Mother’s Day, like crinoline and the pay gap and sending your sons off to die in a war, belongs in the past, writes Suzanne Harrington
My daughter and I watch I, Tonya together, so that she will see how lucky she is. Imagine if you had Tonya Harding’s mum, I tell her. Then we go to see Lady Bird, where Saoirse Ronan’s mum provides another, admittedly less horrific reminder of just how much worse things could be.
Is this about Mother’s Day, my daughter says suspiciously. Because you’ll get your bloody card.
Actually, it’s not about Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day, like crinoline and the pay gap and sending your sons off to die in a war, belongs in the past. While obviously only a flint-hearted monster would not find the wonky homemade cards of small children a thing to treasure until one’s dying breath, it is the dated naff of Mother’s Day and its attendant industry which makes me want to run through the card shop and the florist with a flamethrower.
Why do we continue to allow motherhood — visceral, agonising, uplifting, body-wrecking, breast-sagging, wallet-killing, heart-wrenching, soul-filling motherhood — to be reduced to teddy bears and tea towels once a year? Best Mum In The World? Oh do fuck off. Anyone who has pushed anther human out of the wrong end of their anatomy, then kept them alive and out of prison until legal maturity, is the best mum in the world. We all are, and we don’t need Hallmark to tell us. We don’t need daft pink flowers, or dutiful lunches out, or china mugs telling us we’re great. We already know that.
What we do need is to cauterise the long list of rubbish prefixes attached to the M-word that denote our desirability or lack thereof, in relation to how others view us. Whether or not we are still fanciable, post-parenthood. Yummy mummy, MILF, mumsy, frumpy. This does not happen to dads — at least not to the same degree. For 364 days of the year, we cut dads the kind of slack that we would never afford mums, then on day 365 we bung mum some chocolates and expect her to be grateful for a 24-hour break from the washing up.
This is so old. So utterly, abjectly stale and dated. By all means honour us. But honour as parents. Stop with the stupid labels — working mother, stay-at-home mum — and with the fetishisation of motherhood. We are still women after we have had kids as the t-shirt reads, Ni Santas, Ni Putas, Solo Mujeres. Not saints, not whores, just women.
‘Mother’ is just one aspect of us. Parenthood doesn’t define men primarily as fathers, so why should it define women primarily as mothers?
There’s a bit more to us than that.
How about a Korean-style reunification between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day into Parents’ Day? Wonky cards and tea in bed for all.
Because if I get one more press release about “spoiling Mum” for Mother’s Day, I will hack my ovaries out and hurl them at the screen.
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