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A Mother of a Day

May
12
2006

Sunday morning millions of mothers will wake up to a breakfast of burnt pancakes, half-cooked bacon and coffee with grounds floating in it. Monday morning they will find the remains of that breakfast in every crevice of the kitchen including, somehow, the ceiling.
Around here we’re beyond the Mother’s Day Burnt Offering Ceremony, preferring reservations for brunch at a local inn. There will be an attempt to “go wherever Mom wants to go,” accompanied by quiet moans with every choice until I finally say I want to just sit home and watch everyone do whatever they want to do.
“Well, okay. If that’s what you want . . . ”
I’m not complaining because, frankly, we mothers have quite a martyrdom racket going and I’m always afraid I’ll overplay my overly-dramatic and long-suffering hand. Then my family will discover what no mother wants anyone to know: Motherhood requires no more commitment and sacrifice than any goal you want to achieve throughout your life.


I realize I’m risking the ire of most of my own gender, but I say this because I know of too many women having children for stupid reasons. We all know about the child born “to save the marriage,” the zenith of bonehead decisions. But there are also the children born as competition with a pregnant sibling, to persuade the father to commitment, or as someone to dress up and play with until the kid exerts a will of his own.
Worse, there is some residual, antiquated belief system floating around that says a female cannot be a “real woman” until she experiences motherhood. The result is a lot of women with other inclinations feeling some sort of cultural requirement to make a commitment to that which they would otherwise be ambivalent.
You want a “real woman” experience? Try Christmas shopping during the heaviest part of your period and the department store bathrooms looks like it had been visited by a group of apes. Or, same department store, same time of year when they thoughtfully crank up the heat to augment the winter coat you’re already wearing, and you go into a hot flash. Yeah, I Am Woman, you’ll hear me roar!
Quite honestly, it takes more than having given birth for me to exalt motherhood to the sacrosanct position it holds in society. I am no more inclined to venerate mothers than I am to jump to my feet with applause when someone announces, “I am a teacher.” It’s not the title so much as what is done with it.
The fact is that there are good teachers and bad teachers and there are good mothers and bad mothers. Just like there are good plumbers and bad plumbers and, I can tell you from personal experience, good building contractors and building contractors who leave you in the lurch with a half-finished house not a hope of finding someone within the next century to complete this huge investment you’ve made thinking you had all your ducks in a row when actually the duck has wandered off somewhere and . . . oh, sorry.
Where was I? Oh, Mother’s Day.
Anyway, thanks very much for the sappy card (“Although I don’t say it the rest of the year…”) and goodness knows I’ll take an armful of flowers when I can get it. But the idea that it’s a requirement kind of makes the whole thing ring hollow. I’d like to think I’m special for more than my fertility.
My true “mother’s days” are very personal. It’s when one of the Heirs makes me genuinely laugh at his take on a situation. It’s when we’re discussing an issue from opposite sides and he is making valid points without resorting to shouting or calling me “lame.” It’s Heir 1, arguing to be taken off a two-week grounding, saying indignantly, “That’s just moral posturing.” (It didn’t work, by the way. But we had to commend him for style.)
Like any chosen path in life, the most special days are the first steps taken, the hurdles overcome and the goals achieved. And that goes for everyone, not just mothers.
But I still want my dark chocolate nonpareils on Sunday.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 9:37 AM | Permalink

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