I love Mothers Day – celebrating mothering, spending time being acknowledged by my offspring, and yet, I feel irritable…..
I believe mothers of today are getting a dud deal. From the minute you conceive, not only is the baby growing, but also guilt and fear. This one day of honouring does not counter the 364 days of plying mothers with guilt and fear.
Mothering today is a fraught activity. I’m particularly referring to mothers with dependent children. Now matter what you do, someone will happily make you feel fearful and guilty. There are so many experts; they range from anyone who’s ever had anything to do with a child, through to those who claim to know what is right for you, even though they have no idea of your individual circumstances.
This is obviously a complex area, so lets just look at government attitudes to mothering – the bipartisan trend is to value productivity – defined as making money and paying tax.
Nurturing has no value. The political message is breed but don’t nurture – you can outsource that! Ignore the fact that there aren’t enough childcare places and many grandparents are still working, (often victims of the same thinking) just get back to work the sooner the better.
The quality of how the next generation is being raised is irrelevant. What counts is productivity in terms of earning a taxable income. Doing your best to produce relatively functional human beings is not prioritised until something goes wrong. Then the blame starts, and it’s usually mothers who cop it, especially the single mothers, or should we say father absent.
I struggle not to scream when I hear a news item reporting a misdemeanour of a young, usually male, person that includes. “Oh, and they have been brought up by a single mother.” More accurately they could report that they have been brought up in a father absent family, with a bi line something like: The young man who committed this offence was disserted by his father at 3 years of age. Since that time the youth’s father has paid no maintenance, and has promised to visit but has rarely done so.
The difference in traffic congestion on Mothers Day is a good indicator of the emotional of honouring mothers. On fathers day it’s barely noticable. Just assessing this one variable of traffic flow (and chrysanthemum purchases) makes it feel safe to say that as a society we do value nurturing and what our mothers do for us. Unfortunately, just not enough to challenge the guilt and fear manufacturers.
Kindness and thoughtfulness delivered daily would go a long way to soothe the emotional and physical pressures of mothering. Instead, mothers are inundated with do’s and don’ts creating anxiety, and in the extreme, contaminating love.
If it takes a village to raise a child, what sort of village are we if we push our mothers back to work, and then offer rigid and expensive options for childcare? Alongside this sits discouraging fathers to make concessions to their work schedules. In effect, limiting their contribution to money making machines, with tokenistic moments of connection with their children.
The family court has been one institution that has tried to acknowledge the significant contribution mothers make through the division of assets formulas.
But for nuclear families, wouldn’t it be a great mothers day gift if there was legislation ensuring that through the years that women are compromising their careers and earning capacity, the father’s salary and superannunation was divided, so both mum and dad ended up with equal amounts.
A small token but a powerful symbolic gesture – acknowledging it doesn’t matter what happens to the marriage, both parents are committed to supporting nurturing over taxable productivity.
Happy Mothers Day – good luck with the 364 unmothers days!