It’s Mother’s Day. The one day moms get to relax and be lauded for all they do. It’s a day when mothers get showered with homemade gifts and (in theory, at least) are waited on hand and foot.
Sure, the breakfast in bed may be burnt toast and cold coffee, and the kitchen looks like a disaster zone, but watching the earnest attempts by little ones to make the day special for Mom can be a joy in itself.
At least it used to be. But there’s a new, weird take on motherhood. The trending view of raising kids is that it’s too hard, it’s unfair, and no living man understands or appreciates just how awful it is.
The new mantra is that moms should admit to being resentful of their kids. Bundles of joy? Hah! They’re little monsters sent to ruin lives and make women miserable.
Any mother who’s seen the movie “Tully,” or read the countless other current books and columns on the topic, such as the Huffington Post article, “These Moms Admit They Resent Their Kids, And Wish You Would, Too,” will realize that her husband and children should be on their knees apologizing for the horrors and misery they’ve inflicted. They owe you, Mom, big time.
In a column for The New York Times, “Job Description for the Dumbest Job Ever,” Kimberly Harrington writes, “You will enjoy a whole bunch of superficial attention and lip service from culture, advertisers and politicians, but will never receive a credible follow-up in the form of a concrete plan for advancement, support, benefits or retirement. ... Please note: Although you will coordinate, plan and do almost everything, you should expect to crash face-first into bed every night feeling that you’ve accomplished basically nothing. Welcome!”
What happened? When did society decide motherhood is too difficult and women have the right to bitterly begrudge every chore those kids have added to their once-wonderful, now dreary, lives? When did having a baby become a sentence to 18 years of boredom, housework, and drudgery? When did it become the kids’ fault that Mom went from a size 4 to a size 12?
Motherhood has always been tough. We have all done the sleepless nights and at a party or in a meeting smelled baby puke on the shoulder of what we thought was a clean blouse.
We’ve all had the tedious sessions with school counselors and rushed kids to the emergency room. We’ve bagged up those size 6 pants and two-piece bathing suits and sent them to Goodwill, finally giving in to the sad fact that we’re never going to have that body again.
Maybe because we didn’t have 24-hour access to the internet and countless TV shows and movies telling us how tough being a mom is, we didn’t know how desperate our situations were. Maybe because we weren’t told kids were incredibly fragile, that everything they touch is toxic, and imperfect parenting would ruin them for life, we were less uptight about being parents. Maybe we were able to laugh off our motherly foibles more easily.
Or maybe, not too long ago, all of society understood and appreciated that becoming a mother awakened the superhero that dwells within all women. There was a time when a mother’s ability to balance a baby on one hip and a phone in one ear while simultaneously doing countless chores was a talent to be praised and admired.
In 1974, syndicated humorist and mother of three Erma Bombeck described moms in her column: “When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of ‘overtime’ when the angel appeared and said, ‘You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.’ And God said, ‘Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts ... all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands. ... Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick ... can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger ... and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.’”
Yes, being a mother is hard work. And it will never get any easier. But long days and sometimes longer nights are simply the cost of raising kids. The decision to become a mom is optional, especially today. No one blinks if a woman chooses not to have kids.
For those who take on the task, however, if you bring them into the world, you’re responsible for raising them. So learn to lighten up and embrace the job. Kids grow up too fast and regret is a wasted emotion.
Before you know it, that baby is walking and talking, that toddler is riding a bicycle, and that high school student is looking at colleges. Treasure the time you have with your children. And every night you tuck them into bed, healthy and safe, pat yourself on the back. Because once again, Mom, today you successfully accomplished the very hardest job in the world.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the superheroes out there.