the hard work? For sure. Do I always show my appreciation, probably not. Babe, thanks for everything you do for us!
On a parting note, for all those celebrating Mother’s Day today, here’s one of my favourite tributes to mothers, courtesy of Sizzla: