You know, I don’t really have strong feelings for Mother’s Day. I never have, despite my own mother was my best friend, and that I myself am a mother–and I adore my son, right down to the ground. It just seems to me that having constructed motherhood into a social institution, once again innovation and variation are truncated, such that instead of developing authentic relationships with each other, people spend time struggling for an ideal while at the same time judging others for failing to achieve it.
That there’s a problem should be obvious, since there are myriad examples of “bad moms” out there, to say nothing of all the relationships between children and mothers that, while not considered abusive, are nonetheless inchoately unsatisfying to one or both parties in the relationship. To me this suggests that we are privileging a fetish over a more realistic understanding of human diversity–i.e., “mothering” is something that some people (not limited to women) are more inclined to do, while others are less so, being inclined in other ways. In fact, it may be that some are inclined to enjoy younger children, while others do better with children who are older. My OWN mother once told me she couldn’t stand any of the four us, my siblings and me, until each of us became old enough to carry on at least a basic conversation–before that point, the drudgery (to her) of childcare was unrelenting, isolated as she was in that role. This is not to say that she wouldn’t kill on our behalf, mind you–but THIS entails relationships with people in addition to her children. It does not speak to other than a rather limited, possibly even instinctual(?), empathy (though I don’t recommend trifling with it) in terms of just her children.
My mother would have been much better off, and possibly her children as well, if there were others who were at least more inclined to take value and satisfaction from the care of young children available to give her substantive breaks, and which, having eliminated the frustration and ennui of being solely responsible for 24/7 childcare, would have provided a less fraught potential for satisfying relationships–still including significant parenting– later on as her children developed.
It seems to me that a holiday that celebrates authentic relationships might be better. What would it be called, I wonder?
Happy It Takes A Village Day?
NONETHELESS, in view of the fact that we are each of us and all moving targets, my respect and admiration goes out to all who engage in the ongoing joys and sorrows of family life, and today, especially mothers.