I don't think my kids owe me a 'thank you' on Mother's Day. Everything I do for them is part of being a mom.

by 24britishtvMay 12, 2024, 5 p.m. 24
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• I'm 37 and have two kids, and still don't like celebrating Mother's Day.
• I've always wondered what exactly are we celebrating on this day.
• I also don't think my kids should thank me for things I do as part of being a mom.

Mother's Day has always made me uncomfortable. I'm a 37-year-old mom of two — presumably the target audience for such a holiday — yet when it rolls around each year, I ask my family for the only thing I ever want on Mother's Day: to skip the whole thing entirely.

People are shocked when I tell them this. Truthfully, I've always quibbled with the belief that celebrating someone requires overpriced meals or the obligation to purchase yet another landfill-bound tchotchke from Amazon. But on Mother's Day especially, I wonder, what exactly is the point of all this sentimental excess, and just what are we meant to be celebrating?

The day seems to perpetuate bad things about being a mother

To me, Mother's Day perpetuates some of our culture's worst ideas about mothers and women. It reinforces the outdated notion that motherhood is a woman's highest calling, and it celebrates a specific ideal of womanhood that's rooted in subservience and self-sacrifice. Being a mom is the hardest job in the world, we're told, and that's how it's supposed to be. If it hurts, you're doing it right. If you've been ground to a pulp beneath the weight of the total body, mind, and soul sacrifice that is mothering in the United States, then congratulations, you're a No. 1 mom!

Father's Day cards celebrate goofballs who enjoy barbecuing and hugging their kids once in a while. Mother's Day cards worship benevolent mother figures who "do it all" dutifully, gracefully, and always with a smile. There's a Mother's Day card at Target this year that says, "Moms are like gravity: you can't fully see their power but you know they're the ones holding everything together." That's a chilling sentiment in a country where women handle 75% of the unpaid labor, almost always at the expense of our own time, health, and well-being.

It's often hell to be a mother in this country. As a nation, we don't guarantee paid maternity leave, childcare is a necessity yet eats up 20% of your household income. Once you become a mom, you earn less money, get fewer promotions, and are less likely to be hired at all. Moms are also the ones left tackling the majority of household labor and childcare, even if they're the family breadwinner.

These are huge systemic failures, but on Mother's Day, we hold them up as the so-called "sacrifices of motherhood," and we applaud all the ways mothers contort themselves to survive in this broken system. Not only that, but we put the onus on kids — the ones least responsible for this mess — to say "thank you."

I also wonder why my kids should thank me on Mother's Day

What is it our kids are thanking us for on Mother's Day? Checking homework, packing lunches, showing up to their recitals? To me, those are standard parts of the job.

My kids are wonderful people. They are funny and brilliant and kind. I feel loved and appreciated by them daily, and caring for them is the happiest part of my life. It's also true that motherhood is the hardest thing I've ever done — but that's not because of them. Motherhood is hard because of the conditions in which I have to do it; it's hard because society views domestic labor as women's work and dismisses anything women do as inherently less valuable and less worthy of support.

Contrary to the sentiments on Mother's Day cards, I don't think the demands of motherhood on my labor, my time, and my body should be an unseen force like gravity. I don't agree with the expectation that I should be the one "holding everything together" or that I should keep giving and giving of every part of myself all the time until I keel over in a drop-off line somewhere.

Most of all, I don't think my kids owe me a thing for all the ways I show up for them, and I don't celebrate Mother's Day because there's not a bottomless mimosa brunch or flower bouquet in the world that could make up for all the ways our society fails to show up for moms.

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