Reflections on Mother’s Day

Last night (on the evening of Mother’s Day), I texted a dear friend & asked: “Is it bad to want to strangle your child on Mother’s Day?!?!”

Because that’s the kind of day it was.

I admit to having mixed feelings about Mother’s Day. It’s a strange thing, celebrating “motherhood,” whatever that means on this particular Hallmark holiday. I tend to think that Mother’s Day amplifies the cult of motherhood. By which I mean the unhealthy obsession our culture has with how women execute the care of their children. Usually this entails judging women based on the time spent (& the fervor with which they are) tending to the minutiae of their children’s lives. 

It’s also a funny thing when you compare it with Father’s Day. Women want to celebrate Mother’s Day (or not) in a myriad of ways, but the overwhelming message is that if you have young children, it should be a “day off” (i.e. a day on which one doesn’t have to mother). Father’s Day, by contrast, is a day for the kids to spend with dad. I’ve written before about the different expectations for dads vs. moms … And I think the themes of escape & engagement that are dominant in Mother’s & Father’s Days, respectively, are manifestations of the generally unequal state of parenting today.

I don’t think Mother’s Day needs to be any one thing, but it’s interesting to think about what Mother’s Day isn’t. It’s not a day of empowerment for women who happen to be mothers, nor is it a celebration of solidarity among mothers. It’s not a day to recognize how poorly our society & culture treat moms or how the pressures moms face are surreal & impossible. It’s not even necessarily a day free of judgment, hence my hesitance to text my friend my very personal question. 

But life goes on on Mother’s Day, even if you’re of the “escape motherhood for the day” camp. And sometimes that means your kids will test your limits & frustrate the hell out of you, even on the day that supposedly celebrates mothering, when we moms are supposed to feel all gooey & loved. 

I don’t mind a little extra special treatment every once in a while, but Mother’s Day? Eh, I can leave it or take it.


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Filed under Feminism, Living, Mothering, Parenting, Simplicity

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