I was going to write about the stupidity of Mothers’ Day, pitch it to Huffington Post, let it get rejected, and then grudgingly post it on my own blog so it would not get read. It never got written in time. I chose to nap instead of storming on my keyboard – until now.
My Mother’s Day, in case any of you are interested, was spent with a sleepy husband because my daughter was sick the night before and he had to get up to attend to her. Then, we proceeded with a muddily thrown together plan to take a boat ride in a nearby park, with my daughter throwing up all the soy milk I had made for her over the boat. Once we got home, I passed out for another nap, and in the late afternoon, PLPL helped Daddy build the bed for the imminent baby whilst I verified the breastpump still worked after sitting in a box for 2 years. Daddy and daughter had leftovers of frozen Bolognese sauce over rice for dinner whilst I slurped noodles in soya sauce. Not much of an Instagram moment.
Propped up on an intricate tower of cushions in the evening, I mulled over the expected corny photos of flowers, outings with our beloved darling kids, and the crappy art work they made for mothers, photos with our mothers, quotes of inspiration, gratitude towards mothers et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, on social media. I remain baffled as to why, on this specific Sunday, we go through a rally of “this is how much I love you”, “thank you for bringing me into this world”, or “this is how much a mother does so be grateful.” For one, Mother’s Day was founded as a way to bring a civil division in the United States to an end in the 1800s, and it became so commercialized that the founder’s daughter tried to get it off the calendar as a holiday – she died in a mental institution being so demented from her vain efforts.
Second, what is this obsession with grandeuring the work we do as mothers? In modern day and developed markets with healthcare at least, becoming a mother is usually by choice. We agree to get pregnant, to have a child (or a few), and go through the process. One we cannot rewind. With the cute, curated baby photos come responsibilities with the role of a mother – diapers, dishes, late nights, playgroup dates, sacrifice of me-time. We knew the job description before we started the endeavor to become parents. Then, why do we need to be thanked for the work we do that emanated from our decisions, consequences of our behaviours? Why do we brainwash our unsuspecting toddlers that the care they receive from us is something so extraordinary when we are merely fulfilling the obligations we have created for ourselves?
At the end, notwithstanding the authentic gratitude our husbands and children might feel towards us, is a selfish desire of wanting to be recognized and loved – and as many “likes” as possible on Facebook. We seem unable to reconcile the ambivalence of wanting a hug from a child and them saying “I love you” in spontaneity versus the resentment we feel towards them for taking up our energy. We continue to want them to tell us, “You are doing a great job, Mum/Dad” or “We need you in our lives even though I’m now 30 years old” because it would be unthinkable to admit, like Philip Larkin could, that our parents fucked us up, and the inevitable chances are, we will fuck up our children.
Can we think beyond ourselves, flowers, and cheesy cards? Can we think beyond photos of a marvelous time on the swings with our kids? Can we not do what we think society expects us to do, and dare to say, “I do not enjoy motherhood”?
We do not need to be thanked with fervor, appreciated with flowers that die within a day, nor taken out for champagne dinners for taking care of the trouble we willingly produced. We photoshop the sacrifices we make as parents into collages, as if to justify the chaos in our minds, our turbulent households, and our twisted family dynamics.
I do not know what it means when people say “congratulations” when they find out I am pregnant – congratulate me for what? Nor when they say, “it’s all worth it” – what is worth it? What is “it” worth? There are many rational reasons for compromising to have yet another squirmy, crying baby in about a month or so, but that does not mean I have come to rest with the debate within my little head as to why I would bring more children into this messed up world. On the other side of the globe, or even the city or down the road from where we live, are children beggars, people with no electricity in their homes, kids with no pencil and paper – whilst mine has a choice of 50 different coloured crayons plus confetti scraps to glue onto the wall.
Imagine all the people. Living life in peace. And not in self-glorification on social media in our bubble of a world.
Perhaps this is why I never pitched this article anywhere. Perhaps this is why my writing will never go viral – because all I want is recognition and millions to think, “Yeh, I like what you write, I will repost it now….”