On Sunday many of you will be greeted in bed with slobbery kisses, watery coffee, and soggy cereal. Having been forced many times to eat the “Breakfast of Champions” after it has congealed into a solid mass, I find it hard to decide if we “breakfast in bed” moms are the lucky ones, or if the ones who prepared their own coffee are more fortunate. But even if the toast is cold, the thought is sweet.
Moms do have exhausting jobs with endless hours, and a little pampering on Mother’s Day goes a long way to help. But I think by concentrating on how difficult motherhood is, our society has too often made this blissful state seem akin to a prison sentence with a whiny jailer. Motherhood has gotten a bum rap.
Perhaps it’s because as fewer and fewer women are becoming moms, it’s seen as more of a suspect activity. A recent study out of Britain found that one third of women with university degrees will eschew children altogether to pursue their careers. Kids would cramp their style. I don’t know what the figure is for Canada, but I would think it’s pretty similar. And since most women in the media have university degrees, plenty of those who are spinning stories about motherhood, or writing sitcoms or screenplays, have a very slanted view of the institution.
A friend of mine is due any day with her seventh child. Anne has a bunch of degrees to her name and never planned on becoming a full-time mother, but here she is anyway. She couldn’t be happier. When people comment on her obviously pregnant body and ask if it’s her first, though, they often look horrified when she lets them in on the true state of affairs. One or two, okay, but seven? Motherhood may be quaint in small doses, but our culture sees it as something most women will want to experience for a time, but will rejoice when it’s over and real life can begin again.
This attitude, which borders on condescension, is readily apparent if you listen to how the powers that be talk to parents. It seems like society’s opinion makers tend to look at moms as individuals who have somehow stopped living and learning, and are stuck in a world of Game Boys and Barbies and Dr. Seuss books. These moms apparently get no intellectual stimulation, unless you count Oprah’s book club, so how can we trust them to raise their kids? I can’t help feeling this kind of attitude when I drive down the highway and see billboards saying, “Your kids are precious. Buckle in car seats correctly.” Why do we need the government telling us our kids are precious? Or how about schools which send home letters with parenting advice? I know some parents need it, but the unspoken assumption is that schools know more about parenting than parents do. For some that may be true. For most it is not. But the more the schools do it, the more inadequate parents feel.
What these experts fail to say loudly enough is that the most significant factor in children’s success is not government programs or schools or extracurricular activities. It’s having parents who are involved in their lives. If a mom loves her kids, and knows her kids, and makes her kids her number one priority, chances are those kids are going to be just fine. Moms, and not experts, keep a kid’s world safe.
This Mother’s Day you may hear stories about how hard it is to be a mom. Just listen quietly, smile, and even pity the commentators. We mothers know something they obviously don’t. We know how nice it is to snuggle with a little body while we read a story. We know how lovely it feels to towel dry a plump little toddler after a nice warm bath. We even know how it feels to sit on the edge of a preteen’s bed and discuss the day’s difficulties. We feel needed. We feel loved. We feel as if, to one individual in the world, we are the most important person. And nothing else compares to that. Happy Mother’s Day.