General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Is this reverance for motherhood so ubiquitous that it's cliche nature takes away from the real thing?

Asked by wundayatta (58604points) May 6th, 2009

This is a hard thing to talk about, since to question the defication of motherhood—(and apple pie, which I’m not questioning)—is tantamount to torturing babies with toothpicks. However, I find this reverance for motherhood to be quite over the top. It has become a cliche, and I don’t think it means as much because of it. Flowers, chocolates, family and a restaurant. Maybe a gift, too. Does anyone else think that going through the formula makes it all quite trite?

My wife is big on symbols. I love her, so I’m happy to provide them. But to me, symbols are pretty much nonsense. What matters to me is how you act. A mother is doing what her biology allows her to do. She may love it or hate it. She may feel constricted by social norms, guilty for not spending enough time with her child, even like a bad mom. If she’s trying, then that’s something I appreciate, flowers or no.

But this hucksterism of Mother’s Day pressures us to do things in certain ways, just to be socially acceptable. “What did you do for Mother’s Day?” No way you can say that you watched the game while she did the laundry.

Mothering is important. But so is being a caring person no matter what your relationship to someone else is. Somehow, it seems to me that putting motherhood on a pedestal takes away from it, instead of adding to it. Maybe I’m just some kind of soulless curmudgeon. What do you think about motherhood? Where does it belong in the pantheon of cultural gods?

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73 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

all this bru-ha-ha about mother’s day is like any bru-ha-ha over a commercialized holiday – it has NOTHING genuine to do with the concept it’s celebrating and if people think it’s enough, that one day is enough, to celebrate motherhood, they’re joking themselves…want to celebrate motherhood? then allow for longer maternity leave, allow for an easier time for breastfeeding in public mothers, allow for flexible hours and affordable quality daycares…this society doesn’t really value motherhood, when it comes down to it…so you keep your flowers and your card and give me some actual help with my children (well, not you, specifically, daloon, but you get what i’m saying)

Blondesjon's avatar

Speaking for all mothers (yes, even I had one) you need to let this one go. You have a penis. You have serious (and imagined) emotional issues. Leave the mommies alone.

Moms, you rock. Keep up the awesome, unsung work that you do without complaint day in and day out. I lurve you all.

zephyr826's avatar

I’ve always been a little weird about these days. When I was growing up, we never celebrated mothers’ or fathers’ day, so it’s hard as an adult (and especially this year, when I’m expected to get something for my mother and grandmothers-in-law) to buy in to the whole thing. Not that mothers shouldn’t be honored. I just feel that I should honor my folks (and everyone’s) all year round.

on a vaguely related note, what do you get in-laws for Mothers’ day?

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Like any other holiday, Mother’s Day is a huge marketing endeavor but I look at it as this:
Gives my mother a chink in her armor to let me do some things nice for her she wouldn’t allow or accept most any other time or do for herself so I take advantage of this day.

You’re right, all people should have reverance, respect and care everyday but it’s not that way. In other countries there are days to celebrate women in general or children, ye gawds… former communist holidays in fact.

Dog's avatar

Motherhood is a job. Fatherhood is a job.
There is a lot of hype about it but I do respect my mom a lot and if it makes her feel good just a little bit I will gladly do the flowers etc.

On a side note:
I hate getting flowers. They curl up and die. Very depressing.
I would much rather just have a heartfelt hug.

Dansedescygnes's avatar

Flowers, chocolates, family and a restaurant.

Sounds like Mothers’ Day at my house. Seriously.

But I like it; I love my mommy. Besides, it’s just one day and I don’t think there’s that much to do with it. I think you may be reading a little too much into it…kinda like you seem to do with a lot of things…no offense. Holidays are what you want to make of them. I agree that you shouldn’t feel pressured to do anything specific for it. Holidays should be individual. If you want to do nothing for it, then you should be able to do nothing without negative scrutiny.

I don’t see how putting it on this “pedestal” takes away from it. It simply brings some extra recognition to it and it is something important and I personally believes it deserves that extra recognition. I don’t really think that people are implying that being a mother is better than what other people do.

I know I’m a teenage boy and obviously not a mother. But I have a mom whom I’m really close to.

casheroo's avatar

I don’t know how to exactly word this…but you’re wrong.
Being a mother is not up on a pedestal. If we were doing what biology meant us to do, then every woman would never harm her child, they’d have the instincts.
Motherhood is the utmostly greatest, and hardest job. (sorry dads)
It’s a different form of caring. The bond is indescribable.
Feeling like a bad mother is society pressure. Since we’ve evolved to women being a strong force in the workforce, women are conflicted. There is no ideal perfect mother, but that doesn’t mean I’m not the perfect mother for my son.

nikipedia's avatar

I’m with you, dude, and I’ll even go one further: I think motherhood is fundamentally kind of selfish, and I don’t understand why it’s revered. I don’t see anything special about it.

Dansedescygnes's avatar

@nikipedia

Just curious. In what way is it selfish? Doesn’t that kind of go against the whole point of it, since you have a child to care for?

Hate to say this, but people who speak against motherhood are never mothers. Just pointing that out…

Blondesjon's avatar

@nikipediachildless response

casheroo's avatar

oh god, if someone goes into the whole overpopulation spiel I’m gonna lose it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@nikipedia you’re right, there’s nothing special about it, huh? then there must not be anything special about you, because, remember at the end of the day, you had a mother

Jeruba's avatar

My mother made it plain that all she ever expected for Mother’s Day was a nice card, and, when we were grown up, a phone call. Gifts were never part of the picture.

My mother’s gone, so the day is different for me now.

My husband values the holidays and occasions that are our own—birthdays, anniversary—much more than those that are invented and fostered by commercial interests, and I tend to agree with him, although I love making a big deal of Christmas.

I am no deity and do not want to be defied, revered, or made the occasion of a tiresome fuss. I do not want people to do something for me purely out of duty or begrudge me the time or effort. I think it is fine to single out parents for special attention once in a while, since most of the time the attention goes the other way, but there are lots of ways to do that. It’s possible to come up with something enjoyable for all involved without turning it into an ordeal.

My husband and children have typically asked me to decide what we do for Mother’s Day. One year I suggested a picnic in the park where the boys liked to play. Another year I wanted to be taken to see The Mummy, newly released. ;) A couple of years ago I asked each of them to allocate one half hour of the afternoon to me, separately, and during that half hour I asked each one to pick one thing that’s really important to them and talk to me about it. One son chose photography and the other chose music. I forget what my husband chose. Last year we just went out for a nice dinner. This year, I’m tired and honestly don’t care. A card would be nice, and a phone call from the one who’s away.

But I’ve always told my kids, “You can never go wrong with flowers.”

——-

> this hucksterism of Mother’s Day

Where are you exposed to this? I am not exposed to any, so I can say that it’s possible to be where you are not pressured. If it’s TV and radio commercials, that is not about Mother’s Day. It’s about selling product. No need to feel more pressured by that than you would by any other kind of ad.

nikipedia's avatar

@Dansedescygnes: I think you end up doing a lot of selfless things once you have kids, but the decision to have one is fundamentally for the benefit of yourself (and/or your partner). I’m totally open to hearing altruistic reasons for bringing more children into the world, though—especially a reason to have one of your own, versus adopting one that already needs a good home.

@Simone_De_Beauvoir: I in no way understand the logic behind your statement. Please correct me. As I understand it, you are saying:

Motherhood is not special
You had a mother
Therefore, you are not special

Is having a special mother the only thing that can confer specialness onto a person…?

Anyway, no, I’m not special. Sheesh.

casheroo's avatar

I can’t make a blanket statement, but almost all mothers are special. If they felt any ounce of the love I felt the day I gave birth, then they’re special. this goes for mother’s who adopt, and mothers who give their children up for adoption. they still love and do what is in the best interest of the child.

Blondesjon's avatar

@nikipedia…If you were the world’s foremost expert on vinyl siding and had spent many years not only installing vinyl siding, but also selling vinyl siding, I would listen to your opinions on vinyl siding with an eager and open mind.

If you were just some homeless rube off of the street telling me that vinyl siding is just “a plastic cover” for your house, I would dismiss you out of hand.

Know what I mean?

tinyfaery's avatar

I agree daloon. Almost any woman can be a mother; it occurs quite naturally after unprotected sex. It’s not a big feat, it’s not unique, and it’s definitely not a miracle. Miracles cannot be scientifically explained. Pregnancy and childbirth are easily explained, and occur all the time, like now….and now…..and now…

I also agree that the whole deification of motherhood is damaging to women. A mother is not a selfless saint, she is not perfect. And motherhood doesn’t emerge with the after birth; it is not innate and not all women have the capacity to be nurturing.

Mothers are women. They have all the faults other women have plus they are taught that they have to sacrifice themselves and their desires for the well-being of another. If it weren’t assumed that all women are the incarnation of some archetypal female, maybe mothers would get the help and support that they deserve.

Most of the greeting card holidays are useless and a result of capitalism. I don’t do any of those holidays.

Blondesjon's avatar

@tinyfaery…childless response

casheroo's avatar

@tinyfaery With all the births there are, it is still hard to get pregnant. You have I believe only a 20–25% chance each month. Childbirth is not safe, we’re lucky we have the technology we have but it is still very dangerous. Giving birth to a heathy, thriving child IS a miracle.
True though, that not all women are nurturing. They shouldn’t become mothers. And they shouldn’t bring down women who do want to be mothers.

nikipedia's avatar

@Blondesjon: Sure, and you’re welcome to dismiss my opinions wholesale. I’ll try to do the same the next time you have an opinion about anything you’re not an expert in, and I’ll make sure to point out what I’m doing.

To facilitate this, would you consider forwarding me a copy of your resume or CV so I know which opinions to take seriously?

tinyfaery's avatar

Another person who think women automatically become some saint when they squeeze one out. My sister is the shittiest mother. Mothers kill their children, abuse them, neglect them, choose men over them. Don’t try to give me some bullshit about what women are.

I repeat: Any woman with a working reproductive system can have a child=motherhood is nothing special.

special |ˈspe sh əl|
adjective
better, greater, or otherwise different from what is usual

Make yourselves feel better about it any way you want. Make yourself think that you are unique and your baby is a miracle. Turning water into wine is a fuckin’ miracle.

Blondesjon's avatar

@nikipedia…I would but I’m no longer allowed near the photocopier.

They caught me copying pictures of my junk one time too many.

@tinyfaerybitter childless response

Aethelwine's avatar

@naysayers I’m a special mom. My husband was told that he would likely never father any children. My intelligent children may save your ass some day.

Dansedescygnes's avatar

@tinyfaery

I wish I could have a child… :(

Okay, maybe I should stop now before I start getting branded a weirdo…

bythebay's avatar

@tinyfaery: I’m not sure why you feel the need to degrade any woman who has given birth and/or mothers a child; and feels that’s special or even a miracle. That’s a bitchy and narrow minded response, which you don’t typically give. You make some very good points but it’s hard to read them through your vitriolic tantrum.

FGS's avatar

Honestly I don’t give a tinkers damn what anyone thinks. Mother’s Day is a time for me to pay tribute to my Ma for all of my crap she had to put up with (I was less than the saint you think I am;)) She not only endures(d) my antics, but she taught me many of the talents I have today, like self reliance. It may not have been the model son but her influence in me carries on.

casheroo's avatar

@Dansedescygnes you can have a child someday, you can adopt or get a surrogate :)

tinyfaery's avatar

The only reason you are all offended is because you don’t want to admit that being a mother is not special. I’m not degrading anybody. And the definition of special and miracle is pretty clear. What isn’t clear? Most of you are usually rational.

Mothers are women. They have all the faults other women have plus they are taught that they have to sacrifice themselves and their desires for the well-being of another. If it weren’t assumed that all women are the incarnation of some archetypal female, maybe mothers would get the help and support that they deserve. from my first post What part of this is degrading? If you’d all stop being so self-righteous, you’d realize that I am on the side of women and mothers. The deification of motherhood is DAMAGING TO WOMEN!!!

And, shit. I live my life with and among women, all kinds of women. Women are beautiful and deadly creatures, deserving of care and freedom. I know more about women than many of you ever will.

Oh, @blondesjon Hahahahahaha Every time I see people with kids, I am sooooooo glad I have cats.

Dansedescygnes's avatar

@casheroo

Oh, I know. I essentially plan on it too. I want kids. But that comment was more relating to wishing I could bear children…lol…that’s why I said the “weirdo” thing…

Blondesjon's avatar

@tinyfaery…Couldn’t I use the same argument against you? Instead of being mothers I would use not a mother. What’s the difference? Do you think that this is an argument that you’ll “win”?

a bit “troll like” in my opinion

casheroo's avatar

@tinyfaery Nothing can persuade me that being a mother is not special. I do not find it degrading that I devote my life to another. No one put pressure on me to do so, it’s just how it is..you can’t go about your life the same as you did prior to children. Children need constant attention, and as a mother you are constantly aware of everything in your life and how it will affect your children.
And what do you mean “mothers would get the help and support they deserve.”?? I’m curious.

tinyfaery's avatar

Like an opinion can win.

cak's avatar

Well, Daloon – if that is your idea of Mother’s Day, then I agree. It’s pointless. In fact, it’s boring.

Mother’s Day, in our house, isn’t celebrated that way, at all. We put time into our day. This year, we’ll be transplanting a rather large plant that my mother has, from one planter, to another -it’s one my father gave her, so it’s a rather emotional job, right now.

After we do that, we’ll cook-out. We’ll play games and possibly go for a walk. No presents, nothing expensive, it’s a great day, together.

Yeah, if it’s only about presents and that’s what you guys focus on, then you are absolutely right, it’s not all that special of a day. I would never agree iwht you that being a mother isn’t something special. It’s a hard job, an emotional job, one that you must give 150% of yourself…on a bad day…you need to give more on your better days. Why do you feel the need to take away from the day or from the job of being Mother. sheesh

@Tinyfaery – I’m sorry your sister is a shitty mother, but don’t think that is the gold standard. A lot of us, well, we try hard every single day. You say it’s selfish? Really, when I was flat broke and it was just my daughter and I, I had an apple, one piece of bread, a few slices of turkey and a drink that someone gave me the day before. Who got the food, my daughter or I? My daughter, @tinyfaery, my daughter did. I took 1/2 a piece of turkey. I drank water and counted the seconds until my pay check arrived at work. I didn’t want my daughter going without, that night. Damn I am selfish!

Your anger about the holiday, about motherhood in general – may be justified by something that happened to you – but don’t assume we are all like that. You’re way off base.

Motherhood doesn’t make you a saint, you are the only one that said this. Motherhood doesn’t preclude you from being an ass or let’s just say human – we are ALL human. Including your superior attitude that you are showing right now. It doesn’t mean that we won’t make mistakes – I make them all the time. I explain to both of my children that I am human, just like them. I have a full range of emotions. I show them. I’m human.

I don’t buy the cards, I don’t want them to buy the cards. It’s not about the gift. It’s about spending a special day, together. It’s not about a throne, pedestal or anything like that, just just a nice day together.

I have never once put someone down for having kids or not having kids. I’ll never understand why someone has to be some damned hateful about this subject.

Edited to add: Im not special. My son that fought cancer, special. I fought it too, but I’m in my late thirties. My daughter, special. She stepped up and because a little “mom” while I was sick. I thank them, daily for being such good kids.

THEY are special. I’m the mom – I get to stand in the background. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

casheroo's avatar

@Dansedescygnes that’s not weird at all! i think most men sometimes wish they could feel what a woman feels, when it comes to having children…but then they see it, and never want to actually experience it haha

tinyfaery's avatar

@casheroo Good for you. I’m glad you are enjoying motherhood. It seems to come easy, to you. But you are not all women. How about this mother?

tinyfaery's avatar

@cak You are confusing me with @nikipedia. I never said anyone was selfish.

casheroo's avatar

@tinyfaery I posted earlier than not all women should be mothers. I’m aware that some women kill or abuse their children.

cak's avatar

@tinyfaery – AND…she should burn. IMO. So what the heck does that have to do with all the mothers that raise their children. The kids are well-adjusted and lead a great life. What does one have to do with another?

I’m sorry for the confusion on the selfish side – I do apologize. I got worked up!

Blondesjon's avatar

@tinyfaery…Couldn’t we scour the net for stories about lesbians that have behaved in a way that doesn’t truly reflect the way most lesbians act? Shame on you for trying to sensationalize this.

Is Aileen Wuornos typical of all lesbians?

cak's avatar

@nikipedia – (where I wrongfully addressed @tinyfaery about the selfish issue) When I look at my mom, I see a lot of special things. The way she taught me how to bake and how to cook a lot of wonderful meals. How she taught me how to fix the kitchen drain, so I could manage things on my own. Lots of things. She was special and continues to be special.

Do you really look at your mother and feel the same? Think back to all the little things. By law, we don’t have to do any of those little things that makes life a bit better, strip those away. Strip any emotional/ mental support away. How not-so-special is your mother, now?

tinyfaery's avatar

@Blondesjon Done.

My point is, again, that the archetype of motherhood is DAMAGING TO WOMEN. How much more emphasis can I use? Not all mothers are wonderful. Not all mothers sacrifice. Mothers feel pain. Mothers have problems and lash out. Mothers have demons from their own childhoods. Mothers need people to know that they ARE NOT INFALLIBLE SAINTS. What mothers need, aside from a card and a pedestal, is help. And they need people to realize they cannot do it all, that they mess up , and that they need their own space and time.

IMO, all of you defending some “saint mom” are doing nothing but putting women into rigid gender roles. And that is what causes women to kill their children.

Done!

cak's avatar

@tinyfaery – You made the reference to Susan Smith, in regards to horrible mothers – in fact, this one killed. I was raped. Should I have used that person to judge all other men that entered my life? You can’t use those examples to decide that motherhood is awful.

You know what, you are absolutely right. Teen pregnancy is a daily reminder that pregnancy happens, in the least of special occasions. Anyone (female, without reproductive issues), can have a baby.

Separate that out, though. Separate those that sell their babies for drugs, throw them away for a man, or worse yet – toss them in the trash right after they girl birth. Remove the lowest common denominator. What you might find are women that would give their life, without hesitation for their child(ren). Moms, aren’t saints. Moms are humans.

I’m sorry I got so worked up. I should have walked away from the question. I didn’t like it, at all.

tinyfaery's avatar

@cak If you actually read through what I said, I think that you would find that we have the same opinion.

Blondesjon's avatar

@tinyfaeryi thought you were DONE!

Dansedescygnes's avatar

@tinyfaery

Just curious, is anyone actually claiming that they are infallible saints? Who said that? I think it’s pretty obvious that some mothers are bad. That doesn’t mean that motherhood isn’t important.

miasmom's avatar

I like Mother’s Day, in our family we spend it as a family. We have a nice meal and enjoy each other’s company. We don’t go crazy over gifts, a card is the usual thing given, with lots of hugs. It’s a nice time to tell our mom’s thank you. It’s funny because now that I am a mom, I still don’t think of the day for me because I’m focused on my own mother.

I love being a mom. It is by far the toughest thing I have ever done. I don’t do it for money, I do it for my child and there is nothing better than your child wrapping their arms around you and wanting to be close to you, I can’t describe that feeling, it’s worth every difficult moment of motherhood. I love finding joy through my daughter’s eyes. So yes, motherhood is special and honestly childbirth is miraculous…the stages of development of a fetus are so miraculous. To go from a single cell to a baby in 9 months is pretty dang amazing.

Aethelwine's avatar

@Dansedescygnes Good point. I think that “bad” mothers are the minority.

tinyfaery's avatar

@Dansedescygnes Umm…I was answering the question, and my answer was yes. Everyone else was off-topic.

miasmom's avatar

We all make mistakes, that doesn’t negate the good that mother’s do and I think it’s ok to spend a day saying I Love You Mom.

Blondesjon's avatar

@miasmomyour answers are by far is the most sane and grounding of the bunch. i wish i could give you a million lurve.

tinyfaery's avatar

I tell my mom I love her every time I talk to her, and every time I see her. Saying it because it’s the first Sunday in May is just stupid. And it undermines the whole meaning.

cak's avatar

@tinyfaery – You are right, mothers (a lot of us!) could use a lot of help. I don’t see you on the gender role thing. I’m fine with being a woman, a mother and fitting into that role, but it gets fuzzy after that point. I fix things, I change oil and tires. I mow the lawn. I’m not in a apron and holding a drink for hubby. He’d think something was really wrong, if I was.

I think some people really don’t mind those defined roles. It’s not bad if they do – it’s just a preference, that’s all.

FGS's avatar

It took me until I was about 25ish to figure out that my Ma was actually right about 90% of the time. Funny how growing up and maturing can do that?

tinyfaery's avatar

Thank you @cak. Though I am at odds with you on the gender roles, I appreciate that you understand what I am trying to say. Thank you for actually thinking about what I said, not just reacting.

miasmom's avatar

@tinyfaery I tell my mom I Love her all the time too and I agree that it should be like that, you shouldn’t wait until Mother’s Day to do it, but I don’t think there is anything wrong in making a day of it either. I don’t think it makes the other days less meaningful.

Aethelwine's avatar

@FGS I agree. My friends always told me that I had the coolest mom. I never agreed with them until I had children of my own.

nikipedia's avatar

@cak: I think you are a great mom, and your mothering skills should be constantly rewarded.

I think all the shitty moms out there shouldn’t be praised just because they’re moms.

I think there’s nothing inherently great about being a mom. I think you have to confer that specialness by your actions. And it is absolutely crystal clear just from your posts here that you do that.

tinyfaery's avatar

@miasmom And that is a product of your relationship with your family. If I sent my mom flowers on mother’s day she’d think that I had bad news for her. But, I always take her her favorite ice cream every time I see her, and I think I have pretty much given her a room full of DVDs. (My mom is bed ridden.)

cak's avatar

@nikipedia – I agree about the shitty moms in the world. Unfortunately, they’ll always be out there. Hopefully, some will get the help they need to improve.

Thank you for the kind comments. I will truly say, I enjoy it. It’s hard as hell, hurtful – at times but that hug at the end of the day, makes everything so worth it.

I apologized for getting so worked up, earlier. It’s been a rough week. It’s not a great excuse, but it’s just been a shit ass week.

miasmom's avatar

@tinyfaery So, I think it is safe to say that for some people it’s ok to make it a day and for others it’s not that big of a deal…and that’s ok too.

@nikipedia Good point, I sometimes forget about the crappy moms because I have been surrounded by good moms.

Supacase's avatar

@tinyfaery I am well aware that I am not an infallible saint. I have made mistakes, apologized to my daughter, taken timeouts for myself. Motherhood is natural, but so is sleeping and a good number of us have trouble with that. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes and most moms know that. Do we feel guilty? Sure. I want to be a perfect mom, not because society expects me to be, but because I want to do everything I can for my daughter. I think it is healthy for her to see that I make mistakes, though. It shows her that there is no shame in her making her own mistakes and what the real world is like.

I show my mom and grandmother love and respect every time I see or talk to them. Giving them one extra special day is something I enjoy. I like planning a nice lunch where we all gather to enjoy each others’ company. We do that often, but making them the focus of the event once a year is a lovely variation. My daughter brings me things from school all the time and picks flowers (dandelions, mostly lol) at least daily, but she finds such great delight in planning something special. I love seeing her excitement. That is what Mothers’ Day is all about to me.

All of that said, though, if you don’t like it then don’t celebrate it. Who cares what other people think? Watch the game and tell them your wife loves the smell of fabric softener.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t see anything wrong with honoring one’s own mother, even if what she does is what all mothers do. Who needs a designated day to do it?

I don’t see anything wrong with honoring anyone who’s special in our lives, whether they gave birth to us or not. You’ve got a calendar with 365 days on it. Pick one.

Aethelwine's avatar

I think of Mother’s Day like an anniversary. I appreciate my mother every day, but what’s wrong with one extra day to make her feel that much more important in my life. She is special to me and that is all that matters.

augustlan's avatar

It really irritates me to see ads for diamond necklaces, lingerie, and microwaves for Mother’s Day. The commercialism is just ridiculous, and can build false expectations and pressures. I also never understood why husbands are expected to buy presents for their wives on Mother’s Day (or wives for husbands on Father’s Day). They should do something special for their parents, not their spouses!

Honestly, I could do without the whole day, but my kids get a kick out of it. From them, I prefer to receive something they’ve made for me or a meal they’ve prepared rather than a store-bought present or GOD FORBID being taken to a restaurant. I vowed years ago to never step foot in another restaurant on Mother’s Day. It’s bloody awful!

avalmez's avatar

@daloon whatever the responses (a lot) the q as worded is priceless

reverie's avatar

I’m not going to talk about Mothers’ Day as I haven’t celebrated it for well over a decade now. My mother died when I was 11 and my brother was 13. I’m 23 now, and my father raised my brother and I alone, throughout our teenage years. It was hard. He did an incredible job. I have a tremendous amount of respect for my dad, both as a father and a man, and I can’t believe anyone would consider his parenting role any less because of his gender.

The point I’m trying to make here is that being a great parent is the thing we should celebrate – with the emphasis being on doing a great job with your kids, regardless of your gender. I think we also need to accept and appreciate that there are parents who don’t do a good job by their children. To crow senselessly about how all motherhood is amazing and special is to take away from the mothers who work very hard to make sure it really is amazing and special. I’m not a mother, but I imagine it’s hard to do it well. It’s not a fluke, or something that just happens.

If we continue to disproportionately celebrate and praise motherhood over fatherhood, can we honestly complain if fathers don’t step up to the mark? It seems like a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy to me. It strikes me that there are many women, who in one breath would utter something like “sure, fatherhood is really important too, but there’s nothing like being a mum”, and then complain in the next instance that fathers aren’t pulling their weight and acting like equals in terms of care and responsibility for the children.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either celebrate good parenting across the board, regardless of gender, or continue to laud disproportionate amounts of praise on mothers – just don’t expect fathers to behave like an important figure if you don’t treat them as one.

casheroo's avatar

On the topic of Mother’s Day itself…
Mother’s Day to be is sacred.No amount of commercialism can ruin it for me and my family. It is not a hallmark holiday to me, it’s a celebration. I don’t give a crap what anyone else does that day…I want to spend it with my mother, my grandmother, and my son and husband, my father my aunts, uncles and cousins. We sometimes all get together for a brunch, then go be with our respective families for a more private celebration…whether it be me getting a pedicure, getting a homemade card from my little boy, thanking my own mother for always being there…
Of course you should do these things every day, but not every day is dedicated to mothers. Fuck, we celebrates Christmas but god forbid mother’s get their own day? lol
I have to say, children never understand what it is to be a mother, until they become a parent themselves. Or, they grow up, look back on all those mistakes they made and see that their mother stuck up for them, supported them, and did everything they could for them. That realization, of how much your mother sacrificed just for you, is the number one reason that mother’s are important.

bythebay's avatar

Most gender driven roles have been stereotypically defined. Let’s face it, there are not as many male nurses, nor are there as many female auto mechanics. As for parental roles and expectations; these will vary based on an enormous number of extenuating circumstances. Most of the sane and sensible people I know do not receive their parenting cues from TV or media hype.

Loving and respecting someone for the role they have played in your life (if it’s worth doing so), is simply decent. Not every person that has been in your life is worth celebrating. But no matter how you slice it; you wouldn’t be fluthering if you didn’t have a mother. You may love her or hate her, but she did give you life. What you do with that life is your decision. There is no denying the miracle of birth, yet giving birth does not promote one to the status of deity. We all make choices, those are indeed what our success or failure will be measured by.

As for the commercialization; every holiday has been exploited for commercial gain. Should we not celebrate birthdays, valentines day, st patricks, groundhog, mothers or fathers, simply because some have exploited the meaning of the day? I agree that you should honor and respect, even celebrate, those and that which you love all the time. Yet, designating a special day for anyone or any reason, is not bad. Anything good thing can be ruined, but how or whom someone cares to celebrate is really not to be judged by anyone other than the celebrants. We celebrate those who perform well at their jobs with raises and promotions; is that setting unrealistic standards and roll expectations? Be sure you turn down that next raise, you wouldn’t want to make it tougher for the next person.

This same question could be asked for fathers, grandparents, and even individuals birthdays. I remember the same type of ranting here around christmas because of the commercialization.

As for relishing your pets when you see people with children; your choice; if you truly feel that way, your choosing not to have children probably will save the world from one more bad mother. It’s not a role for everyone. But for those who do love it, and their children; I raise my glass to you in recognition of your hard work, self sacrifice, and devotion…and never…ever…would I expect you to be perfect.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I have mixed emotions about this holiday re: my biologicals, as both my BM and her sister as guardian were both rather deficient in the mothering department. But these days, I can honour the memory of the woman who did her best to give me the mothering she saw that I needed, even though when I met her I was an adult. I give this woman more regard because she did this from a purely empathetic place. She wasn’t any kin to me at all.

I may never have children, but I hope to be able to spread as much kindness as she did. I was happy to do things for her on Mother’s Day when she was alive. She deserved it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

In some ways tineyfaery is right, in that the idea of what mothers should be, do, care about is something imposed on us as parents – and it leads to guilt, resentment, feeling like a failure…on the other hand, I don’t think actual parenting is valued, for what it truly is as again tinyfaery points out about how ‘having cats’ is soooo much better than ‘having kids’ (yeah, comparable, anyway)...so women are pressured to be perfect mothers or to be mothers at all and then aren’t really even respected for the good job they do do and mother’s day as I was saying is a pathetic way of honoring that…

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@nikipedia It just baffles me that you think motherhood is nothing special when it is something that produced you

wundayatta's avatar

@bythebay—I do have a similar problem with Christmas, father’s day, birthdays, and I had no idea there was a grandparents day.

I don’t honor my wife for her mothering every single day, but I do it more often than once a year. I don’t have “good will towards men” only on Christmas. I am not a special person only on my birthday, and neither is anyone else.

I believe in honoring each other, but, for me, having one special day to do the honoring cheapens all the other days that one appreciates mothers, fathers, people, etc. I understand that many of you find it a special time, and enjoy it. I can’t tell you that what you are doing actually dishonors those who you honor every other day of the year. That’s only how it seems to me. Of course, you all already know weird I am.

There are times for family any time of the year. There are times to give our wives and mothers rest any time of the year. There are times where women give men a rest (probably more often than the other way around) any time of the year.

I have this problem with any ranking of people, no matter how well intentioned. To honor moms is to say everyone else is less, just as when you honor fathers or grandparents or Jesus. Other people may be less, but I don’t think it’s a good thing to rub it in their faces. I know a lot of people don’t agree with me on this, and maybe it’s a self-esteem issue, but there are some who agree with me, or at least understand my point.

There are things that I like that people have mentioned about celebrating this day. I like Jeruba’s idea of spending half an hour alone with all the people in her close family, and talking about what is important to them. I like CAK’s idea about spending the day together doing some gardening and having a cookout. I like personal things that are made up by the people doing them and are meaningful to the people who do them. What I hate is the mass market corporatization of expectations and notions of what is good and proper. What I hate is the implied denigration of every other day that is not that special day. What I hate is the implied deification of certain gender roles, as if men can’t (or shouldn’t) do mothering and women can’t (or shouldn’t) do fathering.

Anyway, I want to say that I really appreciate all your answers, even the ones that put me on the hot spot. It’s not easy to read some of these answers, but I still thank you for them. It has taught me a lot about what people do like and value in the celebration, as well as the kinds of ways that other people feel slighted by the day. I appreciate also that people have kept this topic, about which people have very strong feelings, as civil as it is.

MotherFluther's avatar

Happy Mother’s Day to all my Fluther mothers! :)

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