Sunday, May 10, 2009

Reflections on Mother's Day

by Christina DiGasbarro

So today is Mother’s Day. Arguably, this holiday is one that has most successfully been hijacked by Hallmark and surrounded by an extremely consumerist attitude—it seems like everyone is expected to buy Mom cards, flowers, gifts, etc., to show her how important she is. But, setting those concerns with consumerism aside and not allowing them to obscure the intent of Mother’s Day, this holiday is definitely worth some attention, even though motherhood is certainly nothing new.

When I was younger, I used to wonder if maybe Mother’s Day wasn’t quite fair, in that it celebrates women but only those who have children, and there’s no equivalent holiday to celebrate women without children—some of whom surely don’t want children anyway, but some of whom probably would like children but can’t get pregnant or adopt for one reason or another. But ultimately, we take a day to honor mothers for two legitimate, important reasons. In the first place, a woman who becomes a mother takes on the huge responsibility of caring for another life, and the acceptance of this responsibility and the sacrifices it usually entails are to be celebrated; after all, no mothers means no children, and that means a pretty short future. In the second place, being a mother is generally one of the most thankless jobs out there.

Whether a mother is a stay-at-home mom or works full- or part-time, she is usually the one who ends up doing all the jobs that people (who can afford it) are willing to hire others to do for them: cooking meals, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, tutoring the kids, watching the kids, etc. And Mom does it all without being paid. Even when she can get some help from Dad, or from the kids, once they’re old enough to take on various chores, the majority of the domestic burden still tends to fall on her. She probably doesn’t often get thanked for doing all these things, either.

One thing to think about, considering how much mothers do in the domestic sphere, is whether we can’t get fathers more involved there, too, especially in families where both parents work (or at least want to). We’ll celebrate Father’s Day in June, but beyond celebrating fatherhood, which is, after all, the acceptance of the same responsibility as motherhood, we still have work to do on de-stigmatizing domestic work as women’s work in the currents of mainstream culture.

No matter what we can accomplish in terms of domestic and workplace equality between men and women, and while motherhood isn’t necessarily for everyone, we can’t deny the importance of that role. While Mother’s Day is, after all, only one day out of the year, and thus doesn’t really begin to cover the debt of thanks we owe our mothers, it is a nice step in the right direction. It’s not about the biggest bouquet of flowers or the flashiest gift; instead, make a really nice dinner for Mom, or tell her that she gets the day off from her responsibilities and should do what she wants to do for herself. It’s about taking the time to say, “Mom, I recognize how hard you’ve worked to raise me and the sacrifices you’ve made over the years to take care of me. Thank you.”


At May 12, 2009 at 6:31 PM , Anonymous novaseeker said...

Well Mothers Day is here, so it's time to bash fathers again ... and then again next month at Fathers Day.

This time it's from Roland Martin at CNN, echoing the seeming MSM chorus that men should simply "man up".

"It has gotten to the point that a mother is considered essential in a family, but a father is optional, expendable, and increasingly irrelevant.
I am convinced that our city streets have turned into killing fields because dads have abdicated their responsibility in the raising of their children. Yes, mom is vital. But there is something different about dad speaking, lecturing, cajoling, disciplining, embracing, loving and caring."

Can I just say one thing: Knock it off with the man-bashing, Roland.

You're missing the main issue, and ignoring the huge elephant on the table.

Not one single mention of family law. Not one. How does Roland think fathers are supposed to function as fathers in the context where they can be removed as fathers for no reason at any time by their wives -- or where they can even do so themselves? When did we decide as a society that it was in the best interests of our children to allow either of their parents to remove their fathers from their lives for no reason? Was it the men who clamored for laws allowing for that? No, it wasn't. It was feminism and women in general, and as we know, it is women who make more use of it than men do (as we would expect, since, again, women were the ones who demanded the right to end a marriage quickly and easily for no reason).

I can tell you this. It's going to take more than wagging fingers at men to restore fatherhood and get fathers to take fatherhood more seriously. It won't really be possible without a change in the law, and we know how likely that is. I suppose one silver lining is that more people are generally realizing that there is a crisis. That's good, even if they do not have the political courage to take on the real cause of it. Perhaps one day they will find that courage.

But in the meantime, pardon me for being very angry, almost livid, at reading an article like that, as a man who has been through the preposterous farce that counts as "family law" in the United States.

At May 14, 2009 at 4:09 PM , Blogger LSG said...

Undoubtedly I speak for feminists everywhere when I say that you have shown us the error of our ways, and we repent in dust and ashes. Our acknowledgment of Mother's Day was, indeed, nothing but a feeble attempt to express our hatred for men in a way that also gave us a chance to eat large Sunday brunches at the expense of our long-suffering husbands and fathers. It also gave us an opportunity to cackle about the immeasurable power of Mothers, who can snatch away infants from those infants' loving fathers just because they, like us, hate men with such fiery passion. Now leave us, so we may rend our garments and weep bitterly at our own wickedness.

Seriously. Go away.


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